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paranoid newbie looking for tips/advice

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  • paranoid newbie looking for tips/advice

    first things first... this is a long post.

    hello everyone. i'm a (re-)beginning unicyclist. I've been
    interested for nearly five years now, and i bought my first uni a bit
    over a year ago. I practiced a bit indoors, mainly rocking and
    whatnot, but there was no real opporitunity for me to practice
    outdoors. Needless to say, the uni was soon tucked away under the

    And then there was today. I currently live about 6 blocks from a
    tennis court. I'm going to be practicing about 3-5 days a week, 45
    min to 2 hours a session, weather permitting. I hope to be at least
    at level 1, perhaps even 2, before the winter keeps me from practice.
    By then, i won't need as much practice, eh ? I'll still uni, just not
    on a schedule. That's my hopes anyway.

    My uni is a torker lx, 24. (I'm 6'1") The tire is just what came on
    it standard from a "cheng shin" or something to that
    effect. more on that later. as mentioned, i'd done a bit of practice
    before, but this uni has no more than a city block's worth of "milage"
    on it.

    After my 45 minute session today, which was about 50% remembering my
    year-old practice of getting on it, combined with 50% of actual
    MOVEMENT, my skills are as follows: "Pulling" myself up atop it.
    Leaning against a wall, or pushing up with something. A mere balance
    aid does not cut it yet. i need to actually USE something. -AND-
    10-30 feet of VERY rough and slow riding, using the fence for balance
    about 50-75% of the time.

    I hope not to be a bother with all of the questions to follow. I'll
    just put it out there that i've read plenty, i've bought a book...
    yada. I've done my homework but i still have questions. MY BAD !
    i'm a newbie. So here it goes...

    Considering this was the first time i've moved on the thing i'm
    encouraged. I kept telling myself to keep my back straight and my
    weight on the seat... and it helped a LOT. except for that damn dead
    zone. so i get used to keeping my weight on the seat... the dead zone
    is still killing me................ i'm not leaning forward enough,
    right ?

    so i lean forward more. still problems.

    so what i'm thinking is i have my seat too high. I'm noticing the
    tendency to put weight into the pedals as they approach 6:00. it
    could be just a newbie-ism, but i think it's at least partially due to
    the fact that my leg is straight enough to lock my knee... and THEN
    WHAT ?!?!?! UPD ! Even if it's not terribly too high, i think maybe
    it's high enough to encourage or enable me to put the weight on the
    foot, "stand up" on it, lock the knee and go down... all in an
    instant. Dropping the seat a bit, just enough to make knee-locking
    impossible, might just speed up my learning a bit.

    Does this sound plausible, or is it overanalytical rubbish ?

    On to the next thing. 24 vs 20. I'm 6'1". I bought this uni over a
    year ago. The reading i did at the time made me beleive that a 24 was
    the best idea for me, being tallish. The reading i'm doing today,
    combined with my weight, make me think a 20" would be a better
    learner. I'm about 240lbs... so my "center of balance" may just be
    that much more important a factor in choosing a uni. Right/Wrong ?
    Overanalytical rubbish ?

    And lastly (for now), is the tire. I'm 240, and i've pumped this tire
    as full as my manual foot pump will let me. i get on the uni and it
    squishes to about half it's original height.
    see ( Am i
    too fat ? Now that i look at it side-on for myself it doesnt seem
    too bad.......

    I know it's a long post, but what can i say, i passionately desire to
    succeed. I've always been a fan of efficiency and whatnot... used to
    be into rollerblades. But... till they have a set of wheels you can
    attach/detach to/from your shoes in as long as it takes to mount/
    dismount a unicycle... the unicycle wins. It is compact, efficient,
    and practical. Oh and i'm fat, so i need the exercise. Wish me
    luck ! Oh... and there WILL be more from me as i practice more.
    count on it... !!!!!!!!!!!! BWAGHHAHAHHAHAHA

    yeah if i left anything out... well let me know duh.

