Another beautiful winter day in Minnesota with bright sun and cold air. Santa brought a warm hood to wear under my helmet, so it donned that, plus other warm weather gear, and the new shin pads, pumped up my Stout to about 50 lbs and headed down the hill to Stillwater. I live up on the South Hill and if you were to throw a marble out my front door it would start rolling down to the St. Croix river. The hills are steep - steep enough to attract a bicycle race every summer that pits rider against hill as much as rider against rider.
When I started unicycling I had more trouble going down hills than going up, but that has changed. I was able to work my way down to the river on hills that would be impossible for me to climb on the unicycle, and that are a serious workout on the mountain bike. I find on those downhills that I need to pay attention to keeping even, constant back pressure on both pedals. Otherwise I have a tendency to overemphasize the braking on one pedal or the other. I was quite concerned that if I put too much back pressure on the pedal all at once I'd slip on the snow and ice covering the roads, but I had good luck with not slipping at all.
Once downtown I crossed the bridge to Wisconsin, the promptly turned right back around and rode back to Minnesota. The snow wasn't cleared from the dirt trail on the WI side, so there was no way to go any further. After riding round town a bit I followed the river north of town along N. Broadway St. and then turned on to Dellwood road to make the ascent back up the ridge. The vertical climb is stretched out over a mile or so on Dellwood so that it is manageable, but wow did I get winded making that climb! I did it earlier this fall when I was riding more, but I've lost some conditioning between then and now and it showed.
Dellwood took me to Stonebridge Trail / Owens St which is mostly flat until you hit the northern town limits where there is a bit of a climb. At the top of the climb is a speed gun that reminds drivers to drop back to 30 mph. As you can see from the image above I had no problem staying under 30.
During the ride I was thinking about times when I hadn't planned out my ride carefully and put off making a route decision until I was just about at a critical turn. Often in that situation I'd lose balance and UPD. I think it is similar to what you have seen and maybe experienced playing sports. Sometimes when playing soccer I'd get a pass when I was in the clear and could make a bit of a run with the ball, but as soon as I received the pass and turned upfield I'd stumble and lose the advantage. It was as if my mental processing couldn't keep up with all the physical movements I had to make. And since it was an unusual situation that I hadn't stored in muscle memory, my brain had to work overtime to receive the ball, turn, look where I was going, stay in balance, and the legs just collapsed under me.
I've seen similar things happen watching college football when a tight end (who normally blocks) catches a pass, turns upfield to run and trips without a defender laying a finger on him.
Today, I found that I was able to make some route decisions while riding, and that gave me confidence that some of the basic riding skills are becoming embedded in muscle memory and that some of the brain processing speed can go toward making decisions rather than focusing on staying in the seat.
I hope you are getting some time on top of the wheel this winter.