In case anyone is interested…
I just got back from the British Unicycle Convention. On the way to BUC, I did my first long ride on the Schlumpf. The longest ride previously was the 1.75 laps at the Strathpuffer 24 in January, which added up to about 17km or so, almost all in low gear. Since the Schlumpf got unbroken last week, I’d commuted 3 or 4 times on it, I think the commutes were between 3 and 6 miles each way. At some point last year, I stupidly said that I’d unicycle to BUC again this year. Since I’d never ridden the schlumpf a long distance before, the sensible thing to use for a two day journey with bivvy gear and enough clothes and stuff for a weekend of unicycling was my coker. Since I’ve never been particularly sensible, I packed up all my gear, strapped the sleeping bag to the back of my Schlumpf seat, got a map and set off to ride there.
The first day, I did 98 miles, an almost century, from Beeston near Nottingham, to the rather aptly named Weel, near Beverley. I went across the bridge formerly known as the longest single span suspension bridge in the world, and ate lots of malt loaf, pizza and chips and other lovely stuff, (as recommended by top athletes). At one point I passed a school class doing a traffic survey, “car car car lorry bus what the…” which must have skewed their statistics rather. I bivvied a few hundred metres off the road in a woods in Weel, in lovely weather, a bright full moon, owls hooting, rabbits and foxes scurrying around, and the bells on a big clock in Beverley ringing once an hour. It was lovely, although so toasty warm I had to sleep outside the bivvy bag rather than in.
Second day, I also did another almost significant distance, 49 miles, from Weel, to Seamer near Scarborough, where BUC was held. It was actually only about 20-25 miles away if I’d done the direct route, but I had an urgent apointment with an ice cream sundae at Mr Moo’s Ice Cream Parlour which was very very nice, chocolate ice cream, with chocolate sauce, and chocolate bits in it, all on top of a great big chocolate cookie, with a chocolate straw and covered in cream, yumm. It’s actually on the farm where the cows live, so you can go and see the cows that your ice cream came from, I can really recommend going there! I also wanted to go into Bridlington to see the beach and stuff, which added a bit. In the morning, I got really sunburnt, then as I was 3 miles out of Flamborough, the skies opened and all the rain that we hadn’t been having for the last week or so decided to come out at once, 15 of the last 20 miles or so were in complete torrential rain, roads flooding instantly and turning into streams etc.
The next two days, I played hockey loads on Saturday, (my team came third, and our first team came second!), and went for a bit of a road ride (probably only 15 miles or so) over the biggest hills we could find in Scarborough, and then along the sea front. It was cool.
So yeah, almost 100 miles, almost 50 miles, so almost 150 miles on the Schlumpf. It rode okay. The high gear is nice, it took me 11 hours 20 mins to do the first day of riding, which is longer than the 9 hours 51 I’ve done for 100 miles on a coker, but this time I wasn’t in a hurry at all, I was stopping and looking at stuff, and having loads of rests, as I didn’t want to kill myself for the weekend. So speed wise, probably about the same as my coker maybe just slightly faster (110mm cranks on the coker, 150 on the 29" schlumpf). I think the ride would have been easier on the coker, as it seems harder to ride the Schlumpf when you’re tired, the coker evens out your pedal stroke for you a lot more. I didn’t find the low gear much use when road riding when tired, I rode it all in high gear in the end. When you’re not tired it’s nice to have for riding up steep hills, as I discovered on the Sunday ride, but when you’re tired, it’s just so much effort and you might as well walk up the hills. On the flat or downhill, there’s no point in low gear because it just feels like you’re running in a hamster wheel or something.
I also played around a bit with the Schlumpf in a gym, I can now kick the down shifter, although not stay on once it shifts, and can shift up fine. I stopped practicing shifting after one time when down shifting seemed to miss clicking in and freewheel for long enough to let the unicycle go about half a revolution rather than the normal 1/12 of a revolution, leaving me on my arse and bruised. Ouch.
So yeah, the Schlumpf does work for long distance (although I’ve got a different frame, rather than the rubbish original one) and is about as good as a coker. It was nice to have something low geared when I got there.
I still wouldn’t recommend getting one for someone who has a car and drives to the start of most rides, unless you want to do a combination of quite technical muni and road riding in one ride, then a stock coker will be fine, and you’ll have enough money to buy a super nice muni, or to go on holiday or something. I’d recommend a schlumpf if you regularly do rides where you do hard muni and lots of road riding in one ride, or don’t have a car and ride out to your muni rides. My commute has muni in the middle of it, so it’s good for me, and means I can practice muni every day.
For pure road riding cokers are still great. Maybe a schlumpf coker is a good idea but I’m currently put off them for a few reasons, they’re a really narrow hub, they look and feel dodgy, the wheel has side to side wobble even compared to a stock coker, there isn’t yet a frame for them which is as good as the stock coker frame, and having seen the ways Roger’s one chucked him off on our ride yesterday, I think they’re a bit too much of an injury risk, especially if things like dodgy shifts happen. I’m not really convinced they’ll stand up to hard riding either, the amount of power people like Roger put through their cokers is insane, I’d guess fat people might put even more stresses on their gears. The fact it has a warranty if it breaks is fine, but they don’t warranty your legs or wrists and from my experience, if the gears drop out for longer than you’re expecting, you crash down jolly fast.