No offense taken, but I have to clarify some things.
No, I am not standing at all. Once I start to stand, it’s all over. The position of my butt on the seat is important, because my pulling motion on the seat-handle / bar-ends is both vertical and horizontal. Leaning forward does not interfere with keeping my center of gravity over the wheel, because my butt is sticking far out the back. So, I am centered, but my center of gravity is lower (akin to balancing a frisbee on the finger, rather than a stick). My bar setup is fairly low, and leaning forward allows me to push and pull harder on the bar ends, similar, in my mind, to the posture of someone sitting at a rowing machine.
I make it a point to try different techniques on the same hill. When I am holding onto the seat, on my 20", I am holding the grab handle in both hands. On my muni, I have both hands on the bar ends. I have experimented with one handed climbing. The free arm makes more effective ballast one-handed, but I struggle to keep a completely rigid connection with the seat and I tend to shift too far forward in this position. I have also experimented with two handed SIF up the hill, which allows for more weight shifting within each pedal stroke, but the wheel becomes less weighted when it moves forward of my center of gravity, and I slip (this hill is dirt). Smooth pedaling on this hill is out of the question. Between each slogging motion, I am attempting to get back into a position of leverage on the pedals. The hill in question is significantly steeper than the hill in the video, above. My attempts tend to end one of three ways: 1. Slipping, 2. UPDing off the front, and 3. Coming to a complete stop and not having the strength / leverage to pedal through it. When I describe the “best” method, it is the one that produced the best results based on many, varied attempts. I am not familiar with “Unicycling 101”. However, I must concede that the best rider in the Hill video, above, Ben, appears to have a pretty straight posture. So, I will keep experimenting, trying the things you suggested, then let you know the results. Best wishes!
I found it old-school and awesome in the best possible ways. He’s breaking axels (but not hubs, interestingly) and cleverly cobbling together padded gloves and other protective pads. George Peck is an amazing and unassuming athlete and master of the sport.
UPDate: I returned to the super-steep hill and followed the suggestion of keeping a straight back, not leaning forward, while climbing. The results were not good. I was not able to leverage as much strength against the saddle/handle in this position. I attribute this to the fact that my seat is already quite high. If my seat were lower, perhaps pulling upward would work better. I
Da da, da daaa… duhhhh. (that’s Price is Right losing music)
Awe, that’s too bad.
I was hoping you were going to come back with a successful hill climb.
Again, Thanks for even trying.
I just went and measured the distance (height) between the middle of my saddle to the bars on my handlebars and that measurement was 7" on my 29" and 9" on my 36" wheel.
Just to give a perspective on how upright I am when I ride.
Are you mentioning the difference in vertical height between the low point of your saddle and the handlebars? I will measure my own setup. I think my bar ends are no more that 1" higher, vertically, than the dip in my saddle. I can see how different bar setups promote (or not) an upright position.
I am not giving up on the hill. I’ve made it 80% up on my 24". A lot depends on the condition of the dirt, if it is very dry or slightly moist.
Here is the setup on my 24". The bar ends are at, or slightly below, the height of the dip in the saddle. This angle is exaggerated, as well, by my posture on the back edge of the seat. Hard to see from the picture, but there are two sets of bar ends. There is a rear-facing set protruding under the saddle and a front-facing set meeting at a downward facing point. The rear-facing bar ends are attached to the outside of the forward-facing ones. IMHO, the Shadow is the BEST. Strong, rigid, adjustable.
Strong, rigid, possibility to add storage to under seat rear… Just not good if you are short and need every millimetre! Like me for my 36er. I had a KH handle on it and I managed to bend/twist the metal in an UPD. Also the KH handle is more fiddly to set up.
Also the Nimbus handle is perfect if 1 or more of the threads for the saddle seat post attachment is busted too, you can keep using the saddle.
I always figured handle bars should be on unis you take on longer rides. A 24" is too small a wheel for longer rides (though I have been using mine lately for 10km runs), so less likely to be used for longer trips. I have mine on the 32 and 36. There they are very comfy.
Would you say that you can get more speed out of your uni with a handle bar, because the balance point is slightly shifted? When I sprint with my Quax 24, I hang forward and then go all in pedalling.
Actually, the 24" is quite effective at making rides “longer”. The longest rides I take on the 24" are about 15 miles of mixed muni/xl with a lot of uphill riding. I have ridden the same conditions on 26" and 29" unis. I feel more confident on the 24" in technical conditions, and my 24" is a higher quality, lighter build, compared to my larger wheels, so I favor it. Of the handful of unicycles I own, the 24" is the only one that feels “dialed in”.
I agree that the 24" surprised me positively when I bought it. I have done a few rides of 10km on a trials uni, which hurt my knees especially the first time and it is superslow. I bought the 24" road uni so I can parttake in the Dutch Uni Championships. For off-road, I lately have been riding with the KH26", which has a nicer seat and the tires is better for sandy roads, though I don’t do any real technical muni. Dirt roads where horses tread or with bumps and pits from the rain, are enough of a challenge for me. Very dry sand I also find very difficult, because that locks the wheel. As I tumble off more on dirt roads, I don’t put handle bars on the 26 and 29 munis. They are too much in the way then.
Riding is loose sand is an art. A 4"+ wide tire helps a lot, but there is also technique. You can sort of float over the sand if you manage to ride with very consistent speed and turn perfect circles with your feet so that the unicycle doesn’t twist side to side as you pedal. I’ve been working on it for a long time, but I still suck at it. If you figure it out, I’d love to know how.
I also think it is helpful to have a rigid connection with the unicycle. Under normal conditions, the unicycle and the rider travel forward at the same speed, reducing the need for a rigid connection between the rider and uni. On sand, however, the wheel can suddenly stall. Without a rigid connection, the rider then moves forward, relative to the uni, causing the wheel to become unweighted behind him, just when it’s necessary to apply force to bring the wheel forward, resulting in a forward UPD. With the rigid connection, by contrast, any momentary loss of traction or stalling of the wheel is mitigated by the rider and uni traveling forward as a single unit. While traveling through sandy sections, my riding becomes more isometric; I use excess force maintaining the rigid connection to the uni. My technique riding through sand is better now on a 2.1" wide tire than it was when I was a novice on a 3" wide tire. It is nice to know that, while I will never be an epic rider, there are all kinds of improvements that happen with practice and improvements to technique!
I will measure the distance and the grade, then report back to the forum.
Edit: Just walked over there with a level and a ruler. Just for the record, a 100% grade is a 45 degree angle. The hill is about 30 feet long, and the grade varies between 50 and 70 percent. I know a few riders who could probably conquer it, in part, with sheer speed. I lose my connection with the uni when I’m pedaling too fast, screwing up my leverage. So speed is not an option, right now. If the hill were consistently 50% grade, I think I would’ve made it, but there is the 70 percent section that stops me close to the top (if I don’t lose traction before that).