Training journal while learning to unicycle

Having read the How to learn unicycling thread I was quickly redirected to reading the Journal of a New Unicycler and I thought that was a pretty neat idea, so I decided I wish to post my own thread as I learn this. Hopefully I can add a few videos like that of BurnerDave as well.

If you don’t want to read this then at least you are now warned :slight_smile:

All right, so let’s get started.


I ordered my here I realized that I would need another one. So currently I am discussing with Roger about what to buy, and getting lots of excellent input from the others on that thread. I am currently wavering between a 24" and a 26" Nimbus ISIS Muni, which would be better for learning and also for later activities other than commuting and racing.

Meanwhile, I am trying to exercise a bit to get in shape and prepare myself for the Big Task™ of learning how to unicycle.

Actually, getting a uni in the first place is something that came out of three things; 1. I need to find some sports to do in order to get in better shape, and I don’t like any of the conventional ones; 2. I have wanted to get a bike for several months for commuting to work; 3. My chiropractor said I should find some good activities for my back, like swimming or running in the forest.

Now, I figured, getting a uni would be so awesome compared to getting a plain old bike, plus sitting upright on a uni must also be better for my back than crouching forward on a bike.

My inspiration for getting a uni and more specifically a coker came from watching this video on YouTube - Unicycling In The Streets of Manhattan. Obviously these guys are pros, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being inspired by pros :slight_smile:

Pre-Uni Training

I’ve read that having strong abs help you maintain a good posture and control on top of the wheel, and so I am happy that I have already been doing some exercises for a good while. Today, like almost every day for the last few months, I did 50 push-ups and 600 crunches.

Then I have understood that having strong legs is useful, since a lot of other uni learners say they get exhausted from riding (and because they are not sitting down properly on the seat, but I have to assume I will make the same mistake). So I try to run a bit, and today I surprised myself by running for no less than 73 minutes, covering 10,2 km - I planned to do just a half hour so it will be interesting to see how I feel tomorrow… I was running on grass, actually down in the ditch along a nice country road which goes straight for probably at least 3 km quite close to my house. The ditch runs between the road and a nice bike path where I expect to unicycle a lot once I get going.

Today I met lots and lots of bikers, two people on rollerblades and no other people on foot. Shortly after turning around I noticed that my feet were hurting a little - so I expect nice blisters tomorrow. Makes me feel like I did some real exercise :slight_smile:

I already mentioned that the uni is part of a larger scheme to get in better shape, and losing weight is part of that plan. So I intend to keep track of my weight here as well. Hope this doesn’t get too boring for you, if so then don’t read it :slight_smile:

Anyway, before I started my diet today I visited a friend’s house and after having some nice BBQ food on Saturday evening I weighed in at 97 kg. Then, after taking laxatives yesterday and starting a liquid only diet, I was down to 93 kg this morning (so that would be my “dry weight”) and 92 kg after the run (so I lose a liter of sweat in one hour, this is consistent with previous experience).

Now my goal is to be down between 90 and 95 kg normally, this means I have to get down between 85 and 90kg now while I don’t have any food in my system. Obviously I will not lost 5-7 kgs just like that - but I do hope to manage over the coming weeks and months. Unicycling will be an important part of this.

Until I get started, however, I am doing my other exercises, the daily routine for building strength as I mentioned, and then for endurance I try to run once a week and swim once a week. The last two Thursdays I managed to swim 2000 meters in 50 minutes, and I hope to keep doing that, while also running. If my knees and feet are with me, it would be great to run another 10km next weekend.

Preparations for Unicycling

Unicycling is not just about strength and aerobic endurance, but also a lot about balance. It seems most of the UPDs when learning to unicycle is due to loss of balance and this is caused by the lack of mental preparation to do the impossible balancing act on top of a wheel, and due to the lack of muscles trained to do just that. I’ve read about this need to train the muscles and I look forward to do that.

Meanwhile I can practice my balance. My friend happens to have one of those new Wii Balance boards, and I’ve tried it a couple of times the last two weekends. It has lots of nice balancing games, and I’ve done fairly well on them. So far, so good.

I was also very inspired by the video of Kris Holm in the Discovery channel program More than Human, and I figured the balance board they used to measure how far he could lean to each side resembled the Wii Balance board more than just a bit.

The other important test (other than unicycling, of course) they made him do was the blind one-legged balancing, and so I tried doing that today as well, on both feet. I didn’t last long, but I expect to be able to train this as time goes by. This is also the topic of this nice thread where Kris himself, John Foss and others discuss this topic.

So that’s about as far as I’ve come for now. My aim is to keep posting here as I progress, adding some pictures and videos if I manage to work out the technical details :slight_smile:

PS: I am not sure if “Just Conversation” is the right place for this thread, but I couldn’t really find any other forums that were more suitable. If necessary, I assume the admins will move my post to the appropriate place.


Thank you for the quick and nice response! I just looked at your site and it’s a nice tack on the “how to unicycle” I think. Doesn’t make it look so difficult as some of the other tutorials I’ve seen, e.g. on YouTube (but some of them are good too). I’ve tried to order them in a somewhat sensible order here:

mounting 1
mounting 2 and initial riding
mounting 3
mounting a coker
sitting correctly
kick-up mount
spin 180
spin 180 and 360

Those are some of the ones I found while looking around :wink:

Anything unicycle related belongs in Rec.Sport.Unicycling. But its ok cause you new, just make sure next time :slight_smile:

Moving the thread?

