3 mile Muni vs 30 mile Cokering for exercise

I’m just wondering about the the exercise factor when it comes to, say a 30 mile coker ride along a mostly flat, smooth bike path that takes about 3 - 3 1/2 hours to complete at a fairly consistent but comfortable speed, vs a 3 mile, extremely technical, all out MUni ride that takes only about 35 minutes to complete.

So for 35 minutes, I’ve got my heart rate near maximum, and I’m doing some very steep ups & downs, working very hard and feeling like I’m getting a substantial workout. Then, on another day, I’m taking it pretty easy on the coker, doing 30 miles on flat, smooth ground and hardly even working up a sweat.

So, If I were to do this type of MUni or Coker for 5 days per week, which ride would be more physically benificial overall? Of course, the ideal, imo, would be to alternate both types of riding, maybe Muni 3 days and coker 2, but I’m just curious so I thought I’d ask opinions. :sunglasses:

muni would definitely be the better workout from your options. however if you stepped up the speed and effort put into your coker ride, then you could make it pretty even. i would say alternate though, hard muni on monday, wednesday, and friday, easier cokering on tuesday and thursday.

theoretically, the coker ride would be better to build up your cardiovascular health. On the other hand, the 30 minutes of muni is more likely to build muscular strength. It all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Mostly “overall” benefits. On the coker rides we’ve been maitaining an average speed of about 10 mph, with (infrequent) max’s up around 15 mph. Overall, the coker ride is pretty non-strenuous.

The MUni is no doubt great cardio, as I mentioned my heart rate gets up to near maximum at times, and averages well above 150. And yes, I’m sure it builds muscle strength, as well as being a great “core” builder. I was mainly wondering if the two very different workouts would be similar in physical benifit as one is relatively short, but very strenuous, while the other is very long but much less strenuous.

I think you’ve answered your own question here.

Just my view, but repetition does little for fitness if it’s not accompanied by cardio workout. If your 30 mile coker ride includes powering up a few hills, intervals style, so you get your heart rate into a higher zone, then you might have a better comparison. But if you’re “Sunday Driving” on your Coker, fuggetaboutit.

I proved this to myself after some great training advice from Nathan H: “train the hills, and the distance will take care of itself.” The first year I did the MS 150, I trained a boatload of miles, mostly on flat trails. Got to the event, and the hills killed me. The next year, I spent most of my training time working hills, not paying as much attention to distance. Got to the event, and not only rode further than ever before, but pounded all the hills that gave me a hard time the year prior.

Yeah, 100% of my cokering will pretty much be ridden on the 50 miles (25 each way) of beautiful bike path that stretches from Malibu to Torrance, CA!

It’s not an endurance test really for anything but my crotch! :astonished: Still i can’t help thinking that the many thousands of revolutions covering 30 miles would still provide at least some physical benifit. If not, then I guess I’m just “spinning my wheels!”:wink:

I think the muni would be a “better” workout if you had to pick just one. 30 minutes out on the trails and you can be assured I’ve used a lot more muscles than I would had I ridden on a smooth street. Just think about what it does for your core and arms. Especially when you probably freemount a lot more often on the trails than on the street. And even when I am in the woods out of the sun I sweat a lot more and breath a lot heavier.

I think pavement riding can be really beneficial to your cardio depending on the level you take it. To make it a better workout though the route should include hills like Tomblackwood mentioned. It should also include plenty of turns (speaking from experience from riding straight smooth rail trails here… very few turns at all :frowning: ), and I would think every now and then dismounting and mounting again as part of the training.

but I’m really just throwing out stuff from my own limited experience.

edited to add: of course we are talking about Terry… someone experienced at unicycling on the street and on the trails. A “ride in the park” for some of us once upon a time WAS a tremendous workout. I remember my heart beating in my throat numerous times as I just tried to stay up!" So judging the workout also would have to include not just what workout… but whose…

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Thanks for all the informative replies all! Well, since there the (long) bike path is virtually level all the way, with no hard turns, I’ll just have to throw in a few more fast sprints in the 14-17 mph range! Of course we do stop from time to time to take breaks, eat a snack and “adjust” things. :smiley:

Hey Terry, I’m think I’m going to say that, though the coker ride would be better for cardio, the muni ride would probably take the coker ride in terms of brute short-term power output training.

They’re really two completely different kinds of training. When I’m on my bike I’ll easily go 90-100 miles, but those 90-100 miles are in a gear where I actually have some good resistance, allowing me to put out 180-220 watts for an extended period of time, which is where the workout is. My heart rate may only be 120-140 the whole time, but it’s definitely raised, and I’m definitely hammering pretty hard to keep speed up. I would say that a long bike ride like that is definitely more similar to the coker ride than the muni ride, but on the coker, you’re stuck in a 36-inch “gear”, probably limited to 50-70 watts of average wheel-to-ground power output, plus maybe 20-30% extra effort in order to keep your balance. On the bike you can hang in the 30s-40s for climbing (high cadence, power-spin!), 80s for flat speed, and even 100-140 if you’re feeling like a god for the moment, allowing you to actually crank out more physical work, in the strictest sense, force-distance units at your pedals. On the coker, without getting your cadence through the roof, it’s impossible to work yourself out! That said, I think the coker ride is mostly useless unless you either put in long, long distance or get a Schlumpf hub and frame and ride in 54" mode to force yourself put out more power.

Riding a unicycle cruelly limits you in how hard you can work yourself at reasonable cadences. Go geared (which, even then, may not be enough) or climb hills. You’ll need to find the right hill for optimum effect because you can’t shift. In a 36" gear, probably an 8-10-percent grade, six or so if your strength isn’t quite there yet; that’s what you’d want to do if you’re going to train road. If you do do that… climb hills all the time, etc, you’ll have legs of steel and will be able to power through just about anything at really high output for a long time. Which brings me to the muni ride…

My problem with the muni ride is that it’s only 35 minutes long. Granted, it may be an (exceptionally!) intense 35 minutes, but as far as a “workout” goes, it should be far longer, probably at least into the 1-2 hour range. The muni ride will get your heart rate up into the sky, but it’s because you’re doing obstacles, rough stuff, pounding all over the place, standing up, etc. The muni ride will really help your ability to maintain fast, intense stuff for minutes at a time (like, if you’re going to max yourself out for three to five minutes at a time), but I wouldn’t say it would increase your ability to simply put out RAW POWER at any time you need it. It’s great general conditioning, but you’re not going to become a mad sprinter or hill climber doing it. Thing is… if you DO become a great sprinter or mad hill climber, what the muni riding will do for you is to allow you to get your heart rate down more quickly after powering, and it will allow you to keep up an almost-sprint level of output for much longer.

You actual ability to crank out power at any given time, though, like, how hard you can push when you’re fresh, and what kind of foot-on-pedal force from your leg relates to what kind of perceived effort in your brain, will come from high-gear/uphill coker riding (or, if you really want a quantifiably intense road-based workout, a road bike where you can always choose a hard/optimal gear for good resistance at high cadence). Unless you’re climbing, on a coker, you can have all the cadence you want, but you’re not going to get the ability to acutally push hard at that cadence, because a 36" wheel (and perhaps even a 54") just isn’t big enough. The 54 would definitely be big enough to get you a good long-distance flat-ground aerobic workout though, if cadence stays up.

I’m sorry I’m so long winded… I’ve thought about this a lot myself (and actually experimented with it and spoken with a bunch of people about it). But my basic point is… think about what kind of absolute foot-to-pedal wattage feels like in terms of the way you perceive how “hard you’re pushing”… that’s going to be amped up by doing hills on your coker. Now think about, when you open your throttle and start powering for a given amount of time, how long it takes you to feel the burn in your lungs, heart, head, (and perhaps legs, but not always) and at what level of fatigue you let yourself crack; the muni riding will postpone that burn and allow you to put up with more of it before your body’s incessant, most likely painful, complaining forces your mind to give it a rest.

If you can, climb hills in a tough (but aerobically friendly) gear on your road bike (if you have one) and keep your RPM up with a heavy gear. Do that a lot, and that’d be even better than the coker riding for upping your ability to just put out power.

If you’re going to rely on muni riding for core strength and cardio (which is what I think it’s best for, contrary to muscle, as many here have said… unless there is substantial climbing) then I’d make sure the muni ride lasts at least an hour, preferably an hour and a half or two, and keep your heart rate above 130 the whole time with a break in the middle… maybe 5 or 10 minutes at 130 and 5 or 10 minutes at 160-170 if the terrain will allow you to manage getting your heart rate that high (flat terrain, unless you’re really spinning FAST, won’t and shouldn’t get your heart rate to 170). That’s really good core and cardio, and the punishment will allow you to take more in the future.

If you’re wanting to increase how much power output you get out a given perceived effort, ride your coker on as many hills as you can find, or grab a road bike and shove it in a good gear (probably better than the coker). The best RPMs to do that in are in the 80-100 range, so just take as hard a gear as you can possibly do without letting your cadence drop below 80 or so. Likewise, if you’re on a coker, take as hard a hill as you can without letting your cadence drop. And when I say hill, I mean at least a half mile or so, though one and a half to three would be better. Going for a flat coker ride with three or four 200-yard hills isn’t going to get you very far. :slight_smile: If your cadence goes too low during a climb, shift down! And if you’re already in first gear and your cadence drops uncontrollably, go home! And if you’re on your coker and your cadence hits rock bottom, suck it up or find a shallower grade. :slight_smile: (But always make sure you’re on a steep enough hill to have to crank the pedals to keep your cadence going… it shouldn’t feel like it’s going by itself.) That will get your legs beefed up in a hurry, so that you’ll get a bunch of power for what doesn’t feel like much effort. Then the muni riding can make it so you can use that power-power-power repeatedly without bonking halfway through your ride.

Okay, I’m done now, I promise. :slight_smile:

All that said, I’d alternate the ride. Longer muni ride, steeper or geared up coker ride. They both have their place, they both will help you out if you do them right, and, they’re both probably buttloads of fun!

I know that I’ve essentially argued that muni is better for cardio and road is better for muscle, but if you want something smooth and great for cardio, road is the way to go. Just go longer and flatter! And muni with mad hilliage could be just as good as road for sheer power output, but the hills would have to be very long and more or less regular in order to peg yourself at your aerobic threshold. I’d say, though, that finding a good long hill and cokering up it at high cadence with good force would be better than most muni, because the hills are shorter and more breaks are taken because of falls, rocks, hops, etc, all of which get your heart rate up, but let your legs rest. It all just depends on what you want to do. For strength and ability to crank HARD, make sure to keep your forcecadence up without stopping whether you’re on road or mountain (but road is more conducive to that kind of activity), and for heart rate, just punish yourself on your muni. That’ll allow you to just suck sht up and keep powering with side cramps, a burning heart, and a chest that’s about to collapse. But the powering comes from consistent, long-ish streams of power output, which is far less likely to be interrupted on a road hill than on a trail.

Wow those were long, thougtfull posts! Thanks for your input. There’s no doubt in my mind that the 5 days in a row I put in every week riding my local muni trail has put me in–and keeps me in–tip top shape. :slight_smile:

I think maybe the best way for me to look at this is: Muni for a kick-ass workout, and cokering for fun!:smiley: Afterall, isn’t that one of the MAIN reasons we ride? And now that I’ve added 20-50 extra riding miles to my regular weekly riding schedule, that has to be a good thing! Oh, btw, the 90+ miles of biking you do is easier, partly because you can “coast” and you have gears to help you climb. I pedal every inch I go!:smiley:

that is not allways the case. on a road bike when you are going on a flat road and turning a big gear most of the time you are pedaling. you only stop pedaling to strech or take a break.

I’ve recently done about 600 miles of road biking, and I have to say, road biking is much harder than coker riding if you do them for the same time. So if you road bike for an hour working as hard as you can, it’ll be harder than if you coker. I did some of our local 45km races, and doing that in just over an hour is harder even than muni-ing for an hour, because when you’re muni-ing, you at least have some points when you’re not powering and you can relax slightly.

Over the same distance though, biking is much easier, there is a weekly bunch ride here that is 50-60 miles, and that isn’t too hard to do in about 2.5-3 hours in the evening, whereas 60 miles on a uni is usually hard work.

Having said that though, the road bike speeds aren’t far from the top end of coker riding, the average for the fast guys in our races is about 25mph. With short cranks and a stock coker, there are a few people out there who could realistically do about 20mph for a fair time. If you could get that consistent at that kind of speed, you’d probably be getting a similar kind of workout to the road bikers.


It would seem much more of an overall workout to ride a coker 600 miles, than a road bike, but that’s just how it seems to me. Having never done either (and not planning on it) I may be wrong, 600 miles on either is no cake walk! And that 25 mph you mentioned on a coker I would imagine would be mostly on level or near level ground. I can’t see anybody maintaining that high speed for any length of time on a coker while climbing! But, again…:smiley:

im sure that the muni ride is much more fun…go with that;)

It’s okay, I didn’t do the 600 miles all in one go, was over a few weeks (4 weeks I think), not masses of riding, but enough to get used to the bike.

For the same distance and time, coker will be harder. But in reality the time people have is more often constant than the distance. So if you have say 3 hours to ride, if you rode 60 miles on a road bike, you’d be working harder than riding 30 miles on a coker in the same time.

And yeah, the 25mph is on the flat. I don’t think anyone could average it on coker yet for any distance, but 20mph some people might be close to. For people who can spin that fast, I don’t think they’re so limited in terms of power output as most of us normal people, maybe they are getting similar exercise to road bikers.


What’s really important is how many bikini-clad ladies you will film for us on your rides :wink:


I think it’s safe to say that pegging yourself at 25mph on a road bike for thirty minutes is much, much harder than pegging yourself at 13mph on a coker for the same amount of time.

I rode down to San Diego from the bay area in five days about nine months ago; my mileages were 100,120,103,185,95 each day, averaging between 19 and 22 each day. It’d have taken me at least two times as long on a coker, but throughout the entire time I would never be working as hard as I would have been working on the bike. If you’re trying to keep up a constant, fast pace over a flat stretch, you’re pedalling every inch of the way, no questions asked, and it’s measurably and provably a better workout than the coker ride, where the power output you can reasonably get from your legs is limited.

I envy the people who can spin at 120-130 RPM for extended periods of time, because they have the ability to put out mad power through their cadence rather than through the physical strength of their legs, which allows them to sustain far higher wattages than me because they can use (almost) the same gear, when I ride at about 100. However, even on a coker, at 120 RPM, you’re going thirteen miles per hour, which doesn’t equate to nearly enough resistance to get good power training in. It’s just… absurd. :slight_smile: At 120 RPM, for a respectable rider, 24-26 mph should be the equilibrium speed depending on bike and the rider’s position in the wind. Maybe even 27… 120 RPM on a road bike is a damn nice cadence. Personally, I usually cruise at 24 MPH at 90 RPM in a relatively big gear. When I crank up to 120 RPM, it doesn’t feel at all difficult to hold 27-28 miles per hour, but I can only do so for a few miles at a time because my heart rate takes off with the cadence.

Muni is wonderful for core, cardio, and general punishment factor, but the legs are used very sporadically. Yes, intensely, but also sporadically, with no real constant level of power output, which is what really cranks them into shape for mad endurance and wattage.

Muni may put you in wonderful shape, but I think that kind of shape manifests itself in the ability to be a glutton for punishment and keep on ticking, where as coker/schlumpf climbing and road bike LSD (long steady distance) and climbing intervals are the way to signficantly and quantifiably increase the amount of power that can be had from your legs for each given amount of perceived effort. The exercise under controlled conditions (i.e. road and optimal gearing for max sustained output) literally makes you more powerful, whereas muni makes you more able to suck it up and keep rocking and rolling.

And yeah, Joe, that’s totally awesomely right… being able to spin a coker to 20mph and sustain it is definitely a better workout than spinning a bike in a more optimal gear at 20mph, because you’re less efficient outside of the 80-100 RPM range (or whatever range your body likes) and the same wattage is required to keep speed. It’s also a better workout, even, than choosing a gear on the bike such that you have an equivalent to a 36" gear and matching cadence, because on the coker, balance is required. However, assuming you’re not in top gear, speed on the bike can always go up given any cadence, so you can always crank the bike into a bigger gear, maintain cadence, and increase your power output proportionally. The bigger the gear you can handle, the steeper the hill you can climb on a muni OR on a coker once you get off the bike.

I think the general point is that for a given performance (i.e. a given distance, speed, or cadence), a unicycle is undoubtedly more difficult than a bike, but the fact is that the bike allows you to do so much more than the unicycle in order to optimize your workout. If the unicycle is 3/2 as difficult as a bike for a task of magnitude X, the bike allows you to do a task of magnitude 3X, resulting … you get the picture. After cranking into shape on the bike, the benefits spill over into endurance and hill climbing power on the unicycle in ways that would be unattainable (or very difficult to attain) if the unicycle was used as the only method of training.

I don’t think anything can match muni, though, in terms of sheer full-body tiredness and a general feeling of being thrashed. I can thrash my legs far better on my road bike than I can on my Torker DX in the hills, but on my DX, my whole body is thrashed, whereas on my bike, it’s all focused on my legs. Muni, Coker, and road bike all have their place.

Hmmm, do we have a traitor in our midst?;);):wink: But I wholeheartedly DISagree! HArdcore Muni is a MUCH better workout than hardcore Mtb-ing any day of the week! Mtb-ers have gears to help climb and handlebars to rest on and you COAST alot, and COAST downhill! The DH is one of the BEST parts of MUni for leg development.