Saturday, January 31, 2015

Poor Conditions, Poor Me

There was a fat tire bike race today, the Sweden Fat Criterium, held at Sweden Town Park in Brockport.  Actually it was two races, a two hour "fat tire race" followed by a one hour "open race".  I had considered trying to join in on the fat tire race with my new fat tire muni and so I contacted Andy, the race director, over a week ago.  He replied and said I could join in the "open race", which allowed any kind of bike.  I ended up not going for several reasons: my doubts about riding in all snow conditions, the 40 minute drive to do a one hour race, the $30 fee to ride for an hour, and the one hour race not feeling epic enough to me, but maybe it would have been.

This morning I saw some of the race pics, video clips, and comments.  It got me excited and I kind of wished I was there, though I still don't know if I could actually ride the course.  So I decided to do a big ride today.  It snowed yesterday and more this morning, giving us something like 6 new inches.  I made a plan to do my Tour de Webster route, heading toward the Hojack trail first, with a backup plan to maybe only do the Hojack and Big Field if the going was too tough.

So I suited up for the ~15°F temperature and headed out.  The first leg on Phillips Rd was easy going.  The plow had just gone by, making the normally off-camber shoulder of the road more level.   Then when I hit the Hojack, everything changed.  I expected pristine powder and hoped riding would be smooth because it can be that way sometime.  Unfortunately a snowmobile had been through, probably in the night, and whether that had an impact or not, riding was borderline impossible.  I'd get up and ride for about 10 feet before my wheel started twisting around like crazy leading to a UPD.  After about six tries I decided it wasn't happening.  So I decided to head back toward home and just ride the snowy hard-packed neighborhood roads.

Unfortunately it seemed like every turn I took led to less snow and more slush and puddles.  At first it was just the intersections where the plow drops salt but then it was the entire road.  Was the plow dropping salt everywhere?  I didn't see or feel the salt except in a few intersections, so maybe it was just melting from the sun?  At 15°F I thought it strange.  In any case, the wet conditions took any fun out of it and I decided to cut my ride short and headed home.

Altogether I rode over 6.5 miles on the road.  At least I'm keeping the unicycle muscles working.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oregon Maiden Voyage

I took my new Nimbus Oregon fat tire uni out for a ride today at Webster Park.  The temperature was just hovering around freezing.  The trails were well traveled and the snow was hard and packed.  We haven't had much snow recently.

credit: Terry "Unigeezer" Peterson
I found the fat tire helped quite a bit.  The trail surface was fairly even, unlike in the past when I've found the trails to be a minefield of frozen boot prints.  So this was not the most challenging test for the fat tire's shock absorbing abilities.  Though the trails were still more pitted than normal and I especially found it easier to roll over exposed roots.  The trails were slick and at times when I dismounted my riding shoes felt less secure than my tire.  The only time it slipped out on me was on an icy bridge, but I stayed on my feet.  I was able to climb steeper snow covered hills than I would have with my regular tires.

As could be expected, it's not quite as nimble as my other unicycles.  I found it a bit harder to stay on course when the trail was off-camber.  When climbing I felt a bit less in control.  Climbing may have also been more difficult because the fat tire makes it more close to a 29er than the 26 that it is.

I walked down a few slick hills.  I probably could have ridden, but I'm still defining my limits.  I used the brake a few times, but I really need a spooner.  A spooner is a unicycle specific part that is put on the brake handle to make it easier to pull.  Bike brake lever designers didn't intend for them to be used on a uni.  Without a spooner, I found it difficult to operate.

I saw a few new downed trees that will need attention some day.  I also saw some recently saw dust and fresh cuts.  Someone has at least been doing some work besides me.

Winter muni is always a bigger workout.  Although it was difficult, I feel like my recent exercising helped me a lot.

 I don't really like stopping to take video, but I forced myself to video a bit.  Here's what I pieced together:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fat Tire Uni - Nimbus Oregon

Over the past few years "Fat Tire Bikes" have been skyrocketing in popularity.  Mountain bikes with extra wide tires allow riders to continue their passion in regions that have snowy winters. Much like snowshoes, they help prevent the bike from sinking in, smooth out the bumps, and give better traction.  Fat bikes have wider forks, frames, rims and obviously fatter tires.  People also ride them in sand.

In the unicycle world, there are only a few choices for a fat tire setup. offers the Nimbus Oregon, or if you're lucky you can get a custom fat tire frame welded up by a young entrepreneur, Jakob Flansberry, in Quebec, Canada.  Years ago Surly, the sort of household name in fat tire bikes, rims and tires, sold a fat tire uni, but they don't anymore.

This year I wanted to get either a fat bike or fat uni to get myself out on the trails more.  Working out in my basement is a huge help, but actually pedaling and sitting in a seat is important too.  I thought a fat bike would probably allow me to get out in even more difficult snow terrain than a uni, but ultimately I decided the uni would be better training for me.  The uni option was also cheaper, I think maybe.

Flansberry made some frames last year but he stopped for a bit and now he has a dozen back-ordered and has yet to start building again.  Since I wanted one yesterday, I didn't want to wait, and that narrowed it down to the Oregon.  It's a pretty sweet V-frame design and has a Surly Marge Lite rim and Surly Nate 3.8 tire.  The frame is wide enough to go even fatter if I want to.  Also, it comes with a disc brake, which I've never had.  She's a beaut! has a 15% sales this month, which might not seem super crazy, but historically it doesn't get much better.  So I ordered one on Monday and got it today!  I upgraded the seat from a Nimbus saddle to a Kris Holm Free Ride and the cranks to KH Spirits.  I figure it's what I'm used to and at least with the cranks I might end up swapping them onto one of my Schlumpf hubs because the older KH Moment cranks seem to keep getting closer and closer to the frame when I swap/re-tighten them to spec.

I'm looking forward to my first fat tire uni ride.  Hopefully this weekend!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Finally... A Ride!

It was warmer today at just barely freezing temperature.  I rode from home down the Hojack Trail and back on my geared 29er.  From the start my legs were sore because I did my 5 day Fitness Blender workout and then yesterday "the mother of all P90X workouts, Plyometrics.

I felt a bit rusty and felt fatigued in my legs, back and shoulders for most of my ride.  I was pleased that my saddle didn't really bother me much despite not riding for months.  I didn't use my new saddle yet.  The Hojack was mostly snow covered and so more bumpy than in the summer.  I realized part way through my ride that riding my 29er in high gear was like having a 45" wheel, so with that and the snow, it's no wonder why it'd be difficult.  I did downshift a few times to give myself a break.

It was a grey day and more of a workout routine than a fun ride.  The ride was uneventful and I only saw some walkers and a few cats.  Perhaps the highlight was the addition of a garbage can at the end of the Hojack.

Over 12.5 miles.  At times I would think that's no big deal, but it's been so long since I've ridden, even I am thinking... "12.5 miles on a unicycle?!!"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Back to Working Out

So I started working out and eating healthy for six consecutive days but then I got sick with a cold: a nasty sore throat, tight chest, and then head congestion.  It's been going around.  While sick I didn't exercise and I allowed myself more comfort foods.  It took me a week and a half to feel up to working out again.  Tonight I finished my third day and I feel back on track.

I want to both lose some weight and get stronger.  When I started working out almost three weeks ago I weighed 149 lbs.  That might be below average, but it was the most I've ever weighed.  I could feel the belly fat moving around when I exercised.  Now I'm at 144 lbs, a 5 lb loss, and starting to feel a bit thinner and stronger.

In the past I did  P90X and Insanity.  Those are both quite difficult and routines are something like 45 to 90 minutes.  I still haven't forgotten the pain and monotony from last year, so I've been easing into it with some new-to-me routines: Fitness Blender's "5 Day Workout Challenge for Busy People".  These aren't quite as intense and are only about 30 minutes each, but at least for now still make me sore.  Soon I'll probably switch to a mix of Fitness Blender's more difficult routines, P90X, and Insanity.

I still haven't sat on a unicycle in months.  Since I've recovered from being sick it's been either super windy or super cold outside.  I do hope to get some saddle time soon.  Speaking of which, for Christmas my in-laws bought me a Kris Holm Fusion Zero saddle.  Unlike traditional curved unicycle saddles, it's flat.  Apparently riders are finding this comfortable.  I haven't installed it on a uni yet.