Hi Everyone–here is a question for those of you who remember what it was to need a wall to ride. And yes, I’m a beginner–with 6 weeks of beginning riding behind me…
I ride pretty well as long as there is a wall on my left that I can tap on with my gloved hand to keep from toppeling over.
Once I get away from the wall, I can go between 3 yards to 6 yards before botteming out (actually, I’m really good at gracefully letting my uni fall out from under me, and I always land on my feet)
I always fall to the right. Always–I don’t know why.
However, when I ride with the wall on my right, I can not ride as smoothly, and it is a lot harder than riding with the wall on my left.
I am getting sick of the wall, and I always put in at least a couple of hours each day. Does it sound like I’m doing something wrong? Despite this lack of progress with regards to the wall, I know I’m getting better, but still, it’s a bummer to always need that goddamned wall. Any suggestions?
For reference-- I ride a nimbus 26 inch with a Yuni frame, and the tire is a Duro Wildlife Leopard Knobbly 3 inch tire. I know I may be learning on a wheel that is too big, but I am about 6’4", and I thought I would need a bigger tire–before buying, I tried out a few, and this tire felt right, but maybe I bit off more than I could chew, I don’t know.
How does one ween himself off the wall?
Well, first, a 26" tire is rather large for learning on, most people learn on about a 20", but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn on it, it just might be harder.
How to get off the wall huh? The main way is “practice makes perfect”. Everytime you try you’ll get better at it and in time you’ll be able to ride farther and farther distances.
You might want to try going to a wall with something you can hang onto, then practice riding along it and letting go for as far as you can, then steadying yourself with your hand.
As for falling to the right, I would guess it is caused by the fact that you are probably (I’m just guessing) right handed, so you hold your seat with your left hand, and lean on the whall with your right. So you are used to having a support on your right side because you lean on the wall. Try holding the seat with your right hand or no hands at all and steadying yourself on the wall with your left hand.
You have become wall dependent and probably developed a slight lean towards the left side.
I was having the same problem when I first started learning to idle. Continually tapped the railing with my right hand, in my case when it was on the right side, and would just fall over when the railing was on the left side.
What you really need to do is cold turkey yourself away from the wall. You’ll have trouble at first, but you’ll get past it rather quickly.
Definitely get rid of the wall. I was even trying to ride along a wall until it ended, and then go out into open space, but I couldn’t get past the psychological barrier and fell off at the end of the wall every time. So I started pedalling away from a wall, falling off backwards several times in one day, but the next day I could do it.
i say once you can comfortably ride along side a wall, get rid of it. in my opinion, the wall should only be used to give you the feeling of what riding is like. it sorta introduces your muscles to the movements of unicycling. anyways, once you are comfortable with riding alongside the wall, switch to a pole. it seems you may have developed a lean, or a tendency to use the wall as support. Use a poll to mount, and then just ride away from it. Hopefully this will help break the mind barrier of needing to lean. if not, ignore this entire post
When I learned, I mounted using 2 chairs facing opposite directions so I could hold on to the backs. This was better for me because when there was 2 objects to hold on to, I stopped leaning all the way to my one side.
Unicycles are funny machines that sometimes misbehave. I bought a 26 Nimbus with the same tire for my son a couple months ago and it had the infamous lean to the right. If you are just learning to ride you may not recognize a problem that could be fixed by a little tweaking of the wheel or tire pressure. Do try to find another unicycle to test ride and by all means head straight out from that wall into the abyss. Good Luck
I agree with digigal1. If you can ride that far, just go for it! Freemounting might not come to you yet, so it’s still ok to use the wall to help you get on (you’ll have to learn that soon though :)). Find an open space where you have lots of room to accomodate the initial lack of control. Start from a sturdy object, and see how far you can go.
You should have abandoned the wall a long time ago.
I don’t think weening is your best option. Go into the middle of an empty parking lot somewere, and ride. Focus on the space ahead of you.
Also, you let the unicycle fall out form underneath you. It sounds like you’re giving up on the ride. If you stay on the uni, and keep pedaling, there’s almost nothing that can knock you off. You’ll fall on your hands a few times, but wear gloves,a nd it will make you a better rider.
I started with trashcans and used them to tap on. Then I narrowed it to one can at the beginning to mount with then I just went for and got better and better.
I started with a bike rack outside my dorm, and a stepladder at my parents house… I never really used the wall (oh yeah, I did, inside the dorms! That was fun!) Just go for it, it’ll help dampen the bad habits. G’luck!
All that wall practice has given you the reflexes you need for fore-and-aft balance, so everything from the waist down is pretty well trained. But you haven’t even started to train your upper body.
Lateral balance comes from waiving your arms and twisting your torso. If you’re riding forwards all you have to do to keep from falling to your left is to twist your hips (and the wheel) to point to the left and let the forward movement bring the tire back under you again. Unfortunately, all that wall time has given you a totally inapropriate set of reflexes for doing this, so now you have to unlearn the urge to tap the wall and start to learn the twist.
Can you find a pivoting bar stool or piano stool somewhere? Sit on it, hold your arms out to the side, and learn to twist the seat. Try to impart as much spin as possible. If the bearings are really good it won’t work, but most pivoting stools aren’t precision devices and have lots of friction. Learn to work that friction by giving a slow wind-up in the opposite direction with your shoulders and arms, then use a wild swing of your arms to snap the stool around with your hips. This is pretty close to how you’re going to be steering the unicycle.
Play around with the height of your arms, and so forth. You’ll find that doing the recovery swing with your hands near your waist is more efficient than keeping them wide out to the side. (No need to wear a helmet or pads for this training unless you’re a real spaz or there is a lot of beer involved.) Note that really good posture helps. Look at videos of great unicyclists for hints. Spend a week away from the unicycle and wire these reflexes in until you don’t even think about them anymore.
Now that you’ve got the top and bottom halves of your body with more or less appropriate reflexes it’s time to merge the two. As was posted before, just go cold turkey. Only use the support for the mount. lean forward until you start to fall, then go. Remember to flail your arms. Don’t look down. Hum the tune to Star Wars if it helps distract your brain. Don’t think about fantasy baseball if it doesn’t.
The reflexes you are training are in your middle spine and have nothing to do with concious thought, so there is nothing you can do to think your way stable, but you can guide the growth of those spinal reflexes if you are deliberate. Analyze why you are falling and do something about it. You’re really close so this shouldn’t take much time. A month at the most.
Interesting suggestions cyberbellum, I’m curious to know if anyone has used these successfully. Could be a helpful learning tool.
I’m a slow learner and learned off a wall. I didn’t use the method I described but in hindsight I wish I had.
The stool idea is just an adaptation of a semi-famous ski coach’s training philosophy. He didn’t believe in regular weight training, instead he devised some very targeted gym excercises that built appropriate ski reflexes as they built muscle. On-the-ski training was to integrating those specific muscle memories.
The “wax-on, wax-off” school of thought.
I’m a slow learner and learned off a wall. I didn’t use the method I described but in hindsight I wish I had.
The stool idea is just an adaptation of a semi-famous ski coach’s training philosophy. He didn’t believe in regular weight training, instead he devised some very targeted gym excercises that built appropriate ski reflexes as they built muscle. On-the-ski training was to integrating those specific muscle memories. (The “wax-on, wax-off” school of thought.) If I remember correctly his skiiers did fairly well at the Olympics.
I had some further thoughts regarding the piano-stool excercise. It would be good to integrate those spins with some sight reflexes. You might devise a game where a friend walks around the stool trying to get out of your line of sight. If you lose visual contact he wings a tennis ball (or a wrench ) at you. In other words, make it fun.
(Note - the wrench idea was a joke in the new Dodge Ball movie. I wasn’t serious.)
just keep at it, you’ll keep getting farther and farther from the wall, and, before you know it, you’ll be riding unnasisted!
First and formost, a hearty and gigantic THANK YOU to all the cool unicyclers who answered this post about how to get off the wall riding habit!
And, to follow up–it worked!!!
I have been weened away from the wall! And the encouragements, advices and good ideas offered through this posting were really, really helpful, and much appreciated.
It took a while, but one day I just had it with fences and walls and I found a small clearing with really hard dirt (I’m not sure how to describe it, gravelly dirt) which did not deem as foreboding as the pavement. I mounted using a tree, and proceeded to try and try and try, not getting much further than 10 feet at the most.
Then, it happened–I gritted my teeth, I growled, I charged ahead–and magic! I rode 50 excellent feet!
A great moment!
Of course I had to endure a large number of sloppy ten foot starts, but low and behold, another 50 FEET was behind me. Soon, I was averaging some pretty nice 30 foot excursions. I then moved to pavement, and it got even better.
The funny thing is that once I go near a wall, I really start to stink it up again. It really is true about using the wall–one can get so dependent on it that you reach a limit–and riding without the wall is such a totally different experience.
That said–I am still far from good. I fall a lot, and when I do get the Muni to go, I am really really wobbley–I see now how that 26 inch, 3 inch wide knobbly tire is one really hard poney to tame–but each time I go for a spin, it just gets better and better.
Now if I ever learn to freemount and idle, I’ll be in uni-heaven!
Thanks again to everyone for the advice!
Nice job on learning to ride without the wall, and good luck on the rest of you uniiing