Riding Backwards?

I’ve advanced to the level where I can go up and down fairly steep and long hills, stop for about a second and then get going again (though I can’t idle yet), I can’t do jumps and stuff, I’m practicing stopping with my pedals parallel to the ground to do that kind of stuff. My question is this: where do I go from here? I can ride forward as far as I want to, what’s the next step? Going backwards? If so, how do I start learning that? Thanks, I’m new to this kind of thing, just a few weeks since I bought my first uni (20" Sun. Not a very good one, but I’m looking at upgrading on eBay).

you dont have to go anywhere if you really want to go a certain way then use the unicyling levels http://www.unicycling.org/iuf/levels/ but what i recommend is just pregress by doing the trick YOU want to do dont follow somebody unicyling is mostly a individual sport and you progress how you want and at what extend of time you want to spend. so i say just practice what you want to learn there is no guide of WHAT you have to follow to be a unicyclist :slight_smile:

Wow, I can’t even consider myself level 2, I can’t mount left-footed. What would the advantages of being able to use both feet be? I think I’m going to try to stop with horizontal pedals, I was really just asking where to go, because I was kind of stuck :wink: I’m off to uni, I’ll be back in a few :slight_smile:

Learning to ride backwards and learning to idle are closely related. Sometimes it helps to learn to “super idle” before trying either. To “super idle” you rotate the pedals a full revolution backwards and then a full revolution forwards. It is much more stable than idling, in which the pedals are rotated less than a half revolution either direction, and much less scary than riding backwards. There is lots of room for correction making.

Keep your weight on the seat. Like all skills you learn your tendency will be to correct by standing slightly on the pedals. Relax into the saddle after each correction. Try to look forward and not at the wheel. Try to make your corrections based on what you see in the distance and what you feel locally.

It is much easier to get hurt riding backwards than forwards. Wear appropriate protective gear at least while learning. I found it took me about as long to learn to ride backwards as it did to ride forward. It only took a couple of hours to learn to idle after learning to ride backwards. I would guess that the reverse is also true.

Awesome, thanks for the responses guys. How easy is it to learn how to stop with horizontal pedals? I want to do that, to be able to jump, but I don’t know if it’s feasible just yet. Also, any tips to help me? :slight_smile:

Seriosuly dude just dont think about it. just when your riding hop and hold the seat and wish for the best… you probably wont get it the first time but you will eventually get where your feet are supposed to go and what to do, like everything practice.


If I were to start over, I would develop the weak foot more than the strong one.
I am finding that a strong weak foot helps a lot in off-road riding.

Riding backwards and idling aren’t necessary.
Most of us can go weeks without using either skill.

You’ll get more mileage if you focus solely on:
hopping, gapping, climbing, skinnies, spinning.

Backwards riding and idling especially are very useful skills. Idling is the easiest way to get into lots of freestyle skills, and it’s very useful if you need to stop at a street light, or anywhere else. Backward riding has fewer practical applications, but it’s still good to learn. Both skills take a long, long time, but they are worth it.

The main tip I can give for backward riding is to lean back a good bit, even though it feels a little scary at first, especially when you start to pick up speed.

what i did when i was learning to hop was ride at a slow pace and then just grab the seat and jump up and see what happend and after a hour i could hop on que so really unicycling doesnt have to be this complicated just learn by how you think you should :slight_smile:

jsm is good at freestyle - so he speaks from that point of view.
The basis of my position is that most riders on this forum don’t focus on freestyle.
If you want to keep up at a muni weekend, on a Coker ride, or win a trials competition - focus on the skills that I listed (and develop figure-8 turning).
You don’t need to take my word for it - simply observe the skills used by the best riders in the best videos.

i’m trying to learn how to idle and ride backwards right now too. (along with hopping seat out, riding seat out, side-mounting, mounting with my right foot, and rollback mounts… i need to learn to concentrate on one thing!)


i’ve been given the tip that learning backwards is easiest with another person. where you grab each others hands, face each other, and one rides backwards while the other rides forwards.

i’ve also been told “just go for it!!!” (but i’ll wait til i buy a helmet first thank you!)

and idling i’ve been told to go forwards, stop, do a half rev backwards, then go forwards again. i’ve done it ONCE. bah.

i think for me riding backwards will be easier than idling

see i used to be able to do like 4-5 big lazy idles and i would either fall or keep going, but they day learned how to go backwards really well i could idle almost instantly by doing like 30+ idles… so i always think learning backwards really help idling…


Re: Riding Backwards?

