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Free-mounting a unicycle is "getting on" a unicycle without a wall, lamppost or friendly shoulder to support you on your way up. This is a good (ahem) skill to have as there will not always be these things to help you up.
I recommend learning to free-mount about a week or so after you have learnt to unicycle, since your balancewill be good enough to get some success.
Of course, if you can't unicycle at all yet, I recommend you read flippet's great node on Learning to ride a unicycle.

As for free-mounting, there are two schools of thought on this subject:

  • Pedals start vertical, wheel moves back a little
  • Pedals start "balanced", swing up and lean forward
The first method seems to be most popular (I'm the only guy I know who doesn't use it), but I find the second easier.
Also, I'm assuming you are right-footed here, if you aren't you will have to think around my description (convert left to right, 7 'o' clock to 5 etc..).

Like with unicycling, it is very unlikely that you will be able to free-mount first time. I recommend you practice free-mounting near a wall, but not to use it unless you feel you are about to fall.
If it were possible, I'd include diagrams, unfortunately they just look horrible in ascii.

"Pedals start vertical, wheel moves back a little":

Place the saddle under (ahem) yourself, as usual.

  • Place your right foot on the right pedal, and get it to 6 'o' clock, (i.e. both pedals vertical to the ground).
  • Now, push down on the right pedal, and bring your left foot up to the left pedal. Don't be surprised if you miss the left pedal, it may take a while for your body to remember where it is.
  • Once your left foot is on the pedal, point your toes downward and push backward, gently (eek!). This has to be done swiftly, because "pedals vertical" is not stable.
  • After moving backwards (slowly) a few inches to get balance. Lean forward, and press down on the right pedal (assuming you went backwards, this should be "above" vertical) and proudly pedal away.
  • Assuming you are still on the thing, you have just free-mounted, Hurrah !

"Pedals start 'balanced', swing up and lean forward":

This is my method of choice, as you don't have to be as quick about it, so you can wait a second or so halfway through for mere pedestrians to get out of the way.
This technique relies on a certain "magic" pedal position, where, when you put your weight on it, it does not roll.
Here is how to find it:

  • Place right foot on the right pedal, and put the saddle underneath you.
  • Stick your arms out to balance, and so that you aren't holding the seat still.
  • Take your left foot a few inches of the ground, if you aren't in the stable position, the wheel will roll a few inches forward or back.
  • Repeat until the wheel doesn't move when you move your foot a little off the ground.
Now that you have found this "magic" position, you are ready to try the free-mount...
  • Get the pedal into the "magic", balanced position, with the saddle underneath yourself.
  • Take your left foot off the ground, the wheel should remain still, and you should stay balanced for a second or so.
  • As you bring your left foot up to the pedal, lean forward, so that as your foot touches the pedal, you are all ready moving, and can just continue pedalling.
Do it once, and it will take you about 2 hours after that to master, then you'll be able to hop-on to your unicycle anywhere !

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