Learning Journal

Days 8 & 9

Thanks Doc Doo and Unireed for the tips. I just needed to look closer at the User CP (Control Panel?). Since I started this thread I am already registered on it - duh! :o

So, day 8 did not go so well either. Day 9 was today, Saturday Oct 2nd (I think it is past midnight, but close enough)

I practiced 3 times today; 20 minutes morning, 40 minutes early afternoon, 60 minutes late afternoon. My 16 year old daughter and I went to lunch and she recommended I try practicing on a pedestrian bridge that was just completed near our home over a busy street. I had not thought of it, but it sounded like a possibility. My challenge has been finding somewhere with plenty of space, free of traffic, and lots of ‘wall’ for supported practicing.

I had already practiced twice today, along a wall mentioned in an earlier post, and using my pickup parked out on the street. But I was not really making much progress. My concern about the pedestrian bridge was the sloped ramps, but I decided to give it a try. After a few minutes of experimentation I found the the ramps were long enough and the slope shallow enough that I could use them, and that this was actually a pretty ideal place to practice. I will try to get a couple photo’s to include in my next post.

I went up and down numerous times, and used the flat switch-backs as opportunities to let go of the railing and ‘sprint’ across some short open distances. At first these attempts were miserable failures but as the time wore on I began to get more and more confidence and ended up with many comfortable ‘sprints’. I also found that the slope, both directions, was quite helpful in forcing me to position myself well, keep most of my weight in the saddle, and use my legs a lot to control things. It is hard to describe, or even identify, all the things I learned. Short to say, this is an ideal training area and I feel that I will progress much more going forward using it.

Key Learnings:

  1. The quick release on the seat post has been bothering me all along so I removed it and replaced it with a bolt that I cinched down very tightly. Having the saddle move back and forth horizontally was probably a factor in my lack of progress. I did this in the third session, so the last hour it was nice to have it not move around!
  2. Squeezing my knees together seemed to help a lot. It did not necessarily help me go straight every time I attempted an unsupported ride, but it just kept me on the uni much better so even if I turned I did not immediately fall off.
  3. There is an interesting balance of weight on the saddle to pushing with legs. Whenever I got it out of whack bad things happened. As I grew tired at the end of the third, and hour-long, session my foot slipped off the pedal several times, which forced me to focus on this. Though I was getting tired I was able to get it back together finish the hour with good success.

All in all day 9 was a big success.:slight_smile: Not based on having a great unsupported ride, but in discovering an excellent training area, and making steady progress during the hour that I was there. I will not have a lot of days when I can spend a full hour, much less two, but I feel that I will make good progress on the pedestrian bridge each day going forward. Thanks to my daughter, Chelsea, for thinking of it!!

Good luck to others that are learning. Doc Doo, my fellow 46-year-old-learner, keep me (us) posted on your progress. :sunglasses:

Keep plugging at it NotSoYoungOne, you will get there and I bet it’s not too long before you do. I have found that sort of squeezing my knees together and pointing my toes in a bit has helped. At least it stops me catching my heel on the cranks.

I am overjoyed to report a real break through yesterday after a spare couple of hours of consistent effort - the best workout I’ve had in a long time and I was totally shattered by the end of the couple of hours. I had been ‘training in private’ in the alley behind my house which is a little lumpy and bumpy and on a slope so I decided to take the plunge and use the better surface on the street infront of the house. I managed further and further until I got half way up my street for the first time ever and then repeated it several times. There is a certain smugness today despite the heeeuge bruise on my inner thigh from ‘catching’ the uni between my thighs when I upd. I’m waiting for the rain to stop today so that I can get out on the street again.

At least I was the street’s entertainment for a couple of hours. Most folks smiled and had a word of encouragement.

Day 10:

Way to go DocDoo! Thanks for the tips. Kinda cool to have this kind of teamwork with someone I have never met that lives on another continent! The internet is an amazing tool.

So, the big lesson from today is;
Patience, patience, patience, Persistence, persistence, persistence!!

I went to the pedestrian bridge (PB for short) for about 30 minutes this evening. Though it was pretty dark I could see well enough. I did warm up here in the house by doing 100 mini-rocking exercises with each foot forward for a total of 200, then a couple ‘rides’ in the entryway and hallway. It is only about a 3 minute walk over to the PB. I had some pretty good training, and remembered to keep squeezing with my knees and keeping my feet straight on the pedals. After a while I noticed that I was not using my arms to balance very much so I added this to my focus, which helped quite a bit.

