Greetings from Austria in the heart of Europe! My name is Mario and I‘m a long distance runner. A few weeks ago I experienced some knee problems and decided to pause running for a while. All of a sudden I had a lot of extra time and no plan what to do. Then I found my kids’ old unicycle in the garden shed and started riding it. That was a week ago. I don’t know how many times I fell down or drove into the bushes since then. I never tried to hold on anywhere.
Today I rode 2km on meadow and gravel, and I can now mount freely with both legs well.
My problem at the moment is that I’m as exhausted after a few 100m of riding as I am after a sprint in running.
How have you guys been doing with it? Does it get better, or is it just insanely exhausting to ride a unicycle?
With practice it will become easier. Make sure to put some of you weight on the seat because that will save a your legs a lot of work. The more you ride the more comfortable you will feel and the more your legs can relax. Wheel size and crank length can also have effects. Larger diameter wheels require less pedaling than smaller wheels for the same distance but require more force to pedal. Keep on practicing and you will get better.
Thanks for the quick feedback. I will definitely continue unicycling. Looks like I’m the only one riding outdoors around here in my area in Vienna. I get stared at everywhere and the kids are happy seeing me riding this thing. I still have to get used to that.
Welcome to the forum.
I started 3 month ago at the same age as you and I practice 5-6 days a week between 30 and 60 min. My background is a fair bit of running and biking every week. In the beginning 100m was very exhausting. Now I can go a few km before getting exhausted. It gradually becomes easier with practice but everyone’s learning curve is likely different.
Experiement a bit with the seat post height. You need to almost extend your legs fully at the bottom of the stroke just like on a bike. Also try differen crank length. Everyone is different and longer is not always better even if it gives more torque.
Now you did not mentioned the size of the uni and although I agree that 20" is probably a good size for learning I was not able to cover any kind of distance before I started riding a 24".
Thanks Hammer, it‘s good to hear, that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
I ride the kids 20" bike, replaced the seat post with a longer one. It will have to do for now. I have already noticed that the seat height makes a big difference. Thanks for the hint, I’ll try making it a bit higher.
Yesterday a pedal came off the crank because I had mounted the seat the wrong way around. Today I lost the crank while riding. I really still have a lot to learn …
I’m going to spend a few more days driving around - on meadows, gravel, uphill and downhill. As soon as I can drive forward safely, I will try learning to drive backwards, then idle.
I hope this all works out the way I think it will.
I’ve started 4.5 months ago and try to ride every day for 1-1.5 hours.
My ambition is probably a bit different than yours since I already own 4 different unicycles and I aim to progress in trials, street and mountain unicycling (freeride/downhill).
I can even ride the trials uni easily for several km’s in a row without getting tired, so yes it does change. But the biggest changei is not in growing in strength or endurance, but merely in improving the technique.
Just focus on rotating your cranks with as little pressure on the cranks as possible. This will force you to put your weight in your seat and because you pedal without pressure, it’ll be much easier to keep riding in a straight line wirhout having to use your arms for balance.
What’s really wearing you out is your lack of experience. Your muscles will get stronger, but what will really make the difference is you developing a familiarity with the unicycle. Once your muscles are no longer constantly fighting each other in an attempt to keep you upright it will get much easier and eventually it will be easier than walking or jogging.
You are amazing if you only tried unicycling a week ago and can already ride 2km on different ground surfaces, and freemount!! Both legs too, it’s actually quite uncommon.
Just keep riding, you are doing awesome
Wow, thank you for your many responses and the warm welcome.
This gives me courage!
I am very ambitious when learning new things and I am not at all afraid to fall. That seems to be pretty important when learning to ride a unicycle. At least it is for me.
I crashed by motorbike yesterday. The front tire slipped away on wet tramway rails - exactly at the moment when the opposite tramway came. Fortunately, I did not get under the wheels. The motorbike was less lucky.
With a cracked rib, I think I’ll have to take a few days off.
Two wheels seem to be one too many…
But I have to wait anyway for the delivery of the crank bolt and the new pedals. After all, we’re still in lockdown here.
Sorry to hear about your motorcycle accident and hope rib heals quickly.
With one wheel as others have said here about weight on the seat, try just resting against a wall for support and without riding just play with putting your weight on the pedals and then lift pressure off feet so your weight goes onto the seat so you can get a feel for it.
With distance I remember being in the same position and just build your distance up as it does get easier and being a distance runner I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Yay, I am back to riding again! My rib is good enough and the crank screw I had lost while exercising was delivered. Given the opportunity I have upgraded to BMX pedals with pins, which I have immediately engraved into my shins.
I had used the past days to watch beginner tutorials and realized that I had taught myself a completely wrong technique for mounting. Instead of balancing the pedal next to me while jumping onto the other pedal I was immediately putting my weight onto the opposite pedal and turned with momentum over the dead point while jumping onto the saddel.
Maybe I’ll make a video of this weird technique and put it in there.
Today I tried the right technique and was able to master it after half an hour. Actually, it is completely logical to mount like this.
Thanks for the tip about smooth pedaling @m00ms . That helped me a lot.This makes driving much more relaxed and I can concentrate more on the balance.
Before learning to ride backwards, I have decided to learn idling. This sequence seems more logical to me now, because that’s just a more complicated way of stopping.
Whatever. I’m really glad I started unicycling. It’s really fun.
I started riding at the young age of 43 (younger than you!) and was a busy dad with young kids, not in the greatest of shape b/c no time to exercise. Fast forward 12 years of unicycling, I am fairly fit and largely unicycle up/down hills in our hilly area (hills are much more fun and a better workout) and routinely ascend/descend 300-400m or more on a typical ride.
I think you getting exhausted after a few 100m is you probably have a small wheel that beginner’s use (20") with long crank lengths (150 or so). After couple of months or so, I outgrew my 20" and went to a 26". Much better. Single revolution takes you so much farther, legs aren’t spinning. Then after a few months I started feeling my legs were spinning and switched from 150 mm to 100 mm cranks. Much better. Then after a few months a 36" unicycle w 150 mm cranks. Much better. And after a few months then changed to 125 mm cranks. Much better.
Anyhow, as you get better you probably want to transition to a bigger wheel and shorter cranks. You won’t be as exhausted and it’s more fun.
That sounds great! I hope I manage to stick with it for such a long time too. My kids are grown up already. That gives me more time to practise.
There‘s a totally crazy BMX track near me in Vienna. But I‘d rather practice for a few more weeks before I venture there. Anyway, I‘m pretty sure, the 20“ unicycle will be good enough for this year. At the moment I don‘t want to be fast at all. I try to ride as slowly as possible while keeping my balance.
I have to learn to forget that I‘m on a unicycle and learn to move freely instead.