I have recently (2 days ago) started trying to ride, I have a 20" Unicycle. In those 2 days I have accomplished… being able to mount with some assistance of a wall, and have managed 2 full revolutions on the pedals before falling off.
I have been doing some searching and reading of articles on the forum and on other sites regarding starting to ride, mounting techniques, and basics for balance etc.
I’ve found that there seems to be 2 ways to initially mount the Uni and I’ve chosen 1 for now, that being starting with the pedal on my dominant side at the 7/8 o’clock, stepping up putting some pressure on the pedal and allowing the Uni to move back catching the left pedal and initially pushing back to end up with the pedals horizontal, and my right leading to start. It has worked quite well for now and can manage a decent mount most of the times (with assistance of course). My question on mounting is, is this a good option for mounting ? I have watched a few videos on the net of some people mounting using the other method described, where the Uni stays in the same position and the body moves over it, and if right is my dominant I would end up with my left leading to start with.
Then onto the actual cycling… Articles I have read talk of putting most of your weight onto the saddle. This seems almost impossible, but did manage it (well it felt like it anyway) a few times to actually get those 2 full revolutions in. However most of the time I could hardly get just over half a revolution, usually when my weight would shift from my right leg to my left moving over the vertical position things would go pear-shaped and I would fall off.
In all of this I am mounting, getting some sort of balance and just going for it, not relying on anything to balance myself or hold onto. Unfortunately the area where I am practicing dictates this. I had another area where I did have some balance assistance, but the ground was very uneven all over the place making it very difficult to even idle.
I know this is one of those practice practice practice things (being a juggler I have heard and said that many many times). What I would like to know however is, what should I not be doing to avoid those bad habits that always creep in when you learn something by yourself ? I have quite a few bad habits with my juggling, which I find hard to break because I taught myself and have been doing them for a few years now. Also am I following a good practice routine of just going for it, or should I be trying to get some help (balance assistance) ?
the mount you describe sounds like the roll back mount. I’ve used this for all my unicycles exept my 36". So I would say it’s absolutely fine.
As for bad habbits…
I learned on my own and wouldn’t say I developed bad habbits. I would say that unicycling is unicycling, if you’re doing it ‘wrong’ then you wont be able to unicycle. As soon as you’re doing it ‘right’ (after loads of practice) then you’ll be able to unicycle.
the ‘going for it’ method is one of the tried and tested methods for learning.
Putting your weight on the saddle is difficult at first, especially if you’ve been doing much bicycling. But … practice, practice, practice. Be pateint with yourself and believe that you will be able to do it eventually, because you will. But it takes time - different people take different amounts of time to learn. It took me 6 weeks of practicing at least half an hour every day and twice a week more than that.
So, practice and presevere. You will get there if you want to.
Having your weight on the saddle is absoloutely essential, you won’t get anywhere without mastering this. Make sure your seat is high enough, setting it high forces you to keep your weight on the saddle. Try sitting on the uni stationary holding on to a wall or whatever and relax your legs so that they’re very light on the pedals, get used to the feeling that you are sitting on the seat, and your feet are just resting on the pedals, like if you were sitting on a chair with your feet resting on the floor.
It’s worth going a ways to find somewhere with a long wall with good pavement. Don’t worry about free mounting until you can ride. Pedal along, using the wall for balance. This gets you used to the one rule of uni that is so different then bikes. No coasting ! Once you get the constant pedal part down, it is pretty easy to pedal away from the wall and balance by steering to the side you are falling to, like on a bike.
I wouldn’t worry about form or bad habits. Everyone starts out weaving all around while waving their arms like a nut. Why should you be different !
That mount is fine; that’s how I learned to mount, and now, I even mount my 36" that way, albeit with a walking start.
As for sitting on the seat, this is vital. Put this mental image in your head.
Imagine a pillar. Maybe a gothic pillar or whatever. A stone pillar. Now imagine that there is a large heavy ball on top of the pillar, but not attached to it. You …are that ball. You can’t bolt yourself to the pillar obviously, so the only way you can stay on is by keeping the pillar under you. If you lift the ball, the pillar can shift, and you won’t be able to tell where the pillar is, and that adds a lot more complication to the whole thing. Your feet are just to spin the wheel, and you don’t need to put your weight on them to do that.
The bottom of the pillar has a wheel on it. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to keep the ball resting soundly on top of the pillar. I do believe this is like… plate balancing, I think. Coming up off the seat is like bouncing the plate off of the stick, so that you have to catch it again.
Unicycling; Yes, unicycling is a bad, bad habit. It consumes you and makes you spend all your time practicing rather than spending it with your family. It makes you spend your time at work perusing this forum and hoping the boss doesn’t catch you. It makes you spend your savings on unicycles and unicycle gear.
Seriously though, welcome to the forum and good luck learning.
When learning I found the other mount to be more successful. This is where you step onto the uni and pedal forwards straight away (i’m sure you can find a better description). The rollback mount you described is still fine though and now I can ride I actually find it a lot more convienient. Either way keep practising and have fun.
Some things that helped me learn to free mount was to just go to a wide open area with nothing to hold on to. The only “bad” habbit that I developed was that I would kind of lean to the right and twist my body just a bit. As I rode more that habit worked out as I got better at riding.
For some help with the actual riding portion of unicycling, just keep your weight in the center of the seat, right on top of the seat post. oh and look ahead of your self not at the ground or the pedals.
Good luck I hope you learn to ride. Keep coming back to the forums too there is a lot of people here who will help you with any issue you may run into. Lastly, a friend of mine and I have a saying about the way you improve while unicycling, spontaneous improvement. What that means is one day you will ride poorly and the next you will have the best day of you life, just keep riding. Ask most of the people here they will agree.
Cheers !!! Thanks for all the advice and replies. I will definitely keep it all in mind. I have been trying to focus forwards when cycling, but the weight in the saddle is still not there (close though, I think) and I ususally end up walking/cycling off the Uni. But yesterdays attempts were better than the day before, and as long as there is some progress even if it is only half a turn on the pedals I’m happy
for me, the whole weight-on-the-seat thing is completely psychological.
in the beginning, i was thinking about it as if by putting my weight on the seat, i would actually be putting my centre of gravity higher, making myself less stable. almost as if, in my mind, putting weight on the seat would be the same as physically standing on the seat. but when i think about it, obviously the centre of gravity of the me+unicycle system doesn’t change much at all with this tiny adjustment of where my weight is. the only thing changing is that i’m not putting unnecessary force against my control surface.
putting your weight on your pedals is like playing the piano while doing a handstand.
so, i would tend to think “but if i put more weight on the seat, the wheel will shoot out from under me and i’ll fall off”. well, this is would be completely true were it not for the pedals. fortunately there are pedals to control the forward/backward motion of the wheel and keep it under me.