How long does it take to ride a unicycle?

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Mike Boyd has a mixed platter of skills. To name just a few, he can stack dice, split an apple with his bare hands, and break a glass with his voice. I would say he’s a talented guy, but he’s just persistent. That may sound mean, but he makes that point over and over again on his wildly successful YouTube channel. 

At the time of writing, he has 3 million subscribers, and oh boy, has he earned them. In each of his 175 videos (or at least most), he records himself learning a different skill and records how long it takes.

In one of his first videos, he learns to ride a unicycle for 30 seconds; he assembles his lonely wheel, dons a bike helmet, and, with pride and trepidation, precede to fall over like a top-heavy toddler. As he flails around, the timer totals up his practice time. 

How long do you think it takes him? I reckon it’d take me at least 50 hours and one divorce (I’m not married). It takes him, however, 2 hours and 38 minutes. That’s less time that it takes to watch Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. 

He hasn’t got a circus tent in his veins, so how does he learn it so quickly? I think a couple of things are in play here. Firstly, he practices with the intent to get better. He’s constantly striving to achieve his clear goal. He’s not just idly practising for the sake of it. 

Secondly, maybe learning things don’t take as long as we think. That's the message of this whole channel. How long do you think it took him to break a glass with his voice reliably? Just 4 hours 29 minutes. He learns to stack 10 dice on top of each other in just 5 hours and 16 minutes. He also learns to spring a deck of cards. If it makes you feel any better, that took him longer than either of those skills - 9 hours and 32 minutes. 

We often think of how long we've been learning something - it took me 7 months to learn a Danny Goldsmith routine - but if we counted the actual practice time, it's probably a lot less than it feels.

Don't take my or Mike's word for it. Give it a go yourself! Get a specific goal in mind, get a timer and get practising! 

Most of the time, I lose count or forget to count all the time up properly, but the very act of timing does something to my practice. I focus more and actually TRY to get better rather than just go through the motions. 

Check out his channel. It’s entertaining and inspiring. If you try this, let me know how it goes! 

Until next time, 

Stay magical.



1 comment

  • Jeff Copeland

    I remember it took a ridiculously long time for me to learn how to muscle pass a coin out of classic palm. Or so it seemed. I saw Johnny Ace Palmer perform it at the Magic Castle and it blew my mind! I had no clue it was a sleight of hand move. It seemed so impossible. I had to learn it and their were no resources. I fumbled with the move for quite some time with some tipped I had begged for from a magician who knew how to perform the effect. It seemed like took six months learn it because that is how long I dabbled with the sleight. The reality is it probably took about 24 hours total. The real progress came when I dedicated an entire day to practicing during a road trip across the country. I got a couple blisters and it was painful, but the concentrated practice gave me the gift of a move that, like riding a bicycle, is near effortless now. Great blog, Tim! Thank you for bring this process to light!

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