A Snoqualmie Valley unicyclist takes on the obstacle course at NAUCC 2016 in South Dakota. (Courtesy Photo)

Many sports, just one wheel: North American Unicycling Championships arrive in North Bend Sunday

After 15 years, the North American Unicycling Convention and Championships are returning to the Valley. North Bend has been selected to be the host city for the upcoming event, July 16 to 22.

Paul Luccio, president of the Snoqualmie Valley Unicycle Club, said the group applied to host this year’s event six months before the 2016 NAUCC event in Rapid City, S.D. At the end of the NAUCC 2016, the location of the 2017 event was announced.

The last time the NAUCC was held in North Bend was in 2002. That event was hosted by the former Panther Pride Unicycle Team, headed by Alan Tepper, who taught then at North Bend Elementary School but has since retired.

The NAUCC will bring in people from around the country to compete in various unicycle activities including distance riding, freestyle exhibitions, urban terrain obstacle courses, mountain biking, and team sports including basketball and hockey.

“When people hear about unicycling they automatically go to the old trope of a circus, but there are so many different forms that unicycling takes and they fit into all these niches that other people experience in different forms,” Luccio said.

The individual events will take place at seven locations around the area including Twin Falls Middle School, Torguson Park, Middle Fork Road, the John Wayne Trailhead and the North Bend Visitor Information Center. Two other locations outside of the Valley, Issaquah Highlands Central Park and Gas Works Park in Seattle, will also host some unicycling events.

In preparing for the event, Luccio said the club has received a lot of logistics support from the Unicycling Society of America to help with participant registration. In addition to the national organization and various local sponsors, the convention is supported by a team of local volunteers who have been working to secure the various venues and schedules part of this year’s event.

“All the different events have additional directors to help get the venues set up, organize and figure out the materials required for each venue,” Luccio said. “Because it’s a small community there are also people that donate stuff on their own that are involved in organizing the event. The national organization donated materials, and registration fees make the event possible.”

With the help of Laurie Gutenberg, Snoqualmie Valley Unicycle Club board member, the club was also able to secure a $1,000 grant from Snoqualmie Valley Rotary leading up to the event.

The club was founded in 2012, after Tepper retired from teaching and stopped hosting the after-school unicycling club. Parents and students involved with Tepper’s program wanted to continue the unicycling tradition, and formed the Snoqualmie Valley Unicycle Club.

The club, which currently has around 40 members ranging from young children to adults, participates in local festivals and parades such as Railroad Days and the Festival at Mount Si as well as regional events like the Seattle Bike Show.

Luccio, president of the board and one of the original board members when the club was founded, said he got involved because his children were involved with the program when Tepper was running it at North Bend Elementary. Seeing the passion and enthusiasm of the kids and parents in the program had motivated him to stay involved with the unicycling community.

“They enjoyed it as a sport and activity,” he said. “We allowed their passion to flow to us and we’ve been involved with the current organization since it was founded. My wife has done stuff with practice management and been on the board, I’ve been on the board since 2012.”

Since its founding, the club has had representation at every NAUCC across the country. Luccio is excited for this year’s national convention to begin and for all the hard work and passion of the club members to be realized.

“The biggest thing for me is the passion,” he said. “We’ve known some of the families for so long, they are an integrated part of our lives. The kids and the adult riders have so much fun doing it, it’s just part of what we do and what we enjoy.”

The North American Unicycling Convention and Championships first event, Cyclocross, will begin at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, at Torguson Park. The events will continue every day of the week until the final dinner and awards at Twin Falls Middle School on Saturday, July 22.

For more information on the event, and the full schedule, visit uninationals.weebly.com.

Moving forward only by using their feet to push their unicycle wheels, not their pedals, riders compete in a unique track event as part of the North American Unicycle Championships and Convention, coming to North Bend next week, starting on Sunday. (Courtesy Photo)

Aaron Kinsella-Johnson, in the red shirt, lines up at off-roading challenge at the 2016 NAUCC. SEE UNICYCLING, 3 The event is also part of the 2017 championships, starting Sunday in North Bend. (Courtesy Photo)

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