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Old 2017-01-17, 08:59 PM   #46
MUCFreerider
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linear learning curve like no other sport I've ever done

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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:

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
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Old 2017-01-17, 09:25 PM   #47
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challenging yourself!

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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!
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Old 2017-01-17, 10:01 PM   #48
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small fringe sport has advantages

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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.
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Old 2017-02-19, 06:23 AM   #49
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. .

Last edited by slamdance; 2017-02-19 at 06:25 AM. Reason: errors
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Old 2017-02-19, 06:26 AM   #50
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To "trick" or "not to trick"

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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 at 06:41 AM.
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Old 2018-06-03, 08:53 PM   #51
elpuebloUNIdo
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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.
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Old 2018-06-03, 10:47 PM   #52
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Quote:
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!
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Old 2018-06-04, 10:44 AM   #53
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Quote:
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.
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Old 2018-07-13, 12:31 PM   #54
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Experience and knowledge are the two main things and this is what will give you the result in the foreseeable future. And I believe that this will be the case with any other occupation where you are studying. Learning and getting certain knowledge is good in itself, but only practical application and the subsequent experience will give an effect.
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