A little unicycle goes a long way

Unicycle Fencing

For the month of May, I only unicycled for a paltry 5 hours (precisely), making May very nearly a vacation from skill acquisition. And a sort of vacation from everything else, too, as I was out of state for 12 days in May on three different trips, and on another 8 days was gone from home part or most of the day. However! Despite this failure of practice quantity, I still very nearly met all of my lofty (because I’m up a little higher on a unicycle) goals!

☑ Texting while unicycling
☑ Juggling while unicycling
☑ Unicycling backwards
☐ Juggling while texting while unicycling backwards

The first, and easiest goal, that of mounting the unicycle without touching anything with a 95% success rate was met within the first day or two. Unicycling in tight circles was also met quite satisfactorily: I can often do a very nearly 180° turn! On the last day I tried juggling while unicycling, and was surprised to find that it was barely any more difficult than either juggling or unicycling on their own. With just a few minutes of attempting it, I was able to do four consecutive catches multiple times, and while standing on solid ground was only able to do 14 once, with most being in the range of seven or eight catches.

I only put a small portion of my five hours into attempting to unicycle in reverse, and despite this fact, was beginning to make very solid progress. On multiple attempts I was able to unicycle 1½ complete revolutions—or three peddlings—in reverse. The great difficulty comes in the transition from forward movement, to a brief standstill, and then backward movement. Keeping one’s balance at this point is exceedingly tricky, but I feel that a few more hours of practice would allow me to unicycle in reverse for great lengths of time, free from any difficulty of balance.

My approximate ability is shown in this video:

I am very pleased with the improvement I’ve made, almost hitting my goals in just ¼ of the desired time. Now I want to play Unicycle Hockeyand I posses the skills!

Look Ma, no hands!


For the month of May I am take up the art of one-wheeled transportation. Several years back I learned to ride on a unicycle borrowed from a friend, developing the ability to not fall off too often when traveling in a straight line (but not much more). In the spring/summer of 2013 I bought a unicycle of my own, and rode it a little, although not progressing much past my prior ability.

Currently, I can successfully mount a unicycle without the assistance of a stationary object at least half the time. I can go almost indefinitely in a straight line without falling, and can make gradual turns. I can go quite fast or quite slow. In essence, I have all of the basics down, save for sharp turns, which is the first additional skill I shall work on. But this is unicycle we’re talking about! I need to be able to go backward!

Target Performance Level:

The most important thing at this point is to be able to do a tight U-turn—a three or four foot circle would be ideal. In addition, I would like to have the capability to unicycle in reverse, and of course I need to get my unicycle mounting ability up to at least a 95% success rate. In the off chance that I manage to get all of those under my belt before the month is out, I shall attempt to juggle while unicycling. That’s all that I have planned—no bagpipes for me!

The greatest challenge I face this month is that of getting in anywhere near 20 hours of practice. I missed several days at the beginning of the month, as I was out of State, which is bad enough. Add to this the fact that unicycle gives no rest, and you see the predicament. In order to balance, you have to be continually exerting a force on both pedals, giving neither leg any rest for the duration, and there is no coasting, like on a bicycle. Yes, it is possible to continue the activity mostly non-stop for 40+ minutes, but it is rather tiring.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the circus.

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