Learning to Ride (Part 3): Riding Without Support

Once you’re confident with riding along a wall or rail, it’s time to try without. This is going to be the single hardest bit in learning to ride a unicycle, so hang in there.

The thing with unicycling is that it has a very abrupt learning curve. You basically spend a heap of time falling of, and then suddenly you can do it. See the diagram below to see what I mean:

Unicycle Learning Curve (not much of a curve, is it?)

Unicycle Learning Curve (not much of a curve, is it?)

Source: Seth’s Blog

See, when you’re learning to unicycle, there’s no in between. You go from falling all the time, and then you’re riding. Just like that.

So the important thing with this step is to persevere. It will eventually just click. You’ll only be riding short distances at first, but this is when there is a learning curve (see the graph). So don’t give up. 🙂

To get going, follow the steps below:

  1. To start off you want to mount your unicycle by something you can use as support.
  2. Make sure you’re balanced.
  3. Go! Pedal away from the wall in an area where you have plenty of room.

Simple, right? Wrong. You’ll undoubtably fall off many times trying to do this. Below are some useful tips that will help to speed up the process:

  • Wave your arms! It’ll look silly, but it seriously helps to keep your balance.
  • Focus on pedalling in half pedal rotations! Count each half-rotation in your head. 1…2…3…
  • Pedal smoothly! Just because you’re focusing on half-rotations, doesn’t mean you should stop and start pedalling at the end of each one. Pedalling should be one, continuous motion.
  • Look forward! People have a tendency to look down at their feet. This will ruin your balance big time. Although it’s hard, keep your body upright and your eyes forward at all times.
  • Keep moving! Probably the most important advice I can give you. Movement = balance. Even if you feel yourself falling, try to pedal faster. You’ll be surprised how often you can recover from an almost guaranteed crash.
  • Don’t try turning (yet)! That comes later. For now, just ride. You’ll probably go in all different directions unintentionally, but don’t worry about trying to stay in control. Put all your focus on staying on the unicycle instead. This is why is good to do this on a large flat area, like a basketball or tennis court.
  • Keep your body weight forward! Also very important. Since you’re moving forward, you want your centre of gravity that way as well. Not too far forward though! The ideal spot will eventually click. It’s all a part of the learning curve. Or should that be learning staircase, with a few missing steps!

All I can say is good luck. This will take the longest to master, but you’ll get there. Don’t give up! 

Once you can ride 10-15 metres consistently, it’s time to move on to the next step. Turning.

Also, don’t worry too much about not being able to ride more than a small distance at this point. As you learn to turn you’ll find that you feel more confident and in control. From this point it’s pretty easy.

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