The third annual California Mountain Unicycle Weekend took place last weekend.
I’ve used the days in between to recuperate, and start mailing out T-shirts.
Looks like we picked the right weekend. This Saturday it rained all day, nearly
an inch and a half. The previous weekend was cold. Our weekend was blessed with
what I can only describe as near-perfect weather. It was chilly in the morning,
but just right in the afternoons. This left the riders with a lot more energy at
the end of both days!
RIDERS: We started Saturday in Auburn at the American River Confluence. No less
than 55 riders were registered, and most of them were there Saturday morning.
We didn’t get as much variety of states this year, with most coming from
California or Washington. But there were some from Oregon, Alaska, and one from
The lone Canadian was Kris Holm, of Vancouver. Kris has been unicycling for
many years, but never rode with anyone else before! He found out about the
event only two months before, and took a strange succession of transportation
to get here. First he flew to San Francisco, then he took a bus to Sacramento,
then he took a further string of busses and hitch hikes to get dropped off near
my house in Folsom. It was worth it, as he was an amazing rider. Apparently the
trails in Vancouver are very steep and gnarly, because Kris rode some stuff
that nobody else did.
George Peck came from Alaska with his son Kristopher, who is a very solid rider
himself but doesn’t aspire to do what his dad does. Suspension MUni designer
Daniel Hopkins (and his new wife Melanie) are no longer from Tennessee, as they
recently moved to Glendale, CA. Unfortunately college students Kevin Gilbertson
(MN) and Brett “Bloodman” Bymaster (IN) were unable to get away and join us.
Eleven riders slept at my house. The place got very interesting Friday and
Saturday nights! We played on each others’ unicycles, and watched unicycling
videos until late.
SATURDAY, AUBURN: Saturday morning started with a loosely (dis)organized
workshop that turned into a display of cliff riding by Kris Holm and his
imitators. Kris rode down an extremely steep little bit of hill near our uphill
race course. He went down it several times, but no one else was able to make it
once. They did crash in rather spectacular fashion though, so I was relieved to
call everyone over for the Confluence Uphill Race.
This is where you ride a short piece of trail from the river up to where the
cars park. As it’s steeper at the top, riders could choose the full course or a
shorter, easier one. The winners:
FEMALE: Julie Young, Cle Elum, WA, (short course): 18.90
MALE, SHORT COURSE: KIDS (0-12): Jeremy Clifton, Modesto, CA: 31.03 TEEN
(13-19): Kristopher Peck, Seward, AK: 13.81 ADULT: Ted Howe, Sacramento, CA:
19.84 CHAIN DRIVE: Scot Cooper, Danville, CA: 22.71
MALE, LONG COURSE: TEEN: 1st: Joseph Campbell, Kingsburg, CA: 22.43 2nd: Dan
Heaton, Bellevue, WA: 23.53 ADULT: Kris Holm, Vancouver, BC: 19.37
HOST: John Foss doesn’t officially enter: 18.31
Those were all the riders who successfully completed one of their two
Then we did our big group photo, which the Sacramento Bee captured in a very
large picture that’s not included on their web page. Their one picture shows
Scot Cooper racing his MUni Giraffe up the course. This was a Savage that had
been customized to fit a 26" wheel, and a gear ratio of less than 1:1 for higher
leverage. The thing works very well!
We took off for the trails. The largest of the three groups of riders were the
ones riding the expert trail, including the 1000’ uphill part. Quite a change
from our first MUni Weekend, which was about half and half. It was a beautiful
ride for all, in excellent weather. Except maybe for Jenni White, who had a
massive blowout near the highest area of the trail, and had to walk down. Her
tube had exploded in a 6" long hole, with green Slime (flat repair liquid) all
over the place.
We pigged out on lunch at Original Pete’s (smack the organizer for not warning
the restaurant a day earlier), and returned to ride Stagecoach and the Manzanita
Trail. The expert group had to keep stopping at the difficult spots on the
trail, to watch each other attempt to ride the hard stuff. A great way to learn,
as long as it doesn’t make us late.
When we came to “T-shirt Hill” (the one on this year’s shirt;
http://www.calweb.com/~unifoss/muni/shirt98.htm). Everyone had to try and try to
ride down that nasty, rocky, steep slope. Well, not everyone. The smart people
just watched. But the gonzo guys who are into such danger tried it many times.
Kris Holm cruised right down it on his first try, and repeated the feat later.
George Peck made it down, but not on his first try. I can’t remember if anyone
else successfully made it.
SUNDAY, SLY PARK: On day two, we converged upon Sly Park in Pollock Pines. There
were a little under 40 riders that day, at least 25 of which made the trip all
the way around the lake. As on Saturday, traffic jams on the trail formed as
riders one by one attempted to ride the hard bits. This made a great show for
everyone to watch.
The group didn’t stay together as much. Bruce Bundy and his group had to ride a
little faster in order not to be late leaving. Bruce had to catch a plane to
Tasmania (yes, really) directly from the MUni Weekend. Other riders hung back
because they were having too much fun trying to ride the hard spots.
But we all met again back at the Pine Cone Campground, our starting point, for
lunch. After lunch we had to make up the final rules for the Jenkinson Lake
This was to be the first-ever Observed Trials competition for unicycles (to our
knowledge). The basic idea is the same as for bicycles, to get over the
obstacles, or course, with the least number of “dabs” (dismounts). Dabbing means
putting a foot down for a bicyclist, so we would have to do things differently.
Also I wanted this to be a pure skill event with speed not a factor, so times
would not be recorded. We decided on a 5 minute time limit, and a cap on
dismounts at 20. Exceeding either of those would get the rider disqualified.
The object was to ride from the start/finish line down to the lake’s edge, about
150’ away, get your tire wet in the water, and ride back up. The winner would be
the rider with the least number of dismounts. In the event of a tie, the tied
riders would go again, but on a different route to the lake. The results:
FEMALE: 1st: Julie Young, Cle Elum, WA: 7 (dismounts) 2nd: Sierra Young, Cle
Elum, WA: 22 (we gave her a break)
MALE: BOYS (0-18): 1st: Joseph Campbell, Kingsburg, CA 1 2nd: Kristopher Peck,
Seward, AK 2 3rd: Dan Heaton, Bellevue, WA 10
MEN: 1st: Kris Holm, Vancouver, BC 0 2nd: Bruce Bundy, Santa Cruz, CA 1 3rd:
David Poznanter, Santa Cruz, CA 2 4th: Jock Young, Cle Elum, WA 4
UNOFFICIAL: George Peck, Seward, AK 0 John Foss, Folsom, CA 0
George wouldn’t wear a helmet, so he was not an official entry. I think his real
reason was that he’s not the competing type. Too bad, because we missed our
chance for a run-off between him and Kris Holm on bigger rocks. Also, the event
was designed with George’s skill in mind!
I don’t compete in my own events. How would that look? Plus, if the prizes I’m
giving out are things I’m trying to get rid of, winnind them defeats the
purpose. But next year it will be different. The trails and competitions will be
figured out by someone else…
FABULOUS PRIZES: This event is infamous for its prizes, which consist of
anything from recycled awards (stuff I’ve won in the past, or never got used),
to junky old unicycle parts, to rare collectible unicycle memorabilia. This year
I bragged to arriving contestants about the unicycle someone was going to win.
This was a paper unicycle model, from the Absolute Balls juggling company of
England. It was a punch out and hand assemble kit which, after hours of tedious
work, would make a detailed unicycle out of paper. Cool, and a valuable
collector’s item if you’re into such things.
Little did I know there would be another unicycle prize. On Saturday morning,
John D. Miller (Tumwater WA) came up to me and told me he had an extra Pashley
Muni he wanted to donate to the convention. Woah! So I told him the recipient
and method of awarding would be up to him. Pashley had donated one of their Muni
unicycles to us last year, and John thought it would be nice to do it again this
year. Thank you J.D. Miller for your kind donation!
The unicycle was awarded at the end of events on Sunday, and was given to a
rider based upon riding ability, attitude, and need of a unicycle. David
Poznanter, a poor college student, was riding a borrowed unicycle at the MUni
Weekend. But he was an amazing rider, trying all the hardest things and having a
great deal of success. He was selected as the lucky winner, and has probably
already broken in his new Pashley on the trails of Santa Cruz, some of which go
right through the UC Santa Cruz campus.
Other prizes that were given away this year included: Posters: Circus Changhigh,
UNICON IX, La F.O.U. and a World Wheelers poster from the 70’s. Parts: A bunch
of 24" and 26" inner tubes. Munchies: Several Clif Bars! Other stuff: I can’t
remember. Recycled awards: Jenni White had donated a complete set of
medals/ribbons from NUC 98. I also had a bunch of ribbons from Washington
Unicycle Records Day (Oct. 3). Unfortunately some of the recipients of those
were actually at that event and already had them… Also there were still some
nice ribbons left over from UNICON
SEE YA NEXT YEAR: All in all it was a great weekend. I received many compliments
about the beautiful trails, scenery, and ambiance of the event. Also memorable
was the spirit and friendliness of all the people who attended. I don’t know
what it is about unicycle people, but they’re just great to be around. As the
Sacramento Bee article described us, we’re a big extended family.
Next year the MUni Weekend goes on the road. It’s staying in California but we
may drop the CA from the name in preparation for further away places. I called
it California originally because of the novelty of having a unicycle meet out on
the West coast. So much for that, after a successful Nationals and what may be
the biggest NUC yet planned for next year!
For 1999 the MUni Weekend will be right on the coast, in beautiful Santa Cruz!
Bruce Bundy has offered to map out the trails for us. David Poznanter and some
of the other local riders will probably help. The only hard part will be
deciding which trials to ride, because there are so many. Since Bruce’s whole
apartment is smaller than my living room, most of us will stay in hotels. And
this upcoming MUni Weekend will offer something I haven’t been able to include
here, an honest to goodness roller coaster ride! The world famous Giant Dipper
(http://www.calweb.com/~unifoss/coasters/coasters.htm) is right on the Santa
Cruz Boardwalk, and it allows us to combine the two main topics of my web site
into one event.
SORRY 'BOUT THE TRAFFIC: My apologies to everyone who was made late by the
horrendous traffic along Highway 50 in Placerville on the way back. It seems
there was a huge jazz festival in town, and everyone was leaving when we were. I
had no idea. Then there was a golf tournament in El Dorado Hills, which slowed
some of us down again. That was not typical Sunday traffic for there.
Anyway, see you all in Santa Cruz in 99! Not to mention North Bend, WA for
the National Unicycle Convention, and its associated MUni rides in the
Snoqualmie Pass. Look for MUni Weekend 98 pictures and story on my web site
in the coming weeks!
Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
California Mountain Unicycle Weekend Santa Cruz, 1999!