I am getting SO FRUSTRATED at my lack of progress. After my breakthrough I haven’t managed to get further than 4 pedal pushes, closer to 3 when I’m at home on the paving. What bugs me most about the paving thing is that, when I borrow a shoulder, I get the whole length smoothly and in a fairly straight line. When I go solo I’m lucky to get up to three pedal pushes and veer off to the left. I’m also noticing a nasty tendency to roll to my pedalling side. I KNOW this is nothing to do with my seat being too high as this is not a problem when I ride with assistance.
After reading other posts about progress problems I have lowered my seat just about as far as it will go without changing the seatpost. This has helped with the rolling, but I think I need to find a way to switch my brain off before I go riding. I have moments when it feels right. I am balanced, pedalling is smooth and easy, and most of my weight is on the seat. Then my brain kicks in and starts yelling “This is impossible” and tells my body to jump off. Right now I feel like I am never going to get this right. If only progress was linear, but what I can get right one day often seems impossible the next.
I have decided that I can’t take this ANYMORE! Tomorrow there will be no jumping off. I will ride until I hit the paving. I am wrapped up in protective stuff and shouldn’t get too badly hurt. I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED BY SOMETHING WITH ONLY ONE WHEEL!
How fast do you go? I know lots of people in our club who learn (on 20" unis) who go too slow when they’ve almost but not quite got it sorted. I’m just thinking that on a coker it might be very easy to go to slow, because a natural riding speed would feel very fast.
Just a thought.
I had a very similar problem. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the “buggs Bunny and Roadrunner” cartoons, but the classic pattern is that Wiley E. Coyote devises an elaborate trap to catch the RoadRunner (a kind of bird common in the USA’s southwestern deserts), his plan fails completely and he is the one who gets whacked. At least half the time he chases the roadrunner off a cliff and tries to run in mid-air. He does well, too, until he notices that he is in mid air. Then his grin fades, he flashes a little sign that says “Help?” or something, and drops like a stone. So in USA slang your endurance problems are called “Wiley E. Coyote Moments” or “WEC moments” for short.
What is happening is that you haven’t yet figured out how to balance laterally. With a shoulder or a perfectly vertical position you do fine, because you’ve mastered the longitudinal balance problem. The lateral problem is just as hard and takes just as long, and like the longitudinal problem, once you solve it you’re not quite sure how you did it so it’s very hard to teach.
What you’ve got to do is to:
have your back straight and your arms way out to the side,
detect the impending lateral fall (lets say it’s to the left),
gracefully start your arms and shoulders swinging to the left,
when your right pedal is just coming over the top simultaneously a) swing your arms and shoulders hard to the right, b) snap your hips and the unicycle to the left (into the fall), and c) stomp hard on the right pedal, then
relax and feel the contact patch roll back under you.
Repeat from (1) as necessary
The whole game at this point is to keep the unicycle wheel - in particular, the contact patch - directly between you and the center of the earth. Learning to turn is automatic after you’ve mastered this basic skill.
At this point you’ve got 0 and 1 sussed, and are pissed off enough to grit your way through 2. That’s great! Now the hard part is learning the windup (3) and the turn (4). If you watch great unicyclists you’ll see them doing this faster than you can think about it, which is your problem at the moment. They’ve got it hardwired in their systems and probably don’t even know what they are doing. You still need to think about it.
I won’t lie to you and say you’ll get it the first session. I didn’t, and I was on a smaller wheel. Hardwiring those reflexes takes time.
Cokers are notoriously resistant to the hip-snap turn I’ve described, but they also move much faster so not as much of a turn is needed. On the 20", at 2 to 4 mph I sometimes need to turn the wheel 30 or 45 degrees to get the tire patch back under me. On the Coker at 8 to 12 mph I only need 5 to 10 degree corrections. The body moves have the same amplitude but on the Coker I can relax and take my time, so other than the scary speed I find the Coker easier to ride.
PS: If you happened to be carrying a little sign that says “Help?” and flashed it when you were about to fall that would be VERY funny…
4) when your right pedal is just coming over the top simultaneously a) swing your arms and shoulders hard to the right, b) snap your hips and the unicycle to the left (into the fall), and c) stomp hard on the right pedal, then
Yes. I tried to describe this before for you. When I got to the point you are at now, I figured that I would “force” myself to fall. To do that, I would TURN sharply to the left, and then turn sharply to the right for each stroke.
Press down hard on the right foot, and throw the LEFT knee across to the right.
Answer by pushing the left foot down HARD, and throw the right knee to the left.
IT will cause you to zigzag violently, but it will keep you up. From there, it is just a matter of smoothing it out. And, you will see yourself do it again in the future when trying to climb steep hills (so it isn’t something you won’t use later).
I like your attitude. DON’T let one wheel beat you. I can totally relate to your feelings of frustration. I’m now approaching the 40 hour mark and still can’t ride at a level 1 (on a 20" wheel) but I am starting to post some 30 - 40 meter rides with some regularity. One thing that helped me get some small breakthroughs when I felt like I wasn’t progessing very well (indeed at times I felt like I was losing ground) was to mix things up a bit. I had this comfort zone where I was always starting w/ my right foot back and clinging to the fence with my right hand and just not making progress. I decided to start w/ my left foot and cling to the fence with my left hand. I felt VERY uncomfortable for a couple of hours but then I suddenly noticed a real improvement in ride distance and directional control. Every time you try something different whether you succeed or fall, your body (and brain) learns something more about what to do and what not to do. I think it’s all about time in the saddle, the more the better. Good luck.
Having just got back from riding my Coker and paying close attention to what I was doing as I mounted, I believe the lack of speed may be part of your problem. I noticed that if I don’t get a sudden burst to get the Coker rolling past that 3rd or 4th revolution, I tend to lose all momentum and have to dismount. Since you are going to be practicing “safe Cokering”, try to acelerate a litle harder. Once that big whell develops a little momentum, it is a WHOLE LOT easier to keep it going straight. Good luck and don’t let it beat you:D
The exagerated zig-zag you describe is useful when you don’t know what else to do, but on a Coker it’s a bit different. It doesn’t really respond like a 20" or 24" wheel. You CAN get it to snap back and forth in a zig-zag but the amplitude of the turns are too shallow to really correct much.
When I look back at the trail of my smaller unicycles when I zig-zag the lateral moves are at least 30-40 and are spaced about a meter or two apart. On the Coker the same frantic zig-zaging results in wobbles about 10-20 cm wide but spaced about three meters apart.
If Jayne is lucky she’ll get it right every now and then and make a single lateral correction before she UPDs. Eventually she’ll get two in a row, then three, and from there it’s not long before her legs and back are wired up properly and she’s doing effortless laps around the parking lot.
Jayne, in my very limited experience, riding the Coker is a graceful, swooping process. If you are wearing your armor the crashes aren’t bad, so all you have to do is get past step 2 so you can put in some time on steps 3 and 4.
Don’t try for speed yet - you’ve got plenty as long as the pedals are going around. Trying to “go faster” is good advice for a 20" where you have to pedal frantically to even reach walking speed. That big wheel is your friend - hip-twist it into the fall, keep pedaling and it will take care of you.
I know it feels like speed metal, but imagine that the Coker is singing an old Gene Vincent song to you. Bizzare? Yes, but it might help.
Kenny’s right about the first couple of revs being the hardest. You DO have to get the wheel rolling to ride it.
What I was tryin to say was that 40-60 RPM is about right for a newbie learning to Coker. That’s about 2-3 meters per second, or 7-11 kph. It’s easy to run out of a fall at that speed and your brain can’t go much faster anyway. Leave the 160 rpm speed demons runs for later
Elvis’s version of Be Bop a Lula is real slow, around 50 beats per minute, so it’s ideal for getting the pace right. (Disclamer - I’m not much of a musician so I don’t really know how fast the Elvis tune is. It just feels right for Cokering slow.)
Jayne, your brain needs something to distract it, so my recommendation to mentally sing an Elvis tune while riding is real. The worst thing you can do at this point is to let your brain concentrate on your lower-body reflexes. It just screws them up.
Hey I was riding my coker today too, it’s pretty fun, definately different than a 20 inch. I have trouble sometimes keeping a smooth pedaling motion, kinda find myself wanting to stop, but definately going smooth is better.
Sometimes i’ve been able to stop myself from falling when I thought I was gonna, it’s harder to catch yourself cause you gotta do whatever you need to do with more force than you would need on a 20 incher.
I had a quick look at the replies this morning (long enough to have Be-Bop-A-Lula going round in my head ALL day) but have only gotten round to replying now. There are far too many things to quote, but I’ll try to cover just about anything.
I spent my formative years in SA, not in a hole in the ground. I have certainly heard of Wiley E Coyote and the Roadrunner. Would it be as funny if I yelled “Beep-Beep” as I was about to fall? It might be easier to manage than the glowing sign.
