I am hoping to get some feedback on my muni riding style. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into improving my rides by modifying my technique.
The terrain I ride can described as technically varying degrees of single track in the woods with some riding on mud/marsh around a like shore. I have a KH24 setup with a Gazz. The technique that I have been working on is adjusting my weight distribution. What I mean by this is that I have been transferring more of my weight from my saddle to my pedals for most of the ride. In the past I was only coming up and off the saddle to successfully go over specific bumpy obstacles I encountered. I still do this now, but ‘overall’ I have been putting more weight on my pedals and less on the saddle to varying degrees. I point my toes slightly down (almost curling my toes you might say) and I have been pedaling with a very steady piston like action, maintaining a somewhat even speed throughout my rides.
At first I found the transfer of weight both difficult and energy sapping. My quads were really aching for the first week or so. However, after several weeks of riding like this I have found that I am a much stronger rider and that I can handle all sorts of terrain much better than in the past. I’ve also been increasing my distance every couple of rides and I can go farther and faster without a upd than I could before. I believe that putting more weight on the pedals helps link my feet to them and prevents a upd caused by having my feet bumped off. I also believe that putting less weight in the saddle prevents me from be bucked off and I can maneuver more quickly. I have been consistently successful at climbing hills that previously I was unable to achieve.
Here are what I think the advantages to this riding style are:
Building stronger quads (becoming a stronger rider)
Better linkage to the pedals (less chance of slipping off)
Less chance of being bucked from the saddle
Quicker maneuvering ability with less weight on the saddle
The only major disadvantage I can see is that it takes much more effort in the beginning. However with time and practice my legs are becoming stronger and my endurance better which offsets this disadvantage.
All of that makes sense. And if you stand up tall, you fall more slowly, so you have more time to react to slow speed changes of balance. If you have a handle, then you can use this technique to ride quite difficult mixed terrain; if you don’t, then the slight problem is the tendence of the seat to fall out from between your thighs.
It’s definately a very useful skill to be able to ride standing up slightly for periods of very technical terrain.
As you get better at reading the terrain, you can tell when you need to do it, rather than doing it all the time. Doing it all the time uses more energy than you need to, it is probably a very good way to train and improve leg strength, hill climbing etc. but might limit the length of time you can ride on long rides.
My feet slide off the pedals sideways mostly when my legs are very tired. On the pedal upstroke, my non-powered foot will overshoot and fly off forward. But when I’m not tired, it’s very rare for my feet to slide off the pedals sideways.
There are times when the Muni drops out from underneath me and my feet momentarily loose contact with the pedals. But once the Muni lands on the ground my feet easily find their place on the pedals.
I think the weight transfer onto the pedals helps me mostly during rough terrain, not during normal riding. Even if I hit an unexpected bump and my weight isn’t on the pedals, I can usually avoid getting bucked off when the saddle hits me in the butt. I let the saddle bounce me into the air and I keep pedaling, not trying to overreact. That usually works if I’m going fast enough.
I admire your training method Jason. When I ride out of the seat for any length of time at all I find it pretty taxing on my quads… hey, wait a minute… QUADS! Yesss, you must have awesome Quads from training like that…
note to self: see if you can get Jason to post a close up of his uni legs… gotta have excellent quads, yes, would be a good person to add to Erin’s quad collection - ummm, I mean, collection of cool uin guys with great legs…
What kind of pedals do you use? I noticed for myself that when my pedals get wet (they’re the really cheap, no traction when wet kind), I am forced to put more weight on the pedals to keep my feet on them.
I also see your point about weight distribution. I do this over the roughest terrain as well, but unfortunately I haven’t built up my quads as much (sorry Erin). I think it would be an excellent way to build your leg muscles.
I think that transferring weight from seat to pedals to seat to pedals…is absolutely necessary. You need to rest when resting is possible (i.e. a smoother, flatter section). Not resting when the opportunity presents itself is sapping energy that needn’t be sapped.
To keep my feet from bouncing or slipping off the pedals, I pull up on the seat handle. This presses the feet down onto the pedals and adds the stability of one more solid connection to the Uni. Typically, if I’m riding across some questionable terrain, I’ll leave a couple of fingers on/near the handle just in case. Imperative for going up hills to keep from walking right off the pedals.
I don’t think pointing your toes will help you particularly. Most of the books I’ve read about cycling recommend that you try to drop your heels through the pedal stroke. This means that yr foot is more horizontal on the pedal. Something to do with greater pedal efficiency and power transfer to the pedals.
I don’t remember you asking to photograph the quads of the geezer-gang when you were in Seattle. Why is that? Did you snap John’s quads when the rest of us weren’t looking? Do you know what that does to our self-esteem? (Note to self: look up self-esteem in the dictionary.)
I also find standing up on the pedals really useful for both powering up steep hills as well as using alternate muscle groups. Just as standing up when you’re riding a bike.
The only thing I do different is that I like to transfer my upper torso weight onto my saddle when I stand up- as a bicyclist would transfer some of their weight to the handlebar. It means that I ride with quite a angled back but I find I can control the unicycle a lot better.
Thanks for the replies! The only clarification I would like to make is that I don’t put “all” my weight on the pedals, just that I transfer more weight than ususal to the pedals for most of the ride. I try to take advantage of the smooth trails and give the old quads a break. Like Memphus Mud stated, “You need to rest when resting is possible”.
I’ll see what I can do about the quad pic. I may even send you an image of King Muni-Mans quads. Finally, how could you not photo Greg and the rest of the “geezer-gang” ? Those old guys are tempamental you know!
I use very agressive ‘Mosh’ pin pedals. They’re great but a little dangerous for the shins.
I’m a little confused how you can transfer only the weight of your upper torso to the saddle when you stand up? Do you link to the saddle with one of your hands, or perhaps squeeze your legs against the saddle? The pictures is great but I can’t quite figure out how this works.