Beginner struggling to relax!

Just ride more.

It really is that simple - if you keep riding, in a few weeks you’ll wonder why you had all these problems. It’s a stage most of us went through and is mainly solved by more time in the saddle. The good news is you’re already past the hardest bit.

If your legs are fighting then try leaning your upper body forwards more while continuing to try to get weight into the seat. This should cause you to take weight of the back pedal.

Leaning the upper body forwards a little is more stable too.

Many uni videos show extreme performance. Steep hills certainly involve cyclic speed changes but on the flat where you are riding, focus on spinning the cranks. With suitable shoes and experience the power arc certainly does expand with consciousness and strength in the right muscles.

Meditate upon your foot positions during the cycle. What feed back do they appear to be responding to?

Ultimately the feet become less of a sense of “how hard and when to push” but rather “having the feet in the right position at a the right time” because this is what controls the wheel position. How hard one pushes is secondary.

Of course it takes time to develop this sense because those chosen foot positions must take into account many factors such as the balance and momentum of the uni and rider, the terrain and any surface irregularities to name a few. We also have to build up the strength.

+1 with all the comments.

Unfortunately, there is no magic click when you start to learn unicycling. You progress little bit by little bit, and actually that’s what makes it exciting because you never really plateau - unless you’re at the very top I guess.

I am struggling with this also. I am back at it after a 2 yr break. having a great time and a killer work out.
My mantra has been , “just relax, just relax.”
More time and patience.

I find I have much more control with the seat up high, so it feels like my tip toes are peddling.
This means the seat is at full stretch, my lower leg nearly straight at 6o’clock, with a little weight comfortably on the seat, but not too much.

I needed to get a longer 300mm seat post from UDC to replace the cut down version which came with the 20"
The post is at the very top of it’s extension limit now, and I realise I should have bought the 400mm.

When the seat was too low, my knees were always bent, and I was exhausted after 5-minutes.
Take the seat up, and move your feet positioning away from the arch of your foot, and nearer to your toes.
It should help with balance and fatique.

Just discovered there has been a thread on this before: Proper Non Pushing Leg Weight When Pedaling??

There is no magic. There are a million tips, but they all require the same thing:


We all practiced till we were bloody and absolutely exhausted, then we did it again and again, until we finally knew the answer to your (our) question.

The more you ride, the better you get. It “might” help to have a role model give you tips in person, but learning to uni still requires a lot of practice.

Did I mention that learning to uni requires a lot of practice?

Smile as you go down, it looks better on the video :wink:

Just lots of riding, and set yourself a goal beyond distance. Ride faster, or try a circle or a figure of eight. Eventually, you will suddenly realise that you are taking the basics for granted. You are just going through a normal phase in your development as a rider.

Thanks for the encouragement. I haven’t given up on the idea of practicing “smarter”, but sticking at it has continued to show improvement, even if with some “off” days in between where I almost seem to have lost progress. I finally managed two laps around the central office a few times the other day, in comparison to my limit of just one last week.

Unfortunately a conflicting family event means I’ll miss this Sunday’s NYUC gathering, but there will be future ones for in-person advice. NYC closes a number of blocks of Park Ave for biking & rollerblading on Sundays in August, so I’m hoping those will prove some interesting outdoor riding opportunities too.

And OK, I admit it, I jumped the gun on the excuse that I need something to practice at home as well as in the office, so ordered a 26" nimbus /w road tire, hoping I’ll be ready for it by the time it gets here. May not have been the perfect decision but I wanted something that wouldn’t feel quite so tiny on an urban pike path, yet can hopefully still be carried with pedals attached through a revolving door without making a scene. And as an unspecialized medium it will leave the excuse to get something smaller and bouncier or bigger and faster (or one of each?) later…

Of course - we did tell you it’s a common problem! There are probably at least 10 old threads - though clearly we’re getting more polite as nobody’s told you to just do a search!

don’t, it’s worth keeping thinking about what you’re doing - but also don’t get discouraged when being smart doesn’t make things happen faster and you have a while with no progress. I also prefer to work constructively, but have come to understand that with unicycling, keeping trying and failing at something also often results in progress.

Like so many adages of uncycling there are trade-offs. Repetition is important but …

For a frreemounting I have a rule to not attempt it more than three times in a row without at least walking for a while or riding from an assisted mount before trying the freemount again.

I made this rule when I was learning because I felt that with the repetition, failure would be in danger of becoming the most practised movement. There are so many aspects to learning uni that it can be better use of time to try something else for a while then come back to the challenge you are primarily focussed on.

All the advice in this thread seems spot on to my experience. When I first started riding, I kept expecting everything to ‘click’ at some point, but every gain was achieved with ‘baby steps’. Also, every practice session was an incredible workout because of the inefficiency. However! there is light at the end of the tunnel! Today I did a lap around the Rosebowl (Calif.) and I almost made it around the whole thing without stopping. The last time I did the loop was months ago, and at that time I was struggling, flailing, UPDing, etc. Today I was relaxed, not breathing hard, and wondering why I had so much trouble before. I could clearly see how my riding has improved, but it has been a gradual improvement so I didn’t notice from day to day.

From OTM: “For a freemounting I have a rule to not attempt it more than three times in a row without at least walking for a while or riding from an assisted mount before trying the freemount again.”

I would say that goes for any new skill–if you keep consistently failing you start expecting to fail. Take a break, do something else, then visualize what you are trying to do and come back to it. One of my mantras (when I start consistently failing) is “fail differently”. If you keep failing in the same way, then you are not correcting the problem.

Good luck! So far it sounds like you are right on track!

