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Old 2019-05-13, 04:50 AM   #16
elpuebloUNIdo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylorsinclairstie View Post
It probably doesn't help that I have no body fat to cushion me
Do you have padded bike shorts? Can you build up the padding around your crotch area? That would have the same effect as widening the seat. It might give you some stability, so the saddle would be less likely to move around under you. If you are skinny, even with weight in the seat you may still be lacking a stable connection between you and the seat. And that translates to a much more random, complex motion in the pedals. Unicycling is already so complex; removing some unwanted motion might help. If you have a few pairs of gym shorts, put them all on! (Cue the clown music, please!)

I liked Tholub's comment: Try flailing randomly. Avoid thinking that you need to be in control or look in control. It could cause you to try to ride in a controlled fashion, which isn't really going to help right now. You've got to look and feel out of control.

Keep us posted. We desperately want you to succeed (as you can see from all the responses)!
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Old 2019-05-13, 06:21 AM   #17
nickgauntlett
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Aim to be a better version of yesterday’s self, always focus on the small steps (½ a rotation more than yesterday) break everything thing you want to achieve in unicycling and in life into a hundred steps and focus on each step as a big achievement
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Old 2019-05-13, 07:10 AM   #18
pierrox
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harper View Post
Your seat is too high for a learner.
Agreed, from your description it seems too high.
Did you try riding with someone next to you for support? Someone who would lend a forearm that you can hold?
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Old 2019-05-13, 09:17 AM   #19
OneTrackMind
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The most basic attribute to learning, and indeed all unicycling, is to have fun doing it. People watching you and deriding your attempts is not a good learning space. But it could be good training at centring focus.

The second attribute is persistence. Some people learn quickly and some take a while but anyone who persists can learn this. It takes massive concentration at first but literally becomes as automatic as riding a bicycle with practice.

For such a simple system, the dynamics of unicycling are mind boggling. There are many interacting skills that must be accomplished and coordinated to ride at all. The good news is all the time you keep trying, however you try, the more experience your brain get at several of those skills. All that "failure" is actually learning that you will use to become an accomplished rider, after you tame the thing.

Initial "riding" can be achieved using quite different techniques from an experienced riders who aren't always the best models because their deft techniques are not available to the novice. It calls for "crude but effective".

The absolute beginner needs stability at all cost because they have no finesse. Sitting on the seat is not stable and unless the wheel is perfectly placed, the unicycle tends to pop out from under the rider. Sitting down requires very effective coordination and you cannot build that skill without leaning to ride very poorly first.

By standing on the pedals and gripping the nose of the saddle between the thighs, the unicycle is basically part of the rider's legs in a flexible three point linkage. Keeping wheel under you and staying upright can be understood as "put the wheel where your foot would be if you were walking". This is why the novice must first learn to steer by twisting, another inefficient technique but an unavoidable step on the way. Steering by leaning the uni and the body comes later.

It is important not to get your body too upright. The unicycle slightly leaning back is more stable, controllable and forgiving of inaccuracies in the positioning of the wheel. The rider still has to be above the contact point so the further forward you lean the more the unicycle will be leaning back if you are not in the process of falling off.

Think of your upper body and the unicycle + legs as two separate entities hinged somewhere between your waist and the the saddle. An upright rider is incredibly unstable and the uni is easily knocked out from under them. The angle of the hinge also changes the forward and back balance of the system and is fundamental to the forward and back balance. That small lean forward changes all the time in a small operating range as part of balance.

You can have too much of a good thing and a very small lean goes a long way because there is a lot of body and not much leg/unicycle in the balance.

If you have the opportunity, observe an accomplished unicyclist riding across rough ground. They put more weight on the pedals and a slightly tighter angle at the hinge. However the novice should not try to emulate the extent of this manoeuvre by an experienced rider, just the concept.

Keep at it.
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Last edited by OneTrackMind; 2019-05-13 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 2019-05-13, 12:00 PM   #20
dpn81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylorsinclairstie View Post
If you have any advice, I appreciate it in advance. I'm mostly hoping that the next time I practice I will have success and this will become irrelevant.
Do you record your attempts to aid/confirm your analysis (is what you suspect/believe is happening really happening)?

For example, are you bailing/stepping off the front (because you'e leaning too far forward or peddling too slowly) when you still have time to press a little harder into the peddles for another half revolution or two to catch your balance?
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Old 2019-05-14, 05:33 AM   #21
lowerstackmac
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Welcome to the forum
I’m new at this too. It’s hard to do but it certainly is doable, it just takes perseverance.

As many members have given you so much good advice, all I can do is reinforce some of the things they told me, that I found to be extremely helpful.

Drop your seat down a couple of inches from your leg being fully extended.

Put a block behind your wheel (very important), mount, lean slightly forward and go. Don’t sit there hanging onto your post thinking about it for a minute or two, just maybe ten seconds max.

Once you go, flap your arms as required and it is required.

Have faith, it’ll happen.
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Old 2019-05-14, 07:57 AM   #22
Quax1974
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My 2+ cents:

- right now don't focus too much on keeping weight in the seat, this will sort itself out over time
- mount using a pole or rail, then ride away from it, using a support to ride along for too long inhibits the learning curve. You / your body can only learn the correct "adjustments / actions" when you're not holding onto something.
- do not hold the seat while riding, use both arms for flailing
- do not look down, look far ahead

From my personal starting experience:
- an ever so slight incline is easier to ride than a completely flat surface
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Old 2019-05-14, 03:28 PM   #23
Nicocycle
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It took me three weeks to go two inches. A week later, I was riding around just fine. I think you'll be surprised, as I was, how fast improvement happens once it finally clicks.
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Old 2019-05-14, 08:36 PM   #24
taylorsinclairstie
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I really appreciate the advice from each person who has posted. Thank you all!

The first thing I did today was lower the seat about two inches, and it seemed to help instantly. Riding like this felt completely different, at least for a while. I'm really glad I posted this now, because I don't think I would have come to that conclusion without the advice here!

Today I was able to go on four attempts approximately 16 feet, four times at 18 feet, and once to about 20 feet. Even though I still fizzle out in the same range, and despite after a while completely losing my groove and being unable to regain it, this is definitely an improvement over the last time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
Do you have padded bike shorts? Can you build up the padding around your crotch area? That would have the same effect as widening the seat. It might give you some stability, so the saddle would be less likely to move around under you. If you are skinny, even with weight in the seat you may still be lacking a stable connection between you and the seat. And that translates to a much more random, complex motion in the pedals.
I have tried to add a little extra padding, but I definitely need to invest in bike shorts or find a more concrete way to resolve this. I still don't ever really feel comfortable or secure in the saddle, but I suppose taking some of the weight off the seat today made this problem less significant than before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dpn81 View Post
Do you record your attempts to aid/confirm your analysis (is what you suspect/believe is happening really happening)?

