Here’s part 2 of my report on the 1999 California Mountain Unicycle Weekend in
Santa Cruz. It starts with Saturday lunch.
Lunch was provided right in the parking lot at De La Veaga park, with
pre-arranging and some cell phone confirmation calls. A great idea we should try
to use in the future. The park was nice because there was a shady picnic area
and lots of tables. We just need a big bucket of ice next time.
We did a group photo based on a bunch of people on their unicycles on a
picnic table. This got kind of covered up by all the other people surrounding
us, but still made for a nice group shot, like the one Lloyd Tabb posted to
the group last week. Then a bunch of guys posed for photos by jumping off a
picnic table together.
The afternoon ride was on the UC Santa Cruz campus. This is not a normal college
campus. It’s up on the hills, with lots of trees and natural areas. It’s a rare
college campus where you can be riding a woodsy trail for a while and forget
where you are.
I enjoyed the afternoon ride because we all took off together; something that’s
hard to arrange for MUni Weekends (but Bruce & David did it several times). Our
ride included everybody, with hard options on side trails for the more
The ride started by a drop into a little canyon or gorge, under a big walk
bridge. Experts rode straight down the slope under the bridge, while other took
traversing paths or walked it. Then we rode together through the dry stream bed
area, until the Experts took a side trail. This trail was narrow and more
advanced, with lots of stuff to hop over as we climbed up a hillside, then great
little drops to fly over on the way down. At the top of the big hill we climbed
was a giant climbing tree. This tree reminded us of the one in Jurassic Park,
where the actors were chased down it by the descending Ford Explorer. We took a
picture of David on his unicycle, about 20’ up on a branch. Meanwhile, Nathan
Hoover climbed up about 100’ and described the fantastic view from up there.
This tree was made for climbing, with lots of big, evenly spaced branches.
Experts and novices rejoined each other to end up at “the great log ride”, as
described in the schedule. This was a downed tree which was about 4’ high at one
end, gradually getting higher off the ground as the ground sloped downhill. The
tree was about level. Lots of people took turns riding down it, either solo,
with spotters, or in groups. Dan Heaton went a step further, doing some
freestyle tricks up there. He did a “seat suspend”, where you lower the seat in
front of you but it doesn’t touch the ground. Instead, your feet catch the base
of the fork and lever it back up. Dan also tried a few 180 uni spins up there
and landed them, but I don’t know if he actually rode away from any.
Then David Poznanter went into base-jumping mode, riding off the log at a height
of about 4 or 5’. Brave Rob Bowman laid down underneath him to take another
worm’s eye view picture.
After this, the Experts continued on a loop that took them to the famous hill
called “Lock-em-up”. The one previous time I’d been down this hill (about a year
ago), I watched Bruce in amazement and walked almost the whole thing. This time,
I rode almost all of it and didn’t realize it was the same hill until later.
Increased skills, the experience of watching Kris Holm in Vancouver, and the
2.6" Gazzaloddi tire made the difference. This hill has a series of large drops
and steep sections, peppered with roots and rocks. It was made easier for me
because there are places where you can stop and reset your brain before
For those who rode down Lock-em-up, a seemingly endless uphill trail followed.
This one sapped my remaining energy for the day. Upon arrival at the top, the
group of us lay around, waiting for the riders behind us, and sipping the last
drops of our water. Fortunately, it was then time to head for dinner! The
prospect of food always seems to bring a little more spring to legs of lead.
While waiting outside the dining hall, David Poznanter wanted to show us how he
handles stairs. Earlier in the year I had already seen him ride up sets of
three stairs by just ramming into them. Here at the dining hall was a set of 19
steps that David and several other guys rode down. We took lots of pictures of
them doing it together. Kudos for Dan Heaton for being the only one to still
have his helmet on for this. Falling on concrete stairs = ouch! David finished
up by showing how he could skip the first four steps and ride down the rest.
Those big 3" tires make it look almost like they’re just riding down a bumpy
hill. Amazing to watch!
Contrary to David’s description, the dining hall food was very good. We don’t
eat there every day, so we’re not tired of it. Plus, after all the riding that
day, I think I would have enjoyed munching old Schwinn seat cover, with some
nice warm puddle water to wash it down.
After dinner we went to a nearby lounge area, with lots of seating and a big
screen TV and VCR. There people were able to watch some unicycling videos and
either root for, or poke fun at the people on the screen. I took a group of
people to go down to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and ride the famous Giant
Dipper roller coaster. Unfortunately, due to my misreading of the Boardwalk web
site, the place was already closed and dark when we got there. Bummer! My
apologies again to the people who drove down.
My own day was capped by a nice leg massage from my loving fiancé Jacquie. Life
just doesn’t get any better.
Stay tuned for part 3…
“I’m okay, I crash like that a lot.”
- Dan Heaton