Preparing for 100k Ride, upgrade suggestions? Saddle?

New to the forum! Been riding for about 16 years. For the last 4 I’ve had had very little riding (maybe two sub 2k rides) and have since gained about 35 pounds. Woof. About a month ago I signed up to do a 100km ride for charity, I’ve begun training and am down 10 pounds already. I did do a ride of this length a long time ago, so I am confident I can get back to that condition. My training this month has been largely off unicycle due to bad weather, this weekend I got a chance for a ride.

So I pulled the 36 nimbus nightrider out of the basement and got it back into shape. The frame was looking beat up so I gave it a matte black “stealth” paint job, made sure everything was in riding condition and took it out for a spin. Did about 10k on the weekend. I had more than enough in the gas tank and could have gone for double that easy. The only thing was some discomfort. It feels like I’ve got some unfortunate bruising on the undercarriage, not on my butt, a little further forward. Is a bruised gooch acceptable terminology for this forum? That being said, I think the saddle wasn’t at the correct angle, something that wasn’t an issue when I was sitting on a little more muscle but is more problematic now. Angle is adjusted and once the pain subsides I am going to try it out. Feeling optimistic. That being said, I was wondering what advancements I may have missed.

The saddle is a KH air saddle, looking online it seems like saddles have got way more flat since I last made any purchases. Most saddle reviews talk about freestyle and muni riding, is there any saddle I should be considering for an upgrade for distance riding? Seems like the largest gripe online with the KH air is tube blowouts. Mine has been on the same tube for about 10 years so it’s not something I am too concerned about.

The other thing I’ve seen online was lighter tire tube options. Either stretching a 29" onto a 36" wheel or opting for the clear tubes that are lighter. Are the benefits that measurable? What are some user experiences with how that helps?

Any other upgrades I should be considering? I’ve got handlebars I love and the magura hydraulic pinch brakes. As much as I’d love to get a geared hub, it’s out of the question.

Saddles are about as personal as it gets. but almost everyone has gone away from air saddles. Me, coming from the road biking world I like the new KH Fusion Zero/One saddles because they’re narrower and not overly padded. Some people hate 'em, but to me they make it much easier to sit on your sit bones, which is what you want to be doing.

Saddles are very subjective.

I too come from a road biking background, but I’m not a fan of the KH Zero. It really hurts my sit bones after a couple of hours of riding. I’ve had good luck with KH Street a few years ago and found the KH Freeride in its latest incarnation to be possibly my favorite for distance.

As far as tubes go, The Foss does save weight, but some people have found it to be a bit fussy. I had few issues with mine, but some friends reported otherwise. I’ve carefully used a 29er tube (NOT the thin walled ones) with success for a while. Since it is a bit out of the realm of what is recommended, there is a greater chance of failure. If you’re willing to live with the risk of maybe flatting when you don’t like to, it may be worth it. Then again, maybe not.

I’ll echo Unigoat’s opinion on the KH Zero, but I think it’s something my crotch would get used to if it were on my Road uni (it’s on my muni, which doesn’t get out enough). Now there’s the KH One, which is supposed to be a little less extreme. The next saddle I buy would either be one of those, or the KH Freeride, which I’m hearing good things about.

In my experience, as you train to go long distances, you are also training your crotch to “harden up” and survive longer rides with less discomfort. Starting with a better seat is still important, but people have done very long rides on some awful seats (including me). I had a Nimbus Gel for Ride The Lobster, and some form of “standard” KH saddle, circa 2010, on the one century ride I’ve done (100 miles). The downside of air saddles is that they spread the pressure evenly around your whole crotch area, which is bad for circulation and also for cooling (if that’s a factor in NS). How long until your big ride?

Tubes: I look at it this way. If you currently have one of those heavy duty Coker-type tubes, you probably don’t need to carry a spare. Patches will do, that is, if anything penetrates it. A Foss tube (no relation) is a lot lighter, but may be more prone to issues. I’ve had a total of one flat with one in the 5 years or so that I’ve been using them. And I think I repaired that tube. If you use one you might consider carrying a spare, which is still better than a single one of the heavy tubes, since it wouldn’t be rotating with your wheel.

36" tire/tube problems can be a bitch to fix along the roadside. Both of the ones I have need heavy duty tire levers to get at the tube. If you’ve got your wheel all set up well in advance of the ride and everything is stable, you can probably be fairly safe taking your chances.

That said, the day I rode all the way around Lake Tahoe (72 miles) toward the beginning of the ride I realized my air seat was flat. If we hadn’t managed to get it fixed at the lunch stop, I would have been done that day. :slight_smile:

I’ve been kicking myself for years that I didn’t manage to make Ride the Lobster work. I was tied up with finishing up college at the time and didn’t manage to get my things sufficiently in order to enter. I had trained to be ready for it but it just never came together. It was just a bummer since I was a unicyclist living in Halifax at the time. Oh well.

My big ride is not until the end of September. So I’ve got a wealth of time to figure everything out any unicycle fine tuning. Plenty of time to improve my thrust to weight ratio as well as “harden up my crotch”.

On the saddle front, the impression I am getting is to go with one of the latest from KH, be it Zero, One or Fusion Freeride and my butt will likely get used to whatever I subject it to on a regular basis. The Freeride seems to mention the most about distance riding in store page descriptions, not to mention that it seems to talk less about being light like the Zero and One (more comfort?).

With switching to a lighter tube, I am only really hearing about the negative aspects of it being a little fussy. Does a lighter tube have a notable benefit? I guess I’ve been riding the same 36" unicycle for a long time without trying anything else. In a distance ride, what sort of benefit does it add? Moving less mass means an easier time moving the wheel and less stress on your legs?

The KH Zero has gone from terrible to OK after I lost 15 kg, but it’s never gotten as comfortable as the 2012 KH Slim.

Foss tubes are amazing, though! I haven’t had any problems with them so far.

Finishing college is never the wrong decision (take it from someone who quit college to ride unicycles), so don’t feel bad. Unicycling will still be there, and there might even be another ride like RTL in the future! But probably never a ride exactly like it. I’m very fortunate I was able to be a part of it.

That’s basically it. The key phrase is “rotating mass”. If you can take weight off the parts of the bike (or uni) that rotate, it’s a bigger savings in energy needed to move them. Regular 36" tubes are HEAVY; I think the Foss tubes might be around half their weight. You’ll feel the difference.

Now I don’t have a ton of miles under my belt, but I feel a heavier wheel will be a smoother ride. “A body in motion will stay in motion” and will also plow through bumps in the road. Likewise with my limited muni skills, I always loose it at the down stroke and I feel if there were more flywheel effect, it would get me past this no power zone.

I’m guessing you don’t have a 36" uni. There is nothing you can buy today that will actually make your 36" wheel “light”. Best you can do is make it less heavy. Still lots of inertia there to spare. In fact, that’s one of the reasons they make such good long distance machines. It’s a good thing, but too much of it. :slight_smile:

In your Muni example, extra rotating mass would help you through your downstroke, but work against you the rest of the time. The speed of your unicycle’s wheel, on a rough trail anyway, is constantly changing. Every change requires energy output on your part to manage it. So in the long run, lighter is still going to be better, at least for endurance riding.

Back in the day, there was a school of thought that a heavier wheel might be faster for unicycle racing (24" wheels on an athletics track). The theory was that it would maintain its momentum better, and do less “wobble”. Problem is, they still wobble, and now they’re just heavier. I wondered about the possibility of putting counterweights on the wheel, to balance out the unevenness of the rotating cranks. But I never tried to build any examples, because to be useful they would probably add at least a pound or two to the wheel; something I didn’t think would help in the long run. And that’s for straight racing on flat ground…

No, but I recently purchased a 32"(just updated my signature) and I am surprised how well it glides over rough terrain, and that’s comparing it to my 29" stout(29.5"dia) which is only about 9% difference. And I am contributing that to it’s extra weight.

With your counter weights idea for the cranks, seems you would have to account for the mass of shoes and feet also? This would be quite a substantial amount of weight (along with being silly:p)

A friend of mine did this calculation, I don’t remember the result but I can ask him

I’d wonder how much the passive mass of the cranks matters, vs the forces of feet pushing on them.

An easy test would be to hold a unicycle by the frame and (being carefully of the pedals!) spin up the wheel.

Likely it will wobble some, but my guess would be quite a bit less than it does when riding.

It’s easy to focus on the equipment (saddle, wheels, crank, etc) but in this case I would look a little more at self. Specifically, your undercarriage.

When I take to the streets my limiting factor is not the distance, it is saddle sores. Since I still battle them when I start hitting the 25 mile range, I haven’t figued them out yet, but I would focus on a good cycling cream and a good pair of cycling shorts.

I have a good sized tube of Chamois Butt’r that will last several years. Don’t be stingy… put it on heavy. On long rides I reapply more.

I have several different makes of padded cycling shorts… they all seem to be about the same. I have no preferences and can’t say one works better than the other. They all work better than regular shorts.

If you figure out the magic potion for this, let me know.

The above point about cycling shorts can’t really be understated!

I did a 100K last year, with a ‘normal’ rubber 36er tube and a Qu-Ax tyre (not the newer, more lightweight version either) and the limiting factor was my arse, not my legs. I didn’t wear any sort of cycling legwear, just tight-ish boxers to keep the loose parts from bouncing, and some water-resistant pants in case it rained. I limped for a few days afterwards :astonished:

I’m doing the ride again this year, and my concentration is on learning to handle the cycling traffic better. You mentioned it being a charity ride - if it’s anything like the ones over here, it’ll be full of a whole range of people, from militant spandex warriors to groups of middle-aged women from the office ‘getting back in shape’, to disabled people riding specially-built hand bikes (Not to mention cars, traffic lights, roundabouts…). I was woefully under-prepared for this, and only managed to complete the ride thanks to my riding buddy (who had a 2-wheeler) letting me rest my hand on his shoulder at traffic lights, meaning I didn’t have to stop and re-mount as often! Every re-mount towards the end that I DID do caused a huge stab of pain down my thigh :frowning:

Frequent stops and starts do indeed take their toll, especially on a 36er! The other night I was playing with online maps and started to think about doing distance rides as multiple laps of the ~6 mile portion of the Hudson River greenway north of the last traffic light, and only deal with the stop & go part on the way to and from home. Could just start there, but that might get a little monotonous.

You’d be surprised how much wobble you get, especially as the speed increases. If you’re able to get it going fast with one hand, you’ll have trouble holding onto it with the other.

Naturally this effect lessens as the wheel size gets bigger, so try it with a 19 or 20" Trials for best results. :smiley:

Yeah, this is absolutely something I need to consider before dropping money. Been getting after it lately, I feel like I am at least making small optimizations in my configuration. Just getting out there and doing it is making a big difference.

Always best to consider a problem somewhere between the seat and steering wheel before looking elsewhere.

Quite a lot. It is something we must learn to account for in our dance with the wheel.

Straight versus offset cranks also makes a difference. Riding a range of Q factors helps us develop a better understanding of the out of line forces. Diversity of experience reaps benefits right across the spectrum.

Ditto to this. I did a 25 mile race last summer on my 36er not long after I bought it, and it taught me a lot. While I was using cycling shorts, they weren’t very good. I upgraded to better quality shorts with a much larger and thicker chamois, and I also starting using Chamois Butt’r. That alone made a world of difference. I also upgraded my saddle from a Nimbus Gel to a KH Fusion Street and shortened my cranks from 138s to 125s. It’s like a completely different ride, and going longer distances isn’t nearly as painful as it used to be. Whatever saddle you use, I’d go for something flat-ish.

As with any ride or race, I’d find out if there are any serious hills to climb, or anything else that will effect your ride. I do OK with 125s on some of the steeper hills, but it can wear you out, especially if you don’t train for it. I like to use the shortest cranks I can get by with, but if things are really hilly, I might use 138s, or even 150s. There’s a guy in our club that only uses 150s on his 36er, and he usually puts us all to shame, so it’s just whatever works best for you. I like the 125s because my ride is smoother with less wobble, and it seems that since I move my legs less, I don’t have as much saddle soreness.

Frequent but small breaks (like 10-30 seconds) can really help to manage saddle soreness, but when you get fatigued, it becomes increasingly harder to freemount. I take breaks when I need to and just deal with it. At one point I spent a lot of time freemounting on my 36er over and over. It pays off when trying to freemount when you’re pretty worn out or in a less-than-ideal place to freemount.

Good luck, have fun, and make sure to tell us all about it after the 100k!

Everybody got very technical very quickly… Nobody mentioned the basic ‘play with the seat angle before spending money’. I rode my 29 for years working on the hardening the backside principle, didn’t work. It made a big difference when I tilted the seat up with about 0.8mm of washers under the front seat bolts…
Got a 36 late last year and the Zero seems to work OK for me, longest ride only two and a half hours going slow :wink: