Lurker comes out of hiding!

Hi all,

I’ve been reading this forum as a lurker for a couple of months, so thought it’s about time I get round to introducing myself…

I was given a unicycle by my wife last Christmas and after a slow start (well I am apparently rather old to learn at 34 according to many people’s opinions!) I have now reached the stage where I can ride around on smooth ground and even venture out onto the local off-road trails (VERY easy biking, challenging for me on the uni!) without falling off too much. I can get back on if I’m on a downward slope or with a stick/curb/stone to wedge the wheel against, but haven’t mastered freemounting on the flat yet. Did a couple of miles on a forest track yesterday (mainly smooth mud/gravel) - this was the longest ride I’ve done so far and my legs really ache now, which surprises me as I’m a keen cyclist - perhaps it’s just my poor technique!

I’ve got a couple of questions:
The seat post is at its maximum height, but is still slightly lower than I would have it on a bicycle (which could partly account for the leg ache). Should I get a longer seat post (I’ve got a “adult’s learner” 20", so it should be easy) or should I just get used to it how it is? Most of my riding will likely be off-road, and I’ve noticed that people seem to have the saddle relatively low for that anyway - am I right?
Also I’m doing a couple of things that have been refered to as “bad habits” on the forum, namely putting very little weight on the saddle and flailing my arms for balance. Will these just go away with practise or should I be doing something positive to correct them? If I try to keep my arms still I usually fall off :frowning: Tried riding up a steepish slope yesterday and felt like I needed to hold the saddle to stop myself just standing up, but I couldn’t balance with only one arm!

Anyway, sorry about the long post - I’m really starting to enjoy unicycling now I can actually get somewhere on it - will probably buy a 24 or 26" when I’m good enough to justify the expense, but for now the learner’s 20" does all I need.


Welcome to the fold

You are never to old to learn. Sounds like you are making good progress. You’ll find your legs will ache a lot whole you don’t have much weight on the saddle. Go for a ride on your bike and without sitting down and you’ll soon see. Unicycling also uses some different muscles (particularly when going down hill) so these will take a while to strengthen.

Holding the saddle when climbing is a popular technique. You’ll soon get the hang of the ballance (it is pretty hard though).

Try riding your arms folded or behind your back. This is a lot harder than it sounds but should help your reduce your arm flailing. Don’t worry too much, though. Just ride as much as you can however you like.

You might need a longer seat post by the sounds of it. A longer seatpost should help you sit down more. You will want the seat a bit lower off-road but try both.

You can do plenty on a 20" but you’ll soon find the need for more and more unicycles :slight_smile:

Yeah, it’s pretty natural to put all of your weight on you pedals when learning to uni. After i learned to ride, i always had to remind myself to put my weight on my seat. You’ll find that uniing is a lot easier and smoother with your weight on your seat, and it will be a lot easier on your leg muscles. So just keep reminding yourself while you ride - write it on your hand if you need to.

And, i think that you are wrong about people’s opinions about your age and your learning to ride. Do a search. You’ll find that many people here are much older than you, and you’ll find that the general opinion is that you are never too old to ride. I agree. Man, that’s a pretty cool wife you have to get you a uni for Christmas. I wish i had that much backing from my gf, but usually it’s just “look what you did to your legs, stop riding that thing!”

You think that you like uniing now? Wait until you get better. It’s like an addiction; the more you uni, the more you want to uni. I spend most of my day at work daydreaming about trying new tricks. Speaking of which, i better get back to work…

Long? it’s not long, see some of Mikefules posts, their long and fun, too!

If you’re still actively flailing, first try holding your arms as if you were leaning on a mantel at shoulder height, ready to flail but not actually flailing. When you get that, try to let them hang lower and lower, until they are near your sides, then try the folded or behind your back. Weight on the seat will come with practice, but work hard at it; it will help a lot, both for aches and balance.

For road (or very flat off-road) rides, set the seat post about the same as on your bike, for off-road, as much as two inches lower (when you get good, I’m still at about half an inch :astonished: ).

