Question for old beginners

It a long story but i first tried to learn to ride a unicycle at 67 years old. By end of the year I could freemount, keep weight mostly in saddle, turn circles both ways and do a controlled rear dismount. Now at the age of 69 I’m working on idling. First bike was a UDC club 24".Made a lot of progress but I heard I’d make more with a 20" so i got a cheap Fun uni on Craigslist. Took a while to get adjusted to it’s twitchiness but it has helped a lot with free mounts and idling.

So I’ve read about a bunch of 80 year old unicyclists, who had been riding for decades. I’m kind of curious: Has any body else started unicycling from a standing start after the age of 60. When my 67-year-old body first tried to mount a 24", it was really scary. I fell so much for must two years and had some nicks and scrapes but nothing that made me want to stop (aside from my wife) from getting right back on that horse again.

Did anybody else start really late and learn to enjoy it? It seems to be a perfect sport that old people can do alone, break difficult tasks into discrete skills/chunks, improve you balance (which is a key contributor to elder death), and of course, impress your friends and grandchildren. And – if you don’t fall - you could easily do this into your 80s.

On a related subject today I heard a Huberman Lab podcast on the plasticity of the brain (huge until age 26, then declines).He’s a professor at Stanford who says new data shows you can increase plasticity in old age. The studies are too complex to summarize her but could post link if interested. Plasticity is key to learning new skills, like unicycle or guitar, later in life.

ANYHOW - **Unicycling has been a complete blast - :u7981: :uni: :confetti_ball: :bomb:

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I’m interested in the plasticity link. Thank you in advance, for posting it!

I don’t have any experience to add specific value to you because while I started relatively later in life, you beat me in starting age by 20 years. Kudos to you!

Don’t let age be a factor in what you try to learn and do. I leaned to ride and mount a 36er at 68 and learned to idle a 24" at 72. I almost exclusivity ride 36er now an put hundreds of miles on a year. Good fun, good exercise.

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though I was born in 1948 I won’t say I started this late 20 years ago… But I taught a friend who was past his 60… no problem at all. We now muni together and hope we’ll stay forever young!
I also teach playing brass instruments to retired people … and yes that also keeps them young! (I sometimes plays with a guy who is 86 and plays a very BIG tuba like mad!)
join the Old Geezers On One Wheel informal group!

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Thanks. The main link to the Huberman Lab podcasts are here: https://hubermanlab.com/

The specific link to the one that talks about “brain plasticity” is the very first episode:

I was just introduced to this series and was encouraged to listen to them in order since they build on previous episodes. I’m looking forward to getting to this one: How to Learn Skills Faster - Huberman Lab

You can listen to them on Apple podcasts or Spotify and watch them on Youtube.

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Wow. You are the clear winner in the old beginner category!

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I learnt at 54. It took me about two weeks to learn to ride across my front yard on a unicycle that was far from ideal to learn on. I could have learnt very quickly on the right unicycle with better advice than I got by reading about how to do it online.

I progressed from a 20 to a 24 after a few weeks then spent over a year on a 26, then quickly progressed to a 29 and a 36 as they became available secondhand. I consider myself quite a reasonable road rider for my age but I take my hat off to those who ride Muni.

Right from the outset I embraced the emergency dismount because it seemed obvious that it was never going to be far away. I dress appropriately with sliders and have stepped off my 36 at 25 kph supermanning down the road.

Supermanning is not all that safe though, I felt a shoulder slightly dislocate in January while doing a superman on a descent… it was ok after a few weeks but you know you’ve hurt your shoulder when you struggle to put on and take off t-shirts etc.

The supermanning is usually fine with the big sliders on my Hillbilly gloves, knee and elbow sliders. I’ve had a lot ofpractice. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: Of course as long as there isn’t a sudden stop. Best stay well away from the gutter.

Some of my worst injuries were straight down when stationary in a botched take off.

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I’m almost 65. Started 18 months ago on a 20” cheapie. Riding a 29” Nimbus now and ride a little over 3 miles almost daily. My route has quite a bit of climbing and turns.

I had a pretty bad injury early on as a result of a shoelace issue (see injury thread). And I’ve lost skin a few times when my cheap pads didn’t stay put.

That said I love unicycling. It’s one of the harder things I’ve ever taken on but also one of the most rewarding.

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I have started with this unicycling at 65 on 26" QU-AX. Now I use also 29" Nimbus. I have never deal with 20". Your age is not a problem. If you KNOW (neither hope, nor believe) you could do, you can do.

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I don’t know if Hans Howald is on here but he learned in his 60ties and does unicycle tours of 1000’s of miles

I met him in France when he was riding from Norway to Spain, I think he was 69 years at the time :exploding_head::exploding_head::exploding_head:

He makes great videos of his trips:

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Hey J.Drops. I’m curious.
What’s your general physical condition.
Strength? Flexibility? Reaction?
When’s last time you took a hard fall?(what’s hard? takes more than 2 days to recover)

I started when I was 65 , four years ago. It was hard learning with a 26" muni on a dirt road. I’m still riding and I taught my granddaughter how to ride last week. She was able to go 140’ within three days. Keep at it and enjoy.

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I am 69. I started 14 months ago. I am working on riding backwards and idling. I think it will take me another month or two. I know it is taking me longer than if I was 20 but I dont care. I am enjoying the challenge and as long as I make progress, I am happy. I am also learning to slack line. I think unicycling is a very good form of exercise. Good for balance, core strength and even cardiovascular. I ran for 40 years, but it was getting boring and my knees are starting to wear. A bicycle is good but you need to go miles and miles to get any amount of exercise. I have been a little cautious because I dont want to break a hip or something.

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Hi DME,

I so agree with all your points with the joy of unicycling.
Really interested about you mention of slack lining, do you intend to unicycle on a slack line?

This thread gives me so much hope for my future unicycling.

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Slamdance - All things considered, I’m in great shape. Thanks to ice hockey and soccer background, I’ve had four knee operations including a right ACL and a left partial knee replacement (both 100% successful). I ride a road bike and take a five-mile hike twice a week (golf…). I’ve always been pretty flexible and hit a drive 285 yards last week (that’s not bad for my age). When I had my knee replaced four years ago, I took up juggling to deal with the boredom and learned about 35 three- and four-ball tricks, so I’d say my hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness is pretty good.

After four months as a beginner, I had a freak accident and ended up with a comminuted elbow fracture. I now have 7 titanium pins in my right elbow (100% successful, juggling and golf with no pain). I think the last bad fall I had was over a year ago when I went flying forward and landed on both elbows. My POC VPD 2.0 elbow guards worked like a charm. Zero problem or pain – although a guy in a car stopped to see if I was okay and didn’t believe me when I said I was fine. Guess he’d never seen someone with white hair and arthritis go flying… Because I now stay mostly on roads, I haven’t had a bad fall in over a year. The more I’ve learned to put weight on the seat, the less likely I am to have a bad fall.

A few people I know think I’m crazy but they don’t understand the huge rush you get when you make progress on one of your goals. Yesterday I was smiling for hours after a had a little “click” and suddenly idling started to feel good. Those little victories keep me coming back each day.

And congrats to all the other old learners. This would make a really fun retirement community!

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