riding backwards

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Here is my final version (until I get more suggestions) for the riding backwards
file in the FTP directory.


File riding_backwards:

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Learning to Ride Backwards

Method #1

This requires one helper. The two people should ride side by side holding hands,
with the student on the left.

The student should ride around the front of the helper, switching hands on the
way, so that he ends up on the right side of the helper, holding the helper’s
right hand and facing backwards.

Once the student has reached the other side of the helper, he is in a good
position to immediately start going backwards. Stop with the strong foot down,
then go backwards, holding on to the helper.

Commentary: This method sounds needlessly difficult. The maneuver of moving
around front seems like extra work. Then you have to hold on to a unicyclist
while you go backwards, who will not be as stable as someone on foot. If you
want to ride with someone, though, this method does not require that the helper
be able to ride backwards.

Summarized from: “Learning to Ride in a Hurry” in Tidbits for Beginners,
Unicycling Society of America, Redford, MI, 1989.

Method #2

This requires a helper, who may or may not be able to ride backwards. The two
riders should ride side by side, holding hands.

Both should stop, go backwards a half pedal, then go forward again. Try this
several times.

Increase the backwards distance to a full pedal.

Increase the backwards distance as you become more confident.

When both riders are sufficiently confident they should let go of each other and
try riding solo.

Commentary: Riding side by side allows the riders to concentrate on front-back
balance. They can also give each other advice. This could be a case of the halt
leading the blind, however.

Summarized from: “Learning to Ride in a Hurry” in Tidbits for Beginners,
Unicycling Society of America, Redford, MI, 1989.

Method #3

Ride along a fence or wall without gaps to catch your fingers in.

Reach out and touch the wall, and let the pressure on your hand turn you around
180 degrees.

Put your other hand on the wall, go backward a half pedal, then go
forward again.

Do the same maneuver in the opposite direction.

As you feel comfortable increase the amount to 1 revolution, and then more. Try
to decrease your reliance on the wall.

Commentary: The advantage here is that you can do this without assistance. I
don’t know why it includes the turning around maneuver.

Summarized from: “Learning to Ride in a Hurry” in Tidbits for Beginners,
Unicycling Society of America, Redford, MI, 1989.

Method #4

Use a wall or broomsticks to brace yourself.

Start going backwards and practice until you can do it without aids.

Commentary: I learned with broomsticks and I didn’t have too hard of a time. You
can learn solo, but you may find yourself concentrating more on the wall or
sticks than on the unicycle.

Method #5

Start with two helpers, one on each side. Reach out and hold their hands.

Go backwards a half-revolution at a time, and then stop.

As you become more confident, increase the distance.

When you are comfortable, go to one helper, and then let go when you can.

Commentary: This method lets you start in a relatively comfortable position,
with two helpers. My guess is that this is the quickest assisted method, but it
requires the most helpers, which may make it less practical.

Method #6 From: Paul Makepeace <paulm@inmos.co.uk>

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).

Commentary by Beirne: This sounds like the best solo method. I don’t know
whether it is better or worse than Method #5, which is the best assisted method.

Method #7

Make up your own method! If you liked the way you learned to ride forward, use
it to learn riding backwards.

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Beirne Konarski | Subscribe to the Unicycling Mailing List bkonarsk@mcs.kent.edu
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