I live in a city. All the nice, smooth, grassy fields are locked up and cared for by people who wouldn’t like somebody on a coker riding over their carefully tended sportsfield. Easily accessible grassy fields are usually rough and bumpy or with a SERIOUS slope down to a lake.
I did try the whole arm swinging, knee throwing, hip snapping thing (now called ASKTHST for short) when it was first suggested. All it did was make me fall off. I tried it again tonight and it still makes me fall off, just backwards.
I tried singing Be-Bop-A-Lula at the top of my voice while riding today. I also tried to do the whole ASKTHST as mentioned above. They do really help to take one’s mind off the whole falling thing. I did gradually start to feel more comfortable, and I seem to be getting the whole arm swinging in direction of fall thing down pat. When you thing about it it’s actually quite instinctive to throw your arms in the direction of your fall, as if you are expecting some support on that side (eg a wall) it is natural to bring your arms into a position where they can break your fall. The knee throwing is sort of coming. It IS something I have sort of been doing all along as it is SOMETIMES possible for me to “pause” myself on the coker by bracing my knee against the frame.
Well, that brings me up to 13 hours in the saddle. I keep reassuring myself that I still have 7 hours to learn within the “standard” 10-20 hours.
What I can’t get over is just how tired I am. I feel like I’m back at the beginning and starting to learn all over again. Am I just a big fat unfit lump or is this common?
Yes. Try stretching before and after the ride and at night before sleep.
Later, you will look for ways to use less effort, but it doesn’t matter yet.
Also, try breathing while you ride. I noticed that I still lose my breath
more than anyone else I ride with - that is because I hold my breath
when I am doing something difficult. Hopefully that bad habit will work
itself out, but I am making an effort to breathe.
OK- this is an important question - is that “yes, this is common” or “yes, Jayne, you are a big fat unfit lump” or “yes, this is common, and yes, Jayne you are a big fat unfit lump”. The distinction is quite important, don’t you think?
BTW, singing while riding has a dual purpose - it keeps your brain distracted and it reminds you to breathe.
Um yes this is common. You’ll be very inefficient at first, you are working your own legs against one another. Essentially isometric exercise. Your legs are tiring each other out. It will be a long time, years, though, before you are really really efficient.
It’s a good way to get “Quads of Steel” whatever they look like now
Keep at it, it has taken me months, but I am finally getting it and if I
can, you can. I am middle aged, over weight and a slow learner. Just do not
give up and it will come.
“Jayne ZA” <Jayne.ZA@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote in
> I am getting SO FRUSTRATED at my lack of progress. After my
> breakthrough I haven’t managed to get further than 4 pedal pushes,
> closer to 3 when I’m at home on the paving. What bugs me most about the
> paving thing is that, when I borrow a shoulder, I get the whole length
> smoothly and in a fairly straight line. When I go solo I’m lucky to get
> up to three pedal pushes and veer off to the left. I’m also noticing a
> nasty tendency to roll to my pedalling side. I KNOW this is nothing to
> do with my seat being too high as this is not a problem when I ride with
> After reading other posts about progress problems I have lowered my seat
> just about as far as it will go without changing the seatpost. This has
> helped with the rolling, but I think I need to find a way to switch my
> brain off before I go riding. I have moments when it feels right. I am
> balanced, pedalling is smooth and easy, and most of my weight is on the
> seat. Then my brain kicks in and starts yelling “This is impossible”
> and tells my body to jump off. Right now I feel like I am never going
> to get this right. If only progress was linear, but what I can get
> right one day often seems impossible the next.
> I have decided that I can’t take this ANYMORE! Tomorrow there will be
> no jumping off. I will ride until I hit the paving. I am wrapped up in
> protective stuff and shouldn’t get too badly hurt. I WILL NOT BE
> DEFEATED BY SOMETHING WITH ONLY ONE WHEEL!
> Jayne ZA - Learning to ride on a Coker
> Being a statistician means never having to say you’re certain
> Jayne ZA’s Profile: http://www.unicyclist.com/profile/4878
> View this thread: http://www.unicyclist.com/thread/32361
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Kenny, I know that. This is one of those instances where bigger isn’t always better . It still doesn’t stop me feeling like I’m going nowhere. The length of the carport (about 3 pedal pushes on the coker) just doesn’t do it for me.
Tim, post a video of yourself doing that, please. Then I promise to post a video of myself in my tight blue jeans rolling out the door once I get that right on the coker. Just be prepared for a LONG wait.