Going the distance

I was up early today, and went out onto the cycle paths with my unicycle. It was a good morning – I ended up riding for 4.5 miles, including a wee bit of rough woodland path. I’ve figured out a fair bit of direction control, enough to avoid riding over potholes or broken glass, by doing a one-handed breast-stroke kinda thing. I can consciously move from the left side of the path to the right side to go past walkers and dogs, and can get round curves and bends.

My balance is improving. Forward/back is pretty solid .. I only had one UPD (unplanned dismount) and that was when going up a hill. I can feel how the balance point changes when going up and down hills and adjust my position accordingly, but hills are definitely hard. To keep balanced, you need a very smooth pedal stroke. Hills act against that, either by speeding you up or slowing you down. Downhill is particularly weird. It feels like you are pedalling backwards, because you are constantly opposing gravity’s efforts to make the pedals go round fast.

Left/right balance is improving due to my idling practise. I twist and bend at my waist more than I used to, and also change the pressure that I’m putting through each pedal.

I can see why people use larger-wheel unicycles for going distances – the wheel size is your gearing. On my smaller wheel, you can go at maybe 3x walking speed before the pedaling rate gets crazy high.

I rode through a puddle and noticed that the wet track I left weaves left and right noticably. I think that’s why it’s easy to balance once you’ve got some speed up. You’re spending half the time with the wheel left, and half the time with the wheel right of your centre of gravity. If you start to tip to the left, you can briefly slow down your pedalling rate when the wheel is on the appropriate side and that corrects your balance.

Last week I bought a longer seat stem, since I’m tall and the stock stem was over-extended. I also got a pair of flat soled grippy shoes. I’ve been unicycling in walking boots up until now, but the irregular sole pattern sometimes messed up my foot placement. The new shoes are much better. They’re almost too grippy though – it’s harder to readjust your foot placement once you’ve been on for a while.

Right, looks like the next thing to nail is doing tight turns.