50 miles challenge for 50th birthday

Hi everyone. I’m new to the forum. To introduce myself, I’m approaching 50 years old, live in Las Vegas, and am training to do a 50 mile ride for my 50th birthday, which is in May. I would have posted this in the unigeezer thread, but I’m still a little too young.

I write about my challenge on my own forum but there are not other unicyclists there so I don’t get much useful crosstalk. I hope I’m not breaking any forum rules here by saying this discussion is at http://diversitytomorrow.com/thread/914/0/.

I usually ride a 29" unicycle but am trying to get used to an old 36" one. Still haven’t mastered the self mount on that and it seems to tire me out more quickly than the 29" wheel.

Are there any other unicyclists in Las Vegas, in particular on the west side? It would be fun to ride with someone else, for once.

Any advice on shoes? I currently use a fairly new pair of running shoes, as they let my feet breathe and I find the hard sole to be more efficient. What do bicyclists typically wear who don’t clip in?

I see on YouTube that serious distance riders all seems to have handlebars. How much benefit is this? I’m concerned about injury if I fall. If I go with a handlebar, do you recommend a single bar or a forked one?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Hi Wizard :slight_smile: and Welcome to the forum :slight_smile:

Your 50 miles will be a lot easier on a 36" unicycle that’s for sure, but it’s also doable on a 29”. It’ll just take a bit more time.
Keep practicing with the freemounting and see how you go. Do you have your 50 mile route planned ? It could be that there will be enough ‘street furniture’ so you can do assisted mounts.
Handlebars are a good idea. You can lean on the bars and give your bum a little relief every now and again. Also good place to put drinks bottles.
As for type of bar, hopefully someone will come forward to answer that one.
Have a good old search on the forum for …
‘‘100 mile rides’’
‘‘Which touring handle’’
‘‘5-10 shoes’’ ‘‘vans’’ and ‘’‘Teva’’ shoes. These are the sort with a good flat sole. A lot of unicyclists wear these as there is no heel to get caught on the pedal, easier to shift your feet while riding.
If you go on ‘you tube’ and seach ‘‘unicycling’’ there is oooodles of stuff. :slight_smile:
Eventually you will come to uni-geezer’s page. Have a look at all the stuff he’s done. Mr P has done some excellent video’s on long rides.
Hope that helps, and keep us posted.


Thank you for the suggestions. Although I live in Las Vegas, I’m planning to do the 50-mile ride along a long bike paths in the Los Angeles area, due to the level course and almost no street crossings. Appreciate the suggestion on Vans. I think I have a pair somewhere already.

Keep at it!

If you’re having issues self mounting the 36 might I recommend you work on riding the 36 as slow as you can, riding to a stop or near stop and continuing on, hopping, and try to still stand briefly on it between hops.

You might try using a wheel grab when self mounting, it will help you steady the wheel and should allow you more time to get adjusted. A Google search will turn up a few tutorial videos.

You should also know that self mounting shouldn’t hold you back from your goal. I received my 36 less than two weeks prior to my first century ride and never self mounted once during the entire 100 miles.

Only once in my first dozen century rides have I ever had another unicyclist anywhere near me observe if I “cheated” or self mounted. And at the end of 200 miles in 24 hours I no longer cared or bothered to waste the energy to self mount as we finished the last few miles together. (The last few miles had thirty stops in downtown Portland, Oregon stop and go traffic.)

Unicyclist make a big thing out of showing proficiency at mounting. Give it some time. With practice it will come. Remember the purpose of your ride is to do 50 miles not 20 self mounts in a row.

Everything from bare feet to steel toed work boot has worked. Gracie went coast to coast, including a 100 mile day in bare feet.

When some of us started riding distance a few limited edition options for ‘handles’ existed. Some like Lars and Jack used homemade/custom setups. I still don’t bother with anything more than a KH saddle.

You might find it advantageous to first learn to ride without handlebars. Some self mounts (and UPDs) are more complicated when using a handlebar.

As you persist at riding distance you will learn what work for you and what doesn’t. Just go out and enjoy working your way up to your 50 mile challenge.


Joe’s reply covers it all, except he forgot to mention we all do it for fun! :smiley:

In truth you will have done your 50 miles well before May if you are training regularly. It’s certainly quite doable on a 29 if you aren’t too keen on playing with the 36.

But most people end up riding distance on 36ers… :stuck_out_tongue:

Regular riding is the main key to distance riding success.


Congrats on the challenge you have given yourself. LOVE IT!!!

I’m only 36 years old, but just got my first 36" a few days ago. I have a similar goal of 50 miles this year, but have set it as “50 miles with no assisted mounting”, and I will probably go for it at the Long Island Unithon which I think happens every year. It is nice and flat and I should be in shape by then.

Best of luck as I will certainly be following the thread.

If your timing at intersections is good and the route is right you might shoot for “50 miles with only one mount without assistance”.

Water intake balanced with restroom needs is the tricky part.

For me it usually happens when I haven’t planned on it during training rides.


Great Idea!!

Hey Wizard, and others,

I’m turning 50 in two days, and haven’t done more than 3 miles on my 36er. But I have learned to freemount a good percentage of the time. Distance is one of my goals for this year, but I hadn’t really set anything yet. Like kr said, Regular riding is the main key to distance riding success. I have to wait for my Massachusetts winter to end for regular riding, but I’ll be getting out there when I can.

Wizard, I will wholeheartedly agree that learning to freemount a 36er is a daunting task. After many attempts, I would finally get on, then be too tired to ride. I did what bungeejoe said: Use an assisted mount, ride as slow as possible, and try hopping. Keep at it, and it’ll come. I haven’t ridden my 24 since I got my 36er. I just enjoy the larger weight and mass of the 36er much more.

I suppose my first stepping stone would be to ride for an hour. 10-12 miles? If I can do that by the end of May, I should be on my way. 50 miles? Yikes!!


Thanks everybody for your advice and encouragement. My training is coming along well and I have little doubt I’ll achieve my goal. I can self-mount the 36 about 1 time in 4 and just got a new Kris Kolm, to replace my old heavy Coker.

If anyone is interested, you can follow my rides on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/7110048

Another thing you might try is giving up the obsession with magic numbers. Here’s a weird, heretical notion: you should ride as long as you enjoy yourself, and stop when the pleasure stops.
I got my first uni a couple years back, and did a 50 mile ride on the 29er as a sort of a test of my will (and crotch), then found that as i gained experience and skill on that wheel and the 36er that followed, I just settled on a what seemed to me to be a natural comfort zone for a fun, regular distance workout–about 30-40 miles. Since then, I’ve refined several beautiful 2-4-hour routes in the local area that offer amazing scenery, low motorized vehicle traffic, plenty of hills and a tremendous aerobic workout, and I do 'em several times per week. Yes, I’m sure I can twirl up 100 miles on the 36er, and maybe this summer on a nice long day, with plenty of sunshine and bakery stops I might go for it, but only–let me repeat that–only if I’m convinced I’ll enjoy it. Magic threshold numbers are essentially arbitrary, and the benefit derived from attaining such abstract goals is lost on me. Bragging rights are nice, I guess, but I’m more interested in having fun than in self-aggrandizement.
One qualification: if you have the talent and tenacity to accomplish something like BunjeeJoe’s 200-mile STP ride, that really IS significant and important, not just for the rider, but for the public visibility of unicycling, and I don’t want to take anything away from that sort of accomplishment. Mere mortals, on the other hand, might benefit from establishing personal goals that are not only realistic, but which tend to benefit them in the long term by providing positive, self-reinforcing experiences every time.
btw: I’m 55.

I agree, I’ve “shut it down” more often then some might think.
– Everyone was not still having fun has stopped a few rides.
– Safety is a reason why I’ve “shut it down”.
– The needs of my support crew are another reason.
– It just wasn’t the right day.

I and my crew like being adventurous. Pleasant adventures make stories fun to tell. We prefer to say away from having horror stories.

When you and those around you are no longer having fun how much will you still value completing any ride that’s purpose was only to reach a magic number? Some one else will eventually out do you anyway.


I agree along with bungeejoe. THere is a time for the pursuit of big numbers… for me it was a while ago. :slight_smile: . I do like hearing about them and respect the riders that do them but I really want the fun too. I have some planned in the not so distant future like a 25 & 50 miler but they are going to take all day. There will be plenty of stops and the ability to quit and go home if it all goes south. Enjoy the ride!

Haha, no pain, no gain! But yes, if you main objective is to ride solely for pleasure, then I can understand wanting to stop once the fun ends. For me, and I’m sure it’s true for a lot of other riders, we also get a lot of pleasure pushing the limits and challenging ourselves to the point of total exhaustion. The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment makes it all the more rewarding. Things just wouldn’t be as fun and exciting without a good challenge. I think that’s just part of human nature.



Good points from UniGeezer there. “Fun” and “not fun” are crude categories for our complicated experiences. “Challenges” and “rewarding” are more subtle, maybe more helpful or maybe just more ambiguous. And I’m sure BungeeJoe, YooNeeNoob, etc, understand this well. A lot that goes on gets lost talking in about it.

A good ride doesn’t have to be grins and giggles all the way. A good measure is whether I’ll feel like I made the right choice to stop or go on when I’m back home–or a day later, or a week later. I haven’t been big at all myself on magic numbers or taking on a major challenge on a given day, but I was thinking about exactly this while out riding yesterday. And it takes some self-knowledge to make that call.

Good luck - i cheer for you :slight_smile:

For what it’s worth, I highly recommend the use of a handlebar for long distance rides, and I was a hard guy to convert. I was riding my 36" for many miles without one, but at the advice of some friendly nags on this forum I gave it a shot.

Let me say that after the adjustment I would never go back to a barless 36" if I had a choice. Many cite taking the stress off your seat, which has never bothered me, but the amount of leverage and control a handle provides is amazing. On hills, you can pull up a bit to give yourself more leverage, and when going faster in a straight line you can maintain more stability. And if you ever don’t want to use it, just let go and suddenly you’re back to normal unicycle mode.

Also, tire grab mounts are currently the only consistent (9/10 tries) way I can mount my 36". I’m just a little shrimp and I can barely even get on it otherwise. This video is pretty much exactly what I do. With that being said, if you have a buddy riding along with you, you can use their shoulder as a mounting surface.

Just be sure to ask them first. :slight_smile:

Seriously excited to hear how this journey goes! Good luck!


I’m happy to report that my challenge was successful. I made a much too long and boring video about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWaeo7y2qZE.

Regarding self-mounting the 36", I’m finally getting the hang of that. Success rate is about 1 in 3, but that is much better than 1 in 100.

Regarding the handlebar, I had been waiting for unicycle.com to get some in stock for months and when they finally did, I got one. It took a little getting used to but I now like it.

Thanks again to everybody for your advice and encouragement.


Thanks for reporting! The challenge was totally successful, I suppose.