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freebiker

Taking up the Unicycle at 67!

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@freebiker great fun first post. I too was over 60 when I learned to ride. The two things I can add to what you have written are:

  1. At the very least, wear wrist protectors - you won’t fall as gracefully as a twenty year old and you WILL put your hands out and sprain your wrists, which also won’t heal like a 20 year old either - boy do you find out who your friends are when you cannot use either hand for weeks! Obviously if you start getting a lot faster further protection, especially a helmet become very sensible.
  2. The use of a safety strap is much misunderstood and therefore often derided!  It should be long enough to hold loosely so you do not try to pull on it to balance (it won’t help at all!). If you come off of the wheel you simply lift the thing off the ground, preventing it whacking into you or charging off and damaging something or someone else - particularly when you are first out in public. Protecting your shins as well is no bad idea - I just used stout walking boots.
Edited by Keith
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Cool story. Definitely get wrist guards! And knee guards as well. Maybe also a helmet (certainly if you get a faster wheel). That applies to any age. You will always land on your hands in a fall, and think how delicate and vulnerable these are.

You may have hindered yourself by being inside so long. I always say, if in doubt you don't know what to think of a EUC, think of it as a bicycle and treat it accordingly. Would you have tried to learn to ride a bicycle inside, in a 6m long room, going veeeeeeeery slowly which makes it very hard to keep the balance?;)

That would also have helped with the wheel hitting your legs. Ideally, if you lose balance, you just relaxedly run off and get away from the wheel, care only for yourself and let the wheel just fall over. Experience shows it's always when people try to catch a wheel that the really nasty/unlucky/unnecessary injuries happen. Naturally, you can't just run off inside.

But as long as you're having fun:) I just wanted to mention that for future learners: get outside where you have a ton of space in all directions. Inside is for the first 5 minutes of standing on the new thing and just balancing in place while holding on to something, if at all.

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Never too late to learn.  Now go try learning to ride manual unicycle.  :P

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Many thanks for all the comments.  I’m glad you enjoyed reading about my exploits – it makes the pain worthwhile!  Isn’t the internet wonderful, to be able to share views around the world…

Of course, practicing in the dining room was only partly to be able to have rows of chairs to provide two ‘handrails’ – the other part was my desire not to damage this lovely new toy on the tarmac outside…  When I took the pristine machine outside, despite buying a cover for it and trying to pad any exposed areas, it pretty soon gathered a somewhat well-worn look about it!

The cartoon was great – at least I don’t think that will be my epitaph, but who knows what new machines will become available in years to come.

Thanks, Trya, for the video – it’s very helpful showing the turning technique.  Your unicycle seems smaller and lower than my Inmotion V5 and I wonder whether I will ever look as comfortable riding it as you do!  Time will tell.  I have a short video of my current riding ability, but it’s too large a file to post (at least, that’s my excuse) … 

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52 minutes ago, freebiker said:

I have a short video of my current riding ability, but it’s too large a file to post (at least, that’s my excuse

Just upload it to YouTube and share the link 😊

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This is great! Yes, there's a bit of a learning curve but there's nothing like an electric unicycle when it comes to helping you regain the mobility of a 5 year old on a sugar high!

the other thing you should try, is twisting the wheel with your feet as you go. Almost as if you are trying to turn but not, I find it helpful in locating the balance point of the wheel especially at lower speed. I also agree with the others that trying to learn in a confined space at low speed is actually harder, since you "catch" yourself by heading in the direction you are falling, and in a narrow corridor or next to a wall you can't really do this.

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Is this where the old guys hang out?  :thumbup:

I too was well past 60 when I stepped on my first unicycle, a Ninebot 1E+.  I remember the first couple of days thinking I had made a terrible mistake.  It's a good thing that particular wheel was so durable because I dumped it on the pavement time after time when I first took it outdoors. 

The thing I remember least fondly about that period was how badly my shins were bruised.  I had the wheel clamped in a death grip so every wobble banged into the side of my shins.  The cumulative effect was a pair of legs that looked like they lost a bar fight!  Strapping on a pair of soccer shin guards helped, but what really helped was when I gained the confidence to quit squeezing the wheel to death.  

Here I am after a few weeks, still unsteady, but good enough to ride around the backyard without falling over every few yards.

 

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5 hours ago, freebiker said:

Thanks, Trya, for the video – it’s very helpful showing the turning technique.  Your unicycle seems smaller and lower than my Inmotion V5 and I wonder whether I will ever look as comfortable riding it as you do!

