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Unicycle teachers/lessons in Los Angeles

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  • EoinC
    Hi, PVDad.
    Here's a bit of an epistle, as learning to ride is still a very recent experience for me.
    If you don't get anyone to help, don't let that stop you. I'm 47 years old, and I taught myself to ride earlier this year.
    Last time home I taught my niece and nephew how to ride, and there wasn't really a whole lot of teaching involved. Basically, all I did was encourage them to keep trying. Any of the web video's or books tells you the process, but there is only one person that can actually carry it out (ie You).
    The basic deal is repetition. Your brain has to learn a new set of balance reactions, and the only way to do it is to try over and over again.
    I set myself a task of doing 50 launches out of a doorway per set, not worrying about the result. A short break between sets, and get stuck in again.
    After a few sets, I managed to get in a full wheel rotation or two. Build on the successes, and it will happen. Don't analyse it while you're trying - Do that during your breaks.
    Remember that no-one stepped on a unicycle for the first time and was able to ride it. Sit into the seat, stay calm, lean forward, and pedal to try to catch up...
    By the third day of doing a bunch of these sets, I was able to ride around a basketball court, and by the 7th day I was consistent in freemounting (although 'graceful' is not how I would describe my style).
    For me, it helped to conceptualise it as keeping the unicycle under me, not me trying to stay on top of the unicycle. Basically, when you fall, you are either going to come off the front (not pedalling fast enough to keep up with your body), or off the back (pedalling faster than your body is moving). Once you grasp that falling either way (on a clear and flat surface) is unlikely to hurt you, just carry out the task at hand.
    When I was 'teaching' my niece and nephew, I had to continually remind them not to worry about what happened to the unicycle - They had a tendency to try to save it, bringing about early falling. Once they allowed their arms to flail around unconsciously, they progressed well.
    In the end, the only thing that really affected how quickly they learned was how often they tried. To help them understand the "nothing ventured - nothing gained" nature of it all, I encouraged them to think that there are only X number of attempts required before you'll be able to ride - The sooner you get those attempts out of the way, the sooner you'll be riding around on a unicycle.
    The other thing to remember (particularly during those first frustrating attempts before you finally get a full revolution in) is that it is not impossible. It may look and feel like it, but there are a bunch of people out there enjoying themselves who can prove that it's not the case.
    I don't know how old you are, but probably the last time you had to meet the challenge of the impossible balance was when you learnt to ride a bike, and the time before that may have been when you learnt how to walk. Don't underestimate the task, but also don't allow defeat to be an option.
    I hope this helps, as the experience is still very fresh in my mind. A teacher may be able to assist with technique and encouragement but, at least in its rudimentary form, it's not about technique - It's about the brain learning a new set of reactions to incoming balance stimulae, and no-one can do that for you. The good thing is that you can do it for yourself.
    Find a good place for launching / crashing, clear it of obstacles and distractions, ensure you have shoes and long pants on (worked for me), stay calm, look ahead, and get launching. Don't stop between attempts, just get that 50 done and dusted. I think the bigest brake on progress in allowing the brain to learn it's new reactions is...thinking. At this stage of riding, logic is not going to help you, and thinking only serves to confuse the brain on the stimulae that it's receiving. Just let it get on with its job, without trying to baffle it with why's and wherefore's.
    Once you get past the point where you achieve a revolution, you may want to set distance record marks. As this becomes more regular, you may want to also set a minimum distance, and record how often you get passed it. This helps you feel achievement from gaining consistency. I carried out the process by keeping track on a piece of paper - one stroke for each attempt, divided into pass / fail as to whether I got past my minimum distance (very anal, I know, but it helped keep my mind off focusing on how impossible it all was).
    The other thing to remember is that it gets better. At the very beginning, there is 100% failure and 0% success. For me (given to over-analysing everything), it was important to recognise that this is just a stage, and to push on through to where the first glimmers of achievement occur. Once that happens, you can feel the progress, and build on the success.
    As mentioned on another thread, one of the things that encouraged me was, when working in West Africa, I met a local on a unicycle who had taught himself to ride it, never having seen anyone else ride a uni (it was leftover from a German passing through years before), and never having ridden a bicycle! He didn't think there was anything odd about it, and assumed that they were the norm in the outside World.
    Sorry about the lengthy diatribe, but I'd hate to see you not go through the process of learning because there was no-one to teach you.
    I hope this gives you a little inspiration to have another try at it - It is definitely worth it!


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  • pvdad
    started a topic Unicycle teachers/lessons in Los Angeles

    Unicycle teachers/lessons in Los Angeles

    I just found this site and it has so much great info. I was wondering if anyone in the Los Angeles area, and more specifically, the South Bay area (Torrance, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, etc) that would be interested in teaching me to ride. I have read the posts about books, videos and other links, but for me, I really would like someone to teach me in person. I bought a unicycle a year or so ago and tried to learn to ride it. The only thing I accomplished was a soar back and a ripped seat. Here is my info:
    1) I will pay
    2) I have a cycle
    3) I can come to you or you can come to me (your choice)
    4) I have always wanted to learn to ride a unicycle, but have never had the time.
    If there are any interested parties, please let me know.