For one of my class’s semester project I decided to study the mechanics of unicycle manipulation, and am now in the process of teaching myself to unicycle. Basis for this post is two-fold:
First, how long does it typically take a 20-something to learn the basics? (Rather, how long did it take you to learn?) I’m currently teaching myself from Dancey’s “How to ride your Unicycle” book and really have no clue if I’m picking up bad habits. My original goal was to be able to ride on the street, but my current one is to just stay on the uni for more than two seconds.
Second, has anyone thought about the physics and mechanics behind riding? I understand the basics behind it all, i.e. dynamic equilibrium, but the actual application of it is currently evading me. It’d just be nice to talk with some ‘experts’ in the field, as this seemed like the best place.
Any good (library/internet/people) references would also be appreciated. Thanks, and I hope to be joining the ranks soon!
It really does vary. I’ve heard of someone who took 10 years ot learn to unicycle and he was apparently trying most of the time (ie. didn’t take a 9 year break).
Yes it really does vary. It took me to mastered the Uni for a while but I was a fast learner on the Unicycle. I mastered it in just 10 minutes of riding it. (YES IT"S TRUE… REALLY TRUE) But I bought a book on Unicycling by Sebastian Hoher (By Butterfingers Publishing) to gain more experiance. I still haven’t Mastered fully due to family reason’s & Me buying a house in 1999 but I’m getting there SLOWLY. Another book help me is Jack Wiley called “The Bicycle Builder’s Bible” that really got me Totally into Unicycling. I agree with Phil , Andrew & Krashin’Kenny what I’ve read & Look at. Goodluck into adventuring in Unicycling and remember keep your chin up.
Man, this sucks. I’ve been trying for three days and can’t get any consistent results (other than falling off the damn thing). And now my left knee hurts from jumping off and landing (er, and some other bits hurt too). I thought this was supposed to be a low-impact sport?
Only thing I’ve noticed is that I tend to be able to make sharp left turns while going, and I can’t seem to turn to the right at all. Hence, I typically fall off when I try to turn right (to compensate for falling in that direction), end up sliding out when my uni turns left sharply, or pitch over the front when I end up going too quickly. My right foot seems to be much stronger pedaling than my left, so my strokes seem to be of the ONE-two…-ONE-two…- variety instead of even ones.
>For one of my class’s semester project I decided to study the mechanics
>of unicycle manipulation
That’s interesting. Could you make your results available somehow
after you’re done?
>First, how long does it typically take a 20-something to learn the
>basics? (Rather, how long did it take you to learn?)
Age is possibly the most determining factor. For a 20-something I
think 10 hours of solid practice might be a ballpark figure to be able
to ride unsupported. I learned at age 47 and it took me about 20
Phil covered the physics part nicely. It has caused some heated
debates here. Additionally, one tiny chunk of ‘unicycling physics’
info is at:
Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.
Don’t concentrate on what you can’t do; try to use what you’re able to do
and improve on it. The rest will come along.
) end up sliding out when my uni turns left sharply,
)or pitch over the front when I end up going too quickly. My right foot
)seems to be much stronger pedaling than my left, so my strokes seem to
)be of the ONE-two…-ONE-two…- variety instead of even ones.
That’s not uncommon. It will gradually go away, as you’re able to use
more balance and less muscle to stay on top of the thing. It’s probably
also why you have difficulty turning to the right. I would work on trying
to smooth out your pedal stroke and reduce the amount of wobbling you do;
your turning will improve as your pedaling does.
Another thing to try when turning is to make sure you’re looking at
your destination; your body is pretty good at aiming itself where
you’re looking. If you’re on a playground and trying to turn around
the tetherball pole, don’t look at the pole, or you’ll run right into
it, I can say from experience.
The important thing is to try not to get frustrated. Latch on to the
positive things you did in a workout, rather than the things you
weren’t able to do. Realize that being able to ride forward and turn
left is better than 99% of the people in the world, and that progress
from there will be incremental but consistent.
I just made my first 50-foot ride, and although I wasn’t able to duplicate it again tonight, I am now able to consistently go more than 10 feet, and occasionally 25. Thanks for your comments and help!
I found that what was hindering me at first was that my starting location was sloped towards two different drains on the floor, and thus to begin my ride I was having to launch myself over a small hill (at which point I was a little too far forward and usually ended up pedalling madly to try and maintain control). Once I changed my start location, it started working for me.
Any suggestions of where I can find a list of other unicycle maneuvers past what’s listed in the ten skill levels? I suppose I’ll just start working on the physics of basic maneuverability coupled with my own experiences. There’ll obviously be some skills that I won’t be able to learn within the next two months, so I’ll just have to write about them from reading instead.
Slightly OT, I suppose I shouldn’t be learning next to millions of dollars worth of robotic stuff… At least the space is big enough that I have plenty of room to fall ‘gracefully.’
A few people in Malvern who did tricks on bikes were able to pick up unicycling on their first or second tries. I presume they’re very good at balancing… as I left he was rolling along on his bike standing straight up on the saddle…
Well, it’s now day four and I can go (relatively) straight for a (relatively) indefinite amount of time. Next item to work on for tomorrow is freemounts and then I’ll be able to progress into the wild outdoors! Woohoo!
Grats, bunn. Don’t let freemounting stop you though. I used to figure that my trail rides were freemounting practice. I didn’t get much further than a few feet but it was fine. Might as well be in the woods instead of in a parking lot!
As it started to snow, I ventured outside to try freemounting. Out of probably 100 tries, I managed to ride out of 3. They weren’t pretty, but defintely a start.
I have a question, and it is as follows: Should I be freemounting with just the feet, or by holding the saddle with one hand? I’m not sure which way seems to work for me right now, but when I mount by holding on to stuff I have to hold the saddle with my opposite hand, otherwise the uni slips out from under me. When I mount without holding on anything, I tend to get on top of the uni with the pedals at 12-6, and then promptly fall off. When I kick back the top pedal to try and get started, I usually fall off then too. But I did make it those 3 times!
So after volleyball, silly me decided to try and ride home, with or without the ability to freemount. I found that it’s definitely harder to ride outdoors than indoors, especially with the sidewalks icing over… Made mounting (by holding onto stuff) rather difficult, as the wheel tended to slip rather than roll. But I’m very pleased with my progress, as I managed to ride over some nasty cracks and other sidewalk evils (AND ICY SIDEWALKS!). Dunno if I’ll try to ride back in the morning, my ears hurt from the cold.
And wow! I never realized what a work-out unicycling really is! Despite being 21 F (-6 C) outside, I was working up a sweat!
Hey hey I remember when I was thrilled to mount 3 times out of a 100. Woo hoo!
Yep the best answer is “whatever helps you to learn the fastest”. Keep playing around until you find one mount that seems easier, then stick with that one until you’re up around 75%, at least on mild ground. I spent two weeks going cold turkey, doing at least 100 tries a day, until I felt comfortable with the static mount.
I like your go-for-it on the terrain. It’s a feeling the people in the gym miss out on. I think it makes the learning curve a little steeper, but you learn to handle rough ground as a natural part of riding. I remember, too, trying and trying to mount and ride around a field of very soft, spongy, wet ground covered with grass. As soon as my weight hit the seat, the uni would sink in 4-5 inches. It just killed the rollback mount, and forced me to learn the static mount.