Of course you will! This even won't take much time as long as you keep riding.The EUC on my video is Gotway MCM2s, it is 14" as V5. My current most used wheel is also V5F+ :) Nice choice of boots, by the way, for the learning period!

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@freebiker, so cool you took up this hobby that soon becomes a necessity boarding in addiction! 

You are definitely not alone! I really do think your posts will help anyone at any age take the plunge. 

My dad couldnt help himself when I got into this and he is 68. He was just too stubborn to take any advise so I watched him tuck n roll for almost a total of 2 hrs on a grass field until it clicked for him. 

He has about 150 miles under his belt now and we go all over the place from riding to the beach to going on trails we used to mountain bike on. He still has a little trouble if when wer off road and the hills are granny gear steep but that is getting better too. 

Taking trips in the motorhome is so much more fun for him now because he can take off an explore. It's too bad my mom wont/cant learn to do this so they both could take adventures together.  She cant ride a bycycle so this would be very hard and she also wont roll all gracefully if she comes off of it. 

My dad is not a very safe person and wont wear any protection....I still got him to wear wrist guards and they have some good knocks on them. Please, at the very least wear wrist guards! :thumbup:

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On ‎1‎/‎17‎/‎2019 at 11:16 PM, trya said:

welcome to the 60+ club :)

regarding the turns: here is a small video I made on somebody's request to demonstrate the technique of slow tight turns. The focus of attention are the knees: note that when I'm entering a turn my inner knee goes back (the leg straightens), while the outer knee goes forward and into the turn (the leg bends) - this movement effectively leans the wheel without leaning your body. The body stays upright above the wheel. The legwork in this clip is intentionally exaggerated to demonstrate the technique.

A few more hints:

When you start turning - accelerate! The turn is much more stable when you do it with a little acceleration, rather then with a constant or decreasing speed.

You also may help yourself into a turn with your shoulders (the upper body is locked, i.e. when you turn shoulders - the entire body gets to follow).

 

Hi Trya - many thanks for the video.  have tried copying your technique here, and it works a treat.  Have revisited the car park at Truro Magistrates Court (it's not that big!), and can make smooth left hand turns at last.  So now I can travel continuously around the park.  Next to master right hand turns....

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@freebiker Great! Glad that it helped. Here is a suggested plan of continuing learning for you: while you are mastering stable straight runs and turns, start working on one-leg riding - you should be able to make controlled rides on one leg (both left and right). It is not as difficult as you may think, and this skill will add a lot to your self-control, it is especially useful for smooth start and stop, adjusting foot position during the ride, fighting the fatigue or pain, controlling the wobble.

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On 1/17/2019 at 5:16 PM, trya said:

The focus of attention are the knees: note that when I'm entering a turn my inner knee goes back (the leg straightens), while the outer knee goes forward and into the turn (the leg bends) - this movement effectively leans the wheel without leaning your body. The body stays upright above the wheel. The legwork in this clip is intentionally exaggerated to demonstrate the technique.

This is a dangerous way of turning because footpads can get caught on the ground as the wheel is leaned over quite far. It's very hard to recover from a caught footpad.

May I suggest instead to put most of your weight on the outside footpad while lifting the heel entirely off the inside footpad. This will allow the wheel to stay almost straight up and down while allowing you to spin in place almost like a hoverboard.

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55 minutes ago, LanghamP said:

May I suggest instead to put most of your weight on the outside footpad while lifting the heel entirely off the inside footpad. This will allow the wheel to stay almost straight up and down while allowing you to spin in place almost like a hoverboard.

This is how I turn at speed but I have been turning the other way at low speed, never thought to even try it at low speed. 

At my current riding level the only way I spin in place is by cheating. I hang my inside toe off and lightly drag my shoe causing me to spin in place. 

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Congrats on your progress so far. It is an addictive hobby. I know how I felt learning an an Airwheel 4 yrs ago. 2nd wheel was a ninebot one and that really opened the door and I did over 4000 miles on it.

I now have 4 wheels and often use the train to travel to cornwall (I live in Plymouth) for somewhere new to ride and yes I have wheeled around Truro a few times including The Lemon Quay multistorey car park, The cycle track by Tesco and yes even Truro skate park. There are a number of cycle trails not too far from you for you to play on when you master it. I find a long straightish route is really good to learn on as your body has to make constant adjustments to stay upright. This helps with turns later on. I know I could barely turn when I started hitting the trails. I certainly couldnt do a tight turn in the trail. It was stop, swivel around and then grap a post to remount. 

