Metric Century on a 26"

I got back into unicycling about 2 months back after being on the injured list for about 3 years. I had sold all my unis during this time and now only have a Nimbus Hatchet.
One of the wheels I have for it is a Vee Appache slick on a Large Marge rim which loves the open road.
At the moment, I am still relearning things and free-mounting seems to be impossible anymore (I will keep practicing till I get it though).
After the long intro my question is basically
How crazy would I have to be to attempt a metric century on a Nimbus Hatchet in late August?
My wife and I are planning a trip to Lithuania and there is a cycle route that is about 102km. It seems like something that needs to be done - especially since I want to do a ride in Spain in March of next year.
Any advice on how to train for this? Or any riders in Lithuania that want to come along?


Just did 50k on a 36er, and have to say I would not have enjoyed it on my road-tire 26er. Doing fewer repetitions on the legs makes a big difference in comfort, as does finishing the ride in less time. I’d almost be tempted to say that the larger wheel has increased my “range” by the ratio of its size increase.

But obviously it’s easier to travel with a 26 inch wheel.

I suppose a schlumpf hub is not in the budget?

Cycle shorts and the anti-friction lotion that goes with them.

Very short cranks.

Saddle that works for you, and if you can figure out how to get benefit from it, a handle to relieve some seat pressure. I’ve still not figured that out myself - on my setup with it, I put a hand on it because it is there, but it doesn’t seem to help me yet, and to date I’ve done longer rides on the 36er without a handle than on the 26er with one.

Did I see somewhere that the hatchet frame will take a 32 inch wheel?

A larger wheel will make free mounting more difficult, especially later in a ride.

Regardless of possible equipment changes, working up to longer distances on what you have now would seem to make sense, and the only real way to tell what is possible.

I agree with Engineer. My suggestions:

  • Add a Schlumpf if it's within your means :p
  • Find out the size of hills and total amount of climb on the route to determine your crank size. Don't go over 114 mm.
  • Get a handlebar to lean on, to take some weight off the crotch
  • Study route for shortcuts in case your body says "no" partway through
  • Most importantly, train for the distance by doing some long rides. Got to prepare your knees for all the revolutions
  • Don't put the ride ahead of the overall trip, if it's meant as a vacation!

Thank you both for the advice.
Unfortunately a Schlumpf is still a little out of the budget and also I don’t believe the 125mm Schlumpfs are out yet.
I agree that the vacation should come first and I will definitely end up with a happier wife if I keep that in mind.
I have a pi-bar that I got off a Coker I had years ago. I had to modify it slightly for it to fit but it does the trick now.
Also the tire is 5" and so with the 26" wheel I am rolling at 31" (I think?)
It is also a slick tire so once I get it going it seems to just roll itself. I will need to get the knees in shape though.
As for hills and getting tired (since this is my first attempt at such a long distance and I am using a unicycle smaller than a 36er) I think maybe finding a 5 or 10k loop in the city that is relatively flat and just doing it enough times to get to 100k.
It doesn’t seem as great as going from point A to point B but if I get tired or something doesn’t work out I can stop and not be in the middle-of-nowhere. It might be a little boring doing it this way but I think I will have a greater chance for success.
Is there a problem with doing a 100k on a 10k loop?

Yes, repetitive scenery. :smiley:

Otherwise it’s a sensible way to train, and the way a lot of races are run.

Repetition does sound old, but another big thing may be the quality of the segment, ie, I’m now considering doing multiple repetitions of the far portion of my usual ride that has no interruptions, and possibly entirely skipping the nearer to home portion that has lots of intersections at least some percentage of which end up requiring an energy-sapping dismount.

On shorter rides though I’m happy to view those as mounting drills; my current deal with myself is that when trying to break personal distance limits, if there’s a lamp post I’ll use it, and save my energy for the spots where free mounting is required. Doing lots of mounts on short rides, and saving energy on long ones seems to have helped a lot, both in getting better at the mounts, and in surviving distances.

It does seem like if you go for the 102 km ride, you should make sure you have an option to exit it early by walking to a train station or calling someone to pick you up - even if in shape for it, weather, broken equipment, muscle or joint injury, etc could force cutting it short. Never being more than a half hour’s walk from a ride home has been a counterbalancing advantage to the urban congestion limiting my rides.

I’m training for a metric century on a 36 after a little more time off than you had. Cranks are important. Right now while I get my power back I’ve got far longer cranks than I used to ride, they’re fine for getting back into it but I am looking forward to the speed that the small ones bring.

I will definitely take the advice about saving free mounts until there is no other option.
Right now I am running 140mm cranks but am hopefully going to switch to some 110/127 Spirit cranks in another month when I get more confident.
Free mounting on 110s seems impossible right now.
I found a few parks and such in Vilnius that may serve me for the ride and also the old town (city center) has very few cars from what I remember.

You didn’t say whether you were planning to do it in one day or two :smiley: It would be more fun as a two day ride… Anyway, you are probably looking at ten hours riding time.

No comments about the 5" tire ?
I have no experience with fat tires, but It would be interesting to read some comments from people who use to ride 26x5".
It doesn’t sound like the perfect choice of tire for a century except if you only ride on easy trails, because of the auto steer and the rolling resistance it may involve.

I was a bit surprised by the proposed tire size too.

But then making a 26er go around on flat ground is such low effort, that if it increases the wheel diameter it might be worth the extra resistance, in getting the ride completed in less seat time?

Could always ride this:

You’ve heard of Steam Punk. That’s Steamroller Punk!

That beast looks like it’s extremely “tiring” to ride (seriously!)

I also like how the steering apparently just twists the bottom of the back end, to counter-steer those little back wheels. Keep that sucker on level surfaces! I don’t think it would take much tilt to knock it over…

I once did 56 miles, including some unmade surfaces, on a 28" with a 32mm tyre. That’s about 90 km. It was a long day but not intolerable. A 36 will be a tad slower but the fatter tyre will make it more comfortable. 100 km should be achievable. Build up to it, and on the day, take plenty of water and calories.

The tire size is not ideal, I understand. It is what I have though.
I have 3 tires - An Endomorph, a Nate, and a Vee Appache.
I am pretty sure I am going to use the Appache because it is a little bigger than the others in diameter. Also a 1000g it is lighter than the others.
Self-steer is not an issue for it either as there is no real tread and I will pump it up fairly firm.

I am thinking of actually doing this ride over two days now. I think one day might take a little more work training than I can put in right now. Also, I found three different bike routes that together add up to 100k that all start and end at the same place. I can do one and then if I am feeling up to it, do the second and then depending on the time knock out the third or wait until the next day.
The main reason I am doing this on a uni and not a bike is that on a uni I go slower and the ride is much more enjoyable and memorable. I think the 26" might not be able to do the 100K in one day and I guess I am fine with that.
It is the journey and not the destination that matters in the end.

I have done 86kms in one day on my 27.5’’ ungeared, but that was muni-ing, so lots of changing position. Lots of breaks too!

Unless you train alot and you are used to long rides, I wouldn’t do 100kms on a 26’’. My knees were dead after my ride. It’s alright with a Schlumpf hub, but without is too much spinning. It’ll make you hate riding after that hahaha

120 on 29"

I think that 100km on 26" Is possible. I did 120 km on 29" in 8 Hours without handlebar And schlumpf, Just with 125mm cranks And Continental Xking tire on my kh29"
It was hard but fun :slight_smile: Now I plan to do 200km in a day, I Just have to find some time :wink:

I did 93km on a standard 26" Sem unicycle some years back (London to Brighton)

Previous longest distance prior to that was a 13km training ride

I was 37 at the time and had learnt to ride about 6 months before the event

So, go for it & good luck!

If some have happy stories to tell, things can also happen badly.
A too dramatic and sudden increase of riding length can lead to injuries, like tendinitis, ITB syndrome and so on, so if you plan to do a century in one day, or even in two days, make sure you increase progressively your rides’s length to let your body adapt.
A tendinitis can take months if not years to recover, not sur it is worth the risk.

I did 100miles on a standard unicycle (24/125mm) a few years ago, which wasn’t too bad until I had a puncture at the 120km mark.

If you have short cranks (eg 75mm or 89mm) and a big tyre, it should be fairly smooth and not too painful.