Criterium unicycle race ?

Hey guys and gals,

I’ve volunteered to help with NAUCC this year and will soon be scouting potential courses. I rode in the 10K and Marathon at Unicon this year but haven’t ridden a criterium … at least not on a unicycle. Any suggestions? How many competitors usually show up for the criterium? Is a half mile course with about six laps ok?

I looked at the rule book and it really doesn’t have much info.

I appreciate any useful input.


:)I’m not an expert either, but I’ve raced in a couple. A Criterium is intended as a multi-lap circuit race, presumably with much passing activity and the challenges of turns and “urban terrain.” At least that’s my take on the thing. A half-mile lap is perhaps longer than you want, but it depends what you have available to work with. The ones I’ve been in were more like riding around the block, or a couple of connected blocks. This gives the spectators more opportunity to see the progress of the race. Here are pictures from U Games in 2010. Scroll down to just past the basketball. Those pictures show a couple of 24" age group heats, and the Expert heat, but there were at least one or two others. Scott Wilton won the Expert race, and he’s still on of the very top Road racers in the world. I recommend contacting him for advice. He’s not on this page, but you can try his sister Patricia.

Since I get to drive to NAUCC this year, I can bring more unicycles. I’ll probably enter the Crit!

I’m a unicycle fan (obviously), but surely the point of a criterium is high speed around a tight course? How well does it work on unis?

Take a look this example of a bike crit. A big draw is the speed:

I suppose the Horwich Unicycle Road Race could be classed as a Crit - 1-mile loop, 7 laps.

I don’t have that much useful info for you besides that sadly, aside from that I’ve enjoyed it all 3 times :smiley: We do one race with all ‘classes’ at once (so there’s kids racing at the same time as adults, 24" and 36ers) with prizes at the end for each class.


That would be my concern at a big event like NAUCC, the speed differences in unicycling tend to be big, so to prevent fast riders being held up, you would have to have classes with different starting times. I wouldn’t think a criterium is a great alternative to the current long distance format of one big course and starting in waves/mass start. There is usually a big amount of people signing up for these kinds of events that aren’t “racing-unicyclists”, people that enter for fun mostly even though they don’t have any chance of winning. (I think that’s great, but it means you have to plan your race with slower riders in mind)

Thanks for volunteering, Vertigo. I hope the organizers and racers will thank you, too.

I rode in the NAUCC crit in Minnesota in 2014 and Wisconsin in 2015. Both years they had multiple classes by wheel size and expected speed. The Minnesota course was in a large parking lot; maybe an eighth of a mile loop. The Wisconsin course was around a three lumpy city blocks; less than a quarter mile, I think. I don’t remember how many laps they were. I’ll guess four. MN was laid out with orange cones and ribbons and was somewhat maze-like. WI was somewhat twisty through a residential neighborhood. Lots of neighbors watched from their front lawns, which was fun. I hope they didn’t mind that their street was closed for a few hours. That course had speed bumps, which were awful. Please don’t have a course with speed bumps.

Thanks so much for the input.

This weekend I’ll start scouting for a course on the Eastside not to far from the muni venue.

We have speed bumps on the greenways here in the city and I don’t really like them. Especially the two streets with bumps just at the top of the hills. So no speed bumps if I can help it.

I’m also going to propose a city ride within Seattle. We have one scenic loop that’s about 13.5 miles with 330 feet of elevation gain (one steep hill). Not sure if that’s too much. There’s a couple of other options.

What he said. It wouldn’t be an alternative to the 10k and other “straight” races, unless it’s impossible to organize those. The Unicon 11 10k went from Mt. Si High School out on a back road to a sawmill or something, and then back, finishing with a lap around the track.

For a NAUCC-sized group, you would have to break it into a few separate races because # of riders, and to separate beginner-type riders from the 25+ mph experts. NAUCC (and Unicon, though not as much anymore) is designed for nearly anyone to be able to enter events, and compete with people of similar age if not top riders. The top riders can take it very seriously, while the more casual ones can have fun doing it without stressing as much. :slight_smile:

That’s an example of what I meant by “urban terrain”. No course is perfect. There may be potholes cracks, etc., which are part of the course.

Definitely not too much for a group of Roadies. If possible, you could also have a shorter ride for more casual riders, or people with smaller wheels. Or if you have the leaders, have them start together and go at different paces.

Feel free to consult me if I can help I’ve been to at least 25 of the USA conventions, 18 Unicons and various smaller uni events in various states & countries.

Hi Vertigo!

My name is Dave Krack. I’ve been heavily involved with planning NAUCC Crits since 2012. That was the first time it turned both left and right. That course was the result of several heads coming together and making the course happen when the initial course approval fell through (at the last minute.) I organized ALL of the Road Racing and Muni in 2013, and was Road Racing Director at the SD NAUCC in 2016 as well. I’m on Aaron’s planning list for this year as well.

A good Uni Crit course is 1/2 to 3/4 of a mi in length depending on the layout. Shorter than that makes lapping a problem for the faster riders. Like the 10k, there are Standard (24") and Unlimited heats, often with slow and fast heats within each of those. The Standard typically does about 1/2 the laps of the Unlimited.

Being that this year it’s on the schedule the same day as Muni, a bit shorter of a race isn’t a problem. Probably 3-4 mi total for the Unlimited. So your 1/2 mi course with 6 laps may be good. It really depends on the layout. The lap number can be tweaked closer to the event once the course is picked.

As far as the number of competitors, don’t worry about it. Multiple heats will fix that. Typically most everyone who does the 10k does the Crit. It’s a fun race to ride and a course should be selected so it’s fun to watch. Michigan (2012) used parking lots at the main venue. In PA, we used parking lots and streets in a residential neighborhood with spectators nearby in 2013. In MN in 2014, it was scheduled close to a big festival. In 2015 in Madison, WI they used the neighborhood that a bulk of hosting club, MadUni, lives in. In 2016 we used a tiered parking lot at the college where the Track racing had been held. It had some great vantage points that overlooked the entire course so watching the race unfold was exciting.

Crit Racing isn’t in the IUF Rulebook as it probably would be a real pain to make it happen with so many competitors. Overall, it’s been primarily an NAUCC (and U-Games, the 2010 version of NAUCC) event. It’s not a mandatory event for hosts to have either, but it’s caught on as it’s arguably one of the most spectator-friendly uni racing events to watch. Cyclocross is definitely the other.

I’m more than willing to help with planning and course selection. I’m sending a pm with my contact info.

Hi Dave, thanks for chiming in. Your help is greatly appreciated. I’ll respond to your PM.

Thanks everyone for the input.

John, it’s good to hear about what happened here last time. I don’t think those folks are involved this time.

I’ll give some updates as I get more info and try to create some videos of the course and the city tour.

Great replies! Thanks to John and Dave for being such amazing resources.

I was road race director at NAUCC 2015 in Madison.

From my perspective, the criterium is one of a few events at NAUCC which can be a great way to showcase uni road racing (and unicycling, generally) to the general public. That should be an important consideration in addition to all the rest! If the course is aesthetic (ok, slightly subjective!), it will usually be fun racing. I liked the course very much last year (thanks Dave!), but would ideally like something more visible to the public. Of course, that presents additional challenge and event planning.

Needless to say, the course needs to be closed (and free of parked cars), so you’ll have to work with your municipality to get approval (a permit). It’s likely you’ll need to think through a safety plan for that process, which gets you thinking about contingencies…

Good luck and see you soon! David Panofsky, from MadUni

ps - Happy to help you with any logistics, including copies of documents I used in 2015.

How do we manually time the race?

Hey David,

How did you time the 2015 race?

Last week I went to a weekly bike criterium to see what they do. The event organizer had five other guys who watched for the first five finishers who crossed the line. They didn’t care about times, just the order of the finishers.

I was looking at the results from the 2015 race and it looks like each rider got a finish time. Did you do it manually?

I’d appreciate any input you can give (or anyone else). I need to come up with a list of volunteers that will be needed but have little information on logistics.

I wish there was a race manual that I could consult.

All of the NAUCC races have been timed manually.

There is a NAUCC USA kit available that includes the equipment that you will need. This kit typically is used throughout the week for almost all racing events (with the exception of Track which needs it’s own system).

Your USA liaison should be able to get you hooked up.

If you have several volunteers available ahead of time, that’s a great start!

Thanks Dave. I’ve been asking around and haven’t gotten much specific info. Seems like folks at USA are busy these days. Just got a response from Dani concerning the longer road races. So far it seems as if volunteers work in pairs. One tells the other bib numbers and the time while the other writes the info on a chart. I suppose uni riders won’t be crossing in groups like bike riders.

IMHO, it has been difficult to get help with this. Info doesn’t flow so well.

NAUCC Venue: Central Park, Issaquah

I made a video of the criterium course. Kind of boring but thought I’d put it out there in case any one was interested in seeing it.

It’s an .4 mile out/back loop between three traffic circles. One of the traffic circles has a steep pitch which I personally find difficult but others don’t seem to mind.

We’ll have five heats during a 2 hour time frame. The schedule is really tight! Unfortunately that’s the only time we could get.

Here’s the line up.

0-10yr 20" wheels - 15 minutes - 2 laps
Standard 24" Novice - 20 minutes - 4 laps
Standard 24" Expert - 20 minutes - 4 laps
Unlimited 26" - 36" Novice 20 minutes - 8 laps
Unlimited 26" - 36" Expert 20 minutes - 8 laps

I like the music track you chose. It says, take a good look around; this elevator will get you there eventually. :slight_smile:

It looks like a nice, easy-to-control venue, with little or no costs associated with closing streets or police overtime. Unfortunately it lacks the public exposure of a city streets course, but we use what we can get.

I always have trouble with the group classification labels. Am I a novice or an Expert? I think I fall in with the vast majority of riders who are neither. I’ve been riding for almost 40 years, and coming to uni competitions since 1980, but I’m not fast. Once upon a time I was, but these days I’m more in the medium range. Which group should I ride with?

The asphalt looks like it’s in great condition. I like the use of roundabouts :slight_smile:

Yes, the roundabouts will be the best locations for spectating; where the action will probably be the most intense!

It was hard to find a venue in this area especially since I live about 35 miles away. In the end having it near the Muni venue made sense. I don’t know how many riders will do both but it’s possible since Grand Ridge [Muni venue] is next to Central Park. In fact you’ll be parking in Central Park for the Muni events.

When I came up with those categories we only had 2 hours to close the road and I wasn’t sure how fast we could get cars out of the way. I just found out that we might have an additional 1/2 hour or so. Maybe I’ll add back an Unlimited intermediate heat. I’m also allowing 5 minutes between heats.

I’m not sure how fast the “experts” will be. I’d like to keep them from mowing down the slower riders. It’s an out/back course.

BTW, I rode one lap at the leisurely pace of 2min and 50sec on my 28" road unicycle. The traffic circle at the end of the video is steep (that’s why you see my waving hand). I’m still not sure if I should include it for the kids riding 20" wheels. Of course, they’re probably much better riders than me.

The song in the video is called “Cool Ride” (free YouTube music).

I see that on Google Maps, and also Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park, which looks really interesting.

Are there any legal mountain bike trails in the Snoqualmie Pass area? In 1999 and 2002 we raced at the Snoqualmie Summit park, I think. Brett Bymaster and I figured out the 1999 course. It would be fun to go up there; maybe invite a group for a non-competitive ride at some point.

Or if you only use two groups, maybe just label the lower one as “medium” or something. I can’t think of a good word to describe “everybody but the experts”. :stuck_out_tongue:

Imagine the fastest riders you can think of, then increase that by 25%. It will be about that fast. Don’t mix the Experts with beginner-type riders if possible, because there will be much lapping and it will be messy. Which brings us back to people figuring out which group to ride in. How about “Faster” and “Slower”? I still don’t know where I fit these days, but might help some other people decide…

It’s an out & back course, but if you think of it as a narrow loop it should work fine. Put some cones, or rain-away spray paint down the middle to indicate where riders should stay.

Leave it in. Don’t worry, most of them probably won’t even notice it. :slight_smile: