how are municyclists received on the trails?

is it ok for a beginner muni’er to intrude on a mountain bike area? i have a substantial fear that i will be completely bagged if i head out to my local trails. has anyone got any advice for a tentative newcomer to the sport with regard to getting by in the least conspicuous way possible ? i do plan on being alert and jumping out of the way etc when i hear people coming through, and representing myself and other riders as well as i can.
thanks all


etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior it doesn’t matter what or where you ride the trails are for everyone.

you seem like a pretty down to earth guy, i say focus on putting yourself out there and enjoying the sport and a little less on the select few that might see it differently. :slight_smile:

Ive had nothing but positive comment on the trails I have ridden here in Aus. I dont ride the double black diamonds but I know there are a few on here that do. Cross country MTBers are generally just interested and say good stuff when they see you.

I had the same concerns starting out. The thing is though… the only way to learn to ride mountain bike trails is to ride mountain bike trails. You’ve got to get out there eventually.

Before I ventured out on single track I knew how to ride on sidewalks/roads/greenways to the point where I was bored with them. Just saying that you’ll want to at least know how to ride before hitting the trails.

When I first started singletrack I was a mess. Easily winded, no experience with rocks or roots, I wasn’t that proficient with the sharp turns that you are sometimes required to make. It seemed like I’d UPD every 20 - 30 feet. I was embarrassed to be out there and I would frequently apologize to bikers as they went by. I never got any flak though, I’ve found that the crowd that exercises (be it running or biking) are kind and curious about unicycles. A far cry from the average Joe that you’ll run into when riding down the street. Occasionally you’ll see that biker with the stone face that won’t acknowledge anyone’s presence and is determined to plow anyone and everyone off the trail so they can get their ride in on their trail but that isn’t behavior they only exhibit toward unicyclists - they do it to everyone. Still, those types are fairly rare.

You’ll be fine, just pick trails you can do reasonably, get to the side as bikers go by, stay on wider trails and less use trails so you have fewer “bike encounters”.

I ride trails exclusively, 3-4 x weekly, everyone is on bikes, they know me for the most part, sometimes they move over for me, sometimes I move over for them, when there’s space they pass me, but sometimes I pass them :stuck_out_tongue:

I spent twenty minutes talking to a mtb couple I met on the trail, the lady had seen me at a mtb race, so we talked about learning to ride. Most people are fascinated, so do a little demo for them, you might just convert them to muni!

I’ve had great response from MTB’rs around here. In fact, MTB’rs tend to be far more amazed at municyclists than hikers. I figure it’s because they probably feel like they’re throwing down some extreme thing, and then they run across us on the same trails :astonished: :smiley: (And I’m one of them, too!) Oftentimes when we’re in a technical descent section and maybe sessioning a feature a bit, we’ll offer to let them pass and they decline because they want to watch!

The response from equestrians has been mixed and Los Angeles has a hugely contentious climate between MTB’r and equestrians (they’ve managed to hang onto a whole-city ban on MTB’s on trails despite multi-use working in all the surrounding areas). One equestrian spotted our helmets moving amongst the foliage and assumed we were on bike and was yelling “Slow down! Slow down!” and when we finally came around the corner into full view, I said “We can’t go much faster than this!” He was pretty friendly after that. I’m sure there are some out there that consider anything with a wheel and pedals to be ban-worthy. We are considerate and realize that unicycles can really freak an animal out so we always dismount, walk and talk, and take our helmets off if the horse seems uncertain. Heck even dogs that don’t look twice at a MTB will really stop to consider what they’re looking at when a uni goes by!

In my experience we are received with a lot of dropped jaws. Most people still have never seen it, at least not in person. It doesn’t matter if you suck at unicycling, either. They can’t do it at all, so you’re still a superman.

Just don’t be a hazard to approaching traffic, and you’ll be safe and applauded.

IMBA’s rules of the trail are firstly about right-of-way. Always yield to the horses. A horse’s defense mechanism is flight, so they are easily spooked. I will often stop and stand off the trail to let the horses go by. This gets a friendly greeting from all but the riders who are predisposed not to like you because you have wheels.

Still my all-time favorite quote from non-riders came from a couple of ladies on horses who could hear us coming, but couldn’t see us yet: “What are you on?”

may i just thank you all for the reassuring replies - i really appreciate them. it does, however, seem that i will be unable to cunningly avoid being seen altogether.
so, when is it ok to hit the track? all i can do is ride, free mount, turn, ride over small obstacles (an inch or two high) and hop a little bit (down a couple of small stairs). will this be sufficient? (can’t do backwards, my idling is not good, etc)

Sounds like you are ready. Free-mounting is harder when you are off-road, especially if you are tired, so it might be good to ride somewhere with handy trees by the trail side. Once you start Muni-ing you’ll get better quickly so go for it!

You’re ready, hit the fucking trails already!

But seriously, you’ll probably struggle at first. Try to pick a trail network that includes plenty of fire tracks, just so you’ve got something to ride when you’re ridiculously exhausted from the single track. Some fire track can be pretty challenging anyway. You wont be idling or riding backwards. Feel free to try hopping if you want, but most terrain can be rolled over or dropped off.

My first muni ride was mostly fire track, with some easy sections of single track in the downhill direction. I spent more time trying to free mount than riding. I sprained my wrist on a botched free mount in the first 10 minutes, but was out there for another 2 hours. That first ride occurred a few days after my kh29 arrived, prior to which i’d only ridden a 20" learner and learned to free mount a couple weeks earlier. That first muni ride improved my riding by a huge amount.

I find the reaction to be fairly evenly split between massive respect and sniggering. Some people think it’s really impressive, others think it’s absolutely ridiculous. As long as you’re riding safely and not being a hazard you shouldn’t have a problem - just ignore the muppets (or try to educate them!). Remember that bikes are by design much faster than unicycles on flat or downhill sections, so let them pass when you get a chance - you may well catch them on the next climb anyway :slight_smile: - I always offer to let bikes past if they’re behind me before going into a section of narrow singletrack, just for PR purposes (but some people will actually elect to stay behind and watch your awesome skill :D)


On the whole I’d suggest your skills are just as good as mine (I still can’t idle at all), and a lot better than I first went riding trails several months ago, and only a month or so into riding - then I could barely freemount and not hop at all. Go for it - just pick a trail that’s within your skill level. Anyway muni is a whole new/different set of skills compared to those basic uni ones you mention - riding a precise line, quick sharp direction changes, riding over bumps and off little drops, riding steep downs, maintaining speed through dips, and not least climbing, which I still find is my limiting factor. Of course the most important is an ability to have fun :smiley: Don’t worry about those though, you’ll pick them up as you go along.

One thing to remember is that to a fast-moving bicyclist

you look closer to the trail when you’re standing beside it. I always back off an extra half-meter or so, or get partly behind a tree.

I guess I’ll add…

In the beginning I felt self conscious out there on the trail, even I thought it was an odd thing to do. I’ve done it enough now that it feels like a perfectly normal thing… so much so that I get surprised when it gets any attention.

thank you all for your encouragement.
i am now the proud owner of one dirty, dusty wheel!