I need to develop better street skills.
Thursday after class I rode from the gym out to a local park with basketball court and hockey rink. I wanted to do some agility work on the bb court surface with the 29er. I mostly worked on figure 8s and tight circles...well, tight for me is still a 10' diameter. I'm starting to like the metal studs on the pedals and the way my foot surface keeps contact with the pedal. This is particularly comforting when I'm leaning the unicycle one way or the other during turns. I'm sure the time will come when my foot slips and those studs bite my shin, but for now its been good.
After the 8s and circles I wheeled into the iceless hockey rink and used the boards for support while I worked on idling. I was practicing by doing a single idle on one foot, then doing a rotation and a half forward followed by a single on the other foot, repeated down the length of the boards. I need the boards for support. Several times I tried to do even a single idle out in the open, but no dice. I though for a while I'd get it, but I can't claim any victory yet. These idles are the hardest skill I've worked on since learning how to ride. In many ways its the same challenge as learning to ride...I have to make the break from holding on to the boards and just keep at it in the open until I start to feel the balance. I find it particularly hard to stay balanced while reversing direction. I feel like I have to lean a fair bit back as I bring the wheel to a halt, and then pedal sharply backwards to get the uni back under me. It will come, but jeeze, its taking a while.
I took a route back to the gym that let me ride a short park gravel path, just to add some trail surface into the ride in addition to the pavement. On the way I was approaching an intersection with stoplight, and as I was about 30 feet from the corner a car came up behind me and gave me a honk. It was a Minnesota honk (Minnesotans normally don't honk - it would be impolite)...a beep that was short enough to be considered by some who aren't from here a courtesy beep saying "I'm here", but actually meant "get out of the way". I heard the car coming before the honk (interesting how your sense of hearing gets keen when you are riding on the street), but I still jumped a bit when I heard the beep off my left shoulder.
So where this rant is going is my sense that I really need to develop better street skills, and idling is one of those skills. I need to be able to stall while traffic and pedestrians clear. The honk was motivation to keep working on those idles. Or just swallow my pride, get off the uni and remount when the pressure clears.