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Old 2017-01-08, 10:39 PM   #31
MrImpossible
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I completely agree with the original poster, and others, that unicycling isn't especially hard compared to other activities - it just has that frustrating initial phase where you can't do *anything*. I even made a similar post in another thread, about the "Lunacycle" maybe helping with the learning curve.

I also think that as a small, relatively disorganized activity, we don't see people reaching the level of expertise that people reach in other sports and activities - e.g. street unicyclists don't have the competitions and coaching that, say, gymnasts do. So our standard for landing a trick is basically that you didn't fall down. In gymnastics, you better land that trick perfectly, no correction hop, after keeping a perfect position in the air, knees straight, toes together and pointed, etc. etc. etc.

And the same thing applies to musicians - hitting the notes is just the bare minimum - and pretty much every other large, competitive activity. I don't think unicycling is harder than, say, tennis, but that's not why we don't have the equivalent of a Roger Federer. It's because you just can't get world-class good on your own, or in a local club.
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Old 2017-01-08, 11:26 PM   #32
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And the same thing applies to musicians - hitting the notes is just the bare minimum
Interesting point, and it raises a point I was thinking about earlier regarding my relative abilities. I kind of have this idea of myself as a pretty good unicyclist and a fairly mediocre musician. In reality I'm actually a far better musician than unicyclist, because I am striving for more than just hitting the notes (and regarding my earlier assessment of my natural abilities, I've been playing for 33 years and only riding for 5), and just about good enough to play in a band, whilst the only reason anybody would want to watch me perform on a unicycle is the novelty factor. The disparity is down to where I am compared to the entire population, including people who can't play or ride - there are less people who can ride a unicycle better than me than who can play a trumpet better than me!
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Old 2017-01-08, 11:47 PM   #33
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I think you will have a hard time comparing how difficult it is to learn something compared to some other activity. For those select few who possess, the predisposition riding seems natural while others excel at chess or playing music (or at silly wand waving). So how can you judge difficulty objectively?
True. But also true is that if a person has foundational skills for an activity, such as skateboarding or skiing before unicycling, or other musical instruments before learning a new one, that gives them a head start in the learning process.

Another factor in learning is "how badly" one wants to succeed. Many people approach the unicycle with fear, and the initial learning process can be discouraging so people may lose motivation. I think that's why so many people give up and never try it again. This was true for me, in part. The P.O.S. unicycle I was learning on made riding quite difficult, and I gave up many times. But at the same time, I was determined to conquer the thing. I thought, "If those otherwise-normal humans (kids in my neighborhood) can learn it, why can't I?" And so I persevered.
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Statistically speaking riding a skateboard or playing guitar would be easier than riding a unicycle since there are a lot more top skateboarders or top guitarists than top unicyclists.
I think you are comparing success with the learning process. In some ways, because unicycling is so small, it is easier to reach top ranking. As long as you avoid Unicon, where the very top riders gather. But if you go to the USA Nationals, for instance, the bar is quite a bit lower for most events.
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Nevertheless i wonder how many people would learn to play a guitar if they would be ridiculed constantly while playing.
You might want to look for a better place to practice. If it's comments you get while riding down the street, I don't worry so much about those because I just keep going. But definitely trying to focus on learning tricks with annoying people in the background would be a deterrent, and I have experienced that in my past.
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There are very few top triangle players out there, does that make playing the triangle hard?
Again this is comparing learning difficulty with overall success compared to others. To be a "top" Triangle player, for instance, you would have to get into the rarefied atmosphere of symphony orchestras and such, where there are extremely high standards (ignoring that you would probably have to be extremely good at a few other percussion instruments as well). To be a professional unicyclist it is a lower bar, since there is a lot less to be compared against. That makes it easier to reach that position, but does not mean it was easier getting there. If you get there at all, making a living at it is still super-hard.
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Do you think it takes a special kind of personality to start learning unicycling and sticking with it? Would you (adressed to anyone that unicycles) consider yourself a person that is more patient and endurant than average?
I sort of covered this above, but it doesn't require a special personality, that will just help you learn faster, or be less likely to quit. For example with the Rubicks, I appreciate the difficulty, but puzzles don't interest me as much and I've never taken the time to learn how to solve a Rubicks Cube. And I'm okay with that. Just like how 99+% of the population is okay with never learning to ride a unicycle, even if they think it's cool to watch.
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Nice to have an audience friendly trick in the bag - I'll have to work at it a bit more to make it consistent.
For males, there is always an out if you miss your first attempt at a kick-up mount. That is, to feign crotch pain. This can be done appropriately for all audiences, but it's easy to get it wrong if you have a sensitive group. And of course, holding the trumpet adds a level of difficulty. To learn it better, I recommend trying it will juggling. Torches.
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Old 2017-01-13, 10:40 PM   #34
Unitardis
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time and skill, linear gains

As for a learning curve the thing that impresses me about unicycling is that you can keep learning new skills for a very long time. The more you try to stretch your skills at the limit the better you get, not by leaps and bounds, but by gradual increments. Every month I'm a little better but not dramatically so. Improvement creeps up on you when you are engaging in 'deliberate practice' as they say in the literature. This is neat! No more breakthrough days but over time there is big improvement.

At some point age will put a ceiling on improvement and eventually that ceiling will drop, but so far so good. Not there yet! Terry P is an inspiration for sure.

Maybe I'll make a graph later...
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Old 2017-01-14, 12:00 AM   #35
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No more breakthrough days but over time there is big improvement.

At some point age will put a ceiling on improvement and eventually that ceiling will drop, but so far so good. Not there yet!
That depends on what your current skill set is. After I learned to ride I just got on with riding (muni and the like) and never really progressed my skills much. For some reason I recently decided to work on stuff and have had a lot of breakthrough days recently (I think a couple of days ago was the first day this year I didn't have a significant first at something).

I guess there's still going to be a point where there are no more skills left you are capable of learning, but there's such a wide range of things you can do on a unicycle that seems a long way off.
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Old 2017-01-14, 03:10 AM   #36
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I agree! I Learned to ride about 3.5 years ago. Been riding muni since I could ride over 100 yards. But just riding wasn't really improving my riding much. I rode with some guys in October in Tucson that inspired me to to practice more skills. What a difference! Many breakthrough days in the last few months. All most every ride. Even my regular xc riding has improved a huge amount since I started focusing on other skills. I though my learning curve had flattened out but I now know that I'm still capable of learning stuff that I'd previously passed off as crazy, even as I'm about to turn 57.
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Old 2017-01-14, 02:49 PM   #37
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I agree! I Learned to ride about 3.5 years ago. Been riding muni since I could ride over 100 yards. But just riding wasn't really improving my riding much. I rode with some guys in October in Tucson that inspired me to to practice more skills. What a difference! Many breakthrough days in the last few months. All most every ride. Even my regular xc riding has improved a huge amount since I started focusing on other skills. I though my learning curve had flattened out but I now know that I'm still capable of learning stuff that I'd previously passed off as crazy, even as I'm about to turn 57.
I think we are saying the same thing but I think of breakthrough days differently. Your use of 'breakthrough' is probably more standard than mine so I concede the terminological point. The cool thing is there are still improvements that accrue when you are pushing the limits and the sky seems to be the limit. That's what I referred to as 'deliberate practice' which describes working effortfully at something you haven't mastered yet, requiring concentration, focus, and grit.

My improvements keep coming. I'm riding on uneven ice w/ footprints in it now. I see that as an incremental improvement, not a breakthrough. Others would probably call it a breakthrough. At first grass was hard because of the unevenness of it but now it's easy. Then a few inches of snow on grass and trails. Then heavier snow. Then uneven and deeper snow. Then snow over ice and mud. Then snow that has melted into frozen footprints making a very bumpy and unforgiving surface. And I've usually got a 110lb dog on a leash simultaneously. I see that progression as incremental. You may describe it as a series of breakthroughs. We are talking about the same thing. The important thing is that we are both trying stuff at the limit of our abilities and that's how we are improving. Breaking through the barriers...

Now when I master hopping straight up curbs I'll consider that a breakthrough (for me). That one has eluded me so far. Something about gravity, whiteness, and no hops. Must try harder...

