Mountain unicycling is a regular past time for me, which I’m sure you have read about before if you are a regular reader.  Its a sport not many venture into as it has a steep learning curve and there are simply not that many people who do it to be encouraged by or to learn with.  I have to seek people out who have the same interest, as I am not very likely to just come across other unicyclists.  Surprisingly, once I do get out and go riding, I run into a lot more people who are able to ride and will tell or show me when I encounter them.  I’d never know though without being out on the unicycle in the first place.

For the most part, I definitely enjoy to ride with other people, but with my level of experience in the sport and endurance, I do not have other riders who get out on one wheel with me in the mountains.  So, because of that, I often ride with mountain bikers who will easily give me a run for my money with all of their mechanical advantages.  Other times, I simply ride on my own, off in solitude, just me, my muni and the mountain.  That is what I truly love about the sport.  Getting away from the city, the traffic, the stench, the thick polluted air and of course gobs of people.  In the mountains you can literally ride for hours and not see another soul.  Its a place of peace, a place for thought and to be content.

The trails I ride are certainly not easy, most are hiking trails, but rated as more difficult ones as I love to ride areas that are known as very technical.  If you don’t know, that is when a trail has a lot of roots, rocks, boulders or obstacles to navigate and will typically be more windy with more ups and downs than other easy hiking trails.  It’s in that kind of riding where I am challenged and can get into a state of flow and enjoy the ride the most. Flow is all about movement on the unicycle.  Its not easy to navigate rough terrain on one wheel and it requires years of practice. On a mountain unicycle, to ride advanced trails, one must learn to ride with their whole body for motion. I don’t simply peddle with me legs and steer with my arms.  I have to put everything into the trail, my whole body, mind and motion in order to stay on top.  I have to bend my body, thrust my upper torso up and over rocks, whip my shoulders and head around to steer the trail, and pull with all my strength up on the seat handle to lunge with the muni overtop of gaps or logs.

It’s a great workout for the legs and core, but more than that, it forces me to focus and to free my mind of all the other daily activities, thoughts, problems and feelings and simply enjoy the ride, the workout and the environment where I am riding.  It feels very free to have these times of solitude and solitude is something that really strengthens me.  It always has and it’s always been my sports where I can enjoy this level of solitude and freedom.  I have other sports that are the same, windsurfing and I am just getting into snow kiting as well.  I’m sure that is what attracts me to these sports even if it has never been intentional.

So my title may need some explanation.  The fortress of solitude is a reference to Superman’s Ice fortress that he has to escape to, away from all people.  He goes their to seek answers to his struggles with the world and he goes their for freedom and solitude.  That is exactly what I feel like I have in my escapes to the mountains or on the water in incredible winds.  My focus shifts at those times not just to the sport, but more to my fortress of solitude. It is a place to recharge my spirit and mind, to be free and to be content and enjoy life.  So let me ask you, do you have a fortress of solitude that you rely on for a similar freedom?

See some more of my unicycling pictures in my photography section of panoramas on this site.

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