I joined this site in hopes of getting some connections and resources to justify keeping a unicycle I bought online while drinking a while back.
I have a 24" Torker. After months of practice, I have gotten up to about 50 yards on level terrian, can turn, can free mount (when I first get on), and have learned how to safely dismount.
I have become frustrated to the point that I have even stopped trying for the following reasons-
-I cannot figure out how to build my endurance. It is muscle fatigue and not cardiopulmonary issues that stop me. This muscle fatigue stops me from being able to free mount after I have started riding. I have to find something to brace on like a tree or my truck.
-I cannot handle going up/ down hills or over speedbumps. Because of this, I am unable to simply walk out of my apartment and just ride. I actually have to put my unicycle in my car to go somewhere else and ride.
-I have nobody to ride with. I met a firefighter a couple of years ago who was riding near my apartment. Other than a chance meeting, I have not been able to find anybody who I could get up with.
In looking at my deficits/issues I am pondering how to address them. Does anybody have any suggestions for motivation, drills, ways to meet other unicyclists in the community?
Thanks for any feedback. I hope to find some good connections here as I grow.
Welcome to the forum, Maynard! To address your issues, one at a time:
Fatigue: Most beginners complain about EXACTLY this. I had the same issue when I started. Your fatigue results from “beginner’s inefficiency”. Your muscles, particularly your leg muscles, are engaged in an isometric tug-of-war with one another. This is totally NORMAL. If you’re going 50 yards, free-mounting and turning, that is GREAT. Keep up the good work. The efficiency will come with practice.
Hills/Speed-bumps. For the short term, you may need to take your unicycle somewhere else to ride, but I encourage you to work in the direction of being able to ride in your own neighborhood (I have no idea about the magnitude of the hills where you live). Having to get in your car to ride uni…could be a motivation killer, and getting back in your car after a sweaty workout can be kind of nasty. If you can ride in your own neighborhood, chances are you will ride MORE OFTEN. Keep practicing, and the hill climbing/descending will come. Eventually, you will have enough balance to grab the front seat handle, then you will really start climbing serious hills. As you progress, the force you apply to the pedals will become more evenly distributed around the 360 degrees of the pedal motion, which will also help in climbing and control.
Nobody to ride with. That’s rough! I think part of the reason this forum exists…is because most unicyclists are in your same situation. Unicycling has been a pretty solitary activity for me. I tried to get a couple of my friends into it…unsuccessfully. Just imagine that all the members of the forum, who all want you to succeed, are riding with you, in spirit.
Motivation/drills. When I was in the stage of the learning process it sounds like you’re in currently, in each practice session, I showed no progress over the previous day…until about 30 minutes into the workout. Try to get over this practice hump. Give yourself an hour to practice. Experiment with the seat-post height and tire pressure. Keep up the progress with self-mounting. You might experiment with a tire-grab mount: it worked great for me, but some people don’t like it. A jump mount is exciting, more psychologically than physically difficult, and good to practice on soft grass with safety gear. Use crutches (walls/fences/poles/etc.) to practice range-of-motion exercises, but avoid riding next to them and using them as intermittent handles; falling into an object is more dangerous than UPDing out in the open.
It sounds like you’re on the threshold of being able to ride long-distance without dismount. This is a very exciting time. Best wishes for success!
My motivation is that I need regular exercise to stay healthy. I use to jog almost daily but after doing it for years I got bored with it. Unicycling was a good way to switch things up. Until recently I usually had to drive to a trail to ride more than a mile or so. For me this was ok because these places have beautiful scenary. I’ve finally gotten more confident in my skills and can ride our narrow neighborhood streets. This means more hill riding. It’s really amazing what you can do if you’re persistent.
I’d say keep working on the distance skills. You must get your weight into the saddle. For me it was a natural progression so I’m not sure how one goes about learning how to put weight in the saddle. Perhaps you’re not relaxed enough. Once you’ve got this down, hills and speed bumps will be easier to navigate.
Longer cranks (150mm) make hills easier. For speed bumps keep your speed up and ride confidently.
For more motivation, I joined both the strava.com unicycle teams called uniTE and uniTE-1. They’re virtual unicycle clubs with riders from all over the world. It’s helped me keep track of my progress and I’ve gotten encouragement from other riders.
Don’t feel bad about assisted mounting. I can free mount when I need to do so but often hold on to something if available so that my feet are properly situated.
Hi, Maynard! It sounds like your progress is pretty typical. I remember my morale sinking a bit around that point too, when it became clear just how long a process it was. But it keeps getting better. Good advice above. Everything you’ve mentioned gets gets taken care of with time and practice, except for not having any local unicycling buddies. That’s how it is for most of us, and we treasure our online virtual riding partners because of that.
The infamous burning quads! As Gilby says, getting weight on the seat is the fix. But it won’t be an instant fix. It takes time and practice to get used to riding without most of your weight on your feet, because we all learned how to ride like that first.
I found downhills more intimidating than uphills, still do to a degree. Unicycles are tremendous for going up hills once you get the hang of it, although bumps that kill momentum during a climb (esp. tree roots on dirt trails) can be a challenge. If you have hills near home, ride 'em until you own 'em! I remember doing hill repeats at the bottom of the block until my legs were so tired that I had trouble even curb mounting. I got to where I barely noticed that hill–until I got a 36" Coker, and now I’m back to practicing again.
Sucks, don’t it? Get used to it or find a new hobby, I’m afraid. On the bright side, go for a ride in a park or anywhere public and someone will always want to talk to you about it, if Spartanburg is anything like Greensboro.
Thank you all for the warm welcome and suggestions. Part of my
Motivation was fitness leading up to and recovering from a total hip replacement. Surprisingly, my surgeon was more on board with unicycle than with jogging!
It is good to know that I am not alone in my struggles and it is also good to know I have online riding partners!! I will try and put more weight in the saddle, face some hills, and keep on going.
I had to chuckle a little bit at your introduction. Guy gets drunk, gets online, and buys a unicycle. I suppose it could be a lot worse. That’s one for the “What got you started” thread.
What length are your cranks? If they’re anything less than 150mm, then I recommend getting some 150s to put on it. That will increase your leverage on the cranks and it won’t wipe you out so quickly. It will make a noticeable difference.
When hitting a speed bump, try letting the wheel get in front you a little bit right before you hit it. Then as the wheel instantly slows down, your weight behind it will help push it up and over and your momentum will put you upright again.
As far as building endurance, all I can say is keep at it. It’ll come eventually. I feel like I’m in the same boat as you right now. I’ve been riding for 30 years now and I still have the same 24" uni I always had. When I was high school age, I could ride the thing as far and as long as I wanted to. Then I moved out to a place where I could no longer ride out the driveway and go somewhere, and I pretty well quit riding my uni and bikes too. I’d get on once or twice a year and go down the driveway and that was about it. I still live in such an area and have to take the thing somewhere to ride it, but since last summer I’ve gotten more motivated to get myself back into some semblance of the shape I used to be in. Last summer I didn’t get to ride as much as I wanted, but I’m trying again this summer. I got a 29" for Christmas but due to winter and some surgery, I was only able to get on it for the first time yesterday afternoon. Oh good golly wally. I couldn’t even make it around a city block without stopping to rest. It drained me so fast I didn’t even have time to start sweating. Today my legs are so sore. How frustrating. I’ll be out there trying to build up my endurance the same as you are.
Nobody to ride with stinks, but it’s about the way it is. Just think of me next time you’re out there getting tired.