Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mt. Diablo on one wheel!

Unicycling is another hobby of mine along with telemark skiing, kiteboarding, kayaking, cycling, ultimate frisbee, frisbee golf, regular golf, tennis, backpacking, and rock climbing that White People Like.  I'm not sure why I've been attracted to such sports, but I don't meet too many folks of color through my hobbies.  Only through soccer and running.  One of my favorite activity partners is Stefan.  Stefan has lots of goals.  One of them for this year was to ride up Mt. Diablo on his uni.  Given that it's December, we had no time to spare.

I did my first coker (a 36" wheel uni) in July after being persuaded to join Rob's Ride by Stefan using Ken's spare coker.  After that experience I knew I had to save up for one.  This October, I saw one on craigslist in Sacramento.  So one weeknight, I drove out there and picked up a beautiful coker.  It was well worth the 3.5 hr round trip.

Since then I've done a few more fun rides with Stefan & Co.  I've done a few solo rides... even a few solo night rides... even one solo night ride on wet trails in J. Miller.  It's really fun.  It's really challenging, and I can see improvement, something I haven't experienced in many of my other hobbies.

after the initial dislocation.  
Then two weeks ago I got surgery on my left shoulder.  Yup, my "good" shoulder.  I initially damaged it 3 years ago in 2009, our year off.  We had come back to the states for multiple weddings and I was up in Mendocino surf kayaking, when I got pounded by the surf.
seconds after my "good" shoulder popped out.
Then this summer it started popping out again.  And unlike my right shoulder I didn't need assistance to pop the shoulder back in place.  With my left one, I could just relax a bit, and it'd pop back in by itself.  A handy trait as it popped out this summer while climbing at Lover's Leap with Stefan.  I had been leading, and had placed one piece of pro about 25 ft below.  And I was about 45 ft above the ground.  Yeah... you do the math.  But I did manage to pop the shoulder back in, and climb the rest of the day.  Lead 5 more pitches in fact.  Then MUNI-ed for 2 hours.  That was probably stupid.

Anyway... back to this past Sat.  (10 days after surgery)... there were 5 unicyclists (Stefan, Tom, Nathan, Funk, and I) and Geoff on his road bike.  Funk was quite impressive, but didn't quite make it to the top. I couldn't believe how far he made it.  He actually also saved me from riding 10 extra miles, as I was planning to Bart to Walnut Creek, then riding the Iron Horse Trail to the start.  Funk texted early in the morning saying he wanted to join.  So I said, we should carpool, and he should drive.  30 min, later he says he has a flat.  So he comes over, and we try to fit a 700 x 38cc tube on there, but turns out his tire is very, very loose.  So we threw on a 700 cc x 32 cc tire and it actually works.  Probably wasn't as comfy, but it worked.

Funk on his 700cc uni.  
Tom and Nathan, the expert uni riders in our group had both ridden up to Diablo on their unis a half a dozen times or so.  They were very helpful in keeping us on track.  They also knew about the record (an hour & 14 min, I believe)... and other funny stories... like when one of their friends rode a giraffe uni up while dribbling a basketball the whole way w/o getting off.   Lots of humbling stories that made riding a uni up Diablo seem quite tame.  The hoards of road cyclists and auto passengers that were hootin' and hollerin' reminded me that we were not "normal".  

Nathan cruising up the "wall" I think it's over 15% grade here.  
In the end we summitted in about 2 hours... including a 10 min rest at the junction.  That was the estimated time, and we did very good.  It was such a beautiful day, and there were boatloads of cyclists.  We even passed a few.  The ride actually wasn't that bad as the grade was so consistent.  I did have to dismount once when there was too much headwind... but it wasn't until the "wall" that I had to walk up.  Stefan and I tried twice to get up the thing, but we just couldn't muster enough juice.  I made it up half way the first try, then maybe 75% of the way on the second try.  More training!

Defeated... and walking... next time, next time
Check out this moto-bike!  With enough cargo to hold a doggie.  Dunno if you can see, but the doggie had goggles on.  
Descent!  If you look behind me you can see the snow capped Sierras!  And if you looked the other way, you could see clear out to the Farallons.  
Stefan wore his clothing to match the forage.  Not sure what these mushrooms were but they were pretty!
Our descent was another adventure.  Tom isn't a big fan of riding asphalt.  So his condition on coming was that we ride some of the trails on the way down.  Some parts were quite challenging, but most of it was really fun.  I definitely improved at free mounting with my arm in a sling.  I'm writing this 5 days later and I'm still sore.  I couldn't believe how sore I was the next day.  I could barely walk and I actually cramped up walking down the steps in front of the house and fell down in agony.  Good thing my neighbors didn't see me.  Gotta get in better shape!   Especially for the ski season.

Stefan, me, then Funk... MUNI-ing down Diablo
Nathan riding the gnar!  I walked down that.  
One of the rare times that Nathan fell off and I hadn't.  Had to record this moment...
Beautiful trails.  Perfect for big wheelin'
Thanx to Tom & Nathan for the pics!  Stefan for instigating.  Funk for driving.  And Geoff for the support!

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