Ride the Lobster and the Unicycle Long Distance Rating Calculator

I haven’t made any commitments to doing Ride the Lobster yet for various reasons, but I’m thinking I’ll at least complete the qualifying rides. If nothing else it’s a good excuse to ride. So I’m looking at the rating calculator and the “Formula Explanation” says that MUni is “Very tough changing terrian with many obstacles (rocks, trees, etc.).” I’m not sure what that means. Does that include relatively smooth single track or gravely fire roads (like the ones at Wilder)? I mean, other than steep grades, I don’t think I ever ride any that is “very tough” on a big wheel.

Also, it feels kind of weird to me to try to fit my rides into a rating system. I think I’m usually pretty in tune with my fitness level, so I generally ride as much as I want and think I can handle in a given day regardless of all the distance and elevation details–very rough approximations are usually good enough. So I’m thinking I should get an odometer of some sort for my unicycle to keep track of how far I actually ride in different conditions. I fully intend to include offroad in my rides because I’ll get bored otherwise, and none of my trail maps have any mileages on them. Does anyone have a favorite cheap cycling computer that will work for a 29er and 36er? In all my years of cycling I’ve never used one.

The purpose of this “system” is to be able to compare different rides. The “Muni” factor is very rarely encountered on our 36er rides. For instance, normal Rob’s Ride doesn’t have more than say 1/2 km of it so I don’t count it. The new option we’ve been taking recently through Wilder Ranch does have a little more, but still only maybe 1.5km total. It has to be singletrack, technical, difficult and strenuous - typically you take a Muni or 29er on this terrain rather than a coker, but there are times. Relatively smooth or easy singletrack and all fireroads are all the smaller multiplier called “soft gravel”.

Cyclometers are problematic with a 36er. The wired ones work well because you don’t have to worry about a second battery or transmission distance. But you have those pesky wires that get damaged easily in crashes. The wireless ones solve that but typically have a 70cm max transmission distance. So you have to have them high on the frame, but then the distance to the magnet on the spoke is too far. Kind of a pain. Getting a working system where you can read the cyclometer while riding is not easy. All in all, I prefer a wrist-mounted GPS - there have been many discussions on these. Distance-wise they are pretty accurate except when under very thick trees (like near your house!) Elevation-wise they are not so good, except for straight climb or descent.

I use a combination of the GPS, google maps, and the Topo Program I bought that produces nice maps like this one of Rob’s Ride: http://www.nhoover.com/maps/RobsRide.JPG with elevation profile. I pretty much just estimate how far was on gravel vs in high wind or high temp or whatever.

Hope that helps.


One other thing. If you download the spreadsheet http://www.unitours.org/Unitours/tours/MUT/Files/MUT_Rating.xls and look at the sheet labeled “Ratings From Other Rides” you can see ratings for some sample rides, tours etc. If you look at the AUT ones, you can see how we break down each day and add various “subjective rating” factors, sometimes 3 or 4 in the same day.

I’ve been using a cheap wired Sigma on my bicycle for a few years with which I am perfectly comfortable. No elevational information.
So, last year I bought another for 20 bucks and installed it on my stock Coker. The installation wasn’t too difficult. I entered the wheel roll-out number (I think I input 2800mm) and all was well, I thought. Apparently though the Sigma couldn’t reconcile such a high roll-out value and it defaulted to something less. My numbers were all f*d up. I was in a similar situation to yours - I wanted some data for a two day, two hundred miler but I made the mistake of installing this computer only the day before the ride. Hence, no data for me on that ride, thank you Sigma!
Then, on that very ride, after a particularly violent whack of the handle on the tarmac, the sticky tape mounting bracket cracked of the shock. So, recalibrated, the computer still works but there is no connection bracket to mount it into. Makes a decent pocket watch now.
Hope to see you in Nova.

I have the Sigma BC500, which I forgot I had and recently found still mounted on one of my old bicycles. A bit of twiddling around with the rollout numbers and I think I have it decently calibrated for my Nimbus 36er now. I don’t have a tone of miles on it yet, but it seems to be accepting my calibration and accurately recording my distances.

It’s not a fancy thing, only shows speed, current distance and cumulative distance, and how long the ride took. It seems to be fine.

I have a wireless CatEye on my coker. I didn’t have any problems with the spoke-to-frame distance. The detector that mounts on the frame has plenty of reach. I’ve found it to be more reliable than my GPS, which often has holes in the route due to tree cover. (The newer ones are more sensitive though.) The only thing to watch out for is if the uni takes a tumble, make sure the magnet and detector are still aligned before you take off again.

Another advantage to a dedicated cycle computer instead of a GPS is that it keeps track of total distance, not just for one ride. It’s fun to see how far I’ve taken that monster.

My GPS (Garmin eTrex Vista) does track total distance too, however it gets more use than just unicycling so it’s still pretty useless for total uni distance. But I keep track of all my rides in a spreadsheet anyway.

You and me both, pal.