Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Snow Muni

Yesterday I braved the chilly weather and went for a ride at Tryon. It was about 25°F but it didn't take long for me to warm up. I spent some time trying to ride my first "skinny". It only took about 20 tries! Hahaha.
Here's some video... minus all my failed attempts:

I only saw walker and dog prints in the snow. No tires aside from my own. Some of the trails were hard to find.

The only person I saw was when I about to leave:A friendly bow-hunter. He said he biked the trails too. Nice guy... especially because he didn't mistake me for a deer!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Blues

It's been wet and cold for the past few weekends. I plan on riding even when it's cold, but if the trails are wet I'll just slide around and mess them up.

About two weeks ago I was practicing hops in the garage for a few evenings. But things are busier lately and I haven't ridden in any way for a while.

Hopefully the trail conditions will improve and I'll hit the trails again soon.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Riding with Colin and Taylor

I am not aware of many local muni riders. But two of them are Colin and Taylor. Colin is a college student and his brother is younger and in high school. Five months ago, I stumbled upon a link to the Tryon forums and then stumbled upon a post from Colin that had a link to one of his muni videos. It looked like something I wanted to get into.

Colin is in town for the holiday and we planned a ride at Dryer Park this morning. His brother Taylor also went.

It was cool to finally ride with other muni riders. It can be easier to learn skills that way. I rolled over a few logs I wouldn't have tried in the past, once I saw Colin do it.

I also learned about an access road that goes up to the top of Dryer. We used this every time we went up because it's pretty direct. I was able to climb that hill a few times. That's the longest hill climb I've ever done.

Thanks for a great ride guys. I hope we ride more in the future.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tryon Take 2

This afternoon I took the advice I was given yesterday and headed back out to Tryon. This time I parked in the apartment complex and rode in from the south. On the access road I met up with two Tryon Bike shop guys. They were cool enough to show me the way into the red trails. (see map) The ride in was a lot of fun, because I was pushing to keep up with their bikes.

The red area on the map has a lot of fun man-made skills obstacles. Things like jumps, log piles, wooden structures to get over, and logs to ride on. A lot of it looked broken apart, and the guys said it kind of comes and goes over the years. They had to leave and I was left to explore.

I had a ton more fun in this area than I had in the blue area yesterday. The trails were challenging but not frustrating. And while I could not quite do the man-made obstacles, I gave some of them a try and I know they're within reach.

My camera crapped out after a few pictures, so I couldn't capture some of the cooler ones, but here are a few of the simpler kinds of log obstacles (jumps for bikers) that I gotta learn to hop up, over, and down.

The camera flattens everything. That's a 24" wheel, to try to give some perspective. And where there are logs next to each other, they go up progressively more vertical. The camera really hides it somehow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kyle's Uni

Last week I saw another unicycle on craigslist. This one was a 20". It was of the China factory made style, not something that would hold up for myself. So I thought maybe my son Kyle would like it. He has had some interest since I've been riding, and Syd got hers.

The guy wanted $30, but it seems like a brand new uni of this caliber can be purchased for about $45-50 on eBay. So I told him so, offered $25, and he accepted. But when I went to check it out, I found one of the crank arms was very loose. The guy (college student) only had pliers, but I was able to remove the crank arm on the spot and and see the damage. The spindle and crank arm were both worn from being ridden loose. I wasn't sure I should even both buying it. If it was worn too bad the crank arm would always wobble no matter how tight it was tightened. I explained this and the seller lowered his price to $20. Sold!

I took the entire uni apart, cleaned it up, and swapped the crank arms to opposite spindle sides, tightening them extra hard. In the end the uni looks great and seems to work fine. I rode it a tiny bit, nice and easy. As a bonus, the rim is double-walled, which means its stronger.
For $20 it was a great buy.

Euro Sticker

I put my MUNI sticker on my car about a week ago. I forgot to show it off.
I wonder what people think it stands for.
I didn't take a picture of the whole car. It's a Lexus Escort LX in case you couldn't tell.


I rode at Tryon Park this morning. I spent most of my time in the blue area and the immediately adjacent white trail. (See map)

It was hard. A lot of roots, rocks, hills, and some off-camber sections. Looks like a lot of fun on a bike, but at my current skill level on a uni, less fun and too much walking.

There were a few good sections that were smoother but still offered some challenges, so I might try parts the blue area again sometime. If I can figure out a continuous path.

I saw a couple of the Tryon Bike guys on my way out. I got the suggestion to try the lower red or green areas next time. Apparently I can more easily access them from the apartment complex just south of Tryon.

I might try those tomorrow morning.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Battle Continues

This morning I went back to the Whiting Rd trails to attacks the hills some more.

On lap one of two it took me 3 tries to get up the first hill. I was a little disappointed not to make it the first time, but hey, it's an improvement. And it's the second time I've ever made it.
I didn't do all that good on the second big hill. Oh well.

On lap two I again had trouble on the first hill. I can't remember if I just tried once or a few times, but I do remember that my tire slipped on the wet dirt and I fell forward. I just put a hand on the ground, so it was no big deal. But after that I was feeling a bit whipped so I moved on. The second hill gave me even more trouble. The approach is really a couple of very short but somewhat steep mini hills. I UPD'ed on both somehow. By the time I was attacking the main hill, I was pretty spent and not concentrating a whole lot.

Maybe I should spend more time on these hills, and do only a single lap next time.
Or maybe I'll take a break from Whiting and check something else out.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Uphill Battle

This morning I rode at Whiting Rd again. I've been trying to get through my usual route without being stopped by any hills. I'm making progress.
When I started this morning, there were only two remaining hills, both on the Orange trail, that I hadn't ever ridden up successfully. On my first of two laps I didn't make any real progress. On my second lap, I failed the first hill, but kept resting and trying again. I began to tune my technique, and on my 5th try I made it! Basically I just need to lean way forward, hold onto my seat with my left hand, and put my reach my right hand way out in front of me to keep more weight forward.
I'm hoping that next time (tomorrow?) I'll make it up first try and just keep going. That's the real success I'm looking for, and now I've got the confidence that I CAN do it.
The second hill is longer. With my new confidence, I was able to make it up farther than ever. And there's hope because just a little bit further up the trail gets easier for about 4 feet. That spot might be just what I need to take compose myself and finish the rest. The end looks to be the steepest part, but it's not very long. So I'm hopeful.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Small Hops at Whiting

After leaf blowing I rode at Whiting. I didn't even ride the trail I worked on!
I had a great time on the Blue and Orange trails. In fact I rode them both twice. My hill climbing is stronger than ever. I think there are only 2 (maybe 3?) hills that I still can't do on these trails... at least in the direction I've always gone. And one of them is hard to walk up... so.

I also did some more successful hopping. Just up a few inches and onto some small bridges. It's not much to show off, but it's progress. Roll that beautiful hopping footage:

Leave the Leaves?

This morning I cleared the Midnight Trail with a leaf blower. This is good for several reasons.
Joggers, runner, bikers and muni riders can now see the roots and avoid twisted ankles, getting tripped, wipe-outs, and UPDs. It also helps keep the trails dry and not slippery.

It went surprisingly fast, and if I wasn't so particular it would have been even faster. I won't bring a rake with me again. It had no use.

While I was working, a couple walking their dog were approaching. I turn the leaf blower off out of courtesy when people come by. The woman asked me why I was leaf blowing, and I explained. She was not happy and said she likes the leaves on the trails when she walks, for the sound and smell. She was clearly upset. I tried to explain some benefits but she said she didn't care. Her husband didn't voice an opinion. I awkwardly stood there as they walked away, and only started my leaf blowing again once they had moved off into the distance.

I continued leaf blowing, and right when I finished the loop I ran out of gas. I brought more in a gas can, but after refilling I couldn't get the leaf blower started again. I waited and tried repeatedly but failed. So I walked back to my car, passing the trail into to West Loop without clearing it. I asked a few groups of people along their way what they thought of clearing the leaves. It was a small sample, but including the woman who didn't like it, out of 7 people, 5 said clearing was good/ok, and 2 said they prefer the leaves.

I understand the desired to leave the leaves. If I could see the roots and if they weren't slippery, I'd prefer them to stay, at least during this season.

Since then I've thought about it some more and I think we might be able to compromise.
I think the leaves bother the joggers, runners, and riders mostly because of the roots and slippery hills. Instead of just leaf blowing everything, I can selectively blow the problem areas. I'd have to know the trails to do this, but it some cases I actually do. And I could take note of these areas next year, once the leaves are gone.

Once I got to my car I traded my leaf blower for my unicycle and rode in Whiting. Some areas had no leaves, some a sprinkling, and only a few areas had dense leaves. There was only one area in particular where I felt I was treading lightly in fear of an imminent UPD. So some trails are worse than others.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Trail Maintenance and Ride

This morning I helped out the Friends of Webster Trails with some trail maintenance. We removed some corduroy (a log path in a muddy area) and created a new trail. There was a good turn out so the work went pretty fast. Some of the work seems to create trails that are too flat in my opinion. I guess the hikers like that, but more adventurous people on wheels usually prefer a trail with some character.
Some of the bikers from the Tryon forums showed up, so that was cool.

After the work, I went home for lunch and Kyle and I came back. Kyle jogged ahead of me while I rode muni. We did go for very long, just up to the Midnight Trail and back.

The leaves really are a killer. I can't see any roots, so I UPD a lot more than normal.
I know some people actually blow the leaves off with leaf blowers. One of the Tryon guys mentioned he has some kind of leaf blower setup for his bike and can ride through at 6 or 7 mph to clear leaves. I'm thinking I might just try walking through some of the trails and blowing leaves. I think most of the leaves are down at this point, so it should then be good for a good while. The trails dry up a lot fast with no leaves too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hopping in the Garage

Tonight I practiced some hopping in the garage. This time of year it's dark and cold outside in the evenings, and often windy and wet. The garage solves most of those problems.
This is the first time I've practiced hopping since the back of my knee bothered me. I didn't feel any problems even without wearing a knee support, but I kept my session to about 20 minutes.
I didn't do any particularly great hopping, but hopefully by spring time hopping will be second nature.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Real World Hops

I just got back from a ride at Dryer Road Park. I brought a camera but took no pictures or video. The fall leaves look awesome, but it's still hard to stop and deal with a camera.
There are lots of leaves on some trails. Others have none.
There were a lot of mountain bikers there. Trek had a booth set up in the parking lot to show/ride the latest mountain bikes, I guess. I didn't check it out. That may have attracted more bikers today. Plus I went a bit later than last time.
I got a good number of comments from bikers. Most people just comment on how difficult it must be. It IS difficult, but mostly because of the uphills. I wish I could have a super low "granny" gear on my uni. One guy said something like, "Hey you're the guy I saw on the Tryon forums".

There were probably about 10 situations where I needed to hop over a small log or large root. I think I successfully hopped and rode out of about 3! It's my first time ever using hops on a trail, so I'm pretty excited about that.

For the record: First I rode over to where I thought Kaleidoscope should be. But I didn't see any sign, so I moved on. I rode up Kasha as it was supposed to be easier than some other options. The beginning was, but it ends at the upper field with a pretty steep hill. I then rode Ziggy around, and like last time, I like Ziggy. I then went down the Fort Hill trail, and tried Alpha Betty. That was a good trail. I then took Epping Trail and Epping Trail Ext. There was a pretty big hill at the end of Epping Ext.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Fall" Leaves

I went to Whiting Road and the Midnight Trail again today. The leaves are totally covering the trails. It makes it a bit slippery in some places, like climbing hills. But worst of all is not being able to see obstacles like roots and rocks. I ride a little bit more on edge, knowing a hidden obstacle might throw me at any time.

I rode with my low quality uni-cam. Here are two frames of video. The first is just before I hit something and UPD'ed. Then I moved the leaves and found the offending root.

I've gotten to know these trails pretty well over the past few months. I actually remember where some individual roots are, give or take 10 or 20 feet. Especially the ones that are in the middle of an otherwise friendly stretch of trail that have caught me by surprise in the past. With the leaves down, I enter one of these areas but I don't know exactly where the evil root is. So I'm riding even more on edge.

Some areas are worse than others. It just depends on the number and types of trees.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dryer Road Park

This morning I rode at Dryer Road Park, a mountain biking park, in Victor, NY.

The trails have been rated like trails on a ski slope.
Unfortunately, these ratings are for mountain biking, not mountain unicycling. I got some advice from a local forum and by a few riders on the trails. Some advice was better than others.

Long story short, many of the trails are too difficult for me at my current skill level. But there are some that are good, and many that pushed me.
I took video like yesterday, but it's not worth editing. It's all too shaky, but here are a few frames to give an idea of the trails.

I felt like I gained more skill today. I think I climbed hills better than ever. I've read about "getting out of your saddle" and standing while climbing. I think I was doing some of that today, and it help a lot.

There is also a "Skills Park" in development, just next to the parking lot. I might actually be able to ride this when it's open.

Here's a list of trails I rode and my thoughts on them.
[A]A-Train: No good for me. It's just switchbacks and a lot of it is too steep. I think I got some bad advice on this one. A biker I talked to later said that "Kasha" would have been better.
[T]Tree Beard: Parts of this were ok. But I'd estimate about 30% walking. That's a bit high, but I should try it again.
[SW]SSW: 15% walking. It was ok. But it led me to a junction on black diamond trails and other hard trails. Two bikers there suggested none of them were going to be good. So I ended up riding SSW back the way I came.
Fort Hill Trail: I rode this from the uppermost (southern most) of the Upper Fields. It was ok. But there are 3 or 4 buried logs along the way and a few bigger hills. If I get my hops down this might be more fun.
Ziggy: This trail was challenging but fun. There are a good number of ups and downs, manageable obstacles, and close trees. This might be a favorite.
[EF]Epping Forest: I liked this one too. I figure I only had to walk about 10%. And it's pretty long. I got on at the Fort Hill trail, and ended at the junction of a bunch of trails. I talked with a rider there and he suggested trying Moon Valley.
[M]Moon Valley: This is a one way trail, so uphill is the only option. Unfortunately it go too steep. I won't ride this again for a while. Next time I'm at the start of this trail, it might be better to try the Epping Trail Ext to get back to the parking area.
[G]Gully Down: This is a manageable way out. Nothing too crazy.

I think for the most part, any trail on the map that looks like a bunch of switchbacks have steep parts. Trails that look less coiled up might be better.
A plan for next time: Start with Kaleidoscope, loop back and ride Kasha up, cut over the Upper Fields to Ziggy. Then take Ziggy all the way around to the southern part of the Fort Hill Trail. Try the Betty Loop while I'm there. Then ride the Epping Forest, and take the Epping Forest Ext trail back out.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Colder Weather

It's unseasonably cold here lately. ~40°F today and tomorrow.
I rode at the Whiting Rd Nature Preserve and the Midnight Trail again this morning. I was a bit worried about being cold, but it turned out fine.

I wore a long sleeve undershirt made of 50/50 nylon and polyester. A cotton t-shirt and a single layer nylon (I think) jacket. Half way through I was hot, and took off the t-shirt. I know cotton isn't good for this weather because it holds sweat, but that's what I had. I wore my usually nylon shorts and my knee braces too. I plan on riding tomorrow, so the only thing I might change is not even wearing the cotton t-shirt.

I was able to get up a hill I never could before, and on my whole ride at Whiting I had no UPDs, and only dismounted for 4 big hills and a bridge.

I held my camera and made a small video of my ride. Nothing too exciting:

I noticed a "New York State Environmental Conservation Police" truck in the Whiting Road Nature Preserve parking lot. I wonder what his purpose is.

Monday, October 5, 2009

MUNI Sticker

I saw I could buy a European style UNI sticker but I thought a MUNI sticker would be better.
I had one custom made by a guy on eBay for $4 with free shipping. It seems like it's good quality, but who knows how it will hold up to the weather on the back of my car.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hojack Trail once again

I rode the entire Hojack Trail again this morning. Here's the map I made when I first rode it.

I had only a few UPDs, from a few rocks or roots I didn't see. I think I get too comfortable sometimes and stop concentrating on the trail. I also had to dismount a few times for traffic at a few road crossings.

This was my first ride that I wore my new knee braces. I like to think they helped. The middle strap around the back of my knee got a little bit irritating towards the end of the ride.

I came across a small fallen tree that was just the right height for me to hop. I approached it and started hopping closer to it, only to find my CamelBak was bouncing crazily. Maybe if I make the straps tighter next time? I haven't been hopping for weeks for fear of knee problems, so I just decided to move on. I moved the tree off the trail so I wouldn't have to dismount on my way back. And if I didn't move it today, someone else would have soon anyway. I'd actually prefer having an occasional obstacle like this, but people clear the trails pretty thoroughly.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

More Webster Park

After this morning's trail maintenance, I crossed the road to ride some more of Webster Park. This time a brought my map printout so I wouldn't get lost. Now that I'm back, I drew on this map to where I think I actually went: I went to Mohawk Lodge first, because I knew where it was. From there I successfully found Onondaga Lodge. After that... lost! The southeastern line I drew on the map just represents the general direction and area I was in. In actuality I must have zigzagged through that area on half a dozen trails.
There are just so many trails and so few of them are marked. So I just kept riding, assuming I'll stumble upon something on the map like a lodge or road or something. But it took forever to find any landmarks. I just kept coming to another fork in the trail and guessing which way would be a better ride. I ended up popping out of a trail into a nice mowed grass park area. I rode on the street. The whole time I thought I must be on Lake Rd, but now I realize I was on Holt Rd. Anyway, I found a parking lot for the park and some pavilions. The pavilions are named, so I was able to use my map and head in the right direction. I found a trail and finally ended up on a trail I had ridden before. Things started looking familiar and I made my way out.

I think I've had enough of Webster Park for a while. I might go just to the Midnight Trail sometime. But otherwise, it's just too easy to get lost in there and too many rooty hills and unrideable parts. Every couple minutes there's another hill covered in roots that goes down to a stream, with a bridge that is unrideable or has an unrideable approach. Then there's a hill up going back up away from the stream. I can down some of these hills, but then I have to hike up the other side.

The best part of the ride is the trail leading from Whiting Road to the West Loop Trail. That trail has the right amount of roots, rocks, and hills to be challenging and fun.

FWT Trail Maintenance

I went to the Friends of Webster Trails trail maintenance outing this morning at the Whiting Road Nature Preserve. There must have been about 15 people total. The group I was in fixed up a "boardwalk", wood decking the crosses a swampy/muddy area. We just shifted things around to get the boardwalk level. Then we uprooted a small tree that was in the way of a new trail.
It was good to help out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Knee Braces

My left knee continues to feel sore after hopping. I feel it during normal daily activities sometimes too, but it's not too bad. I just know something is not 100%. It feels like a tendon behind in the back of my knee. So I bought two knee supports. Hopefully these will help keep me from moving the wrong way and give my knee a better chance of healing while I continue to use it.

Sydney's Progress

Sydney hasn't been riding a whole lot, but the past few evenings we practiced together. She's been practicing by holding onto the basketball hoop pole and riding from there. Here record was yesterday when she rode about 2 full revolutions.
With the colder weather and the early sunset, getting out to practice has been difficult.
She fell a few times, sometimes on her butt. Thankfully she hasn't gotten hurt.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Luft Freund

Update 2012-10-12: I just stumbled upon this page and thought I'd mention that I really have never used this contraption. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it took way to long to work, and find it's easier to neglect the CamelBak, clean it a bit before each use, and if it gets gross I just clean it extra good. I did end up getting a new CamelBak bladder after damaging it with bleach.
After using a CamelBak it's a good idea to dump the water out and let the water container (bladder) dry out. It's hard to get it to stay open, and to get all the moisture out of the tube. If you don't get it dry it can get kind of funky in there.

I saw this product called the Zerogoo Hydration Bladder Dryer. It's a fan that snaps into the wide mouth of a CamelBak bladder and blows air into it. With the mouthpiece off, the air blows right through the bladder and down the tube, drying it out in about an hour or two.

Unfortunately it costs $30 and I was feeling like MacGyver today. So I built my own version.

Although I could have used a small fan, I had a blower from an old air hockey table. I guessed that it might output more air than a little fan and dry the bladder faster. Another critical component is the connection to the bladder. I found an old plastic drink bottle that fit snugly into the bladder mouth. Cutting out the bottom would give me a tube. To connect the blower to the tube, I decided to simply use a cardboard box.

It works well. Although I'm not sure there is an advantage to using the air hockey blower versus something smaller like a PC fan. You might think there's a blast of air coming out the tube, but in reality is more like a slight breeze. I guess an air hockey table doesn't really require a lot of air flow, as even thousands of pin holes don't add up to much. I might consider trying a smaller fan and box sometime.

Oh yeah, I call him my Luft Freund. When I emerge from the basement with a new creation I sometimes feel obligated to do some kind of mad scientist impression. Apparently this one was German. Luft Freund means Air Friend.

Webster Park

I rode at Webster Park this morning. No bicycles allowed, unicycles welcome. Right?

I parked at the Whiting Road Nature Preserve parking lot, crossed the street to the trail head, and in on the trail I know. This time I went north on the West Trail all the way up to Lake Road. The trail is not particularly unicycle friendly. It had too many sections of unrideable roots and hills. I won't bother with it again. I began to worry that all the trails at Webster Park, aside from the Midnight Trail, were going to all be bad for unicycling trails, but I did find some better ones elsewhere in the park.

A funny thing happened on the trails. I was coming to a T and already chose to turn right. Just as I'm approaching, a pack of about 5 to 10 kids jogging by, in the direction I planned to go. They were probably about 12 to 13 years old. I don't think they really even saw me. So I turn to follow them, and glance the way they came, basically checking for more traffic. I see the rest of their pack coming my way! At that point it was too late to change my mind, so I just merged into traffic. Behind me I heard "Cool! Off-road unicyclist!", and "That's so cool!" repeatedly. I road with the herd for probably about 30 seconds until a log blocked the trail. It seemed kind of ridiculous. What are the odds of turning onto a trail just at that time?!!

I forgot the map I had printed, and so I basically got lost. Towards the end of my ride I was on a gravel road and asked a camp ranger which way to go to get to the Mohawk lodge, since I new the Midnight trail was there. He didn't suggest anything about not riding the trails. He did ask if it was hard to get up hills, and I explained.

So I basically learned that the West Trail sucks for me, and the more southern trails are pretty good. Here's basically where I rode (black line). The squiggly mess is where I got lost and just kept riding different trails.On my way out from the Midnight trail I intentionally dismounted for an unrideable
hill and somehow fell backwards. I landed on my back but my CamelBak padded the fall completely. Unfortunately my mean pedals bit me.
The skin just looked scratched at first, and took a minute to bleed like this. So it wasn't too bad.

I may go back there and explore the southern trails I did. It'd be cool to learn them, so I actually know where I'm going.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bicycle ≠ Unicycle

I recently started tuning into the Tryon forums, a web site that focuses on the local trails. I saw a message from another unicyclist that points out that New York State does not appear to include unicycles in their definition of bicycles.
I've been avoiding the county trails because of the "No Bicycles" signs. Sure, I'm not riding a bike, but I assumed anyone who didn't want bikes on the trails would still give me a hard time. And in reality, it's hard to know the intentions of a sign like this. They use a symbol and a few words to represent pages of policy.

According to the New York State codes, "bicycle" is defined as:
§ 102. Bicycle. Every two or three wheeled device upon which a person or persons may ride, propelled by human power through a belt, a chain or gears, with such wheels in a tandem or tricycle, except that it shall not include such a device having solid tires and intended for use onlyon a sidewalk by pre-teenage children.
I'm one wheeled, not two or three. I'm not propelled through a belt or chain or gears. And the "shall not include" phrase only excludes other vehicles, basically child ride-on toys.

I also searched the Monroe County codes and Webster Town codes, for both bicycle and unicycle. Neither defines bicycle nor has any occurrences of unicycle. I'm not sure how county codes inherit or override state and town codes, but for now I'm comfortable assuming the state definition is THE definition.

So I think I'll print the state's definition of bicycle and bring it with me when I ride. My other ammunition is that, unlike bicycles, I move slower than a runner. If the fear is scaring or surprising other trail users, I'm not like a bike.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Midnight Trail

This morning I went to the Midnight Trail. This one is not on county land, so bike are allowed, but the trails leading to it are in Webster Park, which IS county owned.
I rode the trail from Whiting Road, despite the "No Bicycles" sign.

It was kind of hard to actually find the Midnight Trail. There were some signs, but somehow it was still tricky. I should have brought a map. Basically, take the trail in front of the Mohawk lodge at the water spigot. The lodge looks sort of abandoned. Is this used anymore?

I also need to take more pictures, but it's a pain to stop and get the camera out all the time. I'll have to solve that problem sometime soon.

The Midnight Trail is a typical trail with some dirt parts, some "mulchy" parts, a few small hills. At the southern most part there was some sort of access road. It leads into the loop of the trail, and some people had a campsite there. They had cars and a camper, so I guess there is another way to get in, if I wanted.
But the "No Bicycles" trail was one of the best parts. I has a lot of roots, and quick ups-and-downs that make it a good challenge. On the way out I made it all the way through without getting off at all, which is my goal on any trail.

Then I went over to the Whiting Road Nature Preserve and did the Blue and Orange loops. It was definitely my best ride yet on those trails. I didn't have to get off and didn't UPD, except for going up bigger hills and one unseen hole.

I encountered walkers/joggers occasionally, but at Whiting I saw 3 mountain bikers. They said "Wow, that's gotta be hard to do on these trails", and one guy must have said "No f***ing way" about 4 times.

It was good to check out the Midnight Trail. I think that might be the last of the "No Bicycle" trails in Webster for me to explore.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Finn Park

This morning I went to the Finn Park trails here in Webster. The trail map shows three loops. I've colored the big blue loop here. Unfortunately, that entire loop is really just the perimeter of a big field. The trail is hardly a trail, but really just matted grass. It's open and sunny, which is not the kind of trail I like.

The red trails are typical trails that are more my style, but they're not particularly exciting or challenging. It would probably take about 10 minutes to ride these.
So I don't think I'll be coming to ride here for a while.

The lodge looks real nice though. It would make a great spot for a big family party.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Different Knee Pain

Lately I've been getting more knee pain.
When I first rode trails, my knees would get pretty sore. I've since learned to relax more and put less weight on my legs. Things have gotten better.

But now I'm practicing hopping, and my knees are getting sore again. This time the soreness is on the back of my knees. In my "knee pits". Mostly just the left one. It seems to go away after a few days. But within a few hops, it comes right back.

I gather it's a sore ligament. Hopefully icing it and a break from hopping will get me back to normal. I'm going to try to keep riding, just no hopping.

Maybe my knees are weak or something. Doesn't sitting in an office chair all day strengthen your knees?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CamelBak Lobo

When I ride muni, I've been wearing a "lumbar bag", as L.L.Bean calls it. I put a water bottle, key, cell phone, wallet, a folding tool, and food in it. When I hop, it bounces like crazy.

So I bought a CamelBak. The model is the "Lobo".
It can hold more than 4 times the water I've been carrying, though I won't be needed that until I can ride a few hours longer.
Hopefully the chest and waist straps will keep it all from bouncing around too much.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Friends of Webster Trails

I went to a Friends of Webster Trails meeting yesterday evening. It's actually the monthly board meeting, but it's open to the public. There really isn't a meeting for just plain members. Being a member pretty much means you're just supporting the trails, and receiving a newsletter. There were about 8 board members and 2 of us new members. The average age in the room was probably in the high 50's. They were all very welcoming.

Early on I introduced myself as a mountain unicyclist. I was surprised not to get any clown jokes. And at least one person said they saw me on a trail.
At the end of the meeting I explained that I came to learn about which trails I'm allowed to ride. Really this means, which trails are bikes allowed on.

I might not understand it all completely, but this is how I think it is.

Town Owned Trails
Over the recent years, my town has been buying up land to preserve green space. The managed trails on town land are open to hiking, biking, and horses. Though it sounds like there isn't very much horse activity.

Donated Land
Some of the trails are on land that has been donated by people who owned it. Or maybe they still own it? However it is, these trails have the "Pedestrian Only" because that was/is required by the donor/owner. It sounds to me like someone did a good thing by letting people use their land for recreation, so I think I'm cool with that. (Not to mention there aren't a whole lot of trails in this category)

County Owned
A good number of trails are on county owned land. There is a currently a county law/restriction/whatever that says "No Bicycles" on these trails. ally1776, you might be right about the liability issues with this one.
But it sounds like there is some effort to remove this restriction, so I'll have to learn more about that.

There's one fairly new trail (Midnight Trail) that the group made that is on a piece of land surrounded by county land. So you can't bike into it, but you can bike on it.
They recommended getting dropped in by helicopter. Ha ha.

Some members shared info with me about other riding places in nearby towns. There's some kind of trail system just for mountain biking not too far away.
So I learned a lot about the trails.

And I am now a member, so that's cool. I'm sure I'll be helping out with trail maintenance and trail building soon.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pedestrians Only / No Bicycles

As I wrote in my previous entry, I encountered a "No Bicycles" sign this morning.
And then I rode the Big Woods trail this morning despite the sign that says Pedestrians Only.
During my ride I came across an older man hiking.

Basically, here's how the conversation went.
Man: "Are they calling that a pedestrian now?"
Me: "Excuse me?" (I heard something about pedestrian, but didn't quite understand)
Man: "Are they calling that a pedestrian now? The signs say pedestrians only."
Me: "Well,..."
Man: (man interrupts as he walks away angrily) "Yeah..."

I would really have preferred to talk to the guy than have him walk away in a huff. He looked like he probably hiked a lot, and it wouldn't surprise me if he was a member of The Friends of Webster Trails. It's not like he was some guy passing through throwing out jerky comments.
Of course I was breaking the rule so I expected someone might not be happy.

A couple of things frustrate me though. I haven't seen anything on the trail websites that tell which trails are for pedestrians only. The signs at the parking area didn't say anything about it either. It's not until I actually got to the trail that I found out.

I don't think I have a huge desire to ride the Big Woods trail in the future, but it might be a nice option. I'm guessing I'll find plenty more similar trails that I am allowed on.
What bothers me is that I don't see an reason to not allow bikes (and unicycles) on these trails. I could understand if the signs said something like "Warning. These trails are not bicycle friendly." Then families and non-advanced riders will avoid them. I understand why some limitations make sense, like not allowing motor vehicles on trails. They can be noisy and alter the trails. But why limit bicycles? If it's not to keep people from riding and getting hurt, then maybe it's because the hikers don't like having to step out of the way? Maybe it's because bikes move too quickly and startle hikers? Hikers startle me sometimes. Even when I'm hiking! That's just how it is in the woods.

I'm thinking about joining the Friends of Webster Trails. Maybe I can understand why the limitations are there, which trails I can currently ride, and maybe I can help open some trails to unicycles, if not bicycles.
I wonder how the hikers would feel if they encountered some trails that said "Unicycles Only"?

Gosnell Big Woods Preserve

This morning I headed out for another muni ride. Across from the parking for the Whiting Road trails there is another trail called the Midnight Trail. I parked, geared up, and crossed the street, only to find the trail was marked with a no bicycle sign.
This is not the actual sign, but it's about the same. So, I guess this means unicycles and tricycles are ok. Right?
I could have been a jerk and ridden it, but I figured they really didn't want any pedal powered tired vehicles. So I got back in my car.

I drove to another trail I was interested in riding: The Big Field and BigWoods trails at the Gosnell Big Woods Preserve.

I rode along the right side of the Big Field trail to get to the Big Woods trail which seemed more interesting. Unfortunately when I got there I
found another aggravating sign.

"Pedestrians Only". Grrr. I didn't get out here just to ride across a field and turn around. I generally want to respect the rules of these trails, but what's the big deal? And part of my mission is to find good trails, for unicycling, biking, and hiking with the family. I really wanted to know what this trail was all about. So I rode in, and ended up riding all the trails in the Big Woods.

They were definitely not good biking trails for the family. But they were ok for a serious mountain biker, and pretty good for me. I had a good time, though I had to walk some big hills and parts with crazy roots or logs.

I also found Dagobah. But Yoda was nowhere to be seen.
Again I feel like I progressed in my riding. There was a good downhill I did where I had to really pick a path. I made it up some hills that I was sure I'd only get up halfway. Sometimes I stall for a second or two but then somehow muster up the balance and strength to keep moving again without falling. And then there are instances when I stall and recover many consecutive times in a row. It sucks that I don't have video of those moments.

Eventually I came to the end of the trail. It was fairly easy to recognize. Actually the trail continues around the corner to Lake Rd. I'm not sure why this "End of Trail" sign was needed. It seems pretty obvious you're at the end when you find the road and no other paths across the way. Another trail called the Ridge Trail led to Pellett Road. All the signs said Pedestrians Only.

I turned around and headed back. I encountered someone who wasn't happy I was there. I think I'll make a separate post for that.

When I got out of the Big Woods trail, I followed the rest of the Big Field trail. Yup... it's big! It's not the most exciting trail. It's basically a 6' wide mowed path. But it was a good endurance challenge. I encountered a group of 3 walkers. "There's got to be an easier way!", said one lady. Ha!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Hops

I practiced some more hopping tonight. Same thing as before, hopping a 2x6. A few times I felt like I had a good pre-hop. But I'm not consistent yet.
Hopefully, in a month I'll be looking back and laugh, just like I when I first started riding.

Another Ride to Whiting

This morning I went out again to the Whiting Road Nature Preserve. This time I went alone.
I think I did better getting up hills. I tried hopping a bit to get onto a bridge, but my "lumbar pack" bounces too much and throws me off. Maybe I can wear a camelbak for my water.

Other than that, not much to report.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hopping a 2x6

Tonight I concentrated on hopping. I started out by hopping imaginary gaps I made by drawing on the driveway. Once I felt good with that, I start hopping over small pieces of wood.

I ended with hopping over a 2x6 board. I think I could go higher. Maybe tomorrow.
Oh, and I seem to have acquired some fanboys.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Whiting Road Nature Preserve

This morning I took the whole family to the Whiting Road Nature Preserve. Of course, I road my uni, and everyone else had their bikes. We stuck together for a while, but then split up because of our different speeds and skill levels.

Here's picture of me and the kids. I look kind of funny with my "lumbar pack" strapped over my shirt, but that's how I roll.

The trails form loops and are color coded. Here's a map. At all the trail intersections there are signs for each trail, and many have a overall map sign too.

The Blue trail was easy with occasional roots and a few gradual hills. There were a good number of hills I could not ride on the Orange trail. And the Red trail had even bigger hills and many more roots and obstacles. There were wooden bridges here and there too. Some had pretty big bumps or even a step up and down. I guess I'll have to keep practicing my hopping so I don't have to dismount for these.

We saw a good number of people walking the trails. Come to think of it, I think I only saw one other bike.

I feel like I improved some more today. Towards the end of the ride I was able to climb more hills, descend hills, and get over more roots and rocks.

I'm going to go back there again soon, although I'll probably just stick to the Blue and Orange trails until I can climb every hill.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kent Park

I rode the trails at Kent Park in Webster this morning. Click here for the map.

The trails are all pretty short, but the terrain is more difficult than the Hojack Trail, which is the only other trail that I've muni'ed.

Here's a video I put together from my ride:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hopping 180°

This isn't too exciting, but the camera was handy. Here's a video of me turning around by hopping. I haven't been practicing hopping much, but these little hops aren't too difficult.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Parallel Bars

Tonight I made some parallel bars to help Sydney practice unicycling. I used some old railings.
They're a bit too flexible, but it seems to be working ok. She was able to pedal around once with no hands. If nothing else, she seems to be gaining confidence.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

26" Nimbus

Here's my new 26" Nimbus:I'm still trying to tell which year it is.

It had a square tapered hub that says " CroMo hub"
Cranks arms are 152mm and say MBX on them.
The rim says 6000 Series alloy 559x27mm SunRims Rhyno Lite.
The tire is a Bontrager Jones ACX-B
The seatpost looks very stock.
The seat is a Kris Holm Fusion Street.
No brake mounts.
The owner removed most of the decals.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bought Another Uni

I saw another unicycle on craiglist and ended up buying it.
It's a 26" Nimbus. It's at least a few years old, but it's in mint condition.

It doesn't have ISIS cranks... but I don't think it will matter for me. It has square tapered cranks.

I rode it around my neighborhood a bit. It's smoother than the Onza and a bit faster... but nothing crazy.
I went around my house in the grass. Again, it felt smoother, but it was harder to crank my way out of sticky situations. The crank arms are 152mm, where as the Onza has 165mm and is a 24" wheel.

When I was done riding the Nimbus, I rode the Onza again, and it felt a little better to me. I'm obviously used to it.
If I'm going to ride trails, I think I'll grab the Onza. For trips around the neighborhood, I'll ride the Nimbus.

I'm feeling kind of indifferent about the purchase.

Another Muni Ride

I took a vacation day and road the entire Hojack Trail this morning. Almost 6 miles!
Here's the map.

Nothing particularly crazy occurred. I saw 4 or 5 people along the way, who nodded or said hi. I didn't UPD very much, and when I did it was for good reason... a root, rock, or road edge.

I was careful to keep my weight on the saddle and not on my legs. I iced my knees when I got home, just to be safe. So far they're feeling fine.

It was a good ride. But I think I'm ready to try another trail. Maybe the Webster Arboretum trails. They're generally flat, but I remember a few hills.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Getting Technical

I thought I'd work harder on idling, but I haven't been practicing that much. I find myself coming to a standstill much more often, and occasionally I do a single small backwards rock. So maybe that will evolve into idling?

In the meantime I started riding over a 2x10 laid flat on the driveway. Usually I try to ride the length of it. It's not particularly impressive, but it seems like a good place to start for riding on things like walls, benches, and railings. Ha!

I've also started hopping. Occasionally when I'm in the mood I just hop several times and try to keep riding. Again, no big deal, but you gotta start somewhere.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Loss For Words

This evening I rode around the the neighborhood the long way. So many people were outside and I heard a lot of comments.

A lot of times people just talk to each other and I catch something about "unicycle!".

But several people said some strange things.
One guy said something close to, "You're missing a bike." I think he meant "wheel" not "bike"!

Later, another guy said something like, "You lost a pair of... bike." Huh? English was clearly a second language for him. Again... doesn't he mean "wheel"? But I'm not missing a pair of wheels. Maybe he remembers seeing me on a tricycle?

One dad had a bunch of kids near him and made up a story about how I crashed my bike up the road and I was just riding what was left over. hahaha!

I might have to bring a little pad and pencil with me from now on. It's hard to remember that strange comments people make.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crappy Weather

If it isn't hot and humid it's raining!
Despite the call for rain and the dark sky, this morning I prepared for another long trail ride.
I got all ready to go and as soon as I walked out the door it started down pouring.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Long Way

The roads in my neighborhood for two loops, kind of like a squashed figure-8.
Tonight I rode around both loops... what we call "The Long Way" around the block.

I also rode once around the regular block, and up and down the street a few times.

It's probably time to stop posting about simple daily rides around the neighborhood. At this point it's a no brainer. I guess it's time to learn something new.

I think I'm going to focus most of my energy on idling.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Same as yesterday. Another hot one!
Up and down the street and around the block once.

My knees are feeling ok.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back In The Saddle

It's approaching two weeks since I had stopped riding because of my knee concerns. That's longer than I planned, but I got busy with work stuff.

Tonight I rode up and down the street a few times and then around the block. I didn't feel any problems in my knees, so that's great! Although, I'm icing them to be on the safe side. I supposed only tomorrow will tell.
I've also been starting to take a supplement that's good for joint health. I'm not expecting much from that, but who knows.

Syd as been trying her unicycle a bit, with Amy's help. Amy holds the unicycle while Syd pedals slowly.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Seat Fix

Tonight I took a closer look at the quick release on Syd's new uni. I figured out why I can't get it tight enough. The rod in the quick release lever has threads on both ends. The end that the nut goes on has few threads. So I run out of threads before it gets tight enough. The lever side has more threads, but for no good reason! Ahh haa!! The problem is the rod was assembled backwards.In my attempt to remove the rod to flip it over, I twisted it to the breaking point. I then drilled out what I needed to and created my own threaded rod from a screw. Now it tightens properly.

Then I worked on the seat post itself. I cut about two and a half inches off the bottom. This allowed the seat to be fully lowered without the post hitting the tire. Syd can now reach the pedals, but it still may be a bit too high.
I may end up cutting about an inch off the frame.

Maybe I should have gotten her a 12" wheel unicycle. But she'll grow into it.
Of course now my son Kyle wants to ride it. Maybe he can ride my learner if I lower that seat?

In any case, no one is riding anything at the moment. It's rainy and disgustingly humid outside.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Syd's New Ride

We got Sydney's new unicycle today.

It generally seems nice: 3-piece crank, sealed bearings, knobby tire, padded seat.

But there are a few small problems.
There is some chipped paint, but Sydney seems cool with it. We plan to put a sticker over it, or maybe some touch up paint.

The quick-release seat post clamp isn't threaded enough to allow proper tightening. So the seat post turns in the frame easily.

But the biggest problem is the size. At its lowest seat height Syd can't reach the pedal at the lowest point.
The seat post can't be lowered any more without coming through the frame and hitting the tire.
But at that point there is still about 3 inches or seat post still under the seat.
So I can cut the seat post to get the seat post down about 3 inches. That may be enough. If not, I could cut the frame some.

Poor Syd has to have a lot of patience waiting for her unicycle to be ready!