Welcome. This is a really fun sport. It sounds from your description that you’re riding at exactly the same level as I am. I started in March and felt that I was coming along too slowly but, I figure that each fall equals more proficiency. One day we’ll both be awsome unicyclists. I was 49 when I started and I know that there are several frequent contributors to this forum who are in their 60s. :sunglasses:

AS your in the right neck of the woods, try and come along to the South west Uni meet on October 23rd in Exeter. You can pick up all kinds of usefull hints when you ride with other people around that you just can’t get entirely on-line.

Hope you can make it in October.


Don’t let your legs wory you too much. It will get easier with practice. The better you get the less effort do you need to stay on the uni. Raising the saddle would probably help too.

Happy unlurking.

Re: Lurker comes out of hiding!

Hi Rob,

I started unicycling back in January at the tender young age of 38.:smiley: Some people have told me I should grow up, especially my dad who likes to think of me as a mature adult who would spend his weekends playing golf. :astonished: I don’t subscribe to the ‘your too old for that’ metality, if you enjoy it go for it.

My work colleague whos wife also bought him a unicycle for Christmas has a 20" adult learner like your self. I opted for a 20" Nimbus II and have found this an excellent learner machine, and far superior to the adult learner. The Kris Holm seat is more comfortable for those long rides and easier to maintain position and the tyre gives better handling.

The most import difference was my Nimbus has a longer seat post, I found setting the seat to the same ride height as my bicycle made a world of difference, even dropping it half an inch made learning harder.

I have managed to practice most days since January, usually about 30 minutes to an hour. I have been free mounting for some time and can also manage a kick up mount from time to time. It helps that I have someone else to ride with, although we are both beginners we are still able to share knowledge as we learn something new. A few weeks ago I bought a 24" Muni and feel like I’m back to basics all over again, having a larger wheel ceratinly seems to make handling a lot harder.

I recommend you buy the longer seat post and a Kris Holm saddle, also consider a new tyre. Good luck with the mounting practice.

Enjoy :slight_smile:

Ride Ride Ride.

I learned to ride in a hard 3 days. (8-10 hours a day)

I spent a month learning to idle.
I raised my seat to my normal cycling height and learned to idle the next day.

For learning unicycling having the seat up is essential.

For MUni and Trials having the seat a little lower is essential. If you are going to do off-roading then you should learn to ride with the seat low.

My suggestion is to learn freestyle skills first.

I am constantly amazed by the number of people who ride MUni and Trials who don’t know how to even idle or ride backwards.
I feel that because I have a healthy base in freestyle skills I can work my way out of almost any position in MUni and Trials.

Everything gets better with greater general competency and comfort on the unicycle. You can achieve these things by simply riding more. Almost every problem I have is solved by riding more.

Use your uni to commute. You will become very confident and try more and more new ways.

I had never touched a uni before Christmas and two months later I was riding it to school backwards through the snow while eating a banana.

Re: Lurker comes out of hiding!

On Mon, 9 Aug 2004 07:16:12 -0500, “rob.northcott” wrote:

>I’ve been reading this forum as a lurker for a couple of months, so
>thought it’s about time I get round to introducing myself…
Welcome to the forum!

>(well I am apparently rather old to learn at 34 according to many
>people’s opinions!)
Those people are not in the know! There is an age distribution chart
of the age that people on this forum learned to ride, about two-thirds
down on <>. 34 is perfectly
normal! (I wish I learned at that young age…)

>done so far and my legs really ache now, which surprises me as I’m a
>keen cyclist - perhaps it’s just my poor technique!
Yes it probably is, but it’ll get better with practice.

>Should I get a longer seat post

>Most of my riding will likely be off-road, and I’ve
>noticed that people seem to have the saddle relatively low for that
>anyway - am I right?
You’re right - but my guess is that you will be buying a dedicated
MUni in the future. Even then, your 20" should be well rideable -which
for you it only is with a longer seatpost.

>Will these just go away with practise
>or should I be doing something positive to correct them?
The flailing arms issue will largely correct itself (with practice)
although the suggestions given by others can hasten the process. For
the weight on seat issue, that is very usual when people are new to
unicycling, and it might use some conscious training to correct. Every
time you ride easily (as easily as it gets for a novice), make a
conscious effort to reduce weight on pedals. Maybe imagine there is
something fragile between your foot and the pedal. You’ll notice that
the unicycle seems to ride itself more that way, and it is much less
tiring. Soon enough you’ll do it without thinking.

