I’ve always wanted to learn to ride a unicycle and maybe waiting until I was 46 wasn’t the best idea. I fly helicopters and was told that learning to hover is like learning to ride a unicycle. Yea right!! Learning to hover takes people at most about 5-hours of practice. My first clue it was going to be hard should have been the multiple unicycles for sale on craigslist! OK, enough of the negative, here is where I’m at.
I started the first of July with the hopes (OK lunchtime bet) that I could learn to ride this thing by the end of July. The first 12 days were bad because a relative that rides them told me to keep most of my weight on the pedals, very little on the seat. Hey, I built some great strength in my quads!! So this past week I found out I need to unlearn that.
I have been practicing daily only missing 1 day so far this month. While watching T.V. w/ family, I sit and rock 100 times each foot down with a chair at my right, then at my left.
I have a concrete slab along side my 65’ long garage which I have been going up and down. (sidenote: I had to promise my wife I would re-stain the siding. It has a nice band now at about shoulder height) I’ve been going up and down that wall hundreds of times. I find that going down it with my right hand to the wall, I can ride 10’ or so at a time without touching. Left side to the wall, try as I might, I just poke along pedal stroke by pedal stroke. I try the suicide runs away from the wall but again they are limited to about 10’.
My question: Should I stay on the wall until I can go the full distance down the wall without touching? Since I have a lot better success with going right shoulder towards wall, should I just focus on that direction OR should I force myself to ride both directions?
On my away from wall rides, they always end up with me going left or coming off the front. I’ve never come off the back.
Leave the wall immediately. Ten feet is enough of a distance that you’re starting to make corrections to regain your balance. Don’t lean on a wall to make a correction. Walls don’t just pop up for your convenience when you’re riding.
ALWAYS keep ALL of your weight on the seat. Every time you make a correction you WILL stand on the pedals. You won’t notice it but that’s what your reflexes make you do. After you correct and catch your balance try to resettle into the saddle.
KEEP YOUR WEIGHT ON THE SEAT.
Look into the distance. Don’t look down at the wheel. One tends to go where one is looking.
KEEP YOUR WEIGHT ON THE SEAT.
Try to pedal in smooth circles and try to ride until you fall. Try not to chicken out and step off. This helps teach you to regain your balance without grabbing something or restarting.
KEEP YOUR WEIGHT ON THE SEAT.
Most folks need 10 to 20 hours to learn. Oh, and remember, KEEP YOUR WEIGHT ON THE SEAT.
What’s your definition of “ride”? 100 feet? A mile?
Ditto what harper said - get off that wall. You’re ready to ride. A basketball court might be a good choice: a pole to help you get up at one end, then ride to the other end. Repeat. I’d bet (disclaimer: this is not a wager - haha) a few hours of doing that over just a couple of days and you’ll be riding. It sounds like you’re most of the way there already.
I think you’ve basically learned how to ride an impossible wheel though, so maybe you have a “next bet”
I didn’t unlearn weight-on-pedals until after I could “ride.” The worst that happened was that I tired out quickly, and my knees were sore. Once I could ride for a couple hundred feet, I had to figure out how to get my weight back in the seat before I could go farther. And that limited my useful practice time to about a half hour a day.
So get your butt in the saddle, and get away from that wall!
Your dedication to learning to ride is right where it needs to be. Do it over and over until things start to click. Some days will be better than others and then you’ll have ‘breakthrough’ days, those are awesome instances where something you couldn’t do before suddenly makes sense and becomes almost easy.
I think Harper hit it on the head when he said something about keeping your weight on the seat. Something that helped me hugely was when someone said, “If you can ride 40 feet, you can ride 400”. With that in mind and a few days away from your wall, you’ll make that bet after-all!
Cheers & welcome to the forums! Keep us posted on your progress.
You’ll learn, just keep at it with a positive attitude. There’s a reason there aren’t as many people riding unis as bikes–they are a lot harder to learn!
I am teaching my wife now. I notice that at first she fell back a lot, because she wasn’t learning forward enough. Then she was leaning too far forward and not pedaling enough.
The idea is to fall forward with your center of mass. The post of the unicycle should be tilted a bit forward and you are constantly pedaling to keep your wheel up with where your body is falling.
I told my wife at this point, to just keep falling a bit forward and pedaling. Once she realized she had to keep pedaling no matter what and gain some speed (stability of the wheel comes with a bit of inertia) she’s started to make good progress. Last night she did 5 revolutions without touching anything.
So should I be keeping weight on the seat?? LOL, you guys are awesome! Thanks for all the replies. I’ll leave the wall tonight!
Speaking of looking. I am looking about 35 feet in front of me. Not down at the wheel but not out at the horizon either.
Ride until I fall? Do you mean that literally? I have yet to not land on my feet. Should I strap on the knee pads, elbow pad, wrist guards, helmet and just go for broke!!??
