About 220 miles southeast of Seattle, Washington is the Tri-Cities (Pasco, Kennewick and Richland). But unlike the western part of the state, Eastern Washington is known for many things (excluding rain), including: baseball, boat races, biking golfing and especially sunshine. In fact, the Tri-Cities boasts that it’s sunny 300 days out of the year.
Visitors to the Tri-Cities immediately notice the many paved bike trails and walking paths throughout the cities. The departments of parks and recreation are very busy here. Kennewick and Pasco share a 23 mile biking trail along both sides of the Columbia River called the Sacajawea Heritage Trail; this beautiful trail provides gorgeous views of the river and community parks and bikers can even ride across the blue bridge, a famous landmark in the Columbia Basin region.
If your family is into bikes, the Tri-Cities isn’t a bad place to be. Jeff Wiberg, a father of four children, has always enjoyed the outdoors and has shared a love of adventure with his children and even served as a volunteer with youth in his church getting them off-screen and into the outdoors, whether it be riding bikes, hiking, camping and canoeing. He’s taken several youth groups, including his children to hike Badger Mountain, which is the most popular hike in the Tri-Cities.
Jeff also rides a unicycle and has introduced his kids to the sport. His daughter Whitney recently rode her unicycle in the dark with an obstacle course made from glow sticks for her talent show for her church group. Jeff’s oldest son, Devon has really taken off in the sport of unicyling.
Devon, a student at Kamaikin HS in Kennewick, WA started unicycling about three years ago when his dad introduced him to the sport and it became a hobby that stuck with him. Unlike riding a regular bicycle, he says, “the unicycle feels just like an extension of your body once you get enough practice.” Any given day finds Devon whirling up and down the streets on his unicycle. One of the things he enjoys most is the “double-takes, funny looks and thumbs ups” he gets while riding around.
Prior to becoming a proficient unicycler, Devon says he struggled to have conversations with his friends but unicyling has given him a way to connect and talk with friends easily because they want to watch and ask questions about it. It is something he really enjoys and when you see Devon on his unicycle, he waves at you with a big smile on his face. Indeed, there is a great benefit when students go off-screen and enjoy the fresh air – whether it be doing a hobby they love or just walking and talking with a friend face-to-face (something both his father and mother have encouraged their children to do).
When his dad thought Devon was ready, he challenged him to ride his unicycle up Badger Mountain. It’s just a little over a mile one-way; however, with a total ascent of 836 feet, Badger would challenge the fittest riders on bicycles, let alone on a unicycle. His father rode behind him and took photographs all along the way.
Devon wasn’t sure he would be able to do it, but when I asked him if he’d consider doing it again, he said he would. As you make the ascent up Badger Mountain, the panoramic view of the entire Tri-Cities fills the skyline. You can even see the Columbia River winding through the three cities. Badger is pretty bare and so nothing blocks your view. Devon says, “The sound of gravel crunching under your tire is really satisfying and on a night with a full moon, you don’t even have to bring flashlights and the view of the city at night as awesome.”
All photographs by Jeff Wiberg of Wiberg Photography. Used with permission.
Fathers like Jeff play an extraordinary role in helping their children to develop healthy habits that they will carry with them into adulthood. Devon is very fortunate to have discovered a unique hobby and one that he thoroughly enjoys. For boys and girls wanting to try out unicyling, Devon recommends practicing unicycling at the skate park and bike trails in Columbia Park. His future plans include unicycling in Zintel Canyon and the state patrol bike trails.