Practicing UPDs/falling

There are lots of comments about how learners and novices should practice falling of the uni, to avoid bad falls.

As I occasionally UPD in an uncontrolled way, I wondered what advice there is for how to practice these ‘dismounts’?

Do it. A lot. Fall on purpose. Get mounted and tip yourself out of balance to fall in each direction. Get your body used to how each feels and what actions lead to success. Ride at your limits and fall when you exceed them. Wear safety gear. Learn to detect the fall by feel so your brain can get you landed by reflex without having to see or think about what is going on. Learn to roll when you’re not going to be able to run it out. At low speeds, learn to turn what would have been a faceplant into a jump off of the pedals which enables you to land on your feet and clear of the uni.

Like many other uni skills you will eventually learn to just do it, and even though the circumstances leading to the fall may have been beyond what you can control, you can still often control the fall at least enough to not get hurt. Usually; there are exceptions for all of us, and at least one thread with grisly pictures and X-rays of the results.

Don’t usually fall off very often but yesterday trying to go as fast as I could in the 36er lost control and went flying off the unicycle, landed on my feet but the momentum/inertia push me forward towards the ground and, basically, my knees and hands acted as breaks on the concrete :smiley: It is a shame some passerby didn’t film it, beacuse I think it was quite spectacular.

I think I’m not bad at breaking the falls (did judo for decades!) but sometimes it is just imposible not to get any injuries. Yes, I should have worn protection gear (now I’ve got scraped knees and hands :angry: ) but sometimes I just find them too cumbersome in the summer and specially when, at the moment, I’m mainly riding on the road (would wear them for muni).

I don’t ‘practice’ falling at all, and never have :roll_eyes: I’d rather practice NOT falling :smiley:

That being said, I tend to make a conscious effort to either fall backwards (let the uni fire forwards and allow your feet to hit the ground and hopefully stay standing), or fall forwards (grab the uni between your legs and run forward like you’re a kid with a horse-on-a-stick toy). Everything else results in me hitting the deck, in which case I try not to stick my arms out stiffly. I mean, I make sure I don’t fall face-first, but I REALLY don’t want to break a hand/finger/wrist, as basically everything I do depends on at least two of those things working :smiley: I guess I chose the wrong sport!

Do I practice on falling? Of course I do. One of my favorites of unicycling, is to fall and not really hurting myself. I try to push my limits so I can fall and therefore improve on my fall. I love to practice on tanbark under shaded oak and pine trees and around the park. I try to twist and fall in everyway possible, especially when I first learned how to freemount. I peddle as fast as possible and jump off and finding myself outrunning them( well, on the 26" it doesnt go that terribly fast).
I find that sort of practice is absolute necessary. Yeah,(planned)UPD’s is crucial , in my opinion, because it much improves reflexes so when the (ACTUAL) UPD happens your body natually reacts to it. When I first began I fell badly on my wrist. Definitely wristguards are a must , and a helmet, preparing for the worst. I have knee and elbow pads but dont wear them, until I decide to do some crazy stunts beyond my known capabilities. But so far I am taking it relatively conservatively.
For those that have troubles freemounting. I would say, pratice, practice, practice, practice…and more pratice. Of course, that means tons and tons of planned UPD’s. :smiley:

Having been learning on a 36’er, I would say learn to come off the thing with your knees already bent in a manner to absorb the shock of the landing.
Try not to land with a straight out peg-leg, as you risk a knee injury, hyper-extension, possibly a meniscus crushing blow, etc.
Don’t ask me how I know this.

Hi Peet, just wondering what size uni did you practice on previously and for how long? It sounds like I’ll need a whole lot more practice on my 29" to a smoother transition to a 36".
Yeah, the 29" is considerably higher than the 26" to hop off from, so Iam sure the 36" would be an entirely different experience with a lot more momentum.

I basically learned as a kid, 10-13 or so, on a Schwinn, in the late 70’s.
I got back into Uni this year, now 50, and went right for a 36’er.
Riding the thing is really not a problem, I have been having a great time.
I basically “over did it” when i first got one, and quickly gave myself some very sore leg muscles and knee joints.
I found I typically fall off the front, and tried to learn to UPD in a running/jogging manner to get from falling speed to a stop.
There were a few times where I missed a mount, and came off the front at basically a stand-still or very low speed, and landed with my right leg straight/locked, and I think I hurt something in there, but I’m not ready to go to a Dr. yet. I took 2 weeks off to see if it would feel better, and it feels much better but still hurts a little. I think I mainly gave myself a repative motion injury. The most pain is below the kneecap on the right side of my right knee… like, on the inside, not on the surface.
Also possibly having to do with the IT Band on the right side.
I have taken it easy and done much shorter rides with a heroic level of mental prep to not blow a Mount or fall in any way to hurt my knee again.
I’m a little embarrassed to say I have recently been using a step-stool set next to my van to mount while I try to recover the knee. I still have to do a regular mount sometimes when i get too far away from the van. I may move my cranks back to the 150 setting to make mounting easier. At 125 it seems harder to mount and the seat is noticeably higher.
With all that said… I am almost finished with my coffee and am going over to the nearby school that is closed for the summer to ride on their track for a while!
When I dismount I come to a near stop and come gently off the front while holding the rear end of the seat, landing with my legs pre-bent in a springy manner.
I would still say don’t fear the 36’er! I just had an unlucky muscle/knee incident but plan to continue with the 36’er.

