I went on a ride today that had the most variety of any single ride I think
I’ve ever done. This was a Coker ride, starting at my friend Rob’s house in
Santa Cruz, California. We crossed town and in gentle rain, headed up the
hill to the top of the UC Santa Cruz campus. It was still raining as we hit
the fireroad that continues up and traverses all the way to the top side of
Wilder Ranch - at this point we’ve climbed nearly 1000’. The rain stopped as
we headed down the singletrack into Wilder Ranch State Park (scene of MANY
Muni rides, and inspiration for Unicycle.com house brand, Wilder Cycles). We
took mostly trails I hadn’t been on before, and it was just brutal: very
bumpy and rocky which was tough with 140mm cranks. Rob was doing a little
better on his Coker Deluxe with 158mm Monty cranks.
We stopped for a snack and I realized I had the technology* to make the ride
a lot more fun. So I adjusted my cranks to their longest setting (about
155mm) and WOW what a difference! The next few sections were very steep and
bumpy and difficult even with the long cranks. The trail was about the width
of a car tire, maybe 6" and in some parts completely overgrown with plants
(poison oak, stinging nettles, blackberry vines plus many benign types) so
that you couldn’t see where your wheel was going or where the bumps were.
We eventually made it down to the ocean and took the scenic route back,
winding in and out around the sea cliffs on a dirt trail. We were watching
the surfers, pelicans and the big waves breaking. At one point we had to
descend onto the beach, walk through the sand (we had a contest to see who
could ride the furthest - we couldn’t really do it at all). We were had to
carry the unicycles up and down a couple of small cliffs. As we headed south
towards Santa Cruz, the trail turned to grass. Thick tough grass that seemed
to just grab the wheel and make riding much harder than it should’ve been.
There was a pretty strong wind too - maybe that was a factor too.
Back in Santa Cruz, in warm sun, we stopped off at a Marine Research Lab for
a rest, next to an 87 foot long Blue Whale skeleton. Any “Scenic Route”
though Santa Cruz has to include West Cliff Drive, a popular route along the
sea cliffs. The bike lane is always crowded and it was fun dodging dogs,
kids, bikers, skaters etc. You’re right on top of the cliffs here, 50’ down
straight into the ocean and the surfers of course are shooting along right
below - so scenic it’s amazing. We stopped for a while to watch the
skateboarders at a very cool skatepark. They crash so hard though! Why no
helmets or protection? (The littlest kid had a helmet, but no one else).
Then a great lunch near Rob’s house and we were done. 27 miles, a little
over 5 hours. A weird hybrid ride, with paved roads, fireroads, narrow steep
rocky singletrack, climbing cliffs at the beach, riding through grass, and a
great urban bikepath. There’s no unicycle better for this kind of thing than
the Coker, rain or shine!
—Nathan (both legs still tingling from the nettles)
- There are 3 photos of my Coker with the experimental carbon fiber
adjustable cranks at http://tinyurl.com/17y2 Since they were taken, I’ve
swapped the GB handle for a 6061 aluminum version of the same thing which
George Barnes made for me - wow is it light! Works great too.