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Unicyclist pedals for a cause
Unicyclist 5 es
Chloe watches her sister Abby Coggins unicycle Thursday evening at Dobbs Creek Recreation Center. Chloe watches her sister Abby Coggins unicycle Thursday evening at Dobbs Creek Recreation Center. - photo by Emily Furtsch

For more information about sponsoring Robert Coggins in a charity event or learning how to ride a unicycle, e-mail him at or go online at
Those who think the circus is the only place to see someone ride a unicycle need to meet Robert Coggins.

A designer of security systems by day, Coggins is an avid unicyclist who particularly enjoys extreme riding.

The Forsyth County resident has been hooked since he began riding a unicycle as a child.

“When I was 9, my bike was stolen and we had a neighbor who let me have his unicycle,” Coggins recalled. “He showed me how to ride it and then I just practiced all the time.”

Coggins said he quit riding during high school due to “girls and cars,” but decided to pick up it again about seven years ago.

“My cholesterol was really high and I was not in the best shape,” he said. “My wife is a physical therapist and she suggested I get back into riding for the exercise.”

The plan worked and, using the Internet, Coggins found several Atlanta unicycle groups that meet regularly to pedal their one-wheeled rides.

“Some of the riders ride for various charities and once I did that, I decided to do it regularly,” Coggins said.

His first charity ride was a 50K Tour de Cure, part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Earlier this year Coggins rode in the Tour de Cure to benefit the American Diabetes Association.

This month, he plans to ride in the 24 Hours of Booty, a large 24-hour cycling ride in Columbia, Md., to benefit cancer research.

Coggins said his passion for charity rides stems not only from his love of the sport but because he has friends and family members who are battling cancer and diabetes.

“I ride for them and I ride to honor those who lost their battle,” he said.

Traveling to Maryland with Coggins for the 24-hour ride is friend Chad Grosklags, president of The Atlanta Unicycle Club.

Formed in 2003, the club has about 45 members who meet once a week at various locations around Atlanta.

Grosklags said people get into the sport for a variety of reasons. He began after a serious car wreck.

“It took me a few weeks to learn how to ride and it really helped me rehab from the accident,” he said.

As avid riders, Grosklags and Coggins aim to do two to three charity events a year.

Coggins explained that there are different models of unicycles for different types of riding and terrain, ranging in price from about $40 to more than $1,000.

“The freestyle unicycle is for the performing artist, doing tricks,” Coggins said. “Then there is a trial unicycle, which is for jumping and hopping on rough terrain.

“Then there are those for precise jumping and unicycles for off-roading, which we call a ‘muni,’ or mountain unicycles.”

For long-distance rides, Coggins mentioned a commuter unicycle that has a 36-inch wheel and can reach speeds of 17 mph.

Just how difficult is it to learn how to ride one of these unusual contraptions?

“If you can ride a bike, you can learn to ride a unicycle,” said Coggins, who is teaching his two daughters, ages 4 and 6, to ride.

“Once you get your balance and the pedaling figured out, you can do almost anything except coast down a hill,” he said.

Coggins also is teaching several classes this fall through the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department.