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Unicyclist fitness and strength vs cyclists and other athletes.

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  • #76
    Originally posted by Up Rite View Post
    I found that people who did a lot of skateboarding and inline skating picked it up quicker than those who did other less balance intensive activities, like tennis, weight training.
    Huh? You do slackline? That's not something I'd picked up from your other posts, I'm surprised you didn't mention it.

    I suppose tennis isn't fundamentally about balance though I'd expect people good at it to have very good balance and probably to do specific training for that - it depends what level you're talking about, as club players probably don't bother so much about that, whilst balance clearly is fundamental to skateboarding and skating. The obvious difference is that the technique required to balance on skates or a skateboard is fundamentally completely different to the technique required on a slackline which I'd think might actually translate more closely to what tennis players do to balance. Though it's surprising how different the techniques seem to be even on nominally quite similar sports - I can snowboard and wakeboard but found a skateboard quite tricky when I tried one (presumably I'd pick it up quicker than somebody who didn't do either of those, but I certainly couldn't step straight on one).

    Also checking back I realised I missed this one from earlier:

    Originally posted by Up Rite View Post
    The rock climbers I have known were very good at doing one handed chin ups. Something few people can do. Certain physical disciplines like gymnastsics, rock climbing, can make you very strong without all the bulk direct weight training gives you.
    Rock climbing is one of my current regular sports (along with uni and skating currently, the list of those I've done seriously is quite long) - I'm sure there are people who climb down at my wall who can do one handed chin ups, but they're few and far between, I doubt anybody I climb with can do one, some can't do two handed pull ups! Again it depends what level you're talking about - I know some people who compete at national level and they are incredibly lean though you can see their muscles when they climb. Rock climbers at that level do a lot of training other than climbing - it's not necessarily the climbing itself developing that strength - though neither is the ability to do one handed pull ups essential, it's far more about finger strength and technique. Personally I'm a far better climber now than I was when I could almost do one handed pull ups. Coming slightly back on topic, climbing is also a balance sport, slacklining is something climbing people do and the technique ought to translate (having been teaching beginners this week it was something I was emphasising to them). I also know Johnny Dawes (google him) and he's an advocate of no handed climbing, just relying on his feet and balance.
    Unicycling: great for your thighs.


    • #77
      Originally posted by DrD View Post
      Hi Up Rite

      This is my first post here -- been lurking for a while both registered and unregistered and have read quite a few of your posts. I learned to ride last summer and thought I would share some of my experiences with you as someone who is also relatively new to this.

      I didn't perhaps learn in the most conventional way. I learned to ride on a 24" Nimbus in the yard at the back of my house. The ground is rough but hard, fairly uneven with stones and some holes, I didn't have a wall or fence to ride along, so it was a case of launching myself off from the kitchen window from the beginning. I also learned to free mount when I could only ride a few feet.

      I was pretty keen to learn to free mount since I only had around 30 to 40 yards maximum that I would be able to ride at the back of the house. The motivation was that if I went somewhere else I didn't want to have to rely on finding something to mount against.

      So I started learning to free mount when I could do a few revolutions after pushing off from the window. I would alternate free mount practice with trying to get an extra pedal revolution when riding. As I said, I never rode against a wall.

      This is probably not the recommended way to go about things, however I think it was useful for me personally. Reflecting on it I think that committing to ride away unsupported from the outset and taking those first 'leaps of faith' on a static mount gave a degree of confidence that I wouldn't end up bruised and broken on the ground.

      To be fair I did fall backwards a couple of times, the worst dismounting backwards after a fairly successful run, falling on the stall and gouging a chunk out of my calf with the pedal pins (the scar will probably be there for life, but it is better than getting a tattoo Neither of these things put me off as I would typically always just jump off to the front.

      The static mount took a lot of persistence, some evenings it seemed to be getting there then I seemed to lose it again. I was indefatigable in it, perhaps to the point of arrogance, that I'd be able to do it. Gradually I got it, and I was able to ride further as well. Also learning on uneven ground made things seem somewhat easier when I moved to ride on tarmac.

      Like you I get tired pretty quickly, but I can stop and get my breath, then mount up and go another few hundred yards. At the stage you and I are at stamina probably does come in to it, but that is probably due to lack of technique.

      I never had an epiphany moment when everything just clicked but one key thing I found was getting the right saddle height, as John mentioned above. Again that came down to confidence one night to just put the saddle up, then up further, and further again.

      You mentioned learning to idle and ride backwards. I've tried idling briefly at the back door of the house -- what I found with that is that I could sometimes almost start to get it, then I'd reach over and touch the door frame just to get some stability. I think knowing that I could just put my hand out and do that meant that I did. I think that might be similar to you riding along a wall. I have never tried riding backwards, the two backwards falls I had kind of put me off that! I think I'll leave those things until I get hold of a 20"er to learn some of those types of skills.

