Confessions from a novice stair-rider.

My buddy Rolandissimo and I have been doing trail rides at night lately. Great fun, sorta eerie. Anyway, Wednesday night we rode a trail that had about 50 or so steps, and they were longish, maybe 6 to 10 feet long with 1-2 ft drops. They were level dirt which ended at a horizontal log , which dropped down onto another flat-dirt to the next log across the trail, down to flat dirt/log, etc.

Since the steps varied in distance, and height, (and it was dark) this was a riot. Each time you dropped down, you had a different pedal position, which seems like good practice. I found it way challenging (more than challenging), and I think the most I got was 7 consectutive steps before bouncing off the seat, while Roland got fr!ck!n 24 or something. It’s a good goal for us to try for the whole run. We’ll get there.

Should I lower the seat for this type of thing? It seemed like I was being ejected by the seat most of my UPDs. (I was on a KH29)

Anyway, after our trail ride (and some more attempts at the trail-stair case), we went to the local SUNYA (State Univ. of NY at Albany) campus. This place has more different concrete shapes than 50 skateboard parks. There are particularly many staircases, with everything from 1 to 50 steps, and heights from a few inches to some drops 4 and 5 ft (on the millions of different ledges.)

What a blast to ride down stairs! Especially at the bustling campus. We’d get all different comments as we rode past groups of college kids, but they were way psyched to see us ride down the steps. Lot’s of hooting and hollering after that.

We both succeeded on a big wide 11-set, a record for both of us, but neither of us could hop all the way back up.

Any tips from stair-masters?

Do you have an air seat? I find if there’s too much air in the seat it gets rather bouncy and I get bucked off when I hit a bump.

In general, when riding big stairs / small drops as the 1-2 ft tall ones you’re describing, I try to let the uni fall from underneath me and then put my butt back on the seat once the uni has landed… if you can imagine, let your unicycle take a projectile’s trajectory off the top of the step. At the same time, by extending your legs, try to make your body take a straight, horizontal trajectory off the top of the step. This way your legs absorb the impact of the drop and not your butt. You can ease the impact even further by tucking your upper body as you make contact with the ground, lowering your center of mass while landing. Be sure, of course, to sit back up before taking the next drop.

As for hopping up big sets, my advice is to take it slow and easy, one stair at a time. With my patented technique, you can hop up a 3 set or a 300 set with no problem: You have to eliminate all unnecessary hopping… one hop per stair. To conserve energy, try to still-stand between each hop as long as possible. It takes practice, but once you’ve mastered the technique you’ll be an up-stair-master, too!