P.S. The 26" is a good, all-around size. When you get it, jump on it and ride! Don’t think you “have to be ready for it”. Some people start out on a bigger wheel. You’ll have to make the switch from 20" to 26" at some point–the earlier, the better.

Well put.

Yes. The 26 is a practical all round. It is fast enough to move quickly and efficiently but rarely so fast you can’t run out of a fall.

There are many tyres to choose from too.

Personally I’d hold off on the 26 til you can ride for a half hour w/o scary UPDs or getting exhausted. Also learning most skills will be easier on the 20", so I’d briefly (at least) go back to the 20 for learning hopping, idling, riding backwards, etc.

I only skimmed the posts but the advice all sounded really good.
To recap: weight on the seat, focus on something straight ahead, w/ a straight back lean forward a few degrees (keeping a straight line from the axle to your sholders), and pedal w/ your feet in smooth circles.

Keep at it. W/ regular practice (preferably ~a hour/ day) you WILL get it. Some take longer than others. You can only get so much help online, so It could really help to seek out a local club. Check out the map for riders near you.

Took the CX 20 out to Connecticut on the train for the weekend and had my first experience riding up hills, seeing if I could make it to the crest of the one my brother in law’s van was parked halfway up - finally got it once this morning.

Interestingly, I almost feel like the resistance of the different grades of the hill was itself a useful lesson - where it got really steep, I had no choice but to put all my effort into turning the wheel (I’d almost say walking up the stairs), rather than working legs against each other.

Came home to my 26er in the package room. But no pump at hand, and the bike shops within a few blocks seem to roll up their air hoses when they roll down the window grates, so will have to see if I can lug that into work (where there is a pump and practice space) somehow tomorrow. The 27.5" dimension of my improvised cardboard unicycle suitcase went through the revolving door cleanly, so I’m hoping the new wheel will as well.

Got into the office early, put the 26er together, inflated the tire and got up on it at my usual pillar. Yeah, this feels just a little bigger.

Took a few tries before I was willing to really go for it, but then it rides like, well, a unicycle.

Only faster.

Bailed after the first corner though, when I realized steering around office obstacles in my usual circuit may be a bit more tricky.

Looking forward to the bike path after work!

Alas the idea of free mounting now feels a lot further in the future… though maybe riding the big wheel outside will make the 20" seem easier once I haul that back into the office and put a better saddle on it.

Rode maybe… 8 percent? of my commute home on the 26er.

Unfortunately, there are really only 3 spots on the east river bike path, totalling maybe 5 city blocks, that are nice riding between work and home, and to get to it it I have to take a huge detour out to the east on 20th street across where the river has been filled in to create Stuyvesant Town. The rest of it is parking lots and heliports and mix with traffic. So I think it’s going to be a long time before commuting becomes practical, but those nice stretches are worth hiking to for practice (or doing a few back and forth laps of, in the case of this evening)

As for the riding the 26" unicycle itself, the nimbus gel seat and higher “gearing” are definitely a welcome change from the 20" torker. But it is a bit more intimidating to be perched up there and flying along. After getting up by a lamp post and riding a block without issue, by the time I’d walked to the next low-stress section my “what the heck did I just do” sense had caught up with me, and it took a number of tries before I again managed to launch with stability.

I’m definitely still self-regulating with opposing pressure - opening up the throttle on the big wheel and little cranks isn’t quite comfortable especially with joggers around - but that fatigue limit is much slower to appear, and I was generally riding to the point where I was uncomfortable with proximity to objects or people rather than fatigue, then doing a running forward dismount. Taped the seat but managed to catch it the majority of the time.

Maybe I should have gotten a 24" instead of a 26", given that it seems like I’ll be carrying it to riding locations for a while. But the flip side is that I have something fun for wide open spaces, and I still have an excuse to get a better little one for fun in the future. In the meantime, I’ll probably transfer the nimbus saddle to the torker and play with that at the office tomorrow.

Having to constantly get on and off during your commute…should create the circumstances for you to learn to self-mount. Sorry if we’ve been through this already, but I think the tire-grab could be a nice, reliable mount on a 26" with 127mm cranks.

Hopefully, as you improve, your estimation of how much of the commute is rideable…will increase. Don’t take any chances with traffic, however. It’s best to get off and walk across an intersection, then live to ride another day. When your mounting improves, riding short sections will not seem so impractical, and mounting will not be so strenuous.

You might, at some point, consider trying longer ISIS cranks on the 26". I know they give you excess, unneeded leverage for flat riding…however, you complained about being nervous riding around other people. If dodging pedestrians is going to be a normal part of your ride, then I think longer cranks will help with maneuvering…maybe I’m wrong about that, and I’d be curious to get input from other riders about how crank length affects right/left maneuverability.

Reading your posts reminds me that we all learn under different geographic conditions. Whatever advice you receive needs to be put through the filter of you knowing your own landscape better than anyone else. NYC seems like a challenging place to learn. Good luck!

I’ve never tried the tire grab, but will have to give it a go next time I have that wheel in a suitable area.

It’s true that available geography is a limit - but then next Saturday morning we get 7 miles of closed streets as a playground. And if I get a better carry rig figured out and a little more confidence I’ll head over and try the much nicer path on the Hudson River side.

Not that a deserted parking lot wouldn’t be extremely welcome!

The tire grab is a learners’ mount. Later on, you’ll learn a roll-back or static mount, even with the shorter cranks. Some riders said they didn’t like having to point their torso toward the ground while performing the tire grab. It is apparently disorienting for some riders. I liked the tire grab, most of all, because, with a little practice, the mount could be performed very slowly, not rushed. Good luck!