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Professor unicycles across campus

By David Wiegand
On April 7, 2014

Andy Jolly-Ballantine is more than a geography professor-in-residence; he's a unicyclist.

Jolly-Ballantine uses his unicycle to get around he said, because it's "about 50 percent faster than walking speed." He also uses it to entertain students who "always get a kick out of it." 

He said he first started riding in the fourth grade at an alternative elementary school where part of the curriculum was teaching students to ride unicycles. He said learning was easy and only took about three weeks.

"When you're in fourth grade, you're made of rubber," Jolly-Ballantine said and you can fall as many times as you need to. Still undeterred by the idea of a fall, Jolly-Ballantine wears no safety gear unless riding a five foot unicycle, he said.  


"When I was in grad school in Santa Barbara," Jolly-Ballantine said, "I practiced with a group-they developed into a mountain unicycling group," he said. While he admires their courage, he has not attempted to do any mountain unicycling of his own. 

Jolly-Ballantine grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a tiny town of less than 4,000 residents and the home of Antioch College. He travelled a lot with his family and took a Semester at Sea while still in high school and lived in England and Japan for periods of time. His eyes were opened to the possibilities of the world, the endless geography of the planet, at a young age. 

Jolly-Ballantine said he's too busy with his professorship and his involvement with CT Geographic Alliance, in which he works with local organizations to promote geography education, to pursue many other interesting hobbies. He does, however, tend a garden when he's not working or riding his unicycle. 

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