“Why not a bike?” people would ask.
The advantages of unicycle travel are not readily apparent, so I’d keep my answers mostly to myself.
“I have two free hands,” I’d think.
I’d think about how, when I’m on a unicycle, I’m not rushing or being efficient or productive. I feel suddenly as if I’m on top of a planet and not a road. I’m a child again and can change the world’s direction simply with a shift of my body.
As I can, I sometimes also think, living off the grid in a cabin my wife Jennifer and I built in the Kentucky woods, cooking with a solar oven and harvesting rainwater.
“Why do you use so little water?” I sometimes hear society asking. Because it is heavy and scarce? Because restraint lends itself to gratitude? Because I like water?
When an old-growth woods behind our house was about to be logged, it struck me that I was living like I had traveled, on a single wheel. I could hear a roar, like from a semi—but it was all of society rushing at me; and I prepared to lean into the gust, to keep standing.
Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America takes readers on a unusual journey—not just across the country on a unicycle—but into a way of life that Americans are finding increasingly rare: one that practices a recalcitrant slowness. Mark Schimmoeller’s recollections of his one-wheeled adventure are interspersed with images of present-day off-the-grid homesteading with his wife in Kentucky.