Backwards Riding Tip #001

A few of my students have gotten the hang of backwards riding, but are having trouble sustaining it.
Here’s something that may help.

Tip #001: When riding backwards do not ride “feeling fully seated”.

a.) Maintain weight on your pedals for stability and control. The moment you feel stable and take weight off your pedal is when things go bad. Yes, I know keeping tension on your pedal is tiring and requires muscle. (not unlike standing up and riding bmx). However, that is the key to your backwards stability, and you will “learn to gradually” lessen the pedal weight.

b.) This is similar to when you first learned to ride normal, as a beginner. Or, when you ride on grass/off road over rough unpredictable terrain. The weight on your pedal allows lightning quick adjustment for stability.

c.) Remember your backwards riding skill level will always be “behind” normal(forwards) riding skill. Do not expect to ride backwards the same way. Until you have a lot of experience.

d.) Of course, if you are very very experience with backwards riding, and you find you can do it without even thinking like I see Chris Huriwai do tricks and 180 jumps where he lands backwards and ride away…yeah…you’re good…and why are you reading stuff in the “lesson area”…you already got it, right?

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Nice tips. I spent a lot of time working on it a few years ago, I could ride about 100 - 200 feet but never really progressed past that, and it certainly never felt locked in like riding forwards.

Thanks for the tip. Riding backwards is something I’ve really had trouble learning despite having practiced for months now and it’s exactly what you’re talking about. I can ride 15m or so pretty consistently then I just always seem to lose my balance.

Another tip I would like to add, and it’s actually from Huriwai himself in one of his videos, is to push off of something and just pedal backwards until you fall off. This gets you used to hopping off backwards and it’s really not as bad as one might think, I’ve yet to not land on my feet. This is what got me past the first revolution and from there it just took the occasional session and even now I’m still working on turns but am very comfortable riding backwards to line up for tricks, drops, what have you.

Funnily enough this is pretty much the opposite tip to what I gave someone one a group ride on Saturday.

They were really struggling with backwards riding and were lifting their weight off the saddle. Once they’d sat down properly they were having considerably more success.

I found that by just practicing a little bit of backwards riding each practice session for a few weeks I was able to get really comfortable with it. I still find 90° turns challenging cause you can’t see them coming. Once you get really good though you can look behind you. I can only turn my head and look back a little bit as of now, but I’m very comfortable with riding backwards in general and making small turns.

Working on transitions between forwards/backwards/idling is especially helpful for mastery. Mounting straight into backwards riding is very easy to master once you’re comfortable with backwards riding.

Also can you get some pretty funny reactions from people. A lot of people will do the look-away when they see a unicycle, cause they feel like they should react but they simply don’t know how. If you go in front of them and ride backwards they can’t get you out of their view so they just get their phone out and start staring down at it. It’s the funniest thing ever. This isn’t everyone. A lot of people will react but it’s just hilarious when they try not to make eye contact with you.

Hey mowcius,
I like your thinking. No matter what someone tells you, if it doesn’t work try something different even the opposite. Yeah…I wouldn’t be riding without that attitude.

I’m just putting something out there that might be “new” or haven’t tried yet.
However, if anyone tries my advice and it fails. Yeah…try something different or the complete opposite.

Also, as an engineer I know I haven’t completely “specified” the exact dynamic or motion that I am describing. If you are a beginner or never rode, what I am describing probably puts you to sleep or is alien. However, if are in at a certain riding skill/experience level you know “exactly” what I am talking about. I know a video would help…or probably confuse. Editing, multi screening, camera angle and narration is a true skill. Videography and storytelling for education/entertainment is just too much work for me. I’m lazy. Just wanna ride.

Anyways, to further share my backwards riding experience.
The tip I gave has a great benefit.
It makes you “feel locked” in when riding backwards.

a.) After not doing the trick for weeks, if I remember my own advice. The skill comes back to me right away.
b.) Also, I’m a helmetless rider(I know, it’s bad) but I have had zero injuries falling backwards…not even close calls. I have stepped off a few times riding backwards. As, I’m running backwards I have tripped and “rolled” onto my back. 100% always happenned when I “sat down” fully weighted on saddle and was mesmirized and “enjoying” the magic of going backwards “without extra leg effort”. Never fkn again.

So, I absolutely always keep weight on my pedals and “never ever” allow acceleration to “help” me keep going. backwards.

There’s been a lot of news about Bob Saget and his head injury. I know that’s a possibility when I go backwards, but I have the old skateboarders attitude and use the “edge” and “injury” potential stress to really concentrate on the motion. Also, rely only on techniques that give me total/absolute/unquestioned control.

Rock on