Newbie near Seattle

Hi! I’m Michelle. I’m a late comer to riding unicycles, but I’ve decided to give it a shot as it looks fun, and obviously offers great exercise! I’ve never done anything before that required serious balancing, like skateboarding, or skiing. The closest I’ve come is riding a bike or a scooter (as in 125 to 500 cc scooter similar to Vespa), and that (the scooter riding) is something I didn’t even start until I was 47. I did that on my own as well. :slight_smile:

So far so good though. Each time the unicycle seems slightly easier to “ride”–even though I’m still holding on to a wall or a grocery cart at this point. I have an idea that it is going to be a fairly long process for me, but I’m prepared to enjoy the journey!

I ordered and am wearing elbow pads, and have ordered knee/shin pads as well. I think when the knee/shin pads arrive, I might feel more comfortable in trying to let go and see if I can do a few revolutions on my own!

Any other new riders around my age in the Seattle or South King County area of Washington state? =)

I’m so happy to have found your forum, and to see that there are indeed others my age just learning to ride!

Hi, Michelle - just stick with it and enjoy the process and you will get there!

Welcome to the forum and to unicycling, Michelle7728!

A couple suggestions:

Spinningwoman, who replied above, started a thread called Another beginner - Devon U.K.. Perseverance has been the #1 important factor in Spinningwoman’s success. Slow and steady wins the race.

You didn’t mention wrist guards. IMHO these are the most important piece of safety gear.

Search the forum for threads containing the word “beginner”. Lots of good material.

Hello Michelle

Welcome to the forum!

I’ve been riding my 29er around North Seattle for a couple of years and I’m about your age. What got you interested learning to ride a unicycle? I’ve been fortunate to met a few other female riders my age via travel opportunities but never ran across others in the Seattle area.

I’ve been to SAURs a few times. Not sure how active the group is these days. The main organizer role changed hands recently. Most unicyclists that show up for the Wednesday meetings work on street or trials skills. I’ve usually been the oldest rider when I show up ;). I think there was a group of old timers that got together for rides years ago but I don’t think they’re active these days. Although, Harper does get folks together once a year in August to ride the John Wayne trail near Snoqualmie.

Did you know that NAUCC will be in Snoqualmie this summer? Tons of unicyclists will be in town for that event.

How long have you been at it? Keep at it. It seems impossible at first but just takes persistence.

Newbie near Seattle

Thanks Spinning Woman!

elpueblounido: Is there a brand of wrist guard you recommend? I’m all about protection. :slight_smile:

JM: I really appreciate the tip about the meet-up groups, I’ll definitely check them out once I can “Stay afloat.” :smiley:

Newbie near Seattle

Hi Vertigo!

I literally started just a week or so ago. So far the rain, dark, and no protective padding have kept me from practicing as much as I’d like (though I have enjoyed what little time I’ve spent at it), .but as of today I now have my elbow pads, and my knee/shin pads, so I’m looking forward to getting out there more!

So far as what got me interested, I’ve always thought it would be fun to be able to do it. Surfing CraigsList a week or so ago, I found a used Sun Flat Top 20" at Play it Again Sports, and I thought it was time to give it an honest try!

I’m actually in the Renton area, and wouldn’t be able to do anything in Seattle during the week (due to my long work commute to Bothell), but on the weekends it would be fun to get out and ride…once I CAN ride, that is! Hopefully we can meet and ride together some day. :slight_smile:

I will make it a goal of mine to be able to ride good enough to be at that August Snoqualmie ride!, and hopefully by then, I’ll be on a bigger uni as well.

My first try, I could barely get in the saddle, and stay there, even hanging on to a fence with both hands. This last time I was able to easily get in the saddle, and go 10 feet or so along the fence, turn around and come back. It was noticably easier than last time…of course, I’m still using the fence quite a bit, but feeling much better about things.

For now, I try to focus on looking straight ahead, sitting up straight, and keeping my weight mainly on the seat.

I’m looking forward to all of the tips I can learn from the experienced riders on this site!

I bought some plastic skateboard wrist protectors at first but hated them - then splashed out a bit more on Kris Holm fingerless gloves with wrist protection, which I love and wear willingly.

There are many brands of wrist protectors. I cannot vouch for one brand over another. They all fall apart, eventually. They all have a long piece of plastic running through them, conforming to the underside of the wrist. Some have a second piece of plastic, for the top of the wrist, which may be overkill for unicyclists, but still works.

