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Learning to ride a bike is hard enough, but try riding one with no handlebars and one wheel missing. Alex Romero, a 17-year-old Los Alamos High School junior, enjoys the challenge of unicycling. In fact, he can often be found around town on his unicycle.
His interest in unicycling began in 2007 when he received his first unicycle from his uncle for Christmas.
He and his brother, LAHS sophomore Daniel Romero, attempted the sport but quit after a few days of frustration. Later in 2009, Romero and his brother gave unicycling another shot.
With a lot of practice, they taught themselves how to ride. Then, they met Max Schulze, 2010 Unicon XV Trials World Champion and former Los Alamos High School student. Schulze taught both of them tricks and continues to help them whenever he visits Los Alamos.
For now, unicycling is a hobby for Romero, but he wishes to compete in the future. He recently performed an act called “Not 2 Tired” in this year’s Topper Revue. He said that he likes to unicycle because it is a fun way to relieve stress and exercise. “It’s challenging. You always have something to improve on and something new to learn.”
Unicycling is a difficult sport to learn and it takes a considerable amount of time and effort. When asked how long it takes to learn, Romero said, “It depends on how much you practice.”
Unicycles aren’t cheap. Romero’s current unicycle cost him $600. He owns three and a half unicycles.
His favorite style to perform is called street unicycling, which includes rail grinds, flip tricks, tricks down stair sets and other common things you might find at a skate park. He also enjoys a flat land style, involving roll tricks and spins.
But his favorite trick is the hick flip, a move that involves becoming airborne momentarily in order to “flip” the direction of the unicycle. Some other favorites include the crank flip, rolling 36 and the double flip.
In addition to unicycling, Romero enjoys running, making and editing unicycle videos, skiing and other outdoor activities in his free time. He also enjoys eating and said health is important to him. When asked what kinds of foods he eats he said, “It depends on who’s asking.”
For example, if his cross-country coach Rob Hipwood asked Romero what he likes to eat, he would say processed food that has a shelf life of about four to five years.
However, if anyone else asked, Romero would say things like kiwis, pork chops, French toast, muffin tops, macaroni and cheese, popcorn and vegetables like carrots with ranch dressing.
In the fall, Romero runs on the high school cross country team; however, he does not run on the high school track team in the spring. Instead, he spends his spring unicycling.
“Running is like a prairie on fire, there are many flames involved that just keep burning year round,” he said. “I am like the flame that does not burn year round, but instead jumps to a new prairie every spring.”
After high school, Romero plans to attend college and is interested in computer science. He’s not sure whether unicycling is in his future or not, but he plans on buying a house and getting his own Canaan dog.