ChangingLINKS.com” <ChangingLINKS.com@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> writes:

> Riding backwards and idling aren’t necessary.
> Most of us can go weeks without using either skill.
> You’ll get more mileage if you focus solely on:
> hopping, gapping, climbing, skinnies, spinning.

ChangingLinks offers a strong anti-freestyle bias. I’m glad he likes
the style of riding he does, but I find it a bit frustrating to see
him giving out advice without warning you of his narrow focus. I
think I understand where he is coming from - he’s a passionate off
road rider, and very enthusiastic about the sport.

Anyway, I’d like to say for the record that ChangingLinks isn’t
talking about me when he talks of “most of us” avoiding idling and
backwards riding. Well, actually I went for a couple of months once,
but that was due to a broken foot. Normally, I find myself compelled
to spend part of every session idling, riding backwards, and working
other skills. I don’t know whether these particular skills are
directly beneficial for someone whose rising is focused exclusively on
riding fast/hard offroad, but I get a big payoff in feeling
comfortable in my ability to handle situations where, for example, I
may need to recover by riding backwards or, perhaps, idle while
waiting for riders (or people, traffic lights, etc.) ahead of me.

Unlike Harper, I had a tough time with both idling and backwards
riding. I learned to idle first. In addition to idling, backwards
and ChangingLinks’ offroad oriented skills, I found one-footed riding
(which forces smoooooth pedaling) and various mounts (jump, running,
side) to be the most generally useful skills so far. Oh, and don’t
forget turning! It’s never too early to work on tight turns and



Sweet, this is the best uni community ever :slight_smile:

On a completely unrelated question, why do my thighs hurt after cycling? Is it a poor seat (I spent about $80 on the thing, it isn’t anywhere near top of the line) or are my legs odd? :frowning: I’m talking about 2-3 inches from my junk, high on the leg. Anyone else have this problem, and how do I fix it :’(

no no no your seat is fine but your new so your legs have to get to using those muscles… give it some time and your legs will strengthen up and youll be good as new.


Re: Re: Riding Backwards?

Man, I wrote a decent reply and then lost it by closing the window.
In summary, Ken Cline is way off base here.
I am an off-road rider, but unlike the freestyle guys, I am not giving advice so that you can “be like me.” You see, a good reason to idle should not be “something to do at a stop light” or “something that may be useful.”
What I wrote is that you will use and need the skills that I cited more and that you will get more mileage out of them. Actually, I think that with his own bias, Ken simply forgot to read the content of my post.

You may idle a bunch in a gym, or in uni-basketball, but if you want to:
ride street
ride trials
ride off-road
ride Coker

It is better to focus on the skills that you see used in the videos by the great riders.
If you want to play with yourself in a gym - or don’t care to ride with others much - work on backwards 1-foot in a figure-8.

Perhaps we were missing something, but I don’t recall a single idle at the last trials competition, or San Antonio muni ride and I bet a $1 that no one even used it at the first “rolling trials competition.”

If the videos of other riders aren’t enough, look to the recent polls related to riding style to get a bigger picture of the community than the posters in this thread will admit to.

I’m not “anti-freestyle” (I learned those skills)

I’m simply “pro-skills-you’ll-actually-use-with-the-most-popular-riding-styles-today-and -around-other-riders.”

Re: Riding Backwards?

On Fri, 25 Mar 2005 11:55:03 -0600, “Moogs” wrote:

>Awesome, thanks for the responses guys. How easy is it to learn how to
>stop with horizontal pedals? I want to do that, to be able to jump, but
>I don’t know if it’s feasible just yet. Also, any tips to help me? :slight_smile:

Like others said, go for it. Grab the seat with one hand at the handle
(or just the front end if you don’t have a handle) just before
stopping, and once stopped, make small correction hops to keep the
wheel under you. Don’t pogo-stick all the time, but only hop when
needed. Then, as a next step, find a kerb (curb) to hop off.
>On a completely unrelated question, why do my thighs hurt after cycling?
>Is it a poor seat (I spent about $80 on the thing, it isn’t anywhere
>near top of the line) or are my legs odd? :frowning: I’m talking about 2-3
>inches from my junk, high on the leg. Anyone else have this problem, and
>how do I fix it :’(

Unitik908 responded as if it is your muscles. That’s a possibility and
if so, one thing to avoid it is to put more weight on the seat.