Gloves: As a beginner, I tended to grab wildly for the seat as it fell. Also, my first reliable mount was the tire grab. Full-fingered gloves came in handy for both these techniques. IMO, don’t try to save the uni as it falls, just let it hit the ground. You can injure your fingers that way. I used work gloves, the type sold at hardware stores. I owned a pair of Kris Holm gloves, and they tore apart within a matter of a couple weeks. They’ve probably improved in the last 2-3 years.

It’s been so wet lately compared to last year. I’m always watching radar to figure out when the slightest break in the weather will be. When I get stir crazy and it’s still raining I practice idling in my garage or at a near by grade school. There are a couple of schools up here that have covered outdoor spaces.

This forum is a great place to get advice and encouragement. You’ll come across all sorts of advice. Eventually you’ll get it all sorted out. You’ve made a wise first step in getting protective gear. I didn’t until I had been riding for a month or so. While you might not get hurt it’s still possible. I started with knee pads and recently started wearing wrist guards after taking a fall that I couldn’t run out. Before that incident I didn’t like wearing them. Mine are very basic and came in a set of pads for skating. They’ve got a metal bar on the palm which makes it a little more difficult to hold onto a wall or other object. I’ve been looking into better ones but haven’t found my ideal ones yet. I’m a bit worried about the Kris Holm ones because they don’t have palm protection. I always wear gloves and got a pair at the bike shop with full fingers and a bit of padding. I’m able to put the wrist guards over these gloves.

Wow you’ve got a long commute. I can see how it would be difficult to make it to Gasworks on a weeknight. I’m lucky. I take my unicycle on the bus to work and then ride it home. I suppose that’s why I don’t make it to Gasworks much. I’d rather be riding on bike trails than jumping around … although I do have 20" trials unicycle. If you ever want to try another type of unicycle let me know.

I’d be happy to help out if you need any pointers. You can always send me a private message through this website and we could arrange a place to meet. I’m also a member of SAURs. If there are people interested in getting together for a ride or just a session on learning to ride, I have the ability to list an event on the meetup group.

Good luck dodging the rain today!


Newbie near Seattle

Thanks again for all the replies and advice–much appreciated!

I picked up a new bike helmet today, since my old one had padding that was disintegrating. :astonished:

I will definitely check out the wrist guards, and maybe I can save a bit of money if I can find some that fit over one of my scooter gloves…all hobbies involve some start up cost, don’t they? :slight_smile:

I will definitely take you up on that at some point Melinda–waiting for a nice, not too cold day!

I’ve had good luck with “Triple Eight Saver Series Wristsavers” from Amazon so far fwiw, and have worn them over gloves.

True enough! Unicycling really isn’t that bad compared to some other things.

Glad to hear that! I ordered some (one size larger than I thought I needed) last night and was hoping they would fit over my gloves. :slight_smile:

Hi Michelle,
Welcome to the forum and unicycling. Great choice for fun and exercise. It’s a pretty addictive sport/hobby/etc, so I hope you’ve saved your nickels. :slight_smile:

I started back a little over a year ago after not riding for a long time. There’s a lot more out there now than there ever was before for unicyclists. We’ve got social media, local groups, and tons and tons of different unicycles available. When I started riding in the mid-80’s I never thought it would turn into this. This is a great time to be a unicyclist! Enjoy!

Hi Bradford,

So far, even though I can’t ride without frequently grabbing the fence still, I’m having fun with it. I’ll probably not be able to practice as much as I’d like due to us now being in the cold season, and it being dark when I get home. Hopefully we’ll have a bunch of above 45 or 50 degree weekend days!

My plan is to continue to ride next to a fence until I really don’t need it any more. I have wrist, elbow, knee/shin guards, as well as a helmet, but I’m still scared of falling, so I just can’t make myself try to ride away from the wall yet (I did try twice today, but couldn’t force myself to do any more, so kept to the fence). I guess I’m worried I’ll somehow fall and break my tailbone, which doesn’t have padding!..I wonder if that is a pretty uncommon happening for beginners (actually breaking their tailbone)…?

Ugh…I know as we get older, fear of falling is more prevalent, but I’m going to soldier on…even if the fence is what I need as my crutch until I feel much more comfortable.

At least I can mount pretty easily now, both using left foot first or right. I’m also going to try to practice going backwards a bit more each time.

I guess I had a pretty successful work out today, as not only were my legs and arms tired (I know, the arms shouldn’t be getting tired when you actually are riding…but if you frequently grab… :slight_smile: ), but my butt hurt, so I guess that means I have been putting more weight on the seat.

I kept talking to myself saying: “Sit up straight! look at that car, or tree a block away! KEEP PEDALING, put more of your weight in the seat!”

