Long distances between dismounts

Todays ride: (Coker, 150 cranks, mostly rolling hills, some flat)
17.13 miles before my first dismount, 24.5 miles total with only the one dismount. Total elapsed time 2 hours 19 minutes, average speed 10.9mph

Of course those aren’t any big numbers compared to many who post here, but as I get a few more Coker miles behind me I have found that setting small goals keeps me going. I have not gone for any impressive distance goals yet. Over the last couple of months I have done a 34, 30, and about 6 rides in the 24-27 mile range.

Nathan Hoover’s mention in his Tahoe ride thread of riding 14+ miles without a dismount gave me a new goal for my Sunday Coker ride. I decided to see how far I could go before my first dismount, and I was riding on a seat built the same as the one I built for Nathan. I didn’t know how it would go, as I usually dismount when things get uncomfortable, and I am also often stopping to make tilt and pressure adjustments as a part of my information-gathering process.

The loop I was riding is 24.5 miles long, and at 17.13 miles is the steepest climb of the ride. As I had feared, my legs cramped on that climb, and I was forced to dismount. I walked to the top of the hill and stretched for about 3 minutes, then remounted and cruised to the finish without another stop, against a steady headwind. I think I may have been able to finish the whole ride without a dismount if it had not been for my cramping on that hill, but I probably would have been sorry.

The goal of no-dismounts was fun, but I think it has left my legs more sore than they would have been if I would have stopped a little sooner and a little more often. There may be other reasons for stopping occasionally even if crotch pain doesn’t force it.

I would like to hear what the average dismount intervals are for some of you other “distance” riders, regardless of wheel size or experience level.
Is it sit-bone pain, or crotch pain, or numbness, or your legs that usually cause a dismount break?


I ride a 24 inch uni for my distance rides. Before I got an airseat, I had a junk seat and had to dismount every 3 or 4 miles. I have only gone on short rides with the air seat (6-7 miles), but I didn’t need to dismount at all, and I felt no discomfert. It probably has more to do with the seat than the rider, but I could be wrong.

Scott, mind elaberating on what type seat you are using? THanks.

As for the distance, I think the furthest I had ever ridden was right at 11 miles without a dismount. I am far from what could be considered a distance rider, but hope to improve over the summer.

I was going to start my own thread on the same topic, about my own ride today! So I’ll jump in on yours.

Mine was a much shorter MUni ride, made with the goal of minimal dismounts. Today I rode the Clementine Loop in Auburn, 7 miles with about 1000’ of climbing, part on pavement, and most on technical singletrack, with only 4 dismounts total. That’s a major personal best for me! Not bad considering I do much more Coker miles than MUni miles, and not enough of either.

In my current state of good riding skills but lousy conditioning, the hardest part was the long slog uphill on the first half of the ride. Normally I’ll stop several times to rest, and ride quite a bit faster in between. In order to not only ride the entire paved uphill section (about 800’ of up, mostly on pavement), and still have energy left for the remaining dirt climb when I got there, I had to take it dead slow.

The problem is, riding slow on uphills is risky as well. The slower you go, the easier it is to get tripped up by bumps or unevenness in the pavement. But a slow cadence was needed to keep my heartrate where I could control it.

For those not familiar with this ride, it was the first one at the first MUni Weekend, and we returned there to ride it again in '97, '98 and '03. It starts at the American River Confluence, goes under the big Foresthill bridge, then heads uphill until it’s a couple of hundred feet above the bridge. Then it comes back down along a different fork of the river, on some of my favorite singletrack anywhere.

It was 80-90 degrees out, which is typical for this time of year.

Amazingly, I made it all the way up the early dirt uphill, and all of the paved portion of the uphill. My first dismount came after about 50 meters of uphill on the remaining climb. I took a rest. Then I managed to hold it together for the remainder of the climb, and rode right past the big oak tree at the top of the hill, where we usually stop to rest and wait for people.

A little while later, I moved over to let some bikes past. I had to give them the courtesy, as one of them gave me one of the best quotes ever: “You are the coolest dude I have ever seen in my life!” I moved over into some weeds to let them pass. Stupid. People on bikes suck at passing unicyclists on singletrack. They slow down and get reluctant. So I UPD’d while hopping in the weeds next to the trail. This was on an easy piece of trail, so I prefer not to count that one as part of my ride score. I immediately jumped back on after they passed, so there would be no advantage of resting.

Then, after riding some very gnarly and rocky downhill stuff, I UPD’d in a relatively easy spot. Isn’t that always how it is? My official count was at 2. Almost all the uphill was long past, but the remainder of the ride was almost all singletrack with lots of rocks and narrow spots.

I rode right through a technical spot on the trail I’m usually chicken to ride. No problem! I managed to continue through the culvert (tunnel), down to Old Foresthill Road, across the road and onto the OHV road (which was closed because they were updating the pavement; tar mixed with rocks?). My next dismount came at a spot along the Confluence Trail where a waterfall runs across the trail during the winter. That spot is here:

Then I fell off again on one of the technical bits where the trail lumps up over a slide area; steep, narrow and rocky uphill section with major exposure to the left (just how I like it). That was four.

I passed a runner coming the other way, and realized I was a little rude as I didn’t yield the right of way. Though the trail tends uphill for her, I was actually the one riding uphill at the time. She just stopped in the middle of the (narrow) trail and stared. It takes too long to explain why you don’t want to stop or move over!

The last time I tried to do minimal dismounts on this trail, my final score was seven. But that only counted UPDs, not deliberate rest stops. This was different. But on that last time, my last dismount was in the last 100’ or so of the trail, on the uphill bit that comes out near the parked cars. I was determined not to let that happen this time! But I was pretty tired from all the non-stop downhill riding. Then, dread of all dreads, a family group was walking down as I was coming up. Mom, dad, little kids, grandma. Please make a space for me, I thought to myself, and hold onto the little ones! They did as I wished, and I was able to crank past them.

I made it up to the road! But I was not finished. I had stopped several times on the first part of my ride, before deciding to go for a record. I had to continue back onto the Clementine Trail and a little ways past the Foresthill Bridge before my loop would be complete. I got more and more paranoid as I went, fearing small bumps would ruin my numbers. Then, just as the doubletrack was turning to singletrack, here came a couple of hikers. I rode real slow, hoping that would not
mess me up before I got to their location, giving them time to get to the wider part. Made it! What a ride!

I knew I’d gotten a good workout as my sweat felt cold on my body. That’s either the body’s cooling system working very well, or something wrong with me.

Ride notes:

  • I love my Scott Wallis carbon handle. For my riding style a symmetrical handle would be more appropriate, and if he ever makes one I’ll get that and put my current handle on a Trials uni. The smooth carbon makes for a wet handle as my hand sweats on it.

  • I was getting saddlesore on the long uphill slog at the beginning. The combination of riding real slow, for a long time without stopping, is bad on the crotch. I tried to shift around some, but without a longer handlebar system or the occasional stop, the body has limits. My seat is a new KH Fusion, unmodified (except for the handle).

  • The goal of minimal dismounts took a lot of fun out of the ride. The slowness of my uphill part took a lot of patience. It was very slow! I usually go quite a bit faster, and then stop when I have to. If I was in better shape I would have been able to roll a little faster, but I wanted to arrive at the final dirt uphill with energy to spare.

Along the same lines, the fun technical sections on the second half of this ride were instead worrisome, potential dismount sections. All were approached with fear, and I rode the easier lines when possible and avoided all the “fun” stuff along the sides.

Though I am very proud of my personal goal accomplishment, I would normally much rather do the ride with lots of stops and multiple tries on all the fun sections.

BTW: Total elapsed time, about 1.5 hours. And it was all rolling. The few hops that occurred were while I was either stopped or just mounting, and were not used to get over any obstacles.

Re: Long distances between dismounts

Ice cream truck (true story). Ten mile ride. One dismount. Ice cream.


I liked your ride report because it was a trail I have actually ridden at CMW03…at least I rode it from the big oak tree you mentioned. ( I had a bit of a knee owie at the time) That is a great trail. There is some tough climbing and technical sections on that trail so the 4 dismounts is amazing. It is very true that putting so much emphasis on not dismounting changes the way you ride. I usually have snacks while I ride on this loop but this time I didn’t because I didn’t want to risk dropping something and having to go back and pick it up. It can take the fun out of it but it may also be a good training tool because it makes you look at the trail obstacles differently, or analyze the hills differently and find a more efficient way to climb them.
And thanks for the handle endorsement.

I am working on several designs of cushions, and a very few people are riding on some prototypes. I really don’t want to elaborate until I get things more finalized. Sorry if that sounds evasive, but I will be giving more information before to long.

If there had been an ice cream truck out there in the middle of nowhere where I was riding, I would have adandoned my goal immediately. Then again, maybe I could have made the transaction while riding along next to the truck.:slight_smile:


Re: Long distances between dismounts

Saddle comfort is probably the single biggest challenge for me in distance riding. By 5 miles I’m usually well on the way to numbness, and I’ve never made it 10 without having to dismount. For me, it is never sit-bone pain and only rarely crotch pain. I lose feeling down there and get all scared. I’m on my second airseat–the first was a UDC-built miyata conversion, the second a custom-built–and this has been the case with both saddles.

Since I don’t like having to dismount every 3-5 miles, my normal coping strategy is to find a convenient lamp post or street sign or mailbox and pull up for a “standing break”. After 30 seconds or a minute of standing up, things get better and I can re-rack, sit down, and get back on the road.

After reading the recent threads on this, I decided to try 10 miles last night w/o a dismount. Made it no problem, although I still had to pull over thrice for standing breaks. Before the ride I let a little bit of air out of my saddle, which seemed to help a bit.

Would love to see some recommendations from the big touring folks on their experiences.

The single biggest limiting factor for long distance unicycling has to be discomfort due to sitting in the seat. Back in '99 on a 44 mile ride I remember clearly how I rode 11 miles without a dismount at one point and how sore I was. After that ride I could barely walk. And that was on an “upgraded” Miyata seat. But with air seats and seatposts that allow you to adjust the angle it can be a little better.

I never try to ride a long way without dismounts - I’m just not in the habit of doing that because it’s usually pretty uncomfortable. Getting off now and then forces you to stop and see more of where you’re riding so I guess it’s a good thing. But it is nice on a bike to be able to crank through 30 or 40 miles if you feel like it. It’s different for everyone though. One of the guys on the Norway tour rode a stock Miyata seat and would routinely go 40km without a dismount - just tough as nails I guess.

Way to go Scott on your “test”. I tried pumping up the new seat a little more on our ride yesterday and it was better. I think I’ll tilt the seat up a couple more degrees this week and see how that feels.

We are lightyears ahead of what we had in 1999 that’s for sure.


The only longish ride I do consistently is my commute to work (8.2 miles). I usually have to stop up to three times, at traffic lights where I have to cross. It’s a very rare day when I actually manage to roll all three of them! When I do, I think I’m definitely more aware of my crotch. Otherwise those brief stops (1-2 min.) are enough to allow the circulation through.

Also I like my handlebar, though someday I plan to have a longer one. By putting some weight on the handlebar I have less pressure on the crotch. Also it changes my body angle on the seat a bit as well. A longer handle will lower me into something a little more like a bike-riding position, which will also allow me to probably switch to a bike seat.

When I ride too long in the saddle, I think what I notice first is a heat buildup. I don’t know if it’s blocked circulation or nerve pressure. I think just circulation. I had my fair share of nerve problems in my early days of riding; numbness and painful urination! If I feel any of that coming on I’ll stop, or otherwise shift around on the seat as much as necessary.

I do have a sore crotch from yesterday’s ride. It was definitely much more constant saddle time than I’m used to, especially on trails!

The furthest I know I’ve been without a dismount was about 25 miles, riding out of London.

That time, I fell off because I hadn’t eaten enough for breakfast and I was hung over. I just kind of started snoozing off a bit and not paying attention to the bumpy country road, hit a bump and did a superman.

I have a suspicion I may have done a bit more coming out of Nottingham towards Doncaster earlier this year, but I don’t remember when I first dismounted.

I find that on long rides it’s a good idea to dismount or stand and lean on a post quite often, to save getting yourself really uncomfortable for no reason. I only do really long rides without dismounts if I forget to stop, or the weather is so bad I don’t want to stop.


STP training ride–30 miles without a dismount

I’ve been training for the STP (Seattle To Portland) ride, and so far I’ve put in 840 miles this year. As I get better at adjusting my posture, relieving butt pressure, and as my butt gets tougher, I’m able to ride farther without stopping.

For an STP ride this is critical because if you stop too frequently your overall average speed can pretty easily drop down to 7-8 mph, and at that rate the STP would take 26-29 hours!

I did an STP training ride on Saturday and, while it wasn’t the longest ride I’ve ever done, it was certainly my fastest long ride. I managed to average an overall speed of 10 mph all the way to 71 miles, and then continued on to 77 miles in 7:49:42. That overall speed includes all stops, so I tried hard to minimize stops: I did the entire ride with just four short rest stops and one 30-second ‘traffic stop’.

For comparison, on my last long ride it took me 9:14:06 to do 77 miles, so I shaved off just a little bit of time, despite taking a hillier route this time. Some of the improvement is from better leg strength, but I think most of it is from taking the right foods, and eating while riding. I’ve gone from not eating at all on long rides (bad), to living on power bars (bad-simple sugars really don’t work for long rides), to living on sandwiches, crackers, cheese, bananas, peanut butter, etc. No power bars, and minimal Gatorade.

I started with 20 miles of winding around the hilly territory of unincorporated Woodinville, then did 23 miles on the Sammamish trail (124th to Log Boom and then to Marymoor), then 22 miles around Lake Sammamish (an unimpressive place to ride) followed by 12 miles to get home.

My average speed dropped substantially at the end, due to my legs being exhausted and due to the closing section including a 7% uphill grade that continues for over a mile. Although I was tired at the end I felt like I could have continued riding, but after almost eight hours of riding mostly in the rain I was glad to stop and dry out.

I’m not quite sure how I managed to ride all that distance in the rain without any UPDs caused by slippery pedals. Weird.

Today I did a follow-up ride, to make sure I could, and I went 25.3 miles without dismounting. I started out on the same hilly course and managed to average 10 mph for the first 21 miles. However cumulative leg weakness and that dastardly 7% uphill grade that continues for over a mile killed my average speed after that.

Because I’m a statistics junkie and because I have the GPS watch to support my habit, here’s my times every ten miles for Saturday’s ride:
10 0:59:13
20 1:53:23 - not bad for hilly riding
30 2:47:12
40 3:46:13 - not bad considering this includes a ~six minute break
50 4:49:01 - not bad considering this includes an ~eight minute
60 5:46:59
70 6:52:50 - this includes another break
71 6:58:57
72 7:13:08 - notice how my breaks are coming more frequently now?
No longer a 10 mph average.
73 7:19:02
74 7:26:11
75 7:36:26
76 7:43:17
77 7:49:42

I haven’t calculated the average riding speed, but I think it’s somewhere around 10.8 mph.

By the way, you know you’re too obsessed with your GPS watch when you choose your riding route based on how pretty it will look when overlaid on satellite footage. Seriously.

My butt is sore.

I regularly ride 15 to 20 miles a day, often on consecutive days. I really don’t have a problem with saddle soreness. I stop every few miles, but never for long. I also occasionally stand up for a few seconds while riding. Sometimes I shift my butt around in the seat. I’ve been wearing bike shorts recently, but I don’t remember having a problem prior to that (except for what I’m about to describe).

Prior to riding so frequently, I did a 12 mile ride and my butt was sore. It was torture. At that time, I had long cranks and a low-ish seat on my Coker (it was set up for off-road). I put shorter cranks and raised the seat to “street riding” height. At that time, my spinning got faster, too. And I don’t recall having saddle soreness after that. I sort of forgot about the whole issue, so I’m not sure whether there is a relation to any of the changes I made. So maybe one should experiment with different seat heights? Try riding faster? (maybe the faster movement invigorates the butt)

I have KH seats on all my unicycles. It’s the only thing I will sit on.

The farthest I’ve gone was from my driveway to (inside) the bike shop “Buck’s Bikes.” It was mixed terrain; I rode offroad where appropriate. The ride included weaving through rush hour traffic and riding on the wrong side of the road against traffic (for a quarter mile). The total distance was 11.61 miles and, well here’s the log entry:

08-13-04 odo 526.8, mx 12.2, time 2.45.50, avg 5.9, dist 16.58 /rode to buck’s bikes 11.61 w/out dismount! avg 6.1 mx 12.2!

I stopped doing distance 24" when I couldn’t motivate others to participate. I’ve heard various excuses from the locals.

Would any San Antonio riders do some distance 24"?

well the longest i have ever gone without dismounting was about 22 miles on my sun with 150s i fell off out of pure pain on my “under side”, i just stepped off and walked around for about 3 minutes and got back on and went home which was about 3 miles away… the most painfull three miles i can recall…


In the past I have jokingly suggested this. But I think it’s also true.

If you ride as fast as you possibly can, you’re not going to notice a sore crotch. At least not until you stop riding! This is my experience from racing. If you’re riding at your limit, you have too many other things going on to notice an unhappy crotch at the time…

I don’t know if I did it without a dismount, but possibly my longest ride without a dismount was a 9 mile ract at the 1996 USA Convention in Chariton, Iowa. I crossed the finish line with Andy Cotter and Dustin Kelm. We had agreed earlier not to sprint at the end and kill each other. Instead we tried to annoy the timers by, to the best of our ability, making it a 3-way photo finish.

