Cliffside retrieval -- new record?

This past Saturday I organized a group MUni ride of Stevens Trail in Colfax, CA

We ended up with nine riders: Jess Riegel, Zack Baldwin, their friend Nick(?), Brian Lundgren, Mike Scalisi, Bevan Gerber-Siff, Corbin Dunn, Jim Roberts, and me. The weather turned out beautiful after an amazing downpour the previous day. We drove up from Sacramento and above the gloomy deck that we’ve been having in the valley for the past few weeks, and into the sun. Temps were in the low 50s, but felt much warmer when in the sunlight. We got this weird effect of being able to see our breath, but not being cold in bike shorts and T-shirts.

Anyway, the Stevens Trail is famous for cliffside retrievals. What’s a cliffside retrieval? That’s when you fall off, and your unicycle gets away from you over the edge. The retrieval is measured in how far down the unicycle gets.

Before that day I was familiar with three very large cliffside retrievals:

  1. John Childs’ unattended unicycle slipping down the side of a curving rock/cliff at Moab in 2003 (70-100’)
  2. David Poznanter on the Stevens Trail (something over 100’)
  3. Brett Bymaster on the Stevens Trail (over 100’)

The last time I rode there alone I had a small one also. But on Saturday, January 29, 2005, Jim Roberts (guest rider from Boulder, CO) hit the cliffside retrieval jackpot, at an estimated 300’ (approximate) drop!

I was riding behind him when it happened. An innocent UPD, but then the loss of grip on the unicycle’s seat. Okay, it’s over the edge. It only gets bad when the unicycle points it’s wheel down the slope with the seat trailing behind it, and picks up speed! “Uh oh” we said. It rolled, flopped and tumbled ever downward until we lost sight of it in the trees below.

Jim started climbing carefully down after it. The side of the trail here was steep enough that no one else elected to go down with him, as it knocked too much stuff lose and it was thought better not to risk multiple persons. In time, he made it back up, and the cycle was undamaged! He said the cycle had come to rest still about 150’ above the water, which we couldn’t see from up above. At first we were watching to see if it came floating down the river.

Fortunately Jim’s unicycle is built to military specifications. We know this because it’s senciled on the side: “Mil-Spec.”

Aside from that mishap, we had a great time. My uni almost went over the side at one point, but stopped obediently right at the edge of the trail. Whew! Mike Scalisi had to chase his down 20’ or so.

At the bottom, the trials guys had some fun hopping around on some very slippery, water-carved rocks along the river. It’s a spot that makes a great swimming hole during the warmer weather. In the winter, it’s a fast-moving torrent of ice water.

If this thread stays alive long enough, I’ll post the pictures from this ride as soon as I get them up. In the mean time, here’s some others:

Nice pics, beautiful scenery…

… and where are these specs posted …? :smiley:

Looks to be a nice ride… I hate being stuck in the middle of a concrete/steel jungle :frowning:

The farthest one I have witnessed was when my brother fell off and his unicycle fell down a 30’ slope, landed up side down on a rock then it fell into the river, I had to go get it but luckily his unicycle sinks and the river was only 3’ deep. The drop however broke his KH seat.

Actually, he told me the bearing holder bolts actually are from a military spec of some kind for aircraft. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure it’s just a paint job.

Sorry about your jungle. If it’s any help, this place is almost an hour away from my house. Of course if you drive an hour away from your house I realize it will still be winter there…:stuck_out_tongue:

Sympathy – I grew up in Michigan. I enjoy getting spoiled by our short, mild winters.

That was an excellent ride. I’m so glad I made it up (north). It was rather funny, since Zack and I were sitting on the trail, waiting for the others wto catch up. Zack says, “Oh, they’re right around the bend. What do you say when one of them has lost their uni off the edge?”

Then, the next moment Brian, Jess and Corbin come around the bend. Then Nick, and sure enough, he’s saying Jim lost his uni off the side a few hundred feet back.

Not only could we see our breath, in the beginning of the ride there was literally steam wafting off the trail.

Slight correction: Jim broke his kinport handle when the unicycle went off the edge. The rest was fine.

Digital_Dave: I too live in a concrete Jungle. It didn’t stop me…

lol … I’d have to drive past Tennessse to see hills with anything resembling green … without having to wear layers … etc … :smiley:
(maybe even farther … I’m sure someone in TN will confirm)

If it was summer … I’d have aleast a 6 to 8 hour drive north into WI for some rocks and hills with trees :smiley:

I’m so glad that I’m no longer in the running for the record cliffside retrieval. :slight_smile:

Last year in Moab I revisited the scene and got a GPS reading of the top and approximate bottom of the cliff. I can’t remember the numbers. I’ll have to go through my GPS logs to find the height.

I checked the GPS log and the total drop from where the muni started sliding down was about 110 feet. But not all of that was vertical cliff. The cliff started with a slight downhill that kept on getting steeper and steeper till it got vertical. I don’t know what the vertical drop was. The muni landed in a shrub tree at the bottom so it didn’t impact the ground at full impact. No damage to the muni at all. Everything was just fine.

Yeah- I got a record - Yeah!!! At my age you take what you can get.

The Mil-Spec designation is just for fun, but parts of the unicycle are ANSI-4 compliant, a common military specification and required for certain key parts of aircraft. I got tired of those crappy bolts they put on the bearing holders, so I put on some good ones that have pinch nuts so they can’t come loose (Wicks Aircraft). Also, the Yuni frame 22.2mm seat tube was frustrating my attempts to upgrade so I cut it off and brazed on 4130 Cr-Mo tubing, which is Mil-Spec for aircraft use (says so on the tubing!). I will be adding my QR-bearing holders as soon as I get back to Colorado, those aren’t Mil-Spec, but I can pretend. I can’t wait to see the pictures from the ride, it was a beautiful trail and a great day to ride it.

Sounds like we missed a nice ride. Don’t you just hate working on Saturdays? Glad the huge CSR turned out mostly ok - that is wild.


It doesn’t matter. To me it counts from the spot you lost your grip on it, to the spot where it stopped falling/rolling/tumbling/sliding. But not floating. If it lands in water you have to measure just to there, not the extra 680 miles to the ocean. :smiley:

I’ll see if I can get the ride photos posted today…

Okay, my pictures are uploaded, with captions and everything! I’m missing the name of the new guy. Somebody please fill me in on his full name? This was his very first MUni ride. He bit off quite an ambitious bite!

Cliffside retrieval shots start with this one:

Nice Pics John, thanks for sharing them.

John - every time I see pix you post from Stevens Creek I get inspired to ride. That is some incredible singletrack.