Advanced riders: did you set out to become advanced?

I presently have no goals to do unispins, ride one-footed, etc., but I can see myself eventually learning this stuff as a natural consequence of spending time in the saddle. My original goal was simply to ride around town, nothing more, but that’s now so easy that I’d be bored to tears if it was all I did. I feel like I’ve always got to be learning something new to stay interested. Right now, that means learning to stall, which will eventually lead to idling, which will lead to riding backwards. Those are my only goals right now. When I’ve achieved them all, I’ll probably find something else to keep boredom away.

I’m interested to know how many advanced riders looked at the advanced stuff when you were brand new and thought, “That’s gonna be me one day!”, and how many did what I’m doing and only added new stuff to keep the boredom away as your skills increased.

When I went to my first meeting of a unicycle club, in early 1980 (age 18) I saw a list of skill levels, which included riding with one foot. I thought they were joking, so then they called over a 10-year old kid to demonstrate. I think my jaw hit the floor, because I had just seen the impossible.

Not sure if I decided then, but that was definitely one of the defining moments. I knew how to freemount a 6’ giraffe, but didn’t know much about what tricks existed. :slight_smile:

I saw a video of street unicycling and thought “that is sick I want to learn to grind rails” That basically set the stage for things I would need to learn as I would have to be able to ride well enough to jump high. From there I watched more videos and though some of the tricks looked really cool.

In my mind I don’t ever look at a video (and I watch a lot) and think “that will be me one day” but I have a number of tricks that I feel are within my reach that I could land.

If I can learn those tricks I would be quite happy and I don’t think I need to be the best in the world. If I end up landing those tricks I will go for some harder ones.

On the flip side I also took part in other disciplines just because I enjoyed riding so much I wanted to do more. I play unicycle hockey and do mountain unicycle just for additional riding. It helps keep you interested I am sure.

I wouldn’t call myself an advanced rider but I can do sloppy 180 unispins, ride one footed, short wheelwalks, ride backward until I fall over from craning my neck, idle and hop around with some amount of skill. When learning something new I’ve found that there’s a certain point where I realize that it is within my skills to start practicing it properly and that’s when I go for it. It’s kind of pointless to try learning a whip when you can barely hop up a curb, it takes time to get to the point where you are ready for a new skill.

I always have wanted to be an advanced rider but I really haven’t committed the time or energy to improve more. Most of my skills I learned as a natural progression of ability with not all that much intentional practice. The first thing I learned was to rolling hop up curbs out of necessity. After that I learned one foot riding to re-position my feet on the pedals easier and help me have more control of my weight distribution. I learned to wheelwalk short distances in a couple hours when I realized that I was almost able to do it from my one foot riding practice. Idling and 180spins I practiced a bit more to get and I’m still not too great at the spins. Backward riding is kind of fun, I don’t really remember practicing that at all but I can do it a little.

The biggest thing that I want right now is to increase my hopping height by at least double or triple (right now I can barely get a foot) but I just haven’t practiced it a lot. I think that hop height is something that can’t be learned without a lot of trial, error and muscle toning.

As I pondered Catsmeat’s question, I couldn’t help thinking of this little passage from a book I was reading the other day:
“There is no trace of utopianism in Marx, in the sense that he made up or invented a ‘new’ society. No, he studied the birth of the new society out of the old, and the forms of transition from the latter to the former…”

Accordingly, there probably are some unicycling skills that naturally grow out of other skills after a while, but the only one I can think of that I acquired that way is dismounting off the rear of the unicycle- a Level 1 skill that came to me in the form of a UPD when I started working on idling! Other than that, the uniskills I have acquired have all been the result of very deliberate efforts.

Some of the factors which have driven me to keep “advancing” on the unicycle:

  • youtube videos showed me what is possible
  • pleasure centers of the brain only seem to fire when new learning happens.
  • old technique gets boring
  • I'm a showoff who wants to challenge other people's perceptions of what is possible on a unicycle.
  • if Unigeezer can do it, at least I can 'try'.
  • I had a chance to ride with some great riders; they were an inspiration.
  • I looked at the complete trick list, and thought I should at least be able to do 'some' of them.
  • The intense struggle associated with learning new technique almost guarantees that, as long as I'm trying new and hard stuff, I'll be getting a good workout.

“I worked hard. Anyone who works as hard as I did can achieve the same results.” - -J.S. Bach

NAILED IT. Same with the drums.

I’m a USA Level 6 rider so I don’t know if that qualifies as high level, depends on your specific discipline. Anyway, I started just hoping to ride across the gym one day. It took time and a lot of work but once I accomplished that on the short side of the gym the next step was the long side.