I finished on the downslope and made two attempts at letting go of the support and riding down as far as I could. My second attempt was great and I went 35 feet. Too bad I ran out of sidewalk (it drops off several inches into the dirt) or I may have just kept going! I was really surprised I went that far as I have not had a long unsupported attempt for several days. And this one was the straightest and most under-control ever. As long as the downslope is not too steep it is actually easy to ride on, and I think this contributed to the ease of that final ride. This new training area of the PB is really excellent.

only one or two minutes on a unicycle once you can ride.

Day 11:

Back at the PB for about 30 minutes. I finished up on the downslope for several runs and had a great time. At the bottom of the ramp there is a flat open area and I rode down the ramp almost all the way and out onto the flat a couple times. I am sure that these good rides were due in part to the slope (I will guess that it is 5 - 6 degrees). But I felt really in control and really started to ‘feel it’ for the first time.

So my next challenge is to get back onto flat ground and get the same ‘feel’. I am pretty elated at the success of today though, so I will relish it!

Response to Unireed: Yep, it will only be a minute or two riding - so that is now a goal. :sunglasses:

Go you NotSoYoungOne! You’re almost there.

It is kinda cool that the internet brings us old, slightly mad folks together in a our mutual aim of learning to ride a unicycle. :smiley:

I have an addition to my learning curve in that I now have a 24" wheel with much longer cranks. It feels weird in comparison to the 20" but I don’t think it will take too long to get used to it.

Old, and slightly mad

So Doc Doo, are you at a point where you feel that you ‘can ride a unicycle’ or are you still somewhere short of that? I don’t know exactly what the definition of that is, but for me it will probably be when I can free mount and ride consistently without too-frequent UPD’s.

I also have a 24" uni that has longer crank arms. It is what I started trying to learn on earlier this year, but gave up. I am going to stick with the 20" for a while more until have made more progress. But I may switch to the 24" pretty quickly as it is what I plan to ride. I really want to move to a 29" as soon as possible, but since I don’t own one that will be a problem :D. I think the 29er will be a good size for me. I want to ride longer distances than just around in front of the house or in a parking lot. My work is about 7 miles (11K) from home and I want to be able to commute that distance. I also want to be able to ride on packed dirt roads, and over various kinds of surfaces and I think the bigger wheel will work great. Maybe down the road I will be interested in a 36er for more serious distances, but from everything I have read the 29er is a great all-around uni.

For now it is time to stay focused on the 20", then move to the 24" until I can afford/justify another purchase! I think my wife and kids agree with your assessment of “older and slightly mad”. I have to agree myself!

Keep up the training mad pedlar :slight_smile: and keep me posted on your progress and anything you learn on the 24.

Day 12: Two new records!

After a fairly long practice session I was ready to call it an evening when I achieved an unsupported ride of 45 feet (15 meters) - a new record by quite a bit! So I returned and started at the same place and immediately rode 65 feet (21 meters)!! :astonished:

So I not only had my longest ride, then had an even longer one to set a new personal record, this is also the first time that I had two really good rides back to back. Woohoo!!

Sot today definitely gets a big “Thumbs up” :D:):smiley:

ah the Gear Aquisition Syndrome!
I started at 53 and now I am the proud owner of a stable of 7 unis! … and still considering buying a 26" …
I was slightly mad before so wife and kids (and grand-kids!) just smile … (I already own 10 brass saxhorns! so they consider it’s cheaper than buying new fancy cars -or going out with a fancy blonde :astonished: -!)

Congrats on your new personal best NotSoYoungOne.

Ahhhh therein lies the rub, no I don’t consider that I ‘can ride a unicycle’ yet, not by any stretch of imagination. I still haven’t made any ‘real’ distance but I decided to get the 24 whilst I had the sum of money spare (well as spare as cash can be), also because I’m impatient and as wobbling bear rightly points out there’s a certain type of old, slightly mad person that suffers from G.A.S :wink: - unicycles are less costly than quality guitars thankfully! :wink:

I’m happy to keep plugging away at learning, no matter how long it takes to develop the skills.

As a rather short person I think I need to put slightly shorter cranks on the 24 because I’ve got the seat post quite low my knees are bashing my chin - well not quite but that’s how it feels. I’m interested in trying out cranks that are a centimeter or two shorter than the 150(2?) that are on there.

I need to put in another good session like I did last weekend to push my skill level up another notch.

I too am impatient, AND slightly mad (crazy as the lingo goes in the USA!), but I think my wife is satisfied with this mid-life-crisis, if such it is, compared to other much more costly alternatives :wink:

Well, I took the day off today. But I need another one like I had yesterday too. Gotta keep pushing that skill level. I think it is a lot about consistency and not letting too much time to allow your brain/body to forget about this strange new activity you are forcing on yourself :astonished:

Keep up the good work Doc Doo!

Thanks for the perspective wobbly bear. 7 is a lot of uni’s! But I already have 2 and I can’t even ride yet so it does not sound so far-fetched. Happy pedaling to you! :slight_smile:

I’m glad it’s not just me who’s impatient and having a ‘mid-life crisis’ :sunglasses:

My other half is very patient, bless her, but she’s convinced I’m going to break myself. I keep telling her it could be worse and at least I’m not drinking hard liquor or gambling, nor am I carousing with girls :astonished:

It’s almost the weekend so I’m hoping to fit in a couple of decent sessions to keep that unicycling mind/body/muscle memory equation topped up.

Happy weekend pedaling to you NotSoYoungOne :slight_smile:

Day 13: Dismal

Today was pretty bad. I digressed and the longer I tried the worse I got. I must admit that I got pretty frustrated, which I am sure contributed to the plummet!

My wife is very patient too Doc Doo - thank goodness :o I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve so when she asked me how it went, and I said “Horrible”, she just giggled and said “Yeah, I can tell!”

The good things are that 1. I am stubborn, 2. I have this blog and feel compelled to report on my progress, and 3. Doc Doo and everyone else who has contributed to my learning process are not going to let me quit even if I wanted too (which I don’t).

Though this evening was pretty tough, and I lost my cool for a while - which I eventually recovered in some measure - I am actually looking forward to tomorrow, Saturday, as I will have quite a bit of time to work. I have already set this one behind me. My wife reminded me that “because you have a bad day sometimes then you know what a good day is”. True-dat! I am a lucky man. :D:D

I have spent quite a bit of time reading various blog posts about all kinds of stuff and it is very interesting to see the huge variety of people who ride uni’s. I am really looking forward to being among them. Which is good thing #4. Good night. :slight_smile:

Awwwww NSYO the next session will be better.
I’ve got a cold so yesterday and the weekend is pretty much a write off for me as I’m staying in bed getting well for the coming week.

You are a lucky man indeed have a patient, understanding wife who will giggle at you and make it all not seem so bad. :smiley:

I’m feeling a real ‘lack’ of progress m’self but I’m not going to let it get me down. I know the ‘lack’ is due to be not being brave enough anymore so I’ll just keep plugging away until it all drops into place. Impatient + stubborn = more determined :wink: D’yanno, I don’t care how long it takes me to learn to ride these damnable one wheeled steeds but learn I will.

I too look forward to the time I can call myself a ‘unicyclist’ and feel a legitimate part of this community NSYO…I don’t feel I’m quite there yet.

Keep at it my slightly crazy friend across the pond. Happy pedaling. :slight_smile:

Day 14:

I had to reset my attitude and thinking today. I practiced for an hour and 45 minutes, until I was physically and mentally spent.

After about 45 minutes I realized that I was not sitting up straight and not keeping enough weight in the saddle. For the balance of the time I focused on these two things. Though I did not have any particularly long unsupported rides I did get a good feel many times and had a good number of shorter unsupported attempts that felt very good. I had been tending to go left a lot the past several days and focus on these things seemed to make all the difference.

One of the first encouraging posts I received not long after beginning this blog was from UniReed telling me that if I didn’t make the same mistakes repeatedly I would progress quickly. I don’t know what quickly means in my case, but I know that I found a way today to quit making the left-leaning mistake.

So, to reiterate the key learnings:

  1. Sit up very straight. Don’t slouch, droop, or bend at the waist. Maybe this gets easier with more experience, but a big focus on this made a big difference in the overall learning today
  2. In conjunction with #1, keep yourself planted firmly in the saddle and don’t allow yourself to stand up on the pedals. This is difficult for a road b*cyclist that has been in the habit for years of jumping up out of the saddle whenever he wants. But a Unicycle is NOT a Bicycle, and it is NOT ridden the same way. (emphasis added primarily for myself:o)

Doc Doo - get better my friend across the pond! I love your equation; Impatient + stubborn = more determined. A fitting description of these two slightly mad compadre’s on separate continents :D. Madness is hereditary, it runs in the human family :astonished: Though it only seems to afflict a small few to attempt to roll across the planet on one wheel. BTW, I don’t have a clue what NSYO is. I tried to find it online without success…

My wife and I are headed to Japan for a week so it will be a while before I am back to learning and sharing. Until then keep up the balancing act :wink:


NSYO must = Not So Young One. Yes?

