Riding drills that might make learning easier

I have an idea for a couple of drills that might make learning a lot quicker. This may have been covered somewhere else, but I’ve never seen it. Then again, I’ve never read a unicycling book; I’ve only used the fora at unicyclist.com.

I humbly await the opinions of more capable riders/teachers. If the ideas seem sound, I’ll write them up cleaner and post it in the tutorial section at unicyclist.com.

If anyone tries this, please let me know.

First: the reasoning

The biggest part of riding a unicycle, IMHO, is staying vertical. But most of the time learning is spent on trying to go forward.

The most basic motion we use is forward/backward pedaling and the second most used motion is twisting to change direction.

New unicyclists use exaggerated motions in these 2 areas and they don’t start to feel confident until they are able to make micro-adjustments without thinking about them. When the micro-adjustments are small enough, folks on the street will see a smooth-riding expert.

Second: the drills

Use a support that will allow at least a few feet of forward motion.
Get a feel for idling, pedaling backward and forward without going anywhere. Start with big motions then try to make the motions as small as possible.
After you’re comfortable with this motion (I have no idea how long this will take) then work on going forward in small steps - forward for a few inches, backward for a little less. Do this ratcheting motion until you’re able to go the length of the support without stumbling.
Next, while doing the same forward/backward ratcheting, twist the wheel under you. Do not try to change direction drastically, just a few degrees each way. Try not to keep the turns in sync with the pedaling. The twisting should be random.
When you can go the length of your support while doing these tiny twists and the ratcheting pedal motion, you should be able to go at least a short distance without support.

I think it is generally accepted that the biggest obstacle to overcome when learning to ride is putting too much weight on the pedals. This is not to say that you are wrong in saying that the biggest part is staying vertical.

I see a problem with this, especially for beginners. Technically this is very difficult to do. If you only move forward a few inches and back even less you are rotating the pedals only a small amount forward for each iteration. In your forward progress you will eventually get close to the dead spots in the pedal positions with little or no momentum to carry you through.

Good point harper.

Maybe a little hip action to get through the dead spots would be good. Right now I’m trying to learn one-footed and I find that I’m very much in need of learning to use my hips this way. But since I went this long without knowing that, maybe it isn’t a critical skill.

Also, twisting while taking small steps is purt-near impossible. Maybe I should go back to the drawing board.

Best place to learn is a fence about hip height while sitting on the Unicycle.

Find a fence that has two gates in it that you can ride circles around.

That way you won’t have to constantly dismount and walk back.

This is how I learned, I held onto the fence with one hand and started pedaling forward while holding onto the fence, then I could simple turn around onto the other side of the fence once I got to the end.

It took me only a few hours to learn how to ride.

The other good method is the curb method.

Rest the wheel with cranks horizontal on a curb, rider puts foot on the back pedal, then steps up onto the Unicycle and tries to ride as far as possible.

I taught a kid how to ride in 20-30 minutes like this, and he could even turn after about 40 minutes, as well as stop reasonably well.