Distance as a type of unicycling???

I’ve noticed lately that there have been mentions of “distance” as a category within unicycling. And people like me have been labelled “distance” riders.

Well, to my mind, there are couple of problems with that:

  1. Distance is relative. I wouldn’t consider a 2hr Unicycle Ride to be distance riding. Whereas someone else might consider themselves to be a long distance rider just for riding 10km or so.

  2. Distance doesn’t tell you what type of unicycling you do. Distance on the Road? MUni? Touring?

Contrast that with bicycling. They don’t call themselves distance riders, and certainly not for riding just for a couple of hours/20-30km or so. There are endurance cyclists (typically 24hr riders/Century riders etc). But even that can be split into road, mountainbike, touring, etc etc.

Unicyclists in the past have not typically used their unicycles to ride “long distances”, and as it becomes more common, I think it’s time we stopped labelling people distance unicyclists just for riding a few K’s down the road.

Ken Looi

p/s for the record, I do a lot of road unicycling, quite a bit of it is unitouring, and also XC Muni.

I’m a distance rider

The term ‘distance’ does cover a multitude of riding types and styles, but I’m happy to group these together. The important thing from my point of view is that it differentiates it from other riding types such as freestyle, trials, hockey etc where the riders don’t venture far from where they start from.

Muni is probably the category that covers the widest range as this seems to go from short steep mountainous stuff (almost trials, but with rocks instead of park benches) through to miles of fire track roads (XC or distance?).

I would consider myself primarily as a distance rider as that covers the 16 miles a day I commute on roads, the 25 mile rides I often do on a Sunday afternoon (mainly on roads, but not always), the times I use the unicycle as a form of transport to get me to friends or whatever, and the longer rides I’ve done on occasions.

It would be wrong to have a minimum mileage to qualify as a distance ride though in the same way that a trials rider doesn’t have a minimum amount of steps he can hop down or a hockey player doesn’t have to score goals to be counted. Everyone will have their own level of ability that they are happy to categorise themselves as.

With a sport (hobby/passtime/occupation/whatever) with as few participants as unicycling has, compared to things like bicycle riding, I think it would be wrong to sub-categorise things any further. Saying that I’m a cyclist > unicyclist > distance rider is as far as I would like to divide things. To split it down further to cyclist > unicyclist > distance > commuter > 10 - 20 mile category just seems too specific.

Just my two penneth.


I’m not saying that you need to have a minimum mileage to call yourself a distance rider, only that it’s all relative. How can you possibly call anyone a distance rider if you don’t know what it is they consider to be “distance”?

When people ask me I’d say I’m into MUni and Road Unicycling. That’s not too specific is it? I would never call myself a distance unicyclist because I feel it is a meaningless category.

Just my AUD$0.02, which doesn’t exist anymore I don’t think. Damn inflation!

I certainly agree that distance is relative and “distance riding” as a category doesn’t quite make sense…

But I also think that using the analogy of bicycle riding misleading. Bicyclists don’t play hockey, basketball, etc

To me a ‘distance ride’ is one where travelling the distance is the aim. Just as for a trials ride the aim is to get over an obstacle, and on a muni ride the aim is to cross difficult terrain, on a distance ride the distance you are trying to travel provides the obstacle. It is the factor that if reduced would make the ride easier, just as jumping up smaller items or riding over less tough terrain would make trials and muni respectively easier. And I agree with STM, there aren’t enough of us to start splitting hairs, one thing i love about unicycling is that we all stick together, can you imagine BMXers hanging out with road tourers, or freeriders? We have a great mix of riders even at fairly specific events (i.e. a trials ride at Moab muniest) and splitting people down in to defined groups just moves us away from this.

I totally see myself as a ‘distance unicyclist’. Distance is when I’m not riding MUni or doing trials and street. ("Trials and Street’ - they’re the actually same aren’t they? :thinking: )

I do ocassionally do MUni which I often refer to as ‘off road’. But mostly I’m riding a long ways, relatively speaking of course, on roads or paved bike paths. And so I call it ‘distance riding’.

Bicycling is the wrong comparison, because there’s not really any class of short-range road bicycling (other than commuting). The comparison is to distance running; you can run for distance on or off road, and the term “distance” distinguishes it from short-event running without specifying any particular distance (as “marathon” would).

I don’t consider myself good enough to be considered a distance rider. To me a distance rider is someone who can pretty much ride all day (a category i hope to be in sometime after my shoulder heals). I would say that i do mostly road riding and do a little bit of MUni and trials.

Ken, I consider you a great distance unicyclist as you can go all day, MUni or road.

Perhaps we need a committee meeting. I only took up unicycling to fit in, so I need to be sure I’m conforming to the right sub category.

When I talk to non unicyclists, I refer to myself doing “cross country unicycling” or “long distance unicycling” because they are terms that make sense to the layman, unlike “MUni”.

When I talk to unicyclists, I try to avoid labels because the one that might atach to me is “mediocre”.

