Newbie in Washington state

Hello from Washington~ :slight_smile:

I’ve been really interested in unicycling for years now. Bought one of those cheap-y bright yellow and green ones off Amazon probably 4 or 5 years ago (I think it’s 20" or 18"?), but I’ve never had a decent place to practice, so really didn’t progress much.

About a year and a half ago, I took a series of classes at SANCA (I think on a 20"?) and managed to get to a point where I could stay upright for about the full length of the (gym-sized) room on my own, and also while holding hands with other students. I still can’t mount without holding onto a railing though, and my neighborhood doesn’t have very nicely smooth sidewalks or streets (though the alleyways get less use, so the pavement there might not be too bad if I could get ON the unicycle somewhere along the way) and no conveniently placed fences/railings/posts.

I’m dying to get back to practicing, but need to scout out some sort of place to practice where I won’t be on grass and bumps or trespassing or something…I’m not sure if public parking lots or garages are ok? Kinda worried about being chased off by security if I tried to practice in one of those…I don’t know if schools let anything on their tracks aside from runners? The nearest park to me only has a playground and an unpaved walking path with stairs, so not ideal…the alleyway might be my best bet in the beginning here.

By now my Amazon unicycle is in pretty bad shape (WA is damp, and it rusted pretty badly), so I was thinking about upgrading to something else to kind of motivate the practicing…My end goal is to be able to commute to work (2-3 miles each way, with one HUGE hill involved), so I’d think something along the lines of 26" - 29" might be a good fit? I’m 5’ 4.5" tall, with a fairly tall inseam for my height. I’m not sure if making such a big wheel size change is a good or bad idea at this point in my learning though? Definitely open to suggestions! :smiley:

Also wondering if anyone knows if unicycles are treated like pedestrians or like bicycles/vehicles in WA state? I managed to track down a unicycling group near me (the One Wheelers), but they meet on the same day and at the same time as my swim club, so I haven’t been able to drop by…

I’d really like to get to a point where I can get on easily without a railing, and ride a couple miles on not-super-smooth roads without too many spills. Any advice/input would be greatly appreciated! XD


Hello from Seattle!

Just got back from a road ride. I might be crazy but I ride in the street, on sidewalks and mix use trails (like BGT). Never had any issues with police and I’ve ridden past quite a few in the past two years. One even stopped to let me cross the street. I’m just careful not to blow past stop signs when they’re around. I believe I saw a bicyclist get a ticket for doing that.

Do you have any elementary schools with black tops nearby? That’s where I started. To learn free mounting I went to my closest high school and practiced on the running track which has a rubber surface. Luckily the end zone area had hurdles that I could set next to me when/if I need a little bit of help getting through the mount. Nobody said anything except the janitor who got interested in watching my progress. I made sure I kept out of everyone’s way.

Was Nick your instructor at SANCA? I took a class with him at Seattle Central College a couple of years ago.

Do you have any mix use trails around there like the Burke-Gilman trail up here? Once I could free mount I found a quiet section on the BGT to build up distance. Perhaps there’s one like that near you.

Welcome to the forum, Eldurwen!

I’m in the Greater Dallas area in Texas, and for public places, I always follow the idea that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. I’m not familiar with the culture there, but around here, unicyclists are treated very well for the most part. If you go somewhere they’re not allowed, the worst than can likely happen is that you’ll be asked to leave. In three decades, I’ve never been asked to leave anywhere. Just make sure you practice in a place that’s safe for you and others. Drivers get worse here, seemingly exponentially every day, so I try to limit my street riding, so use your best judgement in your area.

Ideally, you want a pretty flat, level concrete (or similar) surface to practice on. Grass and dirt may be easier to fall on, but I think it’s harder to learn on (although some do).

There’s quite of lot of previous threads on this site that deal with learning to ride, and the search function in the upper right hand corner of the page is a good place to find them. I also find that the majority of Google searches return results that point to discussions here, and there’s all kinds of things on Youtube that might help.

But as always, there’s really no substitute for just getting out there any trying it. Even if you’re doing it “wrong”, if you persist long enough, you’ll eventually find a way. A lot of people seem to get hung up on the “right” way to learn this. While there do seem to be methods that are generally more successful for most people, I think whatever works best for you is the right way. I also think that the more you can do on your own, the better rider you’ll be in the end, and the more you will “own” it.

I know you mentioned that your current unicycle is pretty beat up, but I think it’s a great size to learn on, and it’s paid for. I know you want to get motivated by a new purchase (it’s always fun to get a new uni!), but I’d learn on the size you have now before going to a bigger wheel, unless money isn’t a factor, in which case, by all means, get a shiny new 20", learn on it, and then consider if you need a larger wheel for commuting.

While it’s not a big deal to go 2-3 miles on a 20", you’d probably get better results, less saddle soreness, and fatigue with a larger wheel like a 26" or a 29". UDC has a pretty good price on their trainer 29", or you could go for a more expensive one. You could also go ahead and buy that and learn on it. A guy in my local club taught himself to ride on that very unicycle, but I personally think your best bet is to stick with what you have until you’re comfortable mounting and riding it, and then consider a bigger wheel.

One thing that does come up often is that a 26" wheel is convenient to buy tires for since that’s an incredibly popular size for bicycles. There’s tons of those size tires (and tubes) available, and you may also find more competitive prices. This is useful is you’d like to have the option to switch between different tires for different terrain on the same unicycle. Of course, it’s always best to have as many unicycles as you can, but if you’re trying to be cost effective, this might be a good choice, and 26" would be fine for a 2-3 mile commute.

There are also some 32" wheels available, and the 36" Nightfox might fit your inseam, and while they would get you there faster, those are a bit much for a beginner, and they are not cheap. Plus, you’re only going a few miles. I recently tested out the 29" trainer they’re selling on UDC, and I found it very easy to ride and freemount, and I think it’s a great value. For distances like your ride to work, presumably on mostly flat, level ground, I think it’s a good balance between a larger, faster wheel and easier control.

Good luck with it, and I look forward to hearing about your progress!