Learning to ride on gravel


How about this… saddle RH, left pedal at 6:00, no backstop.
With some oomph, push with right foot to stand on left pedal, but instead of trying to land your right foot on the pedal, just continue up and over the pedal and step down to the ground in front with your right foot.
You’re trying to learn how to use momentum to get up to, and over the balance point.
Remember to sit in the saddle (with weight) and start putting less and less weight on the starting left foot.

Now try to slow that action down so you just clear the balance point.

Once you have this motion down pat, then pull that bottom pedal up towards you to about 6:30 to start.
Careful, this is where you stepping down on the pedal will cause the uni to move backwards. (not desirable)
Now try and launch yourself over while putting even less weight on the left pedal.

This is where you start slowing things down and think about landing that right foot now.

You have the basics about having the starting foot unweighted so the uni doesn’t roll back towards you.
You also understand what momentum it takes to get up to that balance point so you’re able to just ride away.

From 6:30, go to 7:00, then 8:00, then finally 9:00.
Then we’ll work on rolling mounts and bring you back down to 7:00.:slight_smile:

Hope that made sense.

A cheater move could be to carry several small sticks or rocks with you to prop behind the wheel to help keep the wheel from rolling back when you do have to mount again. But I say don’t do it!

Canoeheadted, yup, that sounds good to me. I’ll give it a try today. I’ll try it on grass first and if I don’t like that I’ll move onto the gravel. I’d hate to be a coward about this. Thanks for your advice.:slight_smile:

ElpuebloUNIdo, As suggested I have a new route on my driveway, it is 150’. The first half is fairly level the second half is down a slight grade. I was able to ride slower and by doing so set myself into the seat much better. I notice it is easier to sit down on the level but with practice I was able to get it on the down hill portion as well. No leg burn and I was able to stop and step off the uni most of the time. No failed take offs during this :45 practice either. Great advice Thanks for that:)

Canoeheadted, I tried the freemounting exercise for :30 this evening. I started on the grass in the dead position, left foot down. I was able to spring up and put my right foot on the 12 o’clock pedal in about half a dozen tries. The grass was so uneven I moved onto the gravel. I tried the six, seven and eight o’clock positions with no success. Once I spring up onto the top pedal, the pedals move into the dead position. Although I am sometimes up long enough to pedal, I can’t because the pedals are dead. I think I am still not light enough on the lower pedal. Anyhow I can see how it is supposed to work. I guess it’s another one of those put in the time things. It’ll happen. Thanks for the plan:)

Have you considered using the tire-grab mount? Works for some riders on certain size unicycles. Some riders find looking downwards disorienting. I wore full fingered gloves while practicing it. Allowed me to start out closer to 3:00/9:00 where I was more successful riding away. Leaning forward to grab the tire also helped get my center of mass over the hub. The tire grab is kind of a cheater mount, but it gets the job done, and it helped me transition to a proper static mount. I suggest trying the tire grab mount initially on grass; with anything new, weird stuff can happen.

Don’t give up on the 6:00 mount. My suggestion for dealing with the deadness of 6:00 is to, once your second foot is planted on the 12:00 pedal, to ride away very slowly. It’s definitely doable, and every failed mount will help you learn an appropriate dismount.

Well after 32 hours of practise spread out over 31 days, I can ride my 26” unicycle. My sitting in the saddle has improved a lot, it does need more refinement though. My arms are not waving nearly as much as they used to, they are down quite a bit from straight out a lot of the time. I do not experience failed take offs too often anymore. I have limited myself to a 150 foot section of gravel to try and hone my new skills instead of trying for distance records. I have tried free mounting for half an hour at a time for the past three days. I am working on the static position and can get up on the seat and stay there momentarily. I try and do it slowly. I can sometimes get my foot on the 12 o’clock pedal and try to move it but those dead pedals don’t budge before I fall over. Do I have to learn to sit for a couple of seconds to be able to get this? I realize that 1.5 hours isn’t much so I’ll keep at it. I’ve also started launching today from between two four foot high sawhorses. I do not have a stop behind the wheel. I mount in the dead position, then hold the saw horses and move the pedals to horizontal, lean forward and go. It works ok. I will try and use just one sawhorse soon and see if I can do it without twisting sideways. Anyhow that’s where I’m at, needing to catch on to the free mount. Suggestions are always appreciated. Thank you :slight_smile:

That is not an easy way to do a static mount.
See the suggestions in this post, especially the link to unimyra’s video. Search for more of his videos.

Agreed, Unimyra’s video are a very good breakdown of the steps required:

Grats mac! Such a monster of an accomplishment!

Whatever you may or may not be doing wrong, you’re clearly doing something right. Keep it up!

I’ll be interested to hear about your progress and your choices to make that 150 feet your best possible learning experience.

6 and 12:00 is a hard way to mount, I agree. But it’s a starting point for bringing the lower pedal a tiny bit closer to the rider. If a beginner starts free mounting with a static mount similar to a more experienced rider, they are going to be eating gravel during a failed mount. Part of the reason I like the 6 and 12:00 mount is because it’s safer, and because it trains the rider to bail out with the upper foot first, followed by the lower foot at the 6:00 position.

On a side note: Many of us have seen Terry’s (Unigeezer) egg demonstration. The first planted foot has no weight on the pedal. While this technique may be necessary for a 36" unicycle, on smaller wheel sizes the rider’s center of gravity may be high enough to allow significant weight to be put on the first foot…which is then balanced by the weight in the seat…to produce a real static mount…which is, again, safer.

