Where to look ?

When learning idling or riding backwards, where do most people on here, focus on ?
I mean, where are your eyes looking whilst idling/backwards/forwards etc
Cheers for any feedback, Roy.

I had to get fairly comfortable with riding backwards before I could start to glance over my shoulder and see where I was going. For idling, I usually just look straight ahead, unless I am about to cross a street or something.

Some riders on the forum have suggested looking straight ahead. Perhaps our balance is better in this more natural position. I got started off as a beginner looking down at my feet and the ground while doing the tire grab and making sure my second foot was on the pedal. I ride a lot of SIF and with handlebars, and I tend to bend over and look down more in this position; but for seat-in riding, I tend to look more straight ahead.

My understanding is there are three forms of balance we use. 1. The effect of gravity on our body that we sense. 2. The working of the semicircular canals in the ear. 3. Visual cues we get about what is up/down, the location of the horizon.

I suppose that looking straight ahead helps us with the third form of balance. While I’m not disciplined about looking straight ahead, I tend to stay upright while one-footed riding; probably this is because my head is heavy, and leaning it forward can disturb my balance.

I would say look at the same area as you look when you ride forwards, that will keep your body in the same position which will be helpful for your balance. I tend to look about 5-10 meters in front of me on the ground, when I started to get better at it (riding 10-20 meters) I started getting dizzy watching the ground move away from me. That was helpful :stuck_out_tongue:

“Look to Norway”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Where you are looking is not as critical on a unicycle as it is on a slackline. It is important to see for our sense of balance (try standing on the toes on one foot, with your eyes closed and open if you don’t believe me), but on a unicycle there is not much to do really wrong with it. I would suggest looking ahead for most riding tricks, to give you a “horizon” as a visual reference, and it helps to straighten your back, which is good for most unicycle tricks.

Whether you are looking on the ground 5, 10 or 15 meters away, really shoud not matter much, but I recommend looking there for forward-riding tricks, so you can pick up bumps and dips that might throw your balance of. For idling I would recommend focussing on one specific point when you are starting out, similar to what one would do standing on one leg.

The only time I really focus on a specific point is when I practice unispin(-flip combinations), where looking onto the front of your tire helps staying above the uni.

Exactly! On a slackline, you have to suck in your stomach, keep your chin up, your spine straight, your arms adjusting, and you have to be very conscious of your balance. A unicycle is much more mechanical, and if you learn to operate it correctly, you don’t normally need to think much about balancing.

I’m just working on riding backwards and have been on and off for a month or two (it’s taking rather longer than riding forwards - though I am up to 10-12 revs now). Was thinking about this myself today - as mentioned above I tend to focus on the ground ~5m in front of me, when I feel I should maybe look up more. I think looking up helped me with forwards riding, and it’s a technique I’ve always used with other balance sports, though I’ve found that actually focussing on something above head height in front of me was the crucial thing rather than simply looking forwards in general. I’m probably now at the point where I can concentrate more on this - I’m also now trying to work on looking behind me.

I can ride backwards OK, but I can’t balance and turn my head to see what’s behind me, and eventually I just stop because I’m afraid I’m going to run into something. I guess I could get one of those little mirrors the road cyclists put on their helmets to use as a rear-view mirror. :slight_smile:


Hi, I’ve been learning free mount, riding backwards, and idling.
It will be a month tomorrow (wed) I started
Can now free mount, no hands, on seat
Did 80 rocks idling yesterday, (best so far)
And do, 30 (12,foot) ride backwards ( all this done in kitchen)
Think I’m doing quite well.
Just need to get out of house and practice longer runs. As cracked 2 kitchen cupboard doors already falling off etc.
Riding forwards is easy compared to learning idling, and backwards,and free mount, I think anyway.
But God does it feel good when you do it, :smile:

Hmm, sounds like you’re ready to learn one-footed idling. It’s a good one for indoors.

One is not idle because one is absorbed. There is both visible and invisible labor. To contemplate is to toil, to think is to do. The crossed arms work, the clasped hands act. The eyes upturned to Heaven are an act of creation.

Victor Hugo

There you go…

In English please.

Victor Hugo is always going on about opposites, contradictions, the high against the low. In Notre Dame there’s a character, Gringoire, who has always fantasized about death by hanging because it is a death “which holds the middle ground between the heavens and the earth.” He sees it as somehow analogous to his life as a poet, with his head in the clouds and his feet on the ground. There is a bishop in Les Miserables who has a similar view of life, his feet planted in his garden, and his eyes on the stars above.

While a giraffe unicycle would probably have had the best chance of appearing in Hugo’s writings if he had not died in 1885 (which I assume was before giraffes existed), all unicycling explores tension between extremes: you swing forward and back while idling; you lean forward for each pedal stroke while riding one-footed, and then lean back again for each recovery; and when you ride down the stairs, you have to pull up on the seat so that you remain grounded on the pedals and don’t hurt your nuts.

Swipe me, that is a rather deep philosophical treatise on old Victor Hugo featuring my old mate Gringoire. I remain your deep rooted, forward looking friend… my friend… !! :wink: