Newbie - What to work on next?

I’m about 4 hours in and have become hooked. I love the challenge and want to keep getting better. I’ve ridden past 20 meters a few times, ~50 meters once but often don’t make it past 3 feet. Hopefully my next time out I’ll improve my consistency.

Ideally I’d like to get to the point where I can practice on my road and free mount. Do you think it’s too early to start practice free-mounting? I figure if it’s raining, I could at least practice in my garage. Also, I no longer feel I need a fence, but still need a long, wide flat space. Any tips for practicing in a smaller space (like on my road)?

First off, congratulations on getting started! That’s the hardest part.

Learning to free mount is something newbies obsess over–I sure did!–that really won’t be a big deal after you’ve ridden for a few months. The challenge is less about knowing what to do and more about having the riding skill and control of the unicycle to pull it off, especially to be able ride away from mount attempts that are less than perfect, as most of them will be. There’s little harm in starting to try now but it might not be all that useful. But who ever said unicycles were useful?

What size wheel does your unicycle have? If you don’t have one with a 19" or 20" wheel, thinking about getting one. They’re bad for riding distances but great for practicing in small spaces, because they move such small distances.

But for where you say you are now, riding ~50 meters at best, it’s hard to recommend anything above more of what you’re doing: riding a straight line with some safe space to wander off to either side, getting used to balancing and controlling your direction. And if you aren’t already, start to think about keeping as much weight on the saddle as you can.

Never to early! I learned how to free mount as I learned to ride… on thick carpet during an IJA festival. : P By the time I hopped outside on the concrete I was good to go.

A few freemounting tips:
Rollback mounts: step on the pedal, and jump upwards, not forwards to bring the wheel under you, after the pedal gets to the bottom of the pedal stroke, let up on the foot you mounted with so that you continue to roll back a bit. When done correctly you’ll pull the wheel back just to the point where your body weight is just in front of the wheel.

Static mounts: Jump forward and up, probably more than you need to, and keep your knee bent. It nearly feels like a step down rather than up, and you’re going to have to be careful not to put too much pressure on the foot you mount with. There’s no trick here, just jump to where your weight is in front of the wheel.

Usually people will start with one of the two. There are some good videos out there if you poke around youtube.

If you have a tight space, I would recommend practicing towards an idle. This will help with rollback mounts, and later, riding backwards too. You just find a wall, pedal at least one full rotation forward (1 1/2 ish) and one full rotation backward. Focus on feeling where your weight is in relationship to the wheel, and note the shift between backwards and forwards. Perfect that transition from forward to back and back to forward, and try to recover before changing direction. Sometimes that will take more than one pedal. Just like an elevator, note that you’re accelerating in the opposite direction of travel for a transition in direction, so to go from forward to backward riding, you put your weight behind the wheel (lean back), and vice versa for backward to forward.

Yay! One more! Congrats on your accomplishments thus far! If you’ve done any research, you probably know that even one 50 meter ride at 4 hours is fantastic.

I’m only about 3 months into unicycling and am having the best time. I learn something every single time get on my unicycle. You are going to get lots of advice, and you should try everything you read and then figure out what works best for you. I decided early on that I would focus first on learning to ride and wait to learn to freemount after I felt comfortable riding. So, I was probably 5 weeks into riding before I actually tried my first freemount. I started on a 26" which I am glad for, but I recently got a used 20" which has shot me into a new level of skill building. So, I agree that if you don’t have a 19"or 20," that would be a good idea. Beyond that, just get comfortable being on your uni. If I could go back and start with a smaller unicycle, I would learn to idle pretty early on (the 26 was hard on my knees)… it seems to be a gateway skill for me, and is making everything else kind of fall into place.

If you don’t have safety gear, get it. You’ll be braver, and less sore when you do fall, which you will.

Have a blast!

Thanks for the replies. I originally bought a cheap 24" but after becoming more interested and reading here I bought a Sun 20". The 20" seems drastically easier.

I went back out today and road the length of the incline hockey rink a few times and consistently got better at not having “duds”. I was focusing on keeping the pedals going consistently. One things is I tend to drift left while riding. I was able to turn a bit but not well at all.

I’ll just plan on keeping up with consistency unless it’s raining and I can only practice in my garage. It will be nice to free mount though and be able to practice at a lot more places.

Once you get interested in becoming airborne or one-footed tricks, you will start wishing you had spent the extra money on a better unicycle, but for now, your Sun and your first uni will be good enough for lots of learning, and hopefully won’t require too many replacement parts. Later, they will be good for teaching and/or lending out to friends.

The rollback mount, which I guess you are working on, leads pretty naturally to idling…

There are so many aspects to becoming a competent rider. Don’t try too hard or too long at any one thing or you will kill the fun which is the most important factor in learning.

Static free mounting is related to still standing. Both are related to disengaging directional control from forward progression and balance. A vast number of subtleties are involved. Achieving a near still stand while riding is one of the most useful factors to overcome and correct difficult orientations.

Pretty much everything is related to getting the feel of transferring your weight between the pedals and the saddle when the cranks are in every possible orientation while the uni is traversing every angle of terrain. As you progress you will begin to understand how to use those weight transfers to disengage your body’s momentum from the position and momentum of the unicycle.

Beginners use their arms to balance a lot. Proper control is in the hips. Work on this by riding an imaginary slalom. This will teach you to use your hips for balance and steering. Keep your body upright and tilt the uni then bring it back up with your hips. Eventually you will learn to lean you body into turns too but this takes considerable skill because it can be very hard to pull out of the lean.

Each time you ride, meditate on a particular aspect of the feedback. Focus on and experiment with where your weight is. Contemplate the angle of your ankles and see what happens when you vary them. Check that your knees are not wobbling side to side. Be aware of the forces between the saddle and the inside of your thigh. There is a lot of complexity in there.

Most of the useful stuff will develop automatically as you ride and encounter varying terrain and surfaces without specifically practising a particular skill. Just keep taking on more difficult surfaces and gradients that are right at your current limits.

Yeah, I figured starting off basic would be fine (I did the same with mountain bikes and I think it makes sense). I have tons of hobbies so I probably won’t ever get good enough to do one foot tricks and go airbone. I just want to get good enough to cruise around to keep up with my kids on their bikes.

Thanks for the tip with the rollback mount.

Awesome, thank you. Each time I’ve gone out I’ve focused on a couple things. Seems to help quite a bit. My last session, I moved up in the saddle, worked on being more upright, and trying to overcorrect a left drift. Next time out I’ll focus on hips for balance and steering

Unless your kids are quite small, and their bikes are the little sidewalk kind, that will be harder than you think. Bikes are inherently faster than unicycles. To keep up, you may have to graduate to a bigger wheel size (29/32/36). Those sizes are faster/more like bicycle speed.

But for now, just keep doing what you’re doing. One step at a time!

cheers!