Advice needed for beginner.

Myself and a friend have been learning to uni for the past two weeks
now (as some of you may know from my previous posts). We started by
using a railing for support while we got the feel of being on the uni
and then we progressed to riding along with one hand on the other
person’s shoulder, sort of like having ‘training wheels’. This all
went along very well and so we decided to follow Dancey’s advice and
‘launch into the abyss’. I found with an hour or so a day of practice
at the tennis court, in the underground parkade and at the local
elementary school playground I have gotten to the point where I can
ride about a block or two at a go. Today I did some block long laps
of a big empty parking lot at a nearby college.
Here’s the problem though: my friend who has been practicing along
with me is hopelessly stuck at the stage of trying to ride on her own.
She gets one or two revolutions and then just stops dead and steps
off the uni. So we went back to some assisted starts for a while to
build skill and confidence and then the next day she was able to do a
few 8 foot runs. However today she is back to just going one or two
revolutions and stepping off. She sweated away at the same
‘start,pedal once or twice and step off’ for over an hour with no runs
at all!
This process has been very frustrating for her and on more than one
occassion anger hung heavy in the air.
I am such a newbie myself that, even though I have combed the archives
for tips, I just don’t know what to suggest at this point.
In fact I’m not sure that it isn’t too late; could be my pal is on the
verge of giving up totally. ;-(
I have tried to get her to lean forward to promote the momentum needed
for the uni to roll and when I walk her through this technique it
seems to work but she just can’t get going on her own.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Erin

Weight on the seat. Focus at a distance. Ride until you fall off, don’t chicken out and step off.

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

Erin,

Having just learned to Uni myself and assisted my 11 year old daughter
with learning the Uni, I think I may be able to offer some advice… try
spotting her.

It sounds like your friend may have the skills but is afraid to hurt
herself, which is totally understandable. My daughter was in the same
situation. I would spot your friend for a couple days while she builds
up her confidence.

With my daughter, I would help her mount, get her balance and then let
her hold my hand for a few pedal strokes until she was moving, then I
would just hold out my hand (palm face up) so she could touch it
lightly- but she knew I was always there for her (important). I would
simply remind her of the basics- keep your head up, look straight ahead,
smooth pedal strokes. Then when she had her ‘Zen moments’ I would offer
to let her go solo, if she said yes I would stop walking and let her go.
Soon she was going all the way down the street, then around the block
and now we can ‘lollipop’ :smiley: around a couple of miles together no
problem.

And if all else fails, have her raise the seat. :wink:

Jason

Sounds like the main thing is lack of confidence, possibly coupled with the effect of getting into a negative feedback loop. Improve the odds by doing some of the following:

  1. Check the seat height. Get your friend to sit on the seat with her foot on the pedal at the bottom of its travel, heel on the pedal (NOT instep or ball of foot). The leg should be comfortably straight, but the knee should not be locked. That is the perfect height for a bicycle seat. Now lower it half an inch or so (couple of centimetres) and that should be the ideal height for a unicycle seat.

  2. Concentrate on weight on the seat, not on the pedals.

  3. Look at least 30 feet (10 metres) into the distance. DON’T look at the ground immediately in front.

  4. Many people find it encouraging to count the pedal strokes, and keep track of their progress. A typical learning curve will go 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,2,1,1,2,1,2,1,3,1,1,2,1,3,3,4,2,1,5,3,2,3,2,4,6,10,3,15…

  5. Aim for a smooth circular pedaling stroke. Some riders try to be in a state of perfect balance at all times, so they try to stop and regain balance after each pedal stroke. This more than doubles the difficulty of the task.
    Your friend should aim for ‘dynamic balance’ which means that the unicycle is only balanced as long as it stays moving. A good illustration of this is to balance a broom (or similar) on your finger, then try to walk a few metres. It’s easier if you can let the broom start to fall, then try to keep up with it, rather than trying to have the broom perfectly balanced at all times.

