Idling and riding backwards

Can you do both or just one? I can’t idle but I’ve been practicing riding backwards. When I get competent at riding backwards, will idling be easy? Right now I can ride backwards about 30-40 feet as long as there is a railing to grab if needed. When I try away from a railing I can only go 5-10 ft. It’s a mental thing! I haven’t really tried to idle too much. I like to practice one skill at a time. My mind can only handle one new thing.

I have been practicing idling for some weeks now with a 20" and a 24" and not that regularly. I started by just doing one step back and then continue forward for several hours, without even trying to “idle”, on both sides. When it felt good enough I went for idling. Every now and then I try how far I can go backwards without actually practicing it. My record pedaling backwards is maybe 6-7m, idling with left foot down ~50 and ~20 with the right. It feels like when I learn to idle comfortably on both sides going backwards is just behind the corner.

lol you must be a guy. Only women can multitask. The furthest I rode backwards was 2.5 pedal rotations. Can you ride backwards when first riding forwards? Or… when you ride backwards, can you stop and continue forwards again? Then you’re practically there with idling.

I can idle (have done over 100 reps, but I get bored and tired), but my best backwards riding is about 10 pedal revs - have been able to idle for years, and trying to learn to ride backwards for years too (though I’ve got to be honest I’ve not been that consistent at practicing it). Not sure how much one helps the other - maybe riding backwards will help more with idling than the other way round, but they’re kind of different skills.

Funny :smiley: to me they seem pretty close to each other; going forward is repeating one step forward (and then you smooth it out), idling is repeating one forward one back and going backwards is repeating the one step back. And then I suppose it will get smoother :slight_smile: I think when I go practice riding backwards I will start by walking backwards some first…

I’m quite new to this but to me it seems to work like this :slight_smile: and to me idling seems to be a simpler task than riding backwards, I suppose for some people it might be the other way around!

Very much so for me.

In terms of the pedalling maybe, but we all know it’s about the lean and the balance, and the difference is that when you finish your one step back when going backwards you’re leaning (and falling) backwards, whereas when you’re idling when you finish that step you’re leaning forwards. Which is where I find it difficult to translate from one to the other - when trying to go backwards I find it hard to keep leaning backwards (not only due to being used to idling where you don’t do that, but also a bit of fear of falling backwards still - which is one reason why idling is easier for me). Also the mechanics of sideways balance is a bit different - with idling you can always correct on the forwards step!

What size unicycle are you practicing these on? I first learned to ride 50 ft. backwards on my 26" mUni, and that involved pretty hard falls a few times. Then I got a 20" and riding backwards got a lot easier. I had less distance to fall, and I was able to make corrections in balance at more extreme angles (which would have otherwise caused upds on the bigger wheel). So, step one, if you don’t have one already, get a 20".

I learned to idle and ride backwards around the same time. It’s hard to say which one of those techniques was more difficult. Learning to ride backwards involved overcoming fear, whereas idling involved overcoming some counterintuitive physics.

If you’re struggling too much with idling, I’d suggest experimenting with the following: Learn to ride slowly, practice roll-back mounts, practice coming to a sudden stop with the wheel out in front of your center of gravity. Also, it’s necessary to pivot madly and uncontrollably when learning to idle, and holding onto a fixed object inhibits this pivoting. I started practicing idling at the wall, but at some point I needed to “lose the wall”.

For backwards riding, I first practiced on a baseball diamond near my house. Falling backwards and sliding on the dirt is much nicer than hitting the pavement with your rear, then sticking.

Good luck!

My way of thinking comes from juggling and patterns, once you can do one round of a pattern then it’s just a matter of keeping it up and merging it with other patterns. And I see walking as repeated pattern of one step with right followed by left, same goes for unicycling and walking backwards. Now try idle while walking :wink: As mentioned above there’s more fear involved in riding backwards and I figure it is easier for me to overcome that fear if I have the skill to do “one round” of the pattern and the ability to handle whatever I am fearing. I have practiced super-idle (two-step-idle?) a bit after doing it by accident a few times, is it considered to be closer to idling or riding backwards?

(having not read the whole thread)
The best way to learn idling and backwards is together. Take turns. Each feeds the other, and each reinforces the other. First step is to just ride to a complete stop, then continue. Meanwhile, practice idling with something to hold onto. This will teach you where in the pedal stroke your power is, and where it isn’t.