>Tried riding up a steepish
>slope yesterday and felt like I needed to hold the saddle to stop myself
>just standing up, but I couldn’t balance with only one arm!
That’ll come with practice. BTW, there’s nothing wrong with standing
up when you climb a steep grade. If you have the seat low for MUni,
standing up can increase pedal power, especially if you pull on the
seat simultaneously.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

I like the idea of not having to balance when out on a ride - joe

Thanks for all your replies. I’ve just ordered a longer seat post, so I’ll let you know how I get on. The saddle can wait I think - I don’t find the standard one uncomfortable and I’ll very likely buy a better unicycle when I get more proficient, so I don’t want to throw money at the learner one if I can help it.

I’m not trying to bypass learning the basic riding skills - I’m riding off-road simply because of where I am. I’ve got no access to a nice gym floor and chickened out of learning on tarmac, so ended up on flat grass. It’s certainly much easier to ride on harder ground, which is why I’m now riding on the trails. The only other option is to ride on the road, which I consider far too dangerous with my current level of control. I do intend to learn to freemount, ride backwards, idle, etc, etc but for now I’m afraid the novelty of being able to ride forwards and actually go somewhere on the thing hasn’t yet worn off :slight_smile:

With riding backwards, is it best to learn to idle first, or should I try to set off in reverse (which I assume would be extremely difficult!)?

Sarah - thanks, I’ll try to make it to Exeter in October.

Thanks for all your tips, I’ll keep at it.


Re: Lurker comes out of hiding!

“rob.northcott” <> writes:

> With riding backwards, is it best to learn to idle first, or should I
> try to set off in reverse

You can learn either way, though the skills you learn idling will
likely make going backwards a little easier. Both skills were hard
for me to learn (I’m still wobbly going backwards). I waited until I
had a somewhat solid idle before learning backwards. That way you can
transition to “super idle” and then increase the backwards distance
gradually without fqalling off the unicycle every time. Besides
which, without a good forwards to backwards transition (which pretty
much comes with idling) backwards riding is a very limited trick.


Another lurker “coming out” :smiley:
For a newbie this all makes for fascinating reading. I’ve been teaching myself since mid July this year and can ride about 30 feet, and free mount. I’m 44 and see this as a much better mid life crisis than a stupid MG soft top!
So far (see other thread) I’m learning without armour on fairly flat grass (too chicken to try tarmac). Judging by the one set of decent scabs on on shin though, looks like I’ll at least need shinpads before I get much further.
On another matter, how comes I keep getting sent to the German language site when I log in? :thinking:

Hi Steve,

Sounds like you may have picked things up a bit faster than I did… unless that was three weeks of intensive practice :slight_smile:

My practice was pretty fragmented over the winter (pretty grim weather up here on the moors :() and I had time taken up by cycling (sorry, too many wheels) and a twisted back, so I’m not really sure how many hours I actually put in. I started along a wall , then went out onto flat grass a few weeks ago and found that I could actually ride forwards quite well - perhaps I should have moved away from the wall earlier.

Quite right - Triumphs are far superior :wink: Sorry, one of my other passions, won’t waffle on about that here.

I did the same, but when I had the guts to ride on harder ground it was amazing how much easier it became.

I bought some wrist/elbow/knee pads when I started venturing onto hard stuff, and occasionally wear my bike helmet if it’s rough. No injuries yet though, apart from aching legs (uniing seems to use some secret muscles that cycling doesn’t know about :thinking: ).


Yep, pretty intensive practice (school hols are of course the great perk of teaching! )

No horrible weather but I’ve sweated like I’ve never sweated before after a couple of hours in the sun falling off trying to freemount!

I’m looking forward to having the guts to go out on the tarmac, and just so the kids at school can’t just think “sad old bloke” when I show them what I can do, I’d like to be able to hop at least.

Finally, as a former owner of several Heralds and member of the TSSC you can see where my bias lies… :wink:

That’s almost spooky - have a look at my website in my member profile :slight_smile:

Anyway, enough of that… must get on with some work :frowning: