A 15 year old local named Daniel had contacted me and said he wanted very much to learn to ride a unicycle, specifically, a 36er! I got him started with my 20” trainer uni, and after giving him some instruction, he was mounting and riding it within a couple days! It was then that he decided it was time to get a 36er! Well, his decision was right, as he was free mounting and riding it on the very FIRST day!
So today we went for what was to be just a short 2-3 mile ride at the beach, since up to now Daniel had only ridden short distances at the local Park. But after 3 miles, he wanted to keep going, and we ended up doing 12 miles! It was like he’d been riding for years! In fact, he even wanted to try a T-handle, so I set up his uni with an extra I have, and he took to it immediately, no learning curve at all!
Daniel has learned to ride faster than anyone I know, and if there’s such a thing as a “Uni prodigy”, he could be just that! I guess I’m not a bad teacher either.
They learn to ride so easily, they don’t understand what they’ve just accomplished. They don’t realize how impossible riding a unicycle was supposed to be; the sense of accomplishment of conquering what seem like impossible odds, etc. In my experience, people who learn very easily usually don’t stay interested long, as they go on to “the next” challenge.
Or is it just that we get a little annoyed by somebody who picks things up so quickly?
I’m sure he had an excellent teacher, also. The untrained viewer would probably not be able to tell which of you was the most experienced rider (all holding of the camera boom aside). I’ll offer one small teacher note though; if you don’t clip the helmet strap, it’s unlikely to provide any protection if you actually need it.
That’s too many smileys.
Anyway, congratulations Daniel! I wish you many more happy, rewarding years of unicycling; hope you stick with it and push the boundaries of the sport!
In my 12 years of the NYUC, I’ve only seen a few people who have learned in a day. One was a young man who seemed to pick up the basics within ten minutes, after which he was riding and even freemounting. I’m not sure whether he stuck with it. I’ve also seen a few people learn within a short afternoon. Wow.
Generally, I’ve noticed that the quick learners tend to be gymnasts, dancers, surfers, and people into yoga.
Being a teenager also affects this (having a short attention span by default and all). If you pardon the expression, it’s all about finding the right balance of tricky to fun IMHO.
There’s a graph in the book ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience’ (pictured below) which seems to show this quite well. To stay in the ‘Flow Channel’ (the fun bit) you need to up your challenge as your skills improve. Luckily, Daniel lives near Terry (muni territory) which means there’s always a greater challenge around the corner.
Haha yeah, there was a definite, “What’s so hard about this”, vibe I got, and, “ok, now what? Next challenge please”. I would love to see how fast he could learn trials and flatland! My guess is, probably not long!
I wouldn’t doubt the flatland part, since I never learned it. I thought about it a lot but it just didn’t hold enough interest for me. And my trials skills are pretty basic, but I have done some on my 36er, lol! My thing has mostly been MUni, road climbing and distance riding.
Haha, I wouldn’t doubt the flatland part, since I never learned it. I thought about it for a while, but it just didn’t hold enough interest for me. And my trials skills are pretty basic, but I have done some on my 36er, lol! My thing has mostly been MUni, road climbing and distance riding.
Not too dissimilar to most of us who started when we were older - I think there’s even a thread about that Personally I’m now finding that in order to get a challenge when riding muni I have to do stuff I find scary, so back to doing a bit more in the way of skills stuff on a little wheel.
If someone does learn easily they may quit soon unless they are aware of what else can be done and there is someone close by who also does that style. (If I remember correctly Zack Baldwin won overal trials at UNICON ~2 yrs after learning largely because Jess Riegal had a large trials course and lived a few blocks from him)
Yeah luckily uni is hard and diverse enough there is always something you can learn. If there isn’t good Muni trails, or trials/street obstacles near u you, you can always build stuff in your yard. And there’s freestyle.
I’ve never seen anyone who can do the hardest tricks of all styles.
Some fill-in on that story:
Though I’m not sure exactly when Zack learned to ride, he did win the Trials competition at Unicon XII in 2004. I first saw him in late 2003 at the CA MUni Weekend, where he won a little “sand race” we did. He beat Ryan Atkins and others. Zack and Jess did a lot of natural Trials riding at Beals Point on Folsom Lake, where I think they mastered the basics. Jess’ backyard Trials course was something Jess and Zack built together.
Zack did so well because of a combination of things; possibly the predominant one was an innate sense of balance and extrordinary physical skill and athleticism. Also having access to another excellent rider of similar level with lots of time (when not in school), and the means to travel to riding spots and build Trials structures.
The last time I saw Zack was in May, 2011. He had moved back to Sacramento, and come out of “uni-retirement” to ride with us in a Criterium race in Auburn, that had a special unicycle category. Out of the 10 racers, I think he came in third with no specific training, and on a borrowed unicycle. He was bested only by Bill Purcell (a mountain bike racer from Nevada City that rides clipless on a 36" with no brake) and Corbin Dunn, who was the Marathon World Champion. He beat me by a lot!
Here’s some pictures from Zack’s formative years. First is of him on his own backyard Trials course, January 2004. Second one is from June 2004, at Jess Riegel’s parents’ house, which had much more space, and trees to work with. I think they moved the stuff from Zack’s over to Jess’.
I also remember reading that Zack was very serious about year round soccer. He got burnt out and was sort of looking for a new sport just before he discovered Jess did trials uni (I think he new him before that).
Edit: one person I taught to ride learned the basics w/ in an hour. Unfortunately he stopped returning my phone calls and I never got my loaner uni back