Congrats for doing this in your 50s like me. There seems to be something about this age (50s) and unicycling that isn't coincidental. Maybe we are old enough to not give a poop that we look like clowns out there. I kind of like looking like a clown out there. It makes ppl smile (and a few frown, but f-them conformist losers).
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Old 2017-01-14, 04:39 PM   #38
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Now when I master hopping straight up curbs I'll consider that a breakthrough (for me).
Keep on hopping. That's one of my new skills since October. Started by hopping down from curbs, then stairs and finally walls and rocks up to 2' tall. Up is much more difficult and I can only make about an 8" curb so far. Also working on the rolling hop. I can do it in a parking lot but not quite ready to try it in a real world situation. Somewhere in the last few months I learned to jump mount. Not sure how useful that is but I guess it's just fun to scare the hell out of your nut sack once in a while.
When I started adding and practicing these new skills I noticed other skills I already had seemed to improve with them. I could climb better, roll over rougher terrain easier and was just becoming a better rider overall. Every ride it seems I can now do something I couldn't do before.
I guess my point is, if I even have one (in your 50's the mind tends to go off track) is never stop trying to learn new things. Not only do you get the new skill but I think it can improve your other skills as well. Something about a right-brain, left-brain thing.
I've rambled enough. I'm going for a ride before it starts to rain.
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Old 2017-01-14, 05:08 PM   #39
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Not only do you get the new skill but I think it can improve your other skills as well.
One of my early goals was to ride all the way down to the end of the street. After a lot of trying, I could never quite make it that far and I was getting frustrated with trying. So I decided since I could "sort of" turn (but not really), I would try something new and just try to ride a complete circle in my driveway. After about a half hour of trying, I made it all the way around in a circle clockwise. I thought I should probably do it counterclockwise as well. About another 15 minutes and I could ride both ways around in a circle. Immediately, I could tell that my goal of riding to the end of the street would be easy now, I could just feel it. I walked right down to the street and did it. Learning to ride the circles each way definitely made a huge improvement in riding straight for me.
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Old 2017-01-14, 05:59 PM   #40
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I promised I would be back to this to add new stuff to this disussion, so here it comes:
This time, it is about your personality. Do you think it takes a special kind of personality to start learning unicycling and sticking with it? Would you (adressed to anyone that unicycles) consider yourself a person that is more patient and endurant than average? Do you think you are attracted to hobbys that require a lot of practice to start, but give you a big feeling of achievement when learned?
I am a public school music teacher. In my current job, I teach 4th and 5th graders (9-11 yr. olds) to play the violin. I teach at seven different schools. Each school has a different environment and socio-economics. The students at some schools are more "ready to learn" than at others.

Learning, whether on the unicycle or on a musical instrument, involves delayed gratification. I've read articles discussing how delayed gratification is the keystone of emotional maturity. There's a famous experiment where kids are given two choices: 1. Have a marshmallow now, or 2. Wait until later and get two marshmallows.

In my experience, the more privileged kids learn faster, particularly when learning involves first a reading exercise, then transferring the reading into actual performance. They are able to wait for the two marshmallows (reading music is superior to rote methods of learning, because it allows the student to play much more repertoire). The lower socio-economic schools, in general, are grabbing for the one marshmallow (they can play, but their reading is not as good). I think the privileged kids are more accustomed to getting their way by showing self-control. They experience good outcomes when they use their language, their manners, their patience. The less-privileged kids, on the other hand, live in in a home environment where reaching for the one marshmallow is the only choice.

Maslow's hierarchy explains the above phenomenon. The more basic the need, the less we are able to wait. Underprivileged children are more concerned with immediate concerns: food, safety. To meet these needs, children are more likely to act impulsively.

So, in answer to the above question, what type of person is likely to succeed learning to unicycle, I'd pick a rich kid over a poor kid. Harsh, I know. Rich or poor, if I had to pick one thing most threatening to music practice and unicycle-learning, it would be video games.

I have had virtually no luck getting any neighbor kids into unicycling. The exception is a 13 year old neighbor who can ride more than 200 meters on my 20". His success has more to do with being a profoundly good athlete ... than with perseverance.

I wish the initial learning curve were not so steep on the unicycle. I think anyone learning to unicycle would find it enjoyable.
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Old 2017-01-14, 08:16 PM   #41
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I wish the initial learning curve were not so steep on the unicycle. I think anyone learning to unicycle would find it enjoyable.
I'm kind of glad the club is small. I kind of regret that so many people are missing out on the magic carpet ride but hey i'm cool with iconoclasm.

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Old 2017-01-15, 12:24 AM   #42
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I'm kind of glad the club is small. I kind of regret that so many people are missing out on the magic carpet ride but hey i'm cool with iconoclasm.
Yes, if there wasn't the hump to get over it would just be another sport that almost anyone would be better at than me! Whereas now I get to be special!
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Old 2017-01-15, 12:33 AM   #43
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If it were easy, the instant gratification crowd would be doing it and we would be doing something hard.
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Old 2017-01-16, 08:43 PM   #44
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Yes, if there wasn't the hump to get over it would just be another sport that almost anyone would be better at than me! Whereas now I get to be special!
This! I've never been very athletic, nor particularly good at any sport. I'm not a particularly good unicycler, either, but compared to the average person on the street, I'm amazing!
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Old 2017-01-17, 01:41 AM   #45
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I'm kind of glad the club is small. I kind of regret that so many people are missing out on the magic carpet ride but hey i'm cool with iconoclasm.
That is one of the special things about being a Unicyclist. The individualism of it. In our own little small worlds we are all Rock Stars. Then when you go somewhere and see really talented unicyclist like at the NAUCC you get humbled and somewhat intimidated and very inspired.
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