  6. Try to find a practice area with a slight downhill on it.

  7. Break the spell by trying something different. Mount in a different place on the wall, or try to start with the other foot leading. Get your friend to help you with a skill you’re learning. Once you get into a rut with the same mistake happening time and again, all you are doing is burning the mistake into your muscle memory. Practising whilst angry with yourself only makes things worse.

  8. Experiment with things like trying to ride round and round a post, holding onto it, or riding alongside a wall, trailing your hand along the wall (wear gloves).

  9. Experiment with freemounting now and again. Sometimes trying a difficult skill makes the easier skill come more quickly.

  10. Don’t make your friend feel stupid or inadequate. Even gentle teasing and sarcasm are likely to be counterproductive.

Good luck.

Mike, that was a very nice post! Great, really!

Im just learning too and what i do is to make sure im fully padded up , wrists, knees, shins, elbows and a helmet. this instantly gives me confidence to keep pedalling i also made a huge breakthru when i used the balls of my feet on the pedals i seemed to have more control.

good luck

Lowering the seat height an inch or even two from what my nephew picked himself helped an awful lot in keeping him on the uni. His hips tended to rock at his seat height, which really seems to destabilize the entire process. Better too low than too high.

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

>Here’s the problem though: my friend who has been practicing along
>with me is hopelessly stuck at the stage of trying to ride on her own.
> She gets one or two revolutions and then just stops dead and steps
>off the uni. So we went back to some assisted starts for a while to
>build skill and confidence and then the next day she was able to do a
>few 8 foot runs. However today she is back to just going one or two
>revolutions and stepping off. She sweated away at the same
>‘start,pedal once or twice and step off’ for over an hour with no runs
>at all!
>This process has been very frustrating for her and on more than one
>occassion anger hung heavy in the air.
>I am such a newbie myself that, even though I have combed the archives
>for tips, I just don’t know what to suggest at this point.
>In fact I’m not sure that it isn’t too late; could be my pal is on the
>verge of giving up totally. ;-(

What she is going through is a completely typical learning process. That
“start,pedal once or twice and step off” thing is programming her reflexes, a
little bit at a time. She WILL get it if she keeps trying. The only question is
whether she has the will to keep trying. I hurled myself back and forth across
the floor of my apartment for two weeks before I could get from one wall to the
other without falling down. The dark secret of unicycling, what we don’t want
the public to know, is that anyone with an average sense of balance can ride
the thing. The body just has to develop a completely new set of reflexes for
its sense of balance to use, to handle this very peculiar new balancing
challenge that’s being thrown at it. This takes varying lengths of time for
different people, and most people who try it decide too soon that it’s
impossible and abandon it. Seeing someone else picking it up faster than she is
is no doubt adding to her discouragement; she needs to know that the time that
she’s taking is NOT unusual. I am SURE that she is very close to the edge now;
whether her increasing ability will win or lose the race with her frustration
is the question.

It might be easier if she has two solid cling-to structures, walls or poles or
something a few yards apart, that she can ride one to the other, instead of
trying to ride off into the wide open. Having a defined short distance with
something to grab onto at the other end is a great help. When she can wobble
between these two things, find two other things slightly farther apart.

Taking a day off from it now and then is likely to help.

  • Joe

=============================
If Teddy Grahams crackers
were shaped like goats instead of bears,
would they be Billy Grahams?

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

On Sun, 14 Jul 2002 12:04:16 -0500, sendhair
<sendhair.7sjbb@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>Mike, that was a very nice post! Great, really!

I thought exactly the same. I’ve always assumed that the “Roland Hope
School of Unicycling” sig line was a joke, but this list of very
useful and to-the-point advise would be worthy of any School of
Unicycling. Mikefule, what is it with that sig line?

I could add one thing from own experience, corroborating Jason’s
advice. When I was learning to ride 1.5 years ago, I was kind of stuck
to riding along a wall rack (in a gym). I could ride for 10 meters
along the rack but at most 1 revolution when in the open. I then had a
helper who was strong enough to trust as a support. He held my hand
firmly until I had some confidence, then he gradually let go. And
there I went on my own. If I ever had a breakthrough moment in
unicycling, this was it!