  • #2
    Don't feel bad. Its tough to get through the initial friction of learning. Try concentrating on moving the wheel in a smoother movement while telling yourself to put more weight on the seat. You'll get more relaxed as you go, just keep at it. If you're leaning forward more in the dead zone, that isn't going to help. You need to let the momentum of the wheel keep it going so it passes through the dead zone, which means you need to relax more. You'll know when this happens because your turns will have more continuity. Practice is progress. That's good that you're dedicating so much time to it. I'm sure you'll be getting tricks down in no time. I'm shorter than you and I weigh the same, so don't feel bad about a bulge in the tire. I have only popped one tire down a 4 set... so keep at it, and find people to ride with. Its nice to watch and learn sometimes.



    • #3
      Welcome, McNerd. If you've done your homework and still have questions, don't worry - that's what the forum is for.

      It wasn't clear to me what (re-)beginning means. How far did you get before now? "Rocking and whatnot" wasn't very descriptive. If I would consider what you described for today as your first session, you're doing allright.

      You have to pedal through the dead zone with some speed, so that you don't get stuck there. Even if, for the purpose of learning, you do only half-turns at a time (as recommended in the pdf Learning to unicycle that you can download from Tips for beginners). If your leg is completely straight at the bottom, your seat is too high indeed. For correct seat height, check that same link.

      How exactly does the dead spot "kill you"? It seems from your description that you fall off forward. In that case, it's NOT like you're not leaning forward enough. One would rather say you lean too much foward. But actually you should probably lean as much as you do, but pedal though that dead spot without stopping.

      Re 20" versus 24": I don't know about the connection with rider weight. What crank length do you have on that Torker LX? I think for learning 150 mm is better than 125 mm. Most people learn on a 20" (which is somewhat easier), but I learned on a 24", with 125 mm cranks for that matter. It's not enough of a difference to buy a 20" now that you have a 24".

      The link to your tyre picture doesn't work. How many psi does your tyre have when you pump it to the max with your foot pump? Oh well, I think you don't know. But you're right: a too soft tyre makes handling more difficult. Get a better pump with a manometer (pressure meter) and pump to the maximum pressure stated on the tyre. 240 lbs is not too much weight for a typical uni tyre.

      Good luck!
      Last edited by Klaas Bil; 2008-09-25, 10:22 PM.


      • #4
        1+ what klaas bill said

        My 2 cents:
        Don't overthink it! That tends to make things much more complicated than they are. Much of unicycling is instinctive, and comes naturally with practice. If your back is too bent, you'll straighten out as you get more comfortable on the wheel. I learned on a 26" in a tennis court, and it took about a month until I could ride a half mile or so. Don't let yourself overthink it, if you feel like you're getting stuck or too tired, take a short break. If you're getting discouraged, go watch some uni videos or something. Have fun and don't give up!

        Oh, and your seat is definitely too high, lol
        android power.


        • #5


          • #6

            The best place for learning is a rail between waist and chest height while seated on the uni on SMOOTH asphalt or a deck. A fence or wall also work, but not as well IMO.

            I also was a paranoid learner, of getting hurt (I broke my back 9.5 yrs ago and have 95% paralysis in my lower legs as well as a lot in my hips and glutes). At first I had a death grip w/ both hands on my practice rail and two weeks later a very firm gip w/ one hand and frequent grabs w/ the other. It took me 40 hrs over 8 wks before I could consistently ride my 90 ft practice rail. In two more months and I could ride my 2.5 mi commute, and in another two I could do it at night on well lit streets.

            The only factor I can think weight would have is increased momentum of your body, so if you start to fall, it'll be harder to recover, requiring faster reflexes. You'll figure it out w/ practice.

            IMO you should learn to ride a ways, then to feemount. For learning, you want the seat kind of high, but your knees should always be a bit bent. Focus on 1/2 revs w/ the cranks horizontal, then single revs, then 2, 3, etc, focusing on your legs moving in smooth circles and weight on the seat. After you can ride a ways I'd start learning feemounting, for this it'll be easier w/ a lower seat, so I'd keep it a bit too low untill you get at least 50% w/ each foot.

