This year I have moved to endurance races 8 and 12 hour. I did Boggs Mountain (for those in Nor Cal) and several others. There is an interesting 8 hour coming up in tahoe. It is at Kirkwood ski resort and the winner from each class wins a season pass to Kirkwood. Here is a link to the event. I am in no was affiliated with the event I just thought I would share to get a few more Unis at the event. As of now we currently have 3 that show up consistently.
Has anyone in your group ridden Kirkwood’s course before? What size wheel would you recommend? I did a race at Bear Valley last year on a Coker and managed 90% of the course without a UPD… it seems a 29er might be the wheel of choice for such a ride. What would you say?
How many laps have you guys completed? I need to know how hard to train for this; I want that season pass!
Our performance levels at these have been stairstepped. I’m pathetic, Gary’s good, and Chris is pretty awesome. At the last event–12 hours of Weaverville–I managed two laps, Gary got three in, and Chris did 4 laps. These were 12-mile laps with a brutal 4+ mile, 2000’ gain climb out the door.
I don’t know what kind of training Chris does, but he’s the cross country coach at Trinity High and is in incredibly good shape. I think he would easily have gotten another lap in had he not ridden with me on the first lap. My training consists of sitting in the house because it’s 108f outside, dammit (although I do at least a half-mile in the pool most days). Gary’s been running and riding, though.
The Kirkwood course is new this year, so I don’t know anything about it. But there’s a thread about the race at mtbr.com in the NorCal forum. The description people who have been riding over there have given makes it seem somewhat technical and with some good climbing; I think they said it’s about a 6 mile lap, and anticipate 40 minute lap times for bikes. I plan to ride my 29er and would like to get at least 4 laps in, but the elevation will be an issue for me. I’m guessing Chris will be aiming for 7 laps, if not 8.
Are you kiddin’? I walked practically the entire 4-mile uphill on each lap at the last race. Nobody cares. Lots of bikers had to get off and push for some of the hills, too. There’s a saying in the mtb world: If you’re not hiking, you’re not mountain biking. The fun thing about these events is that the mountain bikers are, almost without exception, really supportive of those of us on one wheel, and shout encouragement even when we’re walking up a hill.
Our approach to these events is to have fun. We work hard, ride what we can, walk that which we cannot ride. My approach is that I do not want to “flame out” we have 8 hours. I am not in the best of shape and the altitude will reek havoc with my lungs.
The only other question I have is about space. Unicyclists are slow on downhill and some of us on uphill compared to bicycles. Do they have enough room to get around? I’m assuming this is not a big deal if some of you have done this before.
Space is an issue, yes. From the course maps, it looks like much of the uphill will be on service roads (fire roads), so plenty of room there. On the singletrack, it gets trickier. Generally, if there’s room to let someone by, I’ll wave them around and keep riding. Sometimes, though, I’ll dismount to let them around. The scariest thing is on downhills when you hear the loud rattles of the bikes bearing down on you, and you hope that they see you!
I figure that (because I’m pathetically slow and not competitive with anybody) my role is to be an ambassador for unicyclists helping mountain bikers appreciate what we do on the trails, so I try to be a good citizen. But I sometimes get a little grumpy, too, and resist getting the heck out of the way because, well, I paid the entry fee same as any other rider out there. It’s rare that I let that side show, though.
The course did not have as much climbing as the one in Weaverville but it was much more technical and the dirt conditions were dry and soft. Lots of those little rocks hiding in the 4 inch deep dust that send you dismounting before you knew it. I rode my 29 and finished four laps. Could have done five but took a slow one and my wife walked with me because it was so beautiful I wanted her to see it. The trails were true single track so everytime a rider came up on me I had to dismount and climb up off the trais for them to get by, got tiring after a while. A person could have ridden every bit of the course if they were not going to ride all day and it would have been fun to bomb it on the 24 but for time and distance I think the 29 was a good choice. A 36 would be scary with the cliffs and all the rocks in the trail. Missed you guys, hopefully will see you at Humbolt.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but based on the two 12 hour events I’ve done, it is the responsibility of the overtaking rider to pass safely, not the one being overtaken. In other words you shouldn’t have had to dismount to let others by? Of course it it wasn’t a sanctioned event perhaps the it ran under different rules other than IMBA? At the end of the day it’s the Race Directors discretion; did he ask you to stay out of the way?
The races I’ve done were mostly single track and riders had no issues with just riding around me (lapping riders happens all the time), must would express words of encouragement!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but based on the two 12 hour events I’ve done, it is the responsibility of the overtaking rider to pass safely, not the one being overtaken.
The problem is that these are mtb races and while we pay an entry fee we are out of spec. As a general rule most slower mtbrs get out of the way of faster riders too. Additionally, on a tight single track down hill a muni, with few exceptions, is going so slow that it presents a danger and for this reason many race directors do not allow munis.
I think if we enjoy participating in these events we should continue to dm in tight areas to allow bikes to pass.
Thanks for the update, Chris–sounds like quite a course! The writeups on MTBR made it sound pretty epic. Since you were the only muni rider, did you still score a season pass? Gary & I were both on ends of trips (I was just getting back from the central coast, and he was just heading out to the Bay Area) on the 1st, and so we couldn’t coordinate things to get there. Sorry we missed it.
The singletrack issue was a big one at Boggs IV earlier this year, too–so much dismounting that it got exhausting. While it is the responsibility of the overtaking rider to pass safely, as mtnjeffe says we’re on foreign turf here, and I always figure that I’m an ambassador for muni. As such, I’d rather have the bikers enjoy our presence rather than be put out by having to slow down for us.
Well I guess it’s all about choosing the right venue to showcase what we can do as mountain unicyclists in endurance events. Look for events that have either longer loops, or ample amount of double-track / room to pass. In truth we shouldn’t be treated any differently than a slow moving bicycle. I’m not saying hog the trail, but truly if you are on a course that is definitely wide enough to pass, DON’T dismount. I understand if the course is all tight single track that this is a major problem w/o a real good solution. I guess the courses I’ve done have had enough opportunities for passing. Anyhow great job, I’m dying to do another 12 hour event. The one I did this year really didn’t satisfy me.
There were several riders that rode up on me and when I dismounted and moved off the trail they said oh man, I was wanting to watch you ride for awhile. They and were totally cool about it. There was no one who complained about me being on the course. I feel like since I have only seen a handful of Muni riders in any of the mountain bike races I’ve been in, I prefer hearing the riders talking about how cool it is and wanting to see more of us instead of less.
The other thing is since there are so few of us, I’m riding to see what I can do. It might be different in a neck & neck race.
The riders in this event were very courteous even to other bike riders. The largest applause of the day at awards was for two riders who stopped to help people. In fact Vic, the race director gave them day ski passes.
I make a point to not dismount where it would be dangerous for me or others and if there is a wide enough spot I call back for what side they want to pass, but if there is no where to pass and nothing in site, I see no reason to not dismount congratulate them on there ride. There were a couple of beginner riders who moved aside in areas and let me pass them and congratulated me. I really was grateful and we had some good conversations after the ride.
And yes I did get a ski pass for the days ride.
See you at the races.