Senior learning

What’s your name?
Where do you come from?
Montreal, Canada
What is your experience of unicycling?
Too many hours, not enough progress. I am about 70 years old, and trying to learn to ride. I’m using a genuine brand-X 24-inch uni I bought locally. I manage to ride a bit, but invariably I lose it after a few hundred feet or 100-ish meters. My all-time record is about 1,300 feet or 400 meters. I measured the circumference of my wheel, and count revolutions to determine distance travelled. Here is a link to a video of me riding, and I would welcome any suggestions on what I should do to improve. The climate here pretty much prevents practice in the winter, but it’s taken me 2 years to get this far.


Welcome @combike!

That’s awesome! Have you any goal or discipline that you want to practice? Muni maybe?

My only goal is to be able to stay on the blasted thing and ride a reasonable distance (say, a mile or two). Keep in mind that at 70 years of age, I’m not going to get into risky stuff.

I looked at your video and you are doing very well. When I rode as a kid I could ride about as good as you do now. When I started riding my 36" about three years ago after a 50 year break from unicycles I was at about the same mediocre level. I could not and never had rode over a 100 yards or so in my whole life.
Now, after three years of riding my 36’er and thousands of miles of practice I can ride a 100 mile day with no issues. It simply takes persistence and a lot of time to improve your skill level. Keep at it.

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Hi Stan
In your video you are riding very solid. What exactly happens after 400 meters?
Are you able to remount instantly or do you need a break?

Good job. :slight_smile: I would try some outdoors riding where you get little bumps and smallish inclines and declines if I were you. Also you should try doing sharp turns too and freemounting. Granted that your climate may not suit outdoor riding at the moment.

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What happens after a short time is I lose my balance and I don’t fall, but I simply get off like I did in the video. I’m able to remount, but sometimes I take a break to let my heart rate come down from the stratosphere. I find it a very strenuous exercise. I only mount leaning on a solid object, as I haven’t learned freemounting yet. I’ve been concentrating on increasing the distance I can ride. If you watch the video, you can see at around 1:04, I nearly lost it, but managed to continue. What I don’t understand is how I manage to ride for 2 minutes but not go for 20 minutes.

Just keep that up and you’ll be riding miles in no time.


I have been doing exactly that, and can manage the small bumps & inclines. Unfortunately we got 1 - 2 inches of snow last night. Looks like I will be taking a 5-month break.

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Of course, I mean riskier than learning to unicycle. :stuck_out_tongue:

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You are doing great. Sounds like you are just getting tired. Ride more to get fitter. If you don’t keep pushing and the uni gets beyond vertical, the dismount is inevitable.

Concentrate on getting your weight on the seat with no weight on the rising pedal.


Welcome @combike! That’s pretty impressive! I learned to ride the uni at age 58. I can relate quite closely to the stage that you’re at, because I was there quite recently. I had the high heart rate too, which came from fear of falling exacerbated by feeling really unstable all the time. This will all sort itself out with more time in the saddle (in my case, it took quite a lot and I’m by no means there yet).

A few months ago, I could ride indefinitely, but every so often I would feel I was about to fall off. I learned to shift my weight to the pedals briefly so I could adjust my position on the saddle when my position started to drift off. I still find it quite hard to correct my foot position on my pinned pedals.

I’d recommend learning to hop. Just hopping (from a support) is really easy. Transitioning from riding to hopping back to riding takes more work. It’s a useful skill by itself, and it really helped me to get beyond the stage of feeling askew on the saddle and unable to fix it.

Your riding looks very smooth, even if it may not feel like it! You’re not staring at the ground just in front of your wheel, which is good. That looks like quite a narrow tire, which is going to feel squirrelly.


Learning freemounting will be extremly helpfull, because it takes pressure away from you, you don’t have to ride as far as possible anymore.
I my case, I’ve learnt unicycling this summer at age 55, I was able to ride more than 1000m only after I could successfully freemount. Aside from that riding on unpaved surfaces has helped me a lot to keep control and increase my stamina.
But it is still a strenuous job after all or lets say good training :smiley:

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Hi Sean, kudos to you. I’m 63 and have been trying to master the skill for quite some years but really put in a sustained effort during lockdown in Melbourne, Australia. My training buddy is now riding the streets, bunny hopping, free mounting etc while I’m stuck on a plateau although have moved away from the wall.

