Landing on my feet

I’m half in Love with learning to unicycle and half scared to death (10 hours into it so far). Maybe that’s why folks do it as it keeps you on your toes mentally. I’ve have twice gone from riding to instantly on my butt in the flash of an eye. This scares me the most. I have elbow pads and have even taken the advice of tail bone padding with old mouse pads.
I would love any tips on how to land on your feet when the uni goes out from under you and you go backwards (I’ve gotten the frontwards landings under control).

Try to concentrate on leaning forward slightly. Backwards falls will be very unusual if you do that. Pretty much the only times I fall backwards is when I’m riding backwards. Otherwise, it’s always forwards.
You may want to devote some practice time to intentional bails. Just ride and jump off. It’s a helpful exercise!
Good luck! (You can do this!) :slight_smile:

I agree with what Lance said above.

For me, it would occur like this: I was on the unicycle going forward slowly, got unstable, go to step off, and suddenly the unicycle and my feet went flying forward as my butt came crashing down. A couple times it was just getting my feet tangled in the pedals as I tried to stop off.

I attribute it to as a beginner, it is common to place almost all your weight on the pedals and barely any on the seat. So both pedals have a lot of weight on them. If you feel like you are falling off and remove your back foot from the pedal, the unicycle shoots forward because of the weight on the front pedal and without the back foot on, you have no way to stop it from shooting forward. To make matters worse, that leg you just removed from the back pedal gets hit forward as that back pedal comes over the top. That is unless you don’t put pressure on the front pedal which as a beginner is tough.

I suggest keeping both feet on the pedals as long as possible. As long as you are moving forward, any tendency to fall backwards is naturally corrected by pressure on the rear pedal which slows or stops the wheel which flings you forward. Then you either ride away or fall forward. When you can’t keep the wheel under you and you’re falling forward, try to jump off with both feet and don’t try to catch the unicycle.

I started unicycling 5-years ago and quit after falling hard on my butt and hip. This June I decided it was now or never and have probably not missed more than three days since June 10th. Just get on it and ride everyday if possible and don’t worry how fast or slow you progress. Don’t worry about too much weight on the pedals, only being able to turn one way, riding twisted, etc. It all sorts itself out with time in the saddle. First I could only ride as long as I could hold my breath. :slight_smile: Then it was as long as my legs could go before burning. Then it was until I was out of breath. Then as long as I could maintain mental focus. Now that I finely have the weight off the pedals and have found that sweet spot of balance, I’m limited to how long I can bare to sit on the seat!!



Fear of falling is much more typical of “grown ups” learning to ride. If you learned in your teen years, you would probably have just allowed your body to beat holes into the ground until you figured out how not to. Now we worry about breaking things.

So how to reduce fear of falling? Practice falling. Not so much falling to the ground, but falling off the unicycle and staying on your feet. What Forum-nerds call UPD-ing (unplanned dismounting). Typical falls are to the front and rear, but can also be to the sides. So the more familiar you are with how to catch yourself, the less you will worry about when it happens.

Literally practice stepping off the unicycle in all different directions. to all points of the compass. Spend more time on the front and back though, because those are the more typical directions.

You will learn to take off your higher foot, and leave the lower foot on the pedal. Do it the other way around and you’re going to shoot the wheel somewhere, often with a pedal into your shin at high speed! So practice knowing which foot to leave on the pedal.

Nobody likes going off the back. When it happens, it usually means you let the wheel get too far ahead of you. If you react too slowly, you can end up on your backside. But practice doing it on purpose, and you will figure out the mechanics of catching yourself.

Be careful to avoid getting your foot between the crank and spokes, which can happen in “sloppy” falls. This is where your feet don’t know where to go, or if something happens too fast for you to react. So get used to the motions.

Much as falling off sucks, it’s good for you. The more you do it, the more you will be equipped to do it with ease, and without fear.

If you feel you’re loosing control, just get off. Never try to save the situation by pedaling faster or anything. That can make it a lot worse. There are two types of UPD’s: The ones that can be expected and the ones that comes as a total surprise. I rarely experience the latter, but when I do it’s usually when riding off road, and thats when I sometimes hurt myself. I never ride off road when it’s wet anymore, because of the risk of unexpected falls and injuries. When I was learning, I almost always landed on my feet as you can see: I had very few UUPD’s (Unexpected UPD’s - I just made that up), and I almost always landed on my feet no matter which way I fell. I think the reason for that was that the “all your weight on the seat” thing came natural to me. I think that when your weight is on the seat, you will feel that you are going to fall, and have time to bail. It will also be easier to move your feet off the pedals. Good luck!

Thanks. I also found a tread that talks all about proper dismounting off the back. After I’m better rider I’ll work on that. Cheers

I feel your pain!

I’m a beginner too and falling backwards is also my main fear.
However I do find that with every successful meter the confidence is growing.

I see some good advice has already been given, especially about making sure to keep the lowest foot longest on the pedal and to practice falling.

At our stage in the learning process we can use everything that helps building confidence.
So for what it’s worth, here are some things I have noticed in my few hours of trying:

Cycling along a support rail is a great confidence booster. You don’t have to hold it but as long as you cycle alongside it you know you have something to grab when you feel like you’re losing control. And then slowly work on delaying the “grab”.

My riding is not yet very consistent and there are frequent changes in speed.
For me these speed changes are in fact a good thing, they build my experience / feeling for the front / back balance.
So perhaps you can purposely vary your speed when cycling.

Another thing that helps me is the (very) slight incline of my favorite training spot.
Cycling up this incline gave me a bit of speed control, and in particular the feeling of not having to worry too much about my back foot.
Then some time into the practice session the confidence builds and I also cycle down; this forces you to control more with the back foot.
So by cycling up and down I find that I get a distinctly different training sensation.

The incline that I talk about is really minimal but as a beginner I do feel the effect. My daughter, who has also started recently, confirmed the feeling of being more in control going upwards.

On my second day I managed to ride a few meters for a couple of times.
But then I fell hard, flat on my back and confidence was all down the drain.
At first sight there seemed to be no damage except for a tiny bruise near my elbow. Seemed most impact was absorbed by my hands/wrists and back.
But some 24 hours later my right shoulder started to get sore and in 48 it was all messed up.
So it seemed quite a lot of the impact traveled up through my arm into the shoulder. In hindsight I think I have been very lucky not to break my wrist.
It took about two weeks for my shoulder to heal and to start getting back on the saddle.

But my confidence was gone and our typical way of practicing no longer worked for me.
My daughters prefer to ride using my forearm as support, then letting go once they find their balance is OK. I keep walking beside them with my arm out so they tap / grab it for support.
I used the same approach using the oldest daughter as my guide but after my fall this no longer gave me the secure feeling I was looking for. So I switched to the skate park which has a nice rail along the full length.
And this did the trick for me, confidence returned quite quickly.

Helmet, knee pads, wrist-guard gloves, elbow pads, shin guards, sturdy shoes. I wear all of these every time, and highly recommend their use. (Especially for, ahem, mature riders.) I don’t fall that often, but it only takes one hard fall to get really hurt. (All of the above items were added one-by-one as I aquired various injuries. :astonished: )
Good luck! :slight_smile:

HUGE thanks to all. You folks are spot on with your advice. I have even had 4 or 5 times where I landed on both feet softly to the rear and boy that feels great.

back falling

If you have fear of falling backward; wear a backpack with your kids stuff animals. It works …
ask me how I know… :roll_eyes: