Unicycling after 50

As a 49er unicyclist in my 75th year here is my story. I was a mediocre rider as a kid when I learning at about 10 years old on a homemade uni. I made first unicycle using an old tricycle wheel (about 12” diameter), some scrap metal I could find around the farm and an old English bike saddle. The only hard surfaces I had to ride were in the cow barn where I learned in front of the hay mangor and a short concrete walkway between the house and garage. I never ventured away from home and never even considered riding on a public road. After riding that first homemade unicycle for awhile I completely wore off the hard rubber tire and was without a uni for a few years. At 18 years old I happened to find a beat up 24” Columbia unicycle at a local store. I rode that a few times but did not put much time on it.

This is the Columbia in 1967:

Then, fast forward 50 years without riding and I happened to see people online like Ed Pratt road riding a 36” uni and covering great distances with little effort. At 68 I wondered if I could do that. I still had the Columbia so I dusted it off and put on a new tire. I found I could still ride it about the same mediocre level as I could 50 years ago. Just as when I was a kid I could mount and ride but never did learn any “tricks”. In my experience, once you learn the basics of riding, you never forget.

In July of 2017 I found a nice 36” Coker locally and I could ride it without much problem. At first I used a large block of wood to steady the wheel and as a step up to mount but was able to free mount without that aid in a couple weeks or so. It took a while to get used to the larger wheel and some dedicated mounting practice to become proficient at mounting.

After a few months on the Coker:

After a few months I was ready to try the open road on the Coker. Even though I was in reasonably good shape I could manage about ½ mile and then start to wonder how I was going to dismount without crashing. My legs were not strong enough and I likely did not have enough weight in the uncomfortable saddle.

I’ve had the normal bumps and scrapes when riding but nothing that prevented regular riding. The following photo is actually a re-creation of a planned dismount that went horribly wrong. When I first started riding my 36er I was not comfortable riding across the bridge. So I had planned to ride up to the start of the bridge and dismount. I hit a bump at the start of the bridge and took a header clean off the bridge. It was about 12 ft down to the ground below. Luckily the ground was soft and I sustained no real injuries.

This was my most exciting dismount to date:

About a year after I got the Coker I updated to a Nimbus 36er. I had built up enough leg strength and found a more comfortable saddle to do my fist longer ride of 50 miles.

Over the few years I have been riding the 36er I have got the point that I can jump on and ride all day with no adverse effects. My longest day ride has been 100 miles and longest nonstop ride has been a little over 26 miles (a marathon) using my front saddle support thingy.

My most recent longer ride was an easy 74 mile “ride my age” ride a few months ago. Year around I ride 10 to 20 miles a few times a week just to stay in shape.

I have been lucky and not noticed any age related issues or limitations yet. I know my legs are stronger then at any time in my life and I believe my general health is better because of my unicycling. If I do something that I’m not used to I may be a little sore for a day of so, same thing happened when I was a kid.

In addition to learning to ride/mount the 36er I have picked up a few other things in the recent years. I learned to idle, ride some backwards, jump mount, hop, ride comfortably with hands on a handlebar and ride for hours on end. An old dog can learn new tricks.

I hope I can continue to ride for quite a while and believe I have to use the ability or loose it.


For me unicycling is not at all like riding a bike. If you don’t use it you loose it or at least you need to really work to get back to the same level. I think a lot of times is all mental and confidence.

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Jim I have to say you are the rider I admire the most. You always have good advise and have great ideas and technical knowledge. I find watching you ride at your skill level at your age is truly inspirational.

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Unicycling after 50 has just past 50 posts keep it going

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Last post I promise . For those looking for inspiration watch unimyras videos. Following him you can literally watch someone from beginner to experienced rider at an older age.


Unimyra’s mount video is fantastic.


Yes, you can think of it like a teeter totter, except the momentum of the wheel & unicycle is the teeter(or hands of god pushing one side) and your feet pushing down is the “totter”. You actually “step” on the wheel with your weight on it, but at the same time the wheel rotating and moving unicycle forwards “opposes” that foot pressure. So, with enough practice you can “feel/sense” that momentary equilibrium point at which point you land on your seat and take off like a pro.

Yes, forget about that whole eggshell stomping video. That guys on another plane. Good for him, but let’s get back to earth and deal with mortals.

Dirty secret of big wheel unicycle:
Bigger or larger the wheel diameter, then the “easier” it is to free mount.
For the scientists, it’s rotational inertial. Not so much tire weight, but diameter.

I once rode someones 29" unicycle with skinny tires, but trying to idle was really freak’n hard. He told me it was impossible, but I was able to do so. That same resistance is what helps you when you free mount.

