While this year’s Tour de France may have wrapped up for another year, there’s a different type of cycling taking over the life of one Canberran.
Stephanie Schultz has committed to riding her unicycle for 120 kilometres in September to help raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation’s Tour de Kids fundraiser.
The University of Canberra student says the fundraiser allowed her to combine her passion for unicycling with the chance of making a positive difference to the world.
“I wanted to do something cool in 2020, but that kind of fell in a heap with coronavirus,” she says.
“This was a way to still do that. And I think it linked in with my interest in riding and I know that riding a unicycle, it makes people happy.
“You ride along and people, they just smile and go ‘Wow, that’s so cool’.
“And Starlight Children’s Foundation, they just do amazing work. You see stories of how they helped children and their families in hospitals and that’s just near life-changing.”
Starlight’s mission is to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families in the bid to help them forget about their illness and rediscover what it is to be a kid again.
And for Schultz, that is at the core of why she wanted to take on the challenge of riding 120 kilometres on a unicycle.
Starlight is all about shining the light into the lives of people, and as a Christian, Schultz says that’s what she tries to do daily.
In fact, in a way, her religion has always been connected to her unicycling.
Her family have always been a family of cyclists and every Sunday – before coronavirus meant services moved online – they would ride to church.
When her father noticed that Schultz would ride with no hands, he suggested that the next step would be to take away the handles altogether.
“I thought that was cool and I got my first unicycle for my 12th birthday,” Schultz says.
“I just did it on and off, learnt to ride it. And now I thought I’d take it more seriously and do something meaningful with it.”
And when she moved from regional NSW to Canberra for university, she made sure that her unicycle came with her as well.
While other university students may ride their bike to the shops or get about town, Schultz uses her unicycle to help her clock up the kilometres for the fundraiser.
She has even used the time to help improve her unicycle skills, taking time out from her trek to and from the shops to practice things such as going up and down stairs.
“It has got me out of the house almost every day and it’s been really enjoyable to get out and go riding and learn new skills,” she says.
“I’ve joined the Canberra Unicycle Club and I’ve started playing unicycle hockey is part of my kilometres so it’s been an adventure, as well. You also improve very quickly because you focus on playing the game.”
Schultz has so far raised $644 of her $1000 goal.