As a grown man, Mike Kalush says he’s actually kind of embarrassed about his passion for unicycling, but he feels no shame for what he’s chosen to do with it.
Kalush, 51, grew up the only boy of the eight children his parents had. Counting the stepsister he acquired later, seven of his sisters have been single parents at some point.
On Aug. 18, Kalush will jump on his single wheel for single people and set out to cross the entire state. His venture, 1 Across Colorado, is unique in that he’s not accepting donations.
“It’s not about taking a wallet out and saying, ‘How can I help?’” the Littleton resident said. “You have to do something.” He suggests offering to babysit, picking up some groceries or just being a sounding board.
He realized the value of having a partner while raising two boys with his wife, news anchor Anne Trujillo.
“Especially in the teen years with kids, single parents have to think and make some tough decisions on their own,” he said. “Even the nightly decisions like, ‘How do I discipline? Should I take I take away their cell phone?’” You always second-guess yourself unless you have a partner.”
Kalush said he’d do almost anything for his 25 nieces and nephews.
“But I was really careful never to try to be a substitute dad, because they have a dad,” he said. “But if I could be there to help my sister, I would do whatever she wanted me to.”
One suspects Kalush is an enthusiastic uncle and dad given his pure, almost childlike delight with his unicycle. Although watching him ride is terrifying, he maneuvers the awkward-looking machine with confidence – despite the fact that it’s nearly 5 feet tall, has just one wheel, no way to steer and no brakes.
So how does he stop it?
“Like everything in life, you just slow down and jump off if you need to,” he said. “But I try to stay on.”
There are lots of life lessons in unicycling applicable to everyone, not just single parents, notes Kalush.
“You have to always maintain this perfect balance, and if you fall off, you just get up and start running.”
His biggest concerns along the way are lightning, cars and cushioning.
“I have to avoid saddle sores, because if I get one, it’s over,” he said.
Unicycling is a lonely sport (spell check doesn’t recognize it, and it might be the only sport that’s not in the Olympics). After trying unsuccessfully to get the only other guy he knows in Littleton who unicycles to go with him, he talked his 78-year-old dad into following along in a motorhome – hopefully without blocking too much traffic.
“A car won’t hit me, but someone might shoot us,” he said. “We don’t want to disrupt anyone or anything.”
Follow Kalush’s journey live at www.ustream.tv/channel/mkalush, and join his lively conversation on Facebook at 1 Across Colorado.
1 Across Colorado Statistics from Mike Kalush
• Starts Aug. 17 in Kanorado, Kan., elevation 3,908 feet
• Ends at Utah border
• Distance – about 500 miles along the I-70 corridor
• Estimated time of trip – two weeks
• Average speed – 10-13 mph
• Top speed – 16 mph
• Estimated miles per day – 35-40
• Highest elevation - 11,990 feet - Loveland Pass
• Number of wheels – 1
• Ends at the border of Utah near I-70 Sept. 1
“One cigar and drink when I’m done!”