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Old 2011-04-20, 04:00 PM   #1
letrompettiste
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Question Common beginner mistakes

I just bought a 24" Qu-Ax Luxus 2 weeks ago, and I still can't ride it. I'd define ride as going at least 50 feet without support in this case.

I'll highlight my main problems:

1) I lean back way too much, according to my unicyclist friend who observed my practice.

To correct my posture, I consciously lean forward, but even this doesn't help when I'm trying to pedal because of this second reason:

2) I have a HUGE fear of falling/faceplanting.

I have no guts to face this fear, and unconsciously, I lean back to prevent myself from falling forward. I really feel hopeless and frustrated to the point of nearly giving up.

3) My right foot is ridiculously dominant, while my left foot is insanely weak.

This causes me to fall off or bail out every time I pedal forward. I start out with my right foot pedalling, then when it comes to my left foot, I "forget" to pedal. Also, because of the natural veering to the right every time I pedal on my right foot, I just jump off when it comes to the left foot. Its not a conscious decision; it is more of an automated response to my fear of falling.

4) I keep unconsciously putting more weight into the pedals than the seat.

I know I'm supposed to put all my weight down on the seat and have a little pressure on the pedals enough for pedalling forward, but I feel like the wheel is going to roll away from under me. My body responds by putting weight on the pedals, hence falling a lot of times. I hate falling down, because I feel demotivated, as if my practices are all a waste of energy.

If anyone could help me out here on addressing these problems, I'd really appreciate it! Also, I hope you guys could help list down some common beginner mistakes to avoid in future, especially with learning on a 24".

Starting out on a 24" is tougher than it seems!
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Old 2011-04-20, 05:57 PM   #2
uni57
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First of all... welcome! To the forums and to the wonderful world of unicycling.

Also, you should feel comfortable posting threads like this in the main forum area Rec.Sport.Unicycling. It's not just for people who can do cartwheels on their unicycle. It's very much for beginners, too. If memory serves, we all started out as beginners.

1) Not sure what to say. I'll let others address this one. Personally, I'd be more afraid to lean too far back.

2) Do you have personal experience to support this position? Don't you land on your feet when you come off the unicycle? I'm not particularly gifted in the athletic and balance departments, and I remember landing on my feet almost every time (and with no bad results the other times). That being said, I've seen some kids learning to ride who do fall down. Are they less cautious than an older person (like me)? Are they sticking with it until the last second (or beyond, unlike me who bailed out at a safe point)? I don't know what makes some people fall down and others not. Do you land on your feet or actually fall down to the ground? Also, I can't say not to worry about falling. I'm pretty sure you are NEVER going to faceplant and you are NEVER going to land flat on your back, but fluke accidents do happen. I know someone who shattered his elbow trying to mount. I have no definitive answer here. But if a klutz like me can survive the process, I'm sure you will too (barring the freak accident, but they can happen anywhere, anytime).

3) You are not getting past a half pedal rotation, I think. This is common! Find a railing or a fence or a wall (or a person) and pedal along while holding on. This will give you more time in the seat -- actually pedaling and riding the unicycle. Instead of spending the majority of your time picking up the unicycle and climbing back on. It sounds like you are just "going for it". Some gifted people learn this way. But it causes frustration and wasted time for the rest of us. You need actual practice pedaling and moving forward. The best way to get that is to ride along something you can hold on to. I'm not so sure I agree with your right foot dominant assessment. It's simply the foot your are most comfortable starting with -- and you are losing your balance before your left foot gets a chance to do its thing.

4) Climb onto the unicycle, hold on to something, and just sit there. Keep the pedals horizontal. Feel how your right foot pushes down, then your left foot, then your right foot, etc.? One foot makes a small adjustment for your shifting balance. Then the other foot must compensate for the over-adjustment the first foot made. Or your balance is shifting the other way. The end result is that both feet are mashing down on the pedals. And this is when you are just sitting there! It's 100% normal and unavoidable. I don't think it makes you fall. In the beginning, it's what keeps you up. And tires you out. But you are not going to think your way out of it. Not a bit. You will ease up on the pedals eventually. It's a natural progression that you have little control over.

My only real suggestion is to find something to hold on to as you ride. Emphasis on the word ride. Not "climb on, pedal slightly, fall right off after a half second of riding, pick up unicycle, start all over again". But ride. Spend actual time riding and letting your body discover what that feels like and how to do it. Find a railing, fence, wall, car, person -- whatever you can find. And hold onto it -- hand-over-hand -- as you make complete pedal revolutions. That's the key!

Good luck! And remember to have fun. Don't get discouraged. You can absolutely do this. We are here to help.

P.S. - If you can get your feet off the pedals and onto the ground when you bail out, your body remains roughly vertical and you don't fall. It's very hard to have your feet kick out from under you such that you land badly, which is the case with, say, inline skates. Once you start going FAST, the situation changes a little, but you're not there yet. So, I truly believe this is far less dangerous than your body is trying to tell you it is. I think your body is telling your mind that sitting on such an insanely unbalanced contraption is, well, ... insane! Don't listen!

Last edited by uni57; 2011-04-20 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 2011-04-20, 09:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uni57 View Post
Find a railing, fence, wall, car, person -- whatever you can find.
Oh, my. NOT A MOVING CAR! A car -- or van, SUV, pickup truck -- is not a good thing to use (and you may damage it, but I've heard stories of people using their own truck or van to learn). My point was to use whatever you have even if it's not ideal. Anything is better than nothing.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. Do continue to share your thoughts. Especially since you do it so clearly. For some reason, I get the feeling that you are a computer programmer. Or a writer.
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Old 2011-04-20, 10:05 PM   #4
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Welcome! I am a fairly new rider, and though the falls have lessened, they still occur. I would certainly recommend safety gear such as helmet and gloves, plus knee and elbow pads. Although they are not guaranteed to prevent injury, they go a long way in doing so. This may help you to overcome the fear of getting injured, which may be a part of your fear of falling.

As a part of unicycle riding, you will fall. Its inevitable. Sometimes, the only way to deal with the fear of falling is to fall, then get back on and ride again. As long as you aren't injuring yourself, don't let falling stop you. Keep practicing, wear the safety gear, listen to what the experienced people here advise, and in another two weeks you will see a big difference.

Best wishes!
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Old 2011-04-21, 01:48 AM   #5
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I think it took me around 5 weeks to learn to ride. Don't be discouraged. Watch instructional videos on youtube and then find a place where you can hold on to something. You will get it eventually.
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Old 2011-04-21, 03:34 AM   #6
letrompettiste
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Wow thanks uni57, those tips are amazing! (I wasn't sure whether to post in Rec.Sport.Unicycling, since the boards there are mostly a lot of experienced unicyclists discussing riding/technicalities.) Yeah my body is psyching me out of my seat most of the time, so mostly, it's a mind over matter challenge for me!

2) Yeah, most of the time I do land on my feet, but once or twice in every session of practice, I fall off the back of my unicycle and land on my butt. Whenever that happens, I feel discouraged and sometimes I end practice altogether on a very low note. My mom keeps saying it was a terrible idea to even have tried unicycling in the first place, so maybe the psychological barrier is the one manifesting as fear of failure/falling.
I'm going to have to go find a regular practice area outside my house I guess, though I'm a bit embarrassed by strangers staring at a crazy girl trying to mount one wheel.

3) You guessed right, my half rotations end up in bails every single time. I need to practice my half rotations by a wall. I think I was too eager to just start unicycling, since it looked so simple in instructional videos on youtube. I've had dreams about unicycling a lot of times since I started and they seem so fun and easy, hahaha!

4) I really, really need to start practising by a wall again... I haven't clocked enough practice to get accustomed to sitting down, maybe that's the reason why.

Thanks a lot to AnimalCage and aarons, you guys are awesome! I've a helmet and wrist guards on whenever I practice, and I'll probably get knee/elbow pads soon. I've read about people here unicycling 50 feet within a matter of days, so I thought I'll never be able to learn. Thank you for the encouragement, I'll definitely work a lot harder
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Old 2011-04-21, 03:41 AM   #7
letrompettiste
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uni57 View Post
Oh, my. NOT A MOVING CAR! A car -- or van, SUV, pickup truck -- is not a good thing to use (and you may damage it, but I've heard stories of people using their own truck or van to learn). My point was to use whatever you have even if it's not ideal. Anything is better than nothing.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. Do continue to share your thoughts. Especially since you do it so clearly. For some reason, I get the feeling that you are a computer programmer. Or a writer.
I don't have a car, so there's no chance of any damage there, haha!
And no, I'm not a computer programmer or a writer (wow, I'd wish! ). I quit school in January and am waiting for my enrollment to another school next year. I was taking a diploma course in Applied Drama and Psychology, so all those research papers did pay off!
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Old 2011-04-21, 04:00 AM   #8
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Take it slow and use that wall until you can get past those half revolutions. Make sure you go both ways on the wall, I only went with the wall to my left when learning and I think that is why i could not turn right for months after I learnt to ride in a strait line.

It took me two weeks to be able to ride 100m


Quitting school eh? I dropped out of engineering, was one of the better things I did. I later got my certificate in Forest Ecosystem Technology which was pretty cool but ended up firefighting for a living. You never know which direction you life will take you.
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Old 2011-04-21, 04:03 AM   #9
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all the other stuff will come naturally.

as far as faceplanting, i'd say don't even worry bout it. faceplanting is actually rare in unicycling unlike bikes. your hands aren't caught on any handlebars or anything...even if you're grabbing onto the seat handle while falling you'll still get both arms out.
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Old 2011-04-21, 04:18 AM   #10
letrompettiste
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saskatchewanian View Post
Take it slow and use that wall until you can get past those half revolutions. Make sure you go both ways on the wall, I only went with the wall to my left when learning and I think that is why i could not turn right for months after I learnt to ride in a strait line.

It took me two weeks to be able to ride 100m


Quitting school eh? I dropped out of engineering, was one of the better things I did. I later got my certificate in Forest Ecosystem Technology which was pretty cool but ended up firefighting for a living. You never know which direction you life will take you.
Oh... Maybe that's why I feel incompetent on pedalling down with my left foot! I gotta try practising in different directions next time while holding on to the wall.

P.S. I wanna be an english teacher
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Old 2011-04-21, 04:21 AM   #11
letrompettiste
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Originally Posted by DSchmitt View Post
all the other stuff will come naturally.

as far as faceplanting, i'd say don't even worry bout it. faceplanting is actually rare in unicycling unlike bikes. your hands aren't caught on any handlebars or anything...even if you're grabbing onto the seat handle while falling you'll still get both arms out.
Thanks DSchmitt! Yeah I really needa start worrying less about falling, and start relaxing more. I think too much and spend more time hesitating than actually pedalling
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Old 2011-04-21, 05:22 AM   #12
Dane M
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If you're scared of falling, just think "Well it's safer than riding a bike"

EDIT: Ah, that was just said above ^

Last edited by Dane M; 2011-04-21 at 05:23 AM.
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Old 2011-04-21, 05:30 AM   #13
letrompettiste
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Yeah it's definitely a lot safer, it's just that the psychological fear can be very hindering to starting out on such a huge wheel. Well, I think it's huge... Wonder how this'll work out when I try a giraffe in future!

As uni57 said earlier, "I think your body is telling your mind that sitting on such an insanely unbalanced contraption is, well, ... insane! Don't listen!"
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Old 2011-04-21, 01:03 PM   #14
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Make sure you are wearing equipment...ie helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, wrist supports, shin pads. I bought most of these at Dick's sportings goods for as little as $30.00 this took a lot of fear away from falling. I would also like to say that I never one time hit my face or head when trying to learn. I learned about two months ago.

Mike A.
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Old 2011-04-21, 01:37 PM   #15
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20" - 24" is pretty standard to learning, there is nothing to be afraid of really. If you were learning on a 29 or a 36 that would be a little different.
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