Riding Backwards

I spent 20 minutes yesterday practicing [nothing but] riding backwards.

I finally went 3-4 meters. Thats more than momentum, thats “riding” (in my book). (Audilble Atta-boy said by me to me)

For the longest while, I didn’t believe this old dog could learn this new trick. Now I believe. I can’t wait to practice more…

:sunglasses:

Hey Mud Man,

Way to go! For some reason it helps me to listen to Peter Tosh when trying to ride backwards. Seriously, it is all about learning to relax your hips (especially) and you simply can not be tense or up-tight when listening to Peter Tosh.

I got an e-mail from Vann and said that Joe has learned to ride backwards too - after, what has it been, two weeks of riding! Yes, the “We Hate Kids Unicycle Club” lives!

Tommy

Tom,

Congrats! About a month or two ago, I spent around 30 minutes messing around with riding backwards and I didnt get too far, mainly because of lack of focus.

However, Bill was here in Jackson, MS this weekend, and on Sunday morning, he and I had breakfast and then practiced skills on our 20" cycles. I find it a LOT harder going backwards on the 20" Stealth Torker than it is on my Hunter off-road cycle … the 24" has more room for error and it has that nice fat tire.

Still, I did pretty well practicing going backwards with Bill. I also managed to go backwards 3 or 4 meters on that little 20". The 20" makes me focus more on my ride.

I was so jazzed by the practice session that, later that afternoon after I had said goodbye to Bill, I went and practiced for a couple more hours.

I attacked it from 2 directions. First, I wanted to be comfortable going from a very unstable riding position to a stable one when riding backwards, because I don’t like only knowing how to use my skill in perfect conditions. So, I spent about 30 minutes doing a rollback mount straight into going backwards. In fact, there was no forward motion at all, so it wasnt a rollback per se. I just put my right pedal at 7:00 (down and slightly back) and stepped immediately into going backwards.

After I did that for 30 minutes, I had gotten it down to the point where I was pretty decent at transitioning from an awkward moment (a mount straight into going backwards) to a stable moment (weight on seat and going backwards about 2-3 meters).

So then I moved over to an outdoor basketball court. It is just a half-court in size, compared to a professional one, but plenty big. I checked to make sure that my plastic (but nice, still) pedals couldn’t scratch the paint, and fortunately, they leave no marks even if I deliberately throw down the cycle hard, or even if I take the pedal to the surface and scratch hard. So I was safe there.

A basketball court is nice because I just mount while holding onto the goal post. The purpose is to get all my weight on my seat. For me, it helps to relax and put my weight down solid, because riding backwards for me works best when I’m not using my legs too much for balance. Instead, I just use them to control speed and to put energy in the system.

So, I mounted up and gently pushed backwards. Being a basketball court, its OK if I veer off a straight path so I can test my correction ability, my turning, and distance. The various lines on a basketball court are especially nice for measuring and gradually increasing your distance.

I was able to go half court (quarter court on a real court) about 85% of the time by the time I had warmed to it, and in fact in most cases I went 2/3 court. On 2 occasions I went the entire court in length! This is equivalent to half court on a pro sized court. I was very happy with this progress, especially on the 20" cycle, because I find that my mistakes are harder to correct on it, so I have to be more focused. It helped! I’m glad I carefully memorized the shot markers and line patterns on both sides so I didnt smack my head on the far goal when I got down there. I knew just when to stop! :slight_smile:

The last thing I did was to practice riding forward on the court and at some point transitioning into going backwards. The earlier practice with Bill, as well as with the mount-into-riding-backwards stuff I did, helped that part feel easy.

So, I’d ride forwards a few meters, then back a few, and forward a few, and back, as much as I could until I would fall off.

Oh, and I wanted to point out that a helmet and wrist guards make a lot of sense for this. I could even see other types of protection being useful. To my surprise and delight, I didn’t take any bad falls, and every fall I did take ended with me landing on my feet. No tumbles or rolls. That is because most of the time I fell because I pedal a little too fast and the wheel gets behind me, so I just jump down onto my feet. I never seemed inclined to falling backwards. It was a pleasant surprise. But remember, the unicycle is a tool. Whenever I fall, I let the unicycle go and I just focus on getting at least 1 (preferably 2) feet down solid so that there won’t be any seriously bad fall.

Anyway, I was pretty happy with my progress and I may get out and try again today. I wish I had someone else to ride with, I really enjoyed riding with Bill because the practicing-your-skills vibe is greater with others around, sometimes.

Hopefully, this long winded post may help someone who is working on their backwards skills, or at least give you hope. If I can do it, YOU can too! :slight_smile:

Good luck,

Lewis

Re: Riding Backwards

20 minutes? Who are these people? You’ve replaced the nice, sweet Tom I knew with a total bastard. It took me many, many hours to do just that.

Atta-boy? ehem:

YOU’ZE 'DA MAN! TOM IS IN 'DA HOUSE, TOM IS IN 'DA HOUSE! Let’s here a big shout-out to all you backward-riding MUC’sters out there!

Bill expressed interest in assistance with this skill; Lewis and I did everything we could to get him to abandon the idea that he needed to learn to ride backward next to a wall or rail. A spotter on either side seemed ok, so long as he didn’t put much wieght on 'em. I suggested expanding on roll-backs.