Thank you for the feedback. I have looked at unimyra’s video, he makes it look so easy. I thought, amazing, I can do that. He even starts on his left foot as I do. Not so easy, the pedals keep coming back to the dead position. I try to get my weight onto the left side with my left foot, push down on the seat with my left arm. I lean into the seat to try and get weight on it, then step up with my right foot. I don’t seem to find a spot where the wheel locks up. Conclusion, Unimyra must be using magic to keep that wheel from moving. What position are the pedals in, are they actually as they look to be, at 3 & 9? My seat is as high as it can go with out my legs being straight, so I don’t think that is the problem. So how does he keep that wheel from rotating?
I have inner ear issues that don’t like the wheel grab method so that is out. I have some great info from Canoeheadted and elpuebloUNIdo, OTM and others on the static mount. I will continue to work on that and try some more of unimyra’s method. I’ll keep you informed of my success. Cheers all.

I Can Free Mount!

Good day to everyone. The first thirty minutes of today’s practice yielded no positive results or so it seemed. During the next fifteen minutes I was able to free mount Four times. The light has come on. After 34 hours over 33 days I can ride and free mount a unicycle, sort of. I am very happy with that to say the least. Thank you all for your help in getting me to this stage. Drinks are on me tonight. :beers:


Congrats! Nice progress under difficult conditions with the gravel and 26"!

Hear Hear!

(raises coconut water)


That is wonderful! Congratulations! And all told, the time you spent to get to that point seems very reasonable.

We couldn’t have done it without you.

Free mounting ain’t free

Howdy all. It’s been seven days since I completed my first free mount. I was so excited to get at it the next day. Well the next day I got five free mounts during my one hour of practice which is split into two half hour sessions, not bad for my second day. By the end of the half hour sessions I am pretty tired and soaked with sweat. I should be only going for fifteen minutes because once you’re tired things get sloppy and inefficient. Having said that, it’s usually around the time I know I should quit when I get a free mount or a real close one and just can’t give it up. The day after that I got one fm, then the following days I would get one or two fms. I had videos taken to see what I could be doing wrong. There is lots I’m doing wrong to be sure. Of course being new to this I kept changing things and watching videos. I’ve been around the clock with the pedals. Get on slow, get on fast, hold onto the seat or don’t. Lean into it, lean into it too much. Don’t step up high enough, miss the pedal etc. It doesn’t matter which way you hold your tongue out either. and I’m pretty sure Unimyra is using magic. There was just no joy in Mudville. I do get a ton of almost did it’s. Anyhow, tonight I had a lot of failures and closeies too. With twenty minutes left to practice I set the left rear pedal at 7 o’clock and the right at 1 o’clock, I stepped up and got one of my surprise free mounts. I kept trying to do everything the same for the remainder of my session and got another eight free mounts for my efforts. So I do think I am finally getting somewhere with the free mounting. I have been working on this fm for eight hours with very little actual riding. I know it really isn’t a lot of time, but it is a lot of attempts and energy. You can do an awful lot of attempts in half an hour. I’ll let you know in a couple of days if I was lucky or if I’m actually catching on. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s practice.
Still enthusiastic,

G’day! Good to hear of your progress. Keep enjoying it, it is a great challenge and very rewarding learning something new. When I was learning how to free mount I found it really frustrating, in fact I got to the point of just not worrying about it and being happy to use anything available to help me mount - trees, poles, people etc… As I gained confidence with my general riding and improved overall skills I then went back to trying to free mount but never spent ages at it. I would only spend a few minutes at a time giving it a go, and then just ride. I found that worked for me - I eventually got it and I think the whole learning process for me was more enjoyable that way. You’ll find that as you progress with balance and control you will be able to apply just the right amount of pressure to your back pedal so that the unicycle remains stationary (static) as you mount - it took me quite some time to get to that point. Keep having fun. Enjoy the process of learning the fine control required. =)

I have recently spent a similar amount of time learning to mount directly into a wheel walk. For a while I wondered if all the time spent on failed attempts was worth it. Yes, it was worth it. Now, I can mount directly into the WW more than 2/3 of the time. I practice it alternately on my dominant and non dominant side. No surprise, my statistics are better on the dominant side (especially when I get tired)…but the gap is closing.

A thought occurred to my while practicing mounting into WW on either side. I had previously thought that my dominant side was stronger. I noticed, though, that I tended to get my center of mass more forward while mounting on my dominant side…compared to the non dominant side. If I focused on moving my center of mass more forward while mounting on my non dominant side, I was more successful.

Anyway, I suggest now that you’re getting some concept on mounting, you practice it on both sides. If you’re planning on dis-mounting on your dominant and non dominant side, learning to mount on both sides will be helpful. When your percentage of successful mounts rises somewhat (as seems to be already happening), you will find a good balance between mounting and riding.

Congrats on your progress!

I agree with this. Two really important skills are getting weight onto the seat to counter pedal pressure, and making a quick low-speed balance correction to ride away from a not-quite-perfect mount–because they’re never quite perfect. Get some months of experience riding, using whatever aids you find as much as you need them, and I think you’ll find that mounting gets easier and more dependable too.

I remember the feeling well as a beginner, that there must be some secret trick to free mounting that wasn’t being shared with us novices. But the only secret I know is that it isn’t a big deal once you’re generally better at riding because it draws so much on abilities you’ll pick up as you ride more.