Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

The learning curve

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #46
    linear learning curve like no other sport I've ever done

    Originally posted by Mikefule View Post
    Once you have played your first couple of tunes on an instrument, or ridden your first 10 metres on a unicycle, the learning curve is pretty much the same as any "normal" activity. You make rapid progress at the basic skills, then start to slow down as you try to develop your skills beyond the basics, then you continue in a series of slopes and plateaux until you find an equilibrium.
    Although I agree about the initial steep learning curve until you can ride a few feet (but that's a few days to a few weeks), from my experience I totally disagree that the learning curver after that is like other sports and activities:

    In contrast to most other sports (snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, ball sports like volleyball/soccer, ice hockey, cycling, the list goes on) where you have a relatively steep learning curve for the first few years and then reach a plateau where further progress requires hours and hours of practice, after learning to ride a few feet unicycling seems to have a very linear learning curve.

    For example I learned to snowboard when I was about 20 and then within the first season was already riding black runs. Sure I got a little better every year and then probably didn't do my first 360 or backflip until maybe 10 years later, but the progress was really slow and now I don't think I've actually gotten any better in the last 10 years.
    Or volleyball which I've played weekly pretty much since I was 18 and while I now probably play smarter (and don't jump quite a high), in the sum of things I've petty much been about the same level after 2 years (now almost 30 years later).

    But with unicycling I honestly think I could write down 3 sentences described improvements and new things learner for EVERY single ride I've ever done. OK, part of the reason is that I continually ride different wheel sizes and disciplines. First I learned to ride straight, then turn, the free-mounting, then I started Muni and small rocks and depressions set my off, then I started riding shorter cranks, then I started riding downhill and doing drops, then riding a 36", then idling and riding backwards... and I still need to learn one-footed riding and

    I think most sports are plateaus separated by short sometimes large gains, whereas unicycling seems to linear with almost continuous very small gains.

    Oh, I had only read the first page, now I see a similar comment that I really agree with:

    Originally posted by Unitardis
    As for a learning curve the thing that impresses me about unicycling is that you can keep learning new skills for a very long time. The more you try to stretch your skills at the limit the better you get, not by leaps and bounds, but by gradual increments. Every month I'm a little better but not dramatically so. Improvement creeps up on you when you are engaging in 'deliberate practice' as they say in the literature. This is neat! No more breakthrough days but over time there is big improvement.

    At some point age will put a ceiling on improvement and eventually that ceiling will drop, but so far so good. Not there yet! Terry P is an inspiration for sure.
    I haven't reached any kind of a ceiling yet after 6 to 10 years depending on how you count it.

    Originally posted by Mikefule View Post
    Of all other activities, unicycling is most like playing a musical instrument.
    Although I'm not much of a musician, I think the comparison seems pretty valid. And I think it works better than comparison to most sports as the learning is more continuous.
    36" Nimbus Oracle, VCX 100/125/150, 200mm disc
    29+ KH, Maxxis DHR II 29x3, 127/150 Spirits
    Schlumpf (KH29) Duro Crux 29x3.25 137/117 Spirits
    26" Nimbus, Maxxis DHR IIx2.8, 117/137 Sprt
    19" Trials Impact Athmos
    20" Qu-Ax Profi Freestyle, 89mm VCX

    Comment


    • #47
      challenging yourself!

      Originally posted by finnspin View Post
      I promised I would be back to this to add new stuff to this disussion, so here it comes:
      This time, it is about your personality. Do you think it takes a special kind of personality to start learning unicycling and sticking with it? Would you (adressed to anyone that unicycles) consider yourself a person that is more patient and endurant than average? Do you think you are attracted to hobbys that require a lot of practice to start, but give you a big feeling of achievement when learned?

      As an example, as I mentioned, I picked up speedcubing, which is kind of similar. While it only takes a few hours to learn how to solve the cube, to learn F2L and 2step PLL and OLL (which is the very basics of what most fast speedcubers use) , it takes many more, and the practicing itself is not exciting. The learning takes a lot of time, just like unicycling, but it also feels good when it becomes easy.

      I find myself attracted to things that challenge me more than things that are easy. If it wasn't like that, I probably wouldn't be unicycling or doing any sports at all.
      Well, I still haven't read the thread to the end (and I'm also supposed to be doing something "productive" now) but I really like the idea here...

      YES, I think becoming a unicyclist requires a combination of personality qualities:
      1) should enjoy challenging yourself (unlike mountain biking or snowboarding where you can often "relax and enjoy the ride", unicycling is about failing again and again
      2) must deal with failure and frustration to persevere and continue trying
      3) must be either self-confident or not care what others think (or both), as you WILL have people staring at you and you will get stupid comments all the time (in addition to positive comments of course)

      I've never tried speed cubing and hadn't really heard of it until recently: I learned the Rubic's cude when it was new when I was about 10 years old. Never took any real statistics but I often had sub 30-second solves and could usually do it in less than 1-2 minutes (I think I was or at least thought I was "too young" to do any real contests but I beat anyone I met, and there was no internet back then). About a year ago I picked one up and could only do the first 2 layers and couldn't remember how to do the last layer. Then I read a little about speed cubing... sounds fun but I have no time at present (will put it on the list).

      I was way into Freeride mountain biking but in the last while I've much preferred mountain unicycling, primarily because when unicycling I'm challenging myself almost the entire time (don't concentrate for 2 seconds and, whups, UPD), whereas even when mountain biking at a really high level, you are only really challenging yourself for short bursts of a few seconds (e.g. doing a big gap jump, 2m drop or a really steep downhill section) but the rest of the time is not really so challenging (ok, flow is also fun and enjoyable in other ways). On the unicycle every root and rock and corner is a challenge AND even the "easy" stuff can trip me up if I'm not paying full attention for *every* single second. That's fun!
      36" Nimbus Oracle, VCX 100/125/150, 200mm disc
      29+ KH, Maxxis DHR II 29x3, 127/150 Spirits
      Schlumpf (KH29) Duro Crux 29x3.25 137/117 Spirits
      26" Nimbus, Maxxis DHR IIx2.8, 117/137 Sprt
      19" Trials Impact Athmos
      20" Qu-Ax Profi Freestyle, 89mm VCX

      Comment


      • #48
        small fringe sport has advantages

        Originally posted by johnfoss View Post
        In some ways, because unicycling is so small, it is easier to reach top ranking. As long as you avoid Unicon, where the very top riders gather. But if you go to the USA Nationals, for instance, the bar is quite a bit lower for most events.
        Yeah, that's true too. As I simply don't have the time I used to because of my young kids, there is virtually no way I could be competitive in freeride mountain biking or snowboarding or volleyball, but when I go to Elsbet or a Muni weekend (Seattle 2015, Colorado 2016) I'm at least able to ride with the best (haven't made it to Unicon yet).

        There are probably thousands of mountain bikers or snowboarders or volleyball players in the world who are better than me. Comparatively I'm probably much better at riding a 36" unicycle (granted the main advantage is that probably 99.9% of the population has never even tried, plus the number of people who ride a 36er over 100km/week is just not that high). And I'm also not so bad in muni-downhill (and I only ride muni about once or twice a week). There are not many sports where you can be at all competitive doing it once a week.

        Plus, the community is small enough that it's very age diverse: I've ridden with 16 and 18 year-olds as well as >50-year-olds and learned from them and enjoyed riding together. If I tried to go skateboarding or keep up in the snowboard half-pipe with teenagers I'd get thrashed (and ridiculed probably). At my first GMTW (German Muni Trial Weekend) I rode almost the whole time with a group of 13 to 17 year-olds. It was fun not to have my peers being bored or tired or whatever when I said "hey, let's see who can jump backwards off these steps and do a twist landing" as I was accustomed to in cycling but rather the kids were suggesting things I wouldn't even think of like jumping onto a trash can.
        36" Nimbus Oracle, VCX 100/125/150, 200mm disc
        29+ KH, Maxxis DHR II 29x3, 127/150 Spirits
        Schlumpf (KH29) Duro Crux 29x3.25 137/117 Spirits
        26" Nimbus, Maxxis DHR IIx2.8, 117/137 Sprt
        19" Trials Impact Athmos
        20" Qu-Ax Profi Freestyle, 89mm VCX

        Comment


        • #49
          . .
          Last edited by slamdance; 2017-02-19, 06:25 AM. Reason: errors

          Comment


          • #50
            To "trick" or "not to trick"

            Originally posted by jona View Post
            little off topic,
            I'm curious how many ride, but know no tricks. Most people I know can ride a bike but can't ride a wheelie, or drive a car and have a hard time backing a trailer up. I've been riding unicycles for 50 yrs now and never did learn any tricks. Always used them for fun transportation.
            That's a great point. To trick/not to trick. Should we just learn to balance/ride...and no more? Just be efficient and use as little energy as possible? Too easy? Should we learn more? I think that is the reason why mountain unicycling is becoming more popular. We want "difficulty/challenge". Remember first learning? Over power/over-using leg muscles to fight for balance? Remember barely going 50 ft with your quads pumped up huffing/puffing? How soon we forget as we become more proficient, fully seated and use less energy to ride a unicycle. Riding big wheels, skinny tires, on smooth concrete is great as you become older/weaker....however, if you still want a workout ride on grass, ride up hill , ride off road,..., or learn tricks.
            Last edited by slamdance; 2017-02-19, 06:41 AM.

            Comment


            • #51
              Returning to the comparison between musical instruments and unicycling: It has been my experience that practicing skills above my level on unicycling tends to improve the less-difficult skills, whereas on musical instruments, practicing music which is too can erode more-basic skills.

              A violinist might be asked by a master teacher to go home and practice a simple bowing exercise on open strings...after demonstrating crooked bowing while performing a harder piece. Working on the fundamentals of bowing will help the student succeed playing harder works. But, I think there are fewer examples like this in unicycling. On the forum I sometimes see advice roughly stating: More saddle time will help you improve. I find that true mostly to the extent that we try new techniques.

              One of the hardest things about learning to unicycle is that we are learning, simultaneously, two forms of balance. 1: Keeping ourselves balanced over the unicycle (using madly flailing arms) and 2: Keeping the unicycle under ourselves. We have to coordinate these two forms of balance. That makes me wonder if there's any value in beginners isolating the two forms of balance in practice. For example, the wheel could be wedged into place, and the rider could practice still-stands. Isolating the other form of balance, keeping the unicycle under us, is more tricky.

              Comment


              • #52
                Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
                That makes me wonder if there's any value in beginners isolating the two forms of balance in practice. For example, the wheel could be wedged into place, and the rider could practice still-stands.
                I don't think this would help much at all! To prepare to learn unicycle riding, any balance sport probably helps in some tiny way, but in the end, there is no substitute for just getting on and pretending you already know how to ride.

                As to the more general question of whether learning to unicycle is like learning a musical instrument, I don't know the answer, or if there is one. A lot of your posts relating to unicycle technique show definite violin teacher influence, and they are often very helpful -you are good at breaking things down into manageable parts- suggesting that there is a connection between learning to play a musical instrument and learning to ride a unicycle.

                On the other hand, there are some very pronounced differences:

                1. Learning to play a piece of music well means not just mastering all the notes, but being able to convey an emotion or emotions with them. Unicycle riding never does this, with the possible exception of some of the better unicycling videos and "artistic" unicycling skits.

                2. Playing a violin can cause various kinds of repetitive strain injuries and some left-side hearing loss, but the risk of traumatic injury is zero. For learning anything on a unicycle, from basic riding to advanced skills, fear is always part of the picture. Having less fear means you will learn faster, but it also increases your risk of injury. Trying to play a piece of music that is way above your ability may indeed create some bad habits, but it won't give you scars on your shins or a broken tailbone!

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
                  One of the hardest things about learning to unicycle is that we are learning, simultaneously, two forms of balance. 1: Keeping ourselves balanced over the unicycle (using madly flailing arms) and 2: Keeping the unicycle under ourselves. We have to coordinate these two forms of balance. That makes me wonder if there's any value in beginners isolating the two forms of balance in practice.
                  I have never really thought of it that way but I appreciate the perspective. However I think they are too deeply entangled to really benefit from separate practice. Neither skill on its own is particularly complex. It is probably the coordination of the interaction that is the crux of being able to unicycle.

                  I was entirely a "ride into the open" learner so didn't really have a perception of the separation of these skills. I don't remember ever being much of "flailer", though I certainly used my arms for balance. These day my left arm just hangs and passively dampens out the resonances unless I'm actively negotiating terrain.
                  Triton 36" + 29" | KH 29" | KH 26" | KH 27.5" Muni | Nimbus eSport Race 24" | Torker LX 24" | Qu-Ax Luxus 20" | Qu-Ax Profi 20" | KH / Impact 19" hybrid

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    So I was thinking about the learning curve of unicycling during my freewheel session today and remembered this thread. I like to compare the worst runs with the best runs. The best model I could think of is that the upper end is a square root function, and the lower end is an exponential function. Basically your x value is time spent practicing and your y value is the success for a given run as a proportion of distance, duration, consistency, etc.. I graphed it here.

                    Pay attention to the gap in between your upper end and your lower end. In general, the farther apart they are, the more frustrating your session will be. Depending on where you are in the process (x-value), you might have a huge disparity between your best attempts and your worst attempts. At the beginning, your very first attempt is guaranteed to be both your personal best and personal worst. At the end, which is really more of an asymptote, every single attempt at that skill is more or less equal.

                    In stage 1 (0<x<1) you are noticing the upper end increasing rapidly. This is encouraging for a new rider. In stage 2 (1<x<2) things flatten out on both ends. You don't see a ton of progress and it seems like you are stuck. This is where people give up because they aren't getting the hang off it. The lack of motivation can also make stage 2 seem longer because less time is spent practicing. Stage 3 (2<x<3) is where things start to get better. Your upper end is still plateauing, but the lower end is starting to pick up. This is where you dial in the consistency. Stage 4 (3<x<4) is the home stretch where the lower end is really increasing quickly, and eventually meets the upper end (perfect consistency; most of us are pretty much here with standard riding on flat ground).

                    With all that being said, I'm definitely overanalyzing and I recognize that. But math is fun.
                    Learn something new every day -
                    It's just that I needed what I learned today, yesterday.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Interesting points AJ. Definetely something I've experienced as well, but not for all tricks. With coasting for example I just got better and better every single attempt.

                      Digging up some old stuff:
                      A violinist might be asked by a master teacher to go home and practice a simple bowing exercise on open strings...after demonstrating crooked bowing while performing a harder piece. Working on the fundamentals of bowing will help the student succeed playing harder works. But, I think there are fewer examples like this in unicycling. On the forum I sometimes see advice roughly stating: More saddle time will help you improve. I find that true mostly to the extent that we try new techniques.
                      Unicycling is very different from playing an instrument, but working on fundamentals is something I tend to recommend. For example, I've told many riders at the German Muni and Trials Weekend to practice side hops static, because that will help isolate the tucking technique, as opposed to having a prehop that complicates everything. Or my favourite is learning spins, because most riders need to go back to riding circles of 2m or more diameter to ride a clean circle, instead of a series of edges.
                      It's always a question of how far back it's possible to go though. If someone puts their feet on the tire crooked in wheel walk for example, I don't think there is a good place to go back to, you have to practice your technique while practicing wheelwalks.
                      Or Highjump: you can't practice seat out tucks when you are trying to hop onto one pallet. The whole technique only really works on 4 pallets (~60cm), maybe even only at 75 cm or more. So you'll just have to learn it's basics at (almost) your max height for static hops.

                      All the common sports theory applies to unicycling, you can adapt your training from them. But you need to choose your goals:

                      If you want to be a freestyle champion, you should look at gymnasts or figure skaters, and the way they drill skills to perfect form. They generally don't practice the next thing until they have got what they are working on to 100% consistency, and focus on form a lot.

                      If you want to be a good Muni rider, look at Downhill Bike riders. They focus on their fitness, and ride bikes a lot. Very little working on skills, mostly just riding a lot of different terrains as fast as they can, with maybe a bit of focus on certain aspects (maybe do a session where you focus on braking as late as possible, because you have noticed you are braking early.)

                      Unicycling is very diverse. A lot of people try to look at the whole variety of unicycling as one thing, but you shouldn't. Some really good Muni riders are surprisingly bad at trials. Some trials riders are relatively terrible Muni riders. Of course a Trials rider will have an easier time picking up Muni than a complete beginner, but it's still something very different.
                      In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. -Douglas Adams.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        It took me 6 weeks of > 1 hour / day practice to reach my goal of riding, sans upd, around the 1/4 mile loop of my neighborhood. I decided I could call myself a "unicyclist" when I reached that point.

                        If my progress had ended there, I would have lost interest in unicycling. The novelty of staying balanced would have worn off, and I'd be left with the unpleasant feeling of barely being able to ride, the twitchiness, the lack of affiinity, the arms flailing, etc.

                        My decision to start unicycling was based more on a "bucket list" mentality than a long-term plan to keep improving. But, along the way, I fell in love with the process of learning. So I kept trying to learn new stuff. Each time I tried something new, I felt like a struggling beginner again (and that is the current situation with wheel walking). And the easier stuff kept getting easier.

                        Beginners come and go on the forum. Some of them quit (sometimes due to injury) before learning to ride. Others learn to ride, then still disappear from the forum.

                        I wonder it we need to do a better job of encouraging newbies past the newbie stage, from "making it look hard" to "making it look easy." From the pavement to the single-track. From basic riding to idling/backwards riding. Etc.

                        We need to regard learning not as an unpleasant means to an end, but as and end in and of itself. I find talking with young people about their school studies to be distressing. Their apparent goal is not learning, but rather to do well on the test, opening a door behind which exists the opportunity to open yet another door, and so forth, along the path toward "success".

                        Applying the above logic to unicycling makes it seem pretty pointless.

                        I think some beginners succeed learning to ride forward to avoid the self-judgment that they are quitters. Once they've achieved the success of riding forward, however, they have permission to quit, because they have "succeeded". If someone told them that acquiring their next skill would take as much time as learning to ride forward, that might be a turn-off.

                        So, my general concern is, how do we avoid "plateauing" in our learning curve?

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Now that I've been riding for four years, it is clear that every "trick" takes time to learn and through time it made me aware more of what I really want with unicycling. Plateauing isn't so bad as long as you keep in your mind that you can always learn something new at some point. Mostly I just love the feel of the rocking of the unicycle as I ride and I can ride for a long time, but with time I want to still be able to master hopping on to a curve. I think technically I can do it, but mentally is a problem.

                          I also know I will never stop riding unicycle. This summer we will go to Thailand for a whole month and although I thought of bringing a uni along, I also know it is very very hot there and already sweat like a pig when just walking slowly. Maybe in the future when we visit my wife's parents, they do have enough land to ride around on. Anyways I will miss unicycling very much in that month.

                          As for new people learning to ride unicycle, I just think there are too few unicyclists. The closest other unicyclist near me lives 30ish km away, but in the towns and forest where I normally ride there are only bike riders. Old ladies and some days ago a young bloke rode through the grass beside the road to pass me. I just keep 1 hand in the air and one on the seat when I ride, or when I sit upright I keep both hands dropped down beside me. Still people are very afraid when they see a unicyclist that he will lose balance and take them with them with the fall. It is a bit annoying.

                          Because it is so easy to learn a bicycle, most people don't see the point in learning to ride unicycle. Mounting a uni doesn't always work 100%, quickly stopping for me is only possible with a front dismount and holding the seat in my hands. Unicycles aren't as fast and you can't take anything big with you other than in a backpack.
                          So I doubt there will ever be a very big community for unicycling.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
                            I wonder if we need to do a better job of encouraging newbies past the newbie stage, from "making it look hard" to "making it look easy." From the pavement to the single-track. From basic riding to idling/backwards riding. Etc.
                            Pet peeve of mine: unneccessary "we" talk. It just makes things more complicated than it should be, and often stops people rather than encouraging them. You can do what you think is right, and tell people what you do, and if it's succesful. Trying to get a whole disorganized community involved is bound to fail. Leading by example is the best way. (This applies to discussions on society as well, but that's a whole topic in itself.)

                            Some people want to put in more time after they learn to ride, some people don't. One of the only factors is knowing what is possible, so pointing people to youtube videos, or (much better) conventions and clubs. I rode circles in a gym for years, and only when I saw people at a show do hopping etc. I even considered practicing that. I probably would have quit at some point if I hadn't discovered the possibilities.

                            Making it look easy vs. making it look hard: that's probably a highly complex psychological topic. When my friend, who I started gymnastics with, did a backflip on a soft matress and made it look easy, it encouraged me. The athletes I saw doing it before, that also made it look easy were not encouraging, since I perceived them as "professionals way better than me".

                            People making it look hard definitely never helps, but I guess it can't be avoided. Otherwise we would have to ban all struggling beginners from this forum for example..

                            Originally posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
                            So, my general concern is, how do we avoid "plateauing" in our learning curve?
                            That's impossible I think. I've never talked to someone about their learning curves (be it unicycling, or any other skill) that never experienced a plateau of any kind. So I think the only thing we can talk about is how you deal with plateaus, for example by focussing on enjoying what you already learned.


                            Originally posted by Setonix View Post
                            Because it is so easy to learn a bicycle, most people don't see the point in learning to ride unicycle. Mounting a uni doesn't always work 100%, quickly stopping for me is only possible with a front dismount and holding the seat in my hands. Unicycles aren't as fast and you can't take anything big with you other than in a backpack.
                            So I doubt there will ever be a very big community for unicycling.
                            Comparing unicycling with bicycling has been done so much, but it doesn't get less pointless, especially when you look at it as a commuting vehicles. Compare it to Windsurfing, gymnastics, snowboarding etc. sports that people do for enjoyment. You could also point out that snowboarding will never get a community that is as big as bicycling, because there isn't snow year round. Equally missing any relevance.
                            In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. -Douglas Adams.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Setonix View Post
                              (...) quickly stopping for me is only possible with a front dismount and holding the seat in my hands.
                              I tried to picture this and it made me giggle Instant faceplant?

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                It’s cool to see gymnastics mentioned on this thread. I haven’t posted recently for a number of reasons:

                                -Last summer I reached 1001 posts and that seemed like a lot.
                                -I have not been riding much. Now and then, though, if I have somewhere to go, I’ll take out my 29 and pretend it’s a bike, but I can’t resist the temptation to wheelwalk if I see a nice parking lot, so maybe it’s not that much like a bike, but maybe it is: A unicyclist friend of mine has figured out how to wheelwalk on the front wheel of his bike while sitting at traffic lights. He can actually stay balanced this way without putting his feet on the ground.
                                -The slick green tire I put on my 20 last summer gathers pollen, road dust and grit with some sort of static cling so that it becomes unpredictably slippery for wheelwalking. I have to keep my feet pressed tightly against it, which discourages me from learning new skills. My 29 has a Schwalbe Big Apple 2.0 tire that is still tacky and grippy even though it is totally bald. I always know exactly how much foot pressure is needed, but a 29 with a rounded crown isn’t too good for learning one-footed wheelwalking or gliding, and those are the skills I will have to learn in order to officially get past my current plateau.
                                -I have also discovered amateur gymnastics in my old age, and walking down the stairs on my hands is a fun skill that I can use while waiting for the bus home from work when I don’t have a unicycle handy. Half a bike is twice as much fun as a whole bike, but no bike at all is sometimes even more fun!

                                So you suckered me in, and that’s 1002 posts! The tire on my 20 is excellent, and the film of debris that it picks up is only a problem for wheelwalking-related activities, but if anybody has a suggestion for how to make it just a little more grippy or sticky, that would be great.
                                Last edited by song; 2019-04-29, 08:15 PM.

                                Comment

                                Working...
                                X