Falling down in public.

I don’t mean a UPD, I mean falling down onto the ground. This happened to me today for the first time. I’ve fallen down a few times since learning obviously, but this is the first one to happen whilst surrounded by a crowd of people.

I was riding back from class, and I just… fell. I had a backpack on, but I ride with that all the time, and it was lighter today anyways. I was trying to adjust my right foot because it was really funky, and then all of a sudden I was moving forwards and couldn’t get my legs to move the right way to pedal faster, and I fell forward. It felt like a slow motion descend, every second more embarrassing than the last because it was taking so long, ultimately reaching belly-flat-on-the-ground and scrapes on my hands and knees, unicycle 7-8 feet behind me.

I’ve become pretty recognizable on my campus, and everybody went from talking to absolute silence in an instant. By far the most embarrassing thing to happen to me so far this semester, and that’s saying a lot.

Has anything like this ever happened to anyone else? Surely it has. Please share stories you wish you’d forgotten years ago.

Ouch! I fell hard (face-plant) in gravel once at a party with about 20 people all watching me. Pretty embarrassing but I was just learning to ride anyway. I had several beers that night to relieve the pain of the public UPD. :frowning:

Best thing you can do if you fall off in front of people is laugh at yourself, and maybe give a little ironic bow, then get back on and ride away steadily.

Your story reminds me of a similar backpack faceplant many years ago. I was in Holland, riding around the city of Utrecht. I had my old 35mm camera in a non-camera bag backpack. Holland is a cycling country, which I think has the highest number of bicycles per-capita in the world. Anyway, the surface was cobblestone. Not bricks, or some other bumpy-yet-basically-level surface, full-on cobbles with quite the rough surface! I was riding my 24" Miyata with 1.75 tire and high pressure (all unicycles were pretty much 20" and 24" with high pressure tires in 1983).

Anyway, at a spot where there were plenty of pedestrians around, I went to curve up onto a bridge over one of the ubiquitous canals, and SLAM! Insta-crash. Full body on the ground, bruises, the whole nine yards.

It’s always embarrassing to fall bodily in front of so many people, even if they’re total strangers you’ll never see again. We don’t want to look klutzy, and perhaps more than that, we don’t want to make unicycling look dangerous or stupid. But if you want to eliminate the possibility of this happening, you probably have to not ride. Those things are rare, but they can still happen to the best of us.

Worst part about my story was the camera damage. Immediately noticeable was the cracked filter and dent in my lens. Not a big deal; a new filter fixed that. What I didn’t notice it for a long time, was that the camera’s prism had been knocked out of alignment. For a couple of years after that, any wide aperture shots tended to be out of focus. It took me two trips to Olympus USA (I was fortunate enough to live nearby) to get it fixed. And even then, it took me explaining to the people there that I wasn’t visually impaired. Only then did they say “Well maybe the prism is out of alignment”. That fixed it up, for many more years of film shooting with my old OM-10.

My first ever really bad crash was right in front of some friends from university. I was riding along fast, hadn’t seen them at all, then suddenly I’m smack down on the floor and completely winded, and trying to drag myself off the floor, and I look up and there are my mates, looking somewhat worried!

It was a pedal - shoelace tangle thing - taught me to do multiple knots to keep laces out of the way for sure.


Last Saturday I did a beautiful belly-flop climbing up a steep, dirt hill. My first thought was, am I hurt? No. Next thought was, who saw me? I get embarrassed too. Taking a bow, as mentioned, is always a good way blow it off. If I were younger I think my first thought would have been who saw me? followed by am I hurt?

The worst for me was my first attempts to reach 20mph with my new 114s. Going flat out, a mili-second glimpse at the cycle compute sends me flying, skidding, into a good 3 or 4 rolls, then stopping in a bloody heap. I look up and there are a bunch of little kids with their parents, all mouths wide open.
picked up the 36" and limped home, pretending it didn’t happen. :o

The worst bit however; Didn’t get twenty.

I don’t really have many good falling down stories, probably the best would have been my shoulder separating crash of 07

I was riding to class and cutting it close to be on tome for a final exam. turned down the road and am riding side by side with a car when I feel myself starting to lean forward. i accelerate trying to keep up with my wheel and eventually I go down hard trying to roll and ending up sliding on my shoulder and not much else, my backpack prevented me from rolling.

First thing i did was pick up my unicycle and then noticed that the car had stopped and was backing up. They asked if I was ok, I said I thought so and then asked how fast I was going, they said somewhere over 30, maybe 35 (km/h) I thanked them and tryed getting back on. was too sore and walked the rest of the way to class.

Turned out I ripped all the ligaments in my shoulder and displaced my collar bone and shoulder blade. I wrote a thread about it.

And I guess 35 is to fast with a 27" wheel. :stuck_out_tongue:

The first thing any self-respecting rider should as is “Is my b*ke/uni ok?”

Then worry about life-threatening injuries.

I was riding around a local beach/park while my wife was doing one of her long runs. Most of the paths there are wide, smooth multiuse, so I was delighted to discover what looked like a little single track leading away from one of the parking lots, between the shore and a remnant of an old fort.

The start of the path was packed dirt, and as I went farther, I began to encounter small pockets of loose sand, which became more numerous the farther I went. As the path degenerated into mainly loose sand interleaved with small patches of clear hardpack, I began applying a lot of force to the cranks, trying to power through for as long as I could. I was really beginning to feel good about the progress I was making, when my wheel suddenly plunged into an invisible pit of deep sand, instantly coming to a complete stop. I, momentarily oblivious, continued on at the same velocity for a few meters until the ground helpfully allowed me to decelerate at a rate determined by my coefficient of rolling friction.

As I walked back to the unicycle, brushing off sand, plucking off burrs, and collecting my sunglasses, car keys, and camelbak along the way, I noticed quite a few people standing on the rampart, looking out at the water (and presumably me). Once I had nearly made my way back to the start of the trail, I came across into a couple walking, one of whom offered, “You were looking good there! …for a while!”

Nope! No way. No how. Nuh uh. Never. No face plants, no skinned palms, no skinned knees, no bruised egos. No hot babes that I wanted to impress with my riding prowess have ever thought “What a freakazoid idiot” as I lay on the ground whimpering. And I certainly have never tumbled from my guni at high speed to go crashing to the ground collecting various patches of road rash and spraining my wrist and have people clamoring around me asking me if I’m OK. After riding for close to 32 years and that never ever ( I repeat never ever) happening, it’s amazing that I’m as humble as I am.
I can imagine, though, why other people might want to wish they had forgotten these stories. But nope, not me. No siree.


I was riding along with a buudy of mine around town., taking in the nice heat of the sun when we decide to go “show off” at the movie theater. Well when we got there, there was a bunch of people there all pointing and screaming so we decided to just ride to the Jamba Juice right next to the Theater and take a break. Unfortunately there was this tiney 1 foot curb thingy that I usually just ride off pretty easily. Well this was during the time I had just gotten my 20 inch torker and being the big show off that I am, I tried doing a hop twist off of it. I don’t really know what happened but my leg just would not lock up so I can do a safe big hop. Well my leg turned into what felt like a noodle and I essentially jumped off of the unicycle at an angle that launched me towards the ground. Yeah it was embarassing with all the people there but I had a friend who helped me up which in my opinion lessened the embarassment tremendously. Not much of a story but you get the picture. :smiley:


today i was riding on a narrow trail about 2 feet wide like the first post i was also wearing a backpack, it swung over to my left side and i fell into some bushes but they were more like trees and no one came along for about 3 min and i was freezing my butt off (i hate wisconsin) and they had to help me out so yeah pretty embaressing for me anyways

Oh man this makes me feel so much better! Thanks guys.

when i UPD in front of people, i usually try to turn it into some funky roll move. if i cant do that, just get to your feet ASAP

I’m clumsy enough to have a lot of really good ones among which include…

  • We rode cross-country once which means about 40km and I was on my 20" trials uni. At the end of it, I attempted to hop up a 5cm curb not knowing that my legs were rubber. Sure woke a lot of people up at 5am.

  • It rained one day and I was cycling too close to a curb. My uni skidded and I flew.

  • I thought I’d race down a straight path one day on my 29" uni. A crank fell off, I flew one way and my bottle another, right in front of some stunned pedestrians. They weren’t impressed by the blood.

Ouch, that’s the painful part :wink:

I’ve had a few slams like that from hitting unseen bumps. One was actually a speed-bump (at the rowing lake in Nottingham) and I was riding fast and not looking. Smash. Bruises. Blood. Broken phone screen (in shorts pocket).


Sam, what about the fall on the cattlegrid on your first LEJOG? :slight_smile:

I was riding to the university. In a narrow section I met a pedestrian, so I rode closer to a small “curb”/stone wall. Too close, I realized later.

My unicycle stopped suddenly, catching me totally off guard. I flew forward, but the stone wall prevented me to do a rollout. A person standing by a nearby bus stop wondered if I was OK, and I quickly told her that I was. I picked up my unicycle and examined it, looking for what had caused it to stop.

When I arrived to the lecture I felt pain in my shoulder and knee. Upon a closer look, I discovered that they were covered in blood - not a nice sight Well, it gave me a good excuse for being late.

On the way home I saw that there were some spikes sticking out of the curb/wall - I probably hit one of those with my pedal.
The worst part of my story? My iPod (that I had in my pocket) was destroyed in the fall.

When I was still a uni padawan, I skidded out on loose sand in a Walmart parking lot, falling straight back on my elbows and back. I lay there for a second and slowly started getting up (it hurt!), and a customer asked if I’d hurt anything. “Just my pride” I answered, “Just my pride…” :smiley: