I’m planning a sponsored 15 mile unicycle ride to raise money for a trip to South Africa with my school, and seeing as its the first time I’ll have done long distance i was wondering if any of you could give me some advice on how i should prepare for it, or similar tips for the actual journey? Any advice will help because I’m new to all of it…
Just so you know i am doing it on a 24" as its the biggest i own…
as long as you are a fully confident rider it shouldn’t be too hard. last weekend I rode 12 km on my 20" and felt fine at the end (took me 1 hour 15 though ). with a 24 it should be no trouble. just don’t wear heavy clothes.
I second the hold-your-back thing. It shouldn’t take you much longer than an hour 45 or 2 hours or so, if you’re on a 24 with long cranks. Shorter cranks will obviously be faster. But if you remember nothing else, remember to keep good posture!
My first hard, fast Coker ride was a one-hour circuit ride for a unicyclathon, and I averaged pretty well, but by the end I could hardly stand up and it was very painful to walk and even to sit down, because my back was so flubbed up from leaning forward at my hips slightly the entire hour.
I’d say keep whatever posture is comfortable. I always ride with my back very low down. It lowers your centre of gravity and keeps you steadier. I probably have the same position on my unicycle as on my roadbike when I’m going fast.
Really, that’s cool. Whenever I try to go really fast, I always crouch over like you say, Ken, but when I did that for a whole hour, my back just about gave out. I think it was because I was using the muscles in my lower back to literally hold up my upper body weight, because I was leaning over and not resting on anything, unlike on my bike, where my weight is evenly distributed between the bars and seat.
I wish I knew how to ride crouched and get out of the wind without killing myself! (Do you have any tips?)
Get a rhythm going, pace yourself, rest every so often, but not too often. Set yourself goals: number of laps, or landmarks, or times, before you stop. Never stop for more than a couple of minutes. Keep hydrated. Eat bananas.
And practise. I did 24 miles on a 24 once. It was tiring. 15 miles should take you something either side of 2 hours depending on ability and experience. It is possible to do that length of time “in one”, but it hurts.
Do you know anyone with a bigger wheel that you can borrow? 15 miles is certainly doable on a 24", but on a 26" or 29" it’ll be that much easier (and isn’t going to need retraining to ride - but a 36" will).
When is it that you are planning on doing this? If it’s quite soon, then you should really have some 5 mile or so rides under your belt by now. Otherwise, the best advice is to just ride more often and further. Go out for some 5 mile rides, and then start on some longer (7 - 10 miles) and it’ll give you an idea of your readiness and how the unicycle feels after an hour in the saddle.
Make sure you take lots of liquid with you. A camelbak backpack is nice, but if you don’t have one, then just get some bottles of energy drinks in a normal backpack. Mars bars and Soreen malt loaf will help you get through it too
The most important advice above was a single word, which I’ll repeat in all caps to make sure you notice:
Do some long rides so your body will be used to the idea. Also, wear some good bike shorts (ones you already know work for you). Don’t try anything new on the day of the ride, including shoes. Stick with what works.
If you want to mess with hardware you can try some shorter cranks. 89mm is not too short for a 24", though they’re not good for much besides cruising (they’re good for Freestyle on a 20"). You can also borrow a bigger unicycle, but again only if you’ll have a chance to do some practice and get comfortable on it.
This is not to say you can’t just hop on and ride 15 miles, on a borrowed uni or your own. All of the above will just make it more pleasant!
Thanks for the advice guys, I’m managing about 3-4 miles of unicycling at the moment usually only stopping because of the pain between my legs…rarely do i run out of energy when i’m cycling long-ish distances
The main problem is reducing the friction and making the ride a bit more comfortable really…is there anything else i can do other than wearing cycling shorts to make the ride a bit gentler on my crotch?
What kind of saddle do you have on your uni? I recently switched to a KH Freeride Fusion and I’m starting to really like it, just had to get used to it. While the stock Nimbus (KH Fusion clone) saddle was cushier for rough terrain the Freeride doesn´t make my crotch as sore after a long ride. You could also look into making an air saddle.
That said padded bicycle shorts are really something you should try. And before you ask, no - you cannot catch “teh gey” from wearing proper sportswear
Talcum powder in the shorts will reduce friction and “sticking”. Often, the problem isn’t rubbing, it is sticking. A piece of skin gets trapped in such a way that your weight tries to stretch or smear it. Talcum powder or other lubricant stops this.
If the problem is simply weight on your “sit bones” then you need to adjust your seat and get more practice in.
Strangely, I find that shorter cranks and a slightly faster cadence make for a more comfortable backside. I don’t know why.
I find that shorter cranks allow a smoother pedalling circle, which means less jouncing up and down in the saddle on each pedal stroke. For me this equates to a more comfortable scrotum, rather than a more comfortable backside. I’ve never had a problem with backside comfort on a unicycle.
I don’t find that a higher cadence necessarily makes for more comfortable nether-regions, but shorter cranks /do/ lend themselves to a higher cadence. Also, a smooth pedalling circle (which means less jouncing around) is a prerequisite of maintaining high cadences.