Thanks. My next birthday gift, 36er, unless Santa beats me to it!

Hey Peet, don’t be embarrassed at all about using an assisted mount. You are doing just great to be able to freemount the 36 at all with 125 cranks. It’s hard! I practice freemounting my 36 with 125s around my house, but when I’m out riding in traffic, I use any assist nearby that I can. I like having everything set just right before I launch, much easier and safer that way.


Thanks, Lance. I have the cranks with the 125/150 threaded holes, so I can switch pretty easily.
I was surprised how much higher I had to put the seat when I went to 125’s, and how much harder it seemed to free mount.
Today I rode for 20min before taking a UPD on a right hand turn the got going too slow. It still happens so fast it’s hard not to instinctively put my leg straight out, which is what I am warning against. I landed on my right leg but I don’t think I did any damage.
Anyway, my main thing right now is maxing out the riding time, getting my handle-bar-holding body position and brake usage dialed in, figuring out torso/hip positions vs turning (I can turn left more naturally then right), etc.
I typically hit wide open paved lots that are empty, or that nearby paved track.

These posts by people who say they practice UPDs don’t make any sense to me at all! I don’t practice UPDs, they come to me on their own.

Maybe iam using the definition UPD too loosely…But I DO know I practice heavily on falling. Some guys will try to go all distance and try to fall at least as possible, I guess thats ok too…

I just came back from 2hrs of really good practice with ‘falling’ on mulch laid oak shaded ground today. Yeah, I could ride it but not that great , at first . Not until I practiced hard and deliberately pushed and twisted so I can find my threshold to a forced dismount. For me , anyway, it really helped me to fine tune my balance. By the end of my training on my new 29 wheel, I had gotten WAY better. I also could pedal much slower (yeah, the 29 is easier to tip over), knew better on how much pressure to apply on each peddle before slipping. AND at the end I discovered I can finally ride a pretty long time with my butt lifted off the seat.
Hey, it works for me…:slight_smile:

I can’t disagree with this enough. ALWAYS try to fall forward. Falling backward exponentially increases the chances that something is going to go wrong, such as falling on your back, or worse, head. The ONLY time I recommend planning to fall backwards is on a steep slope.

Also, let the uni fall. DON’T try to save the uni. Save yourself. If your uni can’t handle falling down, you have a piece of sh!t uni you need to replace.

I’ve seen & coached many, many people learning to ride a uni, and the worst falls are always the people that fall backwards. I tell people that their goal for the first day should be to learn to fall forward.

I’m pretty new to unicycles, but have a fair bit of experience flying hang gliders and paragliders. I therefore have some experience making less-than-graceful contact with the earth (both flying and unicycles). I definitely agree with both points. On level ground I think you’re far better off falling forward. Only on a fairly steep downhill would I prefer to fall backward.

My experience so far in forward falls is that a “parachute landing fall” (PLF) approach seems to be the ticket. Do not hit the ground and stick. Hit the ground and roll.

I recommend always dismounting in control. The worst mistake is leaving it too late to bail.

My worst injury came on a ride of enormous progress in skill. I had suddenly learnt to negotiate steep hills. Having ridden up over what I had once considered a unicycle proof barrier I just kept going.

My downfall came when I went over the next hill and encountered a guy mowing his front lawn, on what appeared to me by the amount of dust, to be a setting that cut the dirt. The rode into the cloud of dust thinking how he must surely be inviting silicosis.

The distraction started an unfortunate sequence ending with my left leg jammed between the crank and the spokes and me falling backwards forcing it further in.

My big mistake was trying to stay on too long, encouraged by the record distance I had covered over a path that included multiple previously impossible barriers. I was ready to ride to the main road and I wasn’t about to give up. Stupid ambition.

Moreover my leap forward exits had been trouble free for some time. Always worked on the level and uphill. But on the downhill, especially one that exceeded my experience, driven on by the euphoria of a new personal best, I didn’t get off in control. The uni rolled forward under me as I fell backwards after stepping off.

Most of all the mistake was not getting off while still in control. Knowing when to abandon ship is the most important factor in any UPD.

I’ve had some pretty crazy falls, and yes you want to fall forward! I almost cracked my head open once when I slipped backwards. Also if you are going for speed learn to roll. I was ridding down hill once and lost it and I rolled the last 3/4 of the way down this hill, but I was perfectly fine! A little dust and dirt in my hair but no big deal.


Also, let the uni fall. DON’T try to save the uni. Save yourself. If your uni can’t handle falling down, you have a piece of sh!t uni you need to replace.

What better excuse to replace that piece a sh…

Haha…when you got dust and (dirt in your hair) and barely a scratch on you, you know its a good fall…:smiley:


O ya it was pretty funny. A bunch of people where watching too, but we didn’t record it :frowning:

I got dirt, gravel, and leaves down my pants and into my shoe today…good rolling fall.:smiley: