I agree absolutely from my experience with beginners. I have taught three riders who all learnt basic riding in an afternoon session. I alerted them early about gripping the saddle between the thighs. The right saddle height isn’t about weight on the seat but about how it places the point of contact with the inner thigh at a location that moves relatively little and can act almost like a simple pivot rather than involving the hips much at all.
With weight on the pedals and a thigh grip on the saddle, the resulting three point linkage between rider and wheel is the minimal geometric case of the uni motion system. Neglecting ankle movement (which can be minimised with robust ankle covering boots, which I also recommend for beginners), the moving points of the system come down to hub, pedal, knee and thigh/saddle interface in a simple quadrangle. There are no degrees of freedom other than pedalling.
Moreover, the upper body is largely isolated into a separate system at the thigh/saddle contact point.
Learning the basics is always going to be easier when the system is reduced to its simplest elements and thigh gripping really is the key to it.
As we advance our skills we become more adept at utilising the extra degrees of freedom available by integrating the upper body movement with the legs but that is a far more a complex proposition for the nervous system to manage. Then we can learn to sit down.
The thigh grip also provides a facility to twist the uni so it drives in the direction of the rider’s fall without leaning it and losing the balance. Steering into the fall is the foundation principle of any unstable system, including walking with which uni has a surprising amount in common. Another of my suggestions to learners is to think about it like walking. “Put the wheel where your front foot would be if you were walking”.
Of course the advanced rider integrates balance and steering by moving their weight or tilting the wheel with their hips which requires the combination of skills. The learner needs the uni to basically stay upright so the balance and direction systems are relatively independent allowing their brain to come to manageable terms with what are otherwise complex movements in three axes.
Such techniques are certainly not optimum for riding but they work for a beginner because they isolate the components riding skills into fathomable sub-systems.
No! Consider yourself lucky and work on both sides together. You will probably eventually gravitate to one side but try to resist the temptation and you will be a better rider for it. Ambidexterity is a blessing in uni.
Riding out of the saddle isn’t as super advanced as the beginner imagines. In fact you will be surprised what you will suddenly be able to achieve far sooner than you expected.
A really rewarding part of the learning curve arrives surprisingly soon where your improving technique and increasing strength lead to remarkable gains in ability over a very short time. Once you really master the balance you stop having to fight to the keep the uni upright and getting out of the saddle seems quite natural.
These are called Ultimate Wheels, for fairly obvious reasons. I have 28 and 24 inch UWs in my collection. It is early days. All I have ever done is stand on them and move about a bit with most of my weight supported on a frame.
Obviously they would not be very satisfying for a uni beginner, but for an accomplished rider, the feeling of what it means to be without the frame is quite insightful, even the little I have tried with them. On my last session I actually started to feel comfortable for a brief moment or two without putting weight on the supports.
Thanks that means a lot to me. I’m having fun but still a bit terrified.
When I see the “impossible” things people do on unicycles I think my simple riding should be a walk in the park. I mean people get so bored that they have to start juggling and ride super high uni’s. Let along wheel walking etc.
Good on you, just keep riding. Each day you ride will bring challenges of its own. Sometimes you may even feel like you have gone backward, but, given time, you will get to the point where you can just relax and enjoy being on a unicycle and enjoy the quietness of cruising along on one wheel without needing to concentrate or think about what you are doing. Make the most of each day. Enjoy each triumph. Make goals and celebrate your achievements. Good on you!
Just keep riding. You will get there, If you have gotten 100 yards id say start challenging yourself to do large diameter turns both ways. Any small new skill learned will effect the rest of your riding in a positive way. The relaxation will come.
If you don’t know which foot, it doesn’t really matter. You will figure it out eventually just by ignoring it for now and then later on, looking to see which foot is doing what.
In my case, the foot I mount with (first foot on) is the same one I ride one-foot with, put first on the tire for wheel walk, etc. Not everyone uses the same foot for all of those, but I’m clearly dominant with both my right foot and hand. Many unicyclists are dominant with the opposite side as their hand.
Don’t try spitting into the wind. Blowing snot in a cross wind many also create unexpected results.
With some experience I find it usually necessary to alter my commute route when wind gust exceed 60 mph when on a 36. A 36g in high gear will get increasingly difficult to keep straight as road crown and wind gust speed increases. As wheel size and/or height of rider’s body increases the effects of wind increase. My 43 on the road in a 40 mph cross wind gets very squirrelly.
Remember that buildings, trees, and road cuts/fills create eddies and vortexes.
Keep at it and soon you should get it figured out.
Like much beginner advice, that one is intended to remind people to sit up straight and not be a hunchback. Most then sit up a lot straighter but very few actually try to line up the frame and their spine. But even if they do, it’s not a bad position for learning to ride, unless you are learning on a bumpy surface…
True. That advice is intended for someone learning to ride on a flat, level surface. For most, once you move away from those areas you have passed beyond beginner into places where things get more complicated…
Not really. OneTrackMind was lying to you for PR reasons!
Okay, of course you will start to relax as soon as your rides get long enough to start thinking about other things. Pretty soon, probably. And aren’t you enjoying this sport already??
I teach dancing as a hobby and I have learned that what people are actually doing and what they think they are doing are not the same thing. Therefore, it is sometimes a good idea to encourage the student to aim for something that is simple to understand, although it would actually be impossible to achieve it perfectly.
I have taught or assisted a few riders in their early unicycling careers. The advice I give is:
Look some distance ahead, not at the floor directly in front of you.
Keep as much of your weight on the seat as possible.
Pull your hips forward and sit up straight. I know it is not literally possible to have your spine and the frame in a straight vertical line, but I might encourage someone to aim for this. A lot of beginners seem to lean or hunch forwards, perhaps because they are trying too hard, or perhaps because they feel safer keeping low. However, it is smoother and easier to balance if you keep your weight high. Therefore, pull your backside in and keep your head up.
We know this advice is a pet peeve of OneTrackMind, but nevertheless it helps precisely for the reasons described by Mikefule. When I help beginners, one thing which works well and is along the same line is “imagine there is a wire pulling your head upwards”.
Best advice. My sister in law learned it the hard way… she just cracked her tailbone trying the uni I gave my nephews for their birthday! Oops…