Translatability

I just got my first MUni – and my first Unicycle since I was about 12 (in
the late '60s). I’m a very serious road bicyclist. I got hit by a car last
year and, since getting back up to speed, I’ve been thinking about
alternatives to road cycling. I got the MUni in part for cross-training in
the winter and in part perhaps to wean myself from the road bike.

My question is, does anyone out there have experience using a unicycle for
cross-training for a road bike? Is there any translation? Based on the
little bit of time I’ve had with the MUni, I’m thinking it might not
translate so well. Seems like a very different kind of muscle use.

Thanks for any feedback.

Bob C.

the only thing I can see would relate, is the intense core muscle training.

Although the muscles are different than those in biccyling, they are related, and have signifigant benfits. The obliques, and lower quads, for example, although they would certainly benefit a road cyclist, will not be developed at all by road cycling.

I would suggest that MUni would be far more benficial over road endurance uni’ing for biking (only based on my experience with all three, not on anything scientific)

It might work against you, as well…road bicycling will seem even more boring than it was before you started MUni’ing :wink:

Re: Translatability

You didn’t mention how serious a roadie you are. If you’re a recreational rider then I think it has got to help. The shoulder strength that unicycling gives will definately help stabilize your position on the bike.

However, based on my limited experience with unicycling, and my familiarity with road training, I don’t think it is a good idea for a serious road racer to do much unicycling during the season. Unicycling looks like an excellent off-season activity to regain a normal human body, but during the season you want to be as lean as possible for the hills. The extra mass in the torso and shoulder muscles is just extra baggage. Also, recovering from unicycle rides will just take away from your ability to recover from road rides.

Unicycling does look like a good idea for trackies and sprint specialists. My sprint went from 31mph to 37 mph when I started lifting weights for my upper body. Unicycling doesn’t replace weight work, but it is kinda fun and helps to get the smaller muscles coordinated with the larger ones.

Conversely, I think road riding would help most unicyclists with cardiovascular fitness. Elite roadies generally have resting pulse rates between 25 and 50, and their VOmax is amazing. Also, staying with a pack on rolling terrain gives a certain mental toughness and ability to recover from lactic acid buildup.

And also conversely, I think velodrome training would probably hurt one’s unicycling skills. It seems to me that the heavy leg work would make finessing the pedals a little bit tougher. I know that when I was lifting heavy (multiple reps at 800lb+) it took two or three days for me to re-calibrate my walk. One of the things that heavy weight training does is teach your nervous system to fire more muscle fibers with each contraction. My legs got REAL good at rapid stomping, but it wasn’t as easy to modulate my strength.

On the other hand, riding in packs while spinning a fixed gear at over 160 rpm does teach pedaling finesse, so perhaps there is some crossover between velodrome racing and unicycling. Some of the top sprinters (e.g., Sergi Kopilov of the USSR team in the 70’s and 80’s) could ride extended wheelies on their track bikes, so the skills must be similar. (For reference, depending on the setup the gear on a velodrome sprint bike is equivalent to a unicycle with a wheel diameter of 86 to 99 inches! Then again, Sergi used to squat with 700+lbs at the gym.)

I guess my point is that it depends on your goals. I’m learning to unicycle for fun, and because winter weather is almost here. When it’s 20 degrees out I’d rather be noodling around the neighborhood at 7 mph with boots and heavy pants than zipping down an exposed country road with blowing snow and a 20mph headwind in tights.

Riding a unicycle fast really teaches you to spin well and to spin quickly, which translates to a bike quite nicely. A lot of bicyclists seem to push high gears instead of spinning, unicycling gets you out of that habit.

Joe

Not too many people who really ride bikes ride with a cadence below 70 rpm.

Re: Translatability

“cyberbellum” <cyberbellum@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote
in message
news:cyberbellum.xgqm5@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com
>
> psycholist wrote:
> > *
> > Seems like a very different kind of muscle use.
> > *
>
> You didn’t mention how serious a roadie you are.
< snip >

TOO serious. 12,000 mile per year. Goals are usually stuff like Assault on
Mt. Mitchell and other
century rides where I try to hang with the top racers who always seem to
show up to try to throttle the weekend warriors. I train regularly with
Cat. 2 and 3 riders and hold my own pretty well. I’d race, but I’m 48. I’m
not up for Cat. 5 crash-fests and the masters scene is full of ex-pro
animals and such.

I don’t really plan to do much unicycling once road training really picks up
in February or so. But in the mean time, as you said, when it’s 20 degrees
and 0 wind chill, being on a trail on my MUni sounds like much more fun and
maybe has some good cross-training benefits.

Thanks for the replies everyone!

Bob C.

Re: Re: Translatability

Oooff!! I only managed 1,000 this year.

It’s tough to hang with the Cat 2 crowd for anyone. I couldn’t do it when I was 22 and fit. At 48 that’s impressive.

To Joe: The opposite can be true too, since bicyclist feet are usually cleated in or strapped down. Cleated in, with no load or a negative load, the elite track sprinters sometimes reach 300 rpm in training. I never got faster than about 220, but when your system gets used to spinning at that rates then high unicycle speeds of 130-160 are a breeze. In Criteriums I typically stayed on the small ring and floated at about 140 rpm when there wasn’t anything tactical going on. Other sprinters did the same.

Psycholist,

You’re registered as a guest, i.e. I can’t send you a personal message, so I’m posting this instead.

Another good winter excercise is to get a fixed gear with a brake, set it up the fit to be exactly like your road bike, put super low gears on it (42X18 or 42X20 for example), a pair of really knobbie cross tiers, and ride it throught an old deciduous forest. On rutted single track. In a foot of fresh snow.

It does amazing things for your balance.

I don’t know where you live, but around here we have plenty of maples in the woods. Their roots are large and right at the surface. Typically they cross the single track trails at a pretty steep angle, are from 1" to 8" tall due to trail errosion. The taller they are the smother the top due to boot scuffing. When covered with fresh snow they are incredibly slippery.

Oh, and make sure those feet are lashed down tight. Use old-style clips and straps with a cleat.

You’ll learn to have a 6th sense about having your wheel knocked out from under you. You can’t ride very fast over snowy tree roots - I usually went perhaps 1 to 5 mph when I rode the woods. You’ll make plenty of snow-riders (similar to snow-angels except that you land sideways in a rider’s crouch), so wear a parka and good mittens.

The winning technique is to stand a bit tall on the pedals - butt perhaps 2 to 3 inches above the seat - and be instantly ready to pull the bike up to you if you detect even a hint of a root. Pull the bike up about a foot, pick your landing spot, then set down and keep riding. If you miss your landing keep trying until you whump. The still-standing thread on this board is relevant to the lateral control you’ll develop. After about an hour go inside and get a hot cocoa.

After I started doing this for winter training I found I could ride over mass crashes. It was surreal. I found I could look down and pick a route over the sliding mass of arms, legs, frames, bars, heads and wheels as if they were just another set of tree roots. I didn’t even really have to look down as I could feel them and react fast enough.

Quite a few times the crashees would come to me after the race, shake my hand and thank me for not piling into them at speed. Some even showed me the smudge mark from my tire. (I was just happy not to have done the usual flying face-plant into that mess of pedals and chainwheels.)

So I know you avoid the Cat 5 crash-a-thons, which is only fitting due to your aquired wisdom, but even in the elite ranks people do stupid things in packs. Besides, making snow-riders is fun.

(On a semi-related note, I rode from my usual crashing site to the exit of the parking lot today, a personal best. WHooOO Hoooo!!! I’m begining to grok this turning thing, too.)

Re: Translatability

I’m a MTBker but based on my limited road riding I would say riding a MUNi might be more translatable to mountainbiking whereas riding a large wheel Coker would be more similar to road cycling. There is a lot of upper body use in MUni riding whereas time trialling on a Coker involves higher cadence/higher gear lower body aerobic workout.

I’ve also noticed that ‘bicyclists’ who unicycle tend to have a lower posture (back more angled when riding) than pure unicyclists (that do not come from a biking background). My theory is that you get used to using bicycling muscles which are based around a more angled posture on the bike therefore you adopt a lower stance on a unicycle as well.

Ken

Re: Translatability

“cyberbellum” <cyberbellum@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote
in message
news:cyberbellum.xhgs1@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com
>
> Psycholist,
>
> You’re registered as a guest, i.e. I can’t send you a personal message,
> so I’m posting this instead.
>
> Another good winter excercise is to get a fixed gear with a brake, set
> it up the fit to be exactly like your road bike, put super low gears on
> it (42X18 or 42X20 for example), a pair of really knobbie cross tiers,
> and ride it throught an old deciduous forest. On rutted single track.
> In a foot of fresh snow.
>
> It does amazing things for your balance.
>
> I don’t know where you live, but around here we have plenty of maples in
> the woods. Their roots are large and right at the surface. Typically
> they cross the single track trails at a pretty steep angle, are from 1"
> to 8" tall due to trail errosion. The taller they are the smother the
> top due to boot scuffing. When covered with fresh snow they are
> incredibly slippery.
>
> Oh, and make sure those feet are lashed down tight. Use old-style clips
> and straps with a cleat.
>
> You’ll learn to have a 6th sense about having your wheel knocked out
> from under you. You can’t ride very fast over snowy tree roots - I
> usually went perhaps 1 to 5 mph when I rode the woods. You’ll make
> plenty of snow-riders (similar to snow-angels except that you land
> sideways in a rider’s crouch), so wear a parka and good mittens.
>
> The winning technique is to stand a bit tall on the pedals - butt
> perhaps 2 to 3 inches above the seat - and be instantly ready to pull
> the bike up to you if you detect even a hint of a root. Pull the bike
> up about a foot, pick your landing spot, then set down and keep riding.
> If you miss your landing keep trying until you whump. The
> still-standing thread on this board is relevant to the lateral control
> you’ll develop. After about an hour go inside and get a hot cocoa.
>
> After I started doing this for winter training I found I could ride over
> mass crashes. It was surreal. I found I could look down and pick a
> route over the sliding mass of arms, legs, frames, bars, heads and
> wheels as if they were just another set of tree roots. I didn’t even
> really have to look down as I could feel them and react fast enough.
>
>
> Quite a few times the crashees would come to me after the race, shake my
> hand and thank me for not piling into them at speed. Some even showed
> me the smudge mark from my tire. (I was just happy not to have done the
> usual flying face-plant into that mess of pedals and chainwheels.)
>
> So I know you avoid the Cat 5 crash-a-thons, which is only fitting due
> to your aquired wisdom, but even in the elite ranks people do stupid
> things in packs. Besides, making snow-riders is fun.
>
> (On a semi-related note, I rode from my usual crashing site to the exit
> of the parking lot today, a personal best. WHooOO Hoooo!!! I’m
> begining to grok this turning thing, too.)
>
>
> –
> cyberbellum - Level 0.5 rider
>
> If I knew what I was doing I wouldn’t be in research…
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> cyberbellum’s Profile: http://www.unicyclist.com/profile/4550
> View this thread: http://www.unicyclist.com/thread/29059
>
Cyberbellum,

I’m in South Carolina. Not much snow on the maples here. We do road rides
all winter long. May see a flake or two. But I’ve always been tempted by
the single speed thing. And doing single-speed cyclocross sounds cool. I
may give that a try the next time the boss lets me spend some money on
cycling. My “bike barn” already has three very nice road bikes, a mountain
bike, a hybrid and now the MUni.

So you’re just getting into it? I haven’t ridden a unicycle (except little
tryouts at the bike shop) since about 1969. Got my Muni the day before
yesterday. Yesterday I rode all around my pasture and woods. Had a few
falls. I was doing figure 8s in the driveway on day one. The hardest thing
so far was mounting without holding on to anything. Mastered that last
night. Today I might try some bacwards riding. It seems to be just like
riding a bike. All the old skills come right back. So do all the old aches
and pains. But they were a little easier to take at 8 than they are at 48.

Thanks for the info.

Bob

I was a 30 year veteran of road cycling (and racing) and 2 years ago thought that I would take a little winter break and explore unicycling as a cross-training option. However, I never got back on the bike! I’m in better overall shape now than ever! And, the chances of me getting hit by a car (again!) are rather remote considering where I spend most of my time unicycling.

Tommy

Re: Re: Translatability

Single speed MTBing is cool and fashionable, but I still haven’t hear of anyone else who has gone out with a fixed-gear track bike in the woods. When I bring it up at the bike shop they just look at me as if I were nuts. Single speed hubs have freewheels, which greatly simplifies the problem because you can always spin the cranks to horizontal. Also the single-speed MTB frames have very relaxed geometry compared to a track bike. On the positive side, the track bike is going to be much lighter so getting it off the ground is easier.

I’d go for a beginner track bike if I were you. That way you can velodrome when the weather is nice. The Bianchi Pista is nice.

Re: Re: Re: Translatability

I reckon it’ll be the next next big thing in mountain biking, I’ve met a few people who do it now.

Joe