Down Hill Races

Hi! I was wondering-what are the downhill races like at the national conventions? I’m planning on if I can going to the nation convention next summer and I think I’m going to be a non-competitor. But I was just wondering how hard the downhill muni race is. How long have previous ones been? And what is the terrain like? Is hopping required? How skilled should a rider be to participate? Thanks!


The offroad competitions we’ve done at NUC/NAUCC and UNICON have been designed to be easy enough for “new” off-roaders to do. This is especially true in technical and uphill sections. If you have a lot of racers, they will all pile up in a place where progress slows to a crawl. Plus, if the hill is too steep or hard, people will just walk it, and that could take away from the spirit of the event. So most of our races have been mainly across or down. The uphill competitions we’ve done are relatively short, and concentrate on riding uphill, so you’re not allowed to walk it.

We’ve only done a strictly downhill race once. That was at NAUCC 2001 in Toronto. The first 100’ or so was very steep! But the rest was merely bumpy.

The tentative location for NAUCC 2003 is in the Twin Cities, Minnesota. There probably will not be a hill of decent size available, and it remains to be seen if there will be MUni events included in the convention. I believe they should be, or else the convention will lose a swiftly growing portion of today’s riders.

Oops, forgot distance. The Cross Country/Downhill course at UNICON 11 was about 2 miles. This is longer than most MUni races we have done. In 1999 we raced roughly the same distance (on the same course), and at the 2002 MUni Weekend in Santa Cruz we went probably something like 1.5 miles. Most other MUni races have been closer to 1 mile.

Uphill competitions have been in the 75-200 meter range, while the downhill race from Toronto was about 1/3 mile.

Sorry about the mix of English & metric. :thinking:

Is there an off-road competition that is just pretty much flat. Maybe a little uphill and a little downhill but nothing really steep? (at least not steep uphill)?

Oh, and how long are such races, if they exist?


Sorry, our messages crossed. I was typing my last post while you were posting yours. :smiley:

2 miles isn’t too far. I was thinking I’m not good enough to compete, but maybe I will for fun. Does anyone mind if some of the competitors aren’t very good?

Oh, and are there separate Muni competitions for males and females? I was looking at some information people posted, and it looks like there’s not very many female Muni riders. I suppose I would have a better chance of winning, but I would feel silly if the other 2 or 3 competitors finished way ahead of me! :slight_smile:


In the world of mountain biking, the category called downhill is not just riding down a hill. It often has burms and some drops and stuff like that. In cross-country you ride down some hills but it’s not called ‘downhill’. Is this the case for unicycling?


Good question. In unicycling, we’re just beginning to move past the point of a single off-road race. All the MUni (and previously UMX) races I have been involved with have been intended for a wide range of skill (and age) levels, so they weren’t too technical.

Generally there is limited time in the schedule. We want to do a race that is accessible to all, so they can try off-road racing. So people are going to be going fast, and be of mixed age and skill level. If there are hard technical sections, these will cause bottlenecks and kill the “racing” aspect of the race. If there are long or steep uphills, you will have more and more people walking, which also takes away from the spirit of a unicycle race. In fact, in China we had way too many people running on the uphill sections, and problems with enforcement of the no-running rule.

But there is one major overriding factor in determining the terrain of an off-road unicycle race–the one that seems to be getting overlooked. That is, it has to be a place near the unicycle convention, where we’re allowed to have a unicycle race. This puts severe limitations on what your course can be.

If you’re in Minnesota, for instance, it probably won’t have much altitude change. The same could be true in CA as well. If our convention was in the cycling-friendly community of Davis, the highest hills there are the overpasses over Interstate 80.

So, you start with your available riding area. Then you map out a course on it to best meet the needs of your group and race. So far, historically, we’ve done our cross country or “generic” races as mass-starts, and our uphill and downhill competitions as single riders against the clock. We prefer the cross country races to contain hills, but not so much as to stop it from being a speed race.

With sufficient schedule time, courses, budget, and whatever else, we could set up any and all types of course. But we are not nearly as specialized as mountain biking, and we don’t have very many races yet. Even at the MUni Weekends (CA), we generally only have one or maybe two races, and these are considered more “side” events and not the purpose of being there.

A downhill race with berms and jumps could not be safely run with a “general” group of riders. I would want to have some form of qualification round to make sure all competitors had a skill level sufficient for a better level of safety.

With that type of “picked” group, you could then do races that are more technical, steeper uphill, and more specialized. They will be better spectator events, and still reasonably safe enough for me to feel comfortable to host them.