‘It’s almost like I’m flying;’ Lifelong Springfield resident ditches car for unicycle
One resident has garnered quite a bit of attention for her unique way to travel in and around Springfield.In a video posted this past week on social media with nearly 250,000 views, Nylah Rogers is seen zipping along Battlefield Road with her full-face helmet on and purse secured while standing on an electric unicycle. Riding an electric unicycle is much like riding a kingsong, Rogers said. You have to lean forward to go and lean back to stop.
In a phone interview with the News-Leader, Rogers explained why she downsized from four wheels to one.
From car to unicycle and in between
After totaling her car in a crash a few years ago, Rogers decided not to replace it. With the short distance between work and home, she said she embraced pedestrian life.
“I thought, ‘I can get by without a car for now,'” Rogers said.
Rogers, who has lived in Springfield all her life, said she saw someone skateboarding one day and thought she’d give that a try. Then, she found something better — an electric unicycle.
Rogers was with a friend when they spotted someone riding an electric unicycle in a parking lot on the north side of Springfield. Rogers said she told her friend: “‘Oh my goodness! What is that? I have to have that.’”
So, she got one, Rogers said. The unicycle was an older model and would only go about 12 mph.
“A lot of people used to see me on that one,” Rogers said. “I decorated it to look like the Captain America shield.”
That was her main mode of transportation for the past two years until this spring when she upgraded to a KingSong 18XL. Rogers said her new electric unicycle — which she is riding in the viral video — goes about 31 mph and has a battery life that lasts 35 miles.
“I get to slow down,” Rogers said. “I get to go on bike trails in the woods and I see so much life around. It’s been really nice to slow down and not rush.”
Because of how fast the electric unicycle can go, Rogers said she has to stay on the roads. She tries to stick with roads with speed limits between 30-35 mph, with one exception being Battlefield Road, which has a higher speed limit.
“I know people get upset because I can only go 30 mph and they have to pass me,” Rogers said. “If I do have to ride on a 40 mph road, I try to make sure I’m on a road that has four lanes, so people can pass me. I try to think of myself similar to a bicyclist. I’ll try to stay over to the side. I try to be mindful of the traffic around me and try not to slow them down.”
Rogers said she isn’t fazed if people honk while she rides by on her electric unicycle.
“Honking’s fine,” Nylah Rogers said. “They honk because they’re excited, they want to say hi or wave. I normally ignore it, because it happens all the time.”
She’s especially had to steel herself for the folks who’ve tried to sneak up on her.
“Then, I’ll have some people who purposely try to… like trucks will get up real close to me and blare their horn to try to scare me,” Rogers said. “I’ve learned to ignore it, but the first few times it happened, I almost had a wreck.”
‘It’s almost like I’m flying.’
Every time Rogers steps on her electric unicycle, she said it’s a rush similar to riding a motorcycle.
“You’re flying down the road. The wind’s in your face. The difference being is you’re hovering above the ground,” Rogers said. “It’s very stable. It’s a very smooth ride because of the big wheel. It’s almost like I’m flying.”
The electric unicycle’s technology keeps her level.
“I say I lean forward to go forward, but really I’m just putting a little bit of pressure on my toes on those pedals and it goes forward,” Rogers said. “There is a little bit of fatigue. My foot does get cramped after a while being in a certain position, so I have to shift my feet every once in a while.”
Despite what some may think, there’s no core workout involved, she said.
“All I’m doing is standing,” Rogers said. “The workout is if I’d be walking. This is cheating.”
In the past three years, Rogers said she had more wrecks on the skateboard than she has had so far with her electric unicycles.
“The smallest little pebble would stop the skateboard and I would go forward. Not as fast, but still. My knees were constantly bloody,” Rogers said. “I just had to get used to that — scabbed knees. Going from that to a unicycle, it ended up being safer.”
Don’t leave home without a helmet
Rogers said her main protector with her electric unicycle is the full-face helmet she wears each time she rides.
“Having a wreck on these is not fun,” Rogers said. “The most common accident on these is a face plant. The wheel does its best to keep underneath you. You lean forward, the wheel speeds up to stay underneath you. That takes a lot of power. The wheel’s constantly activated to stay underneath you, and to keep you upright and balanced.”
There’s a safety feature on her unicycle that will tilt Rogers upright if she exceeds the power limit, she said. Some people have disabled that feature and ended up having an accident.
“A full-face helmet is the best thing to have, otherwise you’d be going around teeth-less,” Rogers said.
It can get a bit hot under that helmet, especially with the heat advisories Springfield was under this past week.
“The sun comes right in and I’m in a sauna in my helmet,” Rogers said. “Anytime I’m at a stoplight, I’ll lift my visor up so I can at least breathe.”
Rogers said she’s gotten several questions about where her pads or motorcycle jacket are.
“I’m in a dress or a skirt. Well, I’m not going to wear pads now because everybody knows I don’t,” Rogers said. “That’s kind of my trademark now. If I have a crash, oh well. I’ll get back on it and go.”
No car in future plans
For the time being, Rogers said she is happy to travel around on her electric unicycle. If she needs a car, she can rent one. Or, in inclement weather, snag a lift through a ride-sharing app.
“It’s been three years since I’ve had a car, and I’ve not missed it at all,” Rogers said. “There are some nice things about having a car. I have to be able to balance on (the unicycle). As I get older, I can’t be the grandma on a wheel.”
With working, giving piano lessons and teaching martial arts, Rogers said her five-year plan involves saving money to travel, and she hopes to move to Japan.
“I don’t have to worry about gas,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about car insurance. But, I would love if there was a company that offered unicycle insurance, I would love to have that, just in case. They do bike insurance, but this is too new for the insurance companies so far.”
Rogers said she is tempted to add a two-wheeled vehicle next year.
“I thought I might get a motorcycle, much to my mother’s dismay,” Rogers said.