If you’ve mastered one of these skills and not the other, have at it. You’re already most of the way there, so finish it off! And these are foundational skills that lead to lots of other fun stuff you can learn. Like freemounting, for any of you that haven’t yet tackled that…

I do have trouble with the transitions. Right now I’ve been riding up to a wall then go backwards as far as possible. It’s getting easier and I no longer do it near a railing. When I practice I have been trying some transitions and some idling but like I said I can only focus on one skill at a time.

What is meant by a "super-idle"or a “two-step idle”?

By super-idle I mean going full revolution back and forward instead of half while idling, a wide (long?) idle. Then you take and stretch it and boom you’re riding backwards :slight_smile:

thanks :slight_smile:

I think idling and riding backwards are non related tricks, so yes, you can learn either one without learning the other. Unfortunately that does also mean that knowing one doesn’t directly help the other (e.g. knowing how to ride backwards and onefooted, helps to learn riding onefooted backwards directly, but knowing idling won’t improve your backwards riding.)

But of course, you will improve overall balance and unicycle control, especially as a ‘beginner’, so you will probably find idling easier once you learned riding backwards.

For learning how to idle, I usually suggest staying away from “super idle”, just practice stationary with a wall to hold on to at first, later free handed and starting from riding and then stopping to idle. Just focus on having one pedal at the bottom, one on top, and moving roughly an eigth rotation forward and backwards from there (meaning the wheel will only do a quarter rotation forward, followed by a quarter turn backward, with your cranks being vertical in the middle of each stroke.)

Excellent advice John. Following your advice some months back, I soon realized that a breakthrough with one quickly lead to a breakthrough with the other. Just learning to go backwards a few feet helped improve my idling ability, quickly allowing me to do hundreds of continuous idles. Getting better at idling then helped me with going backwards, at least it helps me not fall and hurt myself.

As of tonight my new backwards record is 200 feet, and that’s after taking 6 days off from backwards practice(was practicing it every day for weeks). Now I just need to learn how to turn backwards and figure out how to do backwards figure 8s.

There are various backwards threads on here, so I take this random one and don’t want to add onto the juggling backwards, coz I don’t juggle.

I was wondering what wheel size yous learn riding backwards on. I reckon the freestyle is best suited but prolly only when riding in a jump or very flat surface. The last 3 months I’ve been practicing mounting the 36" and I’ve had some nice 20km rides with it and now I feel I want to learn something else again. I put the 19" trials in the car to give riding backwards a go until I get my UW. the last time I spent some time on riding backwards was when pushing off along a wall and the furthest I got was 2.5 revs, but that was 2 years ago.
For now I won’t spend time on learning to idle, but once I can ride backwards, idling won’t be much trouble I expect.

19", 20" doesn’t matter. 24" is probably fine too. Just practice (the same ways you learned to ride forward), and you will see progress. Even less secret tricks than usual with unicycling.

You would be the first person I have ever seen that rides an ultimate wheel, but can’t ride backwards. Not saying it can’t be done, and I would consider them “seperate” skills, but in my experience riding backwards is a whole lot easier to learn.

Not really how it works, unfortunately. They are pretty seperate skills.

Everything I do with unicycles is forward or up. An UW is no different. I might rollback a little bit on the UW when mounting it. The only time I stood on one, I found it very difficult, because the wheel hung against my leg when getting on, but for now and based on watching some youtube vidz, Im positive I can learn to ride one. Riding backwards is scarier in my mind, coz of the idea of falling backwards on my ass.

Practice on a 20". Get some tailbone protection shorts. Transition from idling to riding short distances forward and backwards. Wear a helmet. Backwards riding is fun. We don’t want you to miss out.

After learning to ride backwards in the conventional way, I didn’t improve much, my bw riding was wobbly, and I became disoriented after about 100 feet. Later, when my SIF riding improved, I applied it to my backwards riding. Now, I can ride down hills bw, ride on bumpy surfaces bw and perform pretty tight figure 8s bw.

Using the SIF technique, the unicycle never gets knocked out in front of me. If I ever fall on my ass riding bw, it happens in slow motion. Almost entirely, I am able to jump off the back during a UPD using the SIF method.

I think finnspin’s comment about UW and BW riding was meant to suggest that there is a general progression of tricks, and that it’s more practical to learn something easier (BW) before moving onto something harder (UW).