Growing up, my sister had a unicycle. She didn’t know how to ride it and neither did I. As far as we knew, it was completely impossible to ride. Fast forward about 20 years, and i now know how to ride a unicycle. I learned in about an hour. Maybe I’m more coordinated now, or maybe I have an easier time wrapping my head around the concept. Maybe I just have a longer attention span. Whatever the reason, I only learned to ride recently, so the learning process is still fresh in my mind. Here are the ten key things that I learned.
First of all, forget free mounting. That’s when you try to start riding without holding on to something. This is for after you learn how to balance on a unicycle, so save it for later. Wasting your time on free mounting before you can ride will only hold you back.
Second, forget about idling. That’s when you kinda rock back and forth to stand in place. I still haven’t learned how to do this, but I couldn’t imagine it being the first thing I learned. Riding forwards and staying up will be your first goal.
Third, adjust the seat at a medium height, not all the way up like you would on a bike. This will allow you to move around a bit and keep your balance. It’ll also be a little easier on your—parts.
Fourth, keep the tires at a medium pressure. Of course you don’t want them super mushy, but you also don’t want them rock solid like a road bike. This delays the movements of the unicycle slightly and makes it easier to balance on.
Fifth, find a wide open area with something to hold on to. This hockey rink is where I learned to stay up, as there’s plenty of space and a barrier for support. The space must be sufficiently large because you’re going to be going all over the place once you learn to stay up.
Sixth, scoot along a fence or wall, holding on. This helps you get comfortable sitting on the unicycle and pealing. As you scoot along, try to direct yourself away from the wall and attempt to stay up. This is something you’ll need to do repeatedly to finally learn.
Seventh, keep your eyes straight ahead. You’ll have a natural tendency to look down, but that’ll only make you fall down instantly. Imagine how disorienting it would be to run while looking straight down. Runners look straight ahead and so do unicyclists.
Number 8: Flail your arms around to keep your balance. Someone told me this in the comments of a video and I thought they were kidding. Your arms will be key in keeping your balance when you first start out, and as dumb as it looks, it works. As you get more comfortable you can ride along with your hands at your side, but this might take a little time.
Number 9: Lean forwards. The unicycle should be tilted in the direction you want to ride. By pedaling forwards you keep the unicycle from falling over. This takes some commitment at first, and maybe even some time to wrap your head around, but it’s the key to actually making some distance. If you throw your weight too far forwards you can always just step off on to the ground. It’s when you don’t lean forwards that you end up falling off the back and getting hurt.
Number 10: Hold your back straight. If you’re flopping around everywhere, you’re not going to be able to hold your balance. This is one of the reasons unicycling is such a good core workout. Your torso is your center of gravity, which your arms, legs, and unicycle will move around to stay balanced.
Now that you know these ten tips, you should be up and riding within an hour or two. If you practice for a while and get nowhere, put it down and try again the next day. Riding a unicycle is a matter of learning to stay up through trial and error, and then doing it enough times to burn it into your brain. Just like riding a bike, you’ll never forget how.
Check out http://unicycle.com