Yes...another beginner

In great need of advise…I’m close to the 30hr mark of my journey. I originally tried learning on a 24" Nimbus muni with a slick tire but after about 15 hrs in, found a used 19" Nimbus trials. I mistakenly kept myself adhered to a wall for balance due to the fear of launching into space for too long. I have since moved to a school parking lot, use my car to mount and get a few pedal strokes in but as soon as I am away from the car I step off no matter how determined I feel or pissed off that I get. I feel I am wasting my time by repeatedly doing this same thing. This past weekend I had a spotter stand a few pedal strokes away from the car where I got started. I pedaled to her and rode a good 100 ft barely touching her arm. My long winded question at this point is should I give up on trying to launch alone and perhaps keep the spotter but have her gradually increase the distance away from me? I’m trying to make the best use of my time. I am 57, obviously a big chicken, I have read all the “mental block” posts, cannot go with the idea of a few alcoholic drinks as I am a recovering alcoholic…please advise…thanks for the help.

If that’s what’s working for you, yes. Lots of different ways to learn, some better than others, but the most important thing is finding the right way for you.

FWIW I “taught” my son to ride recently and started off just getting him riding around holding onto me to find his balance before eventually letting go so he could ride. What you’re doing sounds a bit like that - though it’s not entirely clear - are you actually riding all by yourself just with somebody nearby but not giving you any support? If that’s the case then you just need to spend more time doing that until you’re more confident as you’re learning all the right reflexes.

The spotter remains there and I occasionally tap her arm but my balance feels good…I’ve just been obsessing about launching on my own and it’s clearly not working for me :pensive:

Are you fully comfortable with getting off the unicycle when it doesn’t work out?

If you are willing to let go with the intention of only riding a rotation or two before getting off, eventually you can make it a rotation or three… and then four, and so on.

Later on their could well be an issue with being “too willing to fail” sabotaging things that could work, but at the moment it sounds (at least from what you wrote) as if perhaps you are hesitant to fail, and maybe becoming comfortable with hopping off the unicycle could be useful.

Manage to grab the seat as you do so in order to prevent if from clattering to the ground, and you can even categorize it as a skill.

I step right off as soon as I realize there is no support…try as I might I cannot get a pedal rotation if there is nothing on either side of me…

It’s only been a few years for me since I started and I still remember that stage really well. I think what got me past that was arranging to have something in place a half of a wheel revolution ahead of where I let go of my support, just a place to tap and steady myself as I went by, a trash barrel or mailbox or whatever. And lots of practice and patience. 30 hrs is what I had done maybe three weeks in, and I wasn’t any further along than you are.

There was a stretch where I got maybe two pedal cranks in on my own, and then worked up to three and then four. Some days it was just, “I’m going to try this twenty times and call it good whether I get any cranks on my own or not.” Some people get it right away but I wasn’t one of them. I did eventually get it though.

Although not being “a big chicken” can be a little part of it, I came to think that my body’s courageous/cowardly estimation of what I could and couldn’t do was pretty accurate most of the time. Trying to be brave when I felt like I was in trouble, hanging on that little extra bit longer, mainly served to make the crash worse when it came.

Stick with it, Donna. It’ll come. It’s a cliche, but try to enjoy the process and the time spent outside being active no matter how the unicycling is going. I remember how frustrating it was but you’re probably pretty close. And it doesn’t “just click.” If you’re like most of us, you’ll get it one or two hard more earned yards at a time. If you’re still riding a year from now, and I hope you are, it won’t matter whether this part took you two days or two weeks or two months.

You are so close, but nothing works until it works. It makes no sense, it drives you mad, but all you need to do is keep trying and eventually the unicycle will stop falling over. Every time you try, your brain gets a bit more data to work with until eventually it clicks. There are a few long learner threads on here which are worth reading just to realise that everybody goes through this stage. Take all the advice with a pinch of salt because everybody thinks that the thing they did just before they got it was the magic thing, but really the magic thing is just trying whatever keeps you going and not giving up. My magic thing in the end was going back to running along a fence and veering away. I had exactly the experience you are having when I met up with other unicyclists for the first time and I could cycle beside someone just touching fingertips and be fine but as soon as I lost that contact I would fall over. It’s not you being chicken it is your brain not knowing how to make themillion fine adjustments quickly enough yet. But it will get there. Try to dial down the frustration and beating yourself up and enjoy the journey. It is so amazing the first time you realise you are doing it and not falling over. Then you fall over, of course. But you know you’ve done it.

Do you use protective gear?

I know when I’m not wearing mine I feel vulnerable.

Nicely manicured lawn somehow makes falling seem safer too.
Although harder to ride, once you get that down and go to a hard surface your skill will automatically go up one level because the smooth surface will be so easy.