If the lack of padding on your butt is inhibiting, you could do what I do and get a pair of roller-derby shorts to wear under your jeans! In retrospect, I think the important thing if you are using a wall/fence is that you find a long enough one that you can build up to letting go for longer and longer stretches as your balance improves. I still can’t unicycle on my patio at home - it is short enough that from the start my brain is saying ‘hey, whoa, watch out for that wall, watch out for the steps…’. Once you get to the stage where you are flying alongside the wall for 6 pedals or so without touching it, coming away from it won’t seem such a big deal. I found it worked well at that stage for me to pedal along the wall until I felt poised, then veer away.

That’s what I was thinking too last time I practiced. Unfortunately the area I was practicing at is only accessible to me on the weekends…in fact seems like all parking lots around here are in use during the week as well…and I live on a hill…and it’s getting darned cold out, and dark before I get home. :frowning:

However, I’ll just persevere and practice when I get the opportunity, even if it’s just the odd weekend! It won’t happen fast, but as they say “slow and steady wins the race.”

Back to your suggestion, I was thinking of going back and forth along it until I’m not really touching it any more, then I’ll “leave the nest” and try to fly! :smiley:

I also just started last year in October and finally “got it” after about 70 hrs of daily hour sessions. Sometimes 2x a day. Whoever said 10-15 hrs?
Of course, there were injuries and frustration. My 24" uni got tossed pretty high in the air.

Hope you are still sticking with it. Don’t let weather conditions beat you. Find underground garages, commercial buildings, anything with cover. Practice/practice/practice.

What helped me most was all the research and videos watching other people. Try this try that. Somethings to think about. Feeling of falling forward, stomping/pumping/twisting the unicycle, pinching your thighs to hold seat straight, knock your knees inwards, crouching forwards(yes you can look at the ground), using elbows/shoulder/hip twisting. setting the seat low so your legs can do the balance vs (advance) upper body lean control, pedaling and resisting with opposite foot.

I’m starting to get much better/efficient and those early learning methods are starting to fade, but I hope to help others trying to get over the “seeming futility” to finally do the impossible!! keep on.

Newbie near Seattle

Thanks slamdance!

Wow, that’s an impressive amount of stick-to-it-ness!

I have not given up on the idea of learning, but yes cold weather is a show stopper. I figure if I’m too tensed up because of the cold, I won’t be able to relax and enjoy the learning process…or be very effective at balancing.

I like the idea of underground parking garages for when it’s just raining outside, and I have been on the look out for them…actually I might have just found one. We’ll see. :slight_smile:

Meantime, I’ve started back in on my Waterrower, so at least I will have some leg muscles for when the weather warms back up!

Whereabouts do you live, and do you mind my asking your age? Ignore that last bit if you’d like…i’m just curious if you’re my age or older. I am so impressed that there is such a range of ages among unicyclists…especially beginning ones!

Anyhow, thanks for sharing your story and words of encouragement. I have not given up…just putting the idea on hold for a little warmer weather. Once I know how to ride, the cold won’t be such a factor for me.

Starting Uni at 50’s

Yes, I guess I’m following in the footsteps of the unigeezer(Terry Peterson). He started at 50. Got hooked and excelled. He lives in the perfect location at the beach 30 miles from me.

I’m in my early 50’s and I still run and workout with weights(injuring myself 75% of the time, but continuously shuffling/re-engineering my workouts). I used to go on vacation and windsurf annually, but I’ve missed a few consecutive years. This led me to finding a good cross training activity. Balance boards and such. Then I eventually thought why not a unicycle.

I like the thought of doing something that is impossible and extremely hard. Something not just anybody can pick up and do. Maybe being a product of the 80’s generation of being different/rebellious but “must conform” in the working world is a factor?

Anyways, I sympathize with you on feeling bottled up with no place to ride. Just sitting on the unicycle in a door way gives you some practice. I was trying to learn how to “jump mount” so I tied the wheels of my spare(junk) unicycle with some rope to prevent moving. You can do that also to practice balancing without fear of it slipping out under you and breaking your big screen tv. Keep on

Good luck to both of you! I agree with slamdance on all of that. I never gave a single thought to unicycles before 50 but it’s been great, even during the struggles of the first months when I wanted so much to be able to just get on the thing and ride around the neighborhood until I felt like stopping. Now I can do that, and far beyond the neighborhood if I want, but no other unicycle challenge has been quite the same adventure as initially learning to ride.

I’m pretty convinced that the important learning is done by muscles and nerve fibers, and all the thinking and talking we do about it mostly keeps our brains occupied while our bodies are doing the important business. So keep at it. There’s no substitute for time in the saddle. :slight_smile: