SUCCESS! Journey of a Scared Old Kid

Sorry but I just have to share my happiness today. I’ve been learning for two weeks about an hour a day and today I made 20 pedals.

I’m 57 and this sport scares the heck out of me. I blame You-Tube for tricking me into this. I watch dozens of “How To” vids and everybody struggled but where so happy when they finally had success. The one guy (Mike B) with his “yes yes YES” really hooked me.

Big thanks to the forum and all you folks for great advice.

The begining

What worked for me was going to local tennis court. I didn’t like going along chain link fence so I started at the Tennis net post and worked my way along the net. The net worked because the closer you get to middle the more wobbly it is so you can’t relay on it so much. This forced me to balance more.

3 days of this and I could let go of net and ride a few pedals. I fell on my behind a few times and now I got really scared. Going off front was ok but uni flying out in front and me going down almost made me quit.

Bought some elbow pads and stuck a mouse pad in my shorts and with new found courage started to just get up and net post and then push off. I was hooked on this crazy sport from then on. Cheers!


Question remains why you have such a tendency to fall backwards?
Is there a particular situation in which it happens?
Does it happen when you go fast, or when you go slow?
After cycling a few pedals of just after take-off?
When you feel like losing control do you swing your feet of the pedals while you behind stays on the seat

Perhaps this can give some insight on why / how it happens

So far it only happened in the first few days. I’m sure it will happen again but trying hard to put those thoughts out of my mind. It was after a couple of pedals and my guess because I let wheel get out in front to far.

All the advice says to have your back straight up and in line with seat post angle. I keep trying to invision this as I rode however after watching many more videos where people are very successful I found many of them had the seat post angled backward a very little bit compared to their spline.

I want to someday ride off road trails and all those riders seem to not be totally straight up. So are they doing it wrong or is this the reality of the sport??

(a) When you slow your pedals (and continue to lean) you’ll fall off the front.
(b) When you sit up too far (and continue pedaling the same cadence) the wheel will slip out the front.

Falling off the back is unsettling. I’ve been riding ~18 months and this summer came off the back and clawed an unprotected calf with a metal stud pedal.

“Pain is knowledge rushing in to fill a gap.” Jerry Seinfeld

This is genius. It hits the middle ground between the two camps of “hang on to something till you get it” versus “just launch yourself into space”.

“Knowledge is gained right after you needed it the most”…

That advice is utter nonsense. While riding steadily forwards, the frame is always leaning slightly back.

This orientation stabilises the uni by introducing “trail” to the geometry, placing the tyre’s point of contact with the road behind the axis in the same way as the front forks of a bicycle or motorcycle put the contact point behind the steering axis.

Secondly, aligning the frame and back would mean the vertical movements caused by every bump in the road would be transferred straight up into the rider while the horizontal forces would push the uni out from under them without much means to stop it. With the frame leaning, the upward forces tend to rotate the frame while the horizontal forces can be resisted using a component of the rider’s weight. This is precisely the way forces are handled in a leading arm suspension system.

Obviously, the centre of mass of the body must be above the point of contact of the wheel with the road or it would not support the rider. Hence the rider must lean slightly forward to compensate for the backwards lean of the frame.

The rougher the terrain the greater the lean to enhance the suspension effects. Greater lean (and hence trail) also helps overcome the tendency for the wheel to autosteer on cross grades.


Thanks for clearing that up for me. I was hoping that my slight angle was ok. I’m now wondering if what your talking about “auto steer” is way went I forced the seat post to be vertical I tend to get a wheel that wants to go left then right then left etc.

So is this also like “caster wheel” effect? Sometimes it feels like I’m riding the shopping cart with the one crazy wheel.

Just wanted to say Congrats!

Congrats on your progress! :smiley:

Congrats on your progress. Keep riding, I’m sure as you progress you will stay motivated; all the little bits of progress we make learning to ride is enjoyable. I’ve been riding just over a year now and still on a steep learning curve. Every little bit of progress is encouraging and unicycling remains a great challenge. =)

Turning the corner

Today it is really feeling like I’ve turned the corner on learning to ride. Now I just need to learn to turn corners. HaHa

The main things I’ve think help me get here:

  1. Buy enough protective gear so that you are not always worrying about falling.

  2. Practice everyday for atleast an hour. I’ve noticed it takes me about 15 minutes to even start to relax and get better.

  3. Keep head up and look off into the distance.

Keep on.

Me thinks your going to break my record of 70hrs before getting it. Most people brag about their 1 minute ramp up time to get it…or claim to do so. The fact that you are still struggling, doing research, but thoroughly obsessed with uni is awesome.

Don’t be discouraged that you haven’t got it, yet. Don’t take “anything” as exact scientific principle that you must do. Yes, try it, change it, do the opposite. Just do it.

Remember your journey, because you “will be” trying to help others get it when you do. The best teachers are the ones who “struggled the most” and thus overcame/learned the most. Not the naturals who got up in 1 hr. How can they teach you how to be a natural?

Seriously, your avatar is a kite surfer. No fear!!! Keep on.

Quote : Sorry but I just have to share my happiness today. I’ve been learning for two weeks about an hour a day and today I made 20 pedals.

Excellent, I found that having a brag about the gains is balm to the spirit, keep it up, it also helps beginners as well for inspiration… superb news, well done you. We are all different, but until others reach your age, they can never really offer practical sage advice 100%, it is all down to the individual. If you can stay upright long enough to do what you want to do, then brilliant… any advance on that is just pure practice…!!!

learning to ride.

you’re well on your way. If you’ve never seen the video Connie cotter has on learning to ride, she has some good pointers in it.
I just started to ride again after a 40-year leave. Sure you’re going to take some falls that’s just part of the game. You just need to learn how to save your self from a real good fall that might get you hurt. It’s not like a bike where you try and catch your balance by using the bike. With a unicycle, you’ve got to get your feet on the ground as quick as possible, This is by taking your feet straight
to the ground and forgetting about the unicycle so that you can catch your balance. Get your self some peddles that don’t have the pins to where you can slide your feet off for this. Keep it up the more you ride the better you’ll get. Learn how to put all your weight on the seat it will take some of the stress off your legs. Take a look at where the seat height is set, Connie tells you in the video where it’s best for learning to ride. I’ve found for myself that if it’s set to low it can be harder to keep your balance. Hope this helps you a little.:smiley:

While I think this is generally good advice, I can see how having a lot of weight in the seat can result in a bad fall. The feeling of floating on the pedals may be, for a beginner, the precursor to falling. Too much weight on the pedals, on the other hand, while exhausting, helps to assure there is contact with the pedals.

Weight in the seat helps keep the unicycle stable; it keeps the seat from moving around. I wonder if that stability is really what beginners need, not weight in the seat per se. Raising the seat may help stabilize the unicycle.

That rings true with what I remember of learning. Weight on the pedals = prepared to make a quick getaway! It was the thigh burner rides, when I was steady enough to go about a hundred yards, where I really started working on weight on the saddle. Riding along my practice wall was at least a chance to start thinking about weight on the seat and pedals, and to work on planned, controlled dismounts.

Got to 100 yards last night

This advice is ringing true at this stag of my learning. I’m going in and out of having my weight fully in the seat. Often I have to mentally force myself to seat down harder and those are the times I most feel the little movements of the unicycle. I still often place too much weight on pedals and that is when it become most unstable.

The miss leading thing for me where all the you tube videos of super advanced riders who often rode up out of the saddle and in the most extreme cases just riding the wheel (the unis that don’t even have a seat post or seat.

Dominant foot for thrust vs. mounting?

Before I start to learn to free-mount I have to figure out my dominant foot. Yes I’m still unsure which foot this is. I’m right handed and I’ve tried the old "fall forward and see what foot you catch yourself with but it’s not a true test because I’m thinking about it as I’m doing it. Also the walk forward and see what foot you start with and again doesn’t work because I’m thinking about it as I do it. Sometimes it’s left other times right.

When I Wakeboard I like my left foot forward with light pressure and my right is back driving the board. Also when i surf same thing. The only real clue I have is when I mount a bicycle I start on left side of bike place left crank forward then put left foot on… give a push and throw right leg over seat and away we go.

So when I began to learn unicycle at a post or wall I’ve been placing left pedal low, left foot on, step right foot up and roll back a bit so that left foot is now forward, then thrust with a left foot crank much like my mounting a bicycle.

The problem is as I see Free-mounting videos folks use their step up foot as their forward thrust foot.