Rookie questions

After a week of practice, I can ride along a fence and sometimes go 10 feet or so without touching it. But I can’t go 2 feet starting off from a support, then I usually fall off backward. I have the option of riding on a slight up grade or down grade - is either preferable? I’m having to learn alone with no human support. Any suggestions? Can this thing really be ridden? :thinking:

i would say try the up-grade. keep practicing away from the fence, as this will show the best results!

I was exactly where you are a few months ago. Take heart! You will eventually be able to start without a fence. I would suggest first that you work mostly on riding farther at a tima sense of balance and where your center of gravity should be when e. This will help you develop a sense of balance and where your center of gravity should be when riding.

You are falling backwards because of a combination of two things, I suspect: First, you may be holding on to the support as you go forward. Second, you are not “committed” enough to the forward motion. (Actually, now that I look at this, it is the same thing. :slight_smile: ) When you are already riding along the fence, you are in the perfect balance position and moving forward when you release. When going from a support, you need to “lean much further forward than seems right” (paraphrase from several training sites).

Basically, follow this rule: If you fall off the front, you weren’t pedalling fast enough. If you fall off the back, you were pedalling too fast.

Welcome to the sport and to the forum! Remember: it sometimes takes a lot of practice, but the result is well worth it. Keep up the practicing!

edit: Oh yeah, the grade: I started out on a slight down grade and ended up having a real hard time with up-grades later.

my reason for suggesting the up grade is that you will not lose control and you can work entirely on forward riding with worrying about controlling speed.

Welcome. to the wonderful world of Uni!

Yes, it can be ridden! Perseverance is important at first, then it’ll get easy, and fun takes over.

What you’re experiencing is a psychological effect, technically known as fear-of-open-spaces-with-a-unicycle, it will pass and then you’ll get the fear-of-to-close-to-a-wall-or-hedge problem. Seriously, the confidence of having the wall (or any grab-able thing) nearby is, I think, normal. Once you start putting your weight into the seat and finding your balance better, you won’t feel the need for that wall. Then, someday, you will suddenly realize that you’ve scratched your nose, without thinking about it, while ridding. And immediately do an UnPlanned Dismount. We never fall; we do UnPlannded Dismounts (UPD), sometimes with extreme prejudice

I found (and still do) that down hill is easier, especially for getting started, but then I’ve only been riding for 2 years. Ridding up hill takes the same skills that down hill does and requires a lot more power.

Some of the suggestions I found useful were:

  • Flail your arms, it’s you body’s way of finding your balance point, but don’t let it become a habit, eventually you will have to stop flailing.
  • Practice for no more than 5-10 minutes at a time, it’s amazing how tired you get and you’ll only be practicing your mistakes. I found 5-10 minutes practice then do something else for 20-30 minutes or more. When you start ridding better (weight in the seat), increase the practice times to as much as you can without getting tired.
    *Wear, at minimum, head, wrist and knee protection, I thanked mine many, many times.
    *Get on with a different foot each time.

Once you feel comfortable, ridding becomes fun, then you’ll be like me, addicted, I just got my third unicycle, a Coker.

This is true, but I look at it slightly differently. This rule does not always apply, but it can help to diagnose an area to work on when starting out if you don’t know why you keep falling off. If you fall off the front, either pedal faster, or lean back a bit further than you were. If you fall off the back, lean forwards more, or pedal slightly slower. Same as what Mandell said except it’s not always the pedalling speed’s fault. Sometimes beginners forget to either lean forwards, or pedal (you must do both simultaneously).

Speak for yourself Brian. I don’t know what you mean by prejudice in this case, but I know I sometimes fall. An unplanned dismount is one where you step down from the Uni due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a bump you didn’t see, or the Unicycle going out of control. A planned dismount is one where you predict something bad happening so you get off before anything goes wrong. A fall is when neither of the above applies, you lose control and hit the ground or obstacle with any part of your body (your hands, elbow, hip, buttocks, back etc). You don’t walk (or ride) away cleanly in a fall like you would in an UPD, and you must pick yourself up off the ground before remounting (or walking/limping away).

You just got some human support, albeit online and not in person. Stick at it, I think leaning forwards is the key if you keep falling off backwards. It took me a couple of weeks before I could ride, anyone can do it with enough practise!

Re: Rookie questions

One thing that helped me when I was first learning was to always start with the same support structure (my neighbor’s fence post), always ride in the same direction (I was using a sidewalk), and mentally “shoot for” a little bit further each time before falling off. I’d mark my progress with the lines on the sidewalk…this session I made it 3 squares worth, next 3.5, next 4.5, then 6, then 10, then 30. Your distance will grow exponentially after a point.

I also agree with the other recommend…just do 15 minute sessions, then take a break and go do something else (like juggle), then go back and shoot for adding another square on the sidewalk to your distance.

Good luck. Please keep the progress reports coming…


I wrote a little booklet/manual sort of thing on how to ride a unicycle to give out to learners in my neighbourhood. I’d be happy to send you a copy if you want. It’s a Word file so I could send it via email if you want it. It’s nothing special but it might help a little.

Good luck,