Help from unicyclists in Raleigh/Cary, NC (USA)


I am a newbie (can’t ride…yet), and was hoping to find fellow unicyclists around Raleigh or Cary who could give me a lesson or two (on weekends or whenever free).

I have been lurking on this forum since 2011, and I recently joined. Being able to unicycle has been one of my life goals, and possibly my ticket out of a sedentary life. No one I know can unicycle (and most have no idea what it is). I think I’ve watched (and re-watched) almost every unicycling tutorial video on YouTube at least at some point over the past five years (more so in the past few weeks).

Hence, when I moved to the US (from India), one of my first purchases out of what I got from my min-wage job at grad school was to buy a beginner unicycle! It’s a 20" Hoppley. Now, aside from interning, my goal for the summer is to tame this mono-wheeled beast.

So far, I have had 5 hours on the seat (or sadly, still on the pedals?). I am still at the wall phase and learning to ride “smoothly”. I wake up murmuring to myself to “sit on the seat, and not on the pedals”. I sleep at night praying, “lean forward and don’t forget to wobble” - but, it has yet to stick (physically internalized). I know that I am getting better everyday (some “progress” no matter how ridiculously small is).

When I attempt to launch off the wall, the story goes, “pedal, pedal, pedal, drop… and repeat ad infinitum”. Sometimes, very rarely (maybe once in 20 times), I can go for more than 15ft - it feels exhilarating when that happens. But, I don’t know how I did, and I go back to my corner (at an abandoned concrete court with walls) to possibly attempt it again.

I can’t control the speed on the pedals - I end up moving too fast, falling in front. Other times, almost always, I fall to my side. The good thing is, I have always landed on my feet (for now).

Well… the only state to go from here is to get better (hopefully).

When I first started, I could barely practice for 20 mins, and now I can go for an hour (stamina? less weight on the pedals?). I practice everyday now, and should be able to burn more hours every week on the saddle. Today, after practice, I was even walking weird for a while, as if I still on the unicycle.

PS: I am a fat/tall/balding 26 year old. I won’t give up… on my whimsical mode of transport.

It sounds like you’re doing fine on your own so if you can’t find anyone in your area don’t despair. Five hours isn’t very much time. Give it another five and you might surprise yourself. At this stage of learning the most important things are determination and persistence. It sounds like you have plenty of both! Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. :slight_smile:

Not too far up the road from you, leafcutter… Like MuniCO says, it sounds like it’s going fine for you by the way you describe it. It’s still early days. Maybe there have been one or two savants who just jumped on and rode right away, but most of us went through a lot of that. For me, there would be brief moment where I felt like had caught on to something, followed by days of practice wobbling along the wall again or hopelessly launching myself into open space and immediately bailing out. But somehow I did get it eventually, although it never “clicked” so much as it came to me little bit by little bit, two steps forward and one step back.

Keep going! It takes time for your body to catch up with what you’re asking it to do so try to enjoy the experience of practice no matter how it goes. There are worse ways to spend an hour than falling off a unicycle.

I just learned in January and it sounds like you’re doing fine. If possible film yourself after about every 5 hrs of practice. When you look back at the video you will see you have made improvement and that might motivate you more. It’s tough to see the small improvements from day to day but trust me they are there. Keep at it and don’t give up.

Thanks, you all! I really need that motivation.

I’ll keep at it… forever (a permanent hobby!). I fell down for the first time today, and landed on my well-padded behind. It was kinda funny.

The story now is, “pedal pedal pedal pedal ped… fall”. I don’t how, but I am not falling in the way I was falling yesterday. This is all so weird to me - not knowing how things are working the way they are. I go for a few rounds back and forth across the chain-link fence, and then spend a few falls launching myself from the corner. I think I’ve managed to chafe myself (I should get some cycling shorts…).

@[Djphelan01], CONGRATULATIONS! Since, your memories of learning are fresh, what were some things that you figured that you wish you had known earlier?

I’ve been taking videos of myself (1.5, 3, 5hrs, so far). Will take the next one at 10 or if I feel that I’ve made “significant progress”. I want to make one of those corny training montage videos.

I’m about 30 minutes from you and would be happy to ride together. Feel free to PM as I know a great spot to learn in Chapel Hill. But I’m a newbie too so not sure I’d be able to give good advice other than “keep trying”.

It takes a ton of persistence and time to get good. I love physical challenges and tend to pick up certain things quickly (snowboarding, juggling, wakeboarding, surfing, wakesurfing, windsurfing, wakeskating, slalom water skiing) – unicycling is by the toughest. But to me, that makes it all the more worthwhile. It wouldn’t be as fun if it was easy :slight_smile:

Haha, yup. You’ve got this. Falling differently is your body’s way of figuring out what the heck it is you’re trying to do. Not knowing how things are working is what makes unicycling so awesome, IMO. When it all comes together it’s like magic.

Looks like you’ve got some great riders near you. Huge bonus!

I found just putting in the time practicing was what helped the most. The little things I learned were to lean forward and try to keep your back straight and inline with the seat post. Being very smooth with my pedal rotations helped. I originally was very jerky. I’d make a rotation and come to a momentary stop to regain my balance . I didn’t realize I did that until I saw a video of myself riding . Also my big motivation was my wife saying , “you will never be able to ride that!” People on this forum are very supportive and helpful so ask questions, but spend more time riding and less on forum. Also wear all the protective gear you can. Dress for the crash not the ride cause the crash will come when you won’t expect it.

I finally spotted another unicyclist ( very rare where I live)

I’m a police sgt and usually work our front desk. Now I’ve never seen another person riding a unicycle except in parades, circus etc. The only people I’ve seen were the ones I’m trying to get into it and someone from this forum I got to ride with once. And of course everyone I work with jokes with me about joining circus and doing parades. I know everyone on here have heard all those types of comments. Yesterday a guy rode a uni into the lobby to file a complaint. I was shocked and of course had to call everyone who made fun of me to see I’m not the only one who rides.
Turned out the guy is a retired firefighter who has been riding for 15 years. He is 63 years old and looked about 45, not kidding 45 tops! He said in 15 years he never met another unicyclist. Maybe I’ll get to ride with him in the near future.

Oops wrong thread for last post. Sorry


To be honest, I was skeptical of you all (and all articles/videos), when you said it just clicks.

Today, I became 100% sure that I could learn to unicycle. I wasn’t entirely sure all along, but went ahead out of pure determination to do so. Now, I no longer doubt it.

As usual, I went back and forth along my designated fence. Then, tried launching off from my corner. The first try, the usual. The second launch… I went on for about 50ft. It took me a while before I realized what happened. I was like (O_O) for about a minute, before going back to my corner. Something had changed. Now, all of a sudden, with my launch tries, I could ride way more than before. Even when I went to the fence, I was using it significantly less. My pedaling became different. I started veering off the fence, and rode along unsupported for usually about 20ft (and sometimes more). Today, I had more unsupported revolutions, than supported ones.

I kept at it, because it was FUN (constant!). To the point, I was completely exhausted. Got back, and crashed on the couch. Showered when I woke up, and ordered pizza.

OK. What the hell just happened?!

I can’t describe the sense of balance. It’s like I can almost feel something, but it’s not there yet. I am definitely closer to it, than yesterday.

On a side note, apparently people have been watching me from their homes - through tinted glass doors. They came out, and cheered each time I went above 20ft. Once guy even came to me and introduced himself, and tried the unicycle (and gave up trying to sit on it - after a few tries). I am glad I am entertaining them (for free).

Congratulations! You have stepped (or pedaled) into a larger world. A world in which you are a superhero. You can do the impossible! Maybe not today, but it is attainable. Learning to ride a unicycle is one of those things that proves to a person that they can do things most people think are not doable. No one can teach you how to ride one; you have to figure it out on your own. And no one can take it away from you once you learn it.

Enjoy the coming days of growth, improvement and success!

Way to go Leafcutter! It only gets better! I’m pretty new to unicycling too. New enough that I still clearly remember the first time I made it across all 4 tennis courts and screamed when I ran into the fence to stop. One of my best friends has just moved to Raleigh, so I will be visiting from time to time and would love to ride with you (after I heal up from a broken foot).

Keep riding. You will be amazed at how much better you get in a very short period of time. I am very jealous of you right now! I just have to imagine myself riding right now!

Hey Leafcutter! Congrats on your progress! You are rapidly becoming part of a somewhat elite group of folks. I’m not saying that out of pride; it’s just that very few people purchase a unicycle, and even fewer than that are willing to put in the time to learn. You’re doin’ great. Just keep up the practice, and as you’ve already seen, it will just click. One day, you’ll be riding along and you’ll realize, “Wow! I haven’t fallen yet, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to! When did I learn to do this? How did that happen?” It’s just magic!

It’s been 30 years since I learned, and I still remember every step of the process vividly. I can’t remember what I had for lunch two days ago, but I think I’ll always remember how I learned to ride a unicycle. It was a great experience and taught me how to have faith in something and keep going, even if it seems almost impossible in the beginning. It also shows that things that seem impossible can become incredibly easy with enough practice. I think every human being needs to know that they are capable of things like that.

Keep up the good work and enjoy your new addiction! :wink:

Congratulations on your progress!! Like Bradford said many of the people who buy a unicycle never learn to ride. I’ve gotten 5 people to give it a try and only 2 are still doing it. The others said it was impossible and gave up. So yes you are part of a group of determined people who put the time in and did it. Don’t give up now cause it keeps getting better and you can always find new things/places to ride or tricks to try to challenge yourself. The progress you’ve made will inspire you to keep going.

Congrats!! It’s such a great feeling when it clicks. Keep at it and let us know how it goes!

Congrats! Sorry I didn’t see this thread earlier so I could cheer you on as well. When I taught myself to ride about 30 years ago, no one near me rode, so I didn’t have anyone but myself to encourage me. What I learned then and what I’ve learned watching and helping my kids learn to ride, is that all you need is determination and it sounds like you have buckets of it. Three of my kids have learned to ride and my oldest tried for awhile but he just didn’t want it as bad as the others. I don’t fault him for that and he goes on our 7-10 mile rides with us–he just does it on a b*ke.

The thing about riding a uni is that it’s all about muscle memory. The balance has everything to do with instinct and the subconscious and almost nothing to do with your conscious, analytical mind. So even when you’re falling you’re making progress because your subconscious is learning what not to do as well as what to do.

One of my boys listened to music and audiobooks while he was learning to distract the awake part of his brain. He was keeping up with me after only 2 weeks from the time he first picked up a uni. It took me nearly three months when I first learned. So just keep at it. Your body will figure out what to do in no time.

awesome progress it sounds like and keep it up! it is definitely a different feeling on a unicycle! addictive i think.


For the past few hour-long sessions (one per day), I was at the same skill level as my last post. A once in a while lucky 50ft magic launch - leading to either stalling or pedaling too fast. Every other launch, I was dropping under 20ft. The sudden stops (due to the uncontrolled pedaling) actually made my knees sore (due slamming down forward). I was sad that the FUN was decreasing.

Everything changed today!

As usual, after work, I went to my practice court, expecting another day of sore knees. Nope!

Those rare 50ft runs - were happening almost every single time! In fact, most launches went even further. I did the court’s diagonal not once, but thrice! I was able to do the court’s short width, only once before. Somehow, today, I’ve skipped the trial for the length, and went straight for the diagonal.

For the first 20 minutes, I was making long arcs with my launches, instead of falling off. I just didn’t know how to turn. It was silly. I still don’t, but today I figured that I really needed to pick that up to progress. LOL!

It got better when I started consciously wobbling, and moving my arms like crazy. I learned that I could control the speed by wobbling my way out of it. No more sore knees. Yes!

I went on and on, back and forth. I only stopped practicing, because my legs gave up. Right now, I am overly energized (mentally), as if I had a few shots of very potent espresso. The FUN is back, way stronger than before.

I still don’t know how or why it’s working. How do I explain this to people? What if I forget, and won’t be able to do it tomorrow?! This skill is utterly intangible…

But, it’s so much fun!

Thank you, all!

Current Learning Clock: 11hr
PS: I replaced the Hoppley saddle with a Nimbus Gel. I probably placebo’d myself into the next stage of learning.

Yay! See what happens when you don’t give up! It took me a while to trust that the next time I got on my unicycle I would still remember how to ride. I am having to take a several month break right now, and I hope I still remember when I get back to it. But, I have to say, if I had to learn it all over again, it would be worth it because where you are right now is such a cool place. You will probably still have some ups and downs, but now you’ve had the experience of pushing through a frustrating period and you see what’s one the other side of that. Just keep riding.