Learning to idle

I have been working on idling for a month now and I thought I would report on my
progress. I hope this may help some of you that are try to learn also.

I started 9/2/94 and have been working on this in my basement for 1/2 hour a day
6 days a week. I bought my first unicycle in January 1994 and have been learning
since then.

I can now idle for almost as long as I want, at least until my leg muscles get
tired. I started by holding onto a post and just tried to let go and go for it.
I put my right foot all the way down and use my left foot on top to keep the
rocking motion.

It started pretty slow. I didn’t feel like it would work at all. As I practiced
I learned what was really going on. As you fall to one side you rock forward or
back and you must turn the unicycle so it comes back under you. As you then fall
the other way you rock again and pull the uni back under you again. To idle you
just keep making these constant corrections in either direction.

As you first start you tend to over correct, which causes you to over correct
the other way and you loose it pretty quick. As you get better you learn to make
smaller and smaller corrections.

I started timing how long I could stay up. At first 2 or 3 seconds was hard.
When I got to 10 seconds it started to go faster. Soon it was 15, 20, 30 then 60
seconds. I now can go almost as long as I want.

Pretty soon I got bored and wondered if I could rotate either direction as I was
idling. This came with some practice and made the 1/2 hour times more

I then tried to do a free mount, then 2 full revolutions, stop and idle. This
didn’t take more than 1 or 2 days to get down. Next I tried to start idling, go
forward 1 revolution then stop and idle. The next step was to do a free mount
and right into an idle. It only took a couple days for this also and this is how
I start idling now, most of the time. This feels real smooth when done right.

I still don’t feel like this is real natural and it takes constant
concentration for me to stay up. I have tried to juggle while idling but can’t
get past a dozen throws at best. I found I tend to fall to the right as I do
this and have been working more or staying more vertical rather than sort of
leaning on the unicycle one way. As part of this I have been working on idling
with my hands behind my back. This is pretty hard and I can’t go more than 15
seconds or so this way.

This was all done in my basement which has a smooth painted floor. I took the
unicycle outside recently and found I couldn’t idle on concrete. On the smooth
floor I could sort of twist in order to make the corrections, and on the
concrete this didn’t work at all. It took some more practice outside to
compensate for this. Now it works pretty well but still not as good as indoors.
More air in the tire would probably help outside.

I also find I tend to stand up on the pedals instead of sitting. Sitting helps
because you can use your thighs to press on the seat and help steer. I still
need to work on setting down more.

I hope this wasn’t too boring for anybody to read and hope it helps somebody
else make progress. I would say idling is a rather advanced skill and it sure is
harder than people make it look. I have a long winter ahead and will keep
working on juggling while idling.

Andy Arhelger andya5@aol.com

Re: Learning to idle

>The secret to smooth idling is keeping most of your weight on saddle.
>Remember that the unicycle moves under you, while your upper body stays
>more or less upright. Idling is definitely not merely riding back and
>forth. Also, make sure the saddle is at the proper height – if it’s too low
>you’ll tire very quickly.

>I hope this helps. See my book for more.

>Javck Halpern IUF Vice President

Well like I said I have only been unicycling since January and don’t claim to
be an expert. I have learned all my unicycling skills completely on my own.
Nobody has ever shown me how to idle and I don’t know anybody personally that
can do it.

I have an old 24" Schwinn that I bought used and the seat is all the way up. I
am 5’8" and based on what I know, the uni seat is about right. When idling I try
to put most of my weight on the seat but as soon as I start to go one way or the
other I tend to stand up to make the correction. Just need more practice here I
guess. It is much less tiring now than it was at first. (I am just old (35) and
don’t have the endurance of a teenager, I guess.)

Sorry, never heard of Javck Halpern or your book. What is the name of your book
and where can I get a copy? Sounds like it would help me out.

Andy Arhelger andya5@aol.com