Getting back in the saddle
I learned to unicycle when I was 20, and rode until I was about 25. Then I took a 30 year break. I’ve taken it up again this summer, and I’ll be 54 this month.
When I started from zero this summer, it took about an hour of practice to get back the ability to ride. But that hour was broken into about 4 15-minute sessions, one per day. At this point (after a month), I can ride a 20" comfortably and turn sharply.
I’m working on idling and riding backwards. I used to be able to free mount without a second thought, but I’m still struggling to regain that skill.
I’m definitely concerned with falling. I’ve taken a few spills that resulted in abrasions to my elbow and knee, and I landed on my back once. Now I ride with helmet, knee, elbow and wrist guards. The falls weren’t serious, but they were unexpected and they unnerved me.
I love to unicyle, I regret not having ridden these years, and I am determined to regain my (modest) skills and add new ones. My general strategy is to practice 15 to 30 minutes a day. I’m still building up muscles and balance skills.
A few of the comments in this post that I’d emphasize are:
“use safety equipment; helmet, arm, wrist, and knee pads”
I learned this after a few falls.
“The idea falling near on a cement curb scares the heck out of this old man.”
I’m more nervous now then when I was 20.
“4 hours a day for 4 days is a LOT. Take a day off. I’d say practice less, too. Let your body have time to process what it’s learned.”
I agree. 4 hours is way too much. Your body learns a lot by taking a day off. Take a shower after you ride and reflect on the experience.
“practicing how to fall. If you sense the fall early, you can almost always land on your feet. Practice falling in every possible direction of the compass. Do each one several times. Having this background in your head will make it easier to catch yourself when the real falls come.”
This is great advice. Also, the first time I learned to ride, I made a conscious effort to learn to recover balance from every direction of the compass.
“Also practice controlling the pedals in a dismount. When you panic, or make the wrong move, that’s when the pedals can nail you in the shins or calves. Make sure you keep the bottom foot on in most dismount situations.”
When I have to dismount I’ve also learned to kick the unicycle away rather than try to catch it.
I like the advice about keeping weight on the bottom foot during a dismount. That is something I’ll practice.
“Your body is only going to be performing “well” for an hour at a time, maybe a little more.”
“I found that i would start out kind of shaky, then after a short 5~10
minute fumble session, make dramatic improvements for about 20 minutes,
which built on the previous day’s session. I’d spend another half hour
drilling and then would notice my performance start to deteriorate,
largely due to large muscle exhaustion in my legs resulting from poor
technique. OK, i was shaking w/ exhaustion and drenched w/ sweat.”
That pretty much describes my experience.
I’ll add one note to all this advice:
One of the things I like about unicycling is not just the challenge of learning a new skill, but also the challenge of breaking the skill down into tiny little steps. If I can learn 10% of a skill in one 15-30 minutes session I’m happy. That way I don’t worry about pushing myself, yet I’m confident I’m making progress.
Sounds like you’ve got the time and motivation. You’ll do great! Good luck!