Unless you have a lot of time to prepare and get used to a new setup I wouldn’t do too many drastic changes to your ride.
A smooth tire is a good place to start.
If you feel like your cranks are holding you back some 114s or some 100s might work better for you. Just a caution, If you aren’t used to short cranks the jump from 125 to 100 is very noticeable.
I would suggest getting the Qu-Ax Light cranks. They are good cranks, inexpensive and lightweight but not super strong (You aren’t doing drops with them are you?) They are getting harder to find so you might have to order them from the UK.
I like having a handle, but it is a personal preference. If you have a limited budget (don’t we all) and have access to scrap bikes and some tools you can easily make one yourself. There are a few examples scattered through the forum. I find they help with control and comfort on longer rides.
Aug 2016 Wichita Falls Hotter’N Hell Bike Festival.
various rides available (10k, 25 mile, 50 mile, 100 mile). They have off-road too, but I’m only planning for on-road riding. Will not be doing any drops or hops.
My 26" has a pretty smooth tire - not muni.
I went from 150 cranks to 125s a few months ago so I understand the learning curve. Would 114s help that much? I want to get the most “bang for my buck” - however, I don’t want to goof up my mojo and have to train back up to my current level.
I am riding about 4 miles each time 4x a week. Trying to gradually increase that.
I might just do the 10k this time and plan on the 25 mile next year when I might have a bigger unicycle.
Eric has good suggestions.
I would also suggest to map out a 25 mile route and ride it. See how you do and use that to gauge your progress. Keep in mind that in August, and it’s in the 90s, with 90% humidity, the endurance picture will be quite different. (Every degree it gets above 90 makes a difference, to me.)
25 miles on your 26r is definitely doable, but it will take a while. Shorter cranks (like 110s or 114s) will help. It will make hill climbing harder though.
The main thing to worry about IMHO is the saddle/butt interface. If you keep riding you’ll get there eventually, and the obstacle most likely to pop up in a multi-hour ride is distress in the saddle region. Work on figuring out what you need to wear, whether the saddle you’ve got is going to cut it, if a handlebar helps, seat tilt angle, and whatever ointments and preparations you should apply down there.
So I’m pretty sure the Hotter than Hell (Hundred) is in August (it was almost my first long bike ride way back in the 90’s but then I didn’t do it). Oh wait, yes, you already wrote August.
So anyway, that means, yes, you have time to get used to short cranks.
So yes, I would definitely recommend going with shorter cranks. The above recommended Qu-ax cranks are very cheap (forgot off hand, but something like $30), so it probably wouldn’t be inconceivable to buy both 114s and 100s and work you way down to the 100s, and then just ride the 114s if you don’t get there (I have both 100 and 114s from Qu-ax).
As said above, the step from 125s to 114s is probably about as big as 150s to 125s and then 114s to 100s then even bigger. After riding 165s, then 150s, then 125s on my 36, this year I’ve been working shorter and riding both 114s and 100s. It took me a while but the 100s are definitely the best for distance (but it takes getting used to and your mouting and slow-speed is much harder).
Not sure what your speed averages are like now, but based on a really rough estimate I would guess with 114/100s you will doing about 8-9mph, so right around 3 hours for 25 miles. Actually I think with 125s it would be around 3 1/2 hours, with 114s about 3:15 and with 100s just under 3 hours for 25 miles.
I’d say pick the distance based on your longest practice ride and how long you want to be in the saddle. With the 26 you’ll be looking at 3-4 hours, so definitely long enough for your butt to burn if you’R not accustomed to doing distance. I’d say that you should get in at least 3-4 rides of at least half the distance you want to do in the event. If that turns out to be less, then just do the 10k (i.e. if the longest you’ve ever ridden is 10 miles then the 25 may be hard and painful).
I do not know your physical conditioning but this sounds like good advice to me. I have the same uni with 125’s. I added a Chris Holm Fusion Zero and a distance T-bar last fall. I have about 10-15 hours on it so far. It takes some getting used to riding with the handle bars and the saddle takes some playing with to get it right. I am still not 100% comfortable.
My longest ride so far was 8 miles and the last 2 0r 3 were miserable. I have not ridden it over the winter and am planning on getting back on it a couple of times a week now that the weather is turning.
25 miles seems to be a really long ride to me. But I must admit I am more concerned with having fun then reaching any milestones at this point in my life. I am training for and hope to enter the 10K at the NAUCC this year. That will be a milestone for me. Good luck and whatever you decide just remember to have fun while you do it!
Shorter cranks. Got to agree with BungeeJoe, who has done zillions of Road miles so he knows what he’s talking about. And he’s older than you. Start with 89s. This is also based on my own experience doing a marathon race on a 36" with 102mm cranks. That was a pretty flat course, and it worked fine.
A good pair of bike shorts. Key words “good” and “bike”. Padded shorts. They will make your life so much more pleasant!
Handle. This is more optional, but the longer the ride, the more it will enhance your comfort. What you want is something to allow you to rest your weight on it, to take some weight off your crotch. That’s because the shorts can’t performa miracles. You definitely don’t need a long handle; anything that’s adjustable will work. Even the front handle on today’s quality saddles is something, but not the best.
Meanwhile, work on your spin. A good quality spin is what makes short cranks help you go faster. Just start cranking out the miles. Practice riding fast, medium and slow. You should be able to ride considerably faster than your “normal cruising speed”, just to have a buffer, especially when you get tired. Practicing riding fast will also help you increase your cruising speed. We used to go about 11 mph in long-ish 24" races (11 miles). I would expect a lower speed to do 25 miles, but it doesn’t have to be a lot slower.
You have lots of time to prepare for a race in August; no worries about that. And the Kansas part of the ride info suggests that the course is not very hilly. Even with some hills, the 89s should still work fine. If you’ve tried them (for at least 2 weeks) and don’t like them, try 100/102s but remember those are long enough for a 36"!
Also, work your way up to long rides in hot weather. If it’s “Hotter n Hell”, it will help a lot to be used to riding in those conditions. Lastly, make sure you have water with you. Don’t rely on the occasional water stop. I recommend a hydration pack, but really you just need a decent-sized water bottle.
And if it is downhill all the way, what about plugging the pedals directly on the axle?
More seriously I would consider making the wheel the lightest you can, I recommend for example the Schwalbe supermoto 26x2.35 (620gm) tyre and the lightest tube you’ll find (I just put it on my guni26 with a FOSS tube and it makes a big difference).
Especially if you want to use very short cranks.
I personally don’t recommend to decrease/increase the cranks length/ride distance combo too fast if you want to avoid the risk of developing injury issues.
That’s what I have done several months ago and since I’m struggling against different kinds of knee issues.
It’s not about the learning process but about giving your body the time to progressively get used to the final setting.
About the seat I recommend to use good padded shorts (I wear two at a time, one of theme has gel pads) and some lube, and also try to get out of the saddle while pedaling every few miles to let the blood circulate.
25 miles is not that far on a 26". I have a setup with 114 mm cranks but have done this a number of times on 125 mm cranks as well. I would invest in a nice road tire. An issue you may run into is sensitivity to road camber. This can be very annoying. If the road is curved downward to allow water to run off to the sides it may happen that your unicycle starts to self steer forcing constant pressure to keep straight. This can be corrected by increasing tire pressure. Also a good saddle is essential.
The ride is in Wichita Falls, TEXAS - not in Wichita, Kansas. So, definitely not many hills to deal with. The hardest part will be getting over the overpass a few blocks from the starting line.
When I posted this I thought they had done away with the 10k ride. So, that is why I thought it was 25 miles or nothing. Now I see they do have the 10k still and half of it is a route that I ride already anyway.
I don’t get “tired” at 4 miles. I get saddle sore. I have started wearing bike shorts with gel padding for my longer rides and that helps a LOT.
I found the QU-AX 114 at firetoys.com for less than $30. Anything shorter than that it looks like I have to go to unicycle.com and pay $65.
75mm / 89mm / 102mm / 114mm = priced at $65 for each set
114mm QU-AX at firetoys $20.95
So, I’m leaning toward getting the 114 cranks and going for the 10k ride. Then, maybe in 2017 I can do the 25 mile on a bigger UNI or shorter cranks on my 26".
My unicycle came with this tire setup
Tube size: 26" x 1.75"
Tire: Kenda Kniption 26" x 2.30"
It seems pretty smooth to me - can someone recommend a road tire that would be better?
Well like I said, I recommend Schwalbe Super Moto 26x2.35 which is 200gm lighter than yours.
If you also manage to find out the weight of you tube and see if you can save another few grams of rotational weight by finding a even lighter tube it will help.
114 cranks sounds good for me.
You don’t want to win over bikes do you?
Not if you’re riding a 36" (no choice). I have experience with the Schwalbe Big Apple tire, on 29" rims and 2.35 is nice as it does well at absorbing some of those road imperfections. But that particular tire was better in the 2.0" because it was less sensitive to road camber. Note that UniDreamer was talking about a different tire model.