Training Journal

Huzzah! Today I broke through from ~50 meters to “until I get tired!”

I’ve been lurking on the fora for a month or two, and have been keeping a training journal with the expectation that I would post it here once I reached this point.

Day 0:
Picked up the unicycle tonight, put it together, etc. Adjusted the seat all the way down, although my initial feeling was that it should be a few inches higher. Tried it out for a few minutes on the sidewalk, using a telephone pole as a prop. Mounting is hard. I’m trying the method on the sheet that came with the cycle: put the lower pedal at ~4:00, seat in the crotch, step onto the other pedal. I’m able to get mounted once in about every dozen times; the other times, either I end up stepping over the other pedal, or not getting high enough / far enough forward to step onto it. It was pretty late / dark; I’ll try more tomorrow.

Day 1:
Having inspected the lawn on the east side of the house for stickers, I decided to use that wall as my support today. I spent about two hours in this cycle: for(;;){ if(mount()){ for(;!fallen;pedal()); } }
I’m mounting successfully about once in every 4 or 5 times now; near the end of my session, I discovered what seems for me to be “the secret”: don’t straighten the lower leg when mounting, just keep it bent and step onto the other pedal. The wall doesn’t seem to be doing me much good (for pedaling, anyway); I keep getting turned slightly away from it while mounting, so I can’t really pedal along it and use it for support. I’ve also seemingly developed a bad habit of holding onto the front of the saddle with my left hand, which affects my balance for the worse. Making a conscious effort not to do that now. Managed to pedal a few feet several times today.

Day 2:
Practicing along the house again today. I’m mounting successfully pretty much every time now. In addition to yesterday’s “secret”, I’ve discovered that if I start the lower pedal at closer to 6:00, then roll the wheel forward ~1/4 turn while mounting, things get much easier. I pedaled the length of the house a few times today (not really impressive). Despite what seems to be (at least while I write this) decent progress, I’m a little frustrated at how slow things are going. I feel like I should be able to pedal farther than a few feet on average. What generally happens is: I mount, I pedal one or two revolutions, and then the unicycle is no longer under me. The direction isn’t really consistent, otherwise I’d just lean (forward|back) more. Sometimes it feels like I’m standing on the pedals too much, instead of sitting on the seat and pedaling. I raised the seat about an inch in an attempt to counteract this, and am considering raising it more tomorrow. I keep telling myself that I just need more practice, I just haven’t gotten used to balancing yet, but I guess I’m worried that I’m really doing something wrong that I won’t be able to overcome just by practicing. I wonder if having a more fencelike support structure would be more helpful for pedaling - I don’t know of one conveniently nearby, and I don’t think I’m confident enough to go practice at the park yet. Hopefully I’ll continue making progress tomorrow.

Day 3:
Once more, practiced along the house. A short practice today, 45-60 min. Today I concentrated on keeping my weight on the seat and looking forward. I couldn’t really discern any progress in distance, which is kind of frustrating. I’ve come to suspect that part of the reason the unicycle is coming out from under me is that I seem to be mostly pushing down on the pedals, instead of pedaling them around in circles, a bad habit I probably picked up from bicycling in my child-/teenager-hood. The few times I was able to simultaneously maintain concentration on keeping weight in the seat, looking at the horizon, and keeping circular pressure on the pedals, I think I did marginally better. I’m reading people’s stories on unicycle.com to keep myself from getting discouraged. I’m not really falling (or worried about falling) at all any more; the unicycle just generally goes out from under me.

Day 4:
Moved out to the sidewalk in front. I’m mounting using a telephone pole, then attempting to ride down the sidewalk. Today, I concentrated on keeping my weight firmly on the seat and pedaling smoothly and lightly. By the end of the session, my average “good” run was about 2 full revolutions. I had several runs longer than this, but I had a tendency to veer left, so I almost ended up on my neighbor’s porch a few times. I wonder if I’d be able to go further more consistently if I could keep a straight enough path to stay on the sidewalk. I also wonder if my veering left is a result of my leaning, pedaling too hard with my left foot, or both. Looking forward to more improvement tomorrow! BTW, my first comment today, from a guy riding past on his bike: “Nice bike.”

Day 5:
My body completely forgot everything it learned yesterday, so today was basically a process of once again getting from where I started yesterday to where I left off yesterday. Keeping my weight on the seat is definitely my biggest stumbling block right now. When I lean forward, I have a tendency to stand up more on the pedals. When I pedal faster, I have a tendency to stand up more on the pedals. When I feel like I’m starting to lose my balance, I have a tendency to stand up more on the pedals. Still getting 2-3 revolutions on a good run, still veering left.
10-year-old kid: “That looks hard.”
8-year-old kid: “I know someone who can do that. He rides his unicycle and juggles people’s food.”

Day 6:
Now most of my concentration is on keeping my weight on the seat and not standing on the pedals. my fiancee wanted to try a little and see what all the fuss was about, so I lowered the seat all the way and helped her mount a few times. I left it low for now - I think it helps my body understand that it’s supposed to be sitting and not standing. Short session today.
Guy on bike: “Is that really hard?”

Day 7:
Still working on not standing up. Either I’m leaning back too much and the cycle is going out in front of me, or I lean forward more, get excited, and stand up. Still the same-ish distance. I’m feeling more controlled, or at least I hope I am. Another shortish session.
My landlady: “You are such a determined person.”

Day 8:
Extremely frustrated today. I feel like I’m not making /any/ progress, just riding the same few feet over and over and over and over and over and over. Hopefully I’ll make a breakthrough or something; I feel like I’m not getting anywhere.
Some chick driving by: “Good job!” (thumbs up) - I strongly suspect this was sarcastic, but I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Day 9:
Moderately long practice today. Some random guy walking by said, “Don’t chase it; just kind of roll with it,” and proceeded to show me (falling off within 1 rev of mount). However, I figured just because he didn’t make it far didn’t mean he couldn’t spot something I was doing wrong, so I’m trying to be a little bit more reserved and controlled instead of charging as far as I can.

Day 10:
Short practice today.
Chick walking by: “You’ll get it. That looks hard.”

Day 11:
I didn’t enter this one in time to have not forgotten it. Must not have been very notable.

Day 12:
Weather hasn’t been permitting for over a week; I’ve been worried that I’ll lose all my (not all that substantial to begin with) progress. Found a church about a dozen blocks away with a nice, big, shady (this is important), empty parking lot. It’s significantly easier to concentrate on riding without having to worry about staying on the two-foot-wide sidewalk. By the end of the session, I was consistently making 20-30 meters, assuming a good mount. A couple of the “mission students” (this is apparently an LDS church) came over and talked to me for a bit. They walked away joking about how they were going to get unicycles and start going door-to-door on them (instead of on bicycles).

Day 13:
In the parking lot again. I’m building well on the progress I made yesterday. I ended up averaging between 30 and 60 meters, usually the point at which I thought to myself, “Hey, I’m doing pretty well,” then remembered that unicycling is supposed to be difficult and UPDed.
Random teenagers: “Is that hard?”

Day 14:
Success! Today, I’m riding as far as I can go before my legs get annoyed with me and stop responding to motor impulses. I’m riding significantly straighter and more controlledly today. I feel like I’m finally over the hump of learning to ride. As soon as I can semi-consistently freemount, I’ll be able to haltingly ride around town. I took an almost-nasty fall while practicing freemounting. On my way home, the guy from day 9 pulled up in his car and congratulated me.
Random woman: “You’re getting better!”