Freemounting: Old man keeps trying and trying...

Well, after investing 'bout 38 hours (over 4 months time) learning to
ride a unicycle (a 24" Stealth Toker Unistar), and after spending
another 38 hours (subsequent to learning how to ride, over the past 5
months) gleefully riding my tamed beast through empty campus hallways,
around vacant parking lots and parking garages, through local
residential neighborhoods, and along uncluttered bike paths, I’ve
finally decided to set aside the task of simply racking up the mileage
in favor of dedicating some time to nailing that elusive static
freemount. This was a big decision for me because the freemount has
mystified me for five full months. Candidly, when I decided to take
up the task of learning to unicycle, I just assumed that riding the
‘uni’ would be the most difficult obstacle I’d have to surmount. Boy
was I wrong.

I’ve been wrestling with the ‘freemount’ off and on over these last
five months, and most impatiently during the past two months (when two
unicycling friends showed me just how simple it was to static mount a
unicycle–without the assistance of a helpful curb, wall or car).
They made it look soooo easy! But when I tried to freemount (again,
and again, and again without getting the hint of the feeling that I
was making any progress whatsoever), it nearly always ended in
fatigue, perspiration, and near-disaster. I figured that the odds of
my making a successful freemount were comparable to winning the
Minnesota lottery. Yes, I could ‘nail it’ occasionally, say about
once in fifty tries…but FIFTY tries! Well, the effort was too
demanding. I resigned myself to always be a member of that minority
of unicyclists who can ride a unicycle but can never actually mount
one. Success was an impossibility. Defeated, I resumed my unicycling
efforts, resigned to always crutching myself on curbs, walls, and cars
to mount the unicycle.

Then last week everything changed. I had one of those UPDs on a
remote stretch of bikepath, a place that was 'bout three-quarters of a
mile from any of my usual crutches for mounting. And so there on the
hot asphalt path I resumed my unplanned effort to freemount the ‘uni’
(trying again, again, again, and again without success), and became
quite frustrated as well as ashamed by my inability to just mount the
beast and ride. It beat me. I walked three-quarters of a mile to
find a curb. That was the last straw! It was time to learn how to

For the past week now ('bout 5 cumulative hours, in 45-90 minute
sessions) I’ve been working on nailing the static freemount. Finally
today, 04 July, I’ve gathered some evidence of progress! No, it’s not
quite ‘Miller Time’ just yet anyway, but it’s getting close! Today’s
progress is reported below.

I spent 90 minutes practicing the static freemount in a empty parking
garage. In that time I completed 44% (154 of 350) of my freemount
attempts. An embarrassing percentage, I know. But what is
heartening, I think, is that over the 90 minute session, my success
rate actually (and finally) began to increase rather markedly. Let me
show you: if I divide today’s efforts (350 attempts)into seven equal
units (of 50 attempts each), my progress looks like this:

Attempts Success Rate

1st 50 - 12 (or 24%)
2nd 50 - 19 (or 38%)
3rd 50 - 22 (or 44%)
4th 50 - 22 (or 44%)
5th 50 - 27 (or 54%)
6th 50 - 33 (or 66%)
7th 50 - 38 (or 76%)

Tot 350 - 154 (or 44%)

Gadzooks! :slight_smile: Anyway, I apologize for prattling on like this, but it’s
difficult for me to constraint my joy! It’s certainly unlikely that
I’ll ever be pedaling a ‘uni’ backwards with one foot (like Melanie,
my skilled friend) or be found jumping curbs (like Tim, another
friend). At age 51, there are many skills that just seem too
frighteningly dangerous for me to even contemplate attempting on one
wheel; but, dang-it-all, if I can somehow learn to freemount my ‘uni’,
say 90 percent of the time, I’ll be a mighty grateful ‘Level One’
unicycler for at least the next 20 years. :wink: I hope this missive
serves as a source of encouragement for others who are trying to learn
how to freemout. Toodles! --Carl Barrentine (Grand Forks, North

Hey your doing what you have to, keeping at it and not giving up is key. I know you’ve probably heard a lot of tips and all, but i’ll give a few anyways. I usually mount right on pedal and left on ground. Make sure your weights on the left foot, and you have good balance. I think ti’s easier to hold onto the seat, but it looks better if you don’t, you jut have to find a place where it’s comfy before and after you mount so you can ride off. It’s important to keep all weight off the right foot, and if thats not possible kinda try to push the uni forward a little when you jump. you gotta jump as quick as you can so it doesn’t have time to move, everything should go quick as you can actually. I don’t know how to expain the rest except to say try to get your left foot at a good position, and sit on the seat and ride.

However you do it, the more you do it the smoother it gets. I’m learning how to ride backwards, at first it was impossible, but i’ve gotten to 2 revolutions a few times, and it feels good. So feel good about the small stuff, and have fun.


Whoa! You are one persistant son-of-a-gun! Congrats on your progress…keep up the good work! I’ll bet it really, really feels good to be finally succeeding at the freemount. Funny how necessity motivates progress. Once I started muni, I finally started to get more consistent on freemount…sheerly out of necessity.

I suspect you’ll find your progress somewhat cumulative…all your previous experience/learning contributes to the next challenge…and there will be a next one. You’ll see. Once you’ve nailed this freemount, sooner or later, something else will catch your eye and you’ll be back at the learning game. Maybe it’ll be idling, or backwards, or hopping, or stillstanding, or whatever, but likely something will seem intriguing at some point.

But for now, celebrate your progress and be happy you can now ride where there aren’t “aids” to mounting. :smiley:

Ride on! (or should I say, “Mount on!” ?)


I still think freemounting is impossible.
I haven’t given it nearly as much effort as you.
I have pieces of 2x4 laying around home. That is the only place I ride. Even with a 2x4 block I am still a long way from 100%. I haven’t keep track.
However if a youngster like you can learn freemount, I will give it another try.:wink:

Re: Freemounting: Old man keeps trying and trying…

No apology needed. Congrats on your last 50 mounts, 76% is great for freemount. Trust me, you’ll soon be at 100%. But you will not be content, as jpcycler said, in no time you will be attempting a new trick or stunt.

I have uni’ed for 33 years and just a couple weeks ago started hopping off stuff. 20" is my max so far, but I can do it 100% of the time now and ride off after the landing. Just last night, I was hopping off and up onto sidewalks and across curb stops. A whole group of EMT’s were loving watching me.

Again, congrats on the freemouts. You da man!!! --chirokid–


I feel your pain, and congratulate you on your progress :slight_smile: I learned to freemount with my dominant (left foot) on the pedal, and did that for almost a year exclusively. Finally, after a new muni, and hitting the trails, and realising that I was getting quite good, I decided to learn to freemount with my right foot on the pedal. I could do it maybe once in 50 tries, but I wanted to learn once and for all. It took me about 3 hours straight. Now, finally, I’m almost an ambi-pedalist :slight_smile: Persistence is the key to this sport! Keep it up, and eventually you’ll gte it :slight_smile:

I don’t know if it was said already, (its too late to read that much… I know, sorry) but try to think of you going over the wheel. Not the wheel going under you. Sort of hop up over the wheel instead of pedaling it back under you. If that was already said, the only other thing I can think to say is practice. Time heels all wounds. In this case the wound being the hole in your unicycling repertoire. Not that its really that important.


Re: Freemounting: Old man keeps trying and trying…

I am so gratefull to be able to dupliccate your experience almost to the tee.I am still working on it.I had it and lost it and hope strongly that on my 69-th birthday I will freerly mount the ‘BRUSH WITH ONE WHEEL’. as I am 31.10. boy:D I was trying to justify my secondary inability in many ways but persisted.So the skill returned in a more stable fashion.
All the best;) Witold.

ah ah learning how to freemount!

at 56 I discovered 2 things:

- if I am under stress I miss my freemount
so I *must* do it in an almost casual way ....

- julien Monnet tip; go for the sky! 

relax and try to go up! (things will settle down beneath you)

so when I am just happy freemounting is easy, when I try to concentrate I miss. terrible



I am a 53 year old male and picked up my first uni last September. Your story makes me want to relate a bit of my experience!

It took me 2 weeks to learn to ride 50 feet and it was more of a controlled fall forwards then riding, but I did it. Then I began the quest for the ability to freemount. Within a few days I fell forwards and broke my left wrist! So I went to visit Darren Bedford @ Bedford Unicycles to purchase a new uni the same day as I got my new cast!

I realized that I needed some help if I was to progress any further withoug killing myself so I joined the Toronto Unicyclists and I have gone to the club meeting religiously since! Still, it took me two months of 2 hours per day of practice before I could nail most of my freemounting attempts. (By the time the cast came off I could make about 90 percent) Then it all clicked!
Once it clicks you then wonder why it ook so long as it is so easy to do!

I then learned to idle and went into it from the freemount instead of using a wall and within two weeks I was idling as long as I wanted too! So then I decided to learn the next skill.

In February I attempted riding backwards. There was a parade in March that I wanted to get ready for and thought that two months would be more then adequate to learn to ride backwards. Well it took me 4 months of 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours per day to learn this skill. Nothing has been as difficult not even the static or free mount,. But once again, now that it has clicked, I sometimes wonder why it took so long. Persistence is the key!

The frustration aspect of learning new skills is the hardest thing about a uni. But nailing that skill is a wonderful feeling and makes it worth it.

I kept telling myself that once I would take a break from learning a new skill once I learned backards, but now that I have accomplished it I am ready for the next skill!

For comparison purposes, my 16 year old son learned to ride and freemount with me but he learned to ride and freemount in two weeks, and both skills happened at once. He just started to freemount and ride away! Go figure!

Re: Freemounting: Old man keeps trying and trying…

allow me to disagree
if your 44% was taken from a sample of ten and u then spent all your time belly-achin’ about not being able to freemount, i may have agreed with your contention that it’s embarrassing
a sample of 350 absolves all judgements about ‘success’ levels
sheer persistence counts for way more

one question, have u considered varying your practise sessions by working on the roll-back mount as well?
i’m asking because i really buy that ‘variety is the spice of life’ thing
and secondly because the roll-back introduces some of the concepts neccesary for idling…

for the record, i learnt to freemount (roll-back) while learning to ride
(i kinda hoped i’d figure out the riding part should i ever land a mount…)
it probably doubled my riding-learning time, but i could freemount two days after going 50yards

a friend of mine is getting a uni for her 50th this week
i’ll show her this post

Well Done Carl!

Persistence is the key to learning new skills. I am 43 and my sons learn everything much quicker than me but with age (usually) comes patience so I may take longer but I eventually learn the skill.

Here is a tip that might help, remember that when you are free mounting keep as much weight as possible off of the foot on the pedal and conentrate on stepping over onto the other pedal such that it makes contact in a postion that you can easily apply pressure and continue riding ie your cranks are as close to level as possible.

I am currently learning to freemount our tall unicycle and I expect to have it before the end of the month. You should see the look I get at work when I say I am a bit stiff from trying to learn to mount a giraffe!

Cheers and good luck


Re: Freemounting: Old man keeps trying and trying…

Thanks to all for the encouraging words and helpful hints! Bolstered
by this encouragement, I decided to make a second sustained effort
toward mastering that elusive static freemount. The results follow.

Recall that yesterday, 04 July, I completed 44% (154 of 350) of my
attempts to freemount the ol’ battered 24" Torker (Table 1).

Table 1: Data for 04 July 2004.

Attempts Success Rate

1st 50 - 12 (or 24%)
2nd 50 - 19 (or 38%)
3rd 50 - 22 (or 44%)
4th 50 - 22 (or 44%)
5th 50 - 27 (or 54%)
6th 50 - 33 (or 66%)
7th 50 - 38 (or 76%)

Tot 350 - 154 (or 44%)

Well today, 05 July, I’m pleased to report that I made some slow but
steady progress toward developing this important unicycling skill
(Table 2) My freemount success rate for today’s 90 minute session was
a wholloping 77% (269 of 350), which is markedly better yesterday’s
success rate.

Table 2: Data for 05 July 2004.

Attempts Success Rate

1st 50 - 26 (or 52%)
2nd 50 - 38 (or 76%)
3rd 50 - 35 (or 70%)
4th 50 - 37 (or 74%)
5th 50 - 48 (or 96%)
6th 50 - 40 (or 80%)
7th 50 - 45 (or 90%)

Tot 350 - 269 (or 77%)

My sense is that my success rate does increase when I’m relaxed (as
has already been pointed out by a thoughful unicycler in an earlier
posting). That is to say, when I consciously take a long deep breath,
and then exhale slowly (and completely) before making that
ever-critical hop, well, I seem to nail the static freemount more
often. In addition to the long expiration, I think it’s important to
mention that I notice that if I consciously slump my shoulders, relax
them so that my arms dangle listlessly at my sides, before the mount
attempt, well, my success rate seems not only higher but my freemounts
seem to be remarkably smooth, too!

When it works right, that is to say when I’m in that ‘Zen-zone’, I’m
reminded of the feeling I used to experience (way back in the early
1960s) when I’d swoosh-the-hoop from the freethrow line with my
well-released basketball. It’s the same thing, really, freemounting
the ‘uni’ and tossing the basketball with precision and grace. Until
that memory resurfaced today, I’d honestly forgotten just how much
time that I once devoted to mastering that freethrow shot…you know
what mean: the little hop, the smooth release of that back-spinning
ball from the fingertips, that oh-so-graceful arc, and then that
wonderful ‘swoosh’ when the ball zipped through the center of the
hoop, hitting neither backboard or rim, only net. O! The hours! The
long hours of practice! And that’s the feeling that returned to me
today, long about the 200th freemont attempt!

I’ve prattled on much too long. Time to lurk. I’m going to take a
break from working on the ol’ freemount for a while. Maybe next week,
I’ll find the time to complete a third 90 minute session. Gosh, I’m
hoping that whatever it is that I’ve learned (in these three long
hours over these two days–700 exhaustive freemount attempts!) will
not be forgotten. I say this with some degree of seriousness because
I’m beginning to forget quite a few things now that I’m approaching
seniorhood. :wink: Toodles! Thanks for reading! --carl (Grand Forks,
North Dakota)

Re: Re: Freemounting: Old man keeps trying and trying…


Re: Re: Freemounting: Old man keeps trying and trying…

all the relaxation that u describe stems from the slow exhalation
it relaxes the upper body and balance happens much more easily to a flexible body that a rigid one
that bit of advice is one that everyone can take to heart
no matter what the skill is u’re working on, watch the breathing
(esp true for the giraffe freemount…)

if u have the time to do ten minutes a day, u may do your self more favours than waiting a whole week for another 90 minute session
just a thought