Would it be worth it to learn to mount with either foot?

So, the spot I’ve chosen to learn unicycling is basically a loooooong driveway with a stone wall running along one side only. I start at one end of the wall with my right side facing the wall, then keep going until I reach the other end of the wall (with however many stops and starts along the way). Once I reach the end, I have to walk the unicycle back to my starting point to keep practicing, since I can’t mount with my opposite foot. That’s a lot of walking time that could be spent unicycling if I could mount with either foot. Think it’d be worth learning how to mount with my other foot so I can practice in both directions?

Reasons I think this might be a bad idea are that 1) I’m AWFUL at mounting with my left foot and it might not be worth taking the time to learn, and 2) The walking time gives my legs, which are very sore, a little break from the hard work. Meh. What do you think?

The break to stretch your legs by walking is not an argument without merits…

But I do think that it is worth becoming able to do an assisted mount on either side.

Until you have a rock-solid free mount (and even when it starts succeeding a useful fraction of the time, you will have occasions where a frustrating sequence of failures leads you to look for temporary assistance) you will be dependent on available support to get back on your unicycle, and that may well only be available on one side.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of reason to believe that a new skill learned on one side can be transferred to the other in a fraction of the time it took to learn the first side.

It’s not something you have to tackle yet - if you have your system that works for initial practice, by all means you can stick to it. But it is probably something that will seem interesting to develop at some point.

Use that walking time to reflect on how your ride ‘felt’. Try to emotionally relive the experience of your short ride. Reflection is a powerful tool. Don’t worry about efficiency…if you really wanted to be efficient, you’d be riding a b*ke!

There has been a fair amount of discussion regarding learning a skill on one side, then transferring it to the other side. For the sake of argument, I’d like to suggest practicing alternating left and right while learning.

If you first learn to mount on the right foot, for example, then wait until you are decent at right-foot mounting before moving to the left, then you may be effectively using your right foot to teach your left foot. But what if your right foot technique stinks? Then will you be teaching the left foot to have the same, weak technique.

Conversely, alternating between the two feet might mean that each side of your body has its own approach to the particular technique, and the two sides can “learn” from one another. The “best practices” of either side might be shared across the midline.

I have spent many hours this summer learning to ride one-footed, using the alternating philosophy. While I’ve ridden twice as far (+200 ft) using my dominant (left) foot, I nevertheless noticed that the technique while using the right-foot was better for steering (maybe because the dominant foot was now on the square crown). Later on, my steering improved on the dominant side.

I’ll take my arguments another step, and suggest that we ‘start’ learning a technique using our non-dominant side. In this case, I think the brain has to make up for the physical deficiencies in the non-dominant side, and that we compensate for our klutzy/weak side with stronger/more solid technique.

It’d take a hell of a lot of discipline for me, at my current level, to give equal time to my weak side, let alone to give more time to it. Just thinking about trying to learn to mount all over again when it took so much work to get to this point makes me a little weary. I think I’ll mostly keep on doing what I’ve been doing, which is ride one way and walk back, and every now and then, I’ll throw in an attempt to mount with my weak leg.

I’m a newbie but I’d never even thought that anyone would just use one side for support all the time. I mount the same way (foot wise) but with support wherever it is, left or right. Maybe I’m doing it wrong :thinking:

How about learning to turn it round (with support) at the end and come back. I tried that and after a couple of goes it’s less scary :astonished:

Good luck.

It’s prolly a good idea to learn both. I always mount left foot on pedal, but that made me become very dominant in hopping (left foot back), to the point where I have a very hard time hopping right foot back… It limits me quite a bit, case inn point… There’s a trail I do that starts with a quick steep ascent. I can’t roll to the top (lack of speed/torque/roots) which means that I have to stop at the top and either A) fall, because my right foot is back and I can’t hop up hill like that, B) stop a half rev sooner so that my left foot is back and I can hop up, or C) stop with one foot high, one foot low, and do a hop with a quarter rev to get my feet right, which wastes energy and is sketchy on steep rugged terrain.

… dammit, now I’ve talked my self into needing to practice hopping and starting right foot back… :wink:

One thing is not clear from your post. When you say “mount”, you mean “get on the unicycle”, or “free mount”? The title of that thread makes me think “free mount”, yet what you wrote seems more like you’re really at the beginning of the learning process.

If that’s the cas, then yes there’s no problem getting on the uni with the dominant foot. Once you reach the end, the wall is then on your other side, correct? That shouldn’t be a problem to let you get on with your favorite foot, it’s just that it’s the hand holding the wall that might be the non-dominant. Which is easier to deal with than the non-dominant foot, it’s just slightly more cumbersome.

If you’re talking “free mounting”, i.e. without the aid of a wall or lamp-post or any other object, then I tend to think that it’s good to try to learn several techniques. From personal experience, that was good for me and it worked for several people I know. With many sports (and activities) where repetition is the key to training, there comes a point when your brain can’t take it anymore and you need a break. So when you can’t understand what you’re doing right or wrong in an attempt to free mount, you train on the other mount. One or the other will click in first, and you can continue learning the other one.

