Well I’ve had my unicycle for nearly a month now, and I’m still alive!
I’ve tried to practice on it every day for at least a few minutes. Finding the
motivation to ride is easy, but finding the TIME isn’t. I have three children
under the age of 10 and a wife that teaches at the local college in the
evenings, which requires me to be Mr. Mom four nights a week.
So, I’ve given up 50% of my pre-dawn morning cycling routine to alternate with
unicycle practice. I figured out a way to carry my uni on my back by attaching a
luggage strap to the wheel and the upper hole in the seatpost. Another strap
loops thru the wheel and goes around my waist to prevent the unicycle from
sliding around off my back. It works pretty well but I’ve seen some strange
looks from people in cars as they pass by me at 5:30 am, riding down the road
with my blinky lights and my uni on my back. “Now thar’s sumthin’ ya don’t see
everyday…”. Does anyone else do this, or found another way to transport a
unicycle by bike?
I ride out to the local park about 3 miles away where I can practice on a
illuminated 5 net tennis court and a paved walking trail that loops through the
woods. It is a perfect area to practice. I put in about 40 minutes a session
during the weekdays, and an hour or more on Saturday or Sunday. I also practice
at home in the evenings or during the weekend whenever I get the chance.
I’m really happy, astounded actually, at how much progress I’ve made in a month.
When I started out I figured that it would take me about a month to be able to
ride about 50 ft. I’m pleased to report that I can circumnavigate the perimeter
of the tennis court, about 500 ft, make 180 degree turns left (easy) and right
(hard), and freemount with a success rate of about 20 percent. Some days are
better than others though. Still, I find that I get a tiny bit better every time
that I go out. Learning how to ride has given me a greater appreciation for the
human body and the way our minds can assimilate new information and skills. I
spend most of my day sitting at a desk figuring out how to improve the quality
of my companies products - learning a physical skill is a wonderful change of
pace in problem solving and very self-centering. In unicycling the
accomplishments are instantly rewarded. Oh yeah, and you find out when you’ve
goofed pretty quickly too…
I’ve heard that it is common to find that turning in one direction is easier
than the other. That’s really true for me. Why is it that I can make nice smooth
left hand turns mostly by leaning, but my right hand turns become jerky and I
often end up twisting my body a lot to make the turn and losing control. This is
especially puzzling to me since I find that I feel much more confident carving
RH turns on a bicycle, but it is the opposite on a uni.
I’m also surprised about the physical effort that is involved in riding. I can
ride my bike for miles and miles at 18mph, complete a century in a bit over 6
hours, etc, but after doing a simple loop around the tennis court on my uni I’m
out of breath, my heart is pounding, and my knees feel like jelly. I think a lot
of my energy is being expended because I’m not very relaxed or smooth, and I’m
not breathing evenly. I seem to tense up a lot. I’m trying to relax, slow down,
and get my weight off my feet. I’ve finally got my seat height up to where it
should be and that seems to help my legs a lot. Will riding eventually be as
easy or easier than walking?
I’m really enjoying unicycling. I love the simple beauty of the machine, the
quietness, the low maintenance, and the way that it becomes an extension of your
body. I also love the feeling of using my body to balance and the challenge of
learning new skills on the uni. That first long ride…a successful
free-mount…man, those are great feelings!!
I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship
Thanks again to everyone on this list and especially to those that have helped
me with advice.
-Rick Bissell (newbie status wearing thin)