So, you guys who can do a traditional mount on the smaller unicycle are really skillful and you “should” easily free mount the 36’s, if you don’t freak out from the higher position above the hard ground and increased severity of body injury.



I don’t think that’s an age thing, I’m only a bit over halfway to 50 and if I take too much of a break, I have to relearn some of my hardest tricks.

I think that saying exists, because you can be pretty terrible at riding a bike and not notice, because you don’t fall down as easily. Makes it seem like one doesn’t lose skill, but in reality it’s just harder to notice.


I’ll take that. Good observation.

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Hanging it up. It’s been so long since I posted here that my account was deactivated. Riding my uni the past half dozen years has just been a quick trip to keep the streak going. I figured it was time to give away my last uni to a kid in town. To commemorate the event, I recorded a short video with my wife’s help. I can’t believe I misspelled unicycling. Too late to change it…


Sorry to see you go. You gave it a good run. Enjoy your retirement from the uni, I hope you still ride a bike at least. Also props on giving the uni to a kid, I’m all for that.
Oh ya, nice video looks like you still ride like a teen ager

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Thanks for the good thoughts, I’m strictly riding an EUC now. At least I can play 18 holes in under two hours!


I’m posting just to keep the thread relevant. All of you 50 years and older riders whether you have been riding for years or just starting take this opportunity to share your experiences, ask a question or offer advise.

This age group is a very important segment of our community let’s keep this thread alive and a resource for those of us in this age group.

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Here’s something I don’t know many mention in riding a unicycle.
The “escape reflex”.
This is important because it keeps you away from injury.
Also, I’m not a “fully padded up and just go for it” type of rider. Any you guys?

This escape reflex/spider sense works three ways for me:
1.) If my “eyes” see that I am about to do something that doesn’t match my physical readiness or familiarity. Jump off.

2.) If my “mind” all of a sudden draws a blank, when I am riding through an obstacle or ready to turn or even during idle. Jump off!!

3.) When I am riding and fully in synch with “down” pedaling and the “back pressure” simultaneously, but all of a sudden lose back pressure or feel a drop or rise that I did not anticipate. Jump off!!!

Let me clarify, the “jump off” is not a decision I make. My body already does it. I’m on my feet and my unicycle is on the ground in an instant.

Is it just me?



well the fact is : when you are older you are not bold anymore so you are sometimes overcautious. It is important to ride with younger riders who help you challenge obstacles (and yes I am over padded so the guys have a nickname for me : “robocop”! the other thing that helps me is the practice of “Aïkido” falls )


As long as you don’t have a bad fall that forces you to eat baby food afterwards you’re doing well. I’m sure you’re making Murphy proud that you’re still out there riding.


Oh, that’s hilarious. I’ve wondered a couple times whether I’m a candidate for a Darwin Award. I hope not.

On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s much difference between the protein shakes I drink and baby food. Some people’s kids….


I think I found my current limit of endurance on my KH36 - 110mm.
I really love riding this unicycle but I had to ask my wife to pick me up from the station for the last leg of my last ride.

After 100km -800m elev ride (first time) last Sunday and 4 X 15km rides (660m elev) during the week (commute to work Mon Wed Fri), I cycled 90km (850m elev) this past Sunday.
So for 8 days, the total was 280km and 2300m elev.

After some scraps (knee from upd) and niggley knee pains at the end of 90km, I was very happy to not feel any aches or pains the next day.

The early start (alarm at 3.30am) was needed to cycle 4km to the Redfern station to catch train to Seven Hills station to start ride at 6am.
With an hour lunch midway, and many 10 min rest stops (was so tired on the last 30km) I finished the ride at 5pm at Westmead station.
Then got train back to Redfern, where I could not mentally/physically get on the unicycle to ride home. (First time)
That was after napping on the 30min train ride.
Turning 56 in March next year. Been a happy year this year.

I am so inspired and in awe of the amazing 7600km ride by Becky98 across European Divide!


So I saw this thread a while back and was a little reluctant to post, as I wasn’t sure what to say…
I am now 53, and while I am glad that most Muni races have at least a 30+ or 40+ category, as it’s just hard to compete with the young riders at the very top level (e.g. Timo), and I was also pleased that Unicon has a 50+ category, I don’t otherwise feel my age much at all, especially with respect to unicycling. I ride my 36" around the city or my freewheel muni while most other (often younger) people wouldn’t be adventurous enough to ride a normal unicycle.