      I used to do a reasonable amount of cycling, latterly on recumbent bikes and trikes as well as conventional bikes. Although the unicycle has me worn out after a few hundred yards just now, bikes are not a problem. As well as the balance and weight on the seat I think a lot of this is to do with freewheeling. I tried to consciously not freewheel on a bike the other week and that tired me out quite a bit more than a normal bike ride -- I think riding a fixed-wheel bike might be good training for the unicycle. Riding it up and down hills and doing track stands couldn't be bad from a cardio, leg strength, and balance perspective.

      So in summary, I think how I learned worked for me, everyone is different. I also found that giving it a rest for a few days paid dividends insofar as when you went back to it things sometimes seemed easier. I think my initial learning curve might have been steeper but, for me at least, I think it paid off. I bought an Oracle 32'er in a very good Black Friday deal UDC had -- I free mounted it on the third attempt and was able to ride it in minutes despite not being exactly proficient on the 24'er. I think that might have been down to the early work put in free mounting.

      Anyhow, apologies for the long post. I think that at the stage we are in the game, unicycling is a pretty good workout, but the relative intensity may fade as skill and technique grows. I also think that a fixie bike would be a good inconspicuous trainer to get the fitness, strength and balance up, so I'll maybe give that a try.

      Good luck in your quest to become a gyroscope.

      Hi Andrew,

      Hey, great first post! Keep them coming.

      I am of the opinion, that learning unicycling is an individual and personal thing. I think there could be better ways to evaluate beginners and monitor their progress, and adjust the learning program and scheduling for beginners. There could be better beginner specific learning equipment like the uni trainer. So until then, we all have to wing and experiment with it if the cookie cutter programs are not working for us.

      I practice idling partly because my legs are very comfortable in the 12 and 6 oclock positions, not so much in the 3 and 9 o clock positions. part of what I am doing at this early stage is of course practicing keeping weight on the seat, and making my legs used to being in any static position, and moving in any direction.

      I also think that a lot of the tiredness is due to the body not being used to it and everything struggling to balance and control the unicycle, both the muscular and nervous system.

      When I get on the unicycle sometimes I start to fall backwards and then pedaled backwards to counteract it. That is how it started, and it felt natural. So now I make sure I make sure that I am practicing it regularly. Unicycling seems to be all about pedaling into the direction you are falling.

      Human gyroscope in training.


      • #78
        Originally posted by Up Rite View Post
        Hi Andrew,

        ... and making my legs used to being in any static position

        Unicycling seems to be all about pedaling into the direction you are falling.
        You've hit the nail on the head here and both explained why you are getting so tired and why you are not making fast progress. Those two sentences describe an enormous contradiction. Why are you practicing being in static positions and avoiding falling if the key is to pedal the direction you are falling?

        Very little about riding a unicycle involves being static or holding onto objects. If a rider looks static (eg stillstand), she isn't, and she learned to do it not by deflecting from a comfortable static position but by developing finer control of a dynamic one!

        It is individual and personal but we all have the same laws of physics to deal with. You are currently spending most of your time holding a wall and pausing at pedal positions which make applying any torque difficult (6/12). I'd find that really difficult to do. It would make me tired.

        Remember, you're trying to ride a unicycle. There are no walls and it isn't static. No training aid will replicate the feeling withough giving you nasty hangups which must be unlearned!


        • #79
          Originally posted by rich View Post
          Why are you practicing being in static positions and avoiding falling if the key is to pedal the direction you are falling?
          In unicycling, we're 1. trying to keep the unicycle under us (pedaling) and 2. trying to keep ourselves over the unicycle (flailing arms). These two systems interact to keep us balanced. A beginner, despite all their arm-flailing, is still going to be bad at still-stands. Pedaling is more effective at keeping the unicycle under them. But pedaling, for the beginner, is crude, and it has to be accompanied by flailing arms.

          UpRite, I think there's some value to practicing static positions. I suggest trying short still-stands with the pedals in every position. The 3/9 position is the conventional position for a still-stand, but all the positions are present in the cycle of riding. If you're accustomed to performing still stands in the 12/6 position, that may make your seat lower than optimal for riding. My first mounting technique started with one pedal near 6:00, which meant the seat had to be lower to clear it. Then I learned the tire-grab mount, with the first pedal closer to 9:00, and I raised my seat up.

          As a beginner, when I rode into the void, I could not steer. Either I clumsily UPD'd or I veered to the left or right and ran out of tarmac because I couldn't steer. Learning to steer started out as a very crude, jerky movement and developed slowly to where I am four years later. You're not going to learn to steer as long as you're holding onto the wall. When I learned to idle, I started with a fence to hold onto to. I made some progress, but at a certain point I recognized that pivoting wildly was necessary while learning to idle, and for that I was going to have to lose the wall.

          Good luck!