I usually ride by myself. Karen and I often go together to the trail, but I'm slower on one wheel than she is on two, so we usually split up. Today I went out on my own to do a 10 mi loop around the North St. Paul snowman, and realized how rarely I talk to anyone other than myself while I ride. Perhaps that is why there is ample time to overthink things while sitting on the unicycle. You aren't getting anywhere very quickly, and during those stretches when the trail runs smoothly, the mind can wander.
I also noticed, now that I know the trail pretty well, that I am over-anticipating the hills that give me trouble. As soon as I see the runup to a tough slope I mentally replay the many times the hill beat me in the past, my confidence evaporates and I often fail on the first third. I've found that a good antidote is a to have a mental response when my thoughts focus on previous dismounts. "I think I can, I think I can" doesn't cut it. I need something more tangible, and this ride I had it. I've been running quite a bit more this summer, which, although it means less riding, also means more leg strength. So in my runups to hills this ride I could respond to myself that I've got more power so if I focus on good balance I've got a better chance than usual.
On the front end of the ride, it worked. I topped at least one hill that I've never successfully ridden before, and another than I rarely beat. The way back was another story. With that leg power gone I had the will and the conficence, but not the strength and pancaked pretty hard on the top third of three hills. There's something memorable about catching your fall just inches from a rock rising toward your noggin.
I always protect my aging body parts with KH gloves and 4x4 shin/knee protection and they paid off. I ache a bit today but that's what asprin, my recreational drug of choice, is for.
Here's where solitude also paid off. No one saw my falls, no one fretted about my old bones, and no one would be questioning my sanity. Except me.
[ I-694 bridge east of St. Paul MN passing over the gateway trail]