After recovering from my 3rd ACL surgery last year (freeride skiing and freeride mountain biking) – I went to Unicon in Grenoble with a torn ACL and placed top 3 in Muni DH, XC and cyclecross in 50+ age category – this year I started learning freewheel. That is a real (ly fun) challenge, and you must be prepared to fall hard and to fail (a few rides in the beginning where I almost wasn’t able to mount again after being exhausted and frustrated from falling so much). But the freewheel is fun! See Freewheel

Learning more new skills: After quite a few years of Muni, in Spring 2023 I started doing freestyle for the first time and have really learned a lot and really enjoyed the challenge and learning process. I competed in the German individual freestyle nationals last month in the 25+ category, and the other riders were better than me mostly because they’ve been doing freestyle for 3+ years. But I’m improving:

And I’m also getting back into trials: At the French nationals in October I managed 2 1/2 pallets and some stuff I didn’t think I could do – and that was basically doing trials “cold” after 2 years off with my knee injury. I’m also hoping to learn “big” SIF hopping and manage 3+ pallets by Unicon… (yes I know the young guys jump 5, 6 or 7 pallets).

Despite the obvious difference at the elite level (i.e. Olympic athletes), I think I see unicycling quite different, as the skill and practice frequently make more of a difference than age. Plus, there aren’t many other sports where at 53 I can ride with some of the top athletes in the world and still sort of “keep up”. After the French Nationals in October I did a Muni DH ride with 6 top riders, Timo (top 3 male Muni rider), Anne-Marie from Naturns (top 3 female Muni rider), Leonie (i think the best junior female DH rider), Ben Soya (top 3 male Muni rider) and Martin L. and Lena F. (both better than me), and although I watched a lot as they rode crazy hard stuff in wet slippery conditions (I only rode those sections where I estimated <5% falling as it was very wet and slippery), I can still do a ride on the same trail with them! Try getting on the field over 50 with pro football/basketball/tennis/hockey players…

For me the main differences compared to when I was 25/30 are recovery times after hard workouts and more injury recovery time. OK, yes, for extreme DH or trial I do take less risk than in the past. But that doesn’t mean I’m not trying new things and still learning.

I guess I could describe that like this: On muni rides with some younger rider whose objective skill level is less than mine, when we then get to a hard obstacle like a big drop, then the younger rider will often try maybe 5 times and crash every time, while I will estimate my success, and if it’s less than say 80% success, then I will pass. Of course, I also think I am also usually better at estimating my success rate… So I try many hard obstacles just above my level, don’t crash very often and learn continually and thus improve.

But with the combination of

  • muni riding for cardiovascular fitness (my resting heart rate is about 41-42 bpm)
  • freestyle for my core back/stomach and coordination
  • and weight training
    → I feel super fit. And I feel my age matters little.

I totally recommend not only unicycling but trying a new discipline: while admitting it’s not possible to attain the levels of younger elite riders, Muni as well as both trials and freestyle unicycling are really fun to learn! I suppose trails is probably the first discipline to have a hard age limit, as at some point the high stress of sudden power movements is maybe not good for the joints (or if your back can’t take the jolt of jumping off 2 pallets). But both Muni and freestyle should be good for many more years.

Physical activity is obviously great for fitness and staying healthy but also learning new skills is great!


Hi everyone,

I wanted to share my journey into unicycling, which started last year at age 59. Last fall I was stuck in NYC for three months and somehow rediscovered a unicycle in the basement that I had bought a decade ago and never really used. I don’t know what clicked, but I decided to ride for 1/2 hour every day to see what would happen.

The learning process turned out to be really fun and a great challenge. There’s something satisfying about seeing a bit of progress almost every practice session. Fast forward to summer, and I found myself back in Brooklyn, riding the uni all over the place. Super fun to notice the improvement in my riding.

I still have a lot to learn. Right now, I can only really ride forward and that’s about it. No tricks, no hops. But winter is coming, and that could be a good time to start working on other skills.

Also, a few months ago, I started riding a 29er. Initially, it seemed enormous, almost daunting. But now, I’m pretty comfortable on it and can freemount 90% of the time. It’s an amazing feeling, really. Aside from basic uni skills, my next goal is to try a 36er, hopefully sometime next year.

I’m lucky to have a few great places to ride around here (upstate NY). There’s a decent size park nearby, and a rail-to-trail trail that’s just perfect for a unicycle (and no cars!). But my favorite ride is a 3.5-mile trip into our little town to grab a coffee (and usually a doughnut). It’s a perfect challenge for me, the baristas are nice, and I enjoy the sugar/caffeine buzz on the way home.

For me, riding a unicycle has been an incredible journey, super fun, challenging and rewarding.

Happy riding!