McNerd's McProgress, or lack thereof

McNerd here. I’ve been fairly silent over the last week or so… but i’ve gotten in about 3.5 practice hours. According to Klaas’ calculations, that’s about 1/3 of the way “learnt.” Only an estimate i know, but i seem to be at a temporary plateau in my learning. I’ve read dudewithasock’s learning-journal and i seem to lack one thing he (And others, mind you) clearly has - the ability to know what the h*ll it is i’m doing. When i screw up, i don’t know why. when i do well, i don’t know why. I know the rules:
back straight - but not too straight.
weight on the seat, not the pedals.
lean forward a bit.
pedal like crazy.
flail your arms.

I’m getting mixed results when i adjust my seat up/down etc so i’m going to set it where i think it needs to be and leave it there a while. I am comfortable on the uni, stationary, and i’d say 75% comfortable while i’m moving. When i UPD, it’s lack of smoothitude half the time. That is… i get stuck in a dead zone. But WHY ??? The other half of the time, i don’t know why at ALL.

The one thing i do know right now is that i am far too reliant on the damn fence i’m practicing alongside. I’ve tried doing it the curb way, just mounting up while the wheel is held stationary, and then riding off with no support… But I’ve gotten nowhere without that fence. 0 pedals, 0 inches, 0 feet. I tell myself to just push off and go, but doing that, i get to the first dead zone and UPD. i know i know weight on the seat. ok now i’m going to stop complaining and get to the real reason for this post.

Video. I’ve got a few videos on my google webspace especially for anyone who would like to critique a newbie such as myself.


This one is 2.5 mb, about 3 min. I believe my seat is slightly too low. I UPD at about 2:08 and 3:25.


This one is about 1mb, and about 1 min. Seat at same height as last flick, and UPD at about 0:05 and 0:39.


again, 1mb, 1 min. UPD @ 0:25 and 0:43. Seat was raised this time, to where i’ve THOUGHT would be an optimal level, however i think these 2 UPDs are both “dead zone” UPDs, and therefore i could have the seat too high ?

Anyhoo, i KNOW i suck. but WHY is my concern. I have no sense of control yet, and that is why i’m so frustrated right now. I’ve randomly gotten a few strokes in where i felt in control, but that’s only happened a handful of times. And it’s never been right off the bat. It’s always been after a couple jerky-haphazard-fence-assisted feet that i push off a bit and it works out. But mostly it doesn’t, as these videos will show. The 4 minutes or so in these videos was extracted from about 10-15 minutes of riding.

I need to chill out about this, i know. I WANT this to happen. but i get so frustrated while i’m practicing, because without the support of a fence or something else i can’t do ANYTHING. So i have a couple of ideas for future practice… add to this list if you please.

SOBER PRACTICE: What i’ve been doing with the fence, only about an hour a day, not getting frustrated, because more progress will be seen this way.
DRUNK PRACTICE: Use little, if any support and let ya drunk self roll.
HOME PRACTICE: Squats, and the on-the-spot-pendulum-idle-thing.

I also can’t get it out of my head that it’d be so much easier on a 20… grr.

Anyway, please, feel free to verbally flog me to no end. It’s what i need. :slight_smile:

The “dead zone” problem is just a matter of practice. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.

One thing that helped me was that we have a bridge near the house with a bikeway across it, and that bikeway has a smooth handrail, maybe 200 yards long. So I could go ride there and have a long unbroken ride while holding on to the handrail. That let me smooth out my pedaling a lot. Before that, I was riding up and down the hall, and I could only go 10 or 15 feet there, so it tended to be jerky.

You mention adjusting your seat. Pick whatever seems right, and leave it there. It’s probably better to have it in a less-than-optimal position than to keep changing it.

I would say in all of this, don’t overanalyze it. Ultimately, you aren’t fast enough to work a unicycle by conscious decisions and a part of learning is just getting your brain and body to do the right things unconsciously.

Stop thinking and let your body do the work. It’s the same when it comes to doing almost all tricks. Keep your seat at the same level until you are comfortable to ride. Find a slightly sloping hill and ride down it and let yourself go.

Hope these tips help. Don’t get discouraged either. If you are getting frustrated, call it a day.

Your seat is too low even in the third video. If you like it there, leave it there.

More importantly, get away from the fence…NOW. From now on use it ONLY to mount. That fence is a prison holding you back from riding. Free yourself.

Frustrated? But your doing great! I learned to ride when I was young and I don’t remember those problems, but recently when I learned to idle, it took all summer of practice, seemed impossible before I got it. Eventually it clicks, you will tame that beast.

Yeah, some folks learn faster, I met a 12 year old unicyclist this summer who didn’t know how to idle, but did it with his second try. Like I said it took me all summer to get that.

A thought, perhaps it would help to wear leg, wrist and head protection, so you can be fearless.

Best of luck, were rooting for ya!

From reading your descriptions of your riding I thought the video would look alot worse than it does! I don’t think you are doing badly at all. I agree that the fence is the biggest problem. I would suggest starting from a point where you have a solid object to hold on to but where there is nothing to hold on to after that. The curb start forces you to learn some mounting and riding at the same time, harder I think, not to mention that there is usually a rough spot where the gutter meets the road.

One other thing I noticed is that the fence seems to keep you from moving forward as quickly as you will need to go without the fence. Not that you have to go very fast, but the fence keeps you from getting any forward momentum. When you start practicing without the fence you will probably have to focus on leaning just a touch further forward to get moving. Set a little marker at the point of your longest ride, then focus on getting past that point. That way your mind is on where you are going and not on where you are now.

You know you’re going to get it. You’ve obviously got the necessary stubbornness.:wink:


I began learning this summer (24" Muni). The biggest progress I made was when I left my support behind.

Lets face it you have to do it at some point so why not now! At first I was going maybe 5-10 feet, but in a short time was making 35’-50’ rides - It felt good.

There is no magic “knowing where you are going wrong” it is all about muscle memory and letting the body learn - you will start “feeling it” when you get it right.

Without wanting to sound like a cliche - it does boil down to practice, practice, practice.

The beginning is a challenge and a little tedious but when the epiphany comes it feels great and you will not look back!

I still have a LOT to learn (finesse being at the top :o)

Good luck



I’ve found a new spot to practice, until that epiphany comes. I know it will come, but when is my concern. I should be 1/2 way there by now, and all i can say is that i’m comfortable when stationary, and holding a support. Hah. I left my support behind tonight, and not ONCE did i get past the dead zone. EVERY time… i’m looking 10ft ahead, i’ve got my arms flailing as i see fit, i’ve got my back straight… weight on the seat… every time… i lean in, go 3/4 revolution, and down i go. i was calm and whatnot too.
I’m gonna be done now… It’s just the booze talkin. I did about an hour of practice, then i remembered sescathiwanmanorsomethinglikethat-nick’s advice about the booze and i got a couple of mike’s and downed them and did another hour’s worth… nothing. i guess i’m just a little sad, to find out i’ve actually made less progress than i thought originally. I’m not going to complain like this on a nightly basis anymore… I need to shut up and practice. So ! Till by Saturday evening, I’m going to do 8 hours practice. I will likely not post till then, and therefore i will not bitch/complain, nor will i share any good news, till saturday.