This entry was originally posted at https://pchengi.com/bicycling/2021/02/27/First_30k_ride_on_a_unicycle
, and cross-posted here.
I like to setup routes of different lengths so I can simply set off and ride them when I like/can, without having to waste time planning the route on the day of the ride. I'd setup a 30 km ride on komoot last year, and had even ridden it with my wife, on a bicycle, but the intention had always been to do the ride on a unicycle, but I'd not believed that I was ready, after earlier attempts to do 20 km rides had left me totally drained.
When I'd done the 20 km rides, it had been on the 36-er, and the longer the time I'd spent in the saddle, the harder I found to land my freemounts, and that would be both frustrating and time-consuming. I wanted to see if the fact that I can nail my mounts with great ease on my 29-er could be used to try and ride farther, and so I decided yesterday, to set off on my first ever 30+ km unicycle ride.
The weather forecast showed 10 m/s winds with gusts at 15 m/s, but I thought I could manage it (haha!), and didn't allow it to deter me. Once I'd set out though, it wasn't long before I left the city streets and got onto bergsvÃ¤gen, with large open expanses, and that's where the wind started really making its presence felt. I was listenening to an audiobook, but I had to switch it off as it was totally drowned out in the whine of the wind. The route I'd selected was a nice enough road, but the winds made it very hard for me to stick to a good line, and the fact that it was not a dedicated bike lane meant that I often had cars and the odd truck rolling past, and that made me nervous on many occasions. Since I always ride with a rearview mirror, I kept an eye on it so I didn't get surprised. When the wind was particularly bad and there was a car approaching me from behand, I dismounted carefully and waited for the car/cars to pass before mounting again, and this was at times frustrating.
Another challenge was the gravel; in Sweden, the municipality adds huge amounts of gravel to the roads when there's snow, to prevent the roads from icing over, and this gravel is almost never cleared till well into Spring, and during winter, there are often several rounds of gravel sprinkling, so there was a huge amount of gravel when I road yesterday. I'm now enjoying learning to ride on different kinds of surfaces, and the more I learn, the more confident I get. I was initially pretty nervous to be riding on gravel, thinking that I might skid off on it, or have issues when dismounting, but during the entire 31 km ride, I didn't suffer a single skid or issue directly due to the gravel, but I rode cautiously on it.
If the winds and gravel were not challenges enough, the third challenge was camber; there were many places where the sides of the roads had large camber angles and I didn't want to ride in the center of the road, though it is something I could have done while keeping an eye on the rearview mirror. As I tired, the winds and the camber seemed to be more challenging than they really were, in many places, but I kept going. In good patches, my speed was between 10 and 12 km/h, but for the most part, it was much lower.
Prior to the ride, I'd calculated that I'd need at least 4 hours for the 30 km distance, and had given myself a buffer of an extra hour, and as it turned out, I needed almost all of the buffer, taking 4 hours and 45 minutes in all, for the ride. During the ride, I stopped once to eat the peanut butter and hazelnut spread sandwiches my wife had put together for me, and per my stopanalyzer tool, I'd made a grand total of 63 dismounts, during the 31 km ride. Since I almost always mounted successfully with the first mount attempt itself, I didn't lose much time waiting to mount, but all that dismounting and mounting will indeed have a telling effect on my average speed which was a meager 7.5 km/h. I hope to be able to reduce the dismounts in the future, and ride on with greater confidence. I'm hoping to repeat this ride on my 36-er sometime soon. I must also see if I can come up with better routes where I can use more of bike paths, so traffic won't be a concern.