I’m at the point where I can freemount my 5’ giraffe about every 7-9 attempts.
Better than my previous 2 out of 300, or more recent 1 out of 25 or so.
What’s working is:
After experimenting with various pedal placements, simply having the pedals
strictly straight up and down aligned with the post.
Leaning the giraffe forward to start and then pulling it towards me as I
Having my left leg fairly close to the unicycle, i.e I’m standing pretty
straight up as I make the lift (my right leg is the one on the tire)
Unlike the photo in Sebastian Hoeher’s book, my left hand holds onto the
post, not the back of the seat. The right hand holds the front of the seat
Lastly, the entire mount needs to be quick but not jerky. Difficult to
describe, but it is fast but not rushed. This allows a fraction of a second to
It is a good feeling to be able to hit it with some regularity. It is still a
truly wonderous feeling though. I think I can best describe it as being out on
a date with someone you find to be beautiful, intelligent and funny and asking
yourself how in the world you can be so lucky to be in that situation. After
the mount, as I’m riding around I truly do feel on top of the world.
About the only thing better is seeing my kid laugh in glee.
I know what you’re asking. I’m a few years older than you and I’ve been freemounting a six foot as opposed to Raphael’s five foot giraffe. I started learning only a few months ago at age 49. I failed probably 30 mounts in a row before I landed my first one. I think the only injury I got was from hitting my ankle bone on the crank like you do when you’re first learning to ride and can’t yet shift your feet around on the pedals. From the six foot, it hurts my feet enough to dismount correctly that I always try to land on some grass which is maybe 8" higher because it’s up a curb or, at home, step off onto my pickup truck.
> I think the only injury I
> got was from hitting my ankle bone on the crank like you do when you’re
> first learning to ride and can’t yet shift your feet around on the
Ah yes… my left ankle has just about healed from when I started but I
think I’m going to have a permanent mark there. It doesn’t help when you hit
it once but before it’s had time to heal you hit it again… and again…
Phil, just me
“Cattle Prods solve most of life’s little problems”
>Just out of curiosity, how bad is it when you miss the mount?
I started out learning very gradually. First I spent a day just putting my
right foot up on the tire and lifting myself up so I was standing straight up
on the tire. At this point I didn’t even attempt to get my left foot on the
After I felt comfortable with that I started putting my left foot on the pedal
and standing straight up in that position. I’d let myself just fall back and
the giraffe would roll forward out of my way.
Then after I got comfortable with that I began trying to get myself up on the
seat and both feet on the pedals, i.e. mounted.
Going through these stages which I did for 3 or so days helped me get the feel
for both each stage of the mount and the fall from them.
At this point I overshoot the mount as much as I don’t quite put enough ummphh
into it and fall backwards. I end up falling forwards with the giraffe behind
me and the seat between my legs.
It is toughest on the ankles, but as long as you fall forwards or backwards
you’re ok. Try to avoid falls to the side as much as possible because that’s
when you can do the most damage twisting your ankle sideways.
As with many things, there’s a large psychological component to this.
Here is a picture of me falling to the side after attempting to freemount the
I made it up onto the pedals but hadn’t succeeded in getting the seat under me.
I hope all future side-dismounts are this clean.
> It is toughest on the ankles, but as long as you fall forwards or backwards
> you’re ok. Try to avoid falls to the side as much as possible because that’s
> when you can do the most damage twisting your ankle sideways.
Went out today and hit 3 out of 15. I’m sore as hell, but improving every day.
Today a cop pulled into the parking lot. I was up on the giraffe and I waved at him and he waved back, but he steadfastly refused to crack a smile. He parked not far from my car and when he left, he waved to me, but again, not even a hint of a smile.
Of course, he could have been having a bad day or had any other number of reasons not to smile. But the fact is, I find that there are certain people who come through the parking lot while I’m practicing who see a guy on a unicycle or juggling (or attempting both at the same time) and all they do is give an expressionless stare.
Rather than create a new thread I’m pulling this one out from the bottom drawer.
