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Journal of a New Unicycler

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  • Journal of a New Unicycler

    Well, 300+ posts into this forum, and last night, I finally got my first unicycle. I've decided to keep a day-to-day journal for the days that I do anything unicycle-related, just to share a little of my experiences as a raw beginner to the sport. I think this might end up helping out other new unicyclists.

    My first day with my unicycle was last night, but I didn't do any actual riding. I ordered a Torker CX 24" from UDC, and put the kit together. I still haven't gotten around to pumping up the tires any more, but they're fine for grass, which is what I will be practicing on in the early days.

    Next post will be my first real day with my unicycle (today).
    My Unicycling Journal
    Officially ended.

  • #2
    Learning to Unicycle: Day 1

    As I explained in the above post, my unicycle was put together (and ready for me to fall of it numerous times) last night. I printed out Klaas Bill and Andrew Carter's online guide to help me out with initial mounting.

    As soon as I got home from work at around 2:30, I rested my feet for about 10 minutes, but was soon just itching to start learning. I brought my uni out into the backyard to look for a prime support.

    Now, this is a very rough portrayal of my backyard:

    Imagine a 7'-8' wooden fence as the border of that image.

    I first decided to try using the fence at the area marked as A. I put the right side of my body facing against the fence and put the right pedal at around the 5:00 position. I strictly followed the method drawn out in Klaas and Andrew's guide, which is basically to hold your strong foot sturdy on the corresponding pedal while you hold onto your support with both hands. I then lifted my body up and my body (and the unicycle) seemed to automatically roll back about 1/8 a revolution, and my left foot found itself on the other pedal.

    As soon as I was about 7 inches higher in the air, I was gripping for dear life onto my fence support, and it didn't take long for the unicycle to pop out under me and fall to the grassy lawn. I thought about how it felt, and wound up loosening the clamp and lowering the seatpost a little. I mounted a few more times and adjusted the height a few more times, and found a level that was comfortable.

    I wasn't falling off right after mounting any more, so I started to slowly pedal half rotations, both forwards and backwards, and then fall off again. I repeated this for another 20 or 30 minutes until I stopped falling off every time, and then pushed myself to ride a couple feet forward before falling off. It was about this time that I noticed what most new male unicyclists notice fairly quickly; boxers weren't going to cut it. I changed into a pair of briefs and went back to my little rocking exercises, and found the extra support very helpful.

    The next hour simply consisted of me riding in those little 2-3 foot bursts, and I felt my body rapidly conforming to the rather foreign demands of a unicycle. At one point, I switched my practice area to the area marked 'B' on the map, just to make sure I wasn't just getting used to my practice area, as opposed to the unicycle.

    I did my little support rides for another half hour, switching between the two practice areas occasionally. After a quick 30 minute break, I decided to start trying to ride with less dependence on my support. At first, this didn't turn out too well, and I had a few falls. But I eventually found myself with only one outstretched arm holding on to the fence while riding. I also tried to force myself to ride a little faster, which surprisingly helped a great deal.

    The remainder of my day unicycling was spent with me practicing short bursts of riding without the support, and I managed to make it a few feet several times before falling. But I was getting tired, and we were going out to eat that night, so I decided to call it a day. I think I'm going to take my practicing out to the front yard tomorrow morning.

    Important tips I learned from today:
    1. If you think the unicycle seems too tall and you're almost stretching your leg to reach the pedal when in the 6:00 position, simply lower the saddle post; you won't get anywhere if you're too high up for your legs.
    2. For guys: don't wear boxers for unicycling. 'Nuff said.
    3. This may have been just for me, but I think it's helpful to learn in at least 2 slightly different environments, so then you don't develop too much of a comfort zone in your practice areas
    4. If you find yourself still falling very often when riding a few feet or more, try pedaling a little faster. I think this will also be important to gather enough momentum when I start riding longer distances from my support.
    5. Above all, do not give up! Unicycling seems very difficult at first, but after you pass the very first hurdles, it gets progressively easier to control yourself.
    My Unicycling Journal
    Officially ended.


    • #3
      Learning to Unicycle: Day 2

      Ok, I'll admit, I only spent 30-40 minutes practicing today, but come on, it was Thanksgiving day, one of the biggest family days of the year!

      First thing I did this morning was drive out and buy myself an actual bicycle pump. I highly recommend to all my fellow beginners that you shell out the extras 4-5 bucks for a built-in gauge, because it's important to get the tire pressure at the right amount of air. I also picked up a little all-purpose bike tool with different wrench sizes and such, just for the future.

      I pumped up my unicycle and went back to section 'A' to practice again, and man, the thing felt a lot different when it was actually pumped up to the correct capacity. I still mounted successfully with one hand gripping the fence at about a medium firmness. My night of sleep between my first day and my second seemed to force me to relearn a bit of the balance techniques I had thought I developed the previous day, so I spent a while just doing similar things as I did yesterday.

      Unfortunately, my help was needed preparing the Thanksgiving feast, and the rest of the day was spent off the unicycle with my family.

      Although I didn't do much today, I still learned a couple valuable tips:
      1. If you don't have a bike bump and accompanying pressure gauge, invest in one (they're very inexpensive) before you get too far into learning; otherwise, you will develop a feel for a unicycle that is not even performing like it was meant to be, and it will probably mess you up in the long run.
      2. Don't feel intimidated by having to relearn things. This is just your body's way of telling you that it forgot something, and the more times you remind it, the longer amount of time it will be able to perform to the capacity you need it too.
      Last edited by dudewithasock; 2005-11-25, 02:01 AM.
      My Unicycling Journal
      Officially ended.


      • #4
        Wow, your really determind!

        I'll place a bet, that you'll be riding that thing up and down your driveway within 3-4 days of practicing.

        Good luck, and have fun!


        • #5
          i second forrest, well written journal too, i think its really cool

          Team Yams

          Last edited by James_Potter on 2005-10-5 at 3:58pm

          Last edited by Unitik908 on 2005-09-06 at 04:12 AM

          Last edited by forrestunifreak on 2005-09-09 at 03:51 AM


          • #6
            Don't let it throw you if you experience a couple of "off days" when you can't seem to relearn the things you could the day before. You'll learn to ride eventually anyway. Some peoble (e.g. me) take more time to learn than others.

            But, so far it seems you're doing great.
            What happens on the internet stays on the internet.


            • #7
              Originally posted by dudewithasock
              Learning to Unicycle: Day 1
              Now, this is a very rough portrayal of my backyard:
              Are you telling us that you don't have a dog?!?
              Three short Gs and a long E-flat™ - UniHoki
              If I'm Murdered, Don't Execute My Killer.
              MikeFule Seager BluntRM


              • #8
                Originally posted by GILD
                Are you telling us that you don't have a dog?!?
                Hah, there were actually 3 dogs at the house at the time of that map, but they all stayed on the porch because my family was hanging out there talking while I was over on the other side of the yard.

                And I probably won't have a Day 3 up until Saturday night, because I'm going to be in Waco most of today for my high school's third playoff game.

                Oh, and another question; I originally posted this thread in the Articles and Tutorials section; why did it get moved?
                My Unicycling Journal
                Officially ended.


                • #9
                  dude, [withasock] i hope it goes well for ya man. im sure youll learn quick. my advice is dont (after you can ride) wait to start doing tricks. jump right in to em after you can ride. i woulda had a lot more tricks than i have if i wouldnt uh waited like 6 months to start.


                  • #10
                    Newbie 2

                    Hey man.. I'm pretty new at riding too. I started a little over 2 months ago, on a 24 inch freestyle. Your journal is a really good idea, and I think you're right, it will help other new riders (probably more experienced ones too).

                    I started out about the same as you described, falling, falling, falling... it was only a few days before I was riding down my driveway. By the end of the week, I was able to ride it a couple hundred feet plus.

                    I just bought a Muni, and I had my first ride in the trails last weekend (and had a blast). I'm going for my third ride in about an hour from now.

                    Have fun.


                    • #11
                      Once you get used to riding switch to pavement for learning to freemount. Its hard to learn to freemount on grass (in my experience). The journal was a good idea. Well writen too.
                      machining the world


                      • #12
                        Learning to Unicycle: Day 3

                        Today was actually kind of frustrating, but rewarding in a small way.

                        When I got home from work, I was set to go out and start Uni'ing, but I got roped into a high school playoff football game on the radio. Since I didn't want to be totally inactive, I used my bunk bed in my room to do those little support-idling exercises (I'm not sure what else to call them) while I listened, so I got in a good bit of that, which was nice because the floor was actually completely level, unlike my backyard.

                        After the game was over, I went outside; but this time, to my front yard.

                        Here is a rough portrayal of my family's front yard:

                        The two dark blobs in the upper righthand corner are mailboxes.

                        I started off around area 'A', using the two mailboxes as support. I rocked for a bit on the grass, then attempted to ride on the grass from the mailboxes without any support. I ended up failing miserably the first few times, so I practiced that for maybe 20 minutes, but I could see I was going nowhere; the wet, uneven grass just didn't cut it anymore. So I decided to make a big switch.


                        I switched to the other side of the mailboxes, still at area 'A', just on the street side. I immediately noticed the huge decrease in friction when I was mounting, and it actually took a few minutes for me to adjust a couple of my support-mounting techniques. I rocked a bit to get a feel for it, and it didn't seem too terribly hard, so I tried to ride off a little and, you guessed it, fell. I tried it a few more times and was starting to get the hang of it, so I tried to keep going.

                        I practiced that for maybe 30 minutes, not making a whole lot of progress, but I had decided to be stubborn about it and kept on - that is until my uni took a nasty direct hit to the rear of the saddle on one of my falls. I inspected it, expecting some sort of post damage, but it was merely a busted rear saddle guard. I took a short recess from practicing to fix it up, and as I walked back to the frontyard from the backyard, I stopped a moment and noticed the area that is marked 'B' on the map.

                        I noticed the setting sun and immediately mounted next to the fence at area 'B' and started riding along it with one hand keeping me stable with the fence. I fell of course, but I had suddenly found my new practice area.

                        I stayed there for about 20-30 minutes, getting enough momentum several times to ride a couple yards unassisted, but then it quickly grew dark, and I was forced to part ways with my newly beloved.

                        Tomorrow, I'm heading straight to that area and not wasting any time.

                        Tips I learned from today:
                        1. This might not be applicable to everyone, but for those whose interior layout allows it, try to find places to practice simple balance exercises in your home for those rainy days, dark nights, or any other reason to not go outside.
                        2. Try to start practicing on concrete as soon as possible, because ultimately, concrete will most likely be your main riding terrain, and you're going to want to start off on it early. Plus, it's usually a lot smoother than grass.
                        3. If you're not making any progress whatsoever at a particular area, then don't be stubborn like I was, and try out other areas where you might actually make progress at. On a similar note, try to find supports that are actually long enough to do something on; I felt incredibly stupid after leaving the mailboxes.
                        My Unicycling Journal
                        Officially ended.


                        • #13

                          If there is one thing that I can remember about learning to ride a uni, when you get on, let go of your support, and pedal like crazy. The faster I would pedal, the easier it was to balance myself. If you're not already, wear a helmet, so you won't have to worry about falling. Get on, and pedal. That's what worked for me.

                          Keep at it.


                          • #14
                            Learning to Unicycle: Day 4

                            Didn't make a whole lot of progress today distance-wise, but I did learn several important tips.

                            I got home from work, rested up as usual, and then went right out in the front yard to area 'B'. I stayed there for about an hour, just doing what I have been doing; practicing riding with the support and then trying to get some yardage without the support. I fell a whole lot during this time, and busted up my saddle guards, but I figured, hey, better them than me. I decided to take a short break and investigated the forums a bit for some tips (by starting this thread).

                            I went back outside to practice more using the tips suggested to me, and unfortunately, it was starting to get very windy with accompanying dark clouds, so I only got in abother 40-45 minutes of practice, in which I attempted to utilize those tips from that thread and actually found they helped a lot.

                            Even though this day of practice wasn't as long as I would've liked, I did have my first encounter from a non-uni'er today while practicing. She just came up and was like "Woah, how do you ride that thing?" I thought it suitable to reply with a shrug and a "I'm not sure, I'm still working on that part." She laughed and wanted to see it, and she tried to get the guy that was with her to help her on it, but he was just like "Nah, girl, you'll fall right off that!" I agreed with him and she reluctantly moved on.

                            Important Tips from Today:
                            1. Keep all of your weight on the seat! If you're anything like I am, this might be hard to learn to do, because I tend to want to stand up on the pedals. However, I'm quickly forcing myself to get out of that habit, because keeping your seat on your unicycle's seat is extremely important if you don't want to fall.
                            2. Look straight ahead. This was also a problem for me, as I keep looking at the ground, which seems to throw off my balance quite a bit. I'm getting out of that habit slowly but surely.
                            3. If you're honestly not sure about something, ask around on this forum. This is probably an obvious given, so let this serve as a simple reminder; ask when you're unsure.
                            4. Pedal fast. I know I said this in my last entry, but I want to stress it again. Pedaling slowly is much harder than pedaling fast, and it'll take much longer to learn to ride any considerable distance if you go at it slowly.
                            5. Lean slightly forward as you ride. Think of the unicycle as a pendulum beneath your body; lean your torso forward and try to pedal to keep the unicycle under you. However, don't lean forward too much, or you'll just fall forward.
                            6. Don't give up. If you fall, just get back on and go at it again. And again. And again. However long it takes. Rome wasn't built in a day.
                            My Unicycling Journal
                            Officially ended.


                            • #15
                              Right on.

                              Well said. I've gotten help everytime I've asked for it.