Catsmeat, get away from that wall, you’re wasting time! Just use the wall to help you mount, then pretend you already know how to ride, fall forward toward open pavement and start pedaling. You will fall off the first 50 or 100 times, of course, but you probably won’t get hurt, especially if you get away from the wall.

Riding and freemounting (usually in that order) are definitely the first two skills you want to acquire as a unicyclist. It would be best to get your freemount working reliably before you start trying to learn it on both sides. At that point, trying to become ambidextrous might be a good idea if you don’t feel like acquiring yet another new skill.

This is all just my opinion, of course, and based on choices I made and my resulting successes and failures. First I learned to idle with my left foot down. Before even trying to idle with my right foot down, I learned one-footed idling on my left foot… but YMMV.

I just moved on to curb mounts as quickly as I could. The ultimate goal is to get a bomb proof free mount so I would just keep heading in that direction.

Coincidentally enough, I realized that the wall was hindering more than helping me during my practice session tonight, right before I logged in and read your post. As soon as I resolved to ride as far as I could without the wall, I did a stretch of ~20 feet before I UPDed.

I should have been more clear in my OP. When I wrote “mount with either foot,” I really meant “mount with either my left side or right side facing the wall, with my left foot down.” Shortly after I wrote this post, I forced myself to start mounting with my left side facing the wall, which means I can practice in both directions. It was really hard at first, mainly because I spent so much time favoring the other side, but I got it.

I practiced for about three hours today and made tremendous progress. Today’s the first day I felt a spent a fair amount of time actually riding, not just trying to ride. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds. This is the most addictive thing I’ve ever done, no question.

Perseverance is going to be your key to success!

Given that I learned uni-ing 5 weeks ago, I have to agree to move quickly away from the wall. The wall is like an evil magnet giving you the idea that your balance lies there. As soon as I managed to move away from the wall, my balance became more centered over the uni. As for ambidextrous mounting, I will get there at some point and for now I stick to free-mounting with my right-dominant foot on the back pedal and hopping up. I’m making heaps of progress with that with each week. I also noticed that riding in the forest on uneven terrain progresses balance more than practicing on asphalt.

Addictive yeah, fully agree. I’ve always been addicted to my puter, being developer and all, but now I’d rather use my uni instead. Why fly a virtual dragon, when you can fly on a unicycle!

Perfectly stated. I should have started using the wall only for mounting much sooner than I did. Now that I’ve got the “wall is evil” idea fully cemented into my brain, I expect tonight’s practice session (which is officially only supposed to be 30 minutes, but will more realistically be 2+ hours–bwahaha) to rock.

I’m pretty much free of the wall now, except for using it to mount. Went 50+ feet a few times tonight without touching it or leaning toward it. UPDs have drastically increased, but that’s to be expected. I think the ideal thing now would be to find a place with no wall, just a tree/lightpost/pillar to use for mounting, so that there’s no “evil magnet” to tempt me.

Congratulations - you are a unicyclist!

The rest is just about increasing what you can already do. It will take some time, but 50 feet will become 100 will become 500.

A place where you could ride in large circles might be even more useful. At about a month in myself, I might (?) with luck be able to get turned around on a driveway by wrenching the unicycle around, but to actually ride smoothly through a circle (“going straight along a curve”) would still take me more room.

Another nice thing about a circle is the sense of goal/accomplishment. Getting one lap of the office felt great - and so did getting two in a row a week later.

I’ve been practicing on a parking lot close by. The lampposts are out of reach, because of bushes, but I simply held on to my car and then try to cycle away from it. Just be careful not to kick away the uni against your car when you lose your balance. I got a nice scratch on the side of it. Then as soon as you get the hang of cycling a bit, focus on free-mounting, which I did in my third week.

It’s amazing how beginners struggle with the same issues. It took me a while until my turns stopped being jerky. Some things about turning I learned along the way were:

  • In the beginning, try making the seat lean against the leg which is on the side towards which you're turning.
  • Look in the direction you're turning.
  • Experiment with increasing your tire pressure.
  • Start pedaling faster just when you start the turn. A friend of mine demonstrated riding in circles, before I could do it smoothly. He was riding rather fast. I didn't make the connection between the smoothness of the circle and the speed...until later. Speeding up around a turn may be counterintuitive, because typically we slow down when trying something difficult. But we can't lean into a turn at slow speeds.

Great suggestions there from elpuebloUNIdo. That last one in particular was big for me. I had a tendency to want to slow down around a tight turn, which never worked. That was an instant UPD. The trick was to straighten out the turn just a little but pedal harder when I started to feel unstable.

It’s ok to make stop signs for a while. They’ll get to be more like circles as you get better at maintaining your balance with the unicycle leaned over.

The tips offered above by PuebloUNIdo have already been part of my subconscious for a year or two, but it is very helpful to see them in writing.

Learning to ride one-footed is a little bit like reliving the first days of learning to ride, except that it takes longer. Making turns, especially turns of your own choosing rather than turns made to avoid a UPD, seems to be a good way to break through plateaus you encounter in one-footed riding, so I will see if I can apply PueboUNIdo’s tips to my current struggles. I managed 56 revoluciones the other day with my left foot, though when I try to do even one with my right foot (PuebloUNIdo’s earlier advice) my unicycle suddenly acquires a mind of its own and tosses me into the air!