New to Unicycling ....

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New to Unicycling ....

Postby Scarfy96 » Fri Aug 03, 2012 5:11 pm

I posted about my new unicycle in another thread and ColinOldnCranky posted the following:

There seem to be a steady dribble now of people on these forums now trying unicycles. How about you open a separate thread for newbs and wannabes and tell us about it? What sort. What you think you will do with it. What the neighbours think. What your kids think.


Seemed like a good idea so here it is, if you have recently (anytime in the last 10 years) bought a unicycle or are thinking about it then this thread is for you!

OK so my background.

Why I got one? Cause I have always wanted one and family was looking for a birthday present idea for me
What sort? Cheap Chinese one bought online. Why? because I think my wife thought it was stupid and I wouldn't stick with it so why waste a lot of money on it!
What the neighbours think? No idea, I haven't got out of the garage yet. A delivery man the other day saw it however and thought it was really cool and asked a whole lot of questions about it and he would love to get one.
What my kids think Daughter thinks it is really cool and has the face paints ready to paint my face when I can ride it properly. My son thinks his dad is an idiot!
What will I do with it? When I initially wanted one I thought it would be cool on the one day a week that I drove to work (instead of cycling) and parked about 5 blocks from the office to ride it from the car to the office. Instead I rode a skateboard. Now I work from home so that is mute. Instead I think it will be fun to ride on a shared pathway with my wife when she goes for a jog, down to the local take away to pick up burgers etc, the odd transfer for a few blocks when I drive somewhere with a few blocks walk.

So how are things going so far?

I have had it for 1 week. Started in the tiled hallway where I could reach each wall for balance. When I could go the length of the hall (5m) with the aid of the walls I moved to the garage. There I could barely make 1 pedal stroke initially but slowly improving. 2 pedals, 3 pedals, now my best is the length of the garage. So steadily improving but have ridden about 2-3 hours now. Amazingly frustrating and slow to progress (nothing like riding a bike!). Also I have a sore butt (wasn't expecting that as I ride a road bike quite a bit). Feel I am getting close to the "breakthrough" in that now I can sometimes get 5m, once I can get to 10m it should be starting to flow. Keeping an even pedal rotation seems to be the key, where most of the time I "fall" is at the top/bottom position where it stalls and causes me to wobble.

Sort of like learning to juggle, 1 set was really hard, 2 was pretty tricky, it took me another week to get to 5 then only a couple of days to get to 10 and a couple more to get to 20 sets, then I could juggle as long as I could concentrate.

Overall still having a lot of fun and still looking forward to getting more proficient.

Any tips or suggestions from competent unicyclists of course I would really welcome!

Anyone else care to share?
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by BNA » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:36 pm

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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:36 pm

Cheap asian is fine - my daughter has a no-name asian thing badged with an Aust company name. As long as it covers about half a dozen requirements (which I won't go into here) that are not dependent on price at all.

A good place to initially extend your initial ability is those parallel pipe entry-lanes outside of sporting grounds. Also tennis courts and netball courts.

But I get the sense that you have already got beyond those stages so really now it is riding distance and time. And tackling all those bumps and uneven paths. Footpaths are a great skill developer.

And the REAL big help after a week or and which y ou may still find valuableso is to get outside, push off from a car or wall with a helping shoulder on your other side - that shoulder moves with you and adjusts direction to match your own errant wanderings. You only use the shoulder for a bit of tap-tap-tap light corrections. This is the quickest way to move from just-sorta-getting-it to doing dozens of metres in control. Very quick progress with that helper.

Learn to free mount as soon as possible. When you are ready to free mount, let me know and I'll give you some pointers. There is one killer trick for those who find it difficult (most do).

And lastly, anything that is possible on a unicycle can be learnt from Youtube.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Tue Aug 07, 2012 11:51 pm

My story:

Why I got one? Cause I bought one for my daughter (the legendary Reg Bolton was a friend)

What sort? Got a platic wheel job but it was stuffed in no time so we bought one each for my daughter and for me. Later got a giraffe for my own birthday because teh family thought that it would be a one-week wonder. They were wrong.

Kids think? Originally they detested that teachers and friends knew their dad rode around. Now they have grown up and it's fine. Even cool sometimes.

What do I do with it? I ride my regular for commuting, recreation and to spare my old and injured feet. It also goes on holidays with me - overseas, local, wherever.

The giraffe This comes out for fun and for parades and stuff. I also like to do long rides to Perth once in a while. However I have had a lot of shoulder surgery which has precluded me from mounting it for almost two years now. My surgeon has given me more room to work it now so I should be strong enough towards the end of the year to get back on, perhaps in time for the Xmas pageant.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby barefoot » Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:53 am

The best "trick" I found was padding and armour. Lots and lots. Shin/knee guards. Elbow guards. Wrist guards. Helmet.

You can't ride a uni without pushing off from the wall/doorway/support and committing. It's easier to commit if you feel invulnerable. If you commit half-heartedly, you'll fall off. If you feel like nothing can hurt you through all your armour, you probably won't fall off.

Also a good idea to armour your uni. Even if it's just a cheapie, it's still new and shiny and you don't want to scratch it. Wrap a roll of duct tape around the seat, to convince yourself that when you dismount and kick it away from you (intentional dismounts or unscheduled), bouncing and skidding across the driveway won't hurt it.

Put your arms out. Yes, you feel like a dill. But your arms are your handlebars. They are your steering, and thus, your balance.


Why I got one? Mother-in-law suggested it as a joke present, and I got waaaay too excited. I also thought it might be good for developing technical MTB or even bike trials skills... surely if I can ride a unicycle, I'll be able to mono a bike indefinitely?

What sort? Aldi brand. Chinese rubbish.

Kids think? She was learning to ride her run-bike while I was learning to ride my one-wheel-bike. Once I progressed beyond the two-pedal-strokes-and-fall-off phase, we had races along the driveway. That was even more successful once I learned to steer a bit :lol:

What do I do with it? Encouraging the daughter on her bikes. First the runbike as above... now she's on a 12" pedal bike and we can both practice together. Also good for party tricks. Honestly, I haven't ridden it nearly enough recently. It doesn't help that I live on a hill, and have advanced beyond riding the driveway. I should attempt a commute to work one day (6km). I'm sure it will be a useful trick as my daughter gets older. Every so often I watch a Kris Holm video then go and see if I can ride bumpy grass without falling off. I've ridden off a kerb and survived... those North Shore MTB stunt tracks can't be too far off now!

I still can't mono on a bike :-(
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby thomashouseman » Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:23 am

**Sticks fingers in ears**
Stop Stop!
I've been trying to resist the urge to buy one for a few years now.... I'm happy with my bike!
The Unicycle lure is there though. I've wanted both a Penny-Farthing and a Unicycle. Given the Unicycle is a hell of a lot cheaper I suspect I'll succumb in another year or two...

T.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Ozkaban » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:16 am

thomashouseman wrote:**Sticks fingers in ears**
Stop Stop!
I've been trying to resist the urge to buy one for a few years now.... I'm happy with my bike!
The Unicycle lure is there though. I've wanted both a Penny-Farthing and a Unicycle. Given the Unicycle is a hell of a lot cheaper I suspect I'll succumb in another year or two...

T.

+1 to all of this! If I mention it at home my wife will say "When are you buying it...". It is tempting though.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby barefoot » Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:48 am

Ozkaban wrote:If I mention it at home my wife will say "When are you buying it..."


That sounds an awful like like permission to me :lol:

Reluctant permission, but permission no less.

That's always much better than "You bought a WHAT?!" :oops:

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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby barefoot » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:00 am

Another tip for beginner unicyclists - don't be a hero.

First serious learning session, take it as given, you'll fall off continuously. Hence the armour etc.. An hour of falling off will be as much as any partially sane person can take on the first day.

Second or third session - depending how quick you learn - you'll start to get the hang of it, and be putting in half a dozen pedal strokes before falling off.

That's the danger session. Don't say "I'm going to keep going until I nail this!".

If you do, you will not be able to move the next day. You won't be able to sit up in bed the next morning. Your abs will be absolutely destroyed, and you will be in agony.

Balancing on a unicycle takes core stability. Working really hard to balance a unicycle when you're just staring to get the hang of it puts massive demands on your abdominals and laterals. You will hurt.

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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Ozkaban » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:48 am

barefoot wrote:
Ozkaban wrote:If I mention it at home my wife will say "When are you buying it..."


That sounds an awful like like permission to me :lol:

Reluctant permission, but permission no less.

That's always much better than "You bought a WHAT?!" :oops:

tim

When you've got my history of coming home with new gadgets, reluctant permission comes at a cost... Which in turn means the said item had better be worth it! :mrgreen:

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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Scarfy96 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:51 am

Great stuff guys!

I am at the stage of pushing off the work bench in the garage now. I am standing with my back to the bench and mounting while holding the bench, pushing off and seeing how far I can go.

So far I have made it out of the garage once, (so about 6-7m) and can "regularly" go nearly the length of the garage - about 4-5m. By regularly I mean about 1 in 10 attempts. I get about 2-3m about 2 out of 3 goes now and tend to "stall". ie pedal rotation gets caught in the wrong spot and stop forward motion - need to work on improving pedal fluency through the whole stroke (I am guessing fixie riders would be more used to this?).

Agree 100% with how sore you will be. My butt is still sore and the abs have taking a pounding as building core strength for balance.

Bloody frustrating but the feeling of elation when I make it about 5m makes it all worthwhile! I managed to do the length of the garage 3 times in a row yesterday and thought I was making a major breakthrough but then it all came tumbling down when failed for about the next 10 goes!

Haven't tried it with a "shoulder" as yet, although most of balance issue seems to be going over the front, not sideways.

Interestingly I also find it easier to ride in bare feet rather than shoes as I can "feel" the pedals better.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby barefoot » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:02 pm

Ozkaban wrote:When you've got my history of coming home with new gadgets...
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That Tapatalk sig is oh so fitting :mrgreen:

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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:44 pm

Scarfy96 wrote:Great stuff guys!

I am at the stage of pushing off the work bench in the garage now. I am standing with my back to the bench and mounting while holding the bench, pushing off and seeing how far I can go.

So far I have made it out of the garage once, (so about 6-7m) and can "regularly" go nearly the length of the garage - about 4-5m. By regularly I mean about 1 in 10 attempts. I get about 2-3m about 2 out of 3 goes now and tend to "stall". ie pedal rotation gets caught in the wrong spot and stop forward motion - need to work on improving pedal fluency through the whole stroke (I am guessing fixie riders would be more used to this?).

Agree 100% with how sore you will be. My butt is still sore and the abs have taking a pounding as building core strength for balance.

Bloody frustrating but the feeling of elation when I make it about 5m makes it all worthwhile! I managed to do the length of the garage 3 times in a row yesterday and thought I was making a major breakthrough but then it all came tumbling down when failed for about the next 10 goes!

Haven't tried it with a "shoulder" as yet, although most of balance issue seems to be going over the front, not sideways.

Interestingly I also find it easier to ride in bare feet rather than shoes as I can "feel" the pedals better.

Pushing off to the back is unique but if it worked for you then fine.

I consider that a learner is riding in control when he can hold a few cycles of pedal without furiously pedalling to get the unicycle to catch back up AND also control excess speed by a light pressure on the trailing pedal as needed.

It sounds like you are now riding in control. It does not matter that it is only one in ten.That means that you have got past the bit that is frustrating - which can last weeks with no apparent progress where lots of people then give up.

The rest now is doing what you are doing - trying to go the extra few yards. They soon become the length of the street. When you can, get some one on our shoulder now which will improve the distance greatly. And alternate from one to the other. Using the shoulder is simply having that person track your meandering so that you can lightly touch the shoulder but mostly be unconnected. It is much as is done on the wall - but the wall can't maintain the correct distance like a helper can.

After you are consistent and comfortable you then move to basic skills - idling, freemounting, pausing and holding, step-step-step super slow, etc. (Basic as in "useful", "essential", not necessarily "easy".) I'd suggest freemounting first as it makes you look cool immediatley after any non-cool UPD (unplanned dismount).

Congrats.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Scarfy96 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 4:13 pm

ColinOldnCranky wrote:Pushing off to the back is unique but if it worked for you then fine.


I leaned that on youtube!
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:52 pm

A couple of posts have suggested body armour for unicycling so I will address the issue. But only so far as for learning.

On falling, it is a common misconception that you will NEED body armour. And so some beginners then get some. While there is a good chance that that may come in handy later if the rider moves to certain types of unicycling, it is not at all required for learners. Body armour will not harm you but, as a learner, their is little for it to protect you from either.