If you need any help with your learning or want to discuss the finer points, I am more than happy to pop on a train to visit you. (I am retired so am available most days). 

I also meet up with some other wheelers from Torquay and Exeter and we plan and go on longer rides and have done most of Devons cycle trails and some of the cornwall ones.

Welcome to the community. Its the most fun you can have on one wheel :)

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Hi Gary.  Thanks for this and your other message.  I haven't done much over the last few weeks, as the weather's been so wet and I find my feet slip on the pads.  So I'm still confined to the drive and the local car park, and not keen to go out in public yet.  I agree that I now need to go on a long straight trail as I'm not developing any more in the current practice areas.   I can stay up well enough, but need my full attention, and when it lapses I come to an unintended halt.  I can make reasonable 180+ degree turns to the left, and wobbly ones to the right (I think right hand turns are inhibited by the bad knocks I took early on, so confidence that way is really low).  So I don't know how well I would do on a ride of more than a few hundred metres - probably not up to joining in a group ride at this stage. Did you see my exchange with Marty Backe about riding on beaches (he put up a great video)?  So I'm tempted to try a beach like Perranporth which at low tide has miles of flat firm sand, and plenty of space to avoid attracting too much attention from onlookers.  But I am waiting for the weather and low tide to coincide (and a gap in the dog walking/shopping for my wife duties) ...  At the moment I have two out of three - the weather and the gap: but it's high tide!!  C'est la vie....  Let me know if you plan a trip over this way - I'll meet up if possible.  Cheers.  John

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3 hours ago, freebiker said:

I'm not developing any more in the current practice areas.   I can stay up well enough, but need my full attention, and when it lapses I come to an unintended halt.

Try placing your feet a little further forward.  If your "non-attention" body stance brings you to a halt, there is too much rear bias of your weight.

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Hi John.

It’s funny how riders have a preference turning one way or the other. I also prefer left turns. I only really notice when I am doing a really tight circle. The left doughnut seems ….. Just more natural I guess you could put it. I think you have already noticed that keeping one’s head up and eyes focused on the horizon is one of the most important aspects for balancing when at the learning stage. Another theory I have, and it is just a theory, is that using the arms to aid balancing whilst on the wheel is counter intuitive as the brain doesn’t know whether to fling out the arms to counter balance the falling over sensation in a similar vein to a tightrope walker using a long pole, or do something else like twist your shoulders or change the weight on the paddles. It feels safer to use the arms to counter balance but I think this just adds another dimension to an already complicated balancing act. I twist my shoulders in the direction I want to go (whilst looking to the horizon) this seems to initiate a shallow turn and then I balance the turn with weight shift (straighten one leg and bend the other) to increase or decrease the tilt of the unicycle almost like being stood on the wings on a plane. (Banking) to keep the wheel under me. By keeping your hands close to the body your brain has to use your twist or feet to steer the wheel and it’s not put off by the changing balance your arms produce. I think it is easier and quicker for the brain to learn when you don’t give it an option to move your arms. You can of course try this in a very gradual way and let me know if it helps. Leaning, hip twisting and sharp turns next week :)

I did see the beach riding video but I personally would not take my wheel on a beach as salt water and sand I fear could get onto the shaft or inside the electric motor. There is only one moving part after all and sand has never been a very good lubricator and salt water is never good to circuit boards. Sand is in my opinion is also not an ideal surface to learn to ride on as it would feel very soft and spongey and be less reactive than a solid floor.

Have you considered the Tregurra park and ride? Let me know if you want me to pop down.

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On 1/20/2019 at 8:13 AM, freebiker said:

Next to master right hand turns....

 

On 2/17/2019 at 5:54 AM, freebiker said:

I think right hand turns are inhibited by the bad knocks I took early on...

 

On 2/17/2019 at 9:28 AM, Gary357 said:

I also prefer left turns.

It's not you, it's the corealis effect. You're battling the spin! 🌎 😉

I'd love very to see a poll about preferred turn direction because right turns are still more difficult thanks lefts. I'm left handed (is there a correlation there?). 

This is a great thread. Thank you. I started riding a couple of weeks ago at age 53 and thought more than once that I might be too "experienced" for this sport. I'm glad I didn't because I'm having a blast. 

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Right handed people have trouble learning to turn right, and left handed people have trouble turning left, mostly.  There's always an exception or two.

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