RE: Coker crashing
> Has anyone else crashed on their Coker at speed? Yesterday I managed to hit
> 18.1mph, but it was too much, and I bailed. Luckily
Hey, what about us big wheel veterans? Big wheels have been around a long time
and we might be able to offer some advice to keep you out of pitfalls we’ve
already ridden into.
One of my earliest big wheel riding experiences was in 1982, riding Bill
Jenack’s old wagon wheel. For those of you who’ve seen the video “Unicycle”,
it’s the one Bill rode there. It’s about 42", a real Amish wagon wheel, and
probably weighs about 50 pounds. I had ridden a 40" Tom Miller wheel before, but
this was a little different. I didn’t crash it, but I fell off when I tried to
make a U-turn at the end of the street. I got the thing all leaned over and made
a nice big turn, but when I tried to straighten out the thing stayed leaned and
no amount of flailing brought it back in line on time.
So one of the most important concerns when cruising on a big wheel is completing
turns where you’ve leaned. I find that you have to literally oversteer. That is,
steer the wheel a little bit further in the direction you just turned, until the
bottom of the wheel is directly beneath the top. This will cancel your lean
quickly, after which you can make more minor corrections in your direction.
I ride a 45" wheel made by Tom Miller. It was Big Wheel #30, and I received it
in 1982. I ordered it with 6 1/2" crank arms, and have been comfortable with
that size. I’ve ridden many big wheels with short cranks, but I always felt I
was working really hard on them, even when cruising on level ground.
In my first few weeks of owning the wheel, I remember zooming down a sidewalk
(the road was busy and it was after dark, me with no lights). There was a little
1" round rock in the sidewalk, which somehow managed to center itself in line
with my wheel while one pedal was at the bottom of the stroke. We’ve probably
all done something similar, you hit a bump with your pedals vertical and your
foot comes off the pedal? That’s why they call it the “dead spot”.
Anyway, you Coker riders should have less to worry about because your air tires
would have just mooshed right over that rock. I had hard wheelchair rubber, and
the rock literally bounced me up off the seat. This in turn lifted my foot from
the bottom pedal, and I was then a freefalling object. Though I wasn’t going
real fast, when I landed on the ground I was already out of balance to the
front, and quickly tumbled and rolled to a stop. Then came one of the fears of
all crashed big wheel riders – it was coming right toward me! It rolled
crookedly over me and then fell ungracefully on its side, possibly bending the
crank arm (which has been unbent countless times in the 16 years I’ve had it).
So be careful going fast on those big wheels, and watch your terrain
when you do.
> Or how about maximum speeds? John Foss says 20mph (32kph) should be
> achievable, but I plan to keep it to 17 or so until I have ridden quite a few
> more miles. 20mph = 193 rpm, wow!
I have indeed gone over 20 on my 45", but Nathan’s strategy seems the most
sensible one. Maybe we’ll have us a little big wheel race on Sunday in Davis, or
big wheel vs. regular racing unicycle?
Stay on top, John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone