After a rainy week, Sunday morning dawned bright and dry. I was out on the Gateway Trail around 9am after a cup of tea and small breakfast. My goal was to increase my best distance by a few miles, and to do this I was willing to spend a bit more time on the pavement rather than on the dirt/stone/sand/mud horse trail.
I'll share three observations from this ride, one dealing with mounting, another with riding pavement vs dirt vs grass, and the last on hand position.
I'm tired of my mounts feeling tentative and awkward. Shoot, I can ride for miles, shouldn't I have smooth starts? Today I focused on trying to point the wheel straight forward, and when stepping up on the unicycle, carrying my momentum straight ahead and in line with the wheel. I previously noticed that during my mounts I was twisting off the path to the left or right and not hitting the top pedal squarely with my free foot. I won't claim that the mounts were smooth, but I didn't miss a mount today, so it was a change for the better. Wheel in line with the path, momentum in line with the path, mount in line with the path. I'll recite that mantra this week and see if it helps.
Today I spent more time than usual on the asphalt part of the trail, and was frustrated that on this hard surface I couldn't keep an even rhythm and maintain a straight line on the path. I'd take 5 or 10 even strokes then wiggle, slow down, speed up, whatever, and then get it back together. Strangely, I feel more comfortable and in control with better rhythm on the dirt horse trail than on the pavement. Maybe I'm just more focused when riding dirt, or the dirt track gives more resistance to the wheel squirm. Whatever it is, I need to work more on keeping an even cadence and straight line on pavement. It is sooooo much easier to pedal, and there is less to watch out for. It feels weird compared to the dirt. The cranks seem tall too. Maybe if I do more asphalt I should switch to the 125mm pedal holes. Nah.
A few times I've noticed people on the trail coming toward me giving me really wide berth when we pass, as if I am out of control and about to collide with them at any moment. While their caution isn't totally unfounded, my control really isn't that bad. However, it must look bad. I've been thinking about how to ride so that I look like I'm under control. The change I've made, that seems to help a bit (based on recent encounters with others on the trail) is to keep my hands and arms as quiet as I can. In previous posts I've mentioned keeping hands behind my back as a training technique, but it is also good for looking under control. Today's approach was to keep my hands resting lightly on my upper thighs. This seemed natural and yet encouraged me to get into good position. I think I need to make a few videos from the point of view of other trail users who I'm meeting on the trail to compare hand positions and find out what looks most normal and in control. I realize that being in control is actually the goal, but I want to also look like I'm in control.
Yes, I did have a nice long ride...somewhere in the 15-16 mile range based on Google Maps.
View Dellwood loop in a larger map