cant advance.

Hi, my first post finally.
Excited to be here. Been exactly 2 months to this day into unicycling. Started unicycling to catch up to my 8 yr old’s biking. Though I soon I find out that the 26er is still too slow…but ohhh, so enjoyable! I am hooked.
I bought a nice road bike at nearly the same time, and poor bike. …It hardly gets ridden now.

Frustrated. Im feeling that I cant further advance. At my current level I can go about a mile on my 26"er before getting really sore on the thighs. Still a little wobbly and clonky at times, especially when tired. I can ride down the curb. I can freemount by stepping back on right foot then going backwards for half revolution and then planting my right foot. Its quite awkward and a fine line between falling and riding off. I discovered i am much better at two foot hop mount, though.

Though, recently I feel like I cant get advance. I am stuck at the same level of going in motion only. The instant I stop I am forced to dismount. I can go at a slight hill, but still falling off when it gets too steep. I still cant idle longer than 2 seconds no matter my efforts. I can only go backwards about 10 ft.

I am really envious of those that can stop and hop over things, that really is the next level.
Please, if someone can give me somewhat a timeline of when that next level of achievement will be. In other words, how long did it take you to get to that ‘next’ level? Stop and hop, idling, and riding backwards? Perhaps I should go back to my 20"er, even though it is so slow?
I ride 45mins to 1.5 hr when freetime allows.

riding skills

Everyday that you ride is the next level of skill improvement, it maybe small, but every ride you will learn something, also strength is a factor, if your riding daily, or almost daily your strength will improve and skills will improve. However small the improvement, is an improvement, if it were easy, we would not like it. Hope this helps.

I’ve just passed my 1st anniversary of starting to unicycle and still can’t idle or ride backwards but, as billtheturner says, every day you ride you improve…even if that’s just developing muscle or muscle memory.

I’ve realised that when I get the opportunity to ride I’m tending to ride distance on tracks with very few opportunities to push my boundaries. If I want to get good at drops, idling, riding backwards, etc I need to factor in very regular practice of just those specific skills. It sounds obvious but even having realised this I’m still pants at making it happen.

You’ve inspired me to focus on one new skill for the next 30 days…it just means I have to get out a few more times a week if I want a long ride too :smiley:


Thats the problem, with work and family life, practice time is very limited. Often times I have to sneak it in. I guess thats the better route, focus on that specific skill, even though really hard. Its lot more fun going for distance. But I really need to get this idling down. It looks easy, but for me its tough as heck. Should I go back to my 20 incher?

Welcome UPD,
I’m sure you’ve read it on here already and must be doing it to get where you’re at but you need to get more weight in the seat, that will allow you to do those longer rides.

As for doing many the skills you see on youtube, be realistic - those skills take time. Set achievable goals. Ride a mile. Ride two miles etc. Perhaps there’s a local route that you can do, and then a longer one, then introduce some easy dirt trails. Spend time working on those skills - even if it’s after the kids go to bed. When you get to a point where you can ride as long as you like, work on the specific terrain you want to tackle - if that’s hopping up stairs, or down rocks and roots, then great.

BTW, you can already ride further backwards than I can, and I’m in year six - I haven’t made it a priority. I learned to idle on my giraffe before I could idle on a 26"er… again priorities.

Good work & keep it up!

Yes, definitely. It’s much better for learning new stuff. Sometimes, learning a new skill requires you to really work on it and momentarily give up on having fun until you get that breakthrough.

Frivolity is a stern taskmaster! Idling, for example, definitely requires dilligent study, though in your case it’s amazing that you learned to ride backwards first. I might not have been able to do that, but then again, I only ride a 20, so idling is naturally going to be easier for me. The stronger momentum of a large wheel apparently makes idling difficult, though now that I’ve learned it, I can easily do it on a larger uni if I find one lying around.

I think most riders agree that smaller wheels are good for learning/practicing new skills. Also, just changing back and forth is a good exercise and will tend to make you a better rider.
You have come a long way in two months, so don’t worry about how far you’ve come and how far you have to go. Everyone is different, and a lot of people that have been riding for much longer than you still can’t do some of the things you are doing (like freemounting). I’m coming up on 2 years, and still can’t hop or idle very well, even though I practice those skills almost daily. Can’t go backwards at all yet. I think something that’s frustrating for new riders is not having a steady slope in their learning curve. To begin with, it’s really steep. You learn all kinds of new stuff in a very short time. After that, it levels out, and improvement comes in smaller increments. Instead of seeing progress day-by-day, it becomes week-by-week, and even month-by-month. So have patience, it takes time to train your brain. As far as practice goes, I believe short, frequent sessions are better than longer ones spread farther out. Ten or fifteen minutes a day makes a big difference. And here’s the thing – the improvement usually comes the next day. You have to sleep on it to transfer the knowledge from your short-term memory to long-term. That’s how it is for me, anyway. (You will have to push yourself hard from time to time to stretch out your distance limits. That’s like any other sport. Sometimes I go out and purposely ride until my legs feel like spaghetti. So now I can ride 30 miles in one stretch. Hopefully, I’ll keep pushing this farther out to get to 50+.) (When you’re over 60, this can be a challenge.)
Meanwhile, just ride for the fun of it, and then you won’t feel pressure to get better. You just will. Comes automatically.

I think your expectations of unicycling may be a bit off. It’s hard and it takes time to learn. After two months you are doing FANTASTIC, way better than most of us here were doing after two months. I was no where near your skill level, couldn’t freemount, certainly couldn’t ride off a curb, could probably barely ride 100 feet.

A 26 is a large wheel and is going to be harder to control at first, so it’s not a surprise that you fall over when your momentum dies out.

Like others have said, switch to the 20 to learn to idle, it’s actually fun learning. Since you really like the 26, keep at it. Maybe alternate days of idling vs distance riding. Find small hills, work at making it up them, then find a bigger hill and repeat. Your not being able to make it up a hill is normal for someone who is learning, as is the burning thighs. It takes time for your body to learn and not fight itself so you can eventually relax and not spend so much energy.

On the 20, practice riding, then pause, and go again. Then pause and take a half rev backwards. Then keep at it and you’ll be idling before you know it.

Thanks guys. Much needed advise. I will relearn and re devote half my time to the 20"

Btw, cant go backwards worth squat, I only meant 10ft from letting go off the wall. Only backwards 1 revolution from freemount. I guess no easier way but constant devotion.


Congratz on finding your love of unicycling. I’m actually working on Idling and riding backwards currently, and I have been riding for over a year. I am on a 20. I just recently learned drops and hopping. Those two things came easy to me, but idling and riding backwards are giving me a lot of fun, annoying trouble. It’s very very sloooooooow gradual progress. I can ride backwards only 2 rev’s if I start at a wall after a couple weeks of practice. And I can’t idle more than 2 half rev’s. So don’t be discouraged if you aren’t seeing fast improvement.

I will actually get some practice in at work. It depends on what you do of course, but I will use my breaks to go out and practice for 15 minutes. Or if I eat a big breakfast, it normally fills me through the end of the day. So I will skip eating at lunch and spend the time riding around or practicing new stuff I’ve been working on. (I do also bring snacks though for the end of the day) It actually entertains my co-workers to see me riding around and practicing, so that always lifts my spirits as well when I spend the whole 15 minutes failing at what ever I’m doing.

Welcome to the forum, UPD and congatulations on your progress!

Maybe it will help with your frustration to compare how others are doing:

  • I’ve been learning for four months now and practice every time I get. Pretty much daily since I started. Lately I’ve been taking my uni to work (really short distance, < 1 mi) every day. Sometimes I take the uni for a 2 mile lunch ride.
  • Freemounting is hit and miss, mostly miss. 90% miss and more if I’m getting tired. When it works, it is usually the rollback mount. Going back half a revolution to find my balance and then taking off from there.
  • Curbs: Only succeeded once by accident. Haven’t been able to repeat.
  • Hills: Still having problems with minor inclines occasionally, so I haven’t take it to anything steeper
  • I can’t idle and I haven’t even tried to go backwards. I practice idling, but I can’t let go of my support for more than a second yet
  • Distance: This seems to be the only thing where I seem to be doing slightly better than you. I usually ride about 3 miles on my 24 inch as a workout. My legs are still ok after that, but my riding is getting shaky at that point.
  • UPDs: They happen almost exclusively with obstacles like bumps, 270 deg turns or when I have to stop because of pedestrians or cars.

For getting better distance riding I have one tip: Try to relax. Put as much weight as you can on the saddle. Take deep breaths to calm you down. Focus on smooth strokes and keep your eyes on something a bit further away.

In general to advance my skills I try to mix it up as much as I can: Though I mostly ride the 24 inch, I switch to the 29er whenever I can. I try different routes, search out obstacles, etc.

Thanks for your input markus. Also, nice to see you’re a uncyclist from the bay area like myself. Anyhow, I spent an hour trying to post last night, only to have my phone bum out on me. I’ ll post again thanks.

Since you’re in the Bay Area, you may want to check out our local “club”:

We’ve been meeting about once a month although lately there has been a flurry of new activity. All friendly folks at all skill levels and all ages. It has been very helpful for me to have somebody demonstrate things I have trouble with. Plus an extra hour of practice in a different environment can never hurt. :slight_smile:

Haha…trust me I have been considering joining the club you mentioned…thanks for the invite though. Youre forgetting, I have an 8yr old and wife as a super gluey attachment. Im lucky to even sneak in any practice at all:D

Anyhow, lemme try to post a pic from here, my internet skills is worse than my uni…then you know how bad that is…

Theres me and my dozenth attempt on april 9th on the 20". A week after, I got my 26" , and that one rode over it almost so effortlessly…Rolling Grassy knolls are a great practice!
I havent been back with my 20", though I will soon…


Bring the wife and the 8 year old. Worst case they can stroll around, sit on the grass or at the picnic tables, watch Chinese sword practice. Best case they may develop an interest and get their own unis. Turn your unicycle practice into family events :smiley:

Hi Markus, I hear the next coming event is the ‘learning tricks’ on May 21. Are you attending. I will try to make it if family life permits…how do I join? Thanks.

