Well now that I am here, guess its time for that introduction!
I decided to learn to unicycle at age 44. I was fascinated by videos of mountain unicycling I saw several years ago but more or less wrote it off as not likely to be possible for me to ever be able to do. Two years ago, i stumbled upon electric unicycles, and a guy at work had one and loved it, so i decided i woul try that out, getting a solowheel glide 3. It was a bit of a challenge at first, but boy are those things awesome once you learn them! ( and they can be ridden offroad too). I was now hooked on one wheel riding! Well riding it just rekindled my desire to muni, and to do so, learn to ride a pedal unicycle afterall. I got a Club 24", sold by UDC’s advice to try this one if just learning to ride but interested in Muni, plus they said a 24" is very similar in effort and speed as jogging. Riding a unicycle sermed like a much funner and more interesting way to go running and plus easier on the knees, which sometimes bother me on runs.
It was MUCH harder to learn than the electric one, which knowing how to ride the electric one seemed to help very little if any with learning the pedal one! After 3 months, i could ride ~50 feet. 3 more months after that, and i can do about 200 yards, about twice before my legs are burning and worn out and I am out of breath. I still can’t freemount, or ride on hills, off pavement, or idle. Muni seems years away at this point, as does even a nice 5k ride around the neighborhood for cardio as i was hoping to do by now
I thought it would be much quicker and easier, but I am just sticking with it anyway, hoping it will click one of these days (it’s still fun and a challenge even if discouraging). I really want to be able to do muni, and ride a half marathon on my uni someday. Maybe ride a giraffe too…that looks cool and crazy!
Back to that patience thing!
Work on freemounts (I found walking mounts easier when learning, now I somehow prefer static mounts) and concentrate on putting your weight on the saddle.
Hold on to a rail and try how much (i.e. how little) pressure on the pedals is required to keep the unicycle under yourself. That’s where you want to get while riding and you’ll be able to ride for hours at a time (provided your saddle is decent).
Welcome @Blueblade! I started unicycling about a year ago and my initial progress pretty much sounds like yours, distance wise and burning legs wise. It all started to improve quickly when I learned to freemount, because then you can start doing longer distances because you are able to mount again if you fall off, no matter where you are - so listen to @kamikaze . To learn how to free mount I watched a video and then worked on it for hours in one go until I was totally exhausted. It’s exactly what everyone tells you not to do - but for me it worked, at least in this case.
Also I noticed that my biggest leaps were always after noticing a tip here on the forum or in a video and concentrating on this single thing on the next ride.
Right now I regularly ride about 20km and easy mountainbike trails, still working on longer distances and harder, steeper trails. I also got into unicycling because of videos of people riding unicycles on downhill trails I usually ride on a downhill bike.
Welcome @Blueblade! I had a rush of blood to the head and decided to learn uni almost 2 years ago, at the age of 58. I’m a keen 2 wheel cyclist. My rate of progress has been quite similar to yours, I’still riding and practising regularly, and continuing to improve slowly. People differ a lot in their physical aptitude, and I’m definitely worse than average, though I’m quite fit. Even so, I haven’t stopped improving even though the rate of improvement is sometimes imperceptible. I can freemount all my unis (20", 26", 36"), hop and turn sharply. I can ride several miles, though I haven’t gone any distance on the 36" yet, I’m still getting used to it. I can’t idle or ride backwards, though it feels like idling is getting closer.
Anyway, all this history is just to say, if you stick at it (as I’m sure you will!) it will get easier over the long term, even though you may feel you’re on a plateau.
Good on you! I’ve now been riding for 3 years, I only got idling after 2.5 years. My freemounting of a 36er was never particularly good, the step up was always posing a problem for me, so recently I sold it.
I can still only idle on smaller unis, my left idling is quite ok, but my right needs more work (I have a dodgy right knee so it doesn’t help so much!)
For idling, feel which way the wheel wants to fall, and follow it. And with anything, it’s something that needs to be practiced every now and then. As a bonus, 1 footed idling isn’t so hard after learning regular idling, as long as your technique is good.
I think I’m really close to getting backwards now. It’s not something I had focused on mastering in the past, but on Sunday I did some practice (with a long railing) and after a short amount of time, it was quite ok. A little more practice and I think I might be happy to do it away from a railing. Something to master for 20 and 24" unis. Maybe I won’t learn that skill on bigger unis though.
