New one-footed skill file

Here’s the latest version of the one-foot riding skill file. I’ve added Paul
Makepeace’s version into the existing one, combined them using the skillful help
of the other authors, and here is the result. Thanks to all of the authors for
putting this together. This, and the other skill files are available on the
Unicycling Home page.


                          RIDE WITH ONE FOOT

People afraid to lift their foot off a pedal while riding forward and people
who also want to learn to go to and from a one footed idle as well should try
the first method first. All others should use the second method.

Method #1

Going from one-footed idling to one-footed riding.
1. Perform the one-footed idle, rocking back and forth, foot on frame and
body more or less steady. This is all usual stuff. Try to feel an even
pressure on the pedaling foot, smoothly rocking back and forth. Aim for
balance and control with the bottom foot rather than using the other
foot and your backside. As usual keep your back straight and eyes
looking forward (and slightly down). Try to make your pedaling
controlled, with the uni going the same amount underneath you on both
sides rather than using all your force at the ends of the stroke.
2. Once you’ve got this bit down (note how your idling’s now a lot better
and professional looking), you can move on to the next bit.
3. Rather than keeping your body in one place, move back and forth with
the unicycle. Try to minimize the uni seat tube angle changes
throughout the stroke. You’ll need to do this gradually, but the
feeling is that you’re moving forwards and backwards with the uni. When
this starts to get good, you’ll realize that you need way less pressure
to reverse the direction and there’s much less need to pump at either
end of the stroke.
4. Once the seat angle’s staying upright mostly (you don’t need someone
telling you this, you’ll just feel it. It has to move a bit at either
end, but that doesn’t matter, just make sure you feel like you and the
uni are moving together), then try to extend the length of the stroke,
way beyond 180 degrees. This needs some practise, and you’ll be amazed
how much better your balance gets since you have to essentially remain
on the spot just sitting there while the uni changes direction.
Eventually you’ll reach the point where you hover around the top of the
pedal stroke hardly being able to apply any pressure. This is hard, but
it’s worth aiming for. Spend some time on this as it feels good having
so much control :).
5. Having sorted this out, you’re basically there. When you’re feeling
brave give the uni a slight extra kick - don’t do anything else
different, like lean forward, just do exactly what you were doing before
but with a little extra kick. With all the control you now have, you can
feel it ease past the top and on to the next pedal stroke. Keep the
control and feeling of moving with the uni and going back into the idle
will be easy. Alternatively, rather than going back into the idle (which
I think is slightly harder!) keep going, giving a tiny extra pump each
time round, and leaning ever so slightly forward. You’ll find yourself
crouching forward to keep it going sometimes. Don’t worry, but aim
eventually for a straight back.

Method #2

Going from a two-footed ride to a one-footed ride
6. Ride normally on a flat surface. Keep your weight on the seat and
sit upright.
7. As you ride, keep the non dominant foot on the pedal as lightly as
possible. Try to do all of the work with the dominant foot.
8. Practice lifting the non dominant foot as it goes over the top of the
pedal stroke and putting it back on.
9. Remove your foot of preference from the pedal and place it on the top of
your fork.
10. Ride along, pushing the pedal down hard enough to give you momentum for
the uptake.
11. When you are ready to stop, take your foot off of the fork and put it on
the pedal while the pedal is on its way up.

Notes and Hints


12. If you follow the instructions then you go into one foot riding from a
    position of control.
13. Method one is cumulative, in that sections can be learnt one at a
    time, and definite progress comes bit by bit, building up to
    completing the trick. It also makes other tricks more solid. Your
    idling will be much better.
14. Yet another benefit of this method I (Paul) think is that going
    backwards on one foot won't be too hard. I found myself doing it (not
    reliably - I didn't have time to work on this too much) in pretty much
    the same way as going forward: bit extra and letting it go past the top,
    keeping myself as though nothing too much extra was happening
    (psychology: if you think you're doing something wild and difficult,
    you'll expect to wipe out and you will. Pretend you're doing something
    ordinary and believe you can do it.)

15. You have to be able to idle one-footed first.
16. Even if you can idle one-footed, you have to work to get the momentum
    right to make it over the top.
17. You may find it scary to go over the top with the pedal while you are
    awkwardly perched on top of the unicycle.


18. You can learn faster this way.
19. You don't need to know the one-footed idle.
20. You have as much momentum as you want to get you started.

21. Lots of falls at riding speed.
22. You have to learn to do a quick motion with your non-pedaling foot,
    getting it placed on the fork in a split second.
23. You may find it scary taking a foot off of the pedal at riding speed.

While you’re at it, keep track of how you are landing when you fall. If you
are not landing on your feet, you may be doing something wrong. When learning
the basic skills, such as one foot, you also have to concentrate on safe

If you tend to fall to one side, your body is leaning to that side, your
posture may not be right or the unicycle itself may be misaligned.

Later you may wish to learn to ride with your foot off of the fork. While you
are first learning to ride one-footed, though, putting your foot on the fork
will give you extra leverage to control the unicycle.

No matter how you do the transition to riding, there is a distinct
advantage in learning to idle with one foot prior to attempting one foot
riding from either riding or a one foot idle. One learns to accelerate and
decelerate one footed while learning one footed idling. Knowing when to
accelerate and decelerate to maintain forward-backward is the key to
learning to ride one footed.

Once you learn to ride one-footed, you can work on some links:
* Riding one-footed and going back to two. Do this repeatedly, switching
feet, eventually turning it into a frenzied feet shuffling exercise
that’ll probably look like paddling.
* Also try moving forward (slowly) by idling one foot and then half a
stroke forward, and idle on the other. Aim to have only one foot on the
uni at once (hard!). This may be a progression trick to coasting.
* One foot in and out of glides, switching feet from wheel to pedal, and
from one side to the other. Eg one-footed, frame foot goes on to wheel
(pedaled glide) followed quickly by moving the foot on pedal on to frame
(normal glide), and then the wheel foot goes on to the other pedal,
one-footed again on the other side. Sl-i-ck. You could even stick in a
quick coast by putting the wheel foot on the frame, and then the old
frame foot on the wheel (switching glide side).
* From what I (Paul) have seen, unicyclists don’t spend enough time on
links, just tricks (I’m certainly guilty of this). BMX freestyle is all
about links. There are gods that came down to Earth and are doing three
minute routines out of linked tricks. Bear in mind that a trick takes
typically no longer than a few seconds to complete. Scary. Tricks are
impressive but linked tricks blow minds.


Beirne Konarski <> John Foss <> Dennis
Kathrens <> Ken Fuchs <> Peter
Philip <> Paul Makepeace < >

Last modified: Tue Mar 7 20:54:50 EST 1995

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