September 2011 Archives


diskmount sep17b.jpgThis morning I challenged myself to ride the mountain bike trails at the Battle Creek Regional Park. I got my butt kicked.

I've never been to BC Park before, but I'm sure I will again. In summer it is a mountain bike trail and in winter a cross country skiing facility. Some of the trails are lighted for night skiing. I read that a nationally sanctioned xc ski race will be held there this winter so quite a bit of work is being done to reduce the brush encroaching around the ski trails.

The Park's geography and soils are influenced by the nearby Mississippi River. As a result, it is quite hilly, with climbs and drops that are beyond my ability whether on ski or unicycle, and trails can be sandy. At first I found the challenge of steep hill after steep hill (and the dismounts and walking that resulted) quite disheartening, but as the ride went on and my balance improved, so did my attitude about the hills. I transitioned from feeling upset about not getting up the hills, to working on getting up as far as I could, and feeling ok about that. Some of the hills were covered with fresh wood chips as the crews got ready for the ski season, and because the chips are so soft and squishy they were impossible to ride. The deep sand in some places was also a pain. But the ride had endless challenges that I never have to deal with on the Gateway. Some of the internal paths, including part of the singletrack that was only used by bikers, was a joy. Not quite so much up and down, more twists and turns with a few roots and rocks, and travel through tight growth. dismount sep17a.jpg

After an hour and a half of riding I was just a rag. I did more mounts and dismounts today than I've done in a month of riding. And more walking too! After a bit of backtracking (the trails aren't particularly well marked) I found my way back to the car where I had a nice exchange with a couple of bikers I saw on the trail. As with many bikers I talk to, they said they could never ride a unicycle...I always tell them it is more about determination than skill, but I 'm not sure they believe me.

Reading the trail

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Gateway 10sept11b.jpg Today's morning ride on the Gateway trail felt surprisingly fresh and new. I haven't ridden since going on holidays at the end of August and taking kids back to University. The first sensation that struck me was an intensity of focus on the trail ahead of me. I've run a couple of times this past week and In comparison, running really doesn't require nearly as much attention to the road surface as unicycling.

Today two instances demanded particular focus: ascending a hill, and the run-off after successfully cresting. It has been dry in Minnesota for the past three weeks and the trail is sandy from abrasion by hoof, foot and tire loosening the soil. The worst spots are at the initial incline of a hill. Some parts of the trail felt like a sand dune. The tire sunk and slid into the sand, my forward momentum was checked, and I had to slowly slog my way through the sand an onto the next part of the hill's ramp. If I spiiked to much power to the wheel the unicycle twisted wildly opposite the power stroke because of the lack of friction between rubber and trail surface. The situation called for patience and evenly applied power. In this circumstance I found that keeping my eyes and brain focused on the current challenge (the sand and ruts) helped enormously in getting past this first stage of the hill. My usual tendency when approaching the hill is to think more about the final steep rise of the hill rather than on the ramp that I'm initially trying to negotiate. All too often I fall early, I think because I'm not focused on the business at hand, but on the challenge ahead.

Once the hill is crested, I lapse into self-congratulations and miss seeing the rock/rut/sand/pile of horse manure in the trail in front of me. This of course results in an inglorious offing from my seat, and a sheepish remount. Today I keep this tendency in check, and was able to ride the crests of the hills.

So the observation for the day was to pay close attention to the trail I am riding rather than the trail I will be riding.

Finally, I wanted to note a greeting that I received today from an anonymous bicycle rider who was stroking a beautiful graphite gray road bike down the paved part of the trail. At that point in the trail the dirt and paved portions were side by side, going uphill. I was keeping a reasonable pace up the hill and the rider flew past giving me a slight turn of the head and a pump of his fist. Enough said. So much nicer than Dad saying to Jr in the kiddie seat, "look Jordan, he lost his other wheel".

Here's a shot riding over the camera. Too bad I'm not sponsored by the companies to whom I'm giving free placement!
Gateway 10sept11c.jpg

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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