Ok, so I was only able to fit 15min on my 20" , but not bad, due to yesterday’s extensive practice. I found myself doing 3 backward revs from freemount(maybe accidentally)…new achievement.

Yesterday morning was great though. I took in some advice and leaned more forward, took a deep breath, relaxed, and just took off as far as I could on my 26" I also realised I could pace myself alot better because I had smoother strokes.
Definitely the leg strokes are so important. They cant be overpowering. Then your muscles automatically kick in, in split seconds, to make corrections, thus the clonky feeling.
SO, I conclude, as we beginners, get alot of clonk, (or wonk) it just simply gets very exhausting, very quickly for a very good reason. Due to lack of smooth, soft, perfect, muscle trained revolutions. Yes we train out muscles to make that perfect revolution so that our body will use much less energy in corrections. Exactly like any other sport, ie. Skiing, boarding, ice skating, surfing,.anything that requires much balance.

I then later in the day found a large mobile home park with lots of speed bumps. Nice, narrow and bumpy. Did 60 of them at least. A few upd’s at beginning. Got a little frustated. Broke sweat, my body then kicked into another gear. Varied my speed on each practice. Lifted up by buttt. By the 25th one, I pretty much got it, to almost any speed. Peddle position is important. Towards horizontal is the easiest, however, vertical is doable, just takes slightly more of a balance correction.

Wow, I love this sport, it truly is pure physics.
Great low impact (or high impact) sport. Great for losing weight…and ironically (my years of working, ) aching knee and achy back pain is gone.

glad to hear!! I’ve been riding for about a year, and I had some back and knee trauma when I was younger and it really helps. I had wanted to work out more, but I couldn’t run, it hurt way to much. Since I’ve been riding I’ve lost a bit of weight, I wasn’t to heavy to start with so a bit is more than enough, and I can feel the improvements in my back and knees!

How beginners can have a little bit of fun:

Grassy knolls.
Cant go up it, might as well go down it
Extra grippy, well cushioned. :roll_eyes:


Wow, big improvement worth noting tonight.
First of all I really appreciate the friendliness and kind encouraging help these past few days. It really made a difference.

Ok, 7 wks ago I notice I can semi hop just like a pogo stick, of which I never got a real hang of it as a kid. I didnt think too much of it…just bunch of hops up and down, not really anywhere.

Well, tonight, I just finally connected the dot of how significant those fast little hops turned out to be.

Few days ago, on my 20", after I had my kid to sleep, I rediscovered that I not only can hop for a long time with short fast hops, but, now iam able to make slow large lateral movements with those hops. Now this was a totally different kind of hop. Not sure what to call it, but i think i can now jump with these hops!
At the same time, I discovered I had a front porch that had a hand rail of which I can hold onto and practice my freehand one step jump off…hey, little step. …but dont we all (sort of speak) start of from little steps ( especially to avoid major injuries? , well, at least iam now a little older and wiser than when I was in the 20’s.
Anyhow, I still practiced on the one step hop or jump freehand, still needed to perfect it before I head to the flight of stairs.

So hows the dot connecting you say? Tonight I rediscovered that the 20" is really, really awesome to get back onto as a beginner. Its much torkier and twichier which is harder at first to get back to used to. Tonight I peddle much, much smoother and faster then ever before, almost effortlessly, as compared to when I first started…wobbly, slow and extremely thigh burning.

Now I can see how those 5 or 6 kids on that one youtube can ride around town doing all kinds of crazy stunts and riding so fast and efficiently. It is with much balance and really good, fast peddling, not to mention awesome stunts of which I can only dream of.

So the connection? Well, I knew I had to peddle real fast, UPD if I have to, just bail real fast…
I then remembered some on here mentioned to hold on to a handlebar and perticularly press down for faster better
Well, I dont have a handle bar so I pressed down on my seat handle. Previous days’ attempts I failed uncomfortably just even touching the seat. Because I fell out of balance the instant I didnt have and arm as a balance apparatus.
Then to night, after 1.75hrs of practice, it just clicked. I was actually loving the feeling of pressing down on the seat. I a llittle unbalanced at times but, I definitely had more control at times and definitely can peddle faster,wow.

So…, bare with me. Back to my pogo sticking and lateral semi jumping. I can almost do it indefinitely. Now, I can practice to go peddling for movement after I jump or pogosticking.

Not only until I realised I had to sit my butt back down and lean slightly foward, with a peddle foward momentum…Wow that was such a great feeling!
For the more experienced reading this …“ah…been there…done that!”

SO, as I previously struggled. How do I stop…?? Uhh, huh…its all beginning to connect.
I can now stop on a dime…well…not exactly on a dime…but infact on a line, a crackline on the asphalt.

Yes!!! A big deal for me!!! Finally… I hoppped(butt up) I peddled foward (butt down) approached the line. Lined up my peddles at horizontal, balance very crucial at this moment, grabbed handle, raised butt, stopped and hopped
…haha…darn I did!

With much, much thanks, sweat, and more sweat, and reading and self discovering I did it tonight.
also, my idling is much improved so is my backwards riding.
Hey, with intensity,
I can advance.