You asked about what I consider “I can ride.” The lunchtime bet wasn’t money, just me telling my buddies I can learn to ride a unicyle by the end of July. I really am in this for the long haul. I’m one of those midlife crisis Ironman guys and would love to get out and have fun on the paved trails on a unicycle. Off road? Can’t even imagine how that could be possible at this point. But I’ve seen videos of you guys so I know you can!!
Thanks for the input. I really do appreciate it!!
(Sidenote: unigeezer and his darn videos on the 36 are responsible for most of this!! Hope the unicycle industry is paying that guy!)
I started unicycle this past March, on about my 46th birthday. Now I’m pretty good. I can go for miles and miles on my 29er and ride single track on my 26er muni. So 46 is not too late.
When I first started, on a 20-inch wheel, I thought it was impossible. But things clicked the first time I went to a tennis court to practice. I held onto the chain-link fence a bit, but soon I was off and circling the tennis net. Now I can’t imagine not being able to unicycle.
That approach worked for me. I could only ride for a half hour or so max, 'cause my weight was all on my pedals. I slowly transitioned to weight on seat.
If it makes you feel more confident, then definitely don protection garb. Myself, I wear wrist guards and a helmet - and if I’m practicing something new, I tend to don leg armor (knee + shin guards). I gave up on elbow pads.
When I started (just a few months ago), I measured my progress in feet (by counting pedal revolutions)…
… and progressed to miles sans UPD, before giving up on the graph entirely. My goal was 2 miles by August 1st, and I think I’m basically there.
My old data doesn’t go back to just 10 feet, but I went from 30 feet to 250 feet in a week of 15-minute days. Which is why I think you’re ready to break away from that wall and just ride!
Totally agree with the others. If you can ride 10 feet without touching the wall, then you need to get away from the wall. At this point it is just slowing your progress down. Knee pads and wrist guards will give you more confidence if you need it. Another good place to learn is an empty tennis court.
If you are falling forward you are probably leaning too far forward which is common. The problem with leaning forward is that your speed will accelerate to the point where you can’t keep up with it and you will come off. Try sitting more upright and you should see a difference. I observed this when my son learned and as soon as he sat more upright he could ride much further.
So I went out and practiced tonight for an hour and didn’t seem to make much progress. But… I jumped on my TT (triathlon) bike that I haven’t been on since ironman last month and low and behold… I can ride the darn thing no hands, no problem! For four years, I’ve considered the geometry too compact to ride no hands. So that was a bit of silver lining in my quest of unicycling. Oh how I can’t wait to be able to cruise down the road on the unicycle. In fact, as I was cruising down the road no hands on the bike, I was trying to concentrate on smooth pedaling and keeping my weight on the seat! Yep, a unicycle wanna be!!
Second observation: I’m getting a pretty sore lower back from coming off that unicycle 100’s of times practicing. I am attributing it to practicing on concrete. I think I may try to find a smooth asphalt parking lot to practice in.
Riding a unicycle is a unique and a fun idea. I have tried to ride this vehicle but failed. It’s not cup of tea for me. But learning this vehicle needs a strong will and desire. Until and unless you don’t have this characteristics it’s impossible to go on further. Believe me it’s fun doing but needs lots of patience too.
Make sure you are sitting up as straight as possible. Keep practicing an hour a day. It will get easier and more natural. Also, check your seat height. You want it as high as possible when learning. Your leg should barely bend when your pedal stroke is at the bottom closest to the floor.
I really suggest getting some protection ASAP. When I started, I already had some gear from mountain biking. It’s rare that you will not land on your feel when you “fall”, but with the amount of falls while learning, it is only a matter of time before you get some injury. With protection, you can just pat the dirt off and continue.
Last august, I fell and sprained my right ankle. A year later that ankle gets tired and sore much faster than the left one.
Last week While finishing my short 36er ride around the neighborhood, I fell backwards on my last mounting attempt, because I was too tired and didn’t jump hard enough. Took most of the fall on my left wrist, and it’s been aching a little. Thankfully I didn’t tear anything. Finally ordered the wrist guards that I have been putting off.
Also, the peace of mind really helps with committing to free mounting / riding away from the wall.
I raised my seat this morning and that did seem to help me sit in the seat better. I can go 11’ instead of 10 now!!
Another question: Tire pressure? For learning is there any benefit to high or low pressure? I know, I know, I’m grabbing at straws here. I’m learning on a 20", have the pressure at 45 psi, I weigh 165 lbs.
I kinda feel silly with all my gear on for the beginner riding I do, but yesterday, while trying to mount the 29 that I haven’t been on for a little while, I came off the front for some reason and went down hard, eventually onto my hands. If I hadn’t had the wrist guards on, I’m sure I would have gotten hurt. And I still don’t know what the cause was. I thought I was on well, but I must have been leaning a bit to far forward.