Riley Zandol (KEIZERTIMES/Lance Masterson)

is quick to answer why the unicycle is his transportation of choice. And it’s not because he envisions a career in the circus. No, he has a different ring in mind.

“I want to ride bulls, and by riding the unicycle I’m improving my balance,” said Riley, 13, an eighth-grader at Whiteaker Middle School.

This advice comes from Ty Murray, the seven-time World Champion All-Around Cowboy.

Credit grandfather Harley Sundet with introducing Riley to rodeos and bull riding. Harley is childhood friends with Larry Mahan, the six-time World Champion from Brooks.

Riley has been riding the unicycle for two years. He rides it “everywhere,” including to and from school.

“It’s extremely difficult beyond your imagination,” he said of the unicycle. “It takes an incredible amount of balance just to be able to sit on top of it.”

Riley has taken his share of spills, but said he finds the unicycle, despite its difficulty, easier than a bicycle when it comes to avoiding falls.

Riley’s parents are Kati and Cameron Zandol of Keizer.