I’m starting to realize how lucky I was to take up unicycling in the midst of a mild summer, and with the NY festival Brooklyn Bridge ride as a “not sure if I’ll be ready in time” training goal.
Well, the festival and bridge ride have come and gone, and while those 13 miles (with elongated breaks) seemed like nothing, I was surprised tonight that my old 12-mile training routine of 2 laps of Central Park still does me in. I’d had vague ideas of going for a third, but between knees and saddle, that just wasn’t happening. Without preparing for the the group bridge ride as a specific ready-or-not goal, 12 miles suddenly feels like a lot more work - at one point early on I’d even contemplated heading home after the first lap.
I’ve also been doing some critical thinking about how the days will start to grow shorter. I’m already used to riding in familiar places after dark with a great light setup, but am struck that while I feel fine once I get going, walking into the park at dusk doesn’t feel particularly inviting. Thinking forward to what it will be like after the clocks change when it will be dark long before I even get out of work, and I wonder if I’ll keep going.
Any bright ideas for improving through the cooler, darker months?
I did come home to find the package with my throwaway-class cycle computer, so having that for realtime metrics may be interesting - to date, I’ve tended to avoid even checking the time until my ride is over. But by the clock I averaged just over 6 mph again tonight, counting traffic light breaks and remount difficulties (finally figured out that the new touring handle was throwing off my sense of how far over the uni I needed to get for a successful mount, and did better after)
At the moment I start to feel like my primary pace limitation is wanting to take it easy on my knees on the downhills, and came home intending to look into options on adding a brake… but it seems like that would require a new frame and/or hub, at which point the temptation to go from 26"to 29" occurs as well.
Good lights and warm cloths, Maybe some studs, or a fat tire. I used to love the winter evening rides back when I stuck around for winters and before I remembered what those cross-country skis sitting in the corner were for.
When it’s cold, especially when it’s too dark for cruising rides, you can also work on learning tricks or Trials, if interested. It was a great discovery for me, many years back, to learn that I could work up a good sweat, and not feel cold, late on a winter night, practicing Freestyle in a supermarket parking lot. Even stopping to take a break and “cool down”.
You might look at joining Strava. Seeing others ride, keeps me motivated.
Yeah, a trials or freestyle uni might be good in the winter. There are a few skills you can practice indoors with those, and you can probably find an outdoor spot that is sheltered from the wind. For unicycling, I generally only put on sweatpants (rather than shorts) when the temperature drops below 20F. For riding in the dark, though, I prefer a large wheel and longer rides.
Doing 6-mile loops around the park would have been exciting when I had just learned to ride (but I only had a 20 for the first year, so long rides weren’t really an option). These days, though, I only do distances like that when I want to explore the far corners of the city. If you want to really get in shape by unicycling, try hopping up the stairs, riding down the stairs and learning lots of weird skills. Pushing yourself that way is an excellent workout, if that’s what you want, and it will stimulate your brain a lot more than just doing long-distance laps, which by now are probably way too easy for you. A lot of skills can be acquired on a larger wheel, if you have the determination, but in general, this sort of learning is best done on a sturdy 20 or 19. It is also a lot less hard on your crotch and your knees because you never spend long periods sitting on the saddle- you ride SIF, you stand on the pedals, or, far more frequently, UPD!
When the winter months roll round, I tend to do more road-riding as opposed to riding in parks and nature trails. That way I’m not spooked out by riding in the pitch-black (though that is REALLY fun if you want to try it too )
I just keep my motivation alive by getting out there and riding. Getting your arse off your chair is hard when you look outside and everything’s all dreary and grey, but remember, as soon as you’re actually riding you’ll warm up - most of the time, even in the dead of winter, I find myself taking my jacket off halfway round because I get too warm.
A good set of lights goes a long way to helping you get out there too - even if they don’t really do a whole lot in reality, it’ll make you feel much safer when on the roads. I also have a super-bright headlight I strap to my head (I DID have it on my handlebar but a few too many UPD’s ruined that…) for riding in the really dark spots like enclosed parks and trails.
I really like riding at night - specially if you get out once everyone’s home from work, you get the road to yourself, and get to explore your city in ways you’d never imagined!
Here’s my latest addition to my 36er. I originally bought it for the Blackpool Ride The Lights, which I was unable to attend, so now I just ride about at night with it and feel cool
PM, those are very cool night-lights.
Thanks for all the ideas!
It turns out that one way to blow away habitual ride mileage is to arrange a situation where there are bailout opportunities, but the most logical “just ride the rest of the way home” falls at the target distance.
It was only after getting a 75% increase that way yesterday that I read the cycling advice page that recommended increasing distance only 10% per week. Can I plead single wheel exceptionalism?
Probably won’t be back on the unicycle for a few days, but managed to walk a mile and half today, so it seems like I’m recovering, though I can’t exactly say I’m a fan of stairs at present!
Quit your soul-sucking job and ride during daylight hours.
That’s a good one. Had many a day thinking of skipping work…