I just thought I’d document and share some of my experiences learning to ride,
as I’m still going through the process maybe some of you can offer some tips,
comments, and so on
After reading though the muni faq some time ago, I got hooked on the idea of
getting one (after overcoming the shock that such a sport existed!) and took up
the challenge… I went all out with the purchase of a 26" DM Engineering ATU.
yellow Wellgo pedals, lightweight aluminum frame, and a regular mountain bike
tire (which I’ll be upgrading to a 2.6" downhill mountain bike tire eventually),
I’m not sure what cranks it came with. I originally envisioned a carbon fibre
spinergy wheel with a shock for the frame, but I guess it requires too much
machining and the wheel itself flexes too much anyhow (I know someone on the
list has tried this). So I’m glad with the purchase of the DM ATU, its
indestructable as they say and I plan to have it for a long time.
Basically I read through most of the tips and comments on the unicycling.org
website, and right away had visions of just leaning forward on the thing and
doing 50feet But of course that didn’t happen. While I was waiting for the
uni to be delivered I came across that post that compared doing wheelies on a
mountain bike, and riding a unicycle, so I decided to go out and try my hand at
doing wheelies some more… I suprised myself and did long consistent ones down
my street, riding them out and keeping it at just the right point so I could
keep it going, seemingly forever. In previous years I’ve only been able to do it
a handful of feet but now that I was psyching myself up for the uni I suppose I
broke through that barrier and was able to ride it longer.
Well back to the actual riding. I took it out to central park in new york city
for one hour practice sessions, and started out in one of the underpass tunnels
there bracing myself against the wall for balance. First time out ending up
being pretty dusty and bloody! Just a bunch of spills and the pedals bashing my
shins a couple times, with the little yellow spikes on these wellgo pedals they
kind of dig in pretty easily. Nothing all that bad, I didn’t notice any pain or
injury until later when I noticed the blood on my shorts and hands as it was
spread about, but I was all caught up in getting back on the uni again for
another attempt that it completely passed me by. I managed to mount the thing
and barely pedal next to the wall that day, but it was progress.
Second time out I only dropped the bike once, or had one silly spill, I was able
to catch the bike consistently all the time, landing on my feet. Practiced the
leaning forward thing and doing a half-stroke, forward and back, and continued
my progress by getting a feel for things.
I think by my third time out I was riding a few strokes and riding a few feet
away from the wall, at this point getting very smooth at mounting the thing and
hopping off etc, catching the bike by instinct
I got up to 10feet or so, and I remember each time going a little further being
such a thrill! At one point I tweaked the bike out at the end of the ride, just
had it rotated a bit to catch my balance, and suprised myself by just standing
on it motionless… I can see how I’ll be finding my way into new tricks and
doing neat things as I continue progressing.
By my next hour I was still going farther, maybe 20 feet at one point, and still
aiming for that 50feet point which seemed ever so distant… all the while I was
attempting to free mount, or going through the motions at least, as I wasn’t
able to get very far with it.
But the break through happened at the 5th hour. I used more advice on the list,
specifically the technique of mounting it and rotating the bike 90degrees so
you’re back is to the wall, and then you push off into the distance – focusing
into the distance especially, very important. A combinatoin of that and riding
alongside and away from the wall as I was before did the trick – I did the
wobbling arm thing and left-right twist action, etc I swear going a few more
feet is such an extra thrill to have the uni still under you.
And it was then that I reached the 50foot ride… I couldn’t believe it… as it
was happening I thought and I could feel that I could just ride like this
forever, but of course it was still wobbly and it had to come to an end. I even
managed to free mount it that time and ride a whopping 30feet, so I was very
excited about that. It got me wondering – I know its easier to learn on a
smaller diameter uni, but is it also easier to freemount a smaller uni?
All in all I think I’m making good progress. It could be that having some
balance and wheelies skills from mountain biking has carried over to riding the
uni, and I just naturally have a habit of landing on my feet I suppose…
something I’ve had since a kid playing soccer and having people try to trip me
But certainly it hasn’t been a bruised-death type of learning curve, and I
think I’ve gotten passed the hardest parts already.
That’s about it… I hope to continue with the riding and make it to a convention
soon, sounds like lots of fun. Uni/muni feels like a small community, and its
nice to be part of that, it would be an honor to meet some of you ‘famous’
people on the list some day
p.s. that mpeg video of the rider hopping from the picnic bench up to the table
is just insane; when I first saw that I thought it was a funny trick of
someone reversing the video, but now I know better. !