Hey all you fanatical obsessive Uni folk (me too now) … Seeking your advice…
My Brand New Nimbus 29" Roady just arrived (includes upgraded KH Fusion saddle and upgraded Duel KH 150/125 Cranks) from Unicycle.com in Australia
Have upgraded from cheap and cheerful eBay 24" And as you can imagine… It was a lengthy and considered investigative and research phase to bite the bullet to get to this point. Yeah am so excited…
Today I hopped on the 29" for maiden experience and the extra height was no concern but it took me some time to get used to the different pedals.
Have been Uni-ing now for about 2 Months on the 24" practicing approx 500ish metres each session (daily short sessions) Often going for about 200 metres before tiring (soar upper thighs between knees and waist)… The weird thing is am quite fit and into lots of activities and sporting things so am questioning my cycling technique.??
My strike rate on Free Mounting is around 5% and am also frustrated at how long it’s taking me to improve in this Free Mounting area too.
Note… Yet to try Backwards pedalling and yet to be able to “idle”
My goal is to ride 5 -10km in a session on the flat and then to eventually take my Small Dog for walks on the Uni as I currently do with my Extra Long Skateboard.
Have been thinking about finding, locating someone in Sydney for some 1 on 1 tuition … ? Any referrals for this, do let me know ?
But am wondering if I am being too impatient ?
Appreciate any guidance / thoughts you may be able offer me as can no longer blame my performance on riding a dodgy Uni… and thanx in advance. Jimmy
Get your behind planted to the seat harder If needs be, raise your seat up until it’s almost uncomfortable to reach the pedals to get used to it. That hyper-leg tiring you feel is because all your weight is on them (At the same time as them having to pedal)
I must be making the same mistake. I’m very new to this. My dominant leg’s quad feels like it has been running a marathon after very short rides. So your saying the solution is to sit on the seat harder? I’ve got to learn this!
It is common when learning to ride. You want to have as much of your weight on your saddle as you can while still applying just enough force to the pedals to move the wheel in the the right way and keep you stable on the uni. That force might be quite high one starts learning, but can be reduced with practice.
When you tackle hills, rough terrain, etc., you’ll be putting more force into your feet, and it will be tiring, but for now, you should be striving for as little weight as you can manage on your feet on flat ground.
I’m 3 months in so I’ll throw my learners perspective into this.
My training time per session is about 2-4 hours though, I really get into the mode and time flies.
Surprisingly, even if you’re good at other stuff, even similar stuff like biking, starting out unicycling will require you to start reconditioning your body again. My guess is that different parts of your body is being worked out when riding the unicycle as oppose to riding a bike. Also, on a bike for instance, you don’t have to pedal nonstop to keep moving, you lean on the handebars for support and the weight is off your spine, butt, and legs more. I’m an okay bike rider, I can do 10 miles on commute without breaking much of a sweat. But when I first started unicycling, for the first few days, I could barely make it past half the block.
Another thought is that your body has to build up new muscle memory in order to help you ride the unicycle and balance it. So when you first start, you’re wasting a lot of energy on unneeded movements.
I’m guessing this is due to my own preference but I tried this and found it uncomfortable. For me, I needed to bend my legs to feel comfortable. The high seat also did a number on my crotch area which led to me having to stop a lot. What you say is true about the weight on the seat and less weight on your leg and knees, but I did this simply by repeating:
“Sit up straight, weight on the seat”
With that in mind, I practice riding forward and as soon as my weight started going back to my legs, I stopped myself and go back to the beginning spot and start over by repeating that same line until I did just that.
I don’t understand the common advice about looking forward because when I started, I looked forward but not up and straight ahead but rather down right in front of me in case there are bumps. So my head was rather down, looking at the road.
Ride with a good straight back posture, I’d say about 80-90% of your weight on the seat and enough weight on your legs to get things moving and to deal with the abnormal road elevations. When you do muni, it’s different but that’s another story for when you get there.
Practice, but as soon as you notice some sharp pains, STOP. Do not push yourself or else the pain becomes long lasting, in other words, you end up hurting yourself more by pushing it. You want to push yourself till it’s sore but not something that’ll last for more than a day or two. Let yourself recover 80% or fully so you don’t end up with a more permanent injury to your body, resting your body is as good as training. Like Dane M mentioned in another thread that I also notice, letting your body soak in what you learn is also a training technique.
Tip on backwards riding:
Turn seat backwards if you’re learning and going backwards a lot, your pedal will unscrew and mess up your cranks.
I’ve never idled a 29er, I don’t know if it’s as impractical as it is on a 36er. I have a 26er. Idling is a lot easier with longer cranks, higher pressure in the tire for less road traction so you can swerve. When you start out idling, give yourself a lot of room to swerve. The stuff you see on youtube with people idling in one place, that’s usually not how you’ll be when first learning it. You’ll be all over the place.
For riding backwards, remember that you don’t have to ride fast. Stop after every half revolution. You’ll most probably start riding backwards by trying to go fast in order to keep yourself up like when you first started learning to go forward, but you’ll learn later that you don’t need all that speed and energy to stay up.
I’d also like to note a personal experience about crank lengths:
Shorter cranks seem to revolve easier and so pedaling fast on shorter cranks feel easier.
I’ve also noticed that shorter cranks give me less “squirreling” on the road which also reduces the crotch burn from the seat/crotch friction.
Other stuff that I’ve learned that might help you now or in the future:
Riding a larger wheel will help you understand your smaller unicycles and “enlighten” you.
Thread about it here:
So try going back to the 24" after a few days of riding the 29er.
I also recommend this tutorial for the back posture:
As your confidence builds, you will put more weight into the saddle and it will make your legs less tired. Not enough weight on the saddle isn’t the only thing making you tired.
Energy efficiency. As a beginner, you will be wasting TONS of energy in many different ways. Like putting weight on the pedals in positions where that pressure is counter-productive. Another common place to misuse energy is the speed you are moving at. Slower speed = more energy used to control. Very high speed = more energy used to control. But right in the middle somewhere, there is an optimum speed where you have to do little-to-no corrections on the uni, and it almost wants to spin itself.
But, unicycling will make you more tired in general.
When I first started unicycling, I estimated that I could go 10 miles on a bicycle for every 1 mile on a unicycle (as far as energy usage goes). As I got better at it, the estimate went to 5 to 1. I’d say now (about a year later) that it’s about 2 or 3 to one. As you get better, your riding becomes more efficient and takes less energy per mile (plus you get stronger). But uncycling will always be harder than bicycling.
Jimmy, I think you’ll find that you naturally put more of your weight on the seat as you ride more and get smoother, when you don’t have to make as many big balance corrections and you’re able to make the same correction with less pedal force. You probably have most of your weight on the pedals now because you need to have it there now.
But make the most of the quad burn while it lasts, stretch it out as far as you can. It’s a killer leg workout and it’ll be hard to make yourself do it when you don’t have to any more!
Protip: It’s dual hole, not duel hole, though I appreciate the spirit of two mortal enemies taking one crank each and trying to club each other to death with them.
The other thing that makes you tired quickly is being tense. Tense because of the fear of falling, tense because your flailing around like a headless chicken and so on. The more you get the hang of uni, the less tense you become, therefore you waste less energy with those relaxed muscles.
+1 on that, definitely! The first time I went out into regular traffic on my 36r (as opposed to just around my quiet residential neighborhood) I was so tense I could hardly move, and was exhausted after 2 blocks. I had to tell myself “calm down, or you won’t make it 1/2 a mile.” That first time was brutal, but after a while I got used to it, and it got way easier. (Although I’m still nervous in traffic. I think you have to be to survive.)