Old Dog - New Tricks

Hi folks! My name is Jim Boulet. This is my first post. I’ve been trying to learn to unicycle on and off for the past 6 months. On and off because I’ve had to take a few months off to heal a torn hamstring I got trying to free mount.
My wife bought me a 24” Sun Flat Top for my 65th birthday. Why she would do that is a story much too long to tell here. Anyhow, I’m back at it now and hope when I grow up I’ll be able the ride long distance on a 36er and maybe some not too extreme Muni on a nicer 24”.

Currently I’m able to ride up to about ½ mile on good flat pavement. I still haven’t gotten back to learning to free mount. I have been working on idling and so far can only go 4-6 swings before I fall off sideways.

The thing that frustrates me most though is every time I try to ride from pavement to grass I immediately UPD forward. I can’t figure out if I should be putting more weight on the peddles (I’ve been trying to keep the weight on the seat) or maybe I should be trying to lean back a little. Would any body care to offer any tips to an old dog trying to learn new tricks?

Welcome to the group. I started riding back in May on a 24 inch Torker LX. Now I am riding a 29 inch Nimbus Drak - which I love. I am no expert, but whenever I move from one surface to another I briefly support my weight with my legs until I get a feel for the surface. If the transition is a rise, I let the wheel hit it while leaning back slightly.

I used to UPD quite often when going from one surface to another. But that was when I was over thinking the situation and slowing down as if it would make it easier. Now I know I should hit it at normal speed.

Grass varies from place to place. On my all natural lawn I tend to UPD faster than on my neighbors heavily treated lawn with the grass carefully trimmed to the same level like a putting green. Sssh! Don’t let him know I rode across his grass!

I recently discovered that lawns are great for practicing new skills. Sure is better to land on then pavement.

Lift off the seat a little, putting your weight on your legs. Then, kind of “swing” the wheel in front of you just a bit, your body will catch up with the resistence from the grass.

Pm sent

One or both of you lost a bet. :slight_smile:

Grass can be pretty evil to ride on. Innocent as it seems, you never know what’s under the green stuff, so riding on it is always a crapshoot. Thick, well-fertilized grass is very high in friction while dry, thin grass can be more like riding on dirt.

If you’re determined to get on that grass, naturally when you hit it you will immediately have an increase in friction. This means you can’t be perfectly balanced when you hit, as you will suddenly be ahead of the wheel in a difficult-to-recover position. So you need to “lead with the wheel” when hitting unknown bumps. Get it momentarily out in front of you, then adapt as necessary after the initial shock. I recommend transitioning to smooth dirt or rough pavement as an intermediate step.

You can try grabbing the handle, pulling up on it moderately hard, to use it as leverage so you can pedal harder when going through the grass, and put more weight on the pedals than normal. Sort of like when you are climbing a hill. You want to make sure that your pedaling doesn’t slow down when you hit the grass, and the added leverage on the handle should help.

Hi JBoulet Welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

Now, I’ve been riding for 2 and a half years. I’m nowhere near as good as I’d like to be but I’m still lovin it! (I’ve got some vids on this forum somewhere if you want to see them)

Anyway, the point I’m trying to get to the bit about going from one surface to another…this is long winded, but please bear with…

There is a ride I do on the Gt Orme in Llandudno. It is slightly downhill so not much effort needed to pedal, just for steering, which helps. There is this little bump which is the top of an old stone wall buried in the ground. It is narrower but taller than a speed ramp. Try as I might I could not conquer this bloomin’
thing! Then one day I had an idea :roll_eyes:
My right leg is much more dominant than my left, so I got my uni, positioned it on the top of the bump where my right pedal would be at it’s ‘best position’ for going over, and then walked the uni back about 30 feet and then mounted and rode at it. This way my dominant foot would be it’s best position for that little bit of oooomph needed to bet over.
Then after about 10 attempts I could do it, now it was only a mind over matter. If the uni could do it so could I :slight_smile:

Hope that helps in some way

( No laughing at the back )

Hi Jim
welcome to the club of SEXagenarians On One Wheel!
keep on riding: your wife will discover that, after all, she won something :smiley:

Ps: (French pun: how is it to “be a Boulet”? -ok if you know French you may have heard it 1 million times so sorry :wink: -)

Welcome back.

I took about 10 years off myself before I found my way back. When I started back up all I knew how to do was ride forward and tentatively drop off the end of a curb, so I had/have a lot to learn myself.

I’ve been back riding for just over one year now and looking back I’d say the thing that helped me the most was meeting up with other unicyclists and riding with them. Having someone to ride with gave me inspiration and motivation.

The other thing is practice. Lots of it. I’m a slow and cautious learner and I find that unicycling does not come natural to me. I don’t have that skill where I can analyze why I failed at something and purposely alter what I’m doing to address the problem. I just have to do it over, and over, and over, and over again until my body subconsciously “gets it.”

Best of luck.


If you can’t, learn to ride holding the seat handle. It makes a big difference to your ability to stay with the uni when it decelerates, sort of like you are dragging the beast up to you again instead of just popping off the front.