The fact is that it is almost impossible (with a couple of qualifications later) to take a fall when learning that will do anything other than place you back onto terra firma on both feet.

The qualifications? Things that make a lie of my simple assertion that you can't take a fall on a unicyle:
  • You are riding off road - MUni and stuff - Not something you will be doing as a beginner. When you do move to MUni and offroad you will need a made-for-purpose unicycle as well as protection.
  • Riding backwards - Not something you will be doing as a beginner. And when you do ride backwards there is little danger though it is at least conceivable that you could fall onto the back of your head.
  • Attacking downward slopes - Not something you will be doing as a beginner. Indeed even as an accomplished rider, keep the attacking for going uphill.
  • Doing difficult tricks and carrying heavy loads attached to you - Not something you will be doing as a beginner, if ever.
  • Riding on a large wheeled or geared unicycle - if you are learning on anything larger than a 24" then yo are learning on the wrong unicycle. Though not legally obliged to, most riders on 36" unis will wisely wear a lot of safety gear
  • Stuff like unicycle hockey or unicycle polo

As indicated, now none of those things will be part of learning.

Unicyclists call most falls UPDs for unplanned dismounts. They look exactly like the dismount of Coach Bob in the video posted above when he stepped off the front of the unicycle, it is just that they happen as the wheel holds up for a moment, typically as you cross an unnoticed depression. You dismount without knowing you are about to. Stepping off the front is the first deliberate dismount that you will learn. Later you will learn the better ways to dismount but you will continue to do UPDs and they will always simply result in you walking or standing.

Learning to ride a unicyle, while certainly an order of magnitude more difficult than learning to ride a bike, is not at all as dangerous or as painful as with the bike. You do not lose skin when learning to unicycle. The bum takes some punishment and you may overextend a limb with furious flailing. Abs for most people should not be a worry though again you could put something out due to vigorous movements typical of a beginner. (The uni will also take a lot of hard treatment at the hands of a beginner.)

In the time that I have helped many people to get past the basics, I have not had anyone reporting a fall to hands or head. At the annual street/circus/fire workshops that I am involved in we do not provide or use any protective gear yet for other activities we are anal about safety. I kept a count of the number of times that I took a fall to the ground in my first few thousand kms. It was something like three or four times, just to the hands - twice was when I got locked to the cycle - baggy shorts caught on the quick release and another time my long shoe laces wrapped around the axle. You actually have to work really hard at falling on your face.

I do remember however once when one of my group let some yobbo have a try and, as he tried to perch atop it, he ejected the unicyle at considerable speed behind himself (a UPD). It hit the shins of a mate some three or four metres behind him. Body armour would have been quite welcome for the mate. :mrgreen:
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby barefoot » Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:47 am

My armour suggestion was more about the psychology.

Once I satisfied myself I was impervious to injury, I felt much happier tilting my uni forward to the point of imbalance to start riding. It was a big mental hurdle to get over.

When I was convinced I was going to fall flat on my face, I tended not to tilt far enough forward... then with just a pedal stroke or two, the unicycle was back under my centre of mass, and I was stopped.

The safety gear is still in pristine condition. I didn't use it for safety.

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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Scarfy96 » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:50 am

So far in my learning process I would say I have gone down onto my hands maybe twice and my bum once. The rest I have stayed on my feet.

If it helps you mentally then fine but I see little point in it.

I did make it out of the garage again today :D although it was a bit of a cheat as I got to the door I stuck my hand out and steadied myself as I passed and made it about another 3m (so about 8-9m all up) so didn't make it quite that far unaided.

I definitely feel I am getting more consistent at making 4-5m but yet to be able to string together anything a lot longer (like 15-20m).
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:44 pm

Scarfy96 wrote:So far in my learning process I would say I have gone down onto my hands maybe twice and my bum once. The rest I have stayed on my feet.

If it helps you mentally then fine but I see little point in it.

I did make it out of the garage again today :D although it was a bit of a cheat as I got to the door I stuck my hand out and steadied myself as I passed and made it about another 3m (so about 8-9m all up) so didn't make it quite that far unaided.

I definitely feel I am getting more consistent at making 4-5m but yet to be able to string together anything a lot longer (like 15-20m).


You are doing fine and it just gets longer and longer anyway.

A question - when you are successful over, say, five meters, are you finding a natural straigh line or do you have a storng tendency to arc left or right? For some that can be the first difficult hurdle (other than getting up inthe first place of course).

And a suggestion. Though extra distance comes with just trying to stay on longer, a useful other skill that will also skill you up for staying on longer is to practice and perfect a rear dismount while you are still in control. ie hop off early at your moment of choice instead of stretching for the extra metre or so. The skills associated with that will then be used to maintain control over speed for longer, resulting in you staying on not just longer but staying on until you choose to hop off. It also skills you better for doing a freemount which you will want to be doing soon.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Ozkaban » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:16 pm

barefoot wrote:
Ozkaban wrote:When you've got my history of coming home with new gadgets...
Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2


That Tapatalk sig is oh so fitting :mrgreen:

tim

Tapatalk was $4. The GT-I9300, AKA Samsung Galaxy S3 (I *really* should delete that sig.) was not $4 and is one of the aforementioned gadgets...
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby trailgumby » Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:01 pm

barefoot wrote:My armour suggestion was more about the psychology.

Samae thing happened with me learning to ride Manly Dam. When I put on the armour, I quit falling off :oops:
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Scarfy96 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:27 am

Thanks ColinOldnCranky, I am OK with direction and can keep a fairly straight path. I aim out the garage door (single) and have no trouble keeping in line with the middle of that so am not drifting either left or right.

I will try the rear dismounts. Makes a lot of sense - my unplanned dismounts are almost all forward, straight off the front as the wheel stalls and my body keeps going forward. Busy weekend planned so not sure how much time I will get to practice in the next few days.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Scarfy96 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:37 am

Update.

Definite progress being made now. This morning I would say I made the 5m mark nearly every 2nd go and set a new distance record of probably 10-12m.

Now I am failing either after the first pedal stroke or after 5-8m most of the time. Definitely feeling more in control and less erratic.

Arms are still flailing around for balance but can steer a basically straight line.

Here is one of my attempts from this morning, showing a typical fail followed by a success.

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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby barefoot » Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:46 pm

Looks to me like your saddle is very low - compared to just about anybody I've ever seen on a unicycle. Maybe try raising it and see if that works for you.

Or maybe mine is too high :-D

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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby ColinOldnCranky » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:01 pm

I hope that you have some extra length in the seat post as barefoot is right. I would set you up a little higher but not quite the full height that you will eventually be riding at. The bent legs do give you more control, just not quite so bent. Trick unicyclists often stay low btw.

Anyway, you are over that hump that defeats so many others. So congratulations, big time.

As soon as you can pin someone down, hop outside with him at your shoulder like I posted earlier. While you are looking for that helper, start taking off with the support at your side. The rear push is causing you to be sitting with a rear lean when you really should be starting with your weight a little forward. You will be launching yourself with a helper at the side and walking with you, not with him behind.

Also there are more opportunities to launch from something to your side when you are out in public.There are lots of fences and walls that will be parallel to your direction of travel whereas pushing off those same structures is usually sending you onto a road. (That video you posted that the bloke did for some tutorial site is not particularly valuable - it is just a demonstration that it is still possible to learn while making it more difficult than needs be - hell I didn't learn the best way either and it took me much longer than necessary. Wise in hindsight.)

I will be interested to see another video when you have advanded some more.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Scarfy96 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:03 am

Thanks for the feedback.

I set the seat post a bit lower because I read/watched something that said start it a bit lower.

I have lifted it a bit now but think my seat post may not be quite long enough to get the correct height as it is now basically at the highest I can take it. Bugger!

I have been looking around the house for an option for a side start and I think I have one down the back that will let me do the length of the house with a wall on one side. It isn't perfectly smooth like the garage but it is cement (with a pattern through it) and is flat so I think that is the next progression.

I don't think I am quite ready for the free start yet but would be interested in hearing the tips if you are willing to share.

Thanks again for the feedback and encouragement. I am having a ball with this and looking forward to taking it out on a cycleway when I have progressed a bit more.
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Re: New to Unicycling ....

Postby Comedian » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:25 am

IMHO... this is an essential life skill. Must learn soon!
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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