Want to learn

I’ve been thinking about learning to ride a unicycle, but want some advice. I am a well coordinated 61 year old female. I would like to learn so I could bring a unicycle and ride on the flat road around a condo in Florida (at least to begin with). I am about 5’ 7" and 135 lbs. Can ride my bike without holding on. Does this sound like something I should be able to do? What should I be looking at for a ride? Thanks for any help you can give.

If you have decided that you want to ride a unicycle, then you will (in time) ride a unicycle. It will just take a lot of practice like it did for all of us. :slight_smile: Keep in mind though that there’s a pretty dramatic difference between riding without handlebars, and riding with out a second wheel (the last training wheel), but it is a start. Patients is key as is determination. If you have those two assets, you’ll do it!

There’s tons of information in this forum, so do dig around the site. Use the search box in the top right and search items like “training” or “new rider” or “learner” etc. There will be many threads with lots of tips. There are also loads of unicycles to pick from and many have reviews.

Good Luck!

I see two schools of thought behind learning something like unicycling.

1.) Textbook. You take all the advice you can get from whoever is willing to give it to you. You test the water’s temperature with your toe by just getting onto the unicycle and familiarizing yourself with the feel of it underneath you. You get gloves and you pull yourself while on the unicycle along a rail, then you get two friends to hold your hands next to you, then you gradually try letting go of their hands for increasing amounts of time, and you make sure you’re completely ready before advancing to the next step.

2.) Immersion. You get on the thing and push off.

Personally, I am fond of the latter. Trying the same thing over and over again can seem monotonous, but I find that the former version provokes a new level of frustration when all of your careful calculations still do not yield a positive result (a positive result which can only be yielded by practice and experience, not precognition).

Also, I personally find riding a bike with no handlebars to be much more difficult than riding a unicycle. But then again, I never practiced a bike with no handlebars 4 hours a day every day for a week just to be able to do without falling. And knowing how to do one doesn’t really affect the other; they are completely different mechanisms. Learning how to do one would only be a testament to your ability to learn to do the other.

Age 21: Method 2

Age 61: Method 1

You probably already figured that out. :slight_smile:

Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old for fun stuff!

I’d suggest giving this thread a read and/or post, it seems like she was in a similar situation.

also here’s the learning journal thread in which a few new riders (many likewise chronologically challenged) document their learning:

If you can ride a bike I promise that with enough stubbornness you can learn to ride a unicycle.

What to buy

There is a used cyclepro near me for $30. Should I start with that or buy something else? Money isn’t as much of an issue as learning properly. If I would do better starting wth something else I’d rather do that.

Sure you can learn! Take a look at this Tips for beginners page, including free downloadable Learning to unicycle booklet.
Oh and welcome to the forum!

Okay, so realistically, the biggest problem with learning to ride a unicycle is how it feels after you fall, esp when you’re no longer a teenager :smiley:

I’d invest in the following:

  1. Padded shorts, the type used for snowsports, skating, and biking, jus so long as they have a tail bone pad and hip pads
  2. Wrist guards, skateboard or rollerblad style, then wear leather gloves over them
  3. Shin guards, soccer style is the least expensive, the amount of protection increase with cost and size, but then so does the discomfort
  4. Knee and elbow guards. I never wore them, but they’re probably worth wearing.
  5. Helmet, probably goes without saying
  6. A safe place to practice, this is a tricky one, but I would suggest a low and very dense grassy area, on a very light downhill, this will prevent hard falls that bruise and give you enough resistance to learn how to “push with both feet”.
  7. Some hiking/trekking poles, these are great “outriggers” for providing balance while learning.

A used 20" unicycle is a good place to start. Also do some reading and learn from the experts, that said, we all learned differently, so try lots of tricks until it clicks.

Unicycling is the single most difficult sport I have ever learned, more so that whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, telemark skiing. It takes a lot of time, a rediculous amount of time really, to learn the basics, but the longer you do it, the better you get.

You’re never too old to learn new tricks, just take care of your body and pad things out well :slight_smile:

I started trying to ride in earnest in July. I fooled myself into thinking that by the end of the month I’d have the basics down; I was very wrong. After ten or so hours I could guide myself along a fence or wall, and maybe pedal two or three times before the unicycle squirted out from underneath me.

Personally I started on a very slight downhill driveway with a 4 foot high fence on one side. This worked well. As a beginner I had a lot more trouble with grass, both because it’s harder to pedal through and because it’s inconsistent; even cracks in the pavement seemed like obstacles at first!

As far as gear, I’ve only hit my head once so far. I was wearing a helmet, otherwise I most certainly would have had a concussion. Gloves are a must, wrist protectors better. Personally, I have just lived with lots of elbow and knee scrapes; wearing protection in both places could have saved me (and probably would save me) a lot of pain. But it’s hot there in FL, isn’t it? Pick what you think you need, but don’t skip the helmet.

