Off-Road seat height?

All,

I’ve been riding off-road at lunch the last 3 days, and it’s tough. I huff and puff quite a bit but the worst part is my back. Normally, my back never bothers me, especially since I unicycle a lot. However, I have a terrible rollback mount that, on rough places outdoors, really kills my back because I over compensate and avoid falling while mounting by lifting up funny and over-using my back to stay balanced while I move forward.

So, I use trees to mount. It saves my back and energy level.

My real issue is about seat height.

When my seat is higher, I use my back a little lesss (a little) but I fall off a lot more, because I cant seem to really “hunker down” on the cycle and pedal through irregularities. I fall a LOT.

When my seat is low, I fall a lot less, often never (except on the mount I have trouble), but my back hurts a lot more.

I love downhill sections, but the flats and the ups I’m just struggling through.

I generally ride 20 minutes, and walk 20. Sigh. It is all just my back, I can even run along the last 20 minutes holding my unicycle; but riding more than 20 minutes is killing me.

Weirdly, as soon as I hit the pavement again (we have to ride over some pavement for a quarter mile when we come out, because we come out in a different place than the grassy area we go in), I feel great and my back doesn’t bother me. So, I think I’m tensing up too much. It is really weird.

I have only been back into the off-road stuff for a few days so maybe I will sort out how to pedal and steer a little better. I think a lot of it is poor technique, or nervousness.

Tips?

Lewis

Re: Off-Road seat height?

Animation,

I have been riding MUni for about a month and I too have suffered from
an aching back (lower back in my case), as well as UPD’s (grumble,
grumble). A couple of things that have helped me are:

  1. I have my saddle slightly lower when I MUni as compared to street
    riding, but not very much. Mostly I do this so I can practice hopping.

  2. Frequency. The more often I ride off-road the less I have back pain.
    Presumably I’m developing some muscles that aren’t otherwise used.

  3. After about 10-15 minutes of riding, I stop and stretch a bit- mostly
    I just bend down and touch my toes a couple of times.

  4. Relax. Tensing up is detrimental in any physical activity. I try to
    get into what my daughter calls a, “Zen Moment”. I tend to hear music in
    my head and let my legs ride with the tempo, but do what ever it takes
    for you to relax.

  5. Terrain variations. My back pain is less of an issue when I ride on
    bumpy, twisty, turny terrain. I think it’s from being distracted?

  6. Regarding UPD: Just this weekend I realized my UPD frequency has
    decreased noticeably, so I monitored what I was doing to figure out how
    to further improve upon it. What I noticed was that I tend to stand up
    on my pedals and off the saddle when going over very rough terrain. I
    link to the saddle with my hand when I do this. I think it allows my
    knees, ankles and arm to absorb the shock of the terrain rather than
    bucking me up and down in the saddle which causes a UPD. I don’t
    completely stand up, just a little bit.

These are just my own observations…

Cheers,

Jason

Animation wrote:
>
> All,
>
> I’ve been riding off-road at lunch the last 3 days, and it’s tough. I
> huff and puff quite a bit but the worst part is my back. Normally, my
> back never bothers me, especially since I unicycle a lot. However, I
> have a terrible rollback mount that, on rough places outdoors, really
> kills my back because I over compensate and avoid falling while mounting
> by lifting up funny and over-using my back to stay balanced while I move
> forward.
>
> So, I use trees to mount. It saves my back and energy level.
>
> My real issue is about seat height.
>
> When my seat is higher, I use my back a little lesss (a little) but I
> fall off a lot more, because I cant seem to really “hunker down” on the
> cycle and pedal through irregularities. I fall a LOT.
>
> When my seat is low, I fall a lot less, often never (except on the mount
> I have trouble), but my back hurts a lot more.
>
> I love downhill sections, but the flats and the ups I’m just struggling
> through.
>
> I generally ride 20 minutes, and walk 20. Sigh. It is all just my back,
> I can even run along the last 20 minutes holding my unicycle; but riding
> more than 20 minutes is killing me.
>
> Weirdly, as soon as I hit the pavement again (we have to ride over some
> pavement for a quarter mile when we come out, because we come out in a
> different place than the grassy area we go in), I feel great and my back
> doesn’t bother me. So, I think I’m tensing up too much. It is really
> weird.
>
> I have only been back into the off-road stuff for a few days so maybe I
> will sort out how to pedal and steer a little better. I think a lot of
> it is poor technique, or nervousness.
>
> Tips?
>
> Lewis
>
> –
> Animation - I unicycle in Mississippi too.
>
> Lewis W Beard
> lewis@lwb.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Animation’s Profile: http://www.unicyclist.com/profile/615
> View this thread: http://www.unicyclist.com/thread/20504

I’ll second most of that, and I’ve been doing Muni since it was called UMX, although it’s only recently that I’ve got into it as a semi-serious activity.

Seat height: same as for a bicycle, then drop it half an inch or so. The correct height for a bicycle seat is: sit squarely on the seat, put the pedal at the lowest point of travel, put your HEEL on the pedal (in flat soled shoes). Your leg should be straight but the knee should not be locked. Now, when you move the ball of your foot onto the pedal, the leg has a slight bend in it at the bottom of the pedal travel.

For Muni, or any unicycling involving idling, reversing, sudden stops and the like, a slightly lower seat gives you better control on the back stroke of the pedal.

TOO LOW and your legs get all tangled with your chin.

As for ‘hunkering down’… what’s that all about? When you get to an obstacle or patch of rough ground over which you can’t ride smoothly, stand up on the pedals. Hold the seat if it helps.

I find the most rewarding and least exhausting practice sessions involve a few yards of undulating ground or path before each short but difficult obstacle or patch. Too much adversity all in one row (half a mile of ploughed field…) will wear you out physically and mentally. Build yourself up gradually and it will come. If you took up weight lifting tomorrow, you wouldn’t start with the heaviest weights you could find.

Remember, you’re doing it for fun. :0)

P.S., for my money, roll back mounts are for looking cool, not for using off road. Try a static mount with the cranks somewhere around horizontal, maybe the nearer one a bit lower. A bit of a shove, even a push, might help. Roll backs on rough groundare difficult and can go wrong when the wheel hits a hup or hollow.

Jason and Mikefule,

Thanks for the advice. I will try all of that next time out.

Jason,

As for getting into Zen moments, I do quite a bit actually, but it happens all the time on street, even dropping off things and riding over rought broken sidewalks and such. Off-road, I get it about 10% of the time … almost always when I’m doing downhill stuff, and never at any other time. :slight_smile: Also, my back hurts MORE on tumbled terrain, not less.

Mikefule,

I “hunker down” meaning I slink a little lower and put more weight on the seat, so that I can dig into what I’m doing, be it going over something or around something. I know I’m supposed to (as Jason said) slightly come off the seat.

As for the rollback mount, it is the ONLY freemount I have. I’m not doing it to look cool. I have managed a forward mount on a wheel with a large mass (my 29") but even then only barely. Anything smaller and my back foot pushed down on the pedal and the unicycle shoots out from under me. A heavier wheel lets me have more time to get my forward foot working. My legs just dont seem to be flexible and I havent yet been able to leap up to the forward pedal without putting significant force on the back pedal. I once or twice got it, but only by jerking closed my right (down/back) foot, dramatically forcing my weight off the right pedal as I leaped up. Even then I twisted to the side and it cramped my right leg all the time.

I dedicate maybe 30 minutes a week each week to trying to get the “proper” forward mount, but I havent seen much improvement … none actually. I’m just going to keep trying. I may start practicing just hopping up onto the seat with NONE of my peet on the pedals, in order to get used to not putting pressure on either foot. Then I may try adding them at the apex of my mount.

Another possibility is to work on my jump mount. It is a mount that I can do about 25% of the time, and thats even without having practiced it in forever. If I could get my jumpmount (in which both feet hit pedals at the same time) to 90% on street, I might transition it to off-road. That was a suggestion Chris gave me once, but I havent ridden off-road in (what feels like) forever until this week.

Anyway, thanks all! I’ll try!

Lewis

Lewis,

I too have a bad lower back, but it doesn’t seem to bother me like yours. I really got pains when my airseat was too full of air.

You didn’t say what type of seat you ride on.

I have a low air seat and I just barely tilted up the seat. I still use the Miyata plastic seat base with a wilder bracket.

I can only suggest doing stuff to build up the muscles around your lower back. I find that trying to ride on top of a straight line with arms out for balance helps. seams in the sidewalk or other straight lines will suffice. When off road, I always spend a little time riding very slowly on a flat area of the trail and maneuver between rocks imbedded in the trail. This builds balance and microadjusting skills. I think it helps the lower back as well.

Maybe try a different seat altogether. It may be just how your pelvis sits on the seat.

Just my two cents.

Perhaps this is your problem. Through rough terrain I stand up and just hold onto the seat. I find it helps out alot 1 keeping down UPD’s and 2 getting More leverage. Its like on a bike if your going to ride up a steep uphill you come out of the saddle so you can put all your weight on the pedals for the most power. I dont have any back problems, lucky me. So I have no idea if it will help your back.

All,

I dont have back problems, as such. I only experience back pain when doing a rollback mount off-road, and when strugginlg over rough flat terrain after my back has started hurting. Generally, if I always “cheat” and mount using trees, my back never hurts me, or it may take a very long time for it to do so.

When I’m rollback mounting and riding on the street, I never experience any back pain, even when I ride for 3 hours or more, and even when I deliberately ride over all the broken sidewalks and ride up all the shallow curbs I can bang into.

