I'm taking a vacation from my vacation and going back in to work for half days. I'm feeling the anxiety of the new school year starting to weigh on me, so getting some material in place now will reduce the strain next week. However, this morning, like yesterday, I explored another segment of the Gateway Trail near Stillwater. The section I rode started at Manning Ave and ran to Jamaca Ave (my start/stop point yesterday). The out and back was 8.6 miles, my longest ride. Again the trail had two options: twin track packed horse trail and an asphalt trail. Today I rode only the horse trail. I made sure the screws holding the seat plate were tight, so I had no equipment issue that would keep me off the dirt.
I've been very interested in hand position the last couple of days. I think this started when I began riding the 29er and felt like I was riding with my right arm and shoulder leading the way when I'd prefer to keep my shoulders square. Consciously moving my hands behind my back or alongside my hips helped square the shoulders. I worked on that again today when I was on some relatively smooth sections of dirt path. I find it particularly hard at the beginning of the ride when my hips and core muscles aren't warmed up and fully engaged. But later in the ride I can bring the hands back alongside my pin bones in the hip and engage those core muscles in doing most of the balance adjustments.
I'm aware of others using the trail. Most of the other users are bike riders on the asphalt, but I always come across some runners and horse riders on the dirt. I'm conscious of trying to look like I'm in control when others are around and may be watching. That consciousness spurs me on to find a hand position that gives the impression of control, and having my hands by my pin bones seems about right. And it feels like a good riding position too. Flailing arms don't cut it. Wings aren't the great either, although who cares when you are doing a steep downhill through sandy patches. I did bail out on one downhill just as a runner was reaching the base and ready to charge up. But she was understanding as the unicycle bounced past.
A feeling I'd like to explore more in my next ride is accentuating the "hips forward" position to maintain speed and momentum.
View Second section of the Gateway Trail in a larger map