Takayuki Koike still seems to hold the record for no dismounts at 100 miles. Ouch.

Let us know when you get something you like. I thought this was just something you had based off of a “Nathan” seat. Not something that you had put together. Not trying to get you to reveal any trade secrets.:smiley:

A year or two back, I went in for the big numbers game. Now I deliberately don’t tkae a computer because chasing numbers can become an obsession.

If I remember correctly, I did two rides over 20 miles without a stop, on a Coker with 150s. (IMHO, the most versatile Coker set up.) I think my longest ride without a dismount was 22 miles.

It takes determination, gritted teeth, and bloody mindedness.

Been there, done that. Stop to admire the flowers.

These are great responses, keep them coming! Some of you guys (Bruce, Joe, others) are maniacs.

It would have been more clear if I had linked to Nathan’s thread:Lake Tahoe ride
I didn’t want this thread to be about my seats, but about people’s experiences, and I have enjoyed the responses.
Yes I will let everyone know as soon as I am comfortable with the product.

Seat height: I have been raising mine a little each time I do a road ride. I also swap the cranks to 170s and ride off-road on it almost every week, so I lower the seat for that and it took me a while to realize I need it considerably higher on the road.

I only use my Deathgrip Handle, but I am able to easily stack my hands on it and support my weight to relieve pressure. Also standing up and pedalling works well, and is pretty easy on a downhill where you can just kind of “float” using the force of the pedals.

I often do the leaning on a signpost thing as you mentioned, to avoid having to re-mount. On this ride the goal was to not stop the wheel from turning, and I didn’t until the dismount.

That is a long way on a 24", and knowing you you probably hopped a good part of it. While I like fast spinning on a 24 on the trails, for distance the big wheel is much more relaxing and rewarding for me.

You are right about becoming a slave to the numbers, it can happen. On the other hand, a numeric goal is sometimes what it takes to make me get out and ride when other things try to interfere.

“Try riding faster.”- Yes, this definitely helps…because you get there sooner. :slight_smile:


Thanks Nathan. Let me know how the adjustments work out. And thanks for risking your tender parts for science. :astonished:

I don’t know if it is a coincidence, but today my knee is a little sore, and it always feels great after a Coker ride. Occasional breaks may help the joints also somehow. I do know that the biggest discomfort I had in the last few miles before my dismount was that my shorts felt like they had crawled up and were putting pressure where they usually don’t. I couldn’t do anything about it while riding, but could have easily staightened it out with a quick stop. (As Tom said, “Re-rack”. I will have to remember that one). Because I was a little uncomfortable, I may have changed my leg angle, which could effect my knee.

I think my goal with the seat development is not to make people go a lot farther between dismounts, but to enjoy the time between dismounts more.

A unicycle as a mode of long distance transportation is not painfully obvious, but is obviously painful.


I’m not sure where to start, but I’ll attempt to keep it short.

I’ve learned to wear 2 pair of cycling shorts for anything over 50 miles in a single day, or when doing 2 day rides. I have not seriously chaffed for a long time. I usually ride 10 or 12 miles on a coker without stopping. After the 10 or 12 miles, I stop long enough to regain any feeling I might have lost -wich is usually only a few moments. After 3 or 4 of these mini rests, the rests become more frequent, because of tired legs and/or sore crotch. I have my seat adjusted high enough that I can lock my elbow straight with my palm on the handle, allowing much weight to be transfered from the crotch. I regularly move to the back or front of the saddle. I also ride with pretty much tire air pressure, unless it’s raining. (Leaving some air out on wet roads helps to keep from sliding around when the traffic blows by you at 60mph.) I have a proto-type carbon fiber seat with a stock myata handle and a carbon fiber stiffner plate with 2 different types of pads inside a roach cover. (Thanks Scott) The stiff handle/seat makes locking an arm while maintaining control possible.

I averaged 10.4mph for 138 miles in 2 days from San Antonio to Corpus Christi.
Recently with Eric and Aj (Aj blowing us away) I averaged slightly over 11mph for 107 miles in 2 days from San Antonio to Austin (in ridiculous heat).

When riding anything over 40 miles, it is a lot more pleasant to stop every 5 or 6 miles, but just long enough to take a few steps, stretch lightly, have a drink, and remount. -After a while, remounting gets harder. -I need to relearn the rolling mount.