Muni: Uphill?

Ok, calling this muni is a bit generous. What I’m dealing with are the dirt trails behind my house in the San Francisco Presidio.

Stuff like this:

And this:

My problem? I can’t get up the steep ones. I’m riding a Torker DX with 170mm cranks, and it’s not that it gets too hard, it’s just that I can’t seem to… keep going somehow.

Yet I seem to be able to do steep pavement. Gracelessly, but I get up it.

I noticed that in all the muni videos, you only really see people descending. Is that because going up steep stuff is impossible, or just boring?

Any advice on this will be eagerly devoured.

I don’t have so much trouble climbing up the steep stuff. My problem is I poop out so much faster than I did years ago. I hate being old because you can’t fight it. Anyway, here is a link to give you a couple of tips.

Your area of riding looks nice. I’ll have to come up there and try out some of those trails. Are they long? Do they get technical? I like descending the more technical stuff but climbing over rocks and roots when I’m already at my limit is something else.

So much depends on the rider, and his/her technique, physical conditioning, stamina and overall fitness level. I find that on really steep terrain, especially technical stuff, that in order to maintain forward momentum (I use 150mm cranks) I will “half rev” through the steepest sections.

This method uses your body weight in addition to your legs and also gives your quads a moment to “rest” after each downstroke. You are also up off the saddle for this method so you can more effectively push your body weight back downward for each rev. The motion is similar in concept to those stair stepper machines. This is the only way I was able to climb the Fargo street hill, which is among the steepest paved road in the US at 33% grade.

Also make sure you’re running optimum air pressure in your tire, and this may take some trial & error to get it right. There should be enough that you don’t bottom out on the rim doing a drop, but not too much that’s it doesn’t compress at all. Of course, there’s always less rolling resistance with higher psi, but for MUni you want some compression to roll over rough terrain.

I actually got into unicycling specifically to be able to ride these trails in the Presidio. Somehow, it seems like the perfect thing for them. Biking them never felt quite right, and I’ve always found hiking a trail dull after the first couple times.

I should have mentioned I’m still quite new, I started unicycling a month and a half ago at the Berkeley festival. My estimation of their technicality probably wouldn’t be terribly useful, as I’m avoiding the tough stuff intentionally. But I will say that between here and the Land’s End Trail there are quite a lot of them!

(I love the bits shown in photos 6-8 on that second link)

I’ll also note that I found plenty to keep me entertained while I was practicing cyclocross around here, especially on the Lands End Trail. Several bits that none of my buddies could get down on a bicycle, and one part that I don’t think I ever made it down. Can’t wait to try it on a uni!

If anyone does want to come ride the trails of Northern San Francisco it’d be great to meet some other unicyclists. And if you don’t mind a newbie, I’d love to try to keep up.

Oh, and thanks for the link to the video! You’d think that with a history of offroad bicycling, I’d have thought to try climbing out of the saddle. Nope! I’ll have to give that a go. Looks very helpful.

You know, I bet I’m still running the 70 or so PSI I set myself up with when I was practicing on the street. I guess I should change that. ::grin::

I’m also curious about your choice of crank length. Why do you choose the 150s? The 170s on my Torker seem -far- too long, but I’m sure there’s got to be some advantages to the length. I know greater leverage is one, but this seems like almost too much. My other uni is a 20" Nimbus with 114 cranks, and I’m much more comfortable on it.

Thanks for the advice on half-reving! Curse these short days, I wonder if I could try it in the dark?

I always ride uphill when i go for a ride, except if there is too technical, then i walk. In movies uphill is boring! I use 130mm cranks and i have no problems by that. You just need to train to get stamina.
I still remember my first day, first downhill ride. I used to train a football for a 5 years and i was a striker, quite fast and strong. But when i took that short downhill (only downhill, no uphill), i had musclefibre (pain in legs) for a 5 days and i couldn’t walk downstairs second day after that.:smiley: What I’m trying to say is, MUNI is phisicaly very difficult, but you get your stamina very fast. Now I can go the same track 2 or 3 times uphill and downhill in same day (about 25km-30km?) without any pain in legs
I oftenly take some races around my area with other uphill mountain bicyclists, and in uphill I’m quite fast for them (not for PROs, ofcourse!). They ride in 1. or 2. gear (and it’s easier, but slower) but unicycle is made this way, that when you cycle 1 round, the tire does 1 round (1:1 relation). So I think it’s like the bicyclist would ride in 4. gear (Am i right?) Those bicyclists are only really faster when there are some downhills in the track to…

For an uphill i get my seat higher, and I fill tires more than for downhill. Your first picture shouldn’t be a problem to ride uphill, the second one a little bit more difficult, but still easy. If you cant ride uphill these, maybe the problem could be in your seat? (your seat could be too high). If it’s not, then train first uphill on the road. Than go riding dirt trails…
Why exactly cant you ride uphill? (What happend?= you just fall down or (infront? back?)… i dunno?) :thinking:

(Sorry for my bad English) :slight_smile:

That’s the answer to question, ride more.

Climbing is the toughest muni skill to learn because it requires you to balance, go slow, and crank hard, all while going over obstacles on rough terrain.

Article in “The Unicycle Magazine” issue nine

In the “The Unicycle Magazine” issue nine there is an article from Kris Holm “Mastering the Art of the Ascent”, which gives some tips concerning this topic.

Woops, just to clarify, the pictures are representative of the sort of trail in the area where I’m riding, not the actual ascents in question.

What happens is that eventually I can’t quite get the pedal over the 12 o’clock position and I stop, balance a bit, and fall off.

I certainly plan to!

The trouble is that the very start of the nearest trail begins with a steep curved uphill. Falling off 15 times in a row and then walking up is a bit of a bummer of a way to begin a ride.

That said, I didn’t get into this because I thought it’d be easy. Thanks for the advice! I’ll keep at it.

Try 150 mm cranks. Seriously. The longer cranks can be ungainly and make it harder work.

Those pictures show stuff you should be riding soon.

Uphill is the best bit.

When you make those half-revs, as MuniAddict described, it’s important to use enough power on the downstroke to push the pedal down and back past bottom dead center (BDC) to the point where you can start to push down on the top pedal. This is key to not getting stuck and is a pretty fundamental part of uphill riding.

What you won’t have on steep climbs is anything resembling a spin, unless you’re just hitting it at the bottom. Beyond a certain point of steepness (determined by experience and skills), you just have to crank and it’s going to be half a rev at a time.

But you’re so new to riding you shouldn’t worry too much. Basically just stick with it, have fun, and try not to over-analyze. This always seems to slow down non-kid riders.

These links might help:
thread: Searching for UPHILL uni videos

Well, I have a bit of an admission to make:

While I certainly don’t deserve it yet, I’m the one who bought the Kris Holm 24" Muni from the UDC Canada countdown sale.

I was frustrated with the terrible seat and limited crank selection on the Torker. So that justifies it. Right? ::grin::

Anyway, I’ll be trying 150mm cranks in a week or so!

This is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to learn. I just kept heading at that hill faster and faster and tried to spin up the whole thing like I was on a cross bike. Once I lost momentum, that was it.

I’ve actually been working on this climb for about a week, and decided not to post about it until I’d been trying for a while. And I’ve been doing other stuff too, like succeeding at hopping (on and off low curbs!) and failing at idling. :slight_smile:

In MUni, most people walk most of the uphill. But here in the Bay Area, we ride. Here’s a video of Beau Hoover tackling an uphill that’s right on the edge of what’s possible:

I agree with the advice that it may be easier to climb on 150mm than 170mm cranks; your circles will be smoother and you’ll be less likely to get stuck in a dead spot, and you still have plenty of leverage at 150mm. You have to be pretty good to be able to climb well with cranks shorter than that, but strong climbers can do amazing things even with 125mm cranks.

Like most things, practice is the most important thing. One thing to note is the difference between climbing something smoothly, and climbing it in “funky chicken” mode. If a hill isn’t very steep, you can just crank up it, but beyond a certain steepness, you need to be able to attack it one half-revolution at a time. Pedal, pause slightly, and pedal again. Practice climbing something as slowly as you can; the better you are at going slowly, the steeper you’ll be able to climb.

In any case, uphill MUni is incredibly strenuous; really among the most strenuous activities I’ve ever done. If I need to cross-train for anything else, I do uphill MUni. So don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult; it is difficult!

Come join us in the East Bay on Sunday, we’re going to be scouting locations for the uphill race for the 2010 nationals; you’ll be able to at least watch some good climbers and how they approach a tough climb.

Well, here in the SOUTH bay area (LA county & OC) we do too. :roll_eyes: And Jamey Mossengren is one of the best climbers ever!

Personally, I live for uphill MUni! I’ll take and out & back (Ride up, ride back down) over a shuttle any day of the week. Since Fargo, nothing seems too steep anymore!

Oh ok, im sorry.
I think if that happens you don’t push enough or you ran out of power. It happens to everybody.

Only most lazy Americans.

Most of our decent rides, you’d have to walk for aaaages if you walked all the uphill. It would be right annoying.

To the original guy - you can ride at night - get yourself a decent LED torch, strap it onto your helmet, and you’re all set for night muni. Night muni is the best kind of muni anyway. As for the uphill, just ride a lot and you’ll get the hang of it - hold onto the seat, stand up if it gets really hard, and just keep trying, don’t wuss out and walk when you fall, remount and try some more.

I was out on those trails running the other day, thinking it looked like some fun was there to be had on a muni, although I imagine much of it is illegal for cycling?


I don’t agree with that (it’s just my opinion). I like night rides but they are not better than day rides. But it’s very fun riding at night. Even if you know that track very well, at night it’s just different.

Where are you from?
Yea, I don’t like walking uphill. It takes ages to get up and if you ride uphill, you also get extra stamina for next downhill.;):smiley: