Very similar to stage fright anxiety I used to feel, but then when you get out there you feel much better and start enjoying the moment. Also used to happen when I’d be getting ready to do a particularly big drop or super technical and steep section. But once you do it, you wonder what all the fear was about. Most of the “anxiety” I feel nowadays is post-ride anxiety, meaning I can’t wait to do it again!
I have to admit one of my biggest worries is what peoples reactions will be as I wobble past them on my uni. Sometimes I get so scared I fall off before I get anywhere near them. Then my legs wobble so much I can’t get back on again.
I don’t worry about getting hurt falling off, at the moment my average speed is about 3-4mph so I don’t think I’d break anything. I always always wear all my safety gear. Helmet, full length knee/leg protectors and KH gloves. I worry about getting laughed at in that getup, but I don’t get paid a wage if I am off work injured. On Thurs night I had my first near faceplant. I landed on both knees and palms of hands as I rode through some soft sand on the prom. I was more surprised than anything. Now I know what it’s going to be like to fall off forwards.
I’m hoping as I get more experienced on my uni my confidence will grow. I do look forward to going on my uni. Okay I admit I have had the occassional uni dream where I am cycling in a straight line, idling, hopping down stairs and wheelwalking.
(hope this isn’t considered a threadjack)
Thanks 57UniRider for the compliment
Elaine, I sometimes get that irritating fear of being laughed at, but I don’t let it deter me. The stupidest thing I would do is not ride just because of what others might think. We’re gonna get comments and attention - some good, some bad - whether we like it or not, after all, to the general public we’re riding a ‘one wheeled bike’. However, I think that a lot of ridicule thrown at uni riders comes from jealous people. Keep going!
Before a muni ride, I might be at an anxiety level of 0 to 1 out of 10. It’s either not there or not much.
In a real stage fright situation I might have an anxiety level of 8 or 9 out of 10.
Maybe I’m just excited to get out riding. My heart rate is faster.
Hmmm. Sounds like the only common element in all those situations is you. They can’t help you. If you focus on the mounting, it will get better. A 36" set up for road riding can be a chore to mount, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it 100%. 99% of the people watching you just want to see you go.
Even if they say stupid stuff.
I feel a little anxious before I start to ride. Nothing major, but it’s there. It is the same way on my motorcycle. Until I take off, I feel a little apprehensive. I know it will pass so it doesn’t really bother me. Unlike some of you, I like riding my unicycle in front of others. I like the surprised looks, compliments, and occasional picture taken when they see me, especially off road.
Practice has helped but being watched just gets to me … when I did the Dusseldorf uni marathon there was about 10,000 spectators lining the finishing straight … I was terrified of falling in front of them and not getting back on!!!
From both my kids and I riding in basketabll half-time shows and parades I’ve noticed the croud often holds their breath to see if a fallen rider can get back up and going. They are as impressed by that as the riding itself. I try to impress on the kids that most people don’t mind if you fall, they totally understand since they can’t ride themselves. It’s whether you have the true courage to overcome the fall and continue with the show that they cheer for the loudest!
BTW: I noticed that this thread is mostly by “older” riders. Admittedly, when I first learned at age 46 I was afraid of looking silly, especially in front of kids. I still experience this fear when just learning a new skill but am usually having too much fun to let it affect me much. Having said that, I have never had anyone say “you are too old to do that”. In fact they are usually impressed that anyone of any age can ride a unicycle period.
absolutely like stage fright: if someone is looking at me it stresses me and I may fail a freemount; curiously if it’s a technical bit of trail I may try harder and do something I would normally not have tried!
