Aha, I think I’ve started to suss idling. Two things have changed since yesterday. Firstly, I realised that the ground outside my flat is slightly sloping. I’d always been starting at the downhill end, and wobbling quickly into the wall. Now I’ve switched to starting at the uphill end, I have much more time on the unicycle before I run out of space. It’s an ungainly crab-wobble, but I’m staying on.
Secondly, I think figuring out turns has helped a lot. Idling requires quick and definite hip-twists to keep the wheel under you. But the twists need to be timed properly so that they don’t unbalance you. There’s a sweet spot in the forward/backwards direction, and if you only turn at that sweet spot, you stay upright. So after yesterday’s turning practise, I’m getting that right without thinking about it .. freeing me to focus on the other bits of idling.
I’ve also noticed that I need micro-pauses in my forward/backward pendulum motion. If you watch videos of people idling, it looks like they going forward/back very regularly. But the regularity is a bit misleading. The aim isn’t to go back and forward regularly per se. But you do need to keep the wheel moving in order to keep it below your centre of gravity, and allow you to migrate side-to-side. You’re limited to about a half-turn of the pedals forward/backwards, and if you find that’s not enough then pausing momentarily before changing direction can give you back your desired lean angle.
So, all in all, here’s how I learned to idle:
* Practise rocking back/forward in a narrow corridor for hours until the rocking motion is second nature. Keep your upper body still, pivoting at your pelvis. Try letting go of the wall for as long as possible, but don’t fret about the fact you can’t do side-to-side balance (it’s not possible in a narrow space, at least at first).
* Practise unicycling in a straight line, over gentle slopes and gentle bumps so you get used ‘feeling your balance’ and adjusting.
* Practise doing wide turns, so you get used to twisting at your hips and the effect of doing that on your balance.
* Then practise, practise, practise on idling itself. Keep your weight on your seat, look into the distance, wave your arms around etc.