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.