1999 MUni Weekend Report, part 1

MUni fans,

Sorry I didn’t get this out earlier; it’s been a busy workweek. Despite that, I
still have a pleasant glow from the 1999 California Mountain Unicycle Weekend.
Hosts Bruce Bundy and David Poznanter continued our short tradition of a weekend
of fun, togetherness, trails, and food, with only a little bit of that
competition stuff.

Santa Cruz seems to be a perfect location for a MUni Weekend, with lots of
trails within a few miles of each other, lots of options within those trails for
various riding abilities to ride near each other if not together, and nice
oceanside weather. I hope the MUni Weekend returns there often.

Also, Bruce and David put together a schedule that seemed very appropriate, with
lots of variety, short travel distances, and not too much riding on Sunday! This
being my first MUni Weekend as a participant, rather than the harried host, made
for a great relaxing (though high intensity!) time.

My MUni Weekend experience started Friday afternoon, jumping in the car with
Jacquie and her sister Jaimie to head for Santa Cruz. We avoided nearly all of
the Friday rush traffic by taking a long cut, avoiding the Bay area completely.
In this case, more miles=less time! We arrived at the Inn Cal to see Jared and
Joe Stoltzfus riding around the parking lot. Okay! We’re back in uni-land!

We headed over to 320 Caledonia St, conveniently less than 1/2 mile away, to see
Bruce’s tiny back yard filled with Trials obstacles. David was hopping his
unicycle up a series of angled 4x4’s to the top of their homemade Trials picnic
table. John Drummond (UnicycleSource) arrived, and we laughed at the fact that
we were both now sporting goatees. Lloyd Tabb was taking pictures with a new
Nikon digital camera.

Dinner at the Seabright Brewery was followed by videos of NUC 99 MUni and other
assorted stuff, including an amazing tape by bicycle trialist Jeff Lenoski
(sp?). This guy jumps his bike up onto 2" wide railings and rides along them,
among many other incredible things. Leaves our sport plenty of room to grow…

Saturday morning, unicyclists converged on De La Veaga Park. It was nice to have
a proper, paved parking lot, unlike Auburn’s dirt. Unicyclists of all ages were
all over the place. There was even Robert Flynn from Vallejo, with his 85 pound,
wooden-framed giraffe with a super-fat ATV tire. He built this unicycle 15 years
ago for a kinetic sculpture race, in which entries have to look cool but they
also have to be able to complete the 38 mile route (much of which on a sandy
beach) under human power. I tried riding it, but the 1" of play in the pedal
stroke combined with the weight and traction of the big tire was too much for
me, even after a good 30 seconds of practice with Andy Cotter spotting me :slight_smile:

There were two uphill race courses, ending in the same area just inside the
woods from the parking area. Novices rode up a wide fire road, about 100 meters.
Competitors ran into problems toward the end, where the slope got steeper and
the trail was full of loose rocks. Remounting was allowed, but you had to back
up about 1 meter each time. The Expert uphill course went up a steeper piece of
singletrack, with big branches on the ground and notches you had to ride
through. Many entrants were unable to complete the first part of the Expert run.

A surprising number of entrants started the race without having looked at the
whole course. Instead of ending in the nice flat area where the Novices did, the
Expert course continued up a “wall with switchbacks on it”. You had to go uphill
another 20 feet or so, either straight up a very steep area, or on a switchback
that forced you to ride further but not as steep (real steep, instead of
stupid-steep).

Bruce is expecting to post the official results. I think Dan Heaton came in
first, at 1:02. Then I think David Poznanter did 1:07? Followed by me with
1:12. Uphill races work well as sports events. They take up a small amount of
space, they’re easy to watch, they’re hard to do, and they take a lot out
of the riders! Plus they don’t have the added element of danger you’d find
in a short downhill race. Save that for the X-Games.

After racing uphill, we headed off onto our various trails. De La Veaga is a
perfect park for MUni, because lots of trails are crammed into a very small
area, with easy to “idiot-extreme” all close together. Of course I rode with the
idiots, so I can’t report on the easier rides.

As usual, the Novices were done riding before we were. We like to take more time
watching each other try to ride things the Novices would have walked over (or
around) without even thinking about riding. There was a core group of 5 riders
that would try almost anything. The rest of us enjoyed watching and trying to
photograph them.

The big five:
2. David Poznanter
3. Bruce Bundy
4. Daniel Hopkins
5. Dan Heaton
6. Joseph (Tigger) Campbell

I have certain mental limitations on what I’ll attempt to ride. Things like:

  • If I can’t stand still on it without sliding down
  • If I’m afraid to walk down it
  • Steep slope followed by a mandatory whole bunch more steep slope
  • If I try to ride it and the red light comes on in my head

This puts me in the “chicken, but I don’t have a lot of scars” category. So be
it. This weekend I was riding John Drummond’s DMATU with the 2.6" Gazzaloddi
tire and loving it, but just getting used to it. It enabled me to hop up steep
stuff I couldn’t do with my narrower tires, and will undoubtedly make lots of
jumping stuff easier as I get used to it. Later, when I have longer crank arms
(170 instead of 150) I will be almost out of excuses for not trying things.
Pretty soon I’ll be left with nothing but “I’m chicken”. With Bruce in his
mid-40’s, I can’t even use age as an excuse!

Enough of me whining. Riders have to hear enough of that on the trails. I was
amazed at the number of people carrying cameras this year. There were picture
takers everywhere. We all lined up for pictures while the other guys made
their attempts.

You know it’s a steep trail when the unicycle slides out from under Joe
Campbell, he goes down to a sitting position, and he keeps on sliding. On the
same steep spot, I wanted to get a picture of Dan Heaton from down below. I’m on
the main trail and he’s coming down a side “trail” leading to
it. He bailed, and ended up leaping off the hill practically over my head, and
landing in the bushes kind of like Superman, coming out onto some poofy
dirt. He got up with black bits of dirt sticking to the sweat on his face,
hence my new sig quote (see bottom of this message).

When they weren’t taking turns on nutty cliffs & things, the Expert rode quite a
fast pace to the next hard spot. All in all it was a major workout, especially
after doing several runs of the uphill course. When we finally came down for
lunch back at the parking lot, we were really ready for it!

Ads to Bruce’s report from the other day:

> > The official total ridership was 54 riders!
I don’t think we ever managed a headcount. Even if we did, all rider were not
there at the same time. I still think there were at least 60 riders.

> > Most notably missing were the two greats of the sport, George Peck and Kris
> > Holm, but despite all of our mourning over that fact, we managed to have a
> > pretty good time.
Bruce also mentioned Roger Davies, but where was Brett (Bloodman) Bymaster?
School and $$ kept him away, but I would include him with those guys as well.

> > The expert group covered some pretty amazing terrain, of which I’m hoping
> > someone has some pictures to contribute.
I’ll be sorting through mine tonight. Using a flash makes it hard to see the
surrounding terrain though, so we’ll see what we get. It was mostly too dark in
there to not use one. I was very impressed with the pictures already posted by
Lloyd and Eric!

Part 2 coming up…

John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone (reply to jfoss@unicycling.com)
http://www.unicycling.com

“I’m okay, I crash like that a lot.”

  • Dan Heaton

RE: 1999 MUni Weekend Report, part 1

John Hooten wrote:
> trails. The main thing I want from Muni is fitness. I keep doing it and get a
> lot of high quality exercise from it because it so much fun. My goals and
> accomplishments are relatively boring and aren’t worth posting. But, they are
> probably more in line with most muni riders. The cutting edge

Thanks for that reminder of why many of us ride. Even me, because fitness is an
underlying reason to stay in such an odd sport. The cutting edge is fun, but
should be approached with care if you don’t like scars!

> downhills. Well, someone has to be able climb out of the canyon to call Search
> and Rescue.

And of course that’s where we were on Saturday, riding the great Flume Trail
along Lake Tahoe. No shortcuts down to the road; you’re on your own up there. So
we took note of the spots where David P. and Kris H. would have attempted
things, but we would have been there to pick up the pieces if necessary…

More about this ride coming up, after I finish writing about MUni Weekend!

Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone (reply to jfoss@unicycling.com)
http://www.unicycling.com

“I’m okay, I crash like that a lot.”

  • Dan Heaton

Re: 1999 MUni Weekend Report, part 1

Mark Wiggins wrote:

> Is unicycling becoming more dangerous these days? There have been quite a few
> posts recently that suggest unicycling == injury.

And John Foss wrote:

> I have certain mental limitations on what I’ll attempt to ride. Things like:
> - If I can’t stand still on it without sliding down
> - If I’m afraid to walk down it
> - Steep slope followed by a mandatory whole bunch more steep slope
> - If I try to ride it and the red light comes on in my head
>
> This puts me in the “chicken, but I don’t have a lot of scars” category.
> So be it.

What John would consider beyond his “chicken” point is way out on the cutting
edge. He can still ride terrain that would make almost anyone’s jaw drop. He
just knows how to calculate his odds of being able to walk away. Muni is many
things to many different people. I think it would be a mistake to consider Muni
to only be the type of riding that Chris Holm does. He is on the edge where the
limits of the sport are being pushed and the equipment is being developed to
make greater challenges possible. Somethingh we all benefit from. Most of us
don’t belong out on that edge. We don’t have the skills, the nerve, or the
willingness to endure the punishment that comes with riding ever more extreme
trails. The main thing I want from Muni is fitness. I keep doing it and get a
lot of high quality exercise from it because it so much fun. My goals and
accomplishments are relatively boring and aren’t worth posting. But, they are
probably more in line with most muni riders. The cutting edge is what we want
read about and marvel at. It is somewhat dangerous out on the edge, but there
aren’t all that many people on it.

As to John being “Chicken” when it comes to passing on “Stupid steep” downhills.
Well, someone has to be able climb out of the canyon to call Search and Rescue.

All the best,

John Hooten