I left the pavement . . .

With all this talk of muni and riding trails, I thought the place I could start is riding around my own back yard (1/2 acre). So a few days ago, I went out there, and ten yards out, a dip in the grass caught my wheel, and I was on my feet. After a couple time of that, I thought, ‘This is a different animal than pavement or gym floor!’

I thought I would wait till RTUC practice today, and ask someone there, who I know rides off road. ‘Oh, that takes getting used to. After a while, you will be able to ride over anything.’ is what I was told. Fair enough.

Armed with that knowlege, I took on the grass again. I found myself keeping my weight on the pedals almost exclusively, to keep powering the wheel. I get farther between UPD’s, but a well placed dip still knocks the wheel out from under me. Since my legs are still out of condition, after a hundred fifty yards or so, I have to give my legs a break because of the continuous pressure on the pedals. ugh!

I am riding an older street uni of undeterminate make, with 5 1/2" (140mm?) cranks (cottered) and 24" wheel. Does crank length or wheel type factor much in off road riding? Do you have to keep this continuous pressure on the pedals rather than weight on seat, which you can do on pavement? Practice, practice, practice?

Re: I left the pavement . . .

Good for you to get out of the pavement. Crank lenght helps you riding uphill and steep downhills. If riding something like a grassy field long cranks help if your riding slow. For example I can ride quite confidently with weight on seat, even though I’m not a good MUnier, over some rocks and roots. It will come with riding. I have a 24" wheel with 3" Gazza, which helps a lot because of less bumpy ride, and 150 mm cranks. For uphills with a lot of roots and rocks I’d like to have 170mm cranks, but I’ll change the whole hub within a few months so I won’t be bothering with longer cranks right now.

Re: I left the pavement . . .


Yes, yes.

Going up or down steep slopes and forcing your way over obstacles requires lots of torque and therefore long cranks. Big fat tires on big fat wheels are very forgiving when encountering surface irregularities like dips, roots, rocks, etc.

You’re doing offroad riding with the worst of equipment except your tire which is, at least, inflatable. You should be applauded for your efforts. If you like offroad you should upgrade to a new uni. Don’t upgrade the parts on the one you have. If it has cottered cranks that tells alot about the overall component strength. Intro level MUnis can be had for under $300 these days.

Fat tyres help a lot, so does lots of practice.

I use 150 mm cranks (6") as a compromise between control/leverage and speed.

Main thing is for you to get out on rough paths and grass. Grass is hard cos you can’t see the bumps as well, your legs will always be more tense on grass but, with experience, you’ll get better at ‘feeling’ the ground through your feet and you’ll be able to relax more.

A nice thing about grass is that it’s softer to land on, so it can be good to occasionally push the speed knowing that a fall won’t be too bad.

I hate cottered cranks. An upgrade would be nice, but if you are satisfied with your Unicycle, I’m sure it will suffice. Your crank length and wheel size are pretty good already, except a fatter wheel may help. You will get tired very quickly if you always put your weight on the pedals. When I ride I mostly put my weight in the saddle, and when I encounter particularly rough terrain I put my weight on the pedals, and pull up on the seat (helping to keep my feet from being bounced off). You will learn (from practise) to interpret the obstacles on the ground and find the best times to shift your weight out of the saddle.

There are all sorts of variables. The wheel size is a major factor in how easy a uni is to ride off road. The tyre size is also important. A 24 with a fat tyre will usually be easier than a 26 with a thin tyre, for example. Crank length is significant, but not the determining factor unless there are steep hills.

The most important component, of course, is the eccentric nut on the saddle.

The best way to learn is to practise. The best way to practise is (in my view) progressively. If you keep plugging away at stuff that’s too severe, you will become demoralised. Ride at 80% of your ability, and throw in the occasional more difficult section, however, and you will cover distance (gaining experience) and you will gradually get better.

MUni is the art of riding a unicycle on terrain which is chosen for the challenges it presents. The challenge will be greater on a lower specification machine. Set your sights according to the machine and your own ability.

You WILL need to upgrae fairly quickly. A hub for cotterless cranks is vital, so that you can experiment with different cranks lengths and find your own ideal length. Good platform pedals with pins will improve your riding no end. A handle helps, not just with torque on the hilss, but with feed back when you are standing up on the pedals.

There’s no need to buy a top spec. MUni straight away. Indeed, jumping in too soon could land you with a fantastically good machine which simply doesn’t suit you. We’re all different. If I knew then what I know now, I would have a different MUni, but that doesn’t mean mine’s no good; it’s just not ideal for me.

Gray, my advice for you is the same as above, PRACTICE and get yourself a Muni and have some fun.
Today was my first-ever trail ride. I did a little over 3 miles with several guys in Nashville, TN. I was incredibly awesome! I will do much more trail riding now. The guys, Tommy (from Memphis) and John from Nashville taught me a lot. Thanks fellows. Also along was Jeff (Rubic) from Nashville. Jeff is a Coker addict, but he really seemed to like the trail too.
Anyway, I got off topic there. I built a Muni several months ago, yet have only put in road miles with it up until today. Had I attempted today’s trail ride on my previous unicycle, a 24" cottered Schwinn, I would have had to walk about 50 to 60% of the trail. With my new YFA-KH24, I rode about 95% of the trail. In the words of Tommy, “Relax, and just ride! Relax!!!”
Hope to see you on the trails on day. --chirokid–

? But ?

As in, “Hank is a country and western addict, but he seemed to like Nashville too”?

Apart from really steep sections, or exceptionally narrow twisty sections, Cokers eat up trails for breakfast. :sunglasses:

Re: I left the pavement . . .

“grey” <grey@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote in message
> With all this talk of muni and riding trails, I thought the place I
> could start is riding around my own back yard (1/2 acre). So a few days
> ago, I went out there, and ten yards out, a dip in the grass caught my
> wheel, and I was on my feet. After a couple time of that, I thought,
> ‘This is a different animal than pavement or gym floor!’

I’m right there with you. I’ve started riding across fields every once in a
while too. Similar experience with the ruts and dips. I found that if I
get a good running start from pavement or solid dirt I can make it quite a
distance into the field. I still have trouble mounting in the grass. I use
rollback mount and need to learn the other, I think it’s ‘static’, mount.
Riding across something smooth and flat like a soccer field was no problem
as long as I kept the momentum going. After doing it a bit I was able to
start getting my weight back into the seat. I’ve been doing this on a
chrome Torker 24 with the basic cruiser tire and 150mm cranks. A fairly
generic uni… I have run into traction problems on even slight inclines
with this tire and look forward to setting up another uni more geared to
leaving the pavement.

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Hehe, yeah, I’m LEARNING on offroad… I’m out on 20 acres with nothing but holie fields and dirt roads in terrible need of grading. The little pavement we have makes it feel like I’m floating on air…:stuck_out_tongue:

I had this same little problem while I was practicing at first. It was about a kilometer ride to nearest asphalt road. Though luckily I could ride in my neighbors hall. There was about a 10x10 meters of concrete floor. It was really nice to ride in thare if it was raining, or I wanted to learn something new it was a lot easier. Turning came fairly quickly because if riding on a small space.

Re: I left the pavement . . .

On Sat, 1 Nov 2003 18:43:00 -0600, Mikefule
<Mikefule@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote:

>Crank length is significant, but not the determining
>factor unless there are steep hills.

I disagree with Mikefule (the king of short cranks). Uneven (but on
average horizontal) terrain that is easy on long cranks becomes real
hard on a short-cranked uni. In my view, long cranks make most things
easier, with the main exception of going fast.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

Grizzly bear droppings have bells in them and smell like pepper spray. - UniBrier

Thanks for the variety of thoughts and suggestions. My present uni is a low budget re-entry to the sport, but an upgrade will have to wait for a while. For the time being I will work on what I can.

I am currently working on level 3 skill seat-on-stomach, which also taxes the legs. Other upcoming freestyle skills are taxing, too. I like The Marsh sisters’ comments: ‘Why learn tricks? With every new skill you master, you’ll gain more and more control, and the more at-home you will feel atop your uni. Plus, it’s just fun!!’ It all adds up, and as I progress, I will find out which activities I enjoy the most. Since I like camping and hiking, I will be giving muni a good look also!

Re: Re: I left the pavement . . .

SO, do you disagree that crank length is significant? Or do you disagree that it is not the determining factor?

I found my 26 HARDER to ride on horizontal but uneven ground when I fitted 170mm cranks. I have ridden my 24 (x 1.95) off road on 102s and (briefly) on 89s. It’s harder, than on 110s, 125s or 150s, and it requires a different technique, but it’s not that much harder. So, crank length is significant (it makes a difference) but it is not the determining factor (I can still ride it reasonably easily) unless there are steep hills (I aassume no disagreement her).

Bear in mind, of course, that I don’t do hops and drops. I just ride it for miles and miles through the woods, along the river bank, across the fields and so on.

once again, weight on seat is the answer
remember it’s ‘STOMACH on seat’, not chest
put the back of the saddle just above the waistband of your shorts and fold yourself over the seat
put as much weight as u can on the seat
(a slightly higher seat might help here, at least while u learn)
it does make it much easier to control the uni’s tendency to fall to the side

i found ‘stomach on seat’ a handy place to start working toward ‘seat in front’ riding from

Don’t let people tell you you can’t ride offroad with a street uni and a street tire. Most of us got started that way, or rode that way for years before MUni stuff became available. Even in Michigan, and even in the winter.

I had a junky old cottered Schwinn, and rode it on all the local trails I could find, and had a great time. Note that grass takes a lot more work to pedal through than a dirt trail. Grass is a great workout to ride on because of high friction, and the fact that you can’t tell where the bumps are so you have to be more “on guard” and basically keep more weight available on the pedals in case you need it.

Find some dirt trails. I can’t recommend anything specifically, as the small places I used to ride (in Livonia) are now mostly built up. One area is now the back corner of the Livonia Mall parking lot, and other areas are housing developments. You can try Rotary Park in Livonia (6 Mile, between Merriman & Farmington?). Lots of trails in the woods behind the main park. Unless they’ve been built up.

There’s a Mayberry State Park or similar in Northville, where I’m told some of the Michigan people ride trails. Never been there. Just get out and give them a try, and enjoy! You’ll know you need new equipment when your cottered relic is destroyed.

Ditto, to an extent…

For 15 years, my only uni was a Pashley UMX - that’s a 20 with cottered 5 inch cranks, cheap pedals, and a BMX tyre. It didn’t even have anything like a modern unicycle seat, and was excruciatingly painful to ride. But I rode it around the local nature reserve, regularly doing 2 or 3 mile circuits, and a few obstacles which I still find reasonably tricky on my ‘modern’ unis.

Or, to look at it another way, my ‘worst’ off road uni (in my present fleet) is a 28 inch Nimbus with the standard 700c x 32mm road tyre and 110 mm cranks, yet I’ve ridden it 20 - 30 miles in a day through the woods on single track, and sometimes ‘off piste’.

You have to ride differently - read the trail, pick your route, fence with the obstacles instead of bludgeoning them. The trail becomes a maze instead of an assault course. It’s a fine way to ride, and suddenly you realise you’ve ridden stuff that a few months ago would have been ‘serious MUni’.

Re: I left the pavement . . .

On Mon, 3 Nov 2003 01:28:53 -0600, Mikefule
<Mikefule@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote:

>SO, do you disagree that crank length is significant? Or do you
>disagree that it is not the determining factor?
Sigh. :slight_smile: Let me try again.

On Sat, 1 Nov 2003 18:43:00 -0600, Mikefule wrote:
>Crank length is significant
I agree.

On Sat, 1 Nov 2003 18:43:00 -0600, Mikefule wrote:
>[Crank length is] not the determining
I disagree. I.e., I think that crank length matters a whole lot.

On Sat, 1 Nov 2003 18:43:00 -0600, Mikefule wrote (paraphrased):
>Crank length is the determining
>factor when there are steep hills.
>(I aassume no disagreement her).
Indeed no disagreement.

>I found my 26 HARDER to ride on horizontal but uneven ground when I
>fitted 170mm cranks.
As compared to shorter cranks I presume. Well, I can only say you’re
not like me. I found my 24 EASIER to ride on horizontal but uneven
ground with 170s than with 150s, and that was easier than with 125s.

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

Grizzly bear droppings have bells in them and smell like pepper spray. - UniBrier

Yesterday I took the uni to a wooded area with a trail where I used to walk my dog. Not a heavily used trail, but some of the usual minor obstacles. Trail is different than the grass in my back yard. I could put weight on seat more, and adjust when weight on pedals was needed. Those roots can take the wheel (at least my wheel) out in a hurry If I am not on guard, but roots aren’t as sneaky as an unseen dip in the grass.

I can see that I need to get some armor, starting with wrist guards, although no harm came on my short ride. I will scout around for other trail areas nearby and hopefully next summer I will be up for some more challenging stuff farther afield! I definitely could like muni!

I always (well, usually) wear wrist pads if practicing MUni or trials. Knee pads are really nice too, and they have saved my knees a couple of times already. Both, my knee and wrist pads, are Crazy Creek and the wrist guards are really nice because they prevent you from bending your wrists to bad angles. I still haven’t bought a helmet but I really need to buy one soon.