Birkebeinerrittet in Norway with 13 500 bicyclist.
92km on grawel and singletrack with climbs and downhill up to 10%, carring a backpack of 3,5kg over the mountain, completed in 5:10:05.
The plan started one year earlier. A friend of mine was doing a reportage to a bicycle web page. I cycled Mountain Unicycling after many years as cross country skiier and riding Mountainbike. Birkebeinerrittet is the biggest Mountain Bike race in Norway, and the biggest in the hole world. He decided I must start in the race next year. After a short while I decided to go for it. And my friend started to train for it to. (He coulden’t even unicycle at this time).
First I was not shore what type of Unicycle I schould use. First I thought a KH 29" was the best. Then maybe the new Schlumpf. But because it was very expensive we did not order the Schlumpf. After seen the Alps unicycle tour on the internet I decided to go for the Coker and ordered two Custom Coker at UDC USA.
The race is mostly on bad grawel roads. Singletrack and a little bit of tarmac over a mountain. Climbs up to 10% and downhill steeper than that. I started in february training on the Coker. Couldn’t think how they couldt manage to unicycle throw the Alps on a Coker!!! Little climbs was big enought. But training after training the technic got better. I destroyd a lot of aluminium cranks before I understand that the only thing that can handle the job was steel.
I orded also a lot of seats to find the best. Miyata, KH fusion and KH airseat. The best result was a Qu-Ax seat cut down. I tok of the saddle cover, put a plastic bag over the seat and carried a plane and some sandpaper in the backpack. Stopped many times to plane down the foam to the best comfort. When I look at it today the result is nearly exactly the same as the new KH 2007 freeride seat. And I haven’t talked to Kris Holm! I also composed a new custom Coker with help from Nathan Hoover. Unfornately the new one was in the Custom while the race went on. But many thanks to Nathan Hoover for all the tips to make the way to the goal a lot faster than it would have been.
Had also to test what Crank length that was the best. We started with the standard 150mm. First I maybe thought that we must have 170mm. But after I while I also tried 125mm. But I tought that the steep climbs and rough terrain was to bad. There were also several sessions with singletrack on bumby and muddy ground. So I decided to go for 150mm.
Before the ride at 26th august 2006 I have 2551,06km on the Coker on mostly on grawel roads in steep terrain. I have god training before because I have been a cross country skiier, bicyclist and a triathlet in many years. I was World Champion for jr. in cross country skiing on 30km and mixed back in 1993.
We tested the track 29th july 2006. We cycled 95,64km and used 6:39:35 in effective cycle time. We also had bad weather this day with much rain. The grawel roads was very muddy and felt somethimes to ride on snow. After this trip we decided to go for the 150mm cranks. The first 12km climb is 4% and there was wet grawel I had to stand mostly the hole way!
The last two weeks before the race I started to slow down the training and be focused to eat a lot carbo and drink a lot of water. I have had this race in mind a hole year. It was very much focus on us here in Norway. We had been in many newspapers and also a couple radio intervievs. We also knew that they want to have us in the tv reportage from the race.
The most scary thing was to damage the unicycle in the race. We newer had a punkture after 2500km!! To got a punkture in the race wil be a bad thing. I had a bottle of water and sope with me to use if I got a punkture. The backpack on 3,5 kg was not a challange for us. All of the training tours we carriage a backpack over 2kg. Including water, food, tube, pump and other tools. In the race we also had spare equipment in the backpack, like cranks with pedals ready to change.
My brother followed me in the race on a bicycle. Fueld me with water, food so I dident have to stop at the food stop, and he also carried the equipment over 3,5 kg
The race day I felt very good. The grawel was also very good. Not much wind and a god temperature. I couldnt wait to start. My brother who is in realy good form and also is a cross country skiier could not follow me in the first 12km climb. For me it was just like pedaling like crazy and eat and drink all the time. The Coker is very fast uphill. I passed same people many times. I got fast in the climbs and they in the downhill section.
The crank loosen one time after 68km. But it was only the nut getting loose. After 70km I had the only UPD. I was pusshing to hard in a technically section with bicyclists beside me. Nobody get hurt, but my crank was a bit bendt and my seat not right. I did not take time to fiks the damage. I tok no rests at the hole race. Only run at the most technicaly section between 12-13km, 18-21km, 28-30km and near finish at 89-91km. Here must also the bicyclist run with the bicycle.
I finished the race in 5:10:05. Nearly 50 minutes before my schedule. I got so early so the tv crew did not get me on tape. Newer been so exhausted. The next day people want to know how it was to walk. The fact is that I nearly could not stand on my feet. My legs was worst. My friend finished the race at 06:37:51.
Next year I go for the 5 hour goal. Many things schall went god to set a record time. Especially the weather condition when going over a mountain. I have got a lot better Coker now. (LiweWire/ Hunter/ Wallis) but I think the weather, training and the day form is more important than the equipment.
I can realy recommend others to start in Mountain Bike races on Unicycle. I did not get in trouble for anybody and everyone think it was god for the race. I think Unicyclists have generaly better controll than mostly two wheel cyclists. The Coker goes a lot faster in climbs than anybody can think.
In 2008 the plan is to complete Styrkeprøven. Who is 540km. I have minimal training on tarmac, so next summer (2007) the plan is to complete the Styrkeprøven small version 180 km.
Here is some pictures from the race. Hope this post was interesting and a inspiration to other long distance unicyclists.
Equipment Birkebinerrittet 2006:
Weight: 8.3 kg
Wheel build: Kovachi Wheels, John Kovachi.
Rim: Airfoil double-walled alloy 36-spoke (1232grams)
Tyre: Coker 36"
Tube: Schwalbe 29er tube (AV 19), 40/60-622/635 (7.3 oz - 207.4 grams).
Spokes: 12ga (Diameter 2.7mm/ 0.105in)
Bearings: SKF 17-mm ID, 40-mm OD
Cranks: Bicycle Euro Cotterless Steel Crank Arms 150mm(610g)
Pedals: Wellgo MG-1 Magnesium body (395 grams) Converted bearings from NBK-686Z to SKF-6862RS
Hub: UDC Superwide CrMo Cotterless
Seatpost: United 22.2mm
Seat: Cut down Velo-500 with KH fusion cover
Handle: Kris Holm
Brake: Odyssey V-brake
Computer: Sigma BC-500
Our times, 92km on Coker 36" Unicycle in Birkebeinerrittet 2006:
Kjetil Juul Pedersen, 05:10:05, (17,91km/t - 104,74 pedals pr. minute)
Øivind Johansen, 06:37:51, (13,96km/t - 81,64 pedals pr. minute)