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September 24, 2003 Now that I have had the current setup for a few rides, I can add a few comments. I now understand why everyone likes pinned pedals so much. It makes a huge difference in hill climbing. Once I am more practiced, I have no doubt that the remaining hills that are giving me trouble on my commute will be conquered. Even on the first try, I was able to get over the hard parts. The problem I ran into was that I relaxed after that. My new wheel won't permit me to slow down too much and easily sets off in the wrong direction. When it happened on the road, I had enough room to correct. On the trail, it was a wipeout . I think that I will continue to use my 20" for MUni for a while. Like evilwan said, the difficult stuff is the interesting part. I will likely buy a 24x3 MUni at some point, though, just so that I will be able to particpate in group rides easier (Moab 2005?). September 22, 2003 I seem to be on course for converting my 20" learner into a "MUni" of sorts. I bought a new tire (2.10" knobjob) and new pedals (Wellgo platform) so that I can manage now that we are entering the rainy season. I plan to ride all winter (note: Victoria normally only gets an inch or two of snow all winter), so I needed to get rid of my slick tire and cheap pedals. Anyway, with a new tire, new pedals, and new shoes, I was rather nervous about getting on yesterday. I should have not been so tentative. My wheel got away from me after my first mount and before I knew what was happening, I landed on my backside and elbows. Fortunately, not too much damage was done. I skinned my elbow, my wrist was a bit stiff last night (OK today though). I also a large bruise forming on my backside. After getting used to the new setup, however, I love it. The tire runs much smoother than my old one. It doesn't skip around every time I hit a pebble. Also, it seems to corner better (it has a nice round profile). This is one aspect that is going to take some getting used to, though. I find it harder to pull out of a turn started by accident. I was meaning to turn right this morning and found the uni going left. Rather than go into contortions to make it come around correctly, I did a 270 degree turn to get to where I wanted to be. That's the first time I have ever completed done a 180 even!!! The pedals seem much more grippy and I am looking forward to see how they hold in the rain. The forecast is for sunshine the rest of the week though (not that I am complaining). It is taking me a little longer to mount though because if I don't get my feet just right, I can't adjust as easily. Next up: I need to reinforce the bottom of my frame. I am going to Unversal Sheet Metal this week to see what they can do for me. I have a friend who keeps telling me to stick to the 20" for MUni because of the torque that I am able to apply (he rode trails 15 years ago up in Port Alberni). September 11, 2003 I had a great ride home tonight. There are 5 hills in the last kilometer or so that have challenged me since I started. The first is the hump in the middle of the trestle, which I conquered a few weeks ago. The second is the dirt path leading up to the park from the gallopping goose. This one still has me beat, but I am pushing a little further each time. The third is a very short and steap section that has a little (4 inch wide) runnell running diagonally down it. I can never manage the extra little bit of "oumph" needed to overcome this. The fourth is the steep, paved pathway leading out of the park and up to the road. It has two humps in the middle (I assume tree roots) that have defeated me... until today. I finally made it up!!! On top of that, I was closely followed by a bicyclist who says that he has trouble with that spot every day, even in low gear (granted, he is older than me, but it still boosted my ego. The last hill is the one leading up to my place. I have been riding up my side of the street regularly, but the other side of the street (the one that I am riding on since the park) has two side streets on the slopes. I have only managed to make it all the way up, including the transitions to and from the sidewalk, twice now. Once a month ago... and TODAY Now, to work on those last two hills.... September 4, 2003 Yesterday's commute was awful! I had trouble mounting, I wobbled, I "zshed" back and forth, and I UPDd on a relatively easy corner. While going through these trials and tribulations, I had time to think about why things were going so poorly. This is the list of possible causes (I suspect some combination): 1. My pack was heavier than usual (included a 2 pound computer repair tool kit). 2. I had more of an audience than usual (for the initial, frustrating, mount). 3. I hadn't rode in 5 days (I normally don't like to go more than 1 day without riding). 4. The last riding I had done was all on rough surfaces (grass "roads", gravel road, etc. 5. My broken forks. Option number 4 comes up because I noticed that I was "over riding" the sidewalks I was on. The type of riding I had been doing required me to be light in the seat and ready to make large corrections when hitting obsticals. It wasn't until I was almost home that I made a concious effort to settle into the seat and peddle smoother. Option 5 was more of an issue at the end of my ride as some of the hills put extra stress on the frame and I think that the lollipop bolts worked a little loose (again). I will re-settle my cracked frame on the lollipops again before taking it out tomorrow (or tonight). Also, while riding, I thought about the fact that I get so nervous just before riding. I am introverted by nature, but unicycling is, in some ways, an extroverted sport. I find myself talking to more people on my commute than I normally would. Also, it is like I am on a stage, even though I just want to ride for my own enjoyment. Is this the makings of a psychosis? August 24, 2003 This weekend, I am getting my first experience approaching what I think of as Muni (trail riding). I am at a farm and there is a "road" here that is the most challenging trail I have ridden yet. Mostly, to date, I have been riding on sidewalks, roads, and well maintained bike commuter trails (paved and not). This road was cut by a bulldozer, "paved" will wood chips and sawdust, and very rarely driven by anything but heavy machinery, and that not often. It has been a blast! I have only made it through the sawdust section once without a UPD and starting out on most of the road is an exercise in patience (I still have not learned the roll-over mount). I think what I like most is the fact that my body has gotten so used to the unicycle that I find myself dancing over the rough areas and then looking back and going "WOW, I wouldn't have even tried that a few weeks ago!" It may not be rock garden stuff, and there are no 2 inch tree roots (plenty of half inch sticks, though), but I have decided that MUni is for me. My next unicycle will definitely be a real MUni!! August 21, 2003 I reached a long anticipated milestone today: I finally tried juggling while riding, and I was able to do it! To be honest, the best run was only 25 throws, and most were only about 9 or so, but I still feel great. I think that the juggling will help my riding as well since it forces me to not over-think my riding. I have to spend more of my attention on the balls and the riding just seems to happen. I love the feeling of accomplishing something that I have looked forward to for months. August 11, 2003 Took my wheel off today and realized that my frame is really quite badly cracked. I don't know what I will be able to do to fix it (of course, it could be a good excuse to buy a new uni!). July 18, 2003 The hill in question about 12 degrees (approximately 20% grade), as measured by a hastily assembled inclinometer (thanks Klaas). It was interesting to see, on my way in this morning, the inclines of the various bits of my trip (I walked today to let myself recover from yesterday). The "big" hill near my place, it turns out, is only a 5% grade. July 17, 2003 I finally made my goal of riding into work (~3km)! It took about as long as it takes me to walk when I am reading a book (45 minutes). I love being able to take the Gallopping Goose to work. PS: I ride a 20" no-name. My return trip started out great. The first part from work is 5 blocks on sidewalks. I walked accross each intersection and nailed the mounts first try each time. Then I got to the Goose and rode solidly for about 1 Km (from Kelvin road to the middle of the trestle for those who know Victoria). I took a break after walking to the top of trestle and had a drink of water. I then rode down the trestle, but was unable to manage the transition to uphill dirt track at the entrance to the park. I walked to the top of the hill, remounted (after 2 tries) and rode down the steep hill clean !!! After riding down the hill, my legs were at the end of their strength and I was unable to make the very slight up hill that fallowed. I ended up walking through most of the rest of the park and up to the road. When I got to the flat part of the road, I remounted and rode for another block before hitting the end of my endurance. I walked another block and tried to remount: It took 10 tries to even get on . I only managed another block and half after that. I had to walk up the last hill to my place. I guess the combination of the earlier ride and having all of the difficult riding at the end did me in. Still, making it home in 45 minutes was an accomplishment. July 4, 2003 I live on a great block for building up my distance riding! One side of the block is the sidewalk running the length of my building. It is a new sidewalk and is perfectly flat and level (although it is only about 3 feet wide and has hedges encroaching - good for practicing straight rides, obstical avoidance, and mounting on a narrow path ). I then ride down a long wide sidewalk along a busy street. This sidewalk is not in great repair, but it only has one driveway (dip down and up). This is the most public part of the ride and it helps me get over my self-conciousness about riding in public. Also, the cracks and bumps are good practice (or at least they were a couple of months ago - I'm getting better). Next comes a long gradual downhill leg with a few driveways. This leg of the trip really works out my upper thighs as I stay in control to the bottom. It also has a couple of low hanging trees to duck under or to let brush against my helmet. The final leg of the trip starts out flat and then goes into a fairly steep climb back to where I started. The climb feels great to finish clean! This is especially true since half way up the hill there is a driveway where the dip is more like flat, hill, really-steep rather than down, flat, up. The "really steep" bit gets me about half the time. The total round trip is about 600 meters or so. Tonight's practice consisted of a warm-up, a trip around the block, followed by two trips up and down the narrow, flat, smooth sidewalk that is the first leg of the round trip. I find that the easy riding makes for a great cool-down after the hill climb. This may sound like an extremely short, easy trip for you who are into MUni, but I just started riding 3 months ago and it is helping me build my endurance. (Maybe next year I'll be ready for the 2004 VI Muni Weekend. ) July 2, 2003 This may seem obvious to all of you who are more advanced, but it was a bit a revelation to me: In order to start an idle, you need to lean backwards as you come to a stop. I did not understand his seemingly obvious (in hindsight) bit of information until tonight. I have been trying to learn idling by first idling next to a wall. I then have been trying to progress to stopping into a single idle back and then carrying on, as recommended by many in this forum. I just couldn't do anything but come to a stop and stall or UPD. Then, tonight, I was practicing dismounting with the seat in front. Suddenly, I found myself peddling backward, just like I want to be doing in the idle. I didn't progress to a full idle tonight, but I now have a clearer idea what I need to do. On a further note, I am finally making turns at sidewalk corners without dismounting. Also, I am starting to work on hopping (not so good yet). June 23, 2003 I had a neat experience Saturday evening. A friend of mine has just bought a cheap 24" unicycle and invited me over for the evening (OK, really it was a thing where our two families got together, but we kind of took it over for unicycling). It was nice to be able to help him with some early practice tips, but I am severely lacking in the coaching department, having had to mostly self learn. I have seen unicycle clubs say they can teach someone to unicycle in as little as 10 hours. HOW? On a side note, it was fun to try a different unicycle. I don't think I would go for one like he got, though. I weigh 245 lbs and I was afraid of breaking the flimsy looking wheel (not to mention almost bottoming out on the rim). June 17, 2003 To finish the story, I tried to ride home last night. The trip home, while mostly flat, is about 3 km, mostly on the Gallopping Goose trail (paved over rail road track). I started out OK, going about 300m at a stretch. When I got to the trestle, I walked accross (I was too tired to try and manage the rough surface). I then had a quick up and over hill which completely defeated me, being both steep and gravel/sand. I did manage to ride some of the flat parts of the trail through the park though (my first MUni ??). When I came out of the park onto the road, a couple of teens asked me a bunch of questions and seemed genuinely interested. I did manage a couple more ~200m sections of flat sidewalk before finally walking up the last hill home. I could barely walk last night, but seem OK now (just a little fatigued). I am taking today off from Unicycling. Overall, it was a pretty good experience for my first commute. Everyone I talked to was either impressed or encouraging. The biggest thing I learned is that commuting on a 20" unicycle takes about twice as long as walking (at least at my current level of riding). June 16, 2003 This weekend was great! I got my free mount rate to about 1 in 3 over all and better than 1 in 2 once warmed up. I also rode down the hill (and only half