Riding Backwards

I learnt to ride backwards without using helpers - one of my fairly strong
beliefs is that people learn far better in the long run if they don’t have

OK, this is how I did it: I had already learnt to idle and could do that
reasonably well. I then learnt to ‘super-idle’. This is where instead of the
1/4-revolution or so that happens during idling, it’s extended to a complete
revolution backwards, so I ended up on my left foot slightly forward instead of
my right foot slightly forward. Unless you can rock on either foot, you’ll think
‘Oh, weird!’ and fall off. With a bit of practice (maybe use a wall to start
with, although try not to - in the process you swerve about a lot, and in so
doing learn to control it - the wall’ll just get in the way) you go forward
again and end up rocking on the your ‘right’ foot again. Try to end up doing
this continuously.

Apart from being a) a neat trick in itself, you’ll have b) almost learnt to idle
on the ‘wrong’ foot and c) being some way to going backwards. Now try to extend
this to the ‘mega-idle’ where there are two revolutions, and it ends up on the
right foot again. This is in a sense easier since you’re straight into rocking
on the ‘right’ foot again.

You can probably see where this is going now…Just keep extending till you get
to about four revs, by which time you’ll be all excited and wanting to go back
forever. The advantage of this method is d) by learning these extended idles,
you’ve also learnt to stop going backwards, and so control the speed. This is
more important than you might imagine - watching people learn to ride backwards
just by speeding off will show you how crucial stopping is (my friend broke his
wrist learning this way).

Hope this helps. Mail me is anything isn’t clear!

Cheers, Paul.

Re: Riding Backwards

Paul Makepeace <paulm@inmos.co.uk>wrote: Stuff deleted… … you’ve also
learnt to stop going backwards, and so control the speed. This is more
important than you might imagine - watching people learn to ride backwards just
by speeding off will show you how crucial stopping is (my friend broke his
wrist learning this way).

End Quote

I would like to add a slightly cautionary tale on a related subject… Be
careful the first few times that you go backwards on a giraffe. The first time I
tried it I went the entire length of the hall until I hit the far wall (not too
fast, luckily).

The second time I tried was on a borrowed six-foot at a convention. The same
thing started to happen, and I swayed majestically backwards, in perfect control

  • except that I couldn’t stop! :open_mouth:

I heard gasps of horror and realised that I was bang on course to demolish a
very large stand of juggling equipment. I leaned way over to one side and did a
sharp turn and somehow ended up idling (and shaking a lot).

The technical moral: What I was trying to do was to pedal backwards faster until
the wheel overtook me and I would be able to pedal forwards again (well, it
seemed logical at the time). What I should have done - and what I do now - is to
lean forwards gently without consciously altering my pedalling. Everything sorts
itself out and the much desired forward progress is achieved once more.

Peter Philip of the LUNIs, London’s Unicycle Hockey Team

RE: riding backwards

> for the people that know how to ride backwards (e.g: not ME), do you feel that
> the amount of time it took to learn to ride backwards is about the same amount
> of time it took to ride forwards?

I will say “Yes, it feels like it” but at the same time “no”, unless you learned
to ride forward in less than a week.

A safe way of thinking of it is learning all over again. Stick with it, don’t
bend over too much, and learn to bail off the rear without falling down. Being
able to fall or dismount safely always makes the learning part less stressful
and more fun.

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone http://www.unicycling.com

“Wheel size matters” - Kevin (Gilby) Gilbertson

RE: riding backwards

I’m in the process of learning to ride backwards. I had absolutely no intention
of learning this skill to begin with; what I was trying to do was learn to idle
with my right foot down (I’m pretty competent at left-foot idling). At some
point, I did a left foot idle that just kept going and I did a couple of
backward pedals without falling. So now I practice next to my garage, where I
can reach up and grab something if I start to fall, and can now go a few
revolutions at a time consistently. It’s been a pretty gentle learning curve,
with no bad falls yet (knock wood). But I can’t turn or anything at this point,
and find that the most common thing that knocks me down is losing my
side-to-side balance. And I think I’ll strap on my wrist guards from now on,
taking David’s advice.
> ----------
> From: maxfieldd@aol.com Reply To: maxfieldd@aol.com Sent: Tuesday, May 2, 2000
> 10:48 AM To: unicycling@winternet.com Subject: Re: riding backwards
> It took MUCH less time to learn to ride backwards. You know the movements it
> takes to maintain your balance. Now you just run them in reverse.
> Mass your practice into half-hour or hour periods fairly frequently. It
> took me about 4 sessions to be able to ride backwards somewhat
> consistently. I’m still not very good at it, but, after a few minutes of
> warm up, it comes back to
> me.
> A note of caution. Learning to ride backwards is how I broke my wrist. You
> fall in unexpected directions. I would wear wrist guards and a helmet.
> David Maxfield Bainbridge Island, WA

Re: riding backwards

It took me a long time to learn to ride backwards and it seemed like longer than
learning to ride forwards. But it took me a really long time to learn how to
ride forwards . . .

A helmet is a good idea. It is much easier to hit your head when you fall