Another beginner - Devon UK

Day 23/19

The little kids at the skatepark now recognise me and comment politely on my progress. One asked me today whether I was learning it for fun or for a job! Nice that his worldview includes the possibility that someone might pay me for unicycling I suppose! No advances today - felt a bit frustrated as yesterday felt really good, and because in my head, I can do this - it’s just that in the actual world it keeps turning out that I can’t.

Be patient. My learning process involved a lot of slipping back. It often took me 30 minutes to repeat the successes of the previous day. You mentioned in a previous post your desire to avoid falls. I suggest that, even though you’re only riding a few revs, you start practicing mounts, and you do so on grass. Though you probably won’t be able to ride out of the mount, it will nevertheless develop your balance, and each failed mount will give you practice dismounting on a soft surface where falling only has minor consequences. I experimented a lot in the beginning. It slowed down the learning, but it made it safer, and it set the stage for more learning later on. Good luck!

This is a really important point. Always avoid being put in the position of having an uncontrolled dismount. It is essential to bail out while you still are in control. My worst injuries have been where I didn’t eject myself from the uni and got tangled up with my ankle wedged between spokes and crank.

One of the reasons I recommend against using the clinging to a fence method of learning is that it does not teach the running exit or falling. The ride away into the open method develops these skills right from the beginning so they are well established by the time riding takes off.

I agree I have learned not to ride so far into anything that I can’t get off in a controlled manner. May not be pretty, but I walk away to ride another day. And wear your safety gear. The old bones don’t heal as quickly as they did when we were 12 years old. :astonished:

Good feedback, thanks everyone. I’m doing a mixture - running round the fence, launching off and using the walking poles - but I was planning to start some ‘starting with an attempted mount’ to give me something useful to do on the grass at home. One of the books I’ve come across is Gregg Vivolo’s ‘crash course’ which suggests starting from a curb mount. Unfortunately the step at the edge of our lawn is a particularly nasty concrete shelf that would be very unpleasant to fall back onto, which I find inhibiting, so I’m planning to get a bit of 4x4 or something. But I may just start experimenting with a free mount.

The falling thing is interesting. It makes me realise how little I have fallen in my adult, female, non-athletic life! I remember falling once over the handlebars of my bike in my twenties, trying to stop suddenly and being more successful than I expected. Again from my bike about six years ago when a dog ran in front of me on a canal path. And once in April this year, walking the Camino, tired and sloppy on a very wet path, stumbling and being overcome by the momentum of my pack. With this unicycle thing, I do mostly manage to step off - possibly even too easily, because it is the times I struggle to stay on that I end up actually falling. Maybe once per session I end up on the ground. I’ve been glad of the helmet and the Kris Holm gloves I bought - much more wearable than the skateboard wrist protectors I started with. I don’t really use the fence to save myself from falling - I just push against it to keep balance rather than hang on. Ditto the poles - if I’m going over, they are no use; I just use them for a little light correction and turning. So plenty of coming off practice is being had. It’s the staying on that is tricky.

The day after I read about using an aerobics step as a curb start I came across a particularly nice one in a garage sale so I gave it a go. Highly recommend them. It not only provides a backstop, the low platform step makes getting onto the uni easier. Lightweight to move around too.

The best resouce for freemounting is Unimyra’s video

In uni, I believe if you don’t fall sometimes you aren’t pushing your boundaries. Going faster is one of the boundaries I like to push, so consequently I have had a couple of unanticipated dismounts from my 29 at over 20 km/hr. I can’t run out of that so it means getting close up and personal with the road after the first big step off. I wear lots of protection.

I highly recommend hip pads. I made my own by putting high density closed cell foam in calico coin bags. I have come down so hard that I am sure I would have broken my hip without them.

Oh, I like the idea of using an aerobic step. Nice and portable and doesn’t look like a piece of rubbish that someone will throw away before I’m finished with it. And it may be overkill, but I ordered a pair of ‘impact’ shorts with hip protection etc. I was thinking of modding an old pair of jeans by sewing pockets for padding into them, but decided I’d rather spend the time practicing!

Day 24/20

That was yesterday - my day off but spent it mostly doing some long overdue clearing up and tidying out as I have family coming at the weekend. So that meant my practice was confined to the garden - I should take another video there as I think I would see the difference in the way I can now whizz up and down the wall but otherwise it is hard to feel any progress in such a small space. I do now manage the courage to ‘ride off’ the end on the wall but fail to make more than a revolution - unfortunately there is a major dip in the flagstones exactly at that point, which has me tensing up in anticipation. It makes me very glad I found the skatepark, though. This weekend is going to be mega-busy as I am working and have an archery competition as well as guests, so I doubt I will get much practice in. I’ll try to get some time in the garden maybe practicing step mounts, I think.

Day 25/21

Got the aerobic stepntoday and started practicing mounting a la Vivolo. It was surprisingly hard to commit myself at first, and I had to go back to step overs. Got there eventually, but haven’t managed even one revolution after mounting yet. But that is on grass. My knees are quite sore - from use, not from falling on them. I so want to get this!

Riding on grass, as a beginner, is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing because you will be safer, curse because it inhibits you from riding more revolutions. While launching onto the grass from your back-stop, consider leaning more aggressively forward, so you’re erring on the side of falling forward. This will necessitate you pedaling harder, which is necessary on the grass, because of the increased resistance.

Since you’re open to experimentation, you might also try the following: Figure out which arm is your more natural balance arm. For right handed people, it may be their left arm. Then use your right arm to hold onto the seat handle. Now, you are losing the balance of one arm/hand, but you are gaining the control of one hand on the seat. In this position, you are potentially able to pedal harder. You are also stabilizing the coupling of your body and the unicycle. UPDs when you’re holding the unicycle with one hand tend to be safer, because the unicycle is less likely to shoot out from under you. Some riders recently wrote/complained about the “caught in the middle” sensation, in which they lost control but at the same time were perfectly balanced atop the uni. A hand on the seat helps in these situations.

Sometimes trying new things doesn’t move us forward in any measurable way. Nevertheless, it can help us understand the unicycle physics better. So, just a thought of something you might try. Good luck!


Only time for a very brief indoor practice this evening as I was out shooting (arrows) all day. But it was interesting to try what you suggested about holding the seat - that was not something I had done at all before. It did seem to take away that weird ‘stuck in the middle’ feeling and had the advantage of letting me practice silently when the rest of the family had gone to bed, as I ended up holding the uni rather than dropping it. Thanks! Another variation to practice.

Day 28/23

Well, after reading the thread on learning being improved by varying equipment, I took both unis and the step to the skatepark today. I managed to switch between them without the disorientation I got going back to the 20" last time. I can mount from the step OK but not get more that one or at most two pedals after that so far. It is frustrating coming up to the end of my first month and not being further on with this, but I am determined to get it, however long it takes. I may be the slowest learner on record, though - it really helps having this forum so please don’t get bored of telling me to stick with it!

Ok, two questions about things I’ve read which I don’t seem to be able to fit into my experience. One is the wave your arms around for balance thing. The other is the twist your hips with each pedal stroke thing. Both feel like they make sense, but I don’t actually get any period where I am ‘struggling to keep my balance’ where I could do stuff like that. I’m either (very very briefly) balanced, or I’m over. Nothing in between.

Day 29/24

My day off today. I’m considering filling the car with water, snacks, unicycles and pound coins for the parking meter and spending the whole day at the skatepark. Maybe if I get exhausted and totally bored I will enter a fugue state where the part of my brain that thinks I can do this takes over. Or there again, maybe I will just knacker my knees and have to take the rest of the week off. Ho hum.

Now I know why babies cry so much. In their heads they can walk and talk just like the big people, but for some reason their bodies don’t know that.

Both those techniques can be practiced from a still stand. Find something to hold onto. Maybe practicing these techniques without moving will make you ready to use them when you are moving. You can start the exercise with the pedals in the 3/9 position, then vary it by offsetting the pedals a small amount in either direction. You can probably find some high-intensity, action-packed videos of people doing still-stands on the web. Both the hips and hands are necessary for still-stands. A woman just broke the record…over an hour! Anything that helps your balance is going to help you unicycling. Good luck!

Well, I ended up spending four hours at the skatepark with maybe an hours total break sat on the beach cooling off and eating ice-cream in between. Fun, but no breakthroughs. No broken records, even, though I think I’m getting 4 pedals a bit more consistently on pushing off. I’m liking the launching from a step method, despite the fact that I have never managed more than two pedals from it and it feels like starting from scratch. At least I feel that it is helping to train towards mounting, and any distance I get from that will be ‘real’ distance, as opposed to just taking longer to fall over after a supported start.

So far, I’ve come across only a few threads in the archives from people who took this long to get started, and not all of them have a good outcome recorded. Encouragement (as always) gratefully received!

Each time you try, focus on and target perfection in one of the multitude of skills that need to be mastered to ride a uni. Starting balance, foot onto the pedal, looking up, riding straight, forward-back balance, left-right balance, getting past the dead spot at the next rev, weight on the seat.

Enjoy the achievement of getting even one of these aspects working really well on the occasions where everything else fails. Eventually you will regularly do them all and you will be riding.

Remember, once your brain “gets” it, you will be able to ride as far as your physique can support you. At this point you will quickly build up muscle while your technique continues to improve, making your new muscles do the job more efficiently.

Before long you will be in what many riders would recall is one of the most rewarding phases of learning. Suddenly the whole world opens up as a place to ride. For me it was the day I rode to the corner shop, then two days later the 4 km right into town on a 20 inch uni.

Yeah enjoy it :slight_smile: It makes great memories! I did a 9km ride to the next town in my first week of riding… on a 20" uni, wow I was stupid.

You joined this forum about the same time as I did and I have been following your progress closely. I must say you are fairing much the same as me, and I used to ride one twenty years back reasonably well. Nowadays, I tend to push off from the wall and away I go, sometimes a short distance, sometimes longer.
I think, and I have no proof that this is right, I believe that due to age perhaps, we tend to be a trifle more guarded about our welfare in case of a fall. This somehow translates into the time taken to learn the balance act, this is most certainly true in my case. I can hear those “Told you so” cretins in the background.
I am quite astonished how concentrated practice over a few hours can actually make things a mite worse in the balance stakes sometimes. I have found that short 15 minute exercises are good, then about an hour later, another 15 minutes and so on. But that is just me of course.
I truly believe you are getting the hang of it very nicely, remember in the beginning, how simply sitting on the seat, had you corkcrewing whilst attempting to get your other foot onto a pedal, well you have come a mighty long way since then, make no mistake. Besides, what is the immediate rush?
I currently still have a lumpy shin that was created ages ago, so my wife agreed to my purchasing a set of knee and shin guards, hopefully this will result in a devil may care attitude to free mounting, which is an almost insurmountable obstacle to my moving forward. We never know it all, it is a lifetime of learning, conquer something and that potentially leads to the next thing. I have set a reasonable goal myself, if it happens this year, great, if not, well all is not lost is it…??? :roll_eyes:

Keep up the good work, the country is awaiting your success, not that I am applying any pressure you understand…:smiley: