(I’ll try to make this as short as possible)
I returned yesterday from my first ever competition on my muni - the Beaudesert 24hr Team Challenge. Gabe and I had a great time competing in a 2-man team against heaps of mountain bikers and as far as I know, we are the only unicyclists to have done so (for this event). I rode my 24" x 3" custom muni and Gabe rode his 26" x 3" custom muni which was almost exactly the same colour as mine. We ended up doing a total of 20 laps and had a great time despite a few complications.
I guess I should have seen it coming, but the race started 90 minutes late so after being fired up at 12:00 we had to wait until 1:30 to get going. While we were waiting for the start, we took a practise lap and discovered that the course was really hilly. Gabe’s done quite a few endurance events like this and said that this was more hilly than any of the others. There weren’t really many long gradual hills, but rather quite a few shortish steep ones. This was good in a way though because it made for some fun little downhill bits. There weren’t many flat bits at all though so we didn’t get much of a chance to rest. I was really happy to see several creek crossings including 3 (I think) where you rode across a little ground-level ladder bridge. Unfortunately, on this practise lap, Gabe’s shoulder was hurting.
Gabe took the first lap in under 30min and we took turns doing one lap each until we got up to 10. By the time Gabe got back from his 5th lap, his shoulder was hurting so much that he had to stop. We had someone check it out and it turned out that he has ‘Swimmer’s Shoulder’. Luckily, he got some drugs for it but had to rest it for the night. By my 5th (our 10th) lap the sun had gone down and I had a go at some night muni-ing. I hadn’t ever ridden at night (I didn’t really have time to try it leading up to the race) and I really struggled to stay on the muni in a lot of places. It’s so different to normal riding. That lap was 5min slower than my others and I didn’t enjoy it as much. I got back and decided to have a good night’s sleep and start up again early the next morning. I ended up getting 8 hours sleep (probably a bit too much but I wasn’t complaining) and I was refreshed the next morning. I rode on my own for the next 4 or so hours while Gabe recovered. Then Gabe joined me for our last 4 laps.
Everyone was so nice to us the whole time and we had so much support from all of the other competitors. There was a scouts group or something like that who told me that we were their favourite team. Whenever I got close to their camp, before I could even see them, I’d hear, “Hey it’s the unicycle guy!”. I only got one bad comment. One guy told both of us that we were clowns. At first I didn’t realise whether or not he was meaning to insult us (actually I still don’t really know). I told him that we’re not clowns and that unicycling is actually a sport. He said, “I’ll call you clowns if I want to”. I asked him if he had anything against unicycling and he said no so I’m still a bit confused. I overtook him up a hill and he kept saying, “Are you trying to race me?” and stuff like that. This was about 1km before the finish line and I was getting a little bit annoyed with him so I decided I wanted to beat him. He overtook me down the hill but just before the finish I caught up and beat him to the finish line. Everyone else was unbelievably nice though. It was such a good atmosphere.
Here are some of the comments I got:
“I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to pass you”
“Go Kris Holm!” - I thought this was great, he actually knew something about unicycling.
“Is that fun or are you just crazy?”
“Go unicycle man!”
“You guys really amaze me. I’m buggered on two wheels…with brakes…and gears!”
There was one bunch of people (who were really supportive) that kept asking me to do a bunny hop. I did, and by the last lap I was only hopping about 10cms high.
The course was 4.6km long which is short but it was really hilly. We did 20 laps in total. I recorded my lap times to see what sorts of averages I was getting:
Lap 1 - 26:08, Av. 10.3km/h
Lap 2 - 26:06, Av. 10.5km/h
Lap 3 - 28:18, Av. 9.6km/h
Lap 4 - 28:10, Av. 9.8km/h
Lap 5 - 33:07, Av. 8.5km/h (in the dark)
Lap 6 - 31:50, Av. 9.1km/h (in the dark the next morning)
Lap 7 - 25:58, Av. 10.6km/h
Lap 8 - 26:32, Av. 10.0km/h
Lap 9 - 27:58, Av. 9.8km/h
Lap 10 - 28:47, Av. 9.3km/h
Lap 11 - 29:00?
Lap 12 - 30:00?
Lap 13 - 37:00?
*I think I did 13 laps but I forgot to record the times for the last 3.
On the last lap, my left crank fell off. I didn’t realise it, but the bolt must have come loose and fallen off. I’m a little annoyed with this because I tightened it on the first day of the race. I lost the bolt and the little washer thingy but I’ll apparently be able to find a new one. I would’ve wheel walked over the line but the wrong crank had fallen off, so I couldn’t mount it. I didn’t want to embarrass myself by attempting to hand wheel walk across either. The cranks fell off in the first kilometer of the course so I had a wuick search for it and then ran the rest of the way.
Over the 24hrs Gabe and only rode about 92km but we had heaps of fun. We ended up beating one of the solo guys and we were 6 laps behind a 2-man team. I didn’t have the chance to take as many photos as I’d have liked to but I got some. You can see them in a new gallery at http://www.unicyclist.com/gallery/andrew. There are some photos of Gabe’s custom muni (with a disk brake) there too for those of you who were interested.
Thanks a lot to everyone who convinced me to compete in this event. It was heaps of fun and we got so many positive comments. I strongly recommend it to anyone who’s been considering an endurance event. Just go at your own pace like we did. I can now understand how much of a freak (in a good way) Peter Bier is for even considering going solo.