Stress and Unicycling

Does stress have an effect one’s one’s ability to ride the unicycle?

I’m a crummy enough unicycler (I dare not say unicyclist just yet till I get better) but there are times when I think I ride really well, usually after warming up for about a half hour, all the mechanisisms involved with the dreaded freemounting and first few yards just suddenly snap into place and I’m having a ball. And going wherever I want.

But, if I change a piece of hardware, say, to shorter crank arms or to a new tire, suddenly, for about an hour it almost feels like I’m back to the sub-level-1 drawing board, riding like crap again. Always, it eventually works out and I adjust and I decide if I want to keep the change or not.

For example: The other day, at a meeting of the New York Unicycling Club, I switched to shorter crank arms (to prepare for the upcoming LBI Unithon) and changed tires to the amazing 26 X 2.35 Big Apple (thanks again, U-Turn!) and at first, I felt like I was a total newcomer once again–unable to freemount, riding only 3 or 4 yards before bailing. Still, that Big Apple did feel like an untrained thouroughbred, and after a couple of hours, I was riding better than ever! At the meeting, I was even giving others (some riders who could hardly freemount) tips on freemounting, and successfully showing them how its done!

Which brings me to my original question.

Today, I rode HORRIBLY. After the excellent progress on the Big Apple/short cranks combo, I was itching to get out on the one-wheel all day. But then, a number of personal things went down during the day, and by the time I was out on the road, I was so stressed out that I could not think, let alone balance my fat ass over a unicycle.

I know this is only a temp thing, and tomorrow, I know I’ll be wizzing around on my groovy Big Apple. I know that the LBI won’t be a disaster because of the new upgrades. But I now wonder about stress itself–in the past, I used to find that trying to learn the unicycle was a great stress reducer. But as one get gets better, can stress start to effect the refined points of unicycling?

Indeed, does stress have a negative effect on riding the unicycle?

Kinda off subject but i think unicycling is great stress reliver.

Yes, I would say that stress does effect your ability to unicycle. For one thing (although you may not notice it) you will be more tense. For another thing (although again you may not notice it) your head will be full of stressed-out thoughts. In my learning to ride the unicycle I have found that any thoughts that weren’t positive effected my performance. And then when you aren’t riding well you get even more stressed out & probably think all sorts of negative thoughts, such as ‘I can’t ride this machine’. Again you may not be totally conscious of these thoughts.
Hope this helps.

I don’t lead a very stressful life, granted (I’m in the middle of my year off between high school and university, with no job), as I fall more or less into the category of ‘unemployed bum’ right now, but I find that lately, when I get out to play on the uni (which is often :D), it calms me way down. Even if I can’t do something I could do the day before, it ususally means I’m just having an off-day and I go practice something else for awhile before trying again. I try not to get too hung up on any failures, because in the long run, they don’t matter!

Also, when you majorly change parts on your uni, it’ll take a while to get used to them again. I was fine going from my little tiny tire to my 2.175" knobby, but when I got on my friends’ uni with a 3" or so monster, it was a bit weird. I can only imagine what changing crank lengths would do!

All in all, I’d say uniing is definitely more of a stress reliever, and I’m willing to bet that the more stress I’m under, the more likely I am to want to go unicycle :wink:

don’t sweat it, and keep practicing!

Can work both ways -good for stress relief (& I believe it’s one of the best things I can do to relieve stress) and stress effecting your riding - depending on how you’re feeling the stress & what it’s about.
Also, of course it’s a cause of ‘good’ stress - when you’re trying to achieve a trick that you’re working on, especially if it’s dangerous. The adrenalin rush is stress.
So all in all, unicycling (as you know) is fantastic - source of the good stress we need to stop us dying of boredom and a reliever of the bad stressed out feeling. Also a measure of your stress if it’s effecting your riding.


I know every once in a while Ill have a day where i just suck. Straight up. The timing just isnt there. So Ill either do some really simple riding or else (usually) just pack it up and save it for another day.

Could this have been a coincidental factor in your bad riding day, Dogbowl? I dont mean to imply that because i suck sometimes you suck too…but you know what i mean. :stuck_out_tongue:

I can certainly understand stress effecting performance.

There are a couple other factors ive been thinking about that could have an effect on performance. The first being what food i eat before a ride. And the other…well…sex. But we can save those for another thread sometime.

Well, I always put those random suck days down to the time of the month but I guess most of you can’t do that.

Re: Stress and Unicycling

Personally - I’d say YES! The last 12 months or so of my life have probably been the most stressful I have ever had. I’m a pretty pathetic beginner, mainly due to just not practicing enough. I found that when I was emotionally messed up I just couldn’t focus enough to unicycle. If I was a more accomplished rider I think unicycling WOULD have been a stress reliever. However, as I am still at the stage when I need to think about what I’m doing, emotional stress keeps butting in when I’m trying to focus.

Make sense?


Actually, being at the stage where you need to focus is the time when it will be the greatest stress reliever because you are focusing your whole concentration on something else (if you can manage it) rather than what ever is causing you stress.

This might have already been said, but I don’t have the power to read the whole thread, so I’ll say it anyway:

I definitely think that stress effects my ability to learn new things on the uni ecpecially if the stress is from not being able to do the trick itself. Sometimes if I’m just dying to learn this new trick and I can’t get it, then I get stressed about it and just keep practicing while running on fumes. If I do that, it’t almost a guarantee that i won’t learn that trick that day because I’m so stressed about it. If I wait a few hours or even overnight when I have completely relaxed about it, I can learn the trick or at least make a lot of progress.

The second thing is, it might just be that change of crank lengths. I remember when I got my Nimbus X, it had much shorter cranks than my previous uni, so it felt uber strange and hard to ride on the first couple of rides. I could barely do any tricks at all, even being an almost level 6 rider! I’m getting a new tire today, so I’ll keep you posted on how new tire tread might effect you! Kinda a neat experiment, I think… :sunglasses:

And if, like me, you use retail therapy when you are stressed then what could be better than buying unicycles from (I’ve just ordered an onza muni). Hurray.

I don’t know. It must in some way. I know that when the “Birds” .gif avatar went away I was so stressed I couldn’t mount a standard 24. But when I remembered the avatar images, it all came back and I could ride.

I have days when I can’t miss and days when I can’t do anything. I attribute alot of it to aging and haven’t thought about stress so much. With aging, in the limit you can’t ride at all so I must be getting progressively worse and weaker. It’s annoying, especially when it is fine skill related and not power skill related. Missing a ride on a skinny or missing an accurate hop to balance on a small object is much more irritating to me than not making the high vertical hop or landing the five foot drop.

But I don’t know if stress is a factor in the bad days. I hadn’t thought about it. I usually think more along the lines of back pain, knee pain, muscle cramps, sleeping poorly, and things like that. Usually I start bad and end up OK. Sometimes I start bad and end worse.

I would have to say stress definetely ahs an effect. These last few weeks have been really stressful with finals coming up, happening, the end of track season, etc., and my trials skills have gone down the toilet. i could hardly hop up a 18" ledge, and kept freezing when trying a 20", which I can normally do.

It sucks. I hate it.

Re: Stress and Unicycling

That lycra doesn’t make you look fat. You look fine.

One of the reasons I love unicycling so much is because when I’m pushing myself, I’m thinking about one thing, and one thing only.

Riding, for me, makes dealing with any amount of stress a lot easier. It’s a nice break from everything, with your mind on something else for a while.

Yea, the occasionly off day would piss anyone off. I don’t consider myself a beginner, if that makes any difference… so riding gives me something intensive to do, and just clear out my head.