Unicycling after 50

I feel there are a lot of riders including myself that are enjoying unicycling over 50 years of age. From a personal perspective I am enjoying my riding but maybe not the same way our younger riders might. I would like to hear and see the experiences of older riders. It would be nice hear from older riders including those that are choosing to learn over 50. Now don’t get me wrong I would also like to hear from our older riders that are still riding on the edge

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Well welcome to the club of maturity, they say?

I started unicycling when I turned 40 I thought maybe before I get too old.

Next year will be 20 years of riding on the simplest form of wheel transport.

I cannot enjoy my riding the same as I used to be able to not because of age, but because of a brain injury I suffered from cycling to work on my thin mountain bike!

Riding with a second wheel is dangerous found and I’m back riding on one wheel, but mort to stimulate my brain and cause extra fatigue to make it hopefully get better or at least not to get any worse from having a severe traumatic Brain Injury.

To be honest, I do not know how many concussions I have sustained since my first motorcycle accident in 1974!
We woke up underneath the motorcycle on the far side of my parents farm!

Only now, until I realise that I had been knocked out.
Part of a track on the back of the farm head washed out, thunderstorm a few days before.
And then there was motocross, Mountain biking, White water kayaking, And of course Mountain Unicycles.

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I am right there with you, @Bug72 .

In 2017 (46 yrs old), I had to learn to walk correctly again after a spinal cord injury that required two surgeries to fuse 4 vertebrae, and then add room in my spinal column for my swollen spinal cord. I showed up at Day 1 of Physical Therapy with a 20” Torker unicycle I had purchased the previous weekend, because learning to walk correctly was not a high enough goal (I thought), and I wanted the Physical Therapist to know what my mindset was.

I was told that I could no longer “run for fun”, or play soccer (football outside of the US). So, I decided to learn to unicycle. I did learn to unicycle, in June of 2018.

@PeterG , I am impressed with your determination to push your brain, and to continue unicycling.

I plan to continue riding as long as my body will allow, and have wonderful examples to follow in @UniGeezer , @JimT , @Canoeheadted , and other impressive over-50 riders.

I also love to “live vicariously” through the “younger” riders here on this forum, and love seeing how everyone here pushes their own limits.

How’s this, for a set of before/after, or Then/Now photos? Photo 1 is how I showed up to my first unicycle club meeting in 2018. Photo 2 is from the Hotter’n Hell Hundred (100 miles, 100 degrees Fahrenheit) in Wichita Falls, TX, in which I and a friend entered the 25-mile ride, this past August, 2023. I only made it 22 miles, but it was way more than I ever imagined I would ride, back in 2018.


This last “bonus” photo from 2018 hopefully shows that, while committed to accomplishing goals, I don’t take myself too seriously.

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Like many riders that post on this forum I am a guy that rode as a kid and picked it back up as a mid life crisis endeavor. I really enjoy just riding the bike trails around were I live, there are a lot of them immediately near me and in a 50 mile radius. I like being outside enjoying the views and getting into the zone and riding. I feel unicycling not only helps me maintain my physical fitness but also helps me focus and stay sharp,
My go to unis these days are my nimbus 26er muni that I ride on gravel , and rougher trails and my 29er nimbus road, this is my favorite, it’s a lot lighter than the 26 and I have it set up for longer rides. This uni with a schwable hurricane tire is at home on pavement as well as crushed limestone. I’ve also been enjoying my 24 Oracle muni that I like to ride on the uneven narrower trails at several local parks near by, note, I’m not riding single track down hill muni but it is challenging for me none the less.
My biggest regret is that I did not continue riding as a young adult, I would have loved to have been involved in muni when I was younger and more adventurous. I would have been in the trows of muni developing as a sport.
I too have been inspired by some of the older riders posting here and sharing videos here and elsewhere. In the bicycling world there are a lot of older riders that take up biking in their 50s and 60s and ride much in the same manner as I’m describing above. These riders rediscover the freedom and adventure that cycling offers. I’m exited to continue riding my uni and my bike well into my golden years.

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Well, I’m the rare case of learning in my 50’s and being able to do something I could never do as a younger person with more strength and stupidity.

It’s a very cool feeling that in my case youth and strength has nothing to do with my ability to learn to ride the unicycle. (actually, injury recovery is another issue, but if I were younger injury recovery would still be useless, because I would recovery to fail…again, again).

