One day Mark Schimmoeller decided to do a little traveling, “attempting to visit people living for something other than what our consumer society deemed was important.” Thus was his mission when he set off in 1992 atop one wheel for a cross-country unicycle trip.
Body balance steers this upright one-wheeled vehicle driven by pedals. Unicycles appear to date back to the late 1800s and a bicycle called a “penny farthing.” The benefits of riding a unicycle are documented, and riding on one wheel has even been pushed to an extreme sport.
The author of Slowspoke meets all types of people living along the byways of America as he buys provisions, dodges cars, and seeks out places to camp for the night. He sketches word portraits of folks who don’t trend on Twitter, just as real as the ones who populate reality shows on television.
Schimmoeller muses as he rides, in no hurry to arrive. The reader ponders along with him, about topics such as time: “It had become cool to have no time, to be busy.“Ah, I thought, but Socrates long ago warned: “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
It was just this type of recurring silent mental dialogue I found myself having with a unicyclist that decelerated my progress through Slowspoke. We ramble along in our thoughts, he and I, noticing patchworks of woods and fields, hearing the sound of the wood thrush, and feeling the hot morning sun on our faces.