How do you guys tend to practice? Until recently, I was just riding though trails, maybe taking a more challenging route every now and then, but never really working on anything. The exercise was good, but aside from endurance I wasn’t improving much.
How often do you guys go out with the goal of actually working on skills?
Lately, I’ve been forcing myself to redo sections until I can ride though. Working on random things during the flatter sections, like one leg riding or seat in front.
When I was younger and into trials, I was always focusing on some new skill or improving an old one. I feel like that attitude has mostly disappeared now that I really only do muni. Maybe its just laziness or old age at 23.
You are right – it’s fun to just ride, but just riding doesn’t really make you a more skillful rider.
I try to dedicate one practice session a week to just individual skills. (I’m still a pretty low-level rider, so I really need this.) But I find that doing concentrated practice on hopping, drops, idling, still stands, etc, noticeably improves my regular riding.
(Old age at 23? LOL! I don’t think so. :p)
I rarely practice in the academic sense during muni as I might for street/trials or other skills. I mostly ride although I do kind of set small goals like clearing a section (and if not doing it over and over until I do) or trying to ride a downhill without using the brake. I mostly do this by finding challenging trails and sections and doing them again and again until I can not only ride them but also do a particular line. If no difficult trail is available I also try stuff like trying the trail on a bigger wheel (the same downhill on my 36 is way harder than on my 26) or shorter cranks. Definitely trying a trail with the 36" wheel and 137 (or even 125mm) cranks is then great practice for me!
The main skill I think I need to improve for muni is rolling hops. This I think I need to practice more not on the trail but in a more trials-like setting, or even with the 20".
Oh and yes, your comment about old age at 23 should not even be allowed. Even just thinking that is not a sign of old age but of laziness or quitting or something. I think you need to break that habit. I attempt to avoid such thinking if at all possible. Although I recently did have to admit that though while at the Winter Park Muni Weekend: about 4 of us were practicing boulder drops in the 3-4 foot range where I think technically I was about the middle or better of the group (but pretty much double their ages): after Kevin dropped one I decided it looked a little high and would pass, then Shane dropped it and hurt his foot pretty badly on the landing (so kind of confirming my decision not to try). Then this 19-year old guy who’s been riding muni for like 3 months and dropped his first 2-footer that very ride (I had given tips how to take off and land) decides to try it and I’m thinking “that’s crazy” and he lands it. That made me feel old. But age is 98% in your head, so don’t handicap yourself.
I may have just been joking about old age. I still have a few years left in me.
What do you want in the end?
Myself, I’m content to let the skills come to me from riding harder terrain rather than just practice alone.
At one point balancing and hopping was something that was still work. Then all of a sudden was easy.
This was from repeated riding going on longer and harder (uphill) trails.
Same thing for riding backwards… all of a sudden I could roll back half a revolution, then one, now quite a few. Not perfect but it just seems to get easier and easier with time.
Try a larger wheel if you’re looking for more challenging conditions.
As I’m new to the site I would like to say all of my input is what works for me.
I’ve been riding for almost three years now. I’m very lucky to have a actual mountain bike park in my front yard. (Boer Mountain Bike Trails)
Something I have been working on is catching (and sometimes passing!!!) mountain bikers. You should feel the adrenaline kick when you pass one!
I guess I am in a similar situation as you, (although I still do trials, street and flat), I recently started riding some Muni too. As I live far away from real mountains, my Muni rides tend to consist of mostly boring cross country rides to the fun sections. I occasionally work on one element (a drop, a very steep section where you really need to use the brake) or just repeat the short downhill track over and over again. One skill I also forced myself to practice was to get on and of the brake quickly, as in braking downhill - hopping over something with the brake of - braking again.
So it is usually a mix of working on a specific skill (although the only really muni specific skill is braking), and just riding for fun. I also make a point of never measuring runnups on a muni session, since that feels like cheating.
But the fun thing about Muni for me is that I still get better every single time I go out for a ride, without spending hours with deliberately practicing like in Flatland. Also a good thing for us people that spend a good amount of time riding other disciplines before getting into Muni, is that skills translate very well, someone that did 1,5 m drops on a trials uni will learn to deal with 1m drops very quickly on a Muni.
I’m not sure what your situation is, but I’m fortunate to have a local club. I’m not a group person, and I don’t really like clubs. Unicycling over the past 30 years has been mostly a solitary thing until recently. Now, I’m dealing with peer pressure, and for the first time in my life, it’s actually a good thing. Just last night, a club member goaded me into hopping down a flight of stairs after I chickened out on it. After a few failed attempts, I did it three times, and it felt really good. I’d never hopped down stairs that narrow before, and it was nice to hit that milestone. I also regularly schedule rides multiple times during the week with at least one other club member, making it harder for me to blow it off. I’ve also gotten tons of tips and advice from others that has been invaluable. You can read things and watch videos online, but there’s no replacement for people watching you in person and giving direct and immediate advice. I’ve found that that group encouragement and pressure has been a very positive thing for me, and my skills have improved greatly because of it.