Myself and my wife have just bought our first ever Unicycles. Any advice, hints, tips greatly appreciated
Myself and my wife have just bought our first ever Unicycles. Any advice, hints, tips greatly appreciated
There are a lot of experts that will be able to help you.
If you’re asking for advice about riding a unicycle, you can ask directly in #riding-advice.
You can also use the search to find some information: https://unicyclist.com/search?q=beginner%20advice
Hey FlyingScot, welcome to the forum!!
Welcome to the forum, FlyingScot. If you and your wife will be learning at the same time, I recommend you try offering her a shoulder. This learning method is not discussed that much on the forum. I take it neither of you are young riders. Learning may take longer, since you probably won’t be taking the same risks as teenagers. As others said, there are many, many beginner advice threads on this forum. They are actually pretty funny to read, because the more experienced riders argue about the best learning methods. My only other advice is to avoid trying to look or feel in control. You need to embrace the out-of-control-ness of being a beginner. If your arms are twitching madly, that is the way it is supposed to be. And I also recommend wrist guards and a helmet.
Welcome Flying Scot70 and wife,
I’ve been riding for a few years and my advice to any beginners:
1.) Start on 20"
2.) Listen to “beginners”…especially, those who learned at age 50+…who understand the rehabilitation of twisted ankles, sprained wrists and effective dosage of ibuprofin(800 mg/8hrs…provided you are healthy and not on other meds).
3.) Don’t listen to “experts”…especially, those who learned at 8 yrs of age…what wisdom, application of physics or empathy for other’s who can’t ride can be had at that age.
Good luck(keep the seat low, always lean forwards,…never quit)
Are you from Scotland as your name suggests? There is a Muni Scotland Facebook group.
Am originally from Dundee. We now live in Sunderland and couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have Unicycles.com on our doorstep at Billingham!
We’ve been made aware of a few local clubs, but as of the current situation some of these aren’t running at the moment which is understandable.
Fingers crossed if folks just knuckle down, accept the rules of engagement then we can all come out the otherside a bit worldly wiser
Then we can all meet up again…
Find a flat open area with hard ground and a wall. First go along the wall, but then away from it. Holding on to something for too long will hinder your progress. Practice for ½-1 hour a day. But not to the point of frustration. The smallest success or improvement is a good place to stop for the day.
You WILL feel like you will never get it, but suddenly it will click.
Every so often, do some free mounts. Just 5-10 tries. That way you will have learned it when you can ride and won’t feel like you are beginning from start all over again.
We’ve got some good advice up here, but just for the sake of getting some representation around the board :
I would very much disagree with this. Obviously, you don’t have to practice more, but I think you should. In my experience the sweet spot is around 1 1/2 hours in when you’re not tired but you have successfully warmed up and can execute all the things you could the day before - this is where learning happens. Obviously, you’ll get better even practicing in half-hour sessions, but I think it will be slower than if you learn with some longer sessions.
When I was learning I’d be out for 4 hours some days, and so while this isn’t practical for most people, I would recommend making your sessions as long as possible to get the best learning for the time spent.
Of course - if you can’t go out for an hour or more, then just hop out for 30 minutes and there’s no harm done The more you ride overall, the better.
I don’t suggest learning to ride from a wall. Start from a free mount pretty quickly. You can get your first taste of the wheel holding on to something, then start riding away from it almost immediately. You may feel like you’re literally going like, one pedal and then falling right away (which is probably the case) but it does hinder your progress to learn against a wall. I don’t think Brian would disagree with me on that, I just wanted to stress the point for clarity
But back to where I disagree. I think that once you have figured out how to get, like, one pedal, move solely to a free mount. Not only will you then learn to do the two at the same time (like Brian said, so you don’t have to start all over), but it is also easier to ride from a free-mount then from away from a wall into the open, because with a free mount you automatically end in the right position to ride away from, rather than having to push yourself into position. I personally found it much easier.
Anyhow, I do hope you both have a really fun time on your unicycle! There’s a lot of different opinions on this forum so you can choose among the ones in the comments and decide for yourself which one to follow
Okay, I see a lot of different but “great” advice.
If you “understand” what is being described try it a few times.
Works? Not works? Try another one?
So, it’s just try this try that at this point, if you have the energy.
Energy? As long as you can keep doing it. 30 minutes a day or a few hours a day.
Now, at a certain point you may ask. WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?
-Am I wasting my time practicing holding something?
-Should I just let go and go for it?
-What do I really need to focus on?
-Is there any bicycle skill that I can transfer?
Okay? Unicycle Dynamics 101:
a.) Maintain pedaling back pressure.
b.) Lean forward and rock your hips.
c.) Pinch the saddle with your things.
a.) What is back pressure?
What happens if you just pedal like a bicycle on the unicycle? Ouch! Boom! The unicycle “shoots out under you”. Got it? Yes, you must keep constant tension on all pedals. Adding pressure on the back pedal prevents this from happening. You must do it over/over to develop both “control/timing” and strength. Of course, go slow at first and as you get stronger/better you can go faster and smoother. Can you learn this “by letting go and just doing it”? Good luck.
b.) Why rock my hips and upper body?
Can you maintain perfect “perpendicular to the ground” body position? I don’t think so. In fact, that’s a misnomer(unless you are an advance rider). You must always “lean forwards”. This is a new body action that you must repeat and learn. So, how do you lean forwards? Just tip forward till you feel like falling down, and then you “surge/drive” the pedal down a little bit and the unicycle rights itself. You don’t have perfect balance, yet, so it will feel like your are rocking back and forth. You will tend to use your upper body at first, but as you become more efficient you can simply use your hips. Again, do you think you can repeat/refine/learn this action by just letting go of a rail/wall and flapping your arms to stay balanced?
c.) Pinching your thighs together?
Finally, how do you control which way the unicycle swings or steers? You must squeeze the saddle with your legs. Simple, right…however, when you are learning you may not think about this, because you are totally focused on just not falling down. As you do this it’s okay to feel your calf rubbing against the wheel fork frame. As you get better you will need less of this.
We don’t disagree at all. Except with the time, maybe. I know from instrument practice that 3 hours of practice is plenty a day. You can’t concentrate for much more anyway, after that you are just going through with motions and maybe getting bad habits and getting frustrated. I don’t remember how long I practices, maybe it was more like the 1½ hour. But I think a break after that is best.
Most things we learn, and remember, comes when we are sleeping; not mindless repetition for hours on end.
True… I was 12 when I learned, so my energy levels may have been just a teensy-weensy bit higher…
My biggest rub was suggesting to actually learn to ride from a wall (out into the open or actually on the wall, both aren’t great in my opinion). I found it easier to learn off of a free-mount, and people I’ve taught have had more success with that.
Anyhow, I guess it depends on the person. I cannot practice an instrument for 3 hours on end because it seems pointless… I’m just repeating the same thing. If I fail, there’s not much I can do except keep playing that thing over and over until I have the muscle memory. When I was learning to unicycle though, each attempt was exciting because there was a lot of analysis to be done at every moment, and lots to learn from each time I fell - why did I fall? What did I do wrong? How can I correct it? I guess that’s why I could keep going for so long, because each attempt made me think of something new I had to think of, so it was hard to force myself to not correct the mistake and instead finish the practice.
Maybe it all comes down to mindset.
Absolutely, exactly my thinking and “motivation” to keep trying. At the same time, a maniacal drive to keep doing it. Even after deep scars on your shins, twisted ankle and twisted wrists!!!
Almost forgot this important tip for all beginners:
d.) Drop your seat.
e.) Don’t pedal with your toes.
Why set the seat low? The more force and leg action required the more “force” and “feel” and “control” that you will develop. High seat = high efficiency and less power = less feel. You don’t want that. We are not trying to go fast, far or up a hill. Low efficient pedal action is your best teacher, right now.
Why not use toes for pedaling? Again, same answer as above. Toes = calves = more leverage to push the pedal down. You don’t want leverage you want the big muscle of your legs to do all the work. The more work the more you learn. So use the middle of your feet or even the heels on the pedal. You need to learn to “drive” that pedal down. You need to learn to work one pedal at a time. You don’t need to focusing on “spinning” that pedal down with least amount of force, yet. It’s not a bicycle.
Andrew, you and I are alike in some ways. As a beginner, I routinely practiced more than 2 hours in one session. And I almost immediately started working on a free mount. My first major goal, at which point I could say that I knew how to ride, was to ride the 1/4 mile loop around my neighborhood without dismount. By the time I succeeded, 6 weeks of practice, I could also free mount. I could have probably cut the 6 week time in half by focusing only on riding and skipping free mount practice. I spent A LOT of time practicing free mounts, and most of the time the results were not good. But that practice payed off.
I disagree with those who say you should quit when you get tired. All my best progress happened in the “second wind” portion of my practice sessions. I typically did not make any significant progress, relative to the previous day, in the first 30 minutes of a practice session.
I also disagree that practicing something a whole bunch of times, such as a mount, unsuccessfully, reinforces bad technique. If you play a musical passage 1/10 times right, you’ve gotten it wrong 9/10 times. I don’t think the same logic applies to unicycle, however. The 9 wrong times don’t even count on the unicycle. Being a beginner on the unicycle is a numbers game. You just have to try things a bunch of times. When you do something right, the feedback will be obvious. When you don’t, that’s just water under the bridge. I frequently had the experience of trying a hard mount 50 times, finally getting it on the 50th time…then nailing it on the first try the very next day.
I know the following is an over simplification, but here goes, anyway: When we practice, we get gradually more tired. But, as we practice, we hopefully are also improving our technique and concept of riding. So, out goal is to improve our concept enough that it offsets our loss of energy.
Slamdance mentioned lowering the seat and pedaling on the center of the foot. I think what he is trying to say is: beginners need to experience more “crude” ways of riding. They are not ready to use small muscles and efficient means of riding. In my own experience, learning new techniques always involved progressing from crude motions / technique towards more refined, subtle technique. For example, as I improved, I starting incrementally bringing the seat up and riding closer to my toes.
Beginners may think they can bypass the “crude” stage of technique and start right away with the “proper” way of riding. This may indeed work, but only to the extent they are really, really talented. That does not apply to my learning. My only talent was the ability to keep working. Some beginners seem to think (from my reading of many posts on the forum) that the secret to being in control is looking in control. You need to experience the out-of-control-ness, first.
Andrew, sounds like you’re doing a great job. There are so many techniques on the unicycle. It’s hard to know what to work on. Keep us posted!
It’s a lot more similar than you seem to think.
I can’t Speak for others, but what I did most have been optimal for me, because it only took me a week or 7 days to learn to ride and freemount from never having any interest/practice in unicycling.
hard ground? so when you fall off, you’re sure to hurt yourself? And a wall to bang your head against, when it gets frustrating.
But yeah like Brian says. I trained for 2 hours every evening during 3 weeks and then it only took a wheel of the same amount of practice to learn to free-mount and then the fun really starts.
No need to be snotty.
Hard ground, yes. Grass only makes it difficult. But hard ground is also also good gravel.
I do recommend coming away from the wall as fast as possible, but I will say everyone should hold on to something untill they feel comfortable getting on the unicycle. Riding along the wall a bit the first time doesn’t hurt either.