Distance Unicycling is another word for Road Unicycling, it’s just labeled different, which is a bit silly. I always said that when I came back from a ride on my 36" that I’d been distance riding, but in fact I’d just be out for a road ride, distance riding isn’t really a style…

Awwww, were all just one big happy family of precariously balaced athletes, and I want to keep it that way forever.

I think one metric for determining if a person is a distance rider is if they have …say… a world record for it. :slight_smile:

That works pretty good for me. But I agree with Ken that just saying “distance” doens’t give much information as some peoples’ idea of distance is what others would call part of a warmup.

Ken, you are an ultramarathoner. :slight_smile: That works for road or dirt!

I categorize long rides as “road” (assuming they are done on roads). To me road riding means riding on roads, with the purpose of getting somewhere or working out for a certain amount of time. When I rode to work, I called it commuting, but the type of riding was road. There was a little bit of dirt along the way, as well as several miles of bike path away from roads, but overall it was a road ride.

Riding long distances (again, “long” has its interpretations) when not on roads is MUni. Then MUni breaks down a lot from there. Non-technical riding is cross country (XC), but a good ride can contain lots of XC and some gnarly technical stuff as well. And pavement.

I don’t have a problem with “distance” as a category either. You pick a distance and go ride it. That still leaves the question of how much distance, but the word distance does not (and maybe should not) imply any minimum amount. I submitted a proposal to our current Rulebook Committee to stop calling a 10k race a Marathon, as 10k stopped being “long” once we moved beyond 24" wheels.

In the world of bicycling, the categories of riding are often closely associated with the type of bike being used. A road bike is going to be used for road-type riding, and will not be seen on the trails except in an emergency. A racing bike is not a road bike, and a mountain bike is a pretty lousy road bike. A BMX bike is a lousy mountain bike too. This doesn’t work for us. My “road” machine also gets used on XC trails. We don’t have road-only or racing-only unicycles generally, unless we customize them ourselves. Being on a 36" doesn’t mean you’re stuck with road riding, and being on a 20" doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with the group on a big MUni ride.

Sunday, we did a 47 mile version of “Rob’s ride” in Santa Cruz. It was a hybrid of coker MUni and road riding with 4k ft of gain…and definitely a distance ride. It took all day. Yet, to simply call it a distance ride is a gross over-simplification. I think touring is a category of riding, but I think distance is just a descriptor.

While a marathon is commonly used to describe anything that is seemingly a great distance, it really is a specific distance. Anything that is not 26.2 miles, should not be called a marathon. If 10k gets to be called a marathon, then I’m a better runner than I think.

For some people, a marathon is not a long enough distance to run. Hence we have the ultramarathon. An ultramarathon is any distance greater than 26.2 miles. I think the term ultramarathon is meaningless outside of running. I’d feel a little bit silly calling a 50 mile ride an “ultramarathon”.

To me, touring implies distance riding and stopping at least once on route for the night, and taking your gear with you. Ideally camping, although I can’t see a reason why hostel or hotel wouldn’t count. But it would be somewhere other than home.

If you just went for 40 mile circular rides on consecutive days then that would just be a couple of distance rides. Riding to somewhere 80 miles away and stopping overnight in a field halfway would be touring.


It took a few reads for the sarcasm to set in; however, I do see distance as a pointless classification because you can mix and match so many different types of riding with different wheels. Endurance on the other hand…

I really wanted to go on that ride; I had Sunday free and I was thinking about it. But combining the longest ride I’ve done in years with the most climbing I’ve ever done in a day and 5-6 hours of driving was a bit much to squeeze into a single day. I should start with a “normal” Rob’s ride first…

From the descriptions (and Nathan’s cool pictures), that ride was a great example of a road/XC ride on 36" wheels (can’t say Cokers anymore with the hardware your group had). You could call it a distance ride, but if you think about it, any distance could be thought of as a distance ride as long as the purpose is to cover the distance. That ride wasn’t as much about distance as it was about climb, challenge, training, scenery and hanging out together.

That’s essentially what the rules proposal says. Now that we’ve done a “real” marathon at Unicon, the way has been open for more long races. Note also it proposed changing “Marathon” to “Road Racing.”

On a 20"? See, it’s always relative.

And believe me it is, as I’ve done (about) 50 miles on a 20". That was a “75k” charity ride, but it followed the same route as the previous 50-miler. My 20" was a Schwinn Giraffe with something like a 48:26 gear ratio. Killer. Painful urination and all. Never again (it was in 1980, my first year of riding)!

:smiley: Non-unicyclists are so easy to impress. :slight_smile:

“Distance” may not be the right word but there has to be some term that includes commuting, touring and road riding, where the aim is to get from A to B.

I would classify as XC Muni under Muni and not “Distance” (or whatever term) even though the aim might be to get from A to B…XC is “Distance” Muni.
Too many Distances in that para :slight_smile:

Too bad you missed it. It was grueling but fun. It would have been a very long day for you. (I left Oakland 7:30am and returned 9:30pm)

50 miles on a 20"?!! …on a 1980’s seat?! I’d rather run it.