So can I get help to get it moved there? Obviously I want it to be in the right forum, but I didn’t think that a News group was a place to post…

Arrrrgggggggg You beat me to it :angry:

Nice tutorial my friend. :smiley:

:stuck_out_tongue: :stuck_out_tongue:

You should reconsider the need for 600 crunches. Strenghten your core, because it’s those deep subtle muscles you need. And if you do abs you must do back exercises or you’ll be worse off. A 12" stability disc is great for developing the deep core muscles.

YE good job

Lillestrøm bit to far away, or i could teach you! :smiley:
if you wanna, take the train to drammen, and i’ll learn you everything you need, i even have different unicycles that you can train on!

Good luck, lillestrøm!

Good luck, lillestrøm! :slight_smile:

Now I joined this forum too, after you and Sigve told me about it. Looks good. I will read your unicycle “blog” here, but it would be nice if you keep the people on
Enhjulingsida Forum updated too. Have good luck! :slight_smile:

Some progress

Hi all and thanks for lots of encouraging comments! I will PM the Mod to get my thread moved also.

So, here’s my progression since the last time I posted. On Monday I wrote that I ran 10,2 km in 73 minutes. Today I ran (almost) the same route (I took a shortcut on the walk/bike trail instead of running along the car road (which you are not supposed to do) like last time, so I estimated it to be a 100 meters shorter one way) and ended up running 10,0 km in 67 minutes :slight_smile:

However, today it had been raining a lot so the grass was wet and therefore I ran on the asphalt instead of in the grass next to the road, and obviously that is harder than running on a flat surface. But my knee wasn’t much worse afterwards from this running than from the grass running, and I didn’t get any blisters at all under my feet, clearly this was due to sliding around inside the shoes while doing the “off-road” running last time.

In order to reduce the knee pain (the tendons are not as quick as the muscles to adjust to the activity, which is why one should always take care - in my case I will run only once a week until I feel that the knee tendons are OK, then I can run more often) I practiced lifting my feet less off the ground and keep my legs more straight. This is also good for the muscles at the back of my thighs - they need to be stretched and if I don’t stretch my legs they are of course not stretched either. Plus I stopped 3-4 times for stretching while I ran - last time I only stopped once but I also stopped for doing those balance tests (see last time’s description) so I guess it’s not really that easy to compare the total times…

Anyway, when I started running the rain had stopped and I had clear blue sky and sun, green hills and small sprouts coming out of the freshly plowed fields next to the road. Really beautiful. White coulds started forming and there was a little light drizzle for 5 minutes while I was almost halfway, just before turning around. On my way back the clouds became gray again and I realised that I was chased by the rain, as I had the wind in my back instead of from the front. So my sunglasses fogged up a little, and as I neared home I was getting quite wet from the increasing rain.

But the sun was still shining from the angle, as the clouds were only above me, and I saw a really perfect 180 degree rainbow :slight_smile:

It was so strong that I could see the secondary reversed rainbow directly inside, and also a tertiary rainbow some distance outside the primary one.

As I get very close to my house, I turned 90 degrees and ran straight towards the rainbow with the sun in my back. Then I felt I could almost even see a quaternary rainbow outside the tertiary one, at the same spacing. Perhaps it was just an illusion but the rainbows were so strong that it could perhaps be possible.

Also with all the flags hanging out in my neighborhood celebrating our national day, shining in the sun, it was really lovely.

I ran inside to check the time and was very happy that I had beat my previous time, then got the camera and ran back outside to take pictures of the rainbow. Unfortunately the clouds had already drifted away (in 5 minutes!) and there was just blue sky where the rainbow had been…

Oh well, I had a very nice experience and I am very happy that I managed to go outside for a run instead of just sitting inside as I felt like first.

And I wanted to share this nice experience with you, as well as just mention my exercising!

In other news, I did a whopping 1000 crunches on Wednesday - on the other days I did the regular 600 in addition to the 50 push-ups. And yes, BurnerDave, I know that you should do back exercises as well. I used to do that by standing on my knees and then lifting one arm and one leg (diametrically opposed) and do as many reps as I did for crunches.

Back then I would do the same number of push-ups, situps (crunches) and back exercises. My ultimate goal has been to get a 6-pack and I realised I would never succeed in that way, so I tried dropping the back exercises, and doing as many crunches as I could, rather than doing the same number as the push-ups. Also, instead of doing regular push-ups which I was doing really fast, so I could manage up to 300 push-ups, 300 sit-ups and 300 back exercises every day, I started doing them on my knuckles, and make sure I stretched my arms fully (before, I remember my friend criticising me for not doing “real” push-ups when I showed him that I could do 300). So I figured I’d go for quality rather than quantity.

I think that is also true for crunches, but it feels nice with large numbers :slight_smile:

In any case, I’ve made large progress with my abs and as I am losing a little of the subcutaneous fat on my belly can start seeing the contours of a sixpack somewhere below :slight_smile:

I don’t remember what I wrote about the diet I’m on now but I started at 97 kg last Saturday. Then on Sunday and Monday I emptied my system by using laxatives and drinking lots of water, and then I was down to 93 kg. Since then I have now managed to get down to 90-91 kg measured yesterday and today, and I think/hope this is due to burning fat. This is also why I prefer running long distances slowly than running a shorter distance faster.

Plus it is very important that I am basically not eating, just drinking this juice, which means I have lower sugar levels to burn before I start burning fat (at least I hope so). So by exercising regularly, hopefully every day soon, and keeping my energy intake low by eating less than I did before, I should naturally keep losing weight even when I stop doing the diet sometime next week.

I didn’t go swimming on Thursday, by the way, as my car broke down and I have to go to Oslo to swim. And I am afraid I’ll have the same problem until I get my car fixed. Anyway, soon the open-air pool close by will open for the season and then I can go there instead, hopefully (almost) every day.

So I hope that running and swimming will be sufficient as back exercises are concerned :slight_smile:

All right, good night and have a good weekend!

Some edits

Turns out I timed out editing to make a couple of additional comments to my text… So here goes:

Another reason for reducing the number of reps and rather do “harder ones” is that it takes less time. By going from the 300+300+300 to 50+600 I am reducing the time from about 15 minutes down to 4-5 minutes. And this is obviously very important if I am to do it every morning before breakfast…

And I think one of the most important back exercises I can do is sitting correctly, having a straight and slightly arched back rather than slouch on the chair while spending too many hours each day in front of the computer screen…

PS: Mattis and sigve, I certainly hope and think we’ll be able to organise some event in or around Oslo sometime. I just need to actually get my uni and start using it, and get sufficiently proficient that there’s any point in meeting you guys, who are already doing well…

I will post my progress here (of course, that’s the point of this entire thread), and I am enjoying your posts about your activities in the Norwegian forum run by Mattis :slight_smile:

Core muscles

Allright, so I’ve purchased one stability disc (or wobble board) and two inflatable stability discs (like flat pillows), so I can start training my balance. Good tip Also, I can put these on a chair while sitting and for push-ups and so on. This should be better for my spine, abs and back muscles I think than just sitting normally on the chair.

Now I just need to wait to get all this gear :slight_smile:

Friday night update

The wobble board arrived today, so now I can start practicing my balance :slight_smile:

Still waiting for the rest. UDC UK shipped my coker on Wednesday - it was two weeks delayed while they worked out whether it was possible to fit a muni in the same box to save on shipping, and I was discussing with you guys about what size muni to get - in the end it turned out there wasn’t room and then I figured I might as well wait a bit and try the coker before I buy another uni.

In other news, I swam 2500 meters last evening, in 51 minutes. Two weeks ago I swam 2000 m in 50 minutes. So that’s a good improvements. Mostly this was due to the fact that I swam the last 2200 m without stopping, then mostly breast and only 100m crawl for every 500m (or 400m, to be precise) of breast swimming. I managed to do 200m crawl at the finish (since I was doing a regular 100m after the 2000m mark anyway), and I was so tired I really noticed it today. But the good thing about swimming is that you get tired evenly, unlike running when your legs are dead for days, while the rest of the body is fine. So I am now waiting for the outside pool to open (or rather, the weather to get warm enough that I can go there), so I can start swimming every morning. That should do wonders.

Furthermore, at my most recent weighing, earlier this evening, I was down to 87 kg, which is 10 kg lighter than when I started out 11 days ago. That translates into a real weight loss of 6 kg. I’m going to keep doing this diet until the end of next week, and then I am hoping that I will be able to stay below 90 kg. A place I haven’t been for years :slight_smile:

Even after losing 6 kg I still haven’t really lost that much (it is definitely noticeable, but still a lot) of the belly fat and the “fat ring”, so I am probably going to have to lost another 5-10 kg (down towards 80-85 kg) before I can begin to hope that my subcutaneous fat will be more or less gone, thus achieving the infamous six-pack I’ve been dreaming of.

Well, it’s allowed to dream in any case.

Now I will start using the wobble board in the bathroom, when I am brushing my teeth etc. so I will be using it regularly, and probably also for dedicated sessions. I already tested it a little today, as soon as I got it out of the package, and I was able to stay completely balanced in the middle without much problem. Seem there is a rather essential error with the wobble board though - it is a little flat in the middle so if I reach that “zone of stability” and stay straight, then it’s not really hard at all to balance.

Probably more relevant then is to rotate my hips in a big circle and staying balanced, this is what would be useful on a uni I guess, since I will keep falling out of balance, and then I will need to adjust my upper body to adjust until I can move the uni back under my center of gravity. At least that’s how I have interpreted the various advice I’ve been reading around here and there.

The essence of unicycling, as I’ve understood it is that you should not try to move your upper body to be above the uni, but rather move the uni to be below you. Just like balancing a long stick in your hand - you have to move your hand around to keep it under the top of the stick. Simple physics. But as all such things - easier said (or in theory) than done (or in practice).

So, have a good weekend and get those unis out - I look forward to join the club!

Things are starting to happen :slight_smile:

So I ran another 10km on Tuesday, this time in just 63 minutes. So I’ve been steadily improving. That is good. Then I was going to go swimming again tonight, hoping to beat or at least keep up with my record of 2500m from last week.

However, as I was delivering my car for service at a repair shop far out on the other side of Oslo, I thought about simply going down to one of the many beaches in that area along the fjord. Why take the bus into the center to swim in a pool when it’s the time of year to swim outside?

So I did and it turned out (of course) that the water was a nice tempered 14-15 centigrade. After swimming for about 5-10 minutes my head was so cold I had to keep it above water. I checked the depth under the diving tower, as it was low tide, and went up to try it out.

Due to the low tide it was about 3-4 meters from the diving tower and I haven’t done it in a good while, so it was a nice rush. I did it three times and by then I was pretty cold, the sun had set behind the hill and there was a slight breeze. I saw a couple of teenage girls in bikinis walking along the beach and wading out and swimming just a little bit, while I was getting my clothes on. Then they walked back along the beach and I was rather impressed with how they didn’t look cold at all. Anyway, I hitched my way back to Oslo and got on the train back home to Lillestrøm.

Here I found a letter from Tollpost Globe that my new uni from UDC UK had arrived and was ready for pickup :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Meanwhile I’ve also collected my hmm what are they called again, the latex “pillows” that allow you to stand on them and train your balance, the ones BurnerDave recommended (EDIT: Stability discs). And I also got another note today for the package with my new bike helmet and additional pads that I bought from some other online shop to supplement the ones I got from UDC UK.