way back up ) behind my building. While I was coming back up, I heard someone call "UNICYCLE MAN!" followed by clapping and cheering when my legs gave out on the climb. I looked up, and a whole family was leaning out over their 3rd floor balcony. Great ego boost. I figured I could finally ride to work today and thought I would be smart and start from where we drop my son off from school (about 1 to 1.5 km from work). Two things I hadn't counted on: 1) Very nervous with all the people at the school. It took about 30 attempts to get a rideable mount to start with. 2) It isn't flat riding from that side towards work. I got going, finally, and rode along the two level blocks no problem. I then crossed the road, re-mounted, and started accross a small bridge. I made the mistake of letting my hand hit the railing and threw my balence off. OK, back in the saddle. Next I have to go through this little tunnel under the highway. I didn't reallise that the combination of a steep hill and smooth sidewalk made for very hard to control ride, dismount half way down, can't re-mount. Walk under the first tunnel. I got back on and rode through the second tunnel to the stairway to go back up to the level of the highway. Climbed the stairs, carrying the uni (hey I've only been at this 3 months ). Now I look at the sidewalk I have to take to get to work: long downhill, short steep uphill, intersection, short downhill. I managed most of the first downhill, but could not get going on the uphill part (I had to dismount to get around a few people at the busstop and driveway at the bottom). Anyway, I walked accross the intersecttion at the top of the hill and rode to where I get to the back of the parking lot. This is a dirt trail that is very steep. Given the frustration I had already encountered, I skipped riding down. In the parking lot, I mounted perfect the first time and was able to ride to door. Later, I was asked by some co-workers to do a quick demo. I couldn't even get a good mount to go more than 3 revolutions. I think this is called "performance anxiety". There were a couple people who came out late and complained about missing the show. I did a quick demo for them before going in. Amazingly, with just the three watching, I mounted on the second attempt and rode around the divider neatly. Cheers all around. Anyway, today has been a first. I learned that I am not good in front of large groups, I don't do hills well yet, and I sweat a heck of a lot. It's a good thing we have showers at work! Now, to psych myself up for the 3 km, mostly flat, trip home... June 11, 2003 I have been learning to freemount using the instructions at the wobbling unicyclist web page. The instructions there say to point your non-dominant foot at the pedal. I couldn't understand what this meant. Last night, in frustration at not being able to progress beyond 1 in 5, I tried conciously pointing my toes at the pedal before putting my dominant foot on the other pedal. It made a huge difference!!! June 8, 2003 I finally reached one of my personnal milestones today!!! I free mounted and rode from one end of my building to the other on the sidewalk (narrow with intruding shrubs, approximately 100 metres). Oddly, I had no problem staying on the sidewalk or negotiating the narrow spots (shrubs). I now have much more confidence that I will be able to get to work in a relatively short time (I missed my goal of May 26th because it took longer than I expected to learn to free mount. - I am still only about 1 in 10). On another note, I finally met another active unicyclist here in Victoria. He was riding around the Brentwood fair today on KH24. He told me that there was someone looking to form a club here and that this same person was hoping to set the record for backward riding. May 15, 2003 Wobbler Lesson of the Day: When practicing a roll back mount in a parking lot, do not do so just ahead of a painted line. I was working on my rollback mount today and was starting to feel like I understood what was going wrong. I hit one (one revolution forward only though ). Then I tried again, I got up on the pedals, seat on the seat, rolled back... and suddenly my unicycle shot backwards (no traction). I fell forward and managed to land on my feet as my unicycle went skidding 5 feet back. I looked where I had slipped and, sure enough, the painted line was still a little wet from the rain earlier today. This is definitely the first time that I have lost traction on my unicycle. What a strange feeling. May 14, 2003 I Love Unicycling! I finally hit a free mount today!!!!! I love the feeling I get from accomplishing such mile stones. I am bouncing off the ceiling (meanwhile my wife and kids think that I am loosing my marbles ). I think I may just make my goal of riding to work on May 26th . May 7, 2003 Wobbler Lessons of the Day: 1) Always be sure that your seat post is tight enough. I was having an awful time getting started with my practice tonight until I thought to check the seat hight while sitting on the curb. I found that the seat had dropped about 3 inches! 2) When you move your seat back up to the proper level, don't expect to dismount backwards as easily as when the seat is low. I think I may need to buy leg armour now (or at least more large bandages). May 5, 2003 Made the corner! I am now able to respond to the question of how long it took to learn (since I have achieved the 50 meter mark). May 4, 2003 No serious damage, as it turns out. Just a little bruising on my right shoulder and glute. Now that I have my new seatpost (I was riding with one a couple inches too short), I can't wait for it to stop raining so I can get back to practice. Asked this question on the newsgroup: "Is there a trick to turning onto a slope? The place where I am learning has a long run (30m) that is flat or a little downhill from where I start, then I have to turn and head up a slight incline. I find that by the time I finish turning, I have no momentum left. I either over-balance and fall forward, or I stall (and fall forward). Any tips?" May 3, 2003 Wobbler Lesson of the Day: If you are wobbling badly, and an obsticle is on one side, do NOT try to grab hold of the obsticle to slow yourself down. I did this today. The result is that I was spun completely around and went down hard backward. I may have bruised my tail bone, in addition to bruises on my arm, shoulder, and lower back. Hopefully, this will not put me out of reach of my goal of riding to work for Bike to Work Week (May 26 - June 1). April 25, 2003 Yeah! I'm up to 18 meters! I am starting to feel like I'll make it. I was able to go vaguely in a straight line tonight. I did fall off when I tried to make the corner, but I am sure that will come. April 23, 2003 Getting about 15 feet at a time. I may be over-thinking what I am doing. April 17, 2003 Practice at Tigh-Na-Mara: Not a great practice, overall. Low tire pressure. Could not get started from holding a pole. Holding on to a fence worked. I guess that I am not starting fast enough. Went over some rough spots OK. Went over a speed hump, but I was stopped at the other side. April 7, 2003 Dealt with some personal issues over the last few days. I am feeling better emotionally and my practice was better as well. I realized that my aversion to leaving the wall is because I can't even ride 3 meters next to the wall without needing to grab most of the time. I felt good about the smoothness of myh riding. Once, I was ready to keep going at the end of the wall but realized that I was, at that point, facing a bush 1 meter away! April 5, 2003 Very bad practice. I am frustrated with myself and my aversion to leaving the wall. April 2, 2003 OK night. Not much progress March 31, 2003 Got in a good practice. It is time to wean myself from the wall since it is starting to hold me back from progressing. March 30, 2003 I was able to go 2 full revolutions (almost 2 meters) past the end of the patio today, twice! March 28, 2003 Today I was able to let go of the wall for about 2 revolutions at a time. I think that I should be able to get away from the wall properly in the next day or so. My neighbor said that it seemed like a way to induce pain. Finished off the night elated (and a little tired). March 27, 2003 Today I was able to smoothly move through some revolutions next to the wall. I was able to let go of the wall for a half revolution or so. My neighbor noticed me tonight and commented that what I am doing is very hard. Finished off the night feeling like I had made progress and like I had got a workout. March 26, 2003 Decided that I should try getting my balance next to a wall. Determined that the major problem was that the cement is much "faster" than the carpet. My kids keep saying "You can do it, Daddy." March 24, 2003 Commencement of plan to practice for a half hour each evening. Feeling confident that I had some balance and having read several places that discouraged learning next to the wall, I tried to just head straight out from the shed. I spend half an hour perfecting my falling technique and being very thankful for my safety gear. Best distance: 3/4 of a revolution. Worst fall: uni shot out in front, fell on my tail bone, and banded my (helmetted) head against the door of the shed. March 19-22, 2003 Almost all time spent indoors on carpet, practicing balance and riding down the hall. March 19, 2003 Received my unicycle. Practiced standing still against fence and falling forward. Don't have a good helmet yet so I can't start a real practice.
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