Thanks for the tip! I have been trying to think about putting more weight in the seat because clearly I am wasting a lot of effort on inefficient pedaling, but I suspect your suggestion of instead thinking of it in terms of less pedal pressure will be a more effective way of accomplishing this.
I will definitely spend more time practicing freemounting. I figured it was less important until I could ride farther but it is annoying having to sometimes walk a long way to get back to a handhold evey time. It has also been a little intimidating on pavement, so i was trying on grass, which helps but then it is very difficult to get or stay going (the lawn isnt very smooth or level) i sometimes wonder if I should have got a muni with a brake, then i could “cheat”, keeping the wheel from moving while trying to step up on the pedals.
A brake won’t help with mounting
Mounting on a hard smooth surface is the best way to go. Grass is just too unpredictable.
I’d try on a flat surface or a slight downhill (particularly on a bigger wheel).
Ps. If you are clever, try with one foot (e.g. left foot first), then try the same using the other foot (i.e. right foot first). Freemounting with the other foot is so weird, so you might as well try when you are just learning (as opposed to when you have heaps of experience under your belt) as it’s very weird in the beginning stages no matter what you do!
Grass is a lot more accepted now… I say stay on the grass.
Learn on the tough stuff (grass, dirt, trails) and when you finally hit some pavement it’ll be a piece of cake.
Ambidexterity is definitely something to strive for.
Very good point about learning it early when no re-training from bad habits is needed.
Well good thing I didn’t waste money on one then
I thought it would, kind of like curb starts might…
When doing a jump mount, especially on a 36er I find a brake very useful. I can use my arms to pull me up as well as my legs to jump up on a 36er with no problem. I found that there was essentially no learning curve to do a jump mount on smaller or larger uni’s, just have to go for it.
Ok, well, brake won’t help on other types of mounts
Actually some riders do use a brake on other mounts.
I found that video a few years ago, it’s good to see it again. Some other videos by the same guy helped me with free mounting.
Note the magpies singing in the background. Planning their next attack on some poor unicyclist no doubt.
That’s definitely liberating! When I started to ride and falling less, frustration came from having to walk back sometimes all the way to my starting point because there was no other friendly pole/wall close by.
I tried to learn two types of mount, hoping one would click faster. It still took a while, but at least I mastered rollback mount (still my favorite) a little bit before static mount. There’s lot of advice out there, and here on the forum, but I’d say the thing that helped me most was to remember to look in the distance (in the direction you’re about to ride) as soon as the second feet hit the pedal. It’s tempting to gaze at the pedal a little too long (hey we want to make sure we’re in the right position), but it gets in the way of your balance.
@Blueblade I tried to find the video about how to static mount which helped me a lot, but I really don’t remember which one it was. The main point was to first train to step over the unicycle with the second foot without trying to hit the pedal but instead step on the ground on the other side. Instead concentrate on the movement of the saddle over the unicycle - if this makes any sense. Only when you get the feeling for this movement, start trying to hit the pedal, not the ground on the other side of the wheel.
But that’s mainly for static mounts. TBH, I still don’t manage rollback mounts very well and therefore prefer static mounts.
@UniMyra has one of the best free mount videos out there:
Thanks all for all the great suggestions! I did get to try the “less pressure on th pedals” while holding on a wall… it did make a difference, hopefully I can manage the same while actually riding.
I am going to spend time practicing freemount, on both sides (I had been sticking to the "easy"side only). The point about going over to the other side to start with I think might help. I have been tending to not commit enough and or get a bit of rotation from too much pedal pressure so just trying to rock over linearly first might help.
Unimyra’s video makes it look so easy and slow motion! For me it feels like a rush, try to get that foot on a pedal asap before i fall, usually in an awkward position then i try to correct while pedaling off if I can manage to try.
Maybe this is the problem. Don’t hurry, take the time you need, nobody is chasing you. If you do it more patient, you can focus far better on your technique than on trying not to fall off while making a careless mounting move.
You can also divide the mount in 2 sub-task that you can focus on independent from another. (Like with juggling: I always teach the kids to focus only on how to throw the ball right. When the throwing is good, catching is a piece of cake. If not, cathing will be really hard.)
Hold that foot on the pedal, push you up from the ground and practice to lift your center of gravity properly over the center of the wheel. With time, you can do this slower and slower. And then step two: placing the 2nd foot on it’s pedal, will be easier as you can focus on this movement not being in a rush and already having to deal with all the effects of the improper movements you made before.
This tip by @UniMyra is just genious! Today my freemounting on the 27.5 got instantly better, I was able to mount on steeper slopes than ever before.