This what I do and work on with the unicycle.

a.) Forward riding on grass with “hidden surprises” like gopher holes, rises, drops, tree roots (sometimes, dog poop…ugh…watch for those flies) . I like the feel of pedaling one step at a time or rather a half step with “tensioned” legs ready to explode in a perfect measured and timed reaction. I like the physicality of rocking the upper body to “survive” and balance. I like the search for the perfect “pause” between steps. Also, riding on deep sand or pebbles is another challenge. Also, riding a steep uphill on off-road(even flat pavement) can be quite a workout. I don’t mean cheating up a hill with momentum from the flats. I mean free-mounting on the uphill and then going up slowly pedal by pedal. Not just that and you guys know this if you tried it. Literally, throwing your upperbody forwards, twisting and synchronizing with each precisely powered/timed down pump of each pedal as you “grind forwards”. Then huffing and puffing as fatigue starts to set-in and your margin of leg power dwindles. A great feeling of expending both unicycle coordination, mental determination and physical power.

b.) Backwards riding: Since, I’m still “intermediate level” on this skills, I still feel like a “beginner” trying to master the basic pedaling and tight turning(the next level). It’s a pedal to pedal fight for balance(sounds familiar?) when I go slow and turn 360 in about a 10ft radius. I have never fallen flat on my back , because my balance is always “straight up” and not leaning back, which is what I see most backwards riders try to do. I always end up on my feet, but sometimes the “running backwards” involves tripping and rolling on my back. Also, 99% of my injury protection is the “safety reaction of jumping off” when something feels weird, mind goes blank or random speed ups. Unless, I feel totally connected with the pedal, seat,…everything safety reaction kicks in. If I were to teach backwards riding , my absolute rule would be “never ever just try it and see if you do not fall” going backwards. Total, absolute, unquestioned control from the idling start to the first 90 degree rotation, to 180, to 270,…etc. You must feel planted at all clock positions of the crank while riding backwards. Just like riding forwards.

c.) SIF idling and riding. This is great workout and calorie burner, since you can’t go very far with “always standing” on the pedals. I learned to SIF idle, first. It’s actually not as hard as you might think, because you “cheat” a little by having the seat pressed up against your belly. An additional control leverage of the unicycle.

d.) Just working on my free mount. I am perfect on my rock back idle(right side), but my leftie could use work. However, I’m mostly focused/fascinated with doing the “reverse” leg wrap free mount, which sounds harder than it really is. You know the leg wrap mount? Well, don’t wrap from inside out. Just swing your legs from “outside to in”. Like you are getting on a horse. I am about 60% proficient(25% on stage). I could just spend half an hour just doing this over and over. On different surfaces and declines/inclines,…etc.

I am not much of a distance rider. 1 hour is my limit until my butt starts hurting. Also, for fat burning or cardio conditioning unicycle riding is nothing compared to a focused and controlled routine of running, inclined power walking or rucking(hiking workout with specific packweight or carrying dumbells).

So, this is what I do as a late in life unicycler rider in his late 50’s. I got all original parts.
Sorry, to be so long winded,…but I’m sure all you 50+ codgers got all the time in the world. Possibly, recovering after a long ride on your 36" with a few ibuprofin pills.

…slam

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In our club Team Ursli we have around 50 members, most of them kids, but there are also at least 6 riders (male and female) over 50 (I am one of them). Some of them learned after 50, most of them after 40. We train once a week in a indoor place, but we mainly ride Muni.

Here is the newest Video of Christian and me (both over 50…):
https://youtu.be/9g9lXwDUlXc

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Great slam, it sounds like you are really challenging yourself and making really good progress.

Turtles videos, and pictures are Always awesome. It’s good to know these
Include some talented and adventurous older riders.

I hope this thread becomes one that continues and older riders continue to share experiences and those learning to ride into their golden years can seek advise in this thread.

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I first touched a unicycle at the age of 67. I decided I needed to try all the things that I had thought about for many years but didn’t have the time or the required “WTF attitude” before I retired. So at 66 I took up the guitar, at 67 the unicycle and at 67 1/2 I started singing while playing the guitar (not as easy as it sounds). Now at 70, I unicycle several times a week and sing and strum every day.

I’ve had a couple of injuries, naturally, but WTF, no regrets!

My ideal obituary begins “He died poetically, hit by a meteor while riding his unicycle, playing the guitar, and singing Willie Nelson’s ‘Crazy’”.

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I learned in my early 50’s, 56 now, ride muni on easy mountain bike trails now. I worry about injuring myself, and I have taken a couple of nasty spills. I quit twice for a couple of months, said I would never do it again, but then did anyway. It’s just so much fun and I love the challenge of it, I feel like it works my brain in a way nothing else ever did. I also feel like it saves my knees. I like walking up hills, but it hurts my knees on the way down, but unicycling down seems to actually improve my knees. I think it’s awesome you are getting so many replies here, happy there are a lot of us doing this in this age range!

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I began at 64 because of a certain young man from England and utube. Learned on a 20” and now alternate daily between 29” and 36”. Strictly road so far. Just celebrated 67 years last month.

