Wow! Firstly thanks to Adam (JustOneWheel) and Renie for the deluxe accomodations. Bagels and lox, biallies (sp? - I think some of the guys didn’t even know what those were), coffee, juice, big screen TV with a Brian MacKenzie uni vid playing, and an authentic Brian MacKenzie sitting right there, too! They even have a high cieling for juggling - wow!
By 9 AM all were gathered on the front lawn, along with an amazing assortment of unicycles and related contraptions, in the fine, cold sunshine of late autumn. The brisk breeze made a few of us add an extra layer. We came from ONT, CT, NJ, PA, upstate (the other NY), and probably more places. We drove, we came by planes, trains, taxis, and probably a boat or two, too. Riders ranged from age 9 (I think Unipsychler’s two elder sons Daniel and Brian were around ages 10 and 9) to the oldest of us at the age…errm…well, that’s not polite to discuss, but it might be me anyway.
We crammed the wheels and people into cars and followed Adam to a parking lot near a trail system (Adam may be able to supply the names of these places). Everyone and their cycles spilled out of the cars and started hopping and spinning and generally doing tricks that had my jaw dropping. The younger hotshots immediately starting pedal grabbing this 3 foot high wooden post, maybe 8" square. Grab, up to rubber, off the drop, “Next”!
After the usual delays of getting a bunch of people moving there was a group photo and we headed down a dirt road. Now, when I learned uni, I become aware of possessing an unusual skill and so it was, for me, surreal to see that many unicyclists on a trail, or anywhere, for that matter. I’d entered a new universe. Would I see any two legged deer?
We took a right and pedaled down a beautiful mellow single track which soon ended at a steep ravine. Brian MacKenzie said “Oh we should film dropping off here” as if it was a perfectly reasonable thing to say. But then, even more oddly, a bunch of the riders, Joel, Nick, Dan, NJ-Brian, Taylor (young hotshot), and I’m forgetting some other hot riders’ names, actually seemed to take Brian’s suggestion seriously!
Then they began scoping out lines and landings like extreme skiers from the cliffs-of-insanity (maybe I’m exaggerating) down into the gully’s center. Still acting like nothing was wrong with them, they proceeded to ride, leap and slide their unicycles down the thing! It was crazy, Brian aiming his camera from all angles and rider after rider dropping off, then scrambling back up for another run.
Their antics got me psyched enough to attempt (several times) the relatively gradual center line in the ravine, though it was, by far, the trickiest thing I’ve ever tried. Fortunately for my ego, there was a carpet of slippery leaves conviently placed to provide a ready excuse for not “cleaning the line”. These leaves also protected my posterior and so were a double blessing.
After a while we got back on the trail, which now took a turn down a slope on the most pleasing, serpentine set of banks and turns ever graced by a single-track. I repeated (er…attempted) that section four times on three different unicycles, just because it was so cool, and I kept thinking “This is Long Island?!?” At the bottom of those switchbacks was a set of logs and rocks which became the next filming venue. While the pros worked the heck out of their trials lines and MacKenzie did his filming stuff, me and Jay, our MTB tour guide, and a few other uniers rode other bits of the trail system. It was fantastic, all tight-turning single-track in the early winter sun-dappled trees.
Another spot had a skinny log ending in a nice dropoff where the guys did side-kick and foot-off moves. Here Brian used his ground-angle camera technique, riding just behind Nick, I believe, who was just getting sick air. Way cool.
At this point I had a totally flat tire, and a broken spoke as the kicker. I walked/jogged back to the car with Taylor’s dad Rob kindly keeping me company on his MTB. Rob then lent me their extra 24" DX and we went back find the group. The trails there, however, are such a maze, we rode aimlessly for too long, and ended up getting a cell phone call from Adam in the parking lot “Where the @$##$% are you guys?”, and he talked us out of the woods. Rob and I were relating our own vast experiences in the Adirondacks and were joking about a newspaper headline like “Two men lost in LI wilderness found hungry and cold after two days, claim to be experienced outdoorsmen”.
So we left this trail mecca and drove to our next spot. After many of us bought a bad hot-dog from a truck at this new trailhead, we rode off down this new trail, again a narrow, twisting, rolling-hill, banked turn single-track. We soon came to a downhill leading into a boulder garden and the next trials and filming stop. Among the attractions were a couple of logs, including one tree broken over about 5 or 6 feet off the forest floor which Joel took a liking to. With Brian M’s camera rolling, he climbed up, got his uni handed up to him, and rode 20-some feet to the end and calmly leaped into the jagged boulders below. He stuck the landing, and then climbed up and did it again. Holy cow.
Again, I was motivated to try (around a thousand times) a nice section with a rock jump unlike anything in my uni experience near where all the hot doggers were filming. What a feeling to actually get air on one wheel and stay in control (sometimes).
Then Adam says “we gotta go to this other place out by Jones Beach”, which he promised has huge stuff to jump around on. We followed him into what looked like a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with piles of broken concrete things in various shapes. More filming, much more hopping, gapping, grabbing, these guys just blew me away with their control and the jumps they committed to, and then just stuck, time and again. There were some biffs, too, but I don’t think anyone got hurt too bad.
I worked on a “novice trial line”, with a 6 inch gap followed by a two foot drop, something I’ve never even considered before that day, and stuck it…after only 20 or so tries.
I had to split to rejoin my family in Manhattan at 4PM, but the LI Muni weekenders were still visible in my rear view mirror as I drove out of that place. Silhouetted in the low-slanted sunbeams of early winter twilight I saw them back there, one hand up high, and just one wheel underneath them.