how to unicycle books are kind of stupid

i think unicycling “how to” books are kind of stupid because of the simple but true aphorism “practice makes perfect.” I learned how to unicycle without a stupid book. so uh yeah, just wanna hear your guys opinions.


I also learnt to ride a unicycle without ‘a stupid book’ and without a teacher and that sort of thing. I think if someone handed me a book when I was learning I’d skim through it for a few minutes (after trying out the uni for a few minutes first of course) and pick up the main pointers before attempting any real riding.

The thing is though, a lot of people would prefer to take an academic approach to learning to unicycle. That’s just the way they are. You can ignore their wishes if you like, or write a ‘book’ to try to help them. Klaas Bil and I wrote a little instruction manual. Not quite a book but probably around 2000 wordsish. The first page has the very basic tips on it for people who don’t want to read the rest to read. The rest has more in-depth tips for learning to ride and then covers idling, freemounting, turning, and some other key aspects. I know quite a few people who have benefited from it.

I think that yes, practise makes ‘perfect’, but practise plus knowledge of what you’re meant to be doing gets you to ‘perfect’ quicker.

Think about when you teach someone to ride. They will more often than not want tips on how to ride…those tips are in these books and instruction manuals.

That’s what I think anyway.


Re: how to unicycle books are kind of stupid

i guess i’m stupid then

while learning, i read charlie dancey’s book incessantly
not while i was practising, but afterwards, at night just before going to bed
i’d read it and dream about freemounting a giraffe
one day…

did someone just call books stupid?
what do u want to do?
burn them?

books like these transfer information, skills, insights
call them stupid at your peril

and remember that those who refuse to learn from history is condemned to repeat it (i would credit the person who said it but i can’t remember the name right now…)
without books, that learning bocomes a great deal more difficult

if u choose to do it without books, great
calling them silly might just be a bit ‘strong’

Why re-invent the wheel?

I understand your viewpoint ‘they are kind of stupid’ but they aren’t. I do agree that practice is the only way of learning to ride, but pointers to help with the practice are immensely helpful in assisting.

Why re-invent the wheel?

I never bought a book – but I’ve read all I can on techniques off of the Internet for free, this is the same thing surely.

Your words ‘I learned how to unicycle without a stupid book’. Are you saying that you never read one dot of helpful information in assisting you to ride? This I find hard to believe.

Well I’m quite sure a lot of people have learned to ride without reading any tips at all, myself included, but that’s just our bad luck. Advice and tips would definately have helped a lot.


I learn well from books. I didn’t but a book to learn to uni, but I would have if is were not for this forum.

I learned in about 6 hours (not freemount) just because of the tips I got from the forum. If the forum wasn’t around I would have gotten a book or two. It probably sped up the learning process for me by 3x.

being an anxious theorizer I wanted to get some tips
before learning (which by the way took me 3 months!)

these are my feelings (I’ll be pleased to get comments):

  • any lesson on how to ride
    should be read the way you read a cookbook
    you should not stick to it “as is” but pick up thoughts and some
    technical tips. then it’s up to you.

  • observe others… then you realize that things you read are not
    thoroughly exact: you’ve got to adapt to your morphology and behaviour. Working with a mentor is good too (but the trainer should not be too dogmatic).

  • the big question is: by adapting (or by sticking to the rules) are you picking bad habits? This forum is a precious tool for trying to understand techniques… but I still feel our sports is in infancy: I mean many techniques have evolved from experience but still need to undergo scientific scrutiny just to pinpoint the parameters involved.

just my 0.02 Euros …


yes, on all of them

i think an analogy with music is (relatively) fair
u have to know the basics(rules) before u can adapt(break) them ‘succesfully’

we may (or may not) agree that the Sex Pistols and Miles Davis shared a simmilar disregard for the dogmatic rules of music
yet we may once again agree (or not) that Miles came out with, musically speaking, a more pleasing output
this i chalk up to the fact that he knew the ‘rules’ and could therefore ‘break’ them more succesfully
(and please, i realise that the SP were making an ideological statement rather than play music blah, blah, blah. it’s my analogy, work with me here :wink: )

i dont think a solid grounding in the basics of any field of endeavour is ever a bad thing

Crossing threads here, but Mike you asked advice in another post and in this one you say that books are stupid - can you have it both ways?

I guess you can!


That last post kind of got my point. You posted to this newsgroup. Why read it? It’s not going to teach you how to ride, and you won’t learn to ride better unless you practice.

The book knows this.

A good unicycle book will:

  • Tell you how to practice so you don’t waste time doing things the hard way
  • Tell you what to practice. Stuff you may not have thought of on your own
  • Tell you what people do with unicycles outside your local area
  • Tell you the history of unicycling, and about famous unicyclists
  • Tell you how to find other unicyclists, in places like this

Learning on your own, you will likely never figure out one tenth of the things people do with their unicycles. Only by exchanging information do we share the fun of this sport. Books are still good for that.

And, of course any good book instructions will tell you you need to get out and practice!

Now juggling books, on the other hand… :smiley:


In the words of a great man:“An education allows us to leap-frog over the mistakes of the past.”

My initial reaction to the post sort of agreed with you, Mike. I learned without any books or advice (except from idiot non-unicycling folk) from anyone. However, I am presently learning tons from reading this forum and columns written by the experts.

I didn’t use any books or anything like that to learn, and I probably wouldn’t buy a book because I like to be out there doing, rather than reading about how to do it. But I wouldn’t call them stupid, they obviously work for some people or else they wouldn’t get sold. After all, nobody’s making you buy or read them, and nobody’s making you read this forum.

well I suppose we probably are, but if they work for us then they must be good. As you said, the sport is in its infancy: nobody really knows which techniques are good or bad, and surely the only way to find out is to try them?

I’ve written about a dozen how-to books and have more than 500,000 copies in print (all on rock climbing and adventuire sports). The whole point of a how-to book is to steepen someone’s learning curve and provide a progression and focus to learning. John Foss adds a valuable point as well–that unless you’re part of Tommy Thompson’s club, or one like it, you’ve got little if any chance of knowing what others are doing in the sport, and a book can open eyes to the possibilities. On the other hand, I can appreciate people who want to discover everything on their own. Whatever works.

Personally, I rode a uni as a kid, then didn’t ride for 25 years, till I ran into KH (also a climber) at a trade show. I started in again 3 months ago and knew virtually nothing about modern unicycling. As I’ve been learning how to idle, ride backwards, hop, jump, ride saddle out, go one-footed, ease into trials suff, muni, Coker, et al, the tips I’ve picked up from this site have been invaluable and have kept me from practicing the wrong stuff while dialing me into various learning short cuts. In a tangible sense, this site has been my instructional book, and I trust it functions in that way for many others of us trying to bring ourselves up to speed.

I’ve always been a totaly expert in sports, and it’s been a riot to start in on something as a total hack. But I don’t want to stay there forever, and a few lines or videos that can set me straight on specific techniques is most welcome from my end.


I think Mike Foote was talking about how-to booklets, more than full-on books about unicycling. Does that make is point more valid? No.

I learned with no books or help. It took forever. I had no idea if I was doing it the easy way, the hard way, or the stupid way. Each exists, though people may argue about which is which some are well known to work better than others.

So though I learned to ride the thing on my own, I eventually got my hands on the Schwinn Owner’s Manual, which taught me some invaluable stuff to set me in the right direction about mounting, idling, and a few other basic skills.

The book doesn’t do the practicing for you, but it helps you practice in the way the author thinks will work best for you.

Re: how to unicycle books are kind of stupid

On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 03:21:53 -0500, “andrew_carter” wrote:

>Klaas Bil and I wrote a little instruction manual.
That should be reversed to read Andrew Carter and Klaas Bil. Andrew
wrote almost all of it, I did some editing only.

>I know quite
>a few people who have benefited from it.
And additionally there are many who we don’t know. Since it has been
made available from my website (end of February this year), the
document has been downloaded over 100 times (English and Dutch
versions combined).

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

Clearly a system of 1/14 and 1/16 is not decimal - Mikefule on the English weight system

Re: how to unicycle books are kind of stupid

On Fri, 16 Apr 2004 02:02:51 -0500, “Mike_Foote” wrote:

>“practice makes perfect.”

Of course, but a book tells you /what/ to practice, and /how/ to
practice. It works as your instructor, and can save you a lot of time.
Heck, if you knew nothing about what others do, you wouldn’t even know
what to do with a unicycle at all!

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

Clearly a system of 1/14 and 1/16 is not decimal - Mikefule on the English weight system

I’m not calling anybody stupid, and I’m not saying BOOKS are stupid. I’m just saying that I didn’t think much of the “how to” unicycle book that i read. i found that they werent helpfull. thats all.

Unicycling books are out of date because of this forum, but without this forum, unicyclings books would be magniferously helpful.



I’m glad someone started this thread, because I’m thinking about writing a how-to book on mountain and trials unicycling. In other words, I want to write down what I’ve learned in this sport over the past 18 years or so of offroad riding.

I also would like to do a DVD but the challenge is this: although sometimes it’s easiest to show a technique (ie film it), it’s possible to go into way more detail about moves and techniques if it’s done in book format.

So if I wrote a book, would you be interested in buying it?

Kris Holm.

Of course. Now a book with a DVD included might give the best of both worlds. Maybe like a workshop.