Dirt roads criss-cross the experiment station fields near my office. Today I gave them a ride. Now this represents two problems. First, there aren't may objects to lean against when mounting so I either had to never dismount (unlikely) or free mount (also unlikely). Second, dirt roads are way, way, way less smooth than the neighborhood roads, tennis courts and tracks that I've been practicing on.
Once I got out riding on those dirt roads I realized there was a third problem. The dirt roads aren't just packed dirt, but covered with loose sand and gravel. It was bad enough trying to keep balanced through the wheel ruts, but things got really nuts when I hit those sections with loose gravel over sand. Every stroke of the crank pointed the wheel first this way, then that, as I squiggled and squirmed my way down the track. The wheel was rolling over gravel and sliding through sand. I was glad I had my Pulse gloves on because more than once I went flying off the front. I appreciated the padded palms and wrist supports.
Free mounting is going better, but it is a bit of a different story when there isn't anything to lean on and you HAVE to free mount. It was either mount or walk. Sorry for being crude, but the biggest problem for me isn't mounting, but mounting without crushing my nuts. If I have a support to lean against then I can get everything adjusted right, but when I have to just get on and go, about half the time it isn't very comfortable. When its not comfortable I know right away and come right back off that seat just as fast as I went on. I figure if I keep working at it, out of sheer necessity I'll figure something out. And as the ride went on, I did figure something out. I figured out how to stay on the damn unicycle so I didn't have to free mount much.
On the return ride I worked on the wheel squirm problem caused by the gravel and sand. I found that if I really focused on sitting down into the seat I was able to dampen the twisting caused by my pedal strokes. I had been putting more weight on the balls of my feet so that I could balance over the dips and humps, but this accentuated the squirm. By sitting down in the seat I squirmed less, but felt I had less control over balance. I eventually found a decent compromise and had a nice, long, dismountless ride through the fields back to the gym.
I learned a lot today out on those dirt roads about mounting, balancing and sitting down in the seat. The experience sure made the paved sections feel easier in comparison.