I am a 42 year old uncoordinated guy who wants to ride a unicycle. I don’t have one yet, but I just found this forum, so who knows? I ride a series of old mountain bikes and a crazy old recumbent bike that is super fun, but a little dangerous. Every year I do the Great Canadian Cycle Challenge, which is a charity ride where you pick the kms you will do in one month and people sponsor you. It benefits the Sick Kids Foundation, super fun, good cause and I have done it for five years now. There is a fellow in Ontario that does all his rides on a unicycle (he probably is a member here). I always thought unicycles are for doing tricks and stuff and people don’t actually ride them for any distance. He rides his farther then I do
I have been doing some reading and went down a huge rabbit hole with unicycles, near the bottom of the hole I found this forum. I have been reading a pile on here too.
I want to get one, but I am worried I will never be able to learn to ride it. Probably a stupid thought at my age, but I am naturally not very coordinated, though I have decent balance. Are there some people who can just never figure it out? How long does it take the average person? My first recumbent bike crashed a few times before I figured out the balance, now it is no big deal. I just dream of riding a unicycle and maybe doing some touring eventually. Am I crazy? Sorry for all the metric and Canada references, if you haven’t guessed I am from Canada.
The short answer to your question, as far as I’m concerned, is most people can learn to ride a unicycle. I myself am a bit of an exception in that respect. After more than five years, I still can’t do it right. But don’t let that stop you from trying. That’s the only way to find out for yourself. Try to borrow a unicycle. If that doesn’t work, you can buy one, second-hand or new. Most learn to unicycle on a 20 or 24 inch unicycle.
On the internet there are many instructions on how to start unicycling, including YouTube. Try to find out what works for you. And the best thing is if you can practice with someone else. Maybe you can arrange something with your friend in Ontario?
No, at least the folks here would not think you are crazy.
It sounds like you are relatively fit and the one thing you will need to learn to ride is persistence. The reason most do not learn to ride a unicycle is because they give up and do not keep at it. It may take you a couple weeks or a couple months to learn the basics but you should succeed if you stick with it. You will crash many times and safely gear is recommended. A helmet, knee pads, elbow pads and wrist support would be good.
Even though I learned the very basics as a kid, I’m in my seventies now and still learning new things.
When I taught myself, all the alarm bells, whistles, and brain cells were screaming “Danger. DANGER!” when I started. I took my time and went outside my comfort zone a little at a time. Your time to learn may/will be different from others. The main thing is to continue trying. Appreciate any progress you make, no matter how small or slow it is.
What may help to allay some fear of learning is on a 20inch or 24inch uni you can take a step forward letting the uni fall the the ground underneath you and you’re standing and safe.
Yes, you are crazy. That’s why you’re reading this forum and posting in it. What I can’t tell is how old you are because I can’t easily convert 42 Canadian years to US years.
There are several people that I know in Canada, many of them from Ontario, all of whom would be capable of the kind of ride you describe. Although I don’t know you, you’re one of the people capable of doing it.
Riding a unicycle has very little to do with age or balance and almost everything to do with determination. If you keep at it you will learn. The oldest guy to learn that I met was 92 and he learned to ride when he was 91. It took him a year because he couldn’t allow himself to fall. The youngest was Michael Grant’s 18-month-old daughter.
After you acquire a unicycle check back and start asking for riding advice. It’s not complicated. Keep your weight in the saddle, look into the distance, launch yourself, pedal until you fall off, and repeat.
Not crazy. If you WANT to ride, do it. As a fellow Bent rider, the balance thing won’t be a problem for you. I have a long frame recumbent on 20" wheels, and a short wheelbase high racer on 27s. I can do clipped in stops as long as the wait isn’t excessive. You already have most of the skills. I started 50+ years ago on a 20" K-Mart special. “Graduated” to a 24" Schwinn 10 years later. Now I’m waiting on the Schlumpf hub to arrive for my 29" Hatchet.
Thanks for all the encouragement. From what I read, you want a smaller wheel to start. When purchasing a unicycle, is the some things I should avoid? I know lots about bicycles, but not so much unicycles.
like JimT I am in the seventyish category and still rides… I was in my fifties when I learned (still learning). I taught guys in their sixties and they are still alive and well!
(ok the learning curve is longer for “mature” people but if you are patient enough you’ll make it!)
I started a bit over two years ago (being 43years old). I’m in okay shape for my age and I was used to riding (and servicing) bikes - you can learn it. You just need to commit and not be to afraid to get a few scars.
Go small 19"/20"/24" - it will make the learning phase less frustrating and painful. If you can find something used go for that.
If you wanna go for longer distances eventually no need to spend max $ on your learner as it might eventually gather dust (but it might come in handy for learning new skills) as you will probably end up riding a 29" or 36" at some point if you want to go longer distances.
If I had to re-do something when I started I would have bought a more comfortable saddle initially - and a double bolt seatpost clamp - I spent a lot of time readjusting my seat because the single bolt / quick release seat clamp was not strong enough.
Get some wrist guards (and obviously a bike helmet…) and be prepared to fall. It will happen.
There is probably not a lot of “coordination” needed for basic riding.
“Balance” implies recognition of “out of balance”, plus reasonably fast reactions.
That surely is the main thing (and you have it already).
It is nice to have a bit of strength and fitness (as you do) so that you can give a good push on the pedals as part of the learned reaction, and your training sessions won’t be terminated prematurely due to physical exhaustion.
You probably need a 20 inch unicycle with pedals and cranks on securely and (as mentioned by Hammer) a secure seat attachment.
First stage is to get familiar with the seat and pedals (and getting the seat height right) by just getting on somehow, holding a fence or pole (e.g. at an unused basketball area) and moving the pedals around a tiny bit while supporting yourself.
Next stage is as Harper said: launch, try to pedal, repeat…(stop when tired).
Do it every day, keep a mental record of the number of pedal pushes you can do before stepping (or falling) off. Try to fall forwards instead of backwards. (an early learning goal is to achieve early forward semi-controlled “step off” falls).
Don’t let anyone help you - “help” just makes it harder to feel what is going on.
Hand protection is the most important, but sometimes your shins can get tangled with the pedals, so a little bit of shin protection could also be useful. Don’t use pedals with sharp pins (just basic rubber or plastic pedals).
[and feel happy that at 42 Canadian years you have consumed 51.2% of the Canadian life expectancy at birth, whereas a US citizen at that age would have consumed 55% of their life expectancy at birth ]
Yes, you are. But not more than everybody here. Personally, I have started with this crazy activity when I was 65 (now I am 68 and I’m still alive). So that you should try it. I think you will enjoy this activity for the crazy.