I started with a 24"er and early on decided to buy a 20 inch bike. There are some plusses to learning on the bigger wheel IMO, but they’re all offset by the fact that the 20 incher puts you 4" closer to the ground. You’re going to be falling off. A lot. 1000 falls x 4" = 250 feet of falling you will save in the first few weeks. :slight_smile:

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to learn. When I looked at how little I had progressed after my first month I realized that I was not going to get an instantaneous reward where I suddenly “got it” like riding a bicycle, skiis, or snowboard. I suppose it’s not so surprising that the closest common thing I can compare it to is riding wheelies on a bike. You do little ones, then bigger ones, then bigger ones…but you don’t just start wheelieing down the street; at least for me there is no point where something clicks and it all becomes easy; it’s incremental.

I’ve now been riding probably 1/2 hour on average, for ~60 days and I’m just getting to the point where I can free mount most the time, and ride maybe 1/2 mile w/o running out of steam. It’s wonderful; well worth a half hour a day. Set realistic goals and you’ll be riding in no time and loving it.

Just my $0.02.


And if you can find someone to show you the basics (Sam?), all the better :smiley:

That depends on how it looks. Those cheap unicycles are OK for learning if they’re in good condition. If it’s rusty or loose then don’t bother.

The Club brand unicycles at unicycle.com are good quality, and they come with a better seat. Just about everyone has trouble with saddle soreness when they’re first getting started, so a nicer seat makes a difference.

The biggest thing that I underestimated when learning (in Florida) was how much effect the absolute flatness and smoothness of the riding surface would have. I thought, “Eh, the sidewalk in front of my house is pretty flat; that should be fine.” After several days of frustration, I tried an empty parking lot (also not flat, but somewhat better) and had much more success. Months later, when my wife decided to learn, I finally found the perfect place: a glassy-smooth basketball court.

+1. When I was a teenager, I could ride indefinitely with no hands; now, I can’t for more than a few seconds.

I like this page: http://learntounicycle.blogspot.com/


I’ve now been riding probably 1/2 hour on average, for ~60 days and I’m just getting to the point where I can free mount most the time, and ride maybe 1/2 mile w/o running out of steam. It’s wonderful; well worth a half hour a day. Set realistic goals and you’ll be riding in no time and loving it.

I’m wondering in that time frame and with your consistency how much your health improved. Did you lose weight or find yourself with more stamina, etc. I try to practice 45 minutes a day and love the fact that I don’t really realize I’m exercising because I’m concentrating so hard on learning how to ride. I know that I feel really good at the end as it seems to be improving my health. Wondered about any anecdotal evidence you could provide.

The unicycle practice only started being real exercise in the past week or so, when I could stay on for a few hundred yards and get on the uni w/o finding a convenient post. But it’s a workout; I’d definitely be loosing weight if I wasn’t celebrating with a beer or two after nearly every ride.:smiley:

Anytime you’re near Littleton, MA. Funny, I was going to comment that you should add your location to your profile when I realized I hadn’t done that myself.:o

I’m not sure how much instruction would have helped me; it seems like it just took lots and lots of trying. Having the motivation of a learning/riding partner would help a lot though. To that end, this forum have been a great motivator for me, thanks everyone!


I get…

… a lot of motivation from my kids (who all ride better than me) :astonished:

“Hey day,” says my 7 year old, “can I give you a few pointers?” :smiley:

Seriously, they love being able to do something I can’t do as well… YET!

My older ones have been helpful as they are pretty good. Riding backwards up the street is their new thing.

One day I had a guy ask me if unicycling was good exercise, uh yeah.

Last week I had a father point me out to his son and exclaim “that guy has the strongest legs in Knoxville”.

Seriously, riding a uni is one of the best core exercises I have ever practiced and it’s also really fun, well, at least once you get past the mental blocks and let your body ride the unicycle :slight_smile:

There are times when I ride so hard that the next day I can’t go number two :astonished:

Once you get riding, post some pics!

First injury

Thanks for all the responses. I’m currently on the sidelines. I have been practicing sitting and rocking back and forth while holding onto my garage door frame. Cement at door is uneven and when I went to dismount, I landed on the edge and rolled my ankle. I am anxious to try again. I should probably find a smoother place with a fence, but I’m not ready for public humiliation. :slight_smile:

Take care! I rolled my ankle when I was still learning as well. It hurt for days and up till now haven’t recovered 100%.

When in public, most people don’t really care that you can’t ride, they will think that it’s amazing that you’re even trying. :slight_smile: