On top of the world on his unicycle
There are times when I totally rely on my cycle as it enables me to take new challenges
and pushes me further to achieve my goals
It’s easier to interact with people when they are interested in you or your cycle. When I pass through any village, the entire village comes out to see the cycle. My cycle has become a sort
We have seen people of different nationalities coming to Nepal to enjoy the natural beauty, but this is perhaps the first time we are seeing a determined and eager British man, Steve Colligan travelling all the way from the roof of the world, Lhasa, to the capital of Nepal on his unicycle.
A unicycle is a one-wheeled cycled that is popular in circuses.
Cycling on a unicycle is difficult, it becomes specially hard if you are riding through rough trails, and in higher altitude it’s perhaps a challenge that requires lots of will power and strength.
“I’m doing this to pay back all the hospitality and warmth I have received from Nepal and its people. Watching the lack of good education among the children from various rural areas of Nepal, I decided to raise funds for children who are deprived of the luxury of education,” says Colligan, who has been travelling to Nepal for last 12 years.
When he first came to Nepal with his wife he was mesmerised by its beauty and Colligan fell in love with the place and the people. During his subsequent visits he also befriended a Nepali who had established an NGO, Hilly Region Development Club, and through this organisation Colligan plans to help educate the children of Tawal village of Dhading district.
Talking about his interest of riding unicycles on the mountains of Nepal, Colligan shares, “I was into mountain biking and have gone for various trips. One fine day I suddenly floated the idea of learning and riding a unicycle with my wife Wendy, and on my birthday she surprised me with one.”
Thus began his journeys on his unicycle.
Excited to have something he had been longing for, Colligan first learnt to ride the unicycle on a straight line. “First you learn to ride in a straight line holding the walls and slowly you let go of it. It took me hours to just do that and then came the difficult part of learning to take turns and other tricks,” explains Colligan.
According to him, a unicycle in nothing like riding a bicycle. “You have to keep paddling and balancing to make sure you don’t topple over, and there is no gear so it’s really difficult to climb hills and equally difficult to ride down,” he adds.
During his nine visits to Nepal he initially just trekked around, but from his sixth visit he has been coming with his unicycle. He owns eight unicycles and has been training his sons Tio and Zack to ride one since the age of four.
“I enjoy the sport. When you are travelling by unicycle, you have to be very careful while choosing a trail. You may even feel restricted as there is less opportunity to travel to
various places. But there are times when I totally rely on my cycle as it enables me to take new challenges and pushes me further to achieve my goals,” shares Colligan.
He is also involved with a unicycle club back home in Manchester and organises national unicycle hockey tournaments.
He also feels that riding unicycle has made it easier for him to communicate and relate with the people of rural areas of Nepal. “It’s easier to interact with people when they are interested in you or your cycle. When I pass through any village, the entire village comes out to see the cycle, and there you always find someone who knows little bit of English and happily translates conversations with inquisitive people. My cycle has become a sort of ice-breaker. When you pass by any school and children come out laughing and run behind you, it’s wonderful to see them happy,” he says.
This is not the first time he will be making the tour — the adventure unicyclist has ridden down volcanoes in Peru, has extreme unicycled in New Zealand, gone on five-day rally race in Canada, travelled between Paris and London and many more, and has also made
many short rides in the Nepali Himalayas.
But he agrees the tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu is going to be one of the greatest challenges so far. Though he is still waiting for a visa. The ride will be fully supported by one of the top adventure cycle tour operators in the UK, Red Spokes Adventure Tours. He will be travelling with his tour members — mountain bikers from UK to help him in his journey. Passing through five major mountain passes in the higher altitude, he will also pass through the Everest base camp on the north side situated in Tibet and plans to end the tour in 25 days.