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Old 2011-08-02, 03:47 AM   #579
scott ttocs
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Irvine, CA
Age: 60
Posts: 1,231
Slow riding in high gear

My new Schlumpf hub now has 27 miles on it. It is a 36, and probably only 10 miles of the total is in high gear. My shifts are better, but I still come off some of the time, especially when I am tired. When I UDP on an up shift, it almost invariably involves stepping off the back. So far all my UPDs have been at low speed onto my feet. The key to a successful up shift seems to be pedaling gently at modest speed to shift. If I am pedaling too hard, I step on the pedal as the gears shift and that sends the unicycle spinning out in front of me.

The downshifts have not really been a problem. I just take the speed way down and then rub the shifter button with my heel until the shift happens. I spin up the pedals to match the wheel speed, but as long as the speed is low it works fine.

The hard part is riding in high gear. I overcompensate and try to fight the unicycle into submission, and it takes a lot of energy. It reminds me of first learning to ride, where we all stood on the pedals too much. Some of the time I am able to relax into the seat and gently push the pedals and everything goes fine. The balance envelope is a lot narrower than with an ungeared 36, and it is taking me time to get the feel of it. I need to remind myself to lean farther forward to balance out the force from pedaling.

I notice the unicycle sways more from side-to-side than I am used to on a 36. Taking one hand off the handlebars helps with the balance. I am not yet confident (at all!), but it is coming along.

My normal speed on one of the flat courses is about 12 mph average. With my new spiffy KH-Schlumpf unicycle I did the same route with an average speed of 9.9 mph. Wow! I may actually ride slower in high gear than in low gear at this point! There are places where high-gear riding is starting to come together, but I am not a speed demon yet.

Regarding protective gear, I always use wrist guards, a helmet and shoes for 36 riding. For my new unicycle I have added kneepads and wrist pads. In the past I have left a bit of skin on the road in UPDs. I hope the extra pads will help. My high-speed crashes have been about 14 mph, and I cannot get to the speed yet in high gear. Eventually my speed will kick up, and then I can see how well the extra pads work. (A motorcycle jacket sounds hot.)

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