Anyway, I will try to ride loose instead of hunkering down, and see how that works. Now that I think of it, that’s what i do when I’m riding over obstacles when I’m riding street.

Lewis

Pay attention to the alignment of your spine. Try and centre yourself on the seat, and have your head centred to your chest etc. If you are out of alignment then one side of your body will be doing most of the work hence the back pain. Find a nice flat level place to just ride straight lines, circles etc. practising sitting up straight.

Hey,

I can’t recall: do you ride with a firm link arm, or are both hands free to swim? I don’t know why I ask… there was some reason…

Ya, Lewis doesn’t have a bad back- it’s just the mount is taxing- a slightly cross roll back; the cross part is no BFG on pavement, but on uneven earth it requires alot of force to bring the uni under his center of mass (which is forward and cross). The more fatigued, the more cross, etc.

I concure with myself: having a jump-to-still-stand/hop would be great; start the ride with the weight where it should be, over the axel. Increased foot pressure sensitivity would aid, too… so seat-out-front, hopping, and still stands would all help.

Anybody have any tricks or devices for learning to static mount?

-Christopher

Try pratice mounting with a block behind your tire, so that you cant roll back at all. Get used to hopping up to the pedal and go

Try and make it realy smooth and dont put any weight on that back pedal

JUST GO~~~

Hope it helps a little

The key thing to learning the static mount is: Practice, Practice, Practice. Sorry to be preachy, but half an hour a week wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere. I spent two weeks doing over 100 attempts a day, often 200, until I started feeling comfortable with it. This translates into one to three hours a day, and I had already learned the rollback mount. The static mount can be one of the most difficult things to learn in unicycling, because one is new and not used to the extreme persistence required. Once you get it (the mount AND the persistence), you use it all the time, especially off-road. Each new situation you find off-road will set back your freemounting until you overcome the mental and physical challenges, such as: surrounded by rocks, overhanging tree branches, roots in the way, sand two feet ahead, uphill, downhill, etc. etc. If you can do a rollback mount decently, then I suggest torqueing up the practice time with most of your focus on the static mount. That static mount will soon start to settle in.

As far as tricks and devices, just find some smooth flat grass and go at it for hours. Finally your brain will give up and give your body a chance to learn it.

U-Turn,

I’ll keep trying it. I used to do 30 mins a day for about a month at one time and I just wasnt improving so I dropped back to 30 a week just because I was more interested in having fun than being frustrated.

I’m looking forward to winter where learning new skills wont be such a sweaty business.

Lewis

jason wrote:“I try toget into what my daughter calls a,
“Zen Moment”.
I tend to hear music inmy head and let my legs ride with the tempo, but do what ever it takesfor you to relax.”

and out of curiosity i have to ask, what music do u hear in your zen moment?

>go at it for hours. Finally your brain will give up and give your body a chance to learn it.

stunning quote u-turn. can i use it for a signature?

no kidding there,i find that anything above 70 degrees is totaly lame.its been over 80 for 2 weeks and it sucks.with Roach armor its even worse.bring on the 50’s

Re: Off-Road seat height?

> and out of curiosity i have to ask, what music do u hear in your zen
> moment?

Ahem, yes, well… that is a personal question isn’t it?

It depend upon what my ears have been exposed to in the previous 24
hours. The other day I heard bits from Hector Berlioz Symphony
Fantastique, other times I hear more modern music. A common tune the
creeps in is the, “Seeing Red” song from the mUNIac video. I really
enjoy the video but I think I’ve been Pavlovianly conditioned - Doh! :wink:

I’m thinking of investing in an inexpensive sports type cassette player
so I can listen to tunes while I ride. I really do find it relaxing.
Does anyone else enjoy listening to music while riding?

Jason

Re: Re: Off-Road seat height?

All,

I wasnt asked, but I do have Zen moments on pavement, so I have an answer also. I tend to get one of the 4 songs on my brain in those moments:

  1. Flower Kings: World Of Adventures
  2. Flower Kings: More To This World
  3. Pete Townsend: Let My Love Open The Door
  4. Wham!: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

Sadly, the movie Zoolander is responsible for the last one. That gasoline dancing scene is sweet!

Lewis

Those poor stupid Japanese Mahayana Budists: they think it takes effort to attain enlightenment by direct intuition through meditation. All they needed was a good work out and a healthy dose of western consumer culture. There’s nothing deeper than being in the ‘Zone’, right?

-C

Are you trying to provoke me? HUMIDITY IS A LIVING HELL. ARGGGG!

-C

i never expirience zen moments but i know i have them. because i often go to sleep on my uni and wake up on the ground, rather embarassing but the cat-like reflexes are still present when alseep. (no cuts, bruises, or scrapes)

spokelerlarue