If I’d known what I was getting into ahead of time I’m not sure I’d have taken it up .Once I started I refused to be defeated and persevered (as every one on this site who rides experienced at one time, correct?). I’ve never had a hobby that is so rewarding. Even on days when I struggle I can’t wait to get out the next and go again. The brain involvement is so unique. My mantra is focus and relax.
Still get frustrated with free mounting but am slowly improving.

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Keep up the replies, I know there are a lot of us out there. I like the comments about focus. This is one of the greatest benefits for me, concentrating on one thing .

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I now have many different size wheels, with multiple 24” options, all with different crank lengths. Every wheel-size/crank-length change tests my brain and body in different ways, and sometimes makes me wonder if I am regressing. Then after a couple miles, everything seems to be okay again.

My son (30 years younger) does not seem to have such limitations. He jumps on a unicycle, and just rides, hops, bounces, idles, whatever he wants to do. Watching him mount his 36” after not riding for a while, and then immediately start idling is amazing to me.

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I know how you feel I often feel I’m regressing, then I bounce back. I lost a year with post COVID symptoms that left me with a very weak cardiovascular system . I am back and stronger than I have been in a long time. I walk 3 to 4 days a week ride my bike at least 0nce a week and unicycle at least once a week. After COVID I found biking easier on me and spent the bulk of my work out time walking and Bicycling. I wish I had more time to cycle both uni and bike, those activities are what I’m really looking forward to in retirement. That being said I have a few years to go for that

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I’m 69 now and started with unicycling from 26" QU-AX when I was 65+ young. Now I’m not a long distance rider, I use my three unicycles for fitting. For commuting I use an EUC, which is handsome, easy to use and quick enough.
As for unies, besides the 26" QU-AX, i have 20" QU-AX to try new skills as idling, backwards riding, riding on uneven surfaces etc. I have also 29" Nimbus who is equipped with 3-holes cranks (100/125/150). I use this for cardio and also in winter, with spiked wheel, just not to loose skill. Sometimes i use him (that Nimbus) to go shopping.
To be honest, my progress in uni is very slow, but I think that this is not so important. Fun is the point here. And another point is that some progress takes a place even so.
Keep cycling and have a fun!

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Hey Huk, Montana, Johnnydrop…others
Very inspiring to hear about you all you guys just learning to ride a unicycle at 50, 60, +++.

I know you’ve all had some injuries during the learning process and more as you got better and faster and ride longer,…etc. Why did that not stop you guys? Especially, all the “sensible” non-unicycle riders telling us we are crazy. Right!!!
Yes, we are a bit crazy and thank goodness we have this outlet.

Unicycle riding to me is an ultimate physical craft with an element of danger/injury.
I feel alive and at my best!

…slam

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Why? For me it’s just the way it thrills and stimulates something in my core being. It’s the most challenging activity I’ve ever taken up.
There is a utube news clip video of an attorney in Utah who commuted to his office daily In this interview he mentioned slalom water skiing and likened it to balance in unicycling. I grew up skiing and slalomed from my teen years (getting up would be akin to free mounting???)
I also was a ranch kid and never was exposed to team sports until high school and didn’t do any of them well. So I tended to do individual type activity like biking, running, hiking, archery, etc. If I was ever competitive it was with myself because I never excelled in anything. But I like to do things because they’re primarily fun and not because I have to be the best. For me unicycling just checks so many boxes and as a bonus I get my cardio in without feeling like I’m working out😀.
I regret is that I didn’t start in my youth. But at least I can act like a kid while I’m able to keep riding.

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I started in mid 2021 at 53 during the Covid lock downs.

Now after a couple of years, I feel unicyling is central in my daily life.
I take a unicycle with me on any family holidays, and really enjoy the experience of unicycling in different locations…probably because my main unicycling is commuting to/from work. Clocked up 4500km on the KH36 in the last year and a half.

After a brief stint with a KH29

I feel I have found my prefered unicycle for my life situation to be a 36" wheel.

I really like the interview on the podcast “UnicycleLife” with Kirsten (unicon 2024 organiser) and how she discribes the feeling of “flight” riding her 36" uni.

After 2 years of ignoring my unicycling, my kids got so “bored” one afternoon, that they picked up my original 20" unicycle.
I’m so proud of them for progressing up to the point of feeling that first micro improvement to keep going.

I converted my KH29 into a Freewheel 20" and took the leap and got a Schlumpf hub with Flansberrium steel frame. Really just to continue the nice/challenging feelings of micro improving at something.

I can relate to this too, but it’s much harder than unicycling, for me.

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I just subscribed to your YouTube channel. Im looking forward to watching them. You are a true inspiration to all of us over 50 riders.

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I will turn 75 next week… And Muni has been for 20 years the path to serenity … Hope I will ride 20 more years :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks Bug72,
I was telling my kids you are my first “official” subscriber, or rather first subscriber that has motivated me.

Thanks for the kind words and I hope I can add content of interest.

I just got a GoPro, so be forwarned…

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