I’m on a break as was getting very frustrated. I mount from the curb or from a solid object like fence or wall mainly. 100 metres is impressive, my best effort is a few metres.

Welcome @Circusgrrl
For me, I really got it by just riding at a ferry wharf repeatedly where there is a smooth railing that I could glide my hand above. Make sure your seat height is not too low.
It is true though, some people will take much longer to learn than others. If you have good side to side balance, then the forward backwards balance is really the only thing to work on. If not, then it will probably take longer to ride. But keep at it, one day it will just magically happen that you’ll be able to ride some distances :slight_smile:


We are all desperate for you to succeed, Circusgrrl!

Do your short rides tend to end in an uncontrollable turn to either the left or right? This is a long shot suggestion, but can you try something? Throw your arms out to one side (you don’t need a unicycle to do this) but at the same time, pivot your hips to the other side. Maybe your arms and hips are heading in the same direction during corrections, when you might try instead having them go in an opposite direction. Try the same thing in the forward / backward axis. Throw your arms out from but stick your butt out the back. Pull your arms in and suck your butt in at the same time. Just a crazy, off the wall suggestion…

Keep practicing!

You just have to keep trying. It took me 2 years to get to where I am now, but I can’t practice during the winter because it’s way too cold (and often slippery), so now I’m on an involuntary 5-month break. Moving away from the wall is a great idea. I found I was depending on the wall far too much, so I decided to keep away from the wall. Just out of curiosity, how old is your training buddy? As we age, our balance degrades, reflexes get slower, and it gets harder to learn things. Supposedly, children can learn this skill in 10 - 20 hours. If your training buddy is younger, that could explain the difference. Even if not, different people can have more or less trouble to learn a new skill, but I believe everyone can learn. It just may take some of us a bit longer. One thing I did was to measure the circumference of my wheel, and each time I tried, counted the number of revolutions of my wheel. That gave me the distance I rode each time, and wrote it on a paper. Afterwards, I calculated the average, minimum & maximum distance I rode each session, and did not get discouraged because I saw my average slowly increase. Even when it didn’t seem to improve, I looked back to a few months prior, and realized that I had really improved. I fully believe I will succeed, and so will you. Determination will get you through this plateau. Some of us just have a harder time getting our brains to learn this new (and very difficult) skill. Personally, I believe that this is the most difficult skill I have ever learned, but I’m a stubborn S.O.B., so I’ll beat this thing. I also have to observe that the wonderful discussion on this forum is extremely encouraging, and I’m already itching to get back on the uni and prove (to myself) that I can do it. :+1: :+1:


Don’t give up in winter. If you can walk, you can ride.

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If you can do a few metres then you must have the basic skill. You are almost there.

My guess is you are riding without sufficient margin for error. This happens if you are too upright for your level of skill. Rapid balance is through changing the lean on your body. We lean a little further forward when the wheel gets too advance and become more upright when the wheel is too retarded to keep the wheel under out centre of gravity. If your default riding position is fully upright you have nowhere to go if the wheel gets too retarded.

Lean ever so slightly forward at the hips. This will increase the backwards tilt on the unicycle when the wheel is right under you. This geometry is a lot more forgiving of slight errors in the position of the wheel than being fully upright.

Balance like this mimics the balance when standing on your feet to it is very natural. The response is far too slow if you try to do all the forwards and back balance with wheel position.

Hello Stan, I’m from Montreal too. I think we tried to connect last year and then we lost track. In my very humble opinion, you can’t go further because you strain all of your strength by riding ‘standing on’ your legs. If you have read the forum, everybody is always speaking of seating down in the seat and that’s the point. You must have your legs moving ‘freely’ like when you pedal on a bike. The way to obtain this is to balance forward and have your feet ‘float’ on the pedals. It’s easier in theory than in practice :wink: Try to keep this in mind and either to force yourselves to seat down hard in your seat leaning ahead or to not push on your pedals but to follow them. I believe that practicing is important but understanding is the key to progress. I’m riding all year long, I have a studded tire for winter and if you want to try it, let me know :wink:

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