            For a while keep the air pressure pretty high (I've read that you can usually safely pump up a tire up to 150% of the recomended pressure marked on the tire on smooth surfaces).
            Last edited by skilewis74; 2008-09-26, 04:16 AM.
            Ride everywhere and never just ride anywhere. If you can ride where you are going within a hour, do it, and if you can do a trick 50-75% of the time do it along the way.- Bob Burnquist

            What's next?


            • #7
              I am hoping that your long post at the start scared off all the younger unicyclists on this forum and give a bit of advice that I have never given on here before.

              Drink two beer then give it a go

              The first time that I was able to turn right I had been drinking. It helped me relax and stop thinking so much about what I was doing. It may be more of a mental problem then a physical one.

              Sounds like you are doing everything right but maybe lower your seat 1 cm or so and stop thinking so much

              and maybe try 150mm cranks if you are using 125s
              My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. - Jack Layton


              • #8
                Howdy! Welcome!
                Don't stress, just keep at it, you'll have it in no time.

                I am sure you meant 3 O'Clock and 9 O'Clock

                or 6 and 12!? ...Easy mistake, I'm just correcting it for the new guy.

                Or maybe you installed your pedals wrong?

                My Blog
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by saskatchewanian View Post

                  Drink two beer then give it a go

                  This is always good advice for any question!
                  My Blog
                  My Website


                  • #10

                    > I am hoping that your long post at the start scared off all the younger
                    > unicyclists on this forum and give a bit of advice that I have never
                    > given on here before.
                    > Drink two beer then give it a go
                    > The first time that I was able to turn right I had been drinking. It
                    > helped me relax and stop thinking so much about what I was doing. It may
                    > be more of a mental problem then a physical one.
                    > Sounds like you are doing everything right but maybe lower your seat 1
                    > cm or so and stop thinking so much
                    > and maybe try 150mm cranks if you are using 125s
                    > --
                    > saskatchewanian
                    > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    > saskatchewanian's Profile:
                    > View this thread:

                    BUAHA !!! how did i not consider this !!! I will have to let the
                    wife read this, so she doesn't think i'm slipping into some alcoholic-
                    stage or something. Any excuse for more drinking, ya know.

                    Seriously though, it sounds like just what i need. :-D


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by saskatchewanian View Post
                      Drink two beer then give it a go

                      = 3 beers, hmm, might be too much beer then


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the correction, yes, 3 O'Clock and 9 O'Clock it is, I have to stop

                        posting at night


                        • #13
                          I am relearning to ride after a 20+ year layoff and I am watching my fiancee learn to ride so I hope i can offer some help. You need to get that tire pumped up. Get it up to about 50 PSI, as you get better and develop leg strength you can lower the pressure to suit your preference. Also play with your seat height, a too low or too high seat can give you problems with dead zones. While I haven't seen you ride your description makes me think you are too tense... wiggle your hands and shake your arms before riding away. Don't be afraid to wave your arms around while you ride. Also if the tennis court slopes slightly one direction, ride that direction and that might help you with the dead spots. Also that beer suggestion is not crazy. I ride my motorcycle better with a (single) beer in me.


                          • #14

                            I made some good progress today. It was my second "lesson." I took
                            merely 30 minutes and got much farther. I think it was a beer that
                            helped. I was less tense that way. I did about 3 full revolutions a
                            few times, and i got the "feel" of riding independent. In no way
                            consistently, but i know what it feels like. Most of the time i was
                            going 1-2 revolutions at a time, falling off every 1/3 of the way down
                            the tennis court. I called it done when i made it all the way down
                            the tennis court without falling. Slowly, choppy-like, and not yet
                            comfortably, but it is progress. I can FEEL it in my legs and core,
                            so that's enough for me. I LOVE IT.

                            oh... i lowered my seat, all the way. i may try chopping the post
                            down and dropping it a bit more, just to get an idea how it feels.
                            But yeah, it helped tremendously. I will be getting video of myself
                            sometime soon just cuz. I'm also noticing where my feet like to be,
                            and that my pants and shoes are causing issues. I'll wear shorts and
                            a different pair of shoes next time, which is probably tomorrow after
                            work again. Weather permitting.


                            • #15
                              Just don't be afraid of grabbing your nuts in public
                              There's nothing wrong with being abnormally happy.