A FOOL AND HIS MUNI ARE SOON PARTED
Are you turned off by MTB techno hype? Do you pine for a back to basics fun
philosophy? Getting just a little bit bored with expensive off-road innovation?
or are just looking for a refreshing change?
Read on, your quest may have ended. What amazes me is that nobody thought of
this sooner. One day about two years ago I was messing about on my unicycle
attempting to sort the ‘half-suicide’ mounting technique (still can’t). When a
passing neighbour shouted “Not bad, but I bet you can’t ride one of those
off-road” He laughed, I laughed, He left, I went to put more elastoplasts on my
hands. As I removed the bits of gravel from my palms I thought, Hmm why not? at
least it’ll be softer than concrete and with fewer witnesses I won’t have to
provide free village entertainment. Tentative forays into our local woods in the
following weeks provided me with a network of secluded forest tracks cushioned
with leafy debris. Bliss! I found something different to do with the Uni and
started to enjoy another dimension in off road skills.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still get a buzz from a good blast the MTB it’s just
that the Mountain Unicycle or MUni gives me the opportunity to re-discover my
local routes but from a totally different perspective. I often happily potter
about the woods for an hour or so, instead of disappearing for four hours plus
on the MTB, with the benefit of a more harmonious household reception on return.
Riding a 20" wheel MUni is also appreciably slower than an MTB, the fixed wheel
mean 5-6mph max, result- no fear/hate when I encounter others. just lots of
smiles or sympathy.
OK. I know you still have to learn to ride a uni. But the best kept secret is
it’s not that difficult, particularly if you already ride off-road. The first
step is to believe you can do it. Within about two months regular practice (1-2
hours per week) you should be OK. on the level and two more to do it in the dirt
with attitude. For some irritating reason kids learn even quicker (e.g. my
daughter Lisa) and allegedly 1 in 1000 is a ‘natural’, but happily I’ve only met
one, he took 10 mins to ride forwards.
WHERE DO I SIGN?
So what should you look for when selecting a Muni for off-road rambles?. Most
importantly it all needs to be exceptionally tough if it’s going to last. After
two Polaris Challenges the Pashley UMX’s we used have been extensively modified.
Then in January 1995 Pashley decided to incorporate our modifications and bring
out a special Mountain Unicycle for the Ugly Juggling Shop retailing for #95
(091 2320297 Hi Tony).
JUST HOW MUCH FUN CAN YOU REALLY HANDLE?
For the past couple of months I’ve been giving a ‘new’ Muni a serious bash in
the dirt, training for the next Polaris (sad or what?) and I think Pashley have
got it sorted!. The steel frame hasn’t changed additional brazed mounts for a
bottle cage have been added, which look tidy and the cage is protected if the
Muni hits the dirt. The main bearings are shielded which excludes the most
penetrating gloop- ours seized solid after the Welsh event. Double sided MTB
pedals provide non-slip shoe traction in the wet. No I wouldn’t recommend
fitting SPuDs unless you enjoy face-plants. Double-bolted fork ends are fitted
to clamp the main bearing housings, which is similar to my DIY version, but
neater. Cotterless cranks are a godsend as my 13 stone mass wrecks cotter-pins
when stomping back on steep descents. The slimline contour saddle took some
getting used to. About 60% steering relies on inner thigh grip, but the
improvement in comfort is worth it 'cos it stops you walking like John Wayne
after doing time in the saddle. The epoxy powder coated finish is the same as on
my UMX and that’s still tidy, which is impressive considering the abuse I’ve
subjected it to. Total weight is about 6kg. Finally the new colour scheme is
great- gunmetal grey with a sadly-serious (and effective) blackwall MTB tyre.
The tyre is unusual in that it has a pronounced centre rib allowing me to learn
to pirouette, honestly you’ve got to see it to believe it!. If I could only
manage it on a descent then I’d be happy. Hang-on maybe if I try it on that
gentle descent at the bottom of the woods where no-one goes. Hmm.
SORRY I NEED HELP
1.If you’re the 1 in 1000 you’re beyond help
2. Juggling clubs are the place for getting advice and assistance.
3. Initially use a low wall or loading bay for support, friends just fall
4. Get on Muni with one pedal to floor, foot on pedal, Muni acts like a
5. Other foot on pedal, move forward, slowly, use support.
6. Try to go 1/2 rev without touching, Add half turn, slowly increase.
7. Keep looking straight ahead, back straight.
8. Believe in yourself, smile, even when you fall off. Next- Polaris Challenge?
Duncan Castling. (can be contacted via Roger Davies (Davies@octacon.co.uk)