I posted on Halloween looking for newbie tips. It’s been about 10 days and I am now regularly riding 100+ meters before losing my balance. Yesterday and today I didn’t walk back to my driveway to mount using the truck, I used street signs and light poles. It’s fun and a little crazy.
I still have lots of practice to do to get smoother and less choppy, but I feel hopeful.
It seems to me one of the next skills to work on is the free mount. Is that correct? If so, any tips or resources? I have tried twice, not very aggressively, and I confess to being afraid of face planting.
Thank you in advance,
You didn’t mention what size wheel you’re using, but never the less - don’t be too proud or careless to not wear protective gear. I never owned wrist guards until after I started working on learning freemounts. Then had a sudden UPD and got my feet tangled in the pedals and cranks so fast that I didn’t even know exactly how it happened. I just couldn’t get my foot free to land and went down on my wrists. I bought wrist braces the next day and felt sore for a couple of weeks, but was grateful that I didn’t break a wrist. I also always use a good helmet, elbow pads, shin guards that are actually sold for street hockey and extend up enough to protect my knees. The only drawback is that they don’t protect the back of the legs. I also use padded leather gloves. You need more and better protection the older you get and your bones become brittle.
Learn to step off as soon as you start to loose your balance. Don’t try to stay on and save it. It will end badly.
Maybe lower your saddle a little while working on freemounts. Practice stepping over too. I find the smaller wheels are a lot easier to freemount. Good luck!
Yes, work on your freemount. Stop using crutches now.
Learn to use either foot as your starting foot instead of learning one side and then having to learn all over again with the other foot (most people always use the same foot). This will make you a better rider.
Try being a little aggressive instead of a timid approach. Put on as much safety gear or clothes as possible when learning the basics. Being scared will lead to you getting hurt. Safety gear or a lot of padding will help you be fearless (or less fearful).
I started learning with the bottom pedal at 6:00 in the beginning
With your first mounts try launching yourself right up and over the wheel and land with the other foot in front of the wheel.
Now start slowing down the overmount almost to a stillstand.
Sometimes you might just get up to a stillstand and fall over. This is OK. Eventually, you’ll start to ride away from this stillstand. (even though it’s shaky)
Next start moving the bottom pedal to 7:00 and repeat. Now you’ll want to put less pressure on the bottom foot and concentrate on landing the second foot on the pedal. At the same time you are jumping up on the pedals with more energy/force.
Then you’ll move to 8:00 and then finally 9:00.
A small downward slope will help you mount easier.
A small rolling of the tire forward will help you as well. This is the beginning of a rolling mount.
Looking at your second pedal may help you land your second foot more confidently. I would drop this habit as soon as possible and start looking ahead where you want to go.
Once you can mount from these positions, you will be able to mount with whatever bottom pedal position makes the most sense for the terrain.
Flat ground and static mount=9:00
Flat ground and slow rolling mount=8:00
Flat ground and fast rolling mount=7:00
Slightly steep ground and static mount=7:00-8:00
Very steep ground and static mount=9:00
I hope all that makes sense and this is just what worked for me.
Do a Google video search for “unicycle free mount” and watch several dozen. You will find several helpful and different ideas. Keep tiring till you find what works for you and then repeat a thousand times to get relatively proficient.
Try riding slowly, come to a stop and start again without dismounting. Get used to that moment when the unicycle is stationary and it takes a little effort and skill to get it moving.
Try riding with your hand on the front of the saddle. Once you can do it, you will wonder why it was ever a problem. However, it’s surprisingly tricky.
When you have those two skills, learning free mounting will be easier.
I learned with the bottom pedal at the bottom of its travel. That was a mistake because it meant starting to pedal with the cranks at “top (and bottom) dead centre.” It was years before someone showed me to start with the cranks around 45 degrees, which is an easy position to pedal from.
Have fun. You can already ride a unicycle better than most people in the world — most people in all of human history.
No better explanation than UniMyra’s classic video.
He clearly explains the basic principles of a static freemount in the first half them extends it to bigger wheels in the second half.
UniMyra specifies using a hand on the seat for downward pressure. This is super important. The hardest part of static mounting is keeping consistent weight on the seat during the mount. The hand is there to compensate and steady the butt. I think I would have learned to mount faster using one hand on the saddle. Even for riders who haven’t learned how to ride with one hand on the saddle, I think starting the mount out in this position, then removing the hand for balance, could be beneficial.
Note: UniMyra is a larger than average rider. He is able to place more of his upper body weight over the wheel during mounting. That is part of the reason he is so good at static mounts on the 24". If you are shorter, that technique is going to be harder, or you will need to exaggerate getting your upper body over the hub. On the 36", UniMyra is not tall enough to do a true static mount, and he has to compensate by rolling the wheel forward. For a shorter rider, the wheel-size-threshold for true static mounts may be a smaller wheel. IMHO it’s better to learn a static mount on a 20". On a larger wheel, when additional techniques like jumping and rolling the wheel are added to the mount, things start getting complicated and kludgy.
The tire grab mount was for me a great stepping stone toward a static mount. Reaching forward and down to grab the tire forced me to get my center of gravity more forward. As I practiced the tire grab mount, I gradually used less pressure in my hand (use gloves) to hold the wheel from rolling backwards. Also, the tire grab mount got me accustomed to looking downward during the mount. This made mounting safer, because I could focus on the second pedal. Some riders mentioned that looking downward is disorienting. Like anything else, it’s a skill that comes in handy sometimes.
Wear wrist protection!
I agree with the hand on the saddle.
It is a very important point that I forgot to mention.