Update on learning, any tips gratefully received!

Hi,

I have been riding for almost a week now and trying to practice for around 1-1.5hrs per day. Have been practicing with support and also doing the launching into the abyss technique.

There is progress happening, have managed to cycle for around roughly 6m a few times, although it is rather inconsistent. Finding that at the start of each session it takes a while for it to come back and then things start to progress a bit quicker. Still many many many falls/learning.

Have managed to cycle around a tennis court with support stopping about 5-6x. Starting to get a smoother pedal technique and have less support for 1-2revs.

Am finding that the brain sort of goes into abort mode, of stopping pedaling, stopping leaning forwards and when launching off. Trying to push through this as once going it feels great, just overcoming the fear and the brain saying not to do it.

I’m 37, can anyone suggest any pointers from when they were learning or maybe a rough timeline for development? Was hoping to nail it within a week so tomorrow would be the 7th day…

Thanks :slight_smile:

My own experience is that it takes closer to a month to learn, but most people don’t practice for as long as you do in a session. I don’t think there’s any particular method of training that will speed up your progress at this stage. Hopefully you’re learning on a 19", 20" or 24" unicycle and have your seat set close to a full leg extension.

1 Like

Don’t worry about your age or an estimated timeline. I’m 2 years shy of being twice your age and still learning new stuff. The one key thing to learning to ride is persistence. Just keep at it, it simple takes time to develop the muscle memory to react to without thinking.

3 Likes

Everyone has each own learning curve. You will probably have some breakthrough momenent where you feel something falls into place. But there will also be several days where nothing is improving.
Just don’t expect that you suddenly “nail it” and then you just ride of into the sunset. It takes practice and you will gradually improve over a long time. I started almost a year ago (and I’m slightly older than you) and practice/ride 3-5 times each week and I still feel I’m getting better and better although the improvement are not so obvious anymore. But I still have many basic techniques that I have not even tried…
It takes patience and a lot of practice but its fun and rewarding.
Also people have different goals. Some like trials and do all kind of tricks while others prefer longer rides on trails or on road. There are many ways to approach Unicycling

2 Likes

I’m also just beginning. It took me about 6-7 hours to consistently complete 100 meters. But there was still an issue. I was riding along a 100-meter rail, and although I didn’t need to grab it when I was riding there was still this trust that is was there for when anything would go south. Since I mentally needed that rail to be next to me, and this rail was at a place about half an hour drive from my place, the time I could practice was limited to about 1 hour a week. So I said no more and forced myself to start riding in my street. There is no rail, there is nothing. Funny enough my mind was conditioned like this to have that rail. So it took me a lot of tries just to get started on the bike again, even though I could perfectly ride the distance. Finally, my brain gave up and now I can practice at home in my street. What a relief. I can now also start learning to do smaller and smaller corners which when I was riding next to the rail was impossible. Funny how the mind sometimes works. Best of luck in your progress and keep us posted.

Marc

2 Likes

Ditch the practice with support.
It’s not helping you anymore. (if it ever did)

Unfortunately, because of the support being used you will have to re-train your body mechanics to do without.

This will speed up your development.

Thanks Jim, that’s great to see that you’re still riding - enjoyed looking at the photos on your site and reading about the 100mile ride, great work! :slight_smile:

Thanks, these are all really useful pointers and have taken them all onboard. Have been doing a warm up with support and then going for just supported mounts and then launching off.

There is progress happening, have got over the fear of leaning forwards and the fear of falling off - it is much more fun and enjoyable as a result even though the distance is not massive. Have been getting 2,3,sometimes a 4 revolution of the pedals on the 24".

It’s been a rewarding week all in all with lots of improvement on reflection, even if I’m not quite able to ride any substantial distance unsupported. Starting to develop the feel for it which seems like a crucial part of the learning.

Hopefully once a few more revs get up it will be possible to learn more about the small tweaks to make to maintain the balance on the uni.

Would there be much difference between learning on a 24" vs a 20"? On a 24" at the moment.

Thanks

I really like the 24" size and that’s what I learned on. To me it’s the do anything size. It’s fast enough to use it to actually go somewhere, big enough for muni yet still small enough to practice tricks or trials on. If I could only have one unicycle, it would be a 24". You might learn slightly faster on a 20", but I don’t think the difference would be huge.

1 Like

Sounds like you are doing quite will. Just keep doing it.

Practicing emergency dismounts is really import so don’ think of them as failures.

Sometimes a day off can give the brain time to better integrate what it knows.

1 Like

Learning to ride is very much a body memory process as well, you have to think about how it all works at first and then things start to become more automatic. I found that taking a couple of days off helped during the learning phase as it let the muscles recover a little and the brain process the new actions without preforming them.
The biggest key to learning to ride is wanting to ride :slight_smile: you will think yourself down the length of the driveway and by the time you are riding the length of a block you will be starting to think about other stuff as well while you ride, thats your body taking over. From there you are off and away.
Good luck and have fun.

1 Like

Thanks Duff, that’s good to hear your thoughts and experiences about the wheel sizes. Does height come into it much? I’m 6ft 6/198cm if that makes much of a difference? I must say that the 24" seems like a good size, if anything it seems quite high up, sitting on top of a 36" must feel like perching on top of the Eiffel tower :joy:

Thanks Kay, that is encouraging - some of it does seem to be seeping into the muscles, it is more of a ‘do it by the feel’ rather than trying to solve a complex mental equation. It’s been an interesting process of discovering more about how the body learns new skills, it’s a clever process really!

That’s a good way of looking at it, and good to know that there is something to be learnt from all those hours. Sure it will all come in handy eventually :slight_smile:

I suggest to learners to think about putting the wheel where they would put their foot if they were walking. This helps employ existing neural pathways. Learning to ride is less about balance than it is about steering the wheel in the direction of the fall, just as it is with a bicycles.

One of the reasons I encourage the ride in to the open learning technique is to build emergency dismount experience. Clinging to fences does not build this skill and you often see posts about copping pedal pins in the shins because they didn’t learn to leap away into safety.

My worst injuries happened from staying on too long. Never stay on until you have completely lost control because you are then at the mercy of chaos.

A 36 feels a very long way up when you are going down a steep hill. I locked the brake on a steep hill once and had to leap off. It is a very long way down onto the road. My heel was sore for weeks.

One thing I’ve figured out the hard way is that if you’re doing a tricky descent and you start to lose your balance, never ever take your hand off the brake to flail, just take the fall. What all too often happens when your hand comes off the brake is that the unicycle will suddenly shoot out from under you leaving you flat on your back. The first time I did this I landed hard on my back and could barely get out of bed for 24 hours afterwards. The second time I partially caught myself with my hands and had a hydration pack with a layer of d30 and hard plastic in it, so no damage was done.

This is a problem that Unity won’t likely be having for a few more months, but when that time comes learn from my mistakes.

A note for the OP.
I think for the average person it takes about 15 hours to get the co-ordination sorted to go in a straight line. 1.5 hours a day is a lot, I presume that’s in a couple of sessions? Beginners legs(quads) get really burnt. :slight_smile:
Presume your support is a rail, don’t think of “launching into the abyss” but rather just riding gently off the support. Your hand should be floating on the rail rather than holding it.
But like most things, you just keep at it until you have got it, there’s no easy way.