For example, are you bailing/stepping off the front (because you'e leaning too far forward or peddling too slowly) when you still have time to press a little harder into the peddles for another half revolution or two to catch your balance?
I have noticed that I do exactly what you said, particularly leaning too far forward. I spent so much of my time today telling myself to stop doing that and wasn't too successful. I am keeping in mind all the advice that has been posted by everyone on how to position myself, but unfortunately it seems that when I start to analyze a lot it becomes less consistent. My most successful attempts always been soon after I start practicing for the day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowerstackmac View Post
Once you go, flap your arms as required and it is required.
Is this true that flapping my arms should help? Because I don't do that at all. I don't hold on to the seat either, but I just keep my arms loose. The few times I tried using my arms more it just seemed erratic. Also, I try not to think about my upper body at all (which is not easy), because I have more success the lower I imagine my center of gravity.
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Old 2019-05-14, 08:46 PM   #25
Garp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylorsinclairstie View Post
Is this true that flapping my arms should help? Because I don't do that at all. I don't hold on to the seat either, but I just keep my arms loose. The few times I tried using my arms more it just seemed erratic. Also, I try not to think about my upper body at all (which is not easy), because I have more success the lower I imagine my center of gravity.
Flailing your arms widely is the only way you have right now to correct your balance.
Just let your brain do it. Don't let your intellect get in the way.
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Old 2019-05-15, 03:56 AM   #26
Go Uni
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Although my first 20 minute experience was outdoors along a fence, I began my unicycle study in an indoor hallway with one hand on the wall. The hallway being not very long, I would go a few or several feet forward, then come to a complete stop before then going backward the other way, front, stop, back, stop, front, stop, back, stop, etc., but later I then reversed my direction immediately, eliminating an actual stop, front, back, front, back, etc. That showed me two useful things, the importance of powering equally well frontwards and backwards, and in how the momentum of my body weight needs to be corrected for by how the unicycle then gets powered. And now I can go frontwards and backwards with only a fingertip or two on the wall!
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Old 2019-05-15, 04:42 AM   #27
harper
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Now that you have lowered your seat, take Tom's advice next:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tholub View Post
Frankly: Try flailing around randomly. You're probably over-thinking things. You can't consciously obtain dynamic balance; your body has to learn how to do it on its own. Speed up a little, be more willing to be unbalanced, and let your arms flail to correct balance. It's when you are imbalanced and correct that your body starts to learn how to do it.
Unicycling is all about falling. You are always falling. Don't chicken out and step off before you fall off. Try to correct your falls. Then you are doing what Tom describes above.
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Last edited by harper; 2019-05-15 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 2019-05-15, 09:54 AM   #28
OneTrackMind
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Sometimes it is a good idea to take a few days break from trying to ride to give your brain a chance to process and consolidate the sum of experience without continually being overwhelmed by more stimulus.

Many from learners to accomplished have reported unexpected new ability after a break. I had a break of a few months due to an extended illness and quickly developed improved technique when I started riding again such that I could ride in places that had been a problem before the illness despite being much stronger back then.

The break helps you forget your bad habits as well as your good ones.
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Old 2019-05-15, 11:51 PM   #29
elpuebloUNIdo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylorsinclairstie View Post
I try to avoid incorrect movements so as not to solidify bad habits.
Part of me wants to believe what you're saying is possible. The rest of me thinks it's impossible.

Beginners flail their arms wildly because flailing is one of the only tools they have to stay balanced. It allows them to stay on a bit longer, and during that time they learn a little bit about how to keep the unicycle under them.

A person walking a tightrope is going to flail their arms for side-to-side balance. A non-beginner unicyclist doesn't need to flail their arms, because they have learned how to use their lower body to steer in the direction of their fall. But beginner unicyclists notoriously don't know how to steer, so they are left with flailing arms (Similarly, a tightrope walker can not not change the direction of the rope to stay upright).

So, it seems you're stuck with learning using a kludgy technique you can later refine. Learning to unicycle is a little bit like learning to ride a bike without handlebars.

I suggested in another post that it might be possible for a beginner to completely skip the "hands flailing" portion of learning. That would be done by practicing, from the very beginning, with both hands on the saddle-grab-handle. The beginner would immediately learn balance by pivoting at the hips. As I wrote above, part of me wants to believe my own idea is possible, but practically, I think beginners have no option but to endure the "inept dork" stage of unicycling. Your neighbors will laugh. Later on, they won't. You will earn their respect.

All that said, if you've done as well as you have with your arms resting at your sides, don't let me or anyone else suggest that you practice otherwise. It is already sort of working! Keep practicing!
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Old 2019-05-16, 06:36 PM   #30
dpn81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harper View Post
Don't chicken out and step off before you fall off.
This was far and away my biggest problem (and gets reapplied as confidence grows and new scenarios are explored).
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