If I can collect all this tomorrow, I’ll be set for an exciting weekend!!!

Good night and sweet unicycle dreams to all of you :slight_smile:


So not much happened since the last post. I collected the new helmet and wrist protectors today and they were really cool :slight_smile:

But it turned out that I had to order delivery of the BIG package from UDC UK a day in advance, so no go on Friday and then I’ll have to wait until Monday evening. Problem is that next week I am really busy and then I’m going away for the weekend. So it seems it will be a while before I can really try it out. Anyway, I will of course unpack it and try some very first moves on Monday evening if all goes well.

In other news I weighed in at only 85 kg this morning, that was really a good feeling. It means that if I keep up the diet for a few more days and lose 1 kg more, I should be able to stay below 90 kg when I start eating again. And that would really be breaking a milestone :slight_smile:

I didn’t go running today like I planned, so I’ll do that tomorrow instead. But I did take a walk for an hour or so, and went by the local outdoor swimming pool. They’re opening for the season on Monday, so I plan to go there for morning swimming every day from then on. If I can manage to put in 1-2km of swimming in the time between 0700 and 0830 AM then I think that would be a major step towards getting in good shape. I’ve been much too lazy over the past 10 years or so, since I “traded” my old bike for a car in 1996…

So, no big news but big anticipation :slight_smile:

Day 1 :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Finally !!!

Today was a good day for me. I got up at 6 AM, did my regular routine of 50 push-ups and 600 crunches/situps, then jogged slowly to the outdoor pool which opened for the season today (it’s been more or less warm for a couple of weeks, but on our National Day 17 May it was snowing in the morning…).

Currently the weather is just lovely, so it was a warm morning and the water didn’t even feel cold when I jumped in, partly because I was already breaking a little sweat, and partly because it was simply warm weather (the water itself is probably the same temperature as always…).

Anyway, I ran about 2,5km to get there, then I swam 2500 meters in 67 minutes, and then I walked back the 2,5km to my house. I got back about a quarter to nine, two hours after I left (the morning swimming at the pool is from 7 AM until 830 AM). Then I was rather exhausted so I took it slowly getting a shower and so on. And then I had the first “meal” of the day, drinking half a liter of the “diet juice” that I’ve explained earlier. Exercising in the morning wiht just drinking lots of water is hopefully helping me to burn lots of fat.

Then I went to work around 11 (lazy day, I know - but I expect to get there sooner as the swimming becomes more of a routine). And since I didn’t get the famous UCD package on Friday, I called Tollpost Globe again to double check that they got my internet order for the delivery this afternoon. And of course they didn’t get it, but they had a truck going to where I live so they could deliver - but only in the afternoon. So it was a short day at work, I got back at 330 PM to pick up the package.

Of course I immediately set about to open it, but then I remembered that I had another errand that I had to do first. I might tell you about that later :wink:

I got back around 530 PM and then started to unpack and assemble my new coker (the Nimbus Nightrider in case you didn’t already read my ramblings about it). I filmed the entire sequence and I have to say that my first thought when I put the seatpost into the frame was “that is HUGE, how will I manage to get on that…” and I was thinking that perhaps I had made a mistake after all.

But that doesn’t show on the film :slight_smile:

Then I was ready to get on for the first time around 730, or so I thought. It quickly turned out that the seatpost was too long and had to be cut. So I opened my new Qu-Ax toolkit and found the ingenious toolpost cutter tool. After some work I had a shorter seatpost and then it turned out that there was some small pieces from the cut, or something like that, which made it almost impossible to get the seatpost back into the frame. I finally succeeded and made a first few attempts to get on the uni.

What I did was lean against the wall, climb onto the lowest pedal (crank at 6 o’clock) with my right foot, and then swing my left foot over the seat to sit down.

Already at that point the bonus of having a coker was clear - with my height I was able to reach the ceiling of the basement room I had chosen for my practice (ironically this is where the bikes are stored, so I had to move them out of the way before I started) - and not only, but also some pipes going conveniently across just where I was starting my practice, so I had something nice to grab hold of.

Just after doing this first attempt I remembered that I wanted to put some bubblewrap around the nice purple handlebar to protect it. So I managed to scratch it up on my very first try…

But then I set about to fix that. Using the packaging bubble wrap from the other items in the package, and liberal amounts of packing tape, I securely fastened nice “pillows” around the front and back handlebar.

My original plan was to simply take off the handlebar while I was practicing, but it turned out to be integrated with the seat/seatpost attachment. Probably I could have bought a similar piece without an attached handlebar. But I didn’t.

And as it turned out, the handlebar made it much easier to learn, so I would actually recommend it strongly.

With the handlebar properly wrapped, and also myself, I tried again to get on and found that I had to cut down the seatpost even more. So I realised that unicycling is a lot about patience, not only when you are trying to ride, but even before you get that far…

With the second adjustment of the seat I felt much better about it. Still getting “over the top” is of course very high on a coker. In the beginning I could only try once or twice on each leg (I turned around to alternate) because I got so tired in the other leg from trying to jump up. I managed almost sometimes. Gradually I was getting better, and the big breakthrough came when I realised that it was not about jumping, but about standing and pushing down on the pedal. Of course this is a basic principle that I have already read about many times, but I didn’t remember that when I was down there trying.

In between the mounting tries, I climbed up a couple of times to feel the balance. I could use my arms and upper body strength to keep from UPDs while holding on to the pipes and leaning against the wall, so I was able to get a little feel of it. But I decided it was pretty hopeless to climb up that way, and I couldn’t even do it every time, so I decided I simply had to learn how to mount in order to be able to get on the bloody thing so I could actually start learning how to balance and ride…

So I did “thousands” of mounting tries, and I got steadily better, until I actially got to the top, but lost my balance immediately. Then I was able to wobble about for 1/2 a second before UPDing so I was making progress. Finally I was even brave enough to give full throttle and go over the top to let the uni crash down between my legs. Actually it didn’t even do that many times, since I held it with my hand. Not that it mattered, since it was nicely padded in all the right places.

And so was I :slight_smile:

I was wearing high basketball shoes with flexible soles and covering the ancles, then the sixsixone leg armour up to the knees, a suspensorium (I quickly learned that this was necessary, and remembered the laments of other males in the How to learn Uniycling thread - luckily I used to do karate so I had one lying around) under my shorts, then rough leather work gloves that I got cheaply from a hardware store to cover my fingertips, inside wrist protectors, with a long padding covering my underarm up to the elbow pads. And of course a bike helmet.

I’d say that the most useful safety equipment I used today was not stuff I bought especially for the unicycle, but stuff I already had - the helmet allowed me to rest my head against the ceiling posts and pipes, the underarm padding was crucial as I could lean my entire underarm against the wall rather than just the hand, and the leather gloves protected my fingers.I realised when looking at the wrist protectors that they didn’t in any way protect the fingers, and I remembered augustdreamt telling that the fingertips of her gloves were worn away. Hence the tough work gloves. And, of course, the suspensorium…

Now, this is not to say that it was not important with the new gear. Especially the wrist protectors were very useful in addition to the gloves, as I could lean on the metal bar of the wrist protectors to take a lot of the weight. So my fingers were not touching the wall that hard, more for adjustments, since I leaned my underarm and wrist for most of the weight.

Also, being all padded up I was not afraid to fall down or hit something, so I could just give it all I had and get up there. I’d certainly say that this is the most important lesson to take away from today’s exercise.

So I was working on the mount. I decided that I would not call it quits until I succeeded. I also realised that trying to get up on the coker and stay there while just supporting myself on the wall would be more than I had managed to do when already up on the coker, as I had tried a couple of times to leave the safety of the pipes and go the 2 meters over to the beam by just leaning on the wall, and immediately UPDing. So I added 2+2 and decided it was time to try mounting next to the beam or pipes, so I could grab hold of them when I got up. Of course this was more difficult at first, since I was losing my focus on getting balanced before trying to grab.

But it was also good, since I started looking up and forward instead of down at the pedals and my feet.

And then I succeeded :slight_smile: First when mounting with my left foot on the pedal and jumping with my right foot onto the other pedal - this was easiest because I jumped with the foot closest to the wall (don’t know why but it just seemed obvious, perhaps I was leaning in a little), and thus I was facing the pipes and had something easy to hold on to. I could do this several times and almost got to the point where I could say I had that one clinched.

The other way, jumping with my left foot with my right on the pedal was harder - I tried many more times this way but finally I managed it - just once - and leaned on the beam (there was nothing to hold on to, but I could lean on it, supporting myself with the hand on something in front rather than to the side, and thus stopping my self from falling forwards (I would avoid falling backwards by leaning forwards enough to “fall” that way).

The last thing I said before doing it was “this is NOT that difficult”, and I was very happy getting up there to stay, and then I said to the camera that I felt like Neo and I quoted him by saying “There is no spoon”, immediately before UPDing again :slight_smile:

That is also when I discovered that this magic moment had not been caught on tape (memory stick, that is), since the battery had run out. So I headed up to my apartment to get the other battery, and then happily started recording again. I didn’t bother to ration the film, since I had a new big memstick and enough battery to last the rest of the training (or so I thought).

So the camera caught a lot of mounting tries, but not the more exciting things that happened thereafter, as the second battery also died on me.

What happened was that I got tired of the mounting attempts going right to the beam, and instead went up to the left and the pipes, since I was able to do that fairly easy and regularly. From there, once I was up, I was able to move around a little, holding on to the pipes and then holding on to the wall and ceiling to go from the pipes to the post - which I had not been able to do previously.

What I noticed was that the mounting tries - trying to find the point of balance from jumping up (you could call it a standing or stationary or basic mount, assisted by a wall) - helped my sense of balance so it was easier to sit and feel the balance after that.

I remembered the advice from blot to BurnerDave about sitting down on the seat, so I tried doing that instead of having the weight on my legs. I also tried just sitting still, keeping my back straight, just like you would do for balance training or yoga or something like that. I actually had some practice on that earlier, since my friend bought a Nintendo Wii Fitness board, where a lot of the action is about balance, and you always have to start by standing completely still and trying to get your center of mass exactly in the center, not forwards/backwards or right/left.

All of this was just to get myself used to the concept of sitting up on the coker. I didn’t feel the height was a problem after getting up on it - it was only a practical issue of the actual getting up…

I remembered also the advice that you just need time to get your muscles used to the different sensations of balance and control that you need on a uni. And then I tried moving around a little more. I tried moving past the beam, into the wide open part of the basement that I had never thought I would venture already on the first evening. The ceiling was the same height, but there were no more beams or pipes… The room was not that big, the “wide open spaces” were perhaps 3-4 meters to the far wall.

And on the second or third try I actually managed to reach that far wall (!) by supporting myself on the wall (to my left) and the ceiling. I also tried, briefly, in between, to support myself only on the ceiling, figuring that if I could support myself less and less, I would suddenly be freeriding. Also, using the ceiling has the big advantage over the wall that you are actually sitting straight, not leaning over.

First time I tried just the ceiling I fell forward almost immediately. But the next time I was more careful and had more control, and I was able to get back to the wall instead of stretching my limits too far. But I got to the far wall a couple of times, and there was a window sill and some more pipes (this was by the door outside, where I had brought in my coker earlier, after assembling it), that helped me turn around and head back. On the second or third try I managed to get all the way there and back, and boy was I proud :slight_smile:

Even if I had had the camera rolling then, it wouldn’t have recorded that, since I had aimed it at the space between the pipes and the beam, where I thought the main action would be (and it was, but the real excitement was of course venturing outside that aread of safety).

After this I kept doing balance training in the “safe zone” and I especially noticed that by holding on to the pipes I was able to practice idling and rolling back and forth even longer than that, keeping my head in the same place but leaning my upper body far back or far forward in order to keep my hips and the seat above the wheel. In other words, learning how to maintain balance even if the wheel is running a little ahead or behind.

Here I was remembering the advice that you are not supposed to get above the wheel, you are supposed to get the wheel under you, in order to keep your balance. Of course, that requires being able to move the wheel to where you want it…

But I really felt how my control over the wheel improved, and I felt like I was more in control and “manhandling” the uni more than it bossed me around.

Again, wearing full “body armour” made me feel very safe and thus able to “jump into things” without holding back.

OK; I had to split my post in two parts.

To be continued; See the conclusions in the next part…

Day 1 :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: (part 2)

(Continued from previous post)

In the end I finished around 1130 PM and I was so tired I could hardly walk. I managed to drink some water and tomato juice when I got back up, but not before weighing myself :slight_smile: The scales showed a bare 83 kg, which is just incredible. But that weight must be compared with what boxers to when “weighing in” before a match. I was severely dehydrated, to the point that at the end I felt the taste of sweat in my mouth, not because I got sweat there but because my saliva had turned salty.

But still, the psychological effect of seeing 83 kg was really good. And I will rest well tonight, assured that my body will keep burning fat while I am sleeping :slight_smile:

In total I exercised more than 5 hours today, first about 40-45 minutes jogging/walking (5 km), swimming 2500 m in 67 minutes and doing the short strength routine for 5 minutes, and then walking back and forth to the town center (15 mintues each way) for my other errand, about 2 hours to unpack and prepare the uni, and then 3 hours of training. I was completely drenched afterwards, both from being all padded up in the warm weather but mostly from using all of my body, especially my upper body, to support myself from the walls and ceiling. Plus of course the legs work hard too…

So, to summarize:

  1. I don’t think it is complete madness to learn on a coker. The benefits are that you can support yourself on the ceiling and other stuff like pipes high up that would normally not be an option. I’ve read about people using ropes and fences and all sorts of things, but supporting yourself on the ceiling means you can stay completely straight and not leaning over. This makes the transition to free riding a lot easier, I think. Obviously, starting with a coker requires that you are tall and not afraid of heights, as somebody pointed out.

But being close to the ceiling in a basement room doesn’t strike me as being that high, actually. I was almost more worried that I would be too high up to fit under the ceiling, since then I wouldn’t really know where to go… At first I thought I could ride in the basement corridors, but they have huge pipes running along the ceiling that take at least half a meter off the height and then it is much to low there.

  1. Using a suspensorium is an absolute must. I was putting most of my weight on it when doing all those mount attempts. I don’t see how it is possible to do that without crushing your balls unless you have them safely protected. After 3 hours my groin started hurting from the pressure of the suspensorium cup, but that’s just like any other pain from using gear too long (e.g. slalom boots, or even the protective padding I wore on my arms and legs).

  2. Try to compensate for the fact that your dominant leg is stronger than the other one. I was wondering for a long time if my seat was tilted and not straight, and checked several times, since the leg armour on my left leg kept touching the spokes (since I was not riding much, it wasn’t damaged in any way), and I realized that I was simply tilting the entire uni a little to the right, presumably because I was putting more weight on my right leg.

  3. Wear as much padding as possible, this allows you to try more “dangerous stunts” without fear of falling down. I never needed the leg armour, but being safe that I would not hurt my shin in case I hit the pedal made me not have to worry about it. The one time I did hit the pedal it was with the low ancle of my basketball shoes. But being protected the entire way made it very simple - I could focus on balance and mounting, instead of avoiding injury.

  4. Having leg strength and upper body strength allowed me to hold on and support myself when I otherwise would have fallen down. I probably reduced my UPDs to less than a third this way. Also, this made it a really good exercise for the entire body, not just the legs (from what I have been reading, some others had to stop practice due to fatigue in their legs).

OK, I am sure there’s more to say about this, but I’ve already written too long, and it is too late in the evening. I was not sure if I should have done this or gone straight to bed, because I knew I would be sitting here writing a long story, while I really need the sleep. On the other hand, I just needed to share my excitement :slight_smile:

Best wishes from the new unicycler in Lillestrøm :slight_smile:

Cool stuff. Good write-up. It’s amazing you’re learning all this on a 36".
Looking forward to the video.

Swimming and proposing :slight_smile:

Well, I’ve been totally wrapped up in work for the past two weeks, sad to say. Also, I was so totally exhausted after both swimming and unicycling and staying up late to write about it here on 2 June that I pretty much didn’t do much except the regular morning routine for the rest of that week.

It should also be added that I finished my diet on 3 June, weighing in at 83 kg in the morning. In the morning of 4 June I weighed in at 85 kg after starting to eat again, and yesterday 15 June I also weighed in at 85 kg - so it seems I have been able to stabilize at my new weight (at least so far).

And, importantly to explain the lack of training last weekend - I was actually abroad visiting my girlfriend, so we went out biking (yes, I know, but I’m not ready to pack my uni in the luggage just yet) for 4 hours last Saturday, that was nice.

Then, in the evening, I took her out for a nice dinner and after the dessert I popped out a big bouquet of 12 red roses, waited for her to find the artificial one and open it to find the diamond ring I had bought for her, and asked her to marry me. She said yes on the spot :slight_smile:

So, all in all, it was a pretty good weekend, even without unicycling. Hmm did I also mention that I tried going over an obstacle course with the MB I had rented and did an awesome UPD, going over the handlebars and making a nice roll on the gravel and dirt, resulting in breaking the part of the bike frame holding the gears so I had to kick the bike back to the renting place and pay something like 25 Euro to the damage? It goes without saying that I didn’t really get a scratch. OK, one small scratch.

In other words, I feel prepared for UPDs from my coker. I wasn’t even wearing a helmet or any other protection gear when I went overboard from that MB (shame on me) :slight_smile:

Now, this weekend I was more active. On Friday 13 June I finally went swimming again, and I managed 2500 meters without stopping and in a new record time - 55 minutes. The good part about this is that I did the first 500 meters in 10,5 minutes, and with an average of 11 minutes per 500 meters I must have spread out those “missing” 30 seconds over the remaining 2000 meters - I checked the timer when I turned for each 500 meters and I saw I was “on schedule”. So I feel that I am improving and I also notice that I get less tired from running to the train (funny, I am always a little late) or going up stairs. These small things that make your day feel lighter and better :slight_smile:

Day 2 !!!

Then, on Saturday 14 June I was finally ready for my second day of unicycling!

I had all day for just relaxing, but after a really long meeting Friday evening I didn’t go to bed until way after midnight and ended up sleeping until 12. Got up and didn’t really do much sensible (some, but not much) until the afternoon. My plan was to make dinner and then go find the uni, and I did, but rather late.

I think it was around 22 (10 PM) when I finally got down in the basement. Before I could start, after rigging the camera and while putting on the protective gear, a neighbour came down and asked “what the hell is going on here!!!” - referring to the obvious fact that I’d moved some of the bikes around to make space for my practice. He sputtered that he’d been living there for 30 years and so on and so on. I realize that seeing me in “full armour” with the bike helmet and with the bikes moved, that must have really scared the old guy - as you all know “what you don’t know and understand scares you” - so I managed to talk in a calm and soothing voice to him and explaining that I was practicing to ride (I didn’t mention the “small” uni which was standing there like the elephant in the room that nobody notices), whereupon he said “go do that somewhere else” and referred to another room in the basement, to which I simply replied “well, the ceiling isn’t high enough there”. He couldn’t argue with that (I don’t know what he thought I would do that required such a high ceiling, but I never saw him looking at the uni…).

When he was about to leave I introduced myself as a new next-door neighbour and shook his hand and he was a bit embarrassed I think, finally muttering something like “It’s ok as long as you tidy up after yourself”. :slight_smile:

So, I was back in business. And as soon as I had my gear on and the camera rolling, I went over to the wall with the trusted uni, stepped onto the right pedal, kicked off with my left foot and PRESTO - I did a successful mount on my very first try, only supporting myself sideways to the wall with my left arm - something I was never able to do last time on my first day, when I practiced 3 hours in a row. Well, I almost got there in the end, but mostly I had to lean forward and grab the pipes under the ceiling to avoid an immediate UPD.

I guess I just didn’t have time to think about how difficult that was…

And I got it on tape!

I proceeded to practice some (for me) important things:

  • Sit down in the seat
  • Get comfortable in the seat
  • Keep my balance
  • Try rocking a bit back and forth to get a feel for the balance
  • Sit down in the seat again
  • UPDing when not paying enough attention to my balance…

Upon UPDing I hit my balls rather hard, and I realized that I had to put on the suspensorium after all. I was sore for almost a week after the first session, not my balls (they had been protected well) but just where the inner thighs end - that is where all the pressure from the suspensorium comes. And there’s a lot of pressure, since I was mounting X number of times and each time I was pretty much putting all of my weight (now down to 85, can’t imagine how it would have been if I was almost 100 like before) on it.

So I discovered that the suspensorium is not only good for ball protection when mounting, but also when UPDing…

I haven’t done a count yet but my feeling from this session, lasting about 2 hours, was that I successfully mounted almost 50% of the time. Upon watching the videos I made afterwards I realized it was more like 20%-25% successful mounts, but that’ still simply awesome I think :slight_smile:

I will post the stats when I have had time to collect them…

So in short, I spent most of my time the first evening trying to mount, and now on the second night I could spend more time in the saddle. And I was really proud that I didn’t have to resort to climbing up the uni once, like I had to for the first hour of the first evening, and I also didn’t need to “fall into” and grab the pipes in order to stabilize myself after mounting. Either I immediately UPD’d or I managed to stay upright just supporting myself on the wall. I practiced mounting both ways, to make sure I don’t end up being able to do it only on one foot and not the other.

And then I started moving around :slight_smile:

I started by just going back and forth between the pipes and the beam (see description from day 1), just in front of the camera. I was rocking back and forth a lot, feeling that this gave me a better sense of the balance. Also trying to sit down in the seat and not standing on the pedals…

I was supporting myself not so much on the wall next to me as on the pipes, ceiling and beam. Like last time, this made it easier for me to keep straight, as opposed to easily sitting and riding a bit slanted when leaning into the supporting wall.

Then I gradually tried to reduce my support on the ceiling and cycle the 2 meters between the pipes and the beam. I didn’t really succeed completely, but I felt I was getting confident enough to move on to the next step - beyond the beam. So I went under it (bending down to get my head past) and tried cycling from the beam to the far wall of the basement room. That would be about 4-5 meters, perhaps 6. I did this also last time, heavily supporting myself on the ceiling and wall.

And I did this time too. But with the difference that I tried a few times to let go of the beam, “fall forward” and cycle freely. I could only do it for less than one revolution of the wheel and I would UPD some times, and other times I would break and grab the ceiling or wall in order to support myself and keep from falling. I didn’t really dare to try going past the point of completing a revolution. One reason was that I was a bit afraid of nosediving into the far wall in case of a “fast forward UPD”…

In any case, I felt more and more confident, and on the way back I decided to see how many (or few) times I had to touch the ceiling or wall to support myself before reaching the other wall (just a meter behind the pipes, making the length of the room something like 8-10 meters total). I know, I should put up a schematic drawing of this room for you, like soccerdude did. Some other time…

I managed 7 touches on the first attempt and I didn’t really manage to even repeat that later on. I also noticed that while doing this I was going quite fast so I figured timing myself from wall to wall would be another cool thing to do.

And by this time I realized it was time to move the camera, since it had been filming only perpendicularly to the wall, covering the area between the pipes and the beam, where I had done all my “basic training”. Now I rigged it so it would cover the entire length of the wall I was riding along, to catch me riding back and forth.

I didn’t do as well on camera as I did before, of course. But I still did decently. And I got on camera when I almost managed to ride a revolution without supporting myself on the ceiling (or perhaps I did - see for yourself one day) :slight_smile: At that moment I flashed my fingers to the camera - shouting something like “and that’s after just two days (two fingers) and five hours (five fingers) of practice!!!”.

I remember somebody posting that they managed to teach their friend to ride in 7 hours. So of course that was/is my benchmark.

Now I have a couple of problems I have to resolve in order to develop further.

  • I need more space in order to feel comfortable really “falling forward” and just going for it - trying to pedal for life and see if I manage.

  • I need the safety of supporting myself on the ceiling before starting to ride

I think I’ll solve this dilemma by staying in the basement a bit longer, and training my balance more. On Saturday I even felt like I was about to manage idling, but of course as soon as I noticed this and tried commenting on camera I UPD’d…

In any case, what I notice is that by trying to go really slow while supporting myself on the ceiling, I am gaining a lot of balance and control over the uni, something I believe will help me once I start freeriding. Also, I feel that I have made a lot of progress with regard to mounting. I’m still far from being able to do anything unsupported, but if I could manage to successfully mount with support pretty much every time I try, then at least I could spend almost all my energy on trying to ride.

So far, learning with a coker, I feel the biggest obstacle has been the mounting - since it is so high, getting up there is a feat in itself, but already on the second evening, after 3-4 hours of practice, I felt that it wasn’t all that bad after all :slight_smile:

Once I am able to get up, I feel things are moving nicely forward.

And I would like to say that the only thing that I feel is a challenge with a coker compared to what I imagine other (smaller) unis would feel like is that the wheel travels quite far on just half a revolution. Also, I need to be very precise when mounting, with regard to where I place the wheel and the angle of the pedal etc. due to this travel. Also, this makes it hard to try idling, since it is not just a small oscillation but a rather large one.

For this reason, so far I have tried idling mostly with horizontal pedals as the equilibrium, not vertical as I’ve heard you are supposed to do. But just “small-idling” this way gives me a good feeling for the balance and movement of the uni so I think it is useful (and it allows me to practice sitting down on the seat…).

Also, I see that I don’t have a big problem with getting out of the “dead” position of 12 o’clock 6 o’clock pedals. I have enough leg strength to push myself a little forwards or backwards and then oscillating out of it while supporting myself on the ceiling.

Another important improvement I’ve been making (gradually from quite early on day 1) is that I am able to stop the uni from rolling away under me resulting in a UPD by stepping on the pedals the right way. So if it begins rolling, it will only go half a revolution or so before I got my foot effectively blocking further rotation due to the position of the pedals. And by supporting myself on the ceiling I am able to avoid UPDing and then cycle the uni back under myself. I think I wrote about this also in the day 1 report - basically I am not UPDing a lot at all, for such a newbie as I am - all thanks to the ceiling and the gloves and wrist protectors and elbow protectors and even underarm protectors (from my old football gear) that basically pad my upper appendices all the way up to above the elbow, allowing me to ram them into walls or ceilings or beams or pipes when I need to in order to support myself from falling (sorry, UPDing).

And, finally, I managed to avoid getting so sore from the suspensorium on day 2. I think the main reason is I spent most of the time in the saddle, not trying to mount. When in the saddle I can push it up so I am not really sitting on top of it, and still it gives be protection in case of UPDing. And I also discovered that I was able to mount while keeping it a bit to the side of the seat, not directly in the center. These things all contribute to putting less pressure on the suspensorium, and thus, I hope, on my balls on the day I learn to mount safely without protection :slight_smile:

What I still haven’t figured out at all is how uni_geezer and others manage to not only mount, but roll-mount and even jump-mount without killing off all their potential offspring while at it. I guess I need to study those videos again - there must be something with not sitting down immediately but standing on the pedals and holding onto the seat, and then settling down nice and easy once you get rolling.

Another complication with the Nightrider is of course the handlebar in front and in the back. Doing a jump mount with that implies jumping on top of not just the seat, but also over/across the back handle (not all that long but it does mean you have to increase you jump a little bit).

Well, time to sleep. I meant to go swimming this morning, but I worked until 1 AM last night and not it’s already past midnight again. I wanted to go to bed at 11 PM but I also felt I had to share this with you guys before it got too old. I should have done it immediately on Saturday evening of course, just like I wanted to write about the swimming on Friday and about last weekend’s experiences even earlier - but I’ve been to tired from work and having to get up early… So then I am writing it all up now and spending more than an hour at it… Oh well.

Wishing you all a great day tomorrow and hope you all do more unicycling than I’ve been able to the last days.

Lillestrøm_uni signing off.