Learning advice wanted...

I’m writing a short book of sorts to give to people learning to unicycle. We teach them at our weekly rides but it would be good if they had something to take home with them. Also, people renting unis from the bike shop could take a copy home. I’ve covered most of the general learning to ride part but I’ve got one question…

What do you people think of wild arm flailing? It’s natural when learning to ride, but should it be condoned? If not, what should they do instead? Just fall off?

Thanks a lot,

Re: Learning advice wanted…

Wild arm flailing is great. I learnt by waving my arms like mad at first, after a bit your arms work out which bits of the waving are useful and which bits aren’t and stop going so mad.


Re: Learning advice wanted…

i’m with charlie dancey on arm-flailing (and would like to suggest that u look into the possibility of quoting him in your publication)
esp where he suggests that it may not help, but it does make u feel better
it also gives the arms something to do while u r NOT holding onto the front of the seat, a bigger learner obstacle than we realise (i think)

After reading Joemarshall And Dave Gild’s Reply threads on this.
I agree with them. At the moment, I was in the middle of writing a book on unicycling, Begginers to Advance. But that came to a stop due to house hunting for me. I’m getting back on it soon. (One Day when I get free Time)
I will take Dave Gild advice on Charlie Dancey on Arm-flailing.
Thanks Dave for That. Good luck Andrew on the Short book you doing. My Unicycling book is on a Floppy disk and in different sections. If you need some of mine Andrew, let me know, and I’ll try to send some to you.

Good Luck you going to need it.


Thanks guys. I’ve always been a fan of flailing, I just thought I remembered hearing something against it somewhere.

That’s great…do you mind if I quote you on that?

It’s not really a book or anything. When it’s all finished I’d expect it to be 3000-5000 words maybe. I’m at 1155 now.

Thanks guys…now back to work.

One more question (although there will probably be more to come)…

Could someone please explain turning specifically by leaning? I may do this instictivelya bit, but I seem to be more of a turning with the legs or upper body type of person.


Re: Learning advice wanted…

“andrew_carter” <andrew_carter.q167b@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote in
message news:andrew_carter.q167b@timelimit.unicyclist.com
> I’m writing a short book…
> What do you people think of wild arm flailing? …

Hey Andrew, If you make that book available online or email I’d like to take
a look.

Regarding the arm flailing. I’m just learning myself and haven’t noticed
wild arm flailing but I do step off often. For some reason I’ve notice that
when unstable my natural tendency to grab the front of the seat. Not
necessarily to catch the uni but in trying to hang on I think. Seeing Joe
and GILD postings maybe I should try the wild arm flailing thing. :slight_smile:

Also I’ve notice that the link to your gallery is ALL CAPS. Maybe it’s a
microsoft internet explorer thing but I get read failure unless I change the
URL to lower case.


Wild arm flailing is a natural thing to do. Rather than condoning or condemning it, why not teach people to modify it.

Try this:

Put your arms out to the side, palms down, arms straight, with your hands just slightly below shoulder height.

Now, keeping your palms down, bend your arms almost to a right angle.

So now, your upper arms are almost horizontal, and are sticking out sideways, and your forearms are horizontal, but pointing almost forwards, and your palms are down.

Now relax a little.

Your forearms and hands are very heavy, and you have now raised that weight to almost shoulder height, and have deployed it so that it can quickly be moved forwards, backwards, or sideways.

To throw the weight forwards, just push the hands forwards. to throw the weight backwards, straighten both armsor bull the elbows back (but don’t do both!). To throw the weight sideways, straighten one arm and, if necessary, move the other hand to a few inches in front of your chest.

The described position (arms out, bent at the elbows, palms down) is a sort of ‘on guard’ position which gives you a good starting position for useful and ‘structured’ arm waving. Start with the arms in this position, and return to this position when the ‘balance crisis’ has passed.

Honestly, it works, and it’s something I do deliberately when, say, practising riding one footed, or riding across rough ground when I’m on a uni with no handle.

A simpler way of describing the position would be to put your arms where they would be half way through a push up, but with the hands in the palm down position.

Turning by leaning and turning by use body english are used at different times. Leaning is for when you are moving faster, body english is for slow speeds. Think of a b*cycle (sorry, bad word, naughty language) or a motorcycle, when moving fast, you can easily turn just by leaning, when going very slow moving the handle bars is better.

Thanks guys.

Thanks for the comments, I’ll send you a copy via email when it’s done. Mygallery URL must be in upper case because you’re using the thing that’s not www.unicyclist.com (someone help me out here). On here, it’s in all sort of colours. Here’s the real URL http://gallery.unicyclist.com/andrew .

Thanks for that. If you put more of your body weight higher by raising your arms will that slow the rate at which you fall? (like when riding on a giraffe).

Thanks for clearing that up.


Re: Learning advice wanted…

Only just beginning to tackle a unicycle myself, only have access to it once
a week and only tried to wobble on it twice so far, next to a stage.

Mikefule wrote:
> Wild arm flailing is a natural thing to do.

When I first got on the thing I was holding onto the stage with my left hand
and flailing my right arm, but not wildly, just little movements.

> Put your arms out to the side, palms down, arms straight, with your
> hands just slightly below shoulder height.
> Now, keeping your palms down, bend your arms almost to a right angle.
> So now, your upper arms are almost horizontal, and are sticking out
> sideways, and your forearms are horizontal, but pointing almost
> forwards, and your palms are down.

I have observed the other “fluent” unicyclists at the juggling club (which I
only started going to three weeks ago) “relaxing” their arms in this
position, so I tried to emulate it in the brief period I can actually pedal
the thing forward before coming off.

BTW my best distance so far was nearly two turns of the wheel without
holding on to the stage, so a little way to go…

But I noticed that I tended to keep my arms in this position after setting
off and didn’t tend to flail them round wildly, because I didn’t think I
needed to. I was going more-or-less in a straight line and not quite
getting the hang of the pedalling speed yet made me fall off forwards or

No sideways falls so far; but it’s far too early to tell if being able to go
much further than two wheel revolutions and perfecting the pedalling speed
will cause me to fall sideways later on. I guess time will tell.

To reply with e-mail, turn off the spam slicer.

I described it badly, but the phenomenon is there to be observed. Simple example; balance a broom on your finger, with the broom head at the top - it’s very easy. Now cut the handle down to half the length and balance it - it’s harder, because things happen more quickly.

Of course, the mass will fall just as quickly, in the sense that any object will accelerate downwards under the influence of gravity at 32 feet per second squared (9.8 metres per second squared).

However, with the centre of mass higher, the angles are different. The mass falls in a curve, and when the balancing object starts to fall from the vertical position, the vertical component of the movement is a smaller proportion of the whole movement if the object is taller.

The other effect is that if the mass is held high, then a sideways/forwards/backwards movement of the mass will be magnified by the longer leverage. Obviously, you only get the same amount of reaction, but it is in a form which is easier to control.

Applying this to giraffes, I can only speak on the basis of limited experience (I’ve ridden four or five giraffes ranging from about 4 feet to about 6 feet, but only briefly) and a bit of logic. The world record tallest giraffe was 101 feet high (from memory, 101’ 10 " which is just over 31 metres). He only rode it briefly, but in a circle. I think the effect is that a taller giraffe is easier to balance within its ‘cone of balance’ but once it starts to go out of control, it’s loads harder to recover. So it’s more stable until it becomes unstable, then it’s more unstable, if you see what I mean.

Anyway, in the real world of riding normal sized unicycles, raising your mass will tend to make balance events happen more slowly, and will therefore give you more control. Keeping your arms high will tend to give you better control than waving them in a random/instinctive fashion.