Alps Tour Training

Yesterday was the official start of training for the Alps Tour. I won’t be able to go with them to Switzerland, but I thought it would be cool to try to train with the riders (remotely speaking, that is). Maybe even do a psuedo-tour here when the time comes.

So I’ve been working up to be able to start training in April. I’ve been recovering from a knee injury (wheel-walking crash) last year, so had to take a lot of time off. Finally I was able to begin in February. I wasn’t ready to uni, and Connecticut was covered in ice and snow, so I’ve been riding the safety unicycle (read: bike;) ) for a couple of months now, increasing my mileage by about 10% each week. Having all-weather clothing and headlights has helped a lot with the short days. A couple of weeks ago I started blending in some real riding on 29er and 36er. I need to stay away from wheel-walking for a while more, but distance riding seems to be ok.

Yesterday kinda snuck up on me, but I was able to put in about 9 occasionally hilly miles, which fitness-wise was probably a little less rigorous than the bicycle miles. There is a challenging long, roughly-paved hill which I had to walk (still haven’t made the whole thing), but overall it went well. I did 3 of the 6 on the 29er. It will take a while to get the unis dialed-in. The air saddle on my 36" is one of my first and is giving me fits, so I’ll have to replace that. I’ll have to trade the 29er pedals for some with better grip in the rain, and add a cyclometer to the 29er too.

I’m hoping to continue with the training, at +50% if possible (since I got a head start), but at Andy’s posted rate if I can’t sustain the +50%. The hardest thing for me may be the elevation gain, because there aren’t any mountains nearby (just a fairly shallow river valley).

Anyone want to (remotely) join me? It’s quite a commitment, but hopefully will produce some great unicycling and fitness gains.

That’s great to have you following our progress Dave :stuck_out_tongue: Good luck with your training programme! If you followed that schedule you’ll be super fit by August.

I haven’t been on my unicycle since the Rainbow Rage (106km adventure ride/race) 2 wks ago. I don’t think I’ll be using Andy’s schedule though. Will be mainly riding my road bke from now on to train for this years 24hr Moonride, which I’ll be doing on a bke. And a few other b*ke races. Hold off on the rotten tomatoes please! :smiley:

We’re just heading into Winter, but it doesn’t usually snow here so I should still be able to do a fair amount of riding. Hopefully I won’t be too rusty by the time the tour rolls around!

The website for those interested is


April has come and gone, and so have my chances to add mileage in that month.

Things went pretty well. I couldn’t finish all of Andy’s goals, but I think that the first month was a good starter month. I didn’t come close to 50% over, though, in any category, except perhaps riding in wet conditions.

Goals I completed:

250 km total mileage (I did 338 km)
10 km with no breaks
10 km a day for 4 days in a row (many of these)
5 km of riding in wet conditions (quite a few of these)

Goals I partially completed:

2000m total elevation gain (I did 1551m)
500m in one day (I did 225m)
50 rating in one day (My best was about 27)

Goals not completed:
100 rating in one day
150 rating in one day

I spent a lot of time at the beginning doing easy 3 mile laps, to make sure the knee stayed with me. That effort was successful, and most of my elevation gain was in the last week. However, the push to reach 2000m total in that last week was too much, and I didn’t want to risk the gains I had made over the past 3 months.

To get the ratings goals I would have had to string together several higher mileage and elevation days, and that seemed to be premature for me. If I plan May carefully, I may be able to reach May’s ratings goals. The ratings are a combination of mileage and elevation changes that measure how difficult a ride is, and appear on first inspection to favor longer rides rather than the typical 14km rides I was doing.

The month was a little tough, in that it was relentless. Putting in the miles every day to keep up the average mileage was the process of forming a new habit. In the past mostly my riding has been MUni or freestyle, so the road riding is improving my spinning a lot. At the end of the month I was able to clean that hill that I had never climbed successfully before, mostly I think because of better spinning, partly because of luck with cars not pushing me out into the rougher edge of the road. This is probably the best part of the month aside from the rides with my daughter and nephews.

The roads here in Eastern Connecticut can be highly crowned and full of cracks and pits, potholes, and patches especially my currently primary elevation-gain hill. There are grooves in the lanes from cars bottoming-out. The spinning seemed to really help in those sections. I tried to stay seated and work the spin cycle rather than stand and do consecutive lunges.

It was interesting to download topo maps and calculate elevation changes on routes, even though mine were quite short. There is a lot of work involved with this training regime!

I spent most of the time on my 29er. That with 150mm cranks seemed the kindest to my knees with the climbing. I did have to descend without brake to return home, and I found that by adopting a MUni-ish extreme forward lean, pointing my toes more, and trying to lengthen my legs, I reduced the downhill knee stress by a huge amount. I kept saying “Butta” to myself (ala Madonna on SNL) to try to keep my DH spinning smooth. I think that that DH riding had a big effect on my overall spinning smoothness.

I did some swapping between the 29er, a 36er, and a 29er with test wheel.

Overall, though my efforts pale in comparison with the riders here, I’m happy with the first month. I recommend this as a way for anyone who wants to give themselves a push. I rode places I hadn’t ridden before, just to meet these goals.

My goals for May:

  1. Preserve the gains of April by being conservative and pacing myself to avoid knee over-use injury

  2. Accomplish all the goals of May by mixing-in elevation gain throughout the month, and by planning a specific time to achieve the ratings goals.

  3. Mix in the 36" a little more often, partly because it should be handy for the looming higher mileage days.

The thinking required by that training schedule wears me out before the miles even start.

I have recently started Cokering and have done a couple of rides in the 27 - 30 mile range and am trying to start adding to that and add in more climbing. I finally swapped my cordless computer from my muni to the Coker for my ride last Sunday. It was educational and motivating to be able to monitor my speed under different conditions.

Maybe someday I will be dedicated enough to do more scientific training. For now I may adopt a few of these ideas anyway.
If I had the opportunity to go on the Alps tour, and with a great group like that, it would be worth it.

Congrats on your progress U-turn, and I’m glad your knee is handling it. Thanks for the information.


Time for the May update…

This month has been marked by inconsistency due to LiveWire activities, including three trips out of state, several long trips for general small business appointments, and a four-day visit from The Kid (woo hoo!).

Basically, I didn’t accomplish any of the stated goals, although I did reasonably well on mileage (224.5 miles out of 250 required). I did about 70% of the climbing (7099 feet out of 9750 feet), and almost got the 5 consecutive days of 20k+ (one day in the middle was lacking). I was never close to 750m climbing in one day (max was 346m).

My planning for the ratings days was completely blown by the appointments, over which I had very little control. My highest rating day was 46.1, and I was supposed to have one each of 100, 150, and 200. Since those correspond (roughly) to consecutive very hilly days of 42, 48, and 60 miles, you can see that they are extensive days. That 46.1 rating day was the 3rd of May, a round-trip of about 18 miles with about 345.8m of elevation gain and its corresponding loss. One of the hills on that route is very steep, and I can barely keep control on the 29er with 150mm cranks and no brake.

I did spend plenty of time in the rain, and find that, although the Cielencki pedals are pretty good in the rain, nothing so far compares with the Azonic A-Frames for all weather traction. However, they are less shin-friendly, so I’m going to stick with the Cielenckis for quite a while to see if that assessment changes.

Out of 31 days in May, I had a total of 11 zero-mileage days, which is huge compared to April (2 out of 30), an indication of the disrupted nature of May.

Trying to handle the curves that the month threw at me (an American expression, which here means “I was scrambling every which way and barely was able to get any riding in”), I was not able to work on the 36" and stayed on the 29er. A nice part of that was being able to spend a lot of time on the Big Apple 2.0 and develop a better understanding of how it feels. I did switch from an older KH saddle to a Miyata non-air rebuild which resulted in major improvements to my saddle and leg comfort.

Other highlights:

My timed loop time dropped by about 40% without trying to ride fast.

I worked some on my training spreadsheet to automatically highlight some things, track remaining required averages, and the like. It now is a pretty valuable training tool, although still a bit rough.

Yesterday was a great day; the last with my daughter for this visit. She did 6 miles on the 29er in partial prep for the LBI Unithon, and this was by far her highest unicycle mileage in one day.

Today was sans leg armor which was very liberating, not to mention cooler.

In summary:

Although I didn’t keep up with May’s challenges, I was able to increase both my mileage and elevation gain from April. I have a new respect for the touring riders, because they are doing their training in the middle of things, like I am. And just the idea of doing consecutive hilly days of 42, 48, and 60 miles in just the second month of training says that they are in pretty serious shape before they even begin the training. Since I’m still rehabilitating a knee injury that kept me off the uni for a year, I’m not flagellating myself for my shortcomings. I’m thinking that doing this training regimen a couple of years in a row should do a lot for my overall distance riding ability.

Next month I hope to keep up with the June mileage and elevation demands and most of the other goals, but I may try to accomplish April’s ratings days, so that I can at least have a start on getting those worked into the regimen.

Re: Alps Tour Training

Well, you set out this goal of keeping up with the training for the
Alps tour, but since you won’t join in the actual tour the pressure to
adhere to the schedule 100% may be a bit less. The official training
requirements are quite serious, and so following them to the full is a
high aspiration. For general increase in fitness and distance riding
skill, what you’re doing is great anyway and you seem to make good

Once your spreadsheet is honed, I’m sure several people including
myself would be interested to look at it and possible use it as a
training tool.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

wouldnt you be grumpy if somone just said you had PMS? - jagur

Joe Lind kindly pointed out that I have had a misconception about the ratings, and that the 100 was for 1 day, the 150 was total over two days, and that the 200 was total for three days. So although I still didn’t meet any of the ratings goals for May, I have a better chance of meeting them in the future. Thanks Joe!

June Results

Well, June is now over and it has been a dense month unicycling-wise!

Overall, I met some goals and did not meet others. I’m increasing what I can do at about the same rate, but I am lagging behind overall, mostly in the area of elevation gain.

Here are the details:

Distance: Rode 501.3 km; required was 500 km.
Elevation gain: Climbed 3665.5 meters; required was 5000 meters (so I did about 73% of the required climbing)
5 consecutive days of over 30 km: done
20 km without stopping riding: did not do
15 km of riding in wet conditions: done
1000 meters climbing in one day: my max was 376.9 meters in one day
Ratings days: tried to work them in, but did not work out
My max rating was 58.2

I was trying to do the ratings, or even back off a couple of months to try to pick up the ratings goals of earlier months, but we had a heat wave this last week in the Northeast and it was physically impossible for me to do. However, I must say that my chances of succeeding were not that great anyway because of the climbing requirements.

I’m still not a good climber in terms of doing a lot of elevation gain in one day. The 376.9m was not all I could do in one day, but 500m might have been. That day was scorching and doing more was not possible, though. This (again) is an area for me to work on this coming month.

Highlights for the month:

– I’m down about 12-15 pounds from when I started at the end of January. Only about 30 pounds to go.

– The 5 days of >30 km was a big deal for me since I had failed the previous month.

– My nephew joining me on unicycle for 300m of climbing a totally boring, hot grade.


– Today sweating up a long grade, totally dripping, barely hanging on to my balance, and an obnoxiously big truck stops on the other side of the busy road, a fat guy in the driver’s seat beckons me over with his finger… I didn’t fall for it and he shouts out for directions… I say “I don’t know” and kept riding… although I’m glad I didn’t curse him out, he deserved it… Come to think of it, perhaps that was a highlight!

– Basically all rides save one were solo.

Finally, my last day’s ride was 25 miles or 40km. It took me over 4 hours and is a major expedition at this point. Average riding speed: 10.7 kph with a 28.5er with 150s. Lots of stopping due to saddle soreness, but I am testing out the standard Miyata saddle. It’s time to move on to the next saddle type! It’s hard to believe such a “short” trip takes so much of me, but then I have to remember that a) in context, there has been a lot of riding going on, and b) in February I could barely ride a bike 3 miles. So at least things are improving. With 30 more pounds off I bet the saddle would stay more comfortable longer.

Thanks again, Andy, for this great training tool.

Next month: the requirements bump up yet again!

Dave, you’re an animal!

Re: June Results

Nice job Dave! I just finished my June at 190 miles, my biggest single month. Now I’m humbled… Maybe if I think of it as 306 kilometers… Nah, still humbled.

I also wish I had your weight loss to show for the effort, but I seem to be holding fast. I think the problem is that while I’ve ridden almost every day in June (24 out of a possible 30), most were short after-dinner rides. I think I need to start doing long instead-of-dinner rides.

I understand why the Alp-ists are cranking up the miles, but you get extra credit. Way to go on getting hardcore for no good reason. :slight_smile:

Re: Re: June Results

Hey Dave,

I have to agree with Tom. WHY??? Your dedication to things go beyond belief- I’m barely keeping up Alps training myself!

Well- if you ever find yourself with no new goals/projects after the Alps training…I’ll hold open a place for you on the Laos Unitour :wink:


It seems you have a goal - a personal one…Bravo !

I’ll bet your cadence and overall “normal” spinning pace has improved dramatically.

Wow, thanks for the cool responses.

Why? Partly 'cause this is about all my knee will let me do right now, and barely that; partly to learn more about long-distance unicycling; partly to get skinny like Ken Looi :smiley:

When I was a kid I did a lot of distance bicycling and hiking. I wasn’t a kid who jumped off stuff, or did skating tricks, or raced people. So I suppose this part of unicycling is more natural to me than any other kind. Now I just have to get good at it.

There are quite a few riders to look up to in this category!

Sometimes I think that’s true, roadkill. However, saddle discomfort often interferes with this. I am climbing hills much more smoothly though. That sensation of “floating above the ground” smoothly comes a lot more often.

Hi all!
And hi Klaas!
I’d like a lot to come with you all guys crossing Alps, but this year I have to take my degree in medicine!
GizmoDuck, are you a doctor-surgeon? (I think that Klaas said it to me).
Enjoy the ALPS!


Resident Doc, currently working in the ED :sunglasses:

U-Turn Wrote: I did switch from an older KH saddle to a Miyata non-air rebuild which resulted in major improvements to my saddle and leg comfort.

Are you convinced that the Miyata is a better saddle for mileage than the KH (or another alternative)?
If so, do you feel this is due to it’s shape ?

I have the KH and Miyata saddles. They are both comfortable, but the KH - due to it’s up-turned nose - feels a bit small. With the KH it seems you have to sit in-the-pocket or it’s just not right.

I have also wondered if the KH saddle wouldn’t be better ( for cruising) with less of a U-shape - but not quite as flat as the Miyata.

…Any thoughts ???

Well, every body is different, roadkill, that’s the one certain thing when it comes to saddles. Since I build unis, I’m kinda also using this training as an opportunity to try different saddles for several hundred miles each in an effort to try to isolate the components of good saddle design. I have one customer that wants a non-air Miyata-like saddle for a distance uni, so I thought I’d give that a go for a while before I jump back into air. Also, one of the Norwegian tour riders used a normal Miyata and had no troubles with it. However, at the time he was probably close to 1/3 my weight, so that is most certainly a factor.

Personally, my groin muscles are developed due to a lot of ice skating, I have probably 25 or so extra pounds on me, and I’m a bit knock-kneed. So there is very little space between my legs. The KH is very bulky and wide, has a square cross section, and has a big side curve. It put a lot of side pressure on those muscles, causing a lot of pain after a bit, mostly on my right leg. Also, on the upstroke my legs tend to “run into” the KH’s sharp side curve, which is fine for off-road, where it aids in maneuverability. On the road, though, it is just a loss of efficiency and an irritant. The Miyata has a thinner, flatter design, and puts a lot less pressure on that muscle, but I still have problems with it. My legs also do not “run into” the Miyata’s side, which I think is crucial for a road distance saddle.

I’m going to put a rail adapter on the Miyata and see what happens when I tilt the saddle up a few more degrees (I have a GB4 post on it at the moment, which has a built-in tilt). Currently my sit-bones tend to slide down a little into the middle of the saddle, which puts a lot of shearing stress on those tissues. I’m also thinking about trimming the edges of the foam a little and tightening up the cover with some stitches to try to eliminate some of the side-muscle pressure.

In the meantime, thinking about saddles, handles, and the like is a good way to pass the time and distract my mind from the complaining butt syndrome.

Also before I jump into air again I want to put a more sophisticated handle on a similar uni and work with weight placement and balance where a harder saddle (like the Miyata) is coupled with more weight on the arms. I think that approach is the future of distance cycling and will easily double the doable daily mileage, at least where time is not a big factor. I think that the legs do a lot of extra work making the saddle discomfort bearable, and are also inefficient spinning-wise for the same reason. However, I think that the solutions are not trivial.

One neat thing about all this is that so many smart people are trying different things. There are bound to be some break-through designs soon that revolutionize distance unicycling.


Thanks for taking the time to answer in such a concise manner.

I’ll definitely be interested in your updates… :slight_smile:

Dave, I for one am impressed that you are doing the AUT training without going on the tour. We were talking yesterday, on one of our many training rides, and we knew that we all wouldn’t be training this hard without the goal that we have to be in shape before hitting those mountains day after day.

If anybody wants to read many of our rides, we post them on the AUT website (under the blog link).


Thanks Andy. One thing this has given me is an actual calibrated feel for the trips you do. I’m the one who’s impressed! Just the training is a serious commitment.

This month my daughter is with me for a good part of the month, so I’m going to attempt to repeat last month’s goals so that I have more time with her. Hopefully I can do July’s goals, which are more intensive, in August when you guys are touring and she is off with her mom.