Big Event Training Regieme

Having been reading all the threads recently about the various big cycling events that have been invaded by unicyclists (Mountain Mayhem, Manchester to blackpool, Sleepless in the saddle and less recently strathpuffer) I am seriously considering riding in some or all of these events next year and am already trying to build up the amount of riding I am doing but I would like to know from people who have done some of these events how much training is required to reach a level where they are comfortable riding as much as is needed during an event like this.

I figured that if I started training now I had the best chance of being able to manage but if anyone can offer advice on how much riding I should be doing each week, what sort of riding I should be doing (long distance on road, long muni rides, etc) that would be great.

Thanks in advance


Hi Pete,

Personally, I think it’s only worth doing these events if you’re going to keep riding and go pretty fast. I know some people have done it with the aim of just surviving, but unless you’re going to do it solo or something silly like that, better to try and be good. Anyway you’re pretty fast at hockey, so you’ve obviously got the capability to be fast in a race.

With that in mind, here’s my training advice -

To do well in this kind of event, you need 3 things -

  1. To be able to ride fast
  2. To be able to ride for a long time.
  3. To be good enough that you aren’t falling off all the time and getting in the way.

To be fast in these events, you need a big wheel of some kind, either a 29er or a coker. If you want to ride them on coker it’ll be harder and need more training than on a 29er, but you’ll probably be a bit faster.

For training, what you need to do is ride regularly on the wheel you’re riding, with the race setup. You need to get the skills to ride trails on the bigger wheel. The most important thing is to ride lots. I aimed for working up from 50-100 miles each week when I did solo, doing it in a team, you probably don’t need quite so much but really need to have some weeks when you’ve done 50 miles, and work up to riding 25 miles every week.

Long rides on the road will help a bit, but riding muni training rides is also really important and I reckon underestimated by a lot of people. On the muni don’t go on silly stop all the time hop up something rides, ride as fast as you can and take only short breaks. If you want some proper fast rides, John H + I know some rides round Nottinghamshire that are pretty good training routes for this kind of riding. This is really really important - especially if you’ve only ever ridden really easy muni like Cannock Chase or Sherwood Pines, the courses at these races are harder than those, and you’re riding a big wheel.

Also, you should come to the manchester hockey in September and stay over to ride with Steve C if possible, he’s one of the fastest and best muni riders in the country, riding with good riders is incredibly useful when you want to improve your racing skills. Similarly, take any other chance to ride muni or distance with other riders, particularly ones who are fast, it really does help.


One other question that I have got, Everyone says that to race it has got to be a coker or a 29er, I have got a 26" muni which I have measured against a KH29 with the standard tyre that it comes with and the difference is about 1 inch. This means that each tyre rotation would be a mere 3 inches less distance. Would it be possible to do any of these races on a 26" muni as opposed to a 29er?

I don’t see the point in buying a 29er to gain 1 inch in diameter and if I get a 36 and am struggling off road because of bad weather or lack of skill would the 26 be plausible with shorter cranks (140s or 125s)?

Thanks again


From my fairly limited experience of muni racing (a couple of 10-mile races and the Sleepless 24hr), I found the short races much more physically tiring than the 24hr - in a team of four you’re only going to be riding five or so laps, so only 40-odd miles in the whole 24 hours. What slows me down compared to some other people is my lack of experience with tight forest singletrack (almost all my riding is on Dartmoor, very open and rocky, wet but hardly any mud, and no trees). I didn’t do any specific training, but I do ride a fair amount anyway - usually between 50 and 100 miles of xc muni a week, depending on how many days I use the muni to get to work (I alternate between road bike and muni) and whether I go out at the weekend.
As for wheel size, my 26x3" gets negative comments from the serious racers, but I’m quicker on that than on a 29" (it’s less than an inch smaller in diameter and I find the heavier tyre makes it more stable and easier to maintain speed). A coker is definitely quicker on open parts of the course though (but I don’t have one of those, so the 26 it is).
So I would say if you’re a fairly active rider then don’t worry too much about the physical demands (from a team of four point of view anyway) but perhaps consider getting good on a coker if you want to be really quick. I reckon technique and experience of various surfaces is more important than pure fitness. I need more slippery forest practice - that’s where I lost most time on Sleepless.


Edit: just seen your other post… I’m using 150s on my 26.

I don’t reckon 26 / 29 makes a massive difference but I think it does make a difference. It’s a bit harder on a 26 mainly because of the silly fat tyre making you slower than the narrower 29er tyre.

I think Joe McLean and Rob Northcott rode 26x3 for SITS. Loosemoose rode one for most of SSMM. Rob managed quite fast laps, but he is very fit, like 10 miles a day fit. Joe was a little bit slower than the 29er riders, and Loosemoose quite a lot slower.

Also, both Joe McLean and I did most of Strathpuffer on 26" after my Schlumpf exploded.

It’s possible if you’re up to training more, but a bit harder. The best thing to do as far as wheel size goes is come on some rides with 29er riders and swap around a bit and see if it makes a difference.


When I’ve borrowed 29ers I’ve been slower than I am on my 26 - perhaps it’s just something I’d get used to, but I find the lightness of the 29er to be a DISadvantage on rough ground because it’s so jittery and takes far more concentration to ride. The 26x3 just steamrollers the bumps away and I find it easier to keep up a good spin - there’s probably some of the “flywheel” effect from the heavy tyre as well. Obviously you’ve got to lug the extra weight up any climbs though.

Thanks (head growing…), but I don’t consider myself THAT fit. Perhaps a bit above average, but nothing amazing. Certainly nothing like as fit as I was when I was bike racing regularly (that was nearly 15 years ago now). I’m quite good on endurance though, but not that good on top speed (not stably anyway :o)

I don’t think a 29er really suits my riding style, but I’m getting more and more tempted to give a coker a try.


So the key is to do lots of riding preferably off road serious muni and consider buying one of UDC’s new 36" unis when they are released.

If I knew when the Emu’s did more off road riding I would come out and do more as it is I tend to ride on my own.

I did 8 and a half miles last night on my 26 and I wasn’t particularly tired although I was taking it gently as I was talking to a 29er rider as we rode.

I am considering a bigger wheel but I can’t imagine I will get a 29 as it is too similar in size to my 26 and I prefer the 26 having ridden a 29.

Have never ridden a 36 off road so I don’t know how hard or easy it is so I will have to wait until I can afford to get one before I can find out and I would want to do a lot of miles on road before I did any off road to get used to the wheel size and handling.

Thanks for the advice, time to start upping the mileage


Thanks for the complements Joe (head also getting bigger).

Pete: I would also go along with what Joe has said so far. There certainly isn’t any substitute for putting in the time and effort before hand. As an example, both Zippy and Loosemoose are fit, but both had problems doing the whole ride from Manchester to Blackpool. They hadn’t put in the hours beforehand on those roads like the rest of us and struggled as a result. Different parts of your muscles are ‘worked’ depending upon the length of the cranks you’re riding. Whatever length of crank you intend to ride the race on, then make sure you use that to train with also (common sense stuff again). It obviously helps to improve your overall fitness by doing other things like swimming, running, etc. The only fitness training I do is to ride, ride and ride more.

I’ll be posting about the hockey/muni ride very soon. But for the moment I’m hoping to go back to the Peaks for a ride that Paul Royle and myself did earlier this year (18 miles and about 5 hours of fun).

If you come along on the muni ride, then we could talk more.



Hopefully I will be able to make the hockey and the muni ride, I’m busy trying to find a house to move into at the minute so things are chaotic but if I can spare the time then I will be there.

If I can only make one of the 2 days I will probably come for the muni ride.

Hope to see you there and thanks for the advice


That philosophy is more or less what you need.

The main thing is to get some riding into a daily routine, give or take the odd day. I think the fittest I’ve ever been is when I had a long ride to work.

Will attempt to do/organise more emu muni rides, although we’re probably back into night riding for evening rides.