I started out on a college campus where I was regularly cursed out and jeered at every day and I think learning to tune that out helped with pre-ride anxiety. I find that I have a different kind of anxiety that impedes my rides… the pre-obstacle anxiety. I’ll worry about how I’m going to tackle a particular obstacle to the point where the anxiety causes me to UPD. Context:
Lately I’ve spent a little time trying to learn to ride/hop up street curbs. I’m sure riding up curbs is nothing for most people on this forum but they cause me all kinds of anxiety. As I approach I think 1) what should the pedal position be and how would I even ensure the pedals are in the correct position in the first place 2) should I approach fast and hop right before I hit or approach slow and hop once the tire connects with the curb 3) what do I do to recover once I’m over 4) what bone am I going to end up breaking 5) after the bone is broken what do I tell the wife to convince her I should still ride a unicycle, etc. etc.
It would probably be funny/interesting to monitor my vitals as I ride toward a curb during my hopping practices. It’s a 100% mental block at this point. I still don’t have a good strategy, but I can land it maybe 20% of the time. BTW: I have no hop/vertical AT ALL - not even off a uni. Maybe it has something to do with the seat height. In the videos I always notice that the extreme hoppers have a good foot clearance between them and the seat while standing. I’ve got maybe an inch clearance. Also my sense of balance is terrible I’m not a good uni-pogo’er.
Second scenario is for muni. I’ve been on two different single track courses in my area and at least 50% of each ride is littered with roots. Now the anxiety here works a bit differently, for some reason roots don’t put up that same brick wall in my mind that a curb would so I have no problem charging them.
Here the anxiety of the obstacle causes me to get out of my seat and ride the pedals to ensure I get enough power to roll over them. That might not sound like much as far as anxiety influencing the ride, but I often wonder how many of those roots would I have been able to ride over with my rear in the seat instead of riding the pedals - the key difference here being riding the pedals saps all my energy with the quickness. It ups my heart rate and shortens my rides.
As a side note: It’s amazing to me how I can ride 20 miles on road and be fine and ride just 1.5 miles over rooted single track and end up tongue in hand tired to the point where I don’t have the energy to give another pedal. Of course on road my arms are tucked behind me and absolutely still 95% of the time while on rooted single track I’m doing everything I can with my upper body to stay upright. Read: flailing around like a Wile E Coyote that just looked down after running over the edge of a cliff.
Anyway, long story short; I don’t need that much help to overcome pre-ride anxiety. Just mid ride anxiety while I’m staring down an obstacle I have an 80% chance of biffing it on or when seeing a difficult 50m section ahead that will end up sucking about 5 miles of energy out of me.
jbtilley, I am so happy to hear someone else say this. I’m a roadie for the majority of my rides but I’m thinking of trying to ride more muni and as you said I can do 20 miles on the road and be fine but 1.5 miles on the trails and I feel like I rode 50 miles. I know I totally out think myself and it causes me to fail more but it is reassuring to know someone else is going through similar.
Same goes for hills I can climb or desend a pretty steep road hill but put me on an off road trail and my mind tells me I think I can’t and of course I don’t
I guess practice is what will help and will gain me more confidence in doing so, but thanks for the post it helps me knowing I’m not alone.
Thanks jbtilley, and Stag sorry I didn’t mean to thread jack
curiously the reverse is (almost) true for me and the main reason is stress: passing cars stress me, squirrels are more challenging :p!
wobbling bear, I can understand that. It can be a challenged with spectators staring, yelling, cars speeding past, cars trying to pick you off, oh and yes the squirrels it can actually become quite the challenge, one day I rode crazier then I would have ever thought I could, idling, riding full out between cars cruising on both sides of me and all while eating an ice cream cone I was quite surprised
I have to say though I’ve had several close encounters with deer on trails one too close for comfort, trails challenge me.
You sure we aren’t the same person? Last week I came face to face with a deer in the middle of the trail. It was just standing there staring at me as if it had never seen a unicycle before. I got probably 10 feet away before it decided to leave. I started getting really nervous because the week before the deer encounter I saw this video on youtube:
I started to get visions of me as the dog and decided it would be best to hold the unicycle as a shield/weapon for a tense bit there. Now that it’s hunting season I’m terrified of seeing a deer - I’ll probably get caught in the crossfire.
Anyway… I went back out to that trail yesterday and though the knee took some punishment I was able to ride a bit further with shorter breaks between. I figure if I get out there enough and progress just a little each time I’ll eventually get there… or at the very least I will have wore out all my body parts that are vital for riding and I’ll be done.
I rarely ride roads and when I took the 36er for a spin the other day it was really sconcerting to ride along with all those cars and pedestrians watching. Of course I think I was a little worried about them driving into me, but still, I hate being watched!
But on trails that’s never a problem, nor is it a problem when I ski or board, in fact I sometimes feel like my performance improves if it’s kodak moment
I used to get more anxious, akin to stage fright, when I was very new to the sport. I avoiding riding in front of people for fear of looking a fool i.e. falling off and going splat! So I’d only ride in quiet areas at odd times of day. Then once I started to learn riding off-road it was easy to go unnoticed as I trained on a private trail system at work where I’d see virtually nobody except for the occasional deer, wild turkey or coyote.
However, after my skill increased my confidence also naturally increased so now I don’t get quite as much pre-ride anxiety. About the only stuff I get a bit anxious about is riding in traffic, especially when I have to cross busy intersections. Riding in traffic isn’t as bad, it’s just crossing traffic!
Ironically I’ve noticed on multiple occasions where I’ve experienced the exact opposite of stage fright. I’ve actually “elevated my game” while bystanders have been watching! One quick example: Back in July I was riding the famed Slickrock trail in Moab, UT (yes it was over 100°F) and my wife and I were about 2-3 miles from the trail head (12+ mile lollipop loop). I was blasted tired, thirsty, hungry and stumbling frequently, experiencing many UPDs on even stupid easy stuff. In a word I was worn out and not known to me at the time, had a stress fracture in my heel!
Anyhow the trail was about to descend on some tricky ledges with some twists and turns and cross a 4x4 trail where there were several Jeeps with about a couple dozen tourists parked and watching me ride down the trail. I was soaking wet with sweat, bone tired and injured, yet I nailed the tricky line (having never seen it before, this was my first time on this trail) hitting drop after drop off these ledges and kept on the trail right past the group of gawkers. As I rode past they all spontaneously applauded and cheered me on! Wow what a boost!
I got just out of sight of the group, around a bend in the trail, and immediately UPDd! Ha! My heart rate was through the roof and I immediately sought out some shade (hard to come by).
My wife who’d been running along with me the entire way, having seen all my crashes and steadily deteriorating condition could not believe I suddenly rose to the occasion! She just called me a show off and then sat down in the shade next to me!
So with extreme confidence in your skill you can rise to the occasion. It’s different for everybody, but what works for me is to just “turn my brain off” and not think; just do!
I’ve experienced this phenomenon multiple times over to know it’s not a one time thing or a fluke.
My best advice is to keep practicing and grow more confident in your skill and also don’t over think it.
I run into deer all the time, once last year not while riding a uni my dog and I ran into one deer (female I think she was protecting her young) that snorted and bucked at us. I try not to ride early morning anymore due to one instance on the uni but seems like many times, and several trails I find one or two deer in front of me.
Glad you were able to get further. I’m sure in no time you will just keep on going.
That is exactly what happens to me in traffic MuniSano, I guess elevating my game so as not to crash and burn in front of people, unfortunately I have done that too :o The last time I rode it was like someone else was on my uni, my confidence took over, I was idling in between people, cars it was awesome. As you said, I didn’t think about it but just did it. I think much of my problem is over thinking, especially Muni and thats where my preride anxiety seems to kick in.
survived the deer, the squirrel nearly took me out.
see my post in the Animal Confrontations thread.
The deer I can see coming. A varmint can be out of the bush and under your wheel in a millisecond. Talk about anxiety. Paranoia will destroy ya. More in the Animal Confrontations thread.
Don’t know how I would have handled the close deer encounter if I had seen that video beforehand.