I know we’ve had this discussion before about skill levels… but…
The official skill levels no doubt serve a useful purpose in that they provide a structure for people who want to develop their unicycling in one particular direction: freestyle. On the whole, the skill levels give an indication of which skills are easier or harder to learn.
On the other hand, unicycling is such an individual and eccentric sport that I find it hard to reconcile the individualist mindset of the typical unicyclist with the apparent need to have some sort of ‘official’ validation of one’s ability.
But that’s a philosophical or psychological discussion. The thread started with queries relating to learning ‘basics’ like idling.
I like to differentiate between ‘skills’ and ‘tricks’.
To illustrate: freemounting, riding in a straight line, turning a corner, and stopping under control are ‘skills’; doing a kick up mount, and riding one footed in a circle would be ‘tricks’.
As I see it, ‘skills’ are things which would help any unicyclist, whether (s)he prefers MUni, cross country, trials, freestyle, touring, hockey… whatever aspect of unicycling appeals most.
All unicyclists benefit from being able to do the following confidently:
Turn in each direction
Stop under control and dismount
Once a unicyclist can do these things, it’s simply a matter of improvement. I rode for 15 years with no other skills.
The next stage for a keen unicyclist would be to learn:
to idle (ideally with either foot down)
to reverse for short distances
A unicyclist who can mount, ride, turn, idle, reverse out of a tight spot, ride on, then stop and dismount is in a position to develop his/her riding in whatever direction (s)he chooses.
Hopping may be the next ‘skill’ as many people use this to get over small obstacles without dismounting. Likewise, most unicyclists would benefit from being able to ride down small drops (kerbs etc.).
After that, anything else is a ‘trick’ rather than a ‘skill’, to my mind.
I’m not saying this to denigrate the skill levels, or to denigrate tricks. It’s just that a complete beginner (such as mequauni, who started the thread) might be misled into thinking that it is ‘important’ to learn, say, one footed riding, or one footed idling, or 5 sorts of freemount. It isn’t important, it’s just fun… which is important as an end in itself.
I keep reading rumours of a set of skill levels being developed for other disciplines. On the one hand, it would be interesting to read the list; on the other hand, I don’t see how it could be quantified or assessed. I think it would be helpful for beginners to have some idea of what would be the best order to learn skills. I’m not sure it would be a good idea to have people dropping off 6 foot walls in the hope of winning a certificate.