But from your description I think you are talking about chafing on the
inside of your legs. A better seat may help (not too wide, no hard
ridge at the bottom where the base plate is) but the seat is at most
part of the story. Maybe you are unconsciously ‘grasping’ the seat
with your legs. Don’t do that, relax instead. Jeans is bad for
chafing, cycle shorts are good. And if you ride some more (a few weeks
of regular practice), your legs get used to it without further

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

people who unicycle are shyly exhibitionistic - GILD

What’s wrong with arguing the you should learn something because it’s useful?

Freestyle riding is a lot more popular than you seem to think. It’s just that most of the freestylers don’t frequent this forum for one reason or another. (I think a lot of them are in clubs like TCUC, and so they are around other unicyclists a lot and feel no need to visit a forum.) I actually maintain that freestyle is the most popular riding style. I think almost everyone does it a little bit, if only for the satisfaction of being able to do backward riding, wheel walking, or whatever.

As Moogs has not yet stated which style of unicycling he wishes to pursue, it is unreasonable to assume he is intending to ride trials or MUni or whatever. If he is like me, he probably hasn’t decided yet. I experimented with various kinds of riding until I found after about six months that freestyle worked best for me. Also, seeing as he has a 20" Sun, it is rather thoughtless to advise him to work on gapping, climbing, and skinnies. While a 20" Sun should hold up fine to freestyle and distance riding, it is not going to put up with too many of the types of falls involved in gapping and other trials-type riding.

It seems to me, that a good strong idle would be a great skill for any Cokeur to have, especially in urban commute situations. Because of the boring (for the observer, not the rider) nature of distance riding, videos of it are rarely posted, so I don’t know how many of them idle regularly instead of dismounting. I do know that on the rare occasions I do distance, I find good uses for idling quite frequently. Conversely, when I do distance, I scarcely ever hop.

The ability to remain in place without dismounting is simply so useful, that it should be part of the repetoire of all unicyclists except exclusive trials and MUni riders. (From what I have seen, most trials riders don’t even need to know how to pedal. No offense meant, just my personal observation.) Sure hopping works for staying in place, but it’s more tiring, and requires that you hold the seat, besides which, it’s less attractive. A non-unicyclist I know says hopping looks downright stupid. Idling is good for:

  1. Freestyle
  2. Basketball and unicycle hockey
  3. Stopping at traffic lights, or before crossing streets or for any other obstacle.
  4. Juggling on the uni, and other skills useful for busking.
  5. Stopping to read street signs.
  6. Stopping while removing a sweatshirt, or doing some other activity that obscures your vision.
  7. Stopping to talk to people.
  8. Stopping to read a map while on a MUni trail.
  9. Adjusting your pedal orrientation before hopping onto or off something.
  10. Stopping to enjoy the scenery.
  11. Navigating crowds.
    Admitedly, not everyone is going to want to busk, or do freestyle skills, or do basketball or hockey, but most of us encounter some of the other situations at one time or another, and it’s convenient not to have to dismount all the time.

Summing this up, I maintian that idling is useful and important to learn.

The only real need for weak-foot freemounting is to pass level two. Once you do that, for practical purposes you will most likely never have to mount left-footed again.

As for the idling issue, I don’t do anything resembling trials or muni, or even serious freestyle really, so I can’t speak to those needs. I use my uni pretty much as an alternative to a bike, for recreational cruising and getting from one place to another. From my perspective idling is close to an essential skill. Whether you consider it mainly a freestyle skill or whatever, it is a skill with a lot of practical use. I frequently ride from my place through downtown and across the river, a distance of about three miles, and usually have to mount only twice, once when I start out and once when I come back. However I am constantly idling at intersections or behind buses or while waiting for pedestrians to clear out of some tight place, often with nothing convenient to hang onto, and not having to dismount and mount again every time is a major benefit.

what about the kids who always use left foot :wink: