Time Trialing With The Mountain *ikers

SORBA-Huntsville Time Trial Series #2, 3.4 miles, 23:53, 8.5mph pace


Our local SORBA (Southern Off Road Bicycling Association) has started putting on these short and sweet, weekly time trial races for the months of June an July, each week is a different course throughout the month and then repeated the next month. There were over 50 riders on hand for tonight’s event. The officials ran out of race numbers so I got a hand written paper bib number! Turn out was awesome! I missed out on the first one but decided to give last night a try on my Kris Holm 24" geared mountain unicycle. The terrain was a bit more amendable to my liking and I thought I’d have a real chance to NOT finish in last, and I didn’t! Ha! It was a 3.4 mile course that started out down some steep, rocky and rooty single track (Sinks Trail) into a flat to gradual uphill on the same type of terrain (Sinks Trail) and then onto a mostly level, a bit less technical trail (lower Mountain Mist Trail) out to the closed road, up the closed road through the over look onto the cabin road to the finish. So I knew I’d be slower on the technical downhill than everybody (duh, no free wheel!) but figured I could hold my own decently on the rest. Plus I knew once I hit the pavement I had a good mile+ that I could ride in high-gear and possibly make time up.

Short Race Description:

Started near last (riders started at 1 minute intervals) so I wouldn’t get in anybody’s way on the steep, narrow downhill in the first mile. My nerves were on fire as I started, something about a clock running somewhere does that to me! I hit the steep single track and right when I’m out of view I have my first crash! Ha! Totally not used to riding these trails; been too long! But that fall really got me going and I quickly remounted and hammered down the trail, faster than I ever have before. I was on the edge of going totally out of control; I used my hydraulic brake quite a bit! I was across the first Mountain Mist trail crossing when I heard a biker approaching. I hugged the side of the narrow trail and waved them by. No problem, I’m used to it. Down, down down I go, flying (for a unicycle). I’m hitting the bumps like a mogul skier in slow motion!

Finally I’m into the bottom of The Sinks (a deep depression in this narrow valley where there are a lot of sink holes and caves all around, pretty cool) and begin the long, more gradual, climb back out (what goes down must go back up!). I’m excited that I’m cleaning sections of very technical trail that I haven’t in a long while, and doing so as fast as my legs will spin! Awesome! I have a little trouble on a steeper, looser section and so dismount and run uphill several yards and remount (every dismount and mount is a time penalty as it kills your momentum).

At last I’m nearing the end of the Sinks and on the last bit of steep climb. I haven’t seen the trail this dry and dusty in a long time! Makes for good climbing though and I clean another section of trail that often gives me trouble. I turn onto the Mountain Mist trail, a race volunteer ringing a cow bell and cheering me on. Now on easier terrain I start cranking faster and soon over take a struggling rider! What? The way here is flat to gradually uphill over “baby head” rocks (like riding on cobble stone that is often loose). I make pretty good time but am passed by two more riders just before we emerge onto the closed road.

I turn up the closed road and quickly up shift my geared hub into high gear and then begin to really crank! I pull the gradual, paved uphill quite well. Enough so that a rider I heard approaching me as we started uphill soon fades behind and one of the two riders who’d just passed me comes back into contact! Near the top of the long uphill I finally overtake the rider and carefully negotiate a small chicane that is the top gate on the closed road. I had to worm through the twisting gate and avoid a jogger, who was oblivious of my presence, at the same time, and in the tricky high gear! Whew! Now I’m back on flat to the finish, I hammer through the over look and onto one last section of dirt/sand. I feel kind of bad as I blow right by an older couple walking, a cloud of dust behind me! Sorry! I thought I had it made but I hit a rough patch of large rock right on the cusp of coming onto the cabin road and I crash; face full of dust and dirt! Wump!

My adrenaline is pumping since I know that rider is right behind me and the finish is so close so I quickly jump back up, pop the hub back into low gear, remount and shift back into high gear. I’m going full out now, hammering as fast as I can in high-gear and probably going at least 15 mph, probably a touch faster as I come screaming around the last curve and across the chalk finish line. There are a large number of riders on hand to witness me coming in and they all give a loud cheer! Awesome! Wow that was tiring but fun! I had no idea what my time was until I saw the results this morning. I averaged over 8.5 mph on the 3.4 mile course! Not too shabby I think considering the terrain and amount of climb!

Rob Youngren

Excellent writeup, made me feel part of the race!

Do you have any pictures of the trail?

This is from a few years ago and not on the exact route I rode but it’s typical of the rough trails found at Monte Sano State Park.

Not the exact trail used in the time trial course, but is still typical of the Monte Sano State Park trail system…

That was a really great write up. I love how unicyclists tend to be apologetic to pedestrians. Way to knock the trails!

Great writeup MuniSano! You’re psyching me up for an upcoming race.

There’s a local weeknight series mtb race every Tuesday evening for 5 weeks that I’ve got persmission to ride. It starts this coming Tuesday.

I’m nervous about faster riders lapping me. It will be my first time riding muni with any mtb’ers.
I don’t know the exact course, but it’s likely less than 2 miles per lap.
And there are 5 classes of riders…
kids 8-12 = 1 lap
kids 12-17 = 2 laps
beginner = 3 laps
sport = 5 laps
expert = 7 laps

Since they allow kids as young as 8, you can tell the course isn’t too crazy… but there are some short but steep climbs, and some rooty downhills.
It’s mostly singletrack so I’m worried about riders lapping me.
But I guess even the bikers have to deal with passing bikers… so.

Anyway… thanks for posting your experience. :sunglasses:

Excellent writeup - you really captured the race! Ever considered becoming a writer? (assuming you don’t write already).

I really fancy trying some mtb races on my 24 - I wonder what Dalby have on offer in the coming year.

@MuniOrBust: Don’t worry too much about the passing mtbr’s they should be used to it if they race very often. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with racing along with the two wheelers! If you can just try to be real aware of your surroundings and if you do hear a rider approaching, typically fairly easy, possibly squeeze over to the right side of the trail and wave them through. Typically though it’s the passing rider’s responsibility to pass with care, but you never know.

@mowcius: I’m happy you enjoyed the short write up. I don’t consider myself a good writer, though I do like to write about my athletic experiences: unicycling, ultra marathoning, etc… you can read some about more of my experiences on my blog (click on my signature). I too am looking for the right venue for my first 24 hour offroad unicycle attempt. I’ve done two 12 hour races already (one was a bust because it was a mud fest that got cancelled just 8 hours in!) and am looking for my next.

2012 SORBA Huntsville - Thursday Night Time Trial Series - Stage #1

2012 SORBA Huntsville - Thursday Night Time Trial Series - Stage #1 - Bucca Family Bike Trail & Gravel Road - 4 miles - 20:53 - 11.5 mph average.


The Thursday Night Time Trial Series put on our local SORBA mountain bike club has started up once again. The series spans 10 weeks using five different courses that are repeated twice. The courses range from a flat and fast 4 mile single track route, to a very technical 3+ mile loop to an all uphill mile on a very rocky double track and a couple of of other routes. Riders have two chances on each course throughout the series to post the best time they can. In the end the best time for each course is used to compute the rider’s final time. Riders can compete for prize money or prizes.

Last year I was only able to attend a single stage of the series but I had so much fun that this year I decided to make it a goal of mine to post a time on all the courses at least once. Even with a long trip planned in the middle of the series I’ll still be able to get in some of the early stages and some of the last stages; enough to do each course at least once and so post a time.

Last Thursday night was the opening stage; a flat and fast 4 mile route that started out by doing around 3 miles of snaking, flowing flat single track through the woods and finished with a mile of gravel and paved road. Since this would be most likely the fastest and easiest of all the courses in the series, I chose to ride my Coker 36er with 140mm cranks; my Big Wheel.

There were 70 riders participating in the opening round, a record! I wisely lined up near the back as riders where started at 30 second intervals. Eventually the line grew very short and I found myself up next. Thankfully there was a tree I could hold on to so I could start already mounted.

3 - 2 - 1 - GO!!! And I was off! With adrenaline pumping I spun my legs as fast as I could in hopes of getting a good, quick and clean start. Unfortunately my legs were spinning faster than I could get the heavy wheel around and just 50 feet or so from the start I had my FIRST crash of the night. I flew right off the front of my Big Wheel and did a body slide in the dirt; landing hard on my knees! Ouch! Stupid me thought I wouldn’t need my shin/knee guards on such an “easy” stage. Dumb! With my knees red hot in pain I still managed to remount quickly and speed off down the trail. As I got back up to speed I managed to feel around by my knees and at the time didn’t come away with any blood. Phew!

On the Big Wheel I flew along the “Bucca Family Bike Trail” as fast as I could safely go. I was really making pretty good time for a unicycle, probably 10-12mph, but because of my early crash it wasn’t long before the next mountain biker caught and passed me by.

This trail snakes all back and forth through the thick woods; often you can see riders in front or behind you who are on another section of the same trail. I manage to keep things together and don’t UPD until around half way through the 4 mile stage when I take a particular sharp turn a bit too wide and end up narrowly missing a small tree. I feel something trickling down my legs and realize that both my knees are indeed bleeding! Doh! What a mess!

I’m still riding fairly fast; faster than I ever have ridden this route before (I live very close by and regularly ride this XC route) but I’m still overtaken by mountain bikers on a regular basis (I should have lined up a bit further back in start group). My legs are really starting to get tired by the time I exit the single track trail onto the wider double track gravel road.

Out on the relatively easy open road I’m able to really crank fast and I dramatically pick up speed. However I hit a thick patch of sand and am flung off yet again! Can you tell I haven’t ridden very much the past several months? :slight_smile: I again quickly remount and speed along and actually manage to catch and re-pass a rider who’d passed me during my last UPD.

The gravel road turns to asphalt with just a quarter mile or so to go; mostly downhill now. In a last vain effort to eek out whatever I have left, I pedal like made down the road. But with the finish line in sight I UPD once again, this time at probably the highest speed I’ve ever come off. I must have been going 17-18 mph at the time. But I’d learned how to dive roll from an early age and that’s what I did. I managed to make a couple of running steps before I tucked and rolled; my unicycle miraculously stayed right next to me the entire time! I must have rolled correctly because the only damage I sustained was some skinned elbows (not bad) and blown out riding gloves! I bounced back up and quickly remounted and gingerly finished up the stage in 20:53 for an average of 11.5 mph. I probably lost about a minute due to all of my UPDs (probably around five or so) but the next time trial rider in the standings was a good 2 minutes ahead so my position probably wouldn’t have changed. I managed to finish 47th of 48 riders in my classification. (I’m not counting the kids I beat, that’s unsporting).

So lessons learned; don’t ride like I did, where the appropriate safety gear! I will definitely be “armoring up” for now on and will also get out there an practice a bit more to work off the accumulated rust acquired from the like of MUni riding the past several months! Embarrassing!

Next week’s course is the one stage I did last year so it’s a bit more familiar. I’ll be back to using my KH24 GUni for the remainder of the stages as they are a lot more technical and hilly. New this time around is that I’m going to NOT be using a proper MUni tire. I’ve been having some great success just riding with a 24x2.5 Maxxis Hookworm; even on some gnarly trails that I think I’ll keep going with it. I really haven’t experienced much difference between using this tire and a proper MUni tire at all. If anything I feel a bit more agile with this lighter and thinner tire. Best of all is that when I do hit less technical terrain and roads and shift into high-gear, this freestyle-road tire handles so much better than my knobby trail tire. We’ll see how this experiment goes…

2012 SORBA Huntsville - Thursday Night Time Trial Series - Stage #2

2012 SORBA Huntsville - Thursday Night Time Trial Series - Stage #2 - Sinks Trail - Mountain Mist Trail - Closed Road - 3.4 miles - 24:18 - 8.4 mph average.

Finished 44th of 48 in the Prize Class for the Stage and now 45th of 60 after two rounds of five. Cumulative time is 45:11.

Gear: Kris Holm 24" Unicycle equipped with KH-Schlumpf MUni hub (#229), 137mm KH Moment Cranks and Maxxis Hookworm Tire, KH Touring Handlebar and Magura Hydro Brake.


Tonight’s route was 3.4 miles and was the only stage I did last year when I rode 23:53. So I was a little bit slower this year but not by much. I honestly thought as I was riding better than my time from last year (which I was trying to beat) but I was remembering the wrong time! Turns out I finished up a bit more conservative than I would have if I’d known I was so close! I didn’t realize what my last year’s time was until the next morning! I truly think I could have easily beaten it had I known! Oh well! Still great effort that only confirms for me that my street tire MUni experiment is working!

The route started in the Biker’s Lot of Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, Alabama (a mere mile from my house) and did all of Sinks Trail (down hill) to the second crossing of Mountain Mist Trail (mostly climb up to this trail then rolling) then followed Mountain Mist Trail out to the barricade road. Up the barricade road, through the overlook and finished on the cabin road next to the Biker’s Lot. I positioned myself to go last for the full course (the kids did a separate shorter course started behind me). This was nice since the first half mile or so is all downhill and with 30sec start intervals I’d be dodging fast moving mountain bikers for a while! Anyhow I started out fairly conservative (probably the difference in my time from last year) with memories of my last week’s crash still fresh in my mind! And successfully negotiated probably the most technical part of the entire course which came in the first long downhill; very rooted out and full of rock gardens and all sorts of stuff that love to grab pedals! Thankfully, while I’d waited to start I walked this top part on foot thinking about what line to take. Surprisingly no UPDs until I was deep into the Sinks Trail near all the sink holes when I glanced off a rock awkwardly then I was off! Whoops! The downside of starting so far back was that it was getting pretty dark deep in that hollow in the thick woods. But I eventually climbed out of the sinks successfully and hammered along the Mountain Mist Trail as best I could (it was much more light here). This is another area I probably could improve; getting familiar enough with the easier sections of trail to actually shift up and ride in high gear; instead I just kept to low gear and spun like mad!

Once at the barricade road I did finally shift to high-gear and motored up the old, cracked asphalt road. I’ll admit I didn’t redline at all going up, sort of soft pedaled most of the way. Looking at my watch I thought I was going to be way under my time from last year so I was just staying conservative. Dumb! But I still was moving at a fair clip when I topped out, crossed through the overlook and hit the last bit of dirt before the final asphalt road to the finish. Last year I remember doing a superman in this loose dirt section after my fast spinning wheel slid sideways. This time things went much better as a recent rain had settled the dirt quite nicely. I finished going as fast as I could, probably in excess of 16-17 mph.

So while I was slightly slower than last year I also rode much cleaner this time; no major crashes just a few UPDs. The other big change this year was that I wasn’t riding with a proper trail tire! Nope, I’m still testing a theory that I can ride just about as well, everywhere, on my Maxxis Hookworm Street Tire. So far I can honestly say my theory is holding up. The biggest difference I notice riding on the technical terrain is that the tire definitely doesn’t track a line quite as well as a trail tire because there are no “teeth” that are cutting into the dirt. This made the riding a bit “loose” at first but I’m getting the hang of it and like it a lot actually. I dropped the tire pressure down to ~20psi and now it rolls over the rocks and roots just like my trail tire.

On to next week which is a 1 mile, all uphill time trial on “the rocky road” basically an old rail road bed alignment that climbs the side of Monte Sano Mountain. It is now very rough, full of large rocks, ruts and ledges that will be difficult to negotiate on a unicycle. For kicks, the Race Director has opened the stage up to runners as well to pair off against the bikers to see who can climb the fastest! I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to beat most if not all the biker’s on foot based on the times they’re projecting to ride. But I think I still have to ride in order to post a time for this stage. So I’ll get to run it then come back down to ride it!

Good luck with that!

When I finished the Black Bear Rampage I compared my time to what I thought I could post while running on the same course. For sure, my run time would have been lower :o

No one ever said that unicycling was an efficient way to travel :stuck_out_tongue:

Fun write ups, keep em coming!

Thanks! I have no doubt that I’ll be able to beat most if not all the bikers on this route as it’s technical AND all uphill. On occasion I’ve found myself racing a cyclist uphill and I can usually beat them fairly easy; especially when the hill is really steep.

Now on the unicycle this will be a totally different story. This route is very rough and I think I’ll probably be fairly slow with a lot of UPDs, may just end up running the hill again but with my unicycle on my back! I think that’s legal as most of the mountain bikers end up pushing their bikes a fair way up the hill anyhow!

2012 SORBA Huntsville - Thursday Night Time Trial Series - Stage #3 - “Rocky Road”

Telling the story in reverse order this time…

Part II: The “Ride”

Synopsis: Finished 24th of 40 for the stage in 11:55 which improved my overall standing to 36th of 65 in the Prize Class.


Gear: Kris Holm 24" Unicycle equipped with KH-Schlumpf MUni hub (#229), 137mm KH Moment Cranks and Maxxis Hookworm Tire, KH Touring Handlebar and Magura Hydro Brake.

Route: Very simple tonight. The course is 100% uphill, climbing ~360’ in 9/10 of a mile on extremely rocky and rooty doubletrack with frequent ledges and ruts. The first 3/4 of mile is the steepest as the route winds it’s way up an ancient rail road alignment (it’s hard to believe any kind of train could climb up this way!) but gradually flattens out slightly in the last 1/5 of a mile though not by much.

Since the way up was extremely technical and most other riders agreed that they’d be pushing their bikes up most of the way I decided to forgo even trying to unicycle up the worst stuff. On a much cooler day it might have been fun to try and ride all the way up in sections, but as the evening was extremely hot and humid still with zero air flow, I decided to just run up with my unicycle!

“3…3…1…GO!” I began running up the steep “rocky road” pushing my unicycle ahead of me. I was starting nearly last for reasons to be explained shortly. To keep things fair I still donned a helmet, fully riding gear and shoes and kept the wheel on the ground at all times; this wasn’t going to be just a run up with the unicycle on my shoulder. I was donned as if I were going to ride but instead I was doing some series “hike-a-uni”.

It didn’t take long to pass the first few mountain bikers who’d started ahead of me (we started at 30 second intervals); they were already walking their bicycles up the steep rough and rocky grade. The only difference was that I was running and pushing far less weight uphill.

I wasn’t fast but I was faster than a lot of folks riding/hiking uphill. All told I think I overtook five or six riders before the finish. It wasn’t all running though, in the last 1/5 of mile when the grade eased and the terrain improved I mounted and rode the last uphill stretch to finish the stage in 11:55 for the all uphill 9/10 of a mile. After catching my breath I had no problem riding the bumpy route all the way back down to the start.

Part I: The “Run”

I mentioned last week that tonight’s time trial featured a “Runners versus Bikers” challenge. Well I was one of five hardy souls who took on the bikers this evening. Most of the the pre-ride chatter seemed to espouse the opinion that there was no way any runner was going to beat any rider tonight. The bikers were simply convinced it couldn’t be done! Well, the bikers were dead wrong!

The challenge was simple. The top five runners times would be averaged and compared against the average time of the top five bikers. Winners earned bragging rights.

The problem was that four out of the five of us runners in the challenge also had to get back down the hill to post a ride time as we all were participating the overall time trial series! So my friend Mader started the night off blasting away up the mountain and I followed 30 seconds behind and my friend Charette 30 seconds behind me. The other two on our ad hoc team would start some time later; one decided to ride first then run.

I started up the mountain at a near dead sprint. I really had no idea how long this uphill “mile” would take me. I figured I’d have to go sub-8 minutes in order to beat most of the bikers. But I quickly realized my fast pace on the steep uphill was not sustainable. So I backed off a notch and instead just concentrated on my uphill line, trying to take as few steps as possible that didn’t bring me closer to my goal!

Every noise I heard in the surrounding brush sounded like a biker shifting gears; as if one of the bikers was already catching up! I ran scared and hard; my lungs on fire! Up, up UP! Finally the grade eased and I sprinted for all I was worth the last 1/5 of a mile to finish the stage in 6:48. Mader had run 6:22 and Charette a 6:38. Our other two team mates ran in the low 9 minute range.

The strongest biker went 7:31 and one other guy broke 8 minutes and several were low 8 minutes, but our combined time ended up eking out the victory by over a minute. Runners ruled the night!

But my night wasn’t finished! Lungs on fire I had to quickly get back down the mountain, change to riding attire, grab my unicycle and do it all again in order to post a “ride” time for the night! I was doing double duty tonight!

Next weeks challenge isn’t much more than 2 miles and doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain or loss but it’s on some fairly technical trail that will be quite a challenge. Looking forward to it!

cool- sounds like a really fun social series! Keep up with the write ups, they are really entertaining.


Great write up

Great write up.
Really entertaining, and I enjoyed reading it


2012 SORBA Huntsville - Thursday Night Time Trial Series - Stage #4 - “Arrowhead”

Finished 39th of 43 in the Prize Class. I also improved to 34th of 72 (up from 36th after stage #3 last week). My cumulative time is 1:17:20.


Tonight’s course started at the Trough Springs parking lot on the South West side of Monte Sano Mountain. From the parking lot the course followed the Arrowhead Trail extension out to Natural Well Trail and then followed that trail (old, worn out fire road) back to the parking lot via the Washout By-Pass a.k.a. “Psycho-Cross” the remainder of the old road then up the Trough Springs parking lot access trail to finish right back where we started.

I knew from my pre-riding the course that there was no way I could ride 100% of the route. The first and last 1/3 of the Arrowhead Trail were very rideable but that middle chunk was a rock garden heaven on often off-camber, uphill and downhill, slopes. For those sections all I could do was dismount and run. Along the Natural Well Trail return was where I’d really make time as it was all downhill on a much smoother (though by no means completely trivial) old fire road. Here I could shift into high gear and fly!

So I start, once again near the very back of the pack; just ahead of the kids. I go at a reasonable pace right out the gate but I’m not flying; there are just too many rocks and roots along the twisting path to get too crazy. I manage to make it over the early bridges and into the first uphill rock garden before I have my first PD and run up it. Not long later I’m overtaken by two of the kids that started behind me. However, one of them isn’t really pulling away too quickly as he’s having much the same difficulties I am on the off-camber rock-garden trail. So I know he’s just a kid, but it gives me somebody to focus on in order to keep my pace up (you gotta have some motivation right?). I finally get through the rugged middle third of the Arrowhead Trail extension; mixing running equally with riding and I overtake the kid on a surprisingly rock free uphill that leads into a relatively long, rideable section of trail. I pedal as fast as I can until I arrive at the last obstacle on this section of the course, a narrow squeeze through some giant capstones the trail winds its way through! I’m redlining a bit too much to do this section any justice, instead I run through it (normally I can ride it). I remount just on the far side of the capstones and ride down the switch-backing route to arrive at the Natural Well Trail.

As I hit the much easier trail I immediately upshift the KH-Schlumpf MUni hub into highgear and begin a nice, relatively fast descent. It’s wonderful to be able to ride fast enough to enjoy the cooling breeze! But the descent is all too brief as I arrive near the Washout and have to downshift to ride through a section of the trail that looks much more like a creek bed than a trail! Somehow I manage to ride through it all without a UPD! Amazing! The creek bed section leads into a right hand turn into the Washout Bypass a.k.a. “Psycho-Cross” section. As the Washout itself is a huge gully, the bypass is a manageable though very difficult section of trail that crosses the gully uphill of the Washout. From me pre-ride I know it’s a waste of time to even attempt to ride as it’s very rocky with lots of 3 foot high, steep berms, up and down. Might be fun and doable on a bike but not for me on the uni today; it’s a good rolling trials type section that I’ll probably come back and attempt to ride. So I dismount and run through this section to the other side of the Washout and re-mount. I exit the bypass route and shift again into overdrive as there is still another 1/4 mile or so of 4x4 road. Weeee!

I downshift as the road turns slightly uphill and ugly again, smaller washouts and exposed rock ledges. I clean this last section and now I’ve arrived at the last part of the course; an uphill access trail that leads back to the parking lot. It’s uphill, offcamber and very rough so I dismount and run up the hill. As the hill levels out a bit and I’m passed the worst of the rough spots I remount and finish riding the last bit to finish! Phew!

This was definitely the most technical stage of the series. Short but sweet. I’m going to be missing the next month of the series as I’m going to be on travel but I’ll be home in time to do this stage again and the final stage of the series. Almost done now! Technically I only have 1 stage to go though I’ll get a second chance at this one again which is good. I know I’ll break 20 minutes next time!

Next update: After the time trial on July 26th. Can I improve this stage time? Can I finish strong enough in the last stage to possibly finish in the top half of the field? Stay tuned…


2012 SORBA Huntsville - Thursday Night Time Trial Series - Stage #9 - “Arrowhead”

Finished 27th of 29 in the Prize Class. However, my overall ranking has fallen drastically (48th of 83) since the last Stage I rode; largely because I missed Stage 5 which completed the first round of the series and so was, by default, given the slowest recorded time for that stage + 15 seconds. My ranking should improve along with my cumulative time (1:34:54) when (and if, but more on that later) I get to contest that final Stage (the only one I haven’t done) in a couple weeks…


Tonight’s course was the exact same as the stage I last contested (see previous post in this thread).

Not really much to say. A month off from riding anything hardcore really effected me as did the incredible >100°F Heat index temperatures! In a word: horrible! Was almost a minute and a half slower this time around but I’ll take it considering how many UPDs I suffered. This is not course to be rusty on. At least my high gear riding was I think a bit faster this time around as I did make pretty good time once I actually got to the washed out jeep road section.

Anyhow, I’m now not so sold on my decision to be riding hardcore MUni with an Urban tire (Maxxis Hookworm). Just not enough cushioning and roll-over ability and it’s really difficult to hold a line without any biting tread; tire wants to wander all over the place. I think I’m going to go back to riding a proper MUni tire, either my 24x3 Nokian Gazz or Duro. I may investigate what possible other 24" options are available that aren’t quite so fat or heavy. Ideally I’d like a good tire that has low rolling resistance for hard pack or roads but still has enough tread or outside knobs for proper MUni under most conditions. Any suggestions?

Next update: After the time trial on August 2nd.

Schwalbe Big Betty 24 x 2.4
Very light at 800 gr, plenty grip, and 62 mm wide. Low rolling resistance.
It doesn’t have the cushion feel of a 3.0 tire off course.

Ok, after the dust has settled a bit I felt I was a bit too rash in my decision to just abandon my Urban Tire For MUni experiment. After all my original goal was to complete the entire Thursday Night Time Trial Series using the same MUni setup which includes using the 24x2.5 Maxxis Hookworm (Ok, I did ride my Coker 36er on the first stage). So I’m sticking with the Hookworm for now, especially after the ride I had last night.

Last night I went out and rode some of my favorite trails in Monte Sano State Park (Alabama). Riding at my leisure and not under any race clock I found I was having a good experience riding with my current KH24 GUni setup with the Hookworm. On the easier sections of trail, more XC like, I was able to breeze along fairly fast. On the moderate technical sections I found the tire responded very well, definitely was cushioned and bouncy enough and I think the tire pressure was dialed in just right. On the most difficult trail sections I found this tire to do just as well as my MUni tires. I think the main thing holding me back is the overall tire diameter more than anything. However, when I can I’m going to upgrade to a KH26 so that will help enormously. From a GUni standpoint it was pretty awesome to ride in high gear on some of the double-track 4x4 road sections with this tire. I could go so much faster than I ever could on the MUni tire and I had no trouble roll hopping over some smaller blowdowns, quite fun!

I realize now that the trouble I had the other night had mostly to do with being so rusty on my MUni riding skills having been away for almost a month, the fact that the particular time trial route IS difficult; it’s messed up even the better MTB riders and the fact that the heat & humidity were so high. All that led to great frustration on my part and blaming my equipment and not the rider!

Ride more and fiddle with equipment setup less!

If you do decide a tire that grips better than a Hookworm but is lighter and rolls faster than a Duro would suit your riding check out the Felt Berm Master: http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2012/Parts/Cruiser/Berm-Master-Tire.aspx

I found it nimble compared to a Duro but still offering lots of cush. Mine weighed 2lbs 12oz so a bit heavier than your Hookworm but 12oz lighter than a Duro. It’s cheaper than converting your 24" to a 26" so could be a good stop-gap.