Hartlepool shopping centre boss's wheelie good new lockdown skill

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Lots of us have taken up a new skill or hobby during lockdown – but can anyone do better than Mark Rycraft?

The manager of Hartlepool’s Middleton Grange shopping centre has used the national shutdown to learn how to ride a unicycle.

Mark, a keen bike rider, bought the one-wheeled cycle on a whim about three months before the country went into lockdown.

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With turning 50 this year he was looking for a new challenge.

Mark Rycraft on his unicycle. Picture by Matthew Rycraft.Mark Rycraft on his unicycle. Picture by Matthew Rycraft.
Mark Rycraft on his unicycle. Picture by Matthew Rycraft.

When he was forced to work from home because of the pandemic he took it out of the garage where it was gathering dust and decided to get in the saddle.

Mark said: “I thought I would spend any spare time running up and down the back of the garden practising never thinking for one moment I would be able to learn how to ride it because I knew how hard it was.

"But when I start something I can’t let go and found it fun as well as unique.”

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After many hours, and lots of falling off, he began to manage to stay on for longer and further.

"Within the first two weeks I realised I could probably do a couple of meters and extended it by a metre each time.

"It got to the point where I could do a full length of the back of the house.”

Then when lockdown began to ease Mark took it to the Headland promenade and rode around a quarter of a mile.

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"You have to balance by waving your arms about,” he added. "It pretty much goes everywhere with me now.”

Mark’s wife Adele was worried about him hurting himself but he has avoided injury so far.

And he hopes to encourage his 10-year-old son Calell to follow in his treadmarks on a smaller 20-inch wheel unicycle.

Mark, also dad to Cara, aged two, added: “I’m riding further and learning more technical skills.

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"I’m now learning how to bunny hop and the free mount which is how to get on without holding onto anything.”

Have you learned a quirkier skill during lockdown? Message us at [email protected] or on Facebook or Twitter @HpoolMail.

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