November 2010 Archives

Thanksgiving Saturday Trail Ride

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thanksgiving ride.jpgIts been below 20F just about all week, but I've gotten out three times now for rides. I'm figuring out how I need to dress to manage the cold without sweating like crazy. Today I had long johns and BB shorts on the bottom, polyprop T, sweatshirt and a shell on top. Mitts, toque and my old bell bike helmet for a lid.

This morning I returned to the Gateway Trail for the first time since the snow fall. The trail had been walked more than skied. There were no groomed tracks. The loose snow was about an inch or two deep. The biggest issue was from the footsteps that went into the slushy snow earlier in the week and was now solid rutty ice. One section had two packed wheeltracks where a trail maintenance crew probably drove in to cut down a dead tree.

I had lots of get-offs from slipping over the bumps. Twice I was forced to tuck and roll, and both times whacked the same side of my knee in the process. I found that riding the snowy trail took as much or more focus as riding the horse trail in the summer. Very rugged, ice, unevenness, and you had to pick a line all the time.

I had to keep my weight off the seat a bit and keep more on the legs so I wouldn't pogo off the unicycle when I hit a bump, although that still happened several times. That extra weight on the legs, plus all the remounts, really exhausted me. The strong sun cast long shadows across the foot tracks with stark contrast of white and blue. At times the sight was almost impressionist.

On the return I tried various hand positions that gave me some ability to respond to the terrain yet keep my shoulders square. I settled on a boxer position with my hands clenched and out in front of me ready to jab and parry.

Here's a short vid.

Gym class

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The Twin Cities Unicycle Club offers practices two or three times a week in various gyms around the metro region. Friday night they had the gym at St. Matthews in St. Anthony Park, and I stopped in on my way home from work. Joel, who I remember from the Learn to Unicycle classes last spring, was the club rep there. A mother and daughter were riding, and that was it. The gym was a tile-floored basket ball court. I brought in my 24" and worked on mounts, figure 8s, stalls, hops and idling, with the latter against the wall.

Joel showed me his idling technique and I was particularly interested in what parts of his body were rocking and which were still. Looked like the pivot point was nearer to the hips, not shoulders.

As the hour progressed, more riders showed up for the 8-10 unicycle hockey. Although they say no special skill required, it was clear watching them that I wouldn't feel comfortable joining in until I could idle and ride backwards as well as pivot on a dime. Maybe toward the end of the winter I'll feel like trying to play with that group.

The TCUC is a welcoming group. They make me feel comfortable and are happy to share their riding experiences. It would be more convenient to ride in the gym on campus, but I imagine that the supervisors there wouldn't want me dropping the uni on the court. I'll ask next week.

After an hour I felt pretty tired. I had plenty of work on mounts. Joel does the roll-back style and I think I might try that since it is a similar skill to part of the idling motion.

Cold

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30F this afternoon when I went out for a ride. I had a windbreaker on, but otherwise just the usual basketball shorts and T shirt. The only thing that really felt cold was my head. I needed a stocking cap under my bike helmet. The KH gloves were enough for my hands. Frankly though, next time, maybe some sweats and thicker gloves too.

Roads were dry and mostly clear of snow. I had a few packed snow humps to go over. One stretchy of packed snow in front of an apartment complex pitched me off the seat. I think I was anticipating more trouble than it really was.

I was quite worried about ice. Experience reminds me that ice can take a bike down very quickly, so I knew it would do the same with the single wheel. Luckily there wasn't much in my path so I made it ok.

Exciting ride, really. I tried to ride fast to stay warm. And when I was done I felt a bit wobbly, maybe because it's been a week since the last ride.

I rode most of the route with my hands behind my back. It is getting to be a comfortable position.

Relevant skills

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As autumn transitions to winter I imagine that I'll probably be riding less outdoors. Sure, I'll change from the Big Apple to the Stout and do some riding in the snow, but I doubt that I'll ride as much outside. I've been considering joining the local club and attending one of their open gym practices once a week so that I at least keep my butt in the seat a bit over the winter.

I thought about this on yesterday's campus/state fair/experiment station ride and my mind wandered off to consider the correlation between the skills addressed in the unicycle skill levels and the skills I want to improve for my trail and road riding. The question I was considering was whether there is a strong correlation between those sets of skills? Is there any relevance to my normal type of riding to learning several different types of mounts that can be performed on a level wood gym floor indoors, or would it be more relevant to work inside on mounting on slanted, uneven or irregular surfaces?

I know from last winter that the club members work on level-related skills in the gym, and that there are people there who can do the level evaluation if that's what I want to do, but I'm not sure that's where my focus should be. I've never done any testing, so its not like I'm talking about real high level stuff, so actually most of the lower level skills I think are relevant. Level 2 for instance involves modest drops, figure 8s and sharp turns. I work on those anyway out at the hockey rink and find that they are quite useful agility exercises that transfer to the road and trail. Level 3 gets to be a little more of a problem...figure 8 with 1.5m circles on a 29" unicycle? Maybe I should get a 20" for that one! Or ride 10m with my stomach on the seat?

What I'd really like to learn to do inside is play basketball and hockey, so maybe the smart thing would be to do work on skills over the winter that would allow me to join in with those games.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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