Hi all. I’m posting this primarily to let other newcomers know that yes, the primary ingredient to learning is practice. The next most important ingredient is a positive attitude.
Second, practice. A lot. I live in Las Vegas and choose to wait until the sun sets before practicing. I rode about 45 feet last night, my longest distance to date. It’s taken me no less than 20 hours of practice. I’ve read a few posts on here from people who were up and running in less than 10 hours. Do not let their quick success discourage you; everyone is different. Stick to your intention: to learn to ride.
I spent a lot of my 20+ hours assisted. I was terrified of letting go of my supports, whether a pole, a wall or the bed of my friend’s truck (which made an excellent assist, by the way because the height was perfect for me). However, the past 5 or 6 hours I’ve spent on my unicycle began by holding lightly onto a basketball pole with no other available support for at least 20 feet. I’d mount the uni, then launch, then fall. For the first hour or two I’d go a half-pedal to a full-pedal before falling. Keep this in mind: even with 15 hours of prior practice, I had at least two more hours of mounting, launching and falling. Mount, launch and fall, mount, launch and fall. Accept the fact now that if you really want to learn, you’re going to have to mount, launch and fall.
Suddenly, and without doing anything noticeably different, I went 5 feet. Wow. Amazing. But I immediately went back to mounting, launching and falling. Mount, launch and fall, mount, launch and fall. 10 feet. Holy shit! Mount, launch and fall, mount, launch and fall. 20 feet! At this point I can usually go a minimum of 10 feet before falling, and my best distance was about 45 feet.
Finally, check your attitude. There were a number of occasions where I was pretty harsh on myself. One night I had been on the unicycle for about an hour without making any progress (seemingly), and became frustrated and impatient. I told myself I was going to get on the stupid thing and pedal regardless what happened. Bad idea. I dunno what happened but I ended up slamming the seat into my right testicle. Painful. I recommend against it.
Just two nights ago I felt I was accomplishing little, and I kicked the rear bumper of my car. Seems like a pretty stupid thing to do in hindsight, but when you’re angry, your judgment is clouded. My advice? If you’re frustrated, stop riding.
In summary, this is the advice I offer to all newcomers wanting to ride a unicycle:
I’ll close by saying that, when I first started going beyond 10 feet, I thought to myself, “this is surprisingly easy once you get going”. =)