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.