[b]

Ahh -you’ve found your totem animal; your skill progression will be much swifter now that you know how to approach the task at hand (tail low, teeth baired -or wagging with toung depending). :wink:

-Christopher

Re: Re: Riding Backwards

All,

I just wanted to expand on this comment of Chris’. I think there are 2 good reasons to avoid using a rail to learn going backwards. One is that if you fall backwards or to the side or etc., there is a good chance you are going to hit the rail. NOT fun. The other reason is that you’ll get dependent upon the rail. If you must use a rail, wean yourself away from it ASAP.

The only good reasons to use a rail, I think, would be the same reasons you might use a rail to learn to go forwards. One, you don’t have assistants. Two, you just want to get used to how it feels to pedal through a couple of revolutions and how to best sit comfortably during the experience. After that, wean yourself off it, ASAP.

Sorry, I’m not trying to preach, but as a relatively new rider, I’m just hoping my experience can help a little bit.

Also, again to TOM … CONGRATS! I wasn’t trying to divert the conversation to technique stuff or horn blowing, but I was about to post my backwards story anyway, figured it’d be efficient in the same thread.

CONGRATS TOM!!

Lewis

Re: Riding Backwards

Animation wrote:
> I think there are 2
> good reasons to avoid using a rail to learn going backwards. One is that
> if you fall backwards or to the side or etc., there is a good chance you
> are going to hit the rail. NOT fun.

YMMV. When I learned to ride backwards I had access to a rail positioned
for dancers. It was the perfect height for practising new skills on a 20"
and I found it an invaluable learning aid. I wish I still had access to it
for practising other skills.

> The other reason is that you’ll get
> dependent upon the rail. If you must use a rail, wean yourself away from
> it ASAP.

You’ll get no arguments there - it goes without saying.


Danny Colyer (remove safety to reply) ( http://www.juggler.net/danny )
Recumbent cycle page: http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/recumbents/
“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” - Thomas Paine

Ugh.

I just went out to the court again. I hadn’t warmed up at all prior to riding backwards, and the winds were high, and it was sprinkling lightly. I was only going about half as far on my best rides. Yesterday I rode about 4 hours, and about 3 hours of that (some with Bill, some on my own) was riding backwards. But today, the conditions stank, and I didn’t do as well.

It’s all part of learning; good days, bad days.

I ultimately left because my “falls” weren’t safe because the court was wet.

Tomorrow, maybe.

Lewis

Hey Lewis,

I’m glad to see that you are using your vacation well. Are you going to be coming to Memphis during your time off?
Tommy

Tommy,

Dunno if I’ll come up or not. I’d love to, but it’s nice to have Chris along for the ride. I don’t like making the trip alone, much.

Anyway, e-mail me your schedule and we can maybe talk about it off-line so we wont do any thread-jacking. :slight_smile:

Lewis

Lewis, I see you have found focus.

I’d forgotten this. But both daughters took their first long rides on a nearby outdoor Bball court. Must be good Mojo. Plenty of space. Nice and smooth. I’ll go there next dry day.

Also, a technique that MUC uses is the shopping cart. Promotes muscle memory. I’ll head to Wal-Mart parking lot (to borrow a cart) when I think its safe. (2 months?..)

Thank you Chris. One day, as I snatch the pebble from your hand, you will say “Wait, I was not ready”

Danny, I have a rail almost exactly like the one you discribe. Only thing is, it goes down alongside the stairs in my house. Will that work?

BTW Forgive me Danny, what does YMMV stand for?

Re: Riding Backwards

Memphis Mud wrote:
>
> I spent 20 minutes yesterday practicing [nothing but] riding
> backwards.
>
> I finally went 3-4 meters. Thats more than momentum, thats “riding” (in
> my book). (Audilble Atta-boy said by me to me)

Great job! I have been learning how to idle and a side affect of that
seems to be the occasional (somewhat accidental) backwards ride. I sort
of have a feel for it, but it sounds like you are on you’re way to
actually riding.

Jason

Jason you are Exactly where I was before my 20 minutes of concentration. Keep at it.

Tom,

I haven’t found focus, I’m just off until Jan 2. :slight_smile:

I’ll answer for Danny … it generally means “Your Mileage May Vary.” I guess it means everybody is different.

Lewis

Re: Riding Backwards

Memphis Mud wrote:
> Danny, I have a rail almost exactly like the one you discribe. Only
> thing is, it goes down alongside the stairs in my house. Will that
> work?

Perhaps I should have included the word “horizontal” in my description :slight_smile:

If you do try it, there is one important thing that you must remember.
Get someone to video it using a digital camera, so you can put it on WWW.

> BTW Forgive me Danny, what does YMMV stand for?

Your Mileage May Vary. As Lewis says, it means we’re all different.


Danny Colyer (remove safety to reply) ( http://www.juggler.net/danny )
Recumbent cycle page: http://www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/recumbents/
“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.” - Thomas Paine

whoops.

I find that a key thing to remember when you are going backwards is to keep your weight over the wheel. Don’t lean to back to much or the unicycle will get out from under you. I was practicing 1ft backwards and although I no longer need to concentrate on keeping center with normal riding, it becomes key once again when you make this leap. So in conclusion, try to keep over the wheel, and make each pedal rotation a controlled movement.

  • Sal