Time to get to distance

How long did it take folks here to make the transition from shorter runs with dismounts driven by fatigue to say a 1km continuous ride (not counting UPDs)?

For you was it a gradual transition, or was it more like a plateau with a sudden breakthrough?

I’m doing 30-45min sessions which consists of 200-500’ run before leg fatigue forces me to dismount, followed by a few minutes of walking, then another 200-500’ stint, etc. Feels like riding 1km is a long way off, but maybe its right around the corner?


Maybe it’s a seat-height adjustment away.

hi chief,

i was kind of in your postion and found you just had to force yourself to do distances,i found a trading estate near me that was a straight line and a trip up and back was 1/2 mile so i aimed for 4 times to make me do 2 miles,to start with i found it hard going but just kept with it and it got easier,quicker and with longer runs without upd’s and longer distances.

i kept track of my times using map my tracks and looking back at them to help me with motorvation and for something to aim for. i am sort where i want to be with distances but want more off road pratice on my hatchet but weather is stopping me so i just learning idling currently.

go for it as it does get easier!!

As already said… change your saddle height… raise it to the top! When learning weight on the saddle is hard to achieve, but I did experience that a really high seat can make you always seated more or less. You’ll be used to seat soon and than when lowering the saddlle to a best spot you’ll find yourself always looking for that sweet feeling of moving without effort you experienced with high saddle

I know seat adjustment can do wonders for leg fatigue but getting your weight in the seat will be the biggest help.
in my case it was sort of quick but I was riding every morning before work about 45 min and then at lunch a lot of times. but I will say during that time I played with seat height and made sure it was as high on the nose as possible
and when I did settle in to putting most of my weight in the seat it just flowed.
I will add that right now I have shimmed the seats to lift the nose higher on all 3 of my unis and it has helped me with the distance riding
like mOOns said find a distance to shoot for and go for it

Seat height and getting the weight in the saddle is a big part of the equation. The other part is simply increasing your leg strength. Even relatively fit people that start unicycling do have to develop their leg muscles (mostly quads) for longer distances. When I started road riding I could go about a mile before leg fatigue kicked in and I started to wonder how I was going to dismount without crashing.

It took me about 8 months of training before I could do 15 miles in one setting and do a 50 mile day. A lot of that training was up and down a short 12% grade before I started putting more open road miles in.

I have already maxed out the seat height. My knee is barely bent. I know the issue is being able to relax and get the weight on the seat, I am getting a bit better at that every day-- ironically, as my legs get really tired by the end of my workout, I’m able to sit on the seat more and get the longest distance on my runs!

I’m just wondering if the clickover to constant weight on the seat generally just improves slowly over time, or one day it just clicks all of the sudden.


Leg fatigue has not been a limiting factor of any of my rides, even as a beginner. I would get sore back muscles as a beginner from going around my block a few times, but not leg soreness. And the back soreness wouldn’t stop me.

As soon as I started wanting to ride to the train station to go to work, I could do it. I was actually choosing to take a longer route because I was a bit unsure of a hill on the shorter more direct route. (One day a couple of weeks later I tried the hill and I worked out it wasn’t that bad so after that, I stuck to the shorter route).

For the back pain: After a couple of consecutive days of distance riding on a 36er, I worked out I could eliminate all back pain if I ride with 2 hands on the handles.

BHC… you’re almost there.

It (legs, lungs, and skills) improves over time but I bet you are due real soon for a big jump in distance if you keep it up.

It took me about 6 weeks of riding 1-2 hours a day to ride the 1/4 mile loop around my neighborhood (with a small incline/decline section) without dismount. By week 7-8, I could ride more than 1 mile without dismounting. So, my progression was somewhat geometric.

Practicing is making you stronger, for sure. But the secret to distance, I think, is to keep yourself from crossing a certain threshold of effort. When you cross that threshold, you get worn out, and you lose control. At a certain point, you’ll start exerting less than that threshold, and then your distance will go crazy nuts.

In the meantime, try not to stress out whether your next run is going to be your longest. You may end up using more energy that way. Though my memory is fuzzy on this point, for me the real distances corresponded with riding a bit more slowly. You might try that.

You will eventually get around to putting more weight in the seat. There has been some disagreement on the forums about how important this is for beginners. My attitude is that it will come eventually. I suggest the following mantra: “Lazy ass, lazy ass, lazy ass…” Eventually your ass will believe it is lazy and settle into the seat.

You’re making great progress, Chief!

Thanks for the comments everybody, I appreciate it. One thing I do notice is sometimes when my legs start to really burn-- if I am able to settle in the seat just for a bit, then my legs instantly feel better and recover even while I’m pedaling. But I can’t hold that balance for very long and then I start putting more weight back on the pedals. But at least I’m not falling over now!


I’d say like most things with the unicycle that “slowly improves over time” would be normal. Its takes time to burn in your muscle memory so that things just happen with very little thought and no conscience effort.

My first successful ride to work 2.5KM was 3 months after I started learning to unicycle. It was then 4 months after starting when I did my longest ride over the Ted Smout Memorial Bridge and back (3rd longest bridge in Australia) and that was on a 20" which I don’t recommend. If you’re going to ride distance around where you live you may want to learn a few skills before going on long rides.

Learning how to handle transitions is very important as when you’re riding you won’t have the luxury of riding the same surface everywhere. Example learn how to stay on the uni when you ride from concrete to grass. Or when riding down little dips from the footpaths to cross the road. Riding off curbs can be handy but it’s very hard to learn initially and you can mostly avoid riding off curbs.

Try and learn how to handle changes in elevation, can you handle your uni going downhill/uphill? Can you mount downhill/uphill when you need to? You also need to learn how to stop instantly when you need to and how much space you need to do such a thing.

I don’t know about the seat height. Even with a high seat, when ur new to unicycling you still stand on the pedals more than you sit and naturally your legs have to get used to riding. I remember when doing the first 100 metres and my legs were killing me, but being able to ride 100 metres stimulated me in trying more and more and more and gradually I got stronger and better.
I would argue that sitting up straight on the unicycle and naturally feeling that you actually sit on the seat instead of stand on the pedals, will speed up the process, but you just need to keep at it.
This part is not what takes the most time. Once you can do 2km you can do 4km and riding 15 miles to me sounds like a very long ride. I generally ride 10-20km, which is fine for me. For me it is not leg soreness with distance, but saddle soreness.
So Big Chieftan, like peeps say, you are nearly there, just keep at it.

Gockie…you ride a 36er…dang…pretty good…how tall are you? is dismounting scary? :slight_smile:

Dismounting a 36er is fine! It’s the mounting I can’t do (except if I tyre grab)…
I also just started riding 5 foot giraffes… riding that is a bit freaky.

I’m 166cm tall, with 77cm inseam and I have issues with the KH36 in that my legs only just reach with 150 cranks with the seat right down, so 125mm cranks work for me on that uni.

36" dismounting is fine but you need to be careful when at speed or going downhill, I think I got a slight ankle sprain going down an extremely steep dip I leaned back into the slope and came down fast. Brakes help you dismount more gracefully and slowly.

It’s all in the rolling mount, is your giraffe getting a lot of use? Can you mount it solo or do you need a friend to hold it every time?

if you think dismount is scary, bring a pillow and throw it in front of you before you land. Might also be good advice for when you UPD :stuck_out_tongue:

My big leap forwards was buying the QuAx Luxus 20. It replaced the unbranded 20 I started with, which had way too short a seat post and a way too small a saddle. (The QuAx also had a better tyre but I literally wore that down to the canvas in two weeks.)

Suddenly I went from doing tens of metres, to hundreds of meters, then to kilometres within a month. Like the rainy night riding finally clicked for me in my front yard, every time I made an advance it spurred my enthusiasm so I tended to ride even more and make big leaps quite quickly.

I took to sitting down quite easily because I was learning under the instruction to sit up very straight with weight on the seat. I now know that those instructions also made it harder for me to get riding but it meant I had good technique when I did finally get going.

It is important to realise that learning to ride a unicycle is a journey rather than a goal. It doesn’t matter how long you take to learn or what you learn first. (Some people start by leaning to mount into a still stand.) Every kind of learning experience helps build a part of the incredibly complex neural network the rider builds in their brain.

It was the same when I learnt entirely on grass until I could ride ten metres. Sure made it hard to learn but when I went out the front gate I was well prepared for the irregularities of old concrete paths because I understood weight distribution between feet and backside.

But if you find yourself riding around standing, just enjoy the workout. It will make you a stronger rider very quickly. That strength provides the power required to easily adjust very rapidly, which in turn improves the balance performance. You can more easily accelerate out of trouble. Better balance makes it easier to sit down. Problem solved.

There is no bad way to learn if you get there. Fortunately most riders gravitate (quite literally) into sitting because their legs demand it. Unicycles are so unstable that riders either develop good technique or eventually give up.

The central solution to riding well is to just keep riding. You will achieve unexpected levels of skill that you had not initially imagined, a lot sooner than you ever expected. That stage of learning is really fun.

That’s how I see this too. Time and practice. No secret tricks, no easy ways.

It’s just about getting the muscles to work where they haven’t had to before. Strong bicycle riders may struggle with distance on a unicycle, different muscles used differently. I think nothing of doing 50-60km rides over 3 to 4 hours. I recently bought a road bike (you know “joined the dark side”) thinking longer rides would be a cinch. No way, I’m struggling to do half the distance I do on a unicycle, and not much faster at that.

Find out what wears you out and do more of it. Quads are the main strength muscles, if you want better hills you will need those stronger. Squats can help there, but it’s not just strength it’s also control, squats don’t help with that only real world practice.

It’s not just strength. Unicycle riding is a faster cadence for longer, that can also be tiring and is only resolved with time and effort.