Define Epic...

So in the MTB world, you hear the word ‘Epic’ thrown around every once in a while to describe a big ride that someone did. Usually seems to be a multi day thing, or massive miles accompanied with big verticle.

My question is, is there an actual definition of epic? Keep in mind we all ride unicycles as well which plays a role. We can’t (I can’t anyway) travel nearly the same distance in the same amount of time as MTB’s. Do the rules bend a little for us uni riders? Can a road ride be considered epic, or is it reserved for those who roll in the dirt?

Epic is reserved for anything that is cool enough to be epic. If you rode 150+ miles in one day, I would call that epic so road riding works. I really doubt there’s an actual definition of epic specific to unis, it would vary depending on what someone considers to be epic. For example a lot of non uni riders would consider normal riding epic. Webster states that epic means:

So depending on the person epic is anything beyond ordinary.

Any ride rodger does :slight_smile: 150+ miles in a day is a must!

Epic can also relate to the location, even if the ride isn’t super-long. It could be difficult weather or trail conditions, extreme temperatures, or even just spectacular scenery. The picture below was from an epic ride that wasn’t super-long, but was quite an adventure for a group of about 20 riders at Unicon XIII in Switzerland.

From MTBR:

Epic is an overused term, it can refer to the ride, the environment, the duration, the struggles, etc…

If you are going to focus on the “struggle” between a human and the environment, then at the minimum it needs to a long event, all day or multi day, a test of spirit, and having some increased risk of failure/injury.

I’d say self supported for sure, not a group ride with a bunch of bikers (STP), and definitely not a ride that is epic because it had good views :roll_eyes:

Epic should not be used to describe a ride that was hard, we all have hard rides, it needs to be more than hard, it needs to push limits.

Perhaps something that is not often done or has not been done…

So then tonight, while eating dinner with my 17yo son and his buddy, the word “epic” was tossed about with abandon, and not once was it done in conjunction with unicycling, a life endangering activity, or anything that has a good view :roll_eyes:

It was EPIC!

BTW, John, that’s a great picture, I’d love to get to Europe and do some high alpine riding, they have such a great trail system, puts us to shame :frowning:

Epic thread.

Sorry, had to.

Any ride during which I neither fall nor hear “where’s your other wheel.”

I think of epic as something between grand and awesome.


From what I’ve read in mtb mags its 6 to multiple 10 + hour days of almost constant riding.

Eg. Leadville 100, BC Bike Race, & La Ruta De Los Conquistadors
For a uni I figure cut the mileage in half or even to 1/3.

Read Learning journal NotSoYoung Day 16. Now, that defines epic!

The term comes from literature; an epic is a type of heroic story. So it should be a ride of heroic proportions. How is that defined? Distance is a big part of it, but part of the classic definition of heroism is overcoming of obstacles. So I don’t think a long ride in itself qualifies as epic; there should be at least one moment where it’s not clear whether the thing will be possible, that the hero pushes through and conquers.

Some truly epic rides:
captainwelch’s Dalton Highway ride:

Gracie and Matt’s Great Divide Ride:

Mike Tierney’s climb of Mauna Kea:

Or a poem! But in the context of unicycling, I think the greatest achievement is learning to unicycle in the first place. That sense of achievement you get, when after so many hours of frustration and near quitting you suddenly find balance and roll. You know that you’ve passed the rubikon. You’ve conquered what seemed to be the insurmountable. A whole new world can now be explored cos you you’ve got what it takes.

I thought the same thing, about epic as in epic poetry. A hero takes on some kind of journey, travels long distances through varied lands, is opposed by extreme forces both natural and supernatural, accomplishes feats no other mortal would attempt or else that others have tried and failed at, abides by his society’s values and ideals of conduct in doing so, and returns a changed and better person.

That’s really all it needs to be.

Ben’s story about his son and friend at dinner reminds me of the Guinness commercials and “brilliant.”

By that metric, my Swiss Alps MUni day ride still qualifies. We were spposed to take an articulated train up to the starting point, but they wouldn’t let us on with all our unicycles and gear. So the day started with an unplanned ride/hike up. Then there was a cloudburst as we approached/reached the top, which made it a lot colder than most of us were dressed for.

Epic near-disaster. I’ll stop short of saying epic stupid, but from his description, it sounds like he was woefully unprepared for the dangers of that ride.

Epic epic.

Epic vertical.

I would also add Roger Davies and Sam Wakeling’s record Lands End to John 'O Groats ride; epic hammering. Also Steve Colligan’s 1000 km "Charity ride across the Roof of the World to Everest; epic brutal and epic hardcore.

Careful there. To cross the Rubicon means to reach a point of no return.

Any ride where you spend 10 years besieging a foreign city, hold a massive funerary games for a friend, then go home the long way, fighting various monsters as you go, only to find your wife on the point of giving up on you and marrying one of her numerous suitors. Typically you would avert this disaster by a combination of cunning disguise and a loyal elderly retainer who recognises your childhood scars, and by a display of prowess in some martial skill such as archery. It also helps if you know something about the layout of the marital bedroom suite that no one else could possibly know.*

In the context of a unicycle ride, I’d say any ride of unusual length and difficulty where (and this is crucial) there is some doubt whether you will finish it unaided but you manage to do so. The numbers depend on the individual rider. My epic is shorter than, say, Aspenmike’s.

*Although these days you could probably resolve it with a DNA test.

Yes, you are correct. The point of no return in this context is simply that you have crossed over the line of success and can now ride a unicycle. You cannot return to being a person who’s never learnt to unicycle. But your caution is noted. I also agree with your spelling of rubicon but my computer spells it with a “k”.

What a “epic” story, this crossing of Rubicon… even if it was a small river, and a short and easy walk to Rome!

(I bet Julius’ men tought of it as epic as it happend too!)

Sorry about the picture, historians. I just had to…