The seat height / weight on seat debate is undecided yet, with
conflicting advice so far. While weight on seat definitely improves
riding once you have some ability, I am personally not convinced that
it should be emphasised in the early learning stage. But others hammer
on it. Also, I think that having the seat too low, even by a couple of
inches, was not very detrimental to my learning.

Klaas Bil

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

On Sun, 14 Jul 2002 12:04:16 -0500, sendhair
<sendhair.7sjbb@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>Mike, that was a very nice post! Great, really!

I thought exactly the same. I’ve always assumed that the “Roland Hope
School of Unicycling” sig line was a joke, but this list of very
useful and to-the-point advise would be worthy of any School of
Unicycling. Mikefule, what is it with that sig line?

I could add one thing from own experience, corroborating Jason’s
advice. When I was learning to ride 1.5 years ago, I was kind of stuck
to riding along a wall rack (in a gym). I could ride for 10 meters
along the rack but at most 1 revolution when in the open. I then had a
helper who was strong enough to trust as a support. He held my hand
firmly until I had some confidence, then he gradually let go. And
there I went on my own. If I ever had a breakthrough moment in
unicycling, this was it!

The seat height / weight on seat debate is undecided yet, with
conflicting advice so far. While weight on seat definitely improves
riding once you have some ability, I am personally not convinced that
it should be emphasised in the early learning stage. But others hammer
on it. Also, I think that having the seat too low, even by a couple of
inches, was not very detrimental to my learning.

Klaas Bil

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

On Sun, 14 Jul 2002 12:04:16 -0500, sendhair
<sendhair.7sjbb@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote:

>Mike, that was a very nice post! Great, really!

I thought exactly the same. I’ve always assumed that the “Roland Hope
School of Unicycling” sig line was a joke, but this list of very
useful and to-the-point advise would be worthy of any School of
Unicycling. Mikefule, what is it with that sig line?

I could add one thing from own experience, corroborating Jason’s
advice. When I was learning to ride 1.5 years ago, I was kind of stuck
to riding along a wall rack (in a gym). I could ride for 10 meters
along the rack but at most 1 revolution when in the open. I then had a
helper who was strong enough to trust as a support. He held my hand
firmly until I had some confidence, then he gradually let go. And
there I went on my own. If I ever had a breakthrough moment in
unicycling, this was it!

The seat height / weight on seat debate is undecided yet, with
conflicting advice so far. While weight on seat definitely improves
riding once you have some ability, I am personally not convinced that
it should be emphasised in the early learning stage. But others hammer
on it. Also, I think that having the seat too low, even by a couple of
inches, was not very detrimental to my learning.

Klaas Bil

Hey Erin,

You mentioned your friend going back to “assisted starts” for a while, and maybe what I’m about to mention is just that, but… when I was at the point of “launching into the abyss” (I had the Dancey book aswell), I found that it became a lot easier when I was already moving along steadily before letting go of a wall/rail. I did this by finding an open area with a building jutting out into it, and then riding along the edge of the building with my hand against the wall for stability for a couple of pedals. Then once I was in the open, I found I had more success because I was already balanced. I think this definately reduced the time it took me to get comfortable with riding unassisted.

Hope this makes sense!

Trenton

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

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On Sunday 14 July 2002 07:35 pm, Klaas Bil wrote:
> On Sun, 14 Jul 2002 12:04:16 -0500, sendhair
>

>
> The seat height / weight on seat debate is undecided yet, with
> conflicting advice so far. While weight on seat definitely improves
> riding once you have some ability, I am personally not convinced that
> it should be emphasised in the early learning stage. But others hammer
> on it. Also, I think that having the seat too low, even by a couple of
> inches, was not very detrimental to my learning.

I’ll weigh in on the debate. Part of the idea of having your weight on the
seat is to make riding more stable with less wheel wobble. It also makes the
rider relax their legs some so they have more control. The trick, of course,
is for the learner to get comfortable enough to rest their weight on the
seat, and that depends on the means of instruction. So perhaps it is a goal
in the learning process rather than up-front advice like having good posture
or not looking down.

The big problem with having the seat too low is that your legs get tired
sooner. Most beginning riders are developing new leg muscles along with the
skill of unicycling and anything to cut down on the fatigue is helpful. In
the earlier post when the persons hips were rocking, though, the seat was too
high for any purpose.

Beirne

>
> Klaas Bil
> ___________________________________________________________________________
> rec.sport.unicycling mailing list - www.unicycling.org/mailman/listinfo/rsu
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For days 3 and 4 of my learning process, I used a pair of North-Western wood drivers upside down as ski poles. (these were very cheap golf clubs.) This gave me the sense of unicycling unsupported with a small degree of safety. It also helped greatly with learning how to free-mount. Days 5 and 6 were spent almost exclusively with learning how to free-mount. Once every 15 or 20 min I would use the golf clubs so that I could ride a bit. Then it was back to having the uni shoot out from under me over and over. It took me about 20 hours of practice before I could ride even 20 yards. After that my progress has accelerated.

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

“Wow, with such encouraging words of advice, I’m truely inspired to
keep at it!”

This is what my friend said after she had read your many posts
offering practical tips and encouragement. She was quite buoyed up by
so many caring unicyclists taking the time to offer suggestions.

Tonight we approached things with a new perspective. The evening was
cool, we were in an open area with not many people around and we vowed
that we would have some fun with this learning to uni and stop if
things got too frustrating. Then we put a lot of your suggestions to
work.

We started off with some assisted rides, using first a wall and then
me as the helper. Then took a break. Then more assisted rides and
gradually the assists were just at the start, after a couple of pedal
revolutions my friend headed along on her own. She kept focused on a
spot a short distance ahead and just tryed to relax and pedal
smoothly. In this method she achieved quite a few 10 foot rides and
one 14 foot ride.

Though she can’t quite do an unassisted start yet she did feel like
she was making some progress.

We did vary the locations in the area that we were practicing and took
frequent breaks. All in all it was a lot more fun for both of us and
most importantly confidence building for my friend.

Again, thanks for all your help.

Erin

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

Great!!!

> “Wow, with such encouraging words of advice, I’m truely inspired to
> keep at it!”

It’s ‘definitely’ worth all the work, so keep the wheel rolling!!

> We did vary the locations in the area that we were practicing and took
> frequent breaks. All in all it was a lot more fun for both of us and
> most importantly confidence building for my friend.

It really is all about having fun, and it’s hard to have fun when you’re
overcome by fear. But as skills build so does confidence and
vise-versa, and as that happens the fear factor just keeps getting less
and less. So just keep trying and spend as much time in the saddle as
possible while still having fun!

The brain will be trained, and the body will obey! :wink:

Cheers,

Jason

Re: Advice needed for beginner.

Klaas Bil <klaasbil_remove_the_spamkiller_@xs4all.nl> wrote:

> I thought exactly the same. I’ve always assumed that the “Roland Hope
> School of Unicycling” sig line was a joke, but this list of very
> useful and to-the-point advise would be worthy of any School of
> Unicycling. Mikefule, what is it with that sig line?

I think its a pun or play on words. Try varying the way you say it, with a
space between the l and a of Roland.

Sarah


Unicon 11 ~ Washington USA.~ July 25 - Aug 2 2002
The world unicycle convention and championships.
http://www.nwcue.org

heyhey,

these are a great bunch of treads you have starded rif raf, a lot of the tips helped me too (I started unyclycling last monday). But i never used a wall or anything (because i couldnt find one in my area in a good spot). what i did was i proped the wheel against the side of the curb (with the pedals at 3 and 9 o’clock), put my foot on the closest pedal, and launched off , putting my other foot on the far pedal. i think this system really worked well because within an hour or so i could get to the other side of the street every few tries. by this week i can now freemount 80% of the time. you should try that with ur friend. or maybe u shouldnt…i dunno, i’ve only been doing this for two weeks.

later