The coach of the club at the time (Alan Tepper) strongly encouraged riders to always progress to the next step, which in my case was Level 1, so I did. I don’t like plain exercising but have always been athletic and sports minded and fairly competitive, and unicycling turned out to be all of those things. Plus the added bonus of increasing balance, which is important as you get older.

Every time I learn a new skill, or clear a tough obstacle, or ride a mountain trail, etc I’m a little kid again. Add all those up and I’m a happy man at a “high level”.

I would say that I’m a solidly intermediate rider. According to the USA skill levels I can do all the skills through level 5, most of the level 6 and 7 ones, half the level 8 ones, and about a third of the level 9 and 10 skills. The remaining skills fall into these categories:

  • those I'm not interested in (riding backwards with the seat out, seat on the side, hand wheel walk)
  • those I don't think I'll be able to do (pirouette, glide for 10 meters)
  • those I'm practicing or planning to practice (backwards wheel walk, more advanced one foot backward)
I've been riding since July 2009 and for the first few years I spent a lot of practice time on skills but also made time for sports (basketball), muni, and road riding. I definitely picked my way through the skills and thought, "That's gonna be me one day!" (One footed backwards, which took me a year and half to get basic riding down, was like this.) I tried and abandoned disclipines that didn't mesh well with my combination of clumsiness and bad coordination (trials and flatland). In 2012 I discovered the joys of coasting and I set three goals at the beginning of 2013:

downhill gliding
proficiency on the double wheel
backwards wheel walking

I worked six months on these (in addition to sports, muni, and road riding). I made decent progress on the double wheel (mounting and riding figure eights) and a little progress on the other two (I’m still working on backwards wheel walking but gave up on downhill gliding). At that time I discovered freewheel unicycling and concentrated heavily on that from June 2013 through October 2014. I’ve backed off a little bit since then and made a concerted effort to improve my muni riding. In addition to working on muni, this year I’m also practicing geared riding (fixed and freewheel) and peg unicycle riding.

I feel that many of the skills are useful for general riding. For instance, even if I’m not planning to ride one footed on a mountain trail the ability to ride one footed gives me more control in situations where my foot may be thrown off the pedal. I used to consider muni and road riding as “exercise”, wanting to spend more time on skills practice but now that adding skills takes a lot longer I work on progressing in my muni and road riding, as well as inventing new types of riding which are fun and offer a challenge (suspension peg unicycling is a great example of this).

Waaalrus, you are a very advanced rider, especially when it comes to coasting unicycles. The best I’ve seen.

How could it be that he is really good at coasting but has given up on gliding? Aren’t these two skills closely related, and isn’t coasting (no feet on tire) supposed to be harder than gliding (one foot on tire as needed)?

I’ve always thought that if I got really good one day, I would try to acquire these skills, but at the moment, my curiosity about them is mostly philosophical…

I’m not now and never will be advanced, let alone expert. But since I have significant paralysis in my lower legs, hips and glutes, I guess I’m advanced in my own way. (See avatar)

I have progressed to be able to ride terrain and do a few tricks that I never conceived I’d be able to when I started, partly to keep things interesting, and I figured they’d be useful or helpful in learning something else that was. But for me that process was EXTREMELY slow (almost 8 months @ 5 hrs/wk to ride backwards, SIF, & SIB somewhat consistently). It’s sometimes frustrating some of the most basic skills I still can’t do (free-mounting and hopping).

Everything I saw at first shocked me but after a few years I learned what was doable & by what level of riders. There was a list of tricks I had thought of that I knew would be really cool, but I decided they were impossible to do on a unicycle. One of those was the uni equivalent of a tail whip, then I saw Max Schulze do his Max Whip and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I immediately rewatched that bit 20 X’s. So I told myself all those tricks and more are now possible, then when Max did his flip, it was amazing, but didn’t defy logic to me.

I think mostly because he has coasting-specific unicycles. Not that you can’t use them for gliding if you want, but they’re made for coasting and you have a better grip when coasting on those. Gliding is always a pretty sketchy grip, even on smooth terrain.

Yes you are, one of the strongest and most determined riders I’ve ever seen. I my world, you are one of the superheroes!

When I decided to purchase the KH29 instead of a sweet new(used) mountain bike it was “game on”. I was not going to go cheap with a muni.
or was I gonna buy used. I bought new. After destroying my calf, I invested in the leg armor. Take my advice, buy the armor. I’ve had plenty of UPD’s and a few were painful. Nothing to wait in emergency room for luckily. Know what you can do and step out of your comfort zone when you think you can. You can only improve with practice.