Like Starsky said, “Just do it… do it… do it”

This makes me feel so much better…thank you for the reply…I have no intention of giving up :slight_smile:


I’ve read and re read those threads …Thank you :slight_smile:

Based on what you describe, it sounds like you are almost there, but you have a mental block (in unicycling, it’s almost all mental).
My suggestion: have your spotter hold a short length of rope, and you hold onto the other end. That way you can have support when you feel like you need it, and not when you don’t. I suspect after a short while you will be able to just let go of the rope.
Good luck! Remember, if you just keep pedaling, you will eventually get it! (Unicycle mantra: “Hours in the saddle.”) :slight_smile:

That’s an interesting idea! Thank you :grinning:

I practiced in an alley with the garage wall on one side, and a metal fence at waist height to use as a handrail on the other.
In my early days, the wobbly runs would see me tapping the wall and fence all the time.
Progress started with half a turn one day, then one full turn the next, then one and a half turns. It takes time.
A good location and the right sized uni also helps.

Good luck, and try to stick with it.
We have all been there before.

In the beginning, I found that “holding aids” were absolutely necessary for learning/developing the necessary leg motion/coordination/control. So the uni didn’t slip under me and fall.
Then later became a crutch. Whatever I was holding or leaning against always “pulled me like a magnet”. Like I couldn’t get away.
Then finally. The real Ah-ha moment came when I finally surrendered myself to the mantra…“always be falling forward”. Just lean forward and fall…your body will do the rest.

Of course, I already had well over 70+ hrs of ‘trying’, so the balancing/pedaling was all there, I just had that one ingredient missing.

1.) Wear shin/knee/elbow pads. Don’t be afraid to fall.
2.) Crouch forward(yes…the total opposite of the experts…don’t sit straight up…this gives you the forward lean)
3.) Stomp down on pedals, but keep tension during back pedal.
4.) Maximum weight on feet. Minimum on seat(yup…against…the experts). Downward momentum like ballast is created by putting more weight on feet(physics mumbojumbo). Not efficient but helps a lot in beginning.
5.) Aggressive shoulder and hip twisting. Not pretty/graceful but helps a lot. Won’t get into the mumbujumbo, but it works.
6.) Watch/study this beginner learning from zero to total control. Search youtube unicycle zoey. I wouldn’t be riding my 24" Nimbus if not for her. All other experts/advice didn’t work for me.

Good luck…keep on

What works for some isn’t for others. The main thing is to keep varying everything you try.

A lot of the advice on this thread seems very complicated to me. Just get the balls of your feet on the pedals, cranks horizontal, and let go of whatever you’re holding on to and fall forward for an instant, then start pedaling! When I was first learning, committing to that forward fall was what I had to re-learn each session, along with the belief that my pedaling would save me from a faceplant.

Riding while clinging to a wall, car or friend may help for a few minutes on your first day, but after that it is counterproductive, and even a bit hazardous. When you do fall off the uni, as long as you fall forward on flat pavement with no obstructions, you will almost always land on your feet. Some people try to help beginners by holding their hands, and this is a very friendly, supportive thing to do, and puts them at ease with the weird world of unicycling, but other than that, I don’t think it actually helps much. In my experience, learning to unicycle requires persistence and solitary concentration. It is OK to have your friends around while you learn, but your biggest breakthroughs will probably happen when they aren’t looking.

Donna is very brave to have started out trying to learn on a 24" muni. When I was only able to ride 10 meters or so, I was terrified of anything bigger than a 20," especially those things with the huge fat tires and spiked pedals…

The most recent learners frequently provide the best advice. More experienced riders sometimes focus too much IMHO on " proper" technique, such as putting more weight in the seat. I find that silly because we cannot put weight in the seat until we learn to keep the unicycle under us. I suggest you practice in three distinct ways. One: stop the wheel from rotating and practice still stands, flailing your arms madly. Two: under conditions of great rolling resistance such as on grass and with a wall fence or some other crutch practice rolling and idling back and forward throughout the 360 degrees ofthe pedal stroke. Three: Using a curb and something to initially steady yourself, ride off into open space. The first technique helps you balance with your arms and the second technique helps you keep positive traction against the pedals. Both help when you ride into the open. another thing: If you have grippy pedals I’d do something about it. See if you can remove or file down the pins. For beginners, the pins are more likely to cause a bad fall than to protect from one.

Glad to read you are persistent. Good luck and welcome to the forum!

Indeed. First you learn to ride “by any means necessary”

Then you can start to worry about the efficiency to let your lags last more than 30 seconds at a time.

But riding through that first instability, correcting, and continuing is the key skill.

Good idea. If you’re able to pedal from the car to the spotter without assistance but need the spotter to continue, moving the spotter farther from the car sounds like a way to build incremental confidence/comfort. Maybe put something on the ground where the spotter originally stood to mark how much farther you can ride without assistance. I’d be tempted not to ride along with the spotter far though. Once you get to the spotter and take a revolution or two, stop and try to ride without assistance from the car to the spotter again. Rinse and repeat.