I’ve been going out this week and riding my giraffe quite a bit. Disappointingly my mounting success rate has gone up much. Still about 1 in 5-7. Sometimes I nail the first one, but as often I go as high as 9 or 10 before getting up. My success rate while holding clubs in my right hand is even lower. Oh well, as I’ve said before, I quit smoking but have added a few pounds to go along and I believe if I ever trim down some, I’ll be able to hit more freemounts.
Ala the “Performance footwear” thread, I wound up digging an old pair of dress shoes from, I believe, Eddie Bauer out of the closet. They’re a bit heavier duty than normal dress shoes, they’re plain black with laces and as it turns out work great. Good grippy soles. It’s a good thing I ride at night in a pretty deserted parking lot, because I think I must look pretty ridiculous in black dress shoes with black dress socks and bicycle shorts. (Thanks again to those with suggestions on footgear). My next challenge will be freemounting while actually wearing a pair of pants rather than bike shorts. Any insights or suggestions for this? What about the chain and long pants?
Lastly, despite little improvement in my mounting ratio, I have noticed and increased level of comfort up on the giraffe. Great improvement on distances gone backwards. Juggling while riding also is little trouble. And I’ve been able to do some basic hat (derby) manipulation, e.g. brim twirls, flipping the hat to my head with my hand, turnovers, etc. I am giving serious thought to using the giraffe in a show I’ll be doing at my daughters school in the beginning of December, assuming I can mount somewhat more consistently by then.
allow me to offer the breathing advice for improving freemounting regularity
a temptation before undertaking any major effort is to take and hold a deep breath
this causes the upper body to be rigid and doesn’t help much
i’ve taken a leaf from my girlfriend’s yoga book
while getting set to ‘go for’ the mount, takes a deep breath and breathe out, blowing softly thru your (slightly tightened)mouth
when u get about 2/3 thru the breath, GO!
some visualisation techniques have also helped me
imagining a massive vacuum-cleaner tube above your head helps
also looking straight up and ‘thinking UP’ just before commiting to the mount helps
try these and tell me if any of them worked for u
If you can’t freemount consistently enough by then, perhaps you could involve the audience in getting you up there. It could be great fun and they may not even think that it’s possible to freemount it.
While resisting the uptight westerners impulse to crack-wise about such things, I will give your ideas a try.
I say this without any hard evidence, but suspect that having others who are not uni-savvy help you mount actually requires more skill than freemounting itself (at least on a giraffe). The unpredictability of the behavior of your assistants coupled with the instability and height of the unicycle has got to make this difficult.
The other problem is that my audience is not likely to have anyone over 5’. 2nd - 5th graders. And I doubt the school (and I) will want to risk injury to the tykes.
Although from Connie Leaverton’s descriptions of her experiences in Austria (Tales of a Buskerwoman in Europe - OOW, Nov 2001, pg 8-9), it sure sounds like there are lot’s of ways to make this method of mounting fun and interactive.
Can anyone who has used audience members to help them mount a giraffe comment?
I’ve used audience members to help me mount a giraffe, but prefer a ladder. A friend of mine had a person lose a fingertip in a chain while holding the frame many years ago. In a pinch I’ve used a vehicle (outside) or a flat topped industrial-strength trash can, but try to bring a lightweight 4-foot aluminum ladder. Once you are riding, the fact that you didn’t free-mount it is soon forgotten by the audience.
This is what I think a lot of performers believe, but not the way it gets reported to me when people I know see performers.
Freemounting the giraffe puts you in a much higher status skill-wise as a unicyclist. This doesn’t mean it is necessary for your show though. It probably depends more on your character, and whether you have a good bit you like to use for getting on. There’s lots of room for comedy there.
But in my experience, the audience will definitely remember if you freemounted, or if you obviously couldn’t. My favorite type of act is the ones where the audience isn’t even thinking about your skill level because they’re laughing too hard. By the time you’re done, if you have wowed them enough with other unicycling skills, then whether you mounted or not will not seem to matter.