Riding Long Distance

This seems like an easy thing that shouldn’t need much explanation but there are a few things that will make your ride much more comfortable and less stressful.

  1. Preparation

You’ll want to make sure you have the following with you when you ride a long tour:

  • Multi Tool
  • 1/2" + 9/16" wrench for pedals
  • Crank puller/wrench for crank bolt/nut
  • One size larger cranks than you’re used to riding
  • Extra Tube
  • Tire Levers
  • Pain Pills :stuck_out_tongue:
  • Water
  • Food
  • More Water
  • Emergency Contact Means

The multi tool will be nice for adjusting your seat. This is especially important since you will be riding far and repeating the same motion for several hours. If your ankles ache or hurt after some time, you will want to lower the seat and watch how you are pedaling to be sure your stride isn’t awkward or crooked. If the knees hurt you may want to raise the seat so your knees do less moving. The extra crank set is very helpful if you are riding new terrain and run into some rough hills. A 36" unicycle will not fly up hills as easily as smaller wheels with small cranks and you will thank yourself if you need to switch them out. Its probably a good idea that you know how to do this before you leave so you don’t have to guess when the time comes.

The extra tube and tire levers should be a given to all of us. No matter how thick your tire is, there is a chance that you’ll end up needing to change it. I got lucky on RAGBRAI and didn’t have to change the tube all week. I did run over a tack but realized it as soon as I hit it and was able to remove it before it reached the tube. Thanks to the Wheel TA tire for being realllly thick.

Water is a must. That is all I’m going to say about it. You will hurt yourself without enough of it.

A phone is a good idea in case you need help. Riding alone isn’t the best idea but if you choose to do so the phone will be a nice fall back option if something happens.

  1. Clothing

Bike Shorts Bike Shorts Bike Shorts Bike Shorts

Your assets will thank you later regardless of your sex. Also, many bike shops will sell lubricant that you can place on pads inside the bike shorts to prevent discomfort. This will be a good idea. Cycling shirts/jerseys are a good idea and are very handy with the pockets for items you need to carry. A helmet is always a good idea as well…just don’t ride without one. I figured it would be pretty hard to land on your head while unicycling…until I did. Turns out that its easier done than said.

  1. The Ride

Obviously, you have trained for the ride you’ll be taking. I personally suggest the following pattern as I fall into it on most long days. Keep in mind that this outline is on a 36" wheel for a 70 mile day:

Leave Origin
ride 5-7 miles
ride another 5-7 miles
ride 7-10 miles

This will put you 17-24 miles into your day depending on how you feel that day. This would be a good place to let breakfast settle and get yourself off the seat for a bit. After this I usually end up taking breaks every 5 miles and after 20-25 more miles of that it gets down to every 3 miles but with shorter breaks except for food.

Handlebars will help you out a lot on long tours. They provide something to lean into for leverage on headwinds, uphills and flatlands while running a high cadence as they will improve your stability. They also have the benefit of allowing yourself to lift off of the seat to reposition yourself or give your saddle a break. The two handles I have used include the GB4 handle and the T7 handle. The T7 has bottle cage mounts but requires a rail style seatpost. The GB4 is smaller and mounts directly to your seat bottom. Both are available from unicycle.com

I’m skipping over most of the “make sure you and your unicycle are in good shape to ride” type items just to avoid sounding like the booklet from [insert bike tour name here]. The only other thing I can suggest is to find another unicyclist or three to go with you as it makes things a lot more fun :).

great info. I am trying to get ready for a 21 mile ride in sept. I am only riding 8 miles non stop at this time. this is going to be a great help in being able to finish the ride.

one other thing I forgot to mention. The T7 handle sits on an adjustable rail adapter and can be tilted front/back so if you have one you may want to play wit it to find the most comfortable point to set it.

Thanks for this guide Mouse, Very well written with lots of good tips, I’m planning on doing a lot of touring soon, and found this very helpful I will definitely direct people who want to start touring to your guide.

Great list. I just ordered my Nimbus Deluxe 36er today from UDC. Hopefully have it in a couple of weeks.


for anyone that has never done a distance ride in their life, dont forget to train and to work up to the distance that you are trying to reach otherwise you will be dead on that long ride…

This is true…very true. I did the hilly hundred (2 days, 100 miles total) without any training except one 40 mile ride the week before and it wasn’t as pleasant as a much longer ride I took part in but trained for a couple of months for. I’d say that in the couple of months before the ride (depending on how long it is) that you put in at least 2 or 3 days that will be as long as the days on the ride and if it’s a multiple day ride, try to train two long days back to back to make sure you can handle waking up the next morning and doing it all over again.

My training log for this summer:

may 10 - 34mi
may 11 - 45mi
may 15 - 13mi
may 17 - 68mi
may 18 - 20mi
may 20 - 19mi
may 22 - 12mi
may 23 - 15mi
may 24 - 38mi
may 25 - 38mi
may 29 - 24mi

june 1 - 31mi
june 2 - 8mi
june 5 - 17mi
june 7 - 42mi
june 9 - 18mi
june 14 - 31mi
june 15 - 22mi

-mysterious disappearance of my unicycle…arg-

(making up for that 3 weeks lost)
july 9 - 7mi
july 10 - 16mi
july 11 - 18mi
july 12 - 21mi
july 13 - 30mi
july 14 - 26mi
july 15 - 14mi
july 16 - 14mi
july 18 - 46mi
july 19 - 29mi
july 20 - leave on tour

The training log shows a bit how I started and worked up miles and number of rides in a week. The July section was a bit intense as I was trying to make up for lost training time but it still gives you a general idea.