I decided to do a trial run on my new(ish) Nimbus 36. I bought this uni with the intention of doing more distance/road riding and also my 7 mile commute to work. When the weather’s nice I’ll often commute by mtn. bike but I’ve wanted to do the uni for some time now. I figured I’d ride it to work this past Saturday and just see how it went.
I still have some “issues” with the 36 so I was a bit nervous about the ride. I still have some intermittant trouble mounting this beast and I’m still not terribly good at going uphill. I got on my bike tights, a light jacket, my helmet and wrist guards and left the house about 8:30 in the a.m. It was a crisp 34 degrees outside but the weather man promised it would warm up nicely today. I thought to myself, if I nail this first mount, it’s gonna be a great day. Nailed it! My first little challenge was the steep hill going down out of my neighborhood into town. The inertia of this big wheel is amazing. I can’t believe how hard I have to keep the back pressure on to keep the wheel from running away from me. Well, it ran away and I had my first UPD less than a quarter mile from my house. I remounted and continued on my way. I got lucky at all the major street crossing being fairly early for a Saturday and was able to keep riding right on through the stop signs. I still can’t even come close to idling on this big beast so stopping means dismounting. I had a really pleasant ride through the back streets and neighborhoods that are on my usual commute route. I had to stop and wait for a train at one crossing, walked across the tracks and resumed my ride. I quickly came to one neighborhood that I had some misgivings about. The route is all slightly uphill and this particular nieghborhood has a lot of speed bumps. I made it past the first bump but the next one upset me for UPD #2. It was a short uphill and remounting on an uphill is still virtually impossible for me on this uni so I walked it a couple of hundred yards. Then I proceeded to botch about 20 attempts at mounting. I was starting to get frustrated and was glad it was early and I wasn’t attracting any attention. I finally got going again and was able to ride another mile and a bit before I UPD again. I got a water bottle out of my backpack and took a drink before I tried mounting again. This time I botched ten then twenty then thirty mounting attempts. I was getting pretty angry with myself and started saying an awful lot of socially unacceptable words. And I was using way too much energy. I spent a good 15 minutes trying to get going here. When I finally got it, I was exhausted and I was right at the base of the biggest climb on my route. A pretty steep grade thats at least half a mile long. This one makes me gear the mountain bike all the way down. Somehow, I managed to get about 3/4 of the way up before I briefly lost momentum and couldn’t regain it. I had a step-off UPD here and just walked the uni to the top of the hill. Once at the top it took me about half a dozen tries to get going again and I rode the last mile and a half in to work without incident. I was exhausted and decided to go into my office and take care of a few phone calls and e-mails while I was here and give myself a little chance to recuperate for the ride home. All told, it took me an hour and 20 minutes to ride the 7 miles. Absolutely pathetic. Absolutely discouraging. I can do better on my 24 (which I can mount EVERY time and ride for miles without a UPD).
The return ride wasn’t much better. When I get tired, and I was very tired, I tend to list to one side a bit and I expend a lot of energy just trying to keep going straight. That and my pedal cadence was now anything but smooth so I was simply wasting a ton of energy just trying to ride. I had several UPDs but my mounts were going a little better. Even though I was tired I don’t think I took more than 10 tries to get back on it on the return trip. Once I got downtown and about a mile from home, I felt so out of control that I was a hazard to traffic and pedestrians so I hung my head in shame and walked it the last mile home. Return trip; an hour and 20 minutes. This is just way too long and I’m going to have to get a lot better at riding this thing before I can consider using it for my commute. Anyone wanna buy an Nimbus 36? JUST KIDDING. Any of you who remember my extremely LOOONG learning curve from a couple of years ago probably realizes just how damned stubborn I am.
So, I’m not really looking for any sympathy or anything like that here. I just wanted to share my experience. For some people this whole unicycling thing comes very easily and for others it can be a real struggle. For me it’s one of the most challenging and ultimately most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m gonna keep practicing and riding every day. As my mounts become better (I went through the same thing with my 29er and I can now mount it first try 99% of the time) and I get better at climbing and just in general become more used to the 36er I know that I’ll be able to use it for a commuter.
Words of encouragement: Whether you’re struggling with learning to freemount, or idle, or trying to nail that 540 unispin. Don’t give up. Practice, practice, practice.