I learned to ride last year at the age of 47 and I have been gaining in distance. I can ride for half a mile (0.8 K) or better now. My goal is to be able to ride on for miles on some trails near me. I find that a lot of my energy is burned up in keeping my balance/correcting bad balance. When I am sitting just right it takes much less effort to pedal and ride. I am surprised because I thought that once you were able to ride and stay on you had it figured out, but I am learning by experience that it takes more. Does it get easier to find that perfect point of balance every time you ride?
It gets easier eventually. When you first learn, you’re getting tired from the general flailing aspect of riding; the twisting of hips, the movement of arms, the adrenaline and excitement. Eventually you’ll get comfortable, and the riding becomes more leisurely and less tiring. It just takes practice. Soon enough you’ll be enjoying those trails for miles on end!
Are you putting ALL of your weight in the saddle? Even for seasoned riders learning new styles (idling, riding backwards) it is still important to remember to keep ALL of your weight in the saddle. After making corrections for balance a learning rider tenses and puts some weight on the pedals. This is normal and is required to keep from falling. The hard thing to learn is to put that weight back on the saddle after making the correction. As you are riding, constantly ask yourself if you are doing this. I mean it. Make a conscious effort to constantly ask yourself this question and constantly relax yourself back into the saddle.
There is a reason that we tell learners over and over again to keep all of their weight in the saddle.
Then, when you learn (not if you learn) that this is true, please pick up the banner and remind all of the new riders who come onto this forum surprised that their quads are burning and they’re out of breath to please keep all of their weight in the saddle at all times.
cone of balance
I try to think of the “cone of balance” when I am riding.
Your body is an upside down cone with the pointy end sitting on the seat.
When learning you are at the top of the cone and have to make big movements, the better you get the further you move down the cone and you can balance with micro movements… thats you in the sweet spot
I have been riding for a little over 3 months and the advice about putting your weight on the saddle is so true. I can ride 6-7 miles now w/o too much effort. I do get tired doing hills and riding on grass. I have a street tire 29er and it tooks lots of concentration to get to this point. I also ride my bicycle fairly often. For me they are quite different and took time to think differently while doing both. I try to think of my legs while riding my unicycle as two pistons.
Also make sure your seat is high enough. If you’re not getting good leg extension it’ll wear your legs out faster, especially your quads.
If you’re in Southeastern Lower Michigan check out the Redford Unicycle Club, where you can be inspired by watching and riding with other unicyclists. There is no substitute for the real thing; and the people there will be able to give you instant pointers based on just watching you ride.
I’ll never forget the first time visited a unicycle club (which was that one, in early 1980). I saw things done on unicycles that I’d never imagined. Namely, riding with one foot! Yes, tame by today’s standards…
I am finding that to be true also by experience. When I was only able to ride a few short bursts I had to constantly tell myself to sit and relax because most of my weight was on the pedals, which used a lot more energy. I find it easier to adjust my foot position on the pedals now.
Practice time and more weight on the seat. It’s rather amazing how long it can take until you are really calm and well seated. There’s all sorts of tips in the search about saddle shorts and seat types. That helps too, but the big thing right now is just to increase the riding time slowly.
The same goes for terrain changes too. I remember the first trip I took down a sidewalk, the individual sidewalk grooves felt like they’d toss me off. Now I don’t even think about it.
Keep at it!
Thanks John, the Redford club is an hour and a half drive from me. I know what you mean though, I was in NYC and visited the club there at Grant’s Tomb. They were doing some pretty cool stuff. Unfortunately my uni was broken that day. I have a Schwinn 24" and the seat is up to where my leg is straight, hardly bent at the knee when at 6.
Just keep putting in hours in the saddle. It’s mostly in the co-ordination, not anything cerebral. And go ride on the trails you want to ride on, you will get better faster on slightly rougher surfaces and laugh more
+1 – I waited quite a while before attempting unpaved surfaces, because I feared I was not yet “ready”. However, I found that just going and doing it improved my riding faster than anything else. I wish I’d just gone for it sooner!
I agree with that 100%. I have a street 29er and tried it on grass in an open field. I was amazed at how easy it was. I then started going off curbs and other crazy things…