Unicycling is one of my favorite activities — especially mountain unicycling or road riding in the hills by my house. I learned to unicycle in April 2004 when I got my first one: a cromo steel Kris Holm 24″ mountain uni.
I was the previous 2010 Unicycle Marathon World Champion! The course was really suited to my riding style. In 2012, I attended UNICON and got 3rd in each of the marathon, 10km and 100km races. The cool thing about the 100km race is that I was one of the only people to do it nonstop, with zero dismounts or falls.. At the North American Unicycle Nationals in 2010 (called UGames), I also won the Downhill Mountain Unicycling race, and Marathon race. I placed second in the 10km and time trial races (behind the super-fast Chuck Edwall) and 3rd in Mountain Uni Cross Country.
I have a lot of unicycles and primary ride my Kris Holm geared 36″ road uni and 24″ geared mountain unicycle. I also have a geared 26″ muni. The geared hub is a planetary system that gives two speeds, and are from Schlumpf Innovations.
Listed below are various posts about unicycling (this is my “Unicycling” category on the left”).
My handlebar has been working really well, but I wanted something to protect the brake lever. So I welded on a little half moon to protect it, and threw on some black spray paint over the rust:
My cycle computer broke; they always seem to fail after a few years. This one lasted a while! 1575 miles on the ODO. Back in August of last year when I rebuilt the geared 36 wheel the computer had 694 miles. So, I’ve put nearly a 1000 miles on the frame in the past 9 months; it took me 1.5 years to get the first 700 miles…so I’ve definitely been riding it a lot more!
Back in 2012 I decided to make a V36 unicycle. I’ve kept breaking handlebars, mainly at the point where they attach to the seat base or the main seat post tube. The “T” unicycle design isn’t strong enough, and a V is clearly the way to go. I’ve been riding the unicycle for the past 4 years, and have at least 1000 miles on it (probably a lot more). It works quite well, but has a little too much side to side flex that can probably be cured with some larger main post tubing.
Here’s a collection of the posts describing the unicycle:
Making the V36 — this documents my jig and some of the initial tests. A single seat post tube was too flexy.
V36 mod 2 – I brazed on a second tube to make it flex less. This helped drastically! I also brazed on the disc brake mount.
V36 after powder coating – a nice shiny red! I used this style handlebar for a few years, but it provided too much wrist pain on long rides.
V36 final handlebar. – this is what I’m currently using, and is shown above. I liked a more forward angle in order to push the slight V back a bit. Very comfy for my hands, especially with the soft grips. Today I added a brake protecter (post coming soon!)
V36 handlebar update – brake protector. – I welded on a brake protector to avoid breaking the brake during falls. So far I haven’t had any hard falls on it to really test it, but I also put on a new Shimano XTR, so hopefully it will work!
Another update in May 2016: I moved to 135 cranks as a test.
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A few weekends ago I decided to do a long unicycle ride. Up to this point, the longest ride I did was around Lake Tahoe, which is no short ride topping in at over 70 miles with a bit of climbing and at a much higher elevation than my normal sea level riding. It was incredibly tough, and I did it before the invention of geared unicycles.
93.2 miles, 8:20 minutes of moving time (about 10 hours total time out), and 8,134 ft of climbing. Not too shabby! I really want to shoot for a 100 mile ride now, and the ultimate adventure will be 1 wheel, 10 hours, 100 miles, 10000’ of climbing. It would be insane, but we have to have goals!
I feel like I’m currently in “medium” shape, working up to “good” shape for this years UNICON in San Sebastian, Spain. I pretty accurately remember how I was feeling at various points on the ride, and I’m finally going to write about it before it fades from my memory.
From my house, there is a long steady up along Summit Rd, which turns into Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd)…and then it gradually just keeps climbing until I hit Castle Rock state park. After that point, it is some downhill until the top of Highway 9. Along the way, I was munching a little bit of food to keep me going; mainly dried pineapples and some nuts. I recall taking a break after the first hour of riding, which is shortly after I passed Black Road, and then again at the parking lot at the top of Highway 9 where it intersects with Highway 35. I was trying to pace myself and get the cycle meter to average 10mph; that way I could shoot for 100 miles in 10 hours of riding. It was difficult to do with all the uphill, and I was averaging about 9 or so at that point.
After I passed 9 I started to question if I’d be able to do the entire loop; my legs weren’t feeling all that great after 20-30 miles, and it was going to be really hard to do the entire thing. But I kept going, and stopped at the Palo Alto city side to take one of the few pictures I captured:
I was originally thinking of going all the way to La Honda (84), but once I hit the top of Alpine Rd I saw a few bikers and asked them if it went down to the Ocean. They said it did, and that it was really an awesome way to go. I was sort of wanting to take some sort of short cut at the point. My legs were doing okay (but not great), but I knew I wasn’t even at the half way point.
I’m so glad I went down Alpine! I’ve never been down the road before, and it was amazing. The long downhill was pretty tiring though, as I had to keep spinning. I was passed by a group of bikers once I got to 84; they commented about how I was crazy. Little did they know how far into the ride I was!
84/La Honda was tough. It was mostly downhill, and I stopped every hour to rest a short bit and eat some food. I brought an Avocado for high fat/energy — I’m not sure that was the best food choice. Shortly after I stopped I saw a small store/food place in San Gregorio. At this point I was seriously questioning the sanity of what I was doing, and what I would do to get home if I couldn’t make it. I was starting to dread the possible hills along Highway 1 back home. I pulled in and got an expensive drip coffee and chocolate bar. I gulped the coffee down, rested a bit, and headed back on the road, feeling super re-energized and back to being strong again (coffee!!).
I hit highway 1 and started heading south. The coffee and food was kicking in, and I pounded up the ~8% grade hills with no trouble at all. The scenery was amazing along the coast, and it was an incredibly beautiful day!
I stopped every hour or so to just rest my bum, and re-energize. It was tough, and I was leaning over the uni handlebar and just pounding away at the pedals at a slowish speed. I passed by Ano Nuevo and thought about the elephant seals.
At this point, I was looking forward to hitting Davenport. I hadn’t ridden this part of 1 before, and there were a lot more ups than I expected, making it difficult. But past Davenport and to Santa Cruz I’ve ridden a lot, and knew I could make it. So, once I hit Davenport I pulled into the cafe and got an espresso and piece of pie. It was lovely! The food and caffeine kicked me awake again, and I started pedaling towards town.
I hit Santa Cruz in no time at all; still riding not super fast, but not super slow either. I thought about the easiest way home…and figured I’d do the short hill climb up Graham Hill Rd until it hit Felton. I had to take a break going up the largest climb…and motivate myself to keep going. Once I was at Felton I knew home was in reach and started cruising up the back roads to my house.
At this point, my legs were done. I had to walk some of the steep bumpy back roads. I could have forced myself to ride, but I was nervous that I would be tearing up my leg tissue. In the end, I think I would have been fine, as my legs weren’t ever really super sore during the next few days. More “tired” than anything else.
The ride was tough, but I made it!
Four days later, I did the 20 miles to work one morning for “unicycle to work day” and 20 miles back! Ultimate training. Unfortunately I’ve slacked off the past week and a half and need to get in the habit of doing some more longer rides again.
Here’s an overview screen shot from Strava:
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I still really enjoy mountain unicycling. We used to have an annual event in Moab called Moab Muni Fest, but the organizer decided to call it quits. People would do an informal one for a while, and this year someone threw out a new location: Sedona, Arizona! I went to college in Prescott Arizona for a few years, and did a trip or two to Sedona. I recall it being very beautiful, but it was so long ago that I don’t remember much. I have every Friday off from work (I work part time), and I decided to drive my Model S out there. My friend Ashley came along, and I met up with another friend Aaron who came back with me.
This was my first really long trip in the car. I think it is better to drive as fast as you can, which takes more energy, and then to charge a little longer. At up to about 110kW up to ~50% battery, the extra energy spent driving fast can easily be made up in a few minutes.
Flagstaff charging station (my car is the red one):
It was the first time I took the car to less than 10% (9% at one stop), and I got used to it. We had one scare when the GPS tracking went crazy and said the wrong percentage estimate for the destination.
I left Thursday after work, camped in Mojave national park (pitched the tent right off the road/freeway off a small dirt road), and left early Friday morning to make it to Friday’s ride.
Friday’s ride, at one of the arches (Devil’s Bridge); I made it to the top right when most people were going down. STRAVA ride details
Saturday’s ride, Broken Arrow Trail , doing some of the Hog’s wash (etc) trails. Not long, but lots of fun and tiring. Fun highlight was seeing a girl walking her cat!
And, my favorite caption…”I’m the Tesla hobo”. I would eat by campfire at the stations while the car charged. It worked great and saved money on food.
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My friend Patricia wanted a purple unicycle to match her brother Scott’s frame. Scott has my old KH26 that I painted purple back in 2010. Just like last time, I did a coat of Chrome, and as soon as it was out of the oven I shot it with purple and put it back in for 20 more minutes.
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My geared 36 unicycle was breaking spokes nearly every ride. I’ve rebuilt the wheel with the same spokes quite a few times over the years. I would have to rebuild it when the hub failed or had some problem that caused me to send it back to Switzerland. Or simply because I was learning how to build wheels myself, and didn’t really know what I was doing (that was the first wheel build).
Here is a time lapse taken with my iPhone 6 of me lacing the wheel:
I also replaced the brake pads with a new organic pad set. They are a little tight, but brake pretty well! 694.3 miles on the cycle meter (mainly a note to myself on when I did this).
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Here is another fantastic picture of my Nepal trip by Dawa Sherpa from Himalayan Trails Adventure Travel. I’m sitting admiring the mountains, while Michele is checking something out. Our other local guide, Ankit, is looking off into the distance.
I hope to do a writeup on my trip at some point. Partially for myself to remember, and also to share my trip with others.