First time there has been a question from this community that I thought I could contribute an answer. Have been wanting to chime in on your learning journal thread to thank you for sharing your experience. I too am just getting started on this quest to be a unicyclist and as a result I am going through many of the same challenges. It has been a great help to read of your lessons and successes.

Just scored and installed a Maxxis Hookworm tire on my KH 24" to replace the seriously knobby one that may be harder to learn on. I figure best to limit the number of excuses I might use for why I am not cruising along on my UNI yet ;0) Have become quite proficient at riding along and depending too much on a fence or rail. Time to apply a bit more courage and venture out!

Thanks again to you and Doc for sharing your adventures. Hear’s to good health and happy riding!! Cheers!

Oh my NSYO (yes that’s my lazy typing version of NotSoYoungOne) you’re going to Japan, how fantastic, I hope you and Mrs.NSYO have a wonderful time in the land of the Rising Sun.

Well, how weird that your recent lesson has been to sit up straighter whereas mine yesterday despite having a cold - illness + boredom x (Lemsip and painkillers) = a great session on the 24" - was to lean forward a little but keep my head up (no looking down). I also became very aware of my core muscles working hard at keeping me balanced which was a great feeling.

Hey there kickstand, I’d like to extend a welcome to NotSoYoungOne’s (well done on guessing what NSYO was) learning journal thread in his absence. It’s great to have yet another slightly mad person join in the learning curve. I think you have hit the learning nail on the head when you say you need to “apply more courage and venture out”, it really is just a case of being a little bit braver and ‘going for it’ and then keep on ‘going for it’ until, as NSYO puts it, you’re mentally and physically spent. You will get there even if progress is slow. It’s not a competition about who can learn quickest it’s about having fun whilst learning to do something that is actually quite hard to do!

Happy pedaling :smiley:

Heeheehee, I guess I was pretty tired. Sometimes I just miss the obvious! Thanks for the assist Kickstand!

My wife and I are leaving first thing in the morning. We are up late packing and I thought I would do a quick check, so I am glad I did. Well, you can have a good laugh at my miss of something so obvious. I like the NSYO though, very cool Doc Doo! My wife just laughed at being called Mrs. NSYO. BTW, my name is Brian. But NSYO is a pretty cool nickname now that it has happened.

Kickstand I will add my welcome too. It is nice to know that this slight-madness is not reserved to the young, but to those of us not so young as well. My wife actually helped me pen this name with a little play on the ‘one’ word since this was about learning the uni.

Keep up the pedaling while I take a brief hiatus :slight_smile:

Hope you have a great trip NSYO! Your lessons will be missed, but Japan will likely be a great adventure. I tried to post last night, and dispite your good attempts to warn me otherwise I somehow managed to deep space all I had entered…by pushing the wrong post button or some such. …was so well spent mentally and physically to the core after practicing (some other good advice of yours) I couldn’t get myself to type it all in again.

Happy to hear you were feeling well enough to get out for some + 24" peddling Doc Doo. Inspiring commitment/adiction ;0)

Kickstand (aka Even Less Young One…:0) had some good fun at practice time yesterday. Thanks to your enCOURAGEment, the new smoother more responsive tire, and some good help from a great friend I managed to loco-mote down nearly the entire straight section of a 1/4 mile track at a local school. It was NOT a completely un-supported ride - as I had one hand rested on my friends shoulder for reassurance - but it got me peddling away into the open and I believe it was a much better approximation of what riding must be like than the rails and fences I have been glued to up until now. FUN!! Hope to get the chance to try again tonight and see about getting both hands free (that work thing sure does cut into the day).

Hope you keep feeling better Doc Doo! Have fun NSYO! Looking forward to your speedy return to the UNIverse.


When you get back from Japan let us know how the unicycling proceeds. There are lots of unicyclist in Japan, but I would not expect you to run into any of them.

You are on the right track with keeping your weight in the seat. New unicyclists put way too much weight on the pedals and quickly exhaust themselves. As you get used to it, riding on the flat should require very little effort.

You can stand up on a unicycle. Riding up hills on a 36" I often stand up to get more torque. Once you get comfortable riding around on the flat you can try some hills, and that will give you an excuse to get up out of the saddle. :slight_smile: