Trials Comp/Muni ride - Richmond, VA

On Saturday, August 4, 2007 at 10:00am on Belle Isle in Richmond, VA, there will be a NATS Trials Competition, and unicyclists are welcome to compete with the bikes, any category they choose (there won’t be a seperate uni category). $20 entry fee.

I figure this is a good excuse to put together an east coast uni weekend. Here’s a tentative schedule:
Friday: around 5pm, street/trials/freestyle riding in downtown Richmond. Maybe watch some uni DVD’s afterwards.

Saturday: Meet out on the Belle Isle rocks around 9:30-10am for the trials comp. I’ll bring breakfast for everyone. After the competition - around noonish - We’ll muni around the island. There’s some fairly technical downhill sections, but also miles of good, fun singletrack, basically something for all skill levels.

Sunday: If anyone’s interested, I’m up for doing an early morning loop of the Buttermilk and Northbank trails (about 2-3 hour ride). I’d also be up for a coker ride, maybe 20-40 miles along Route 5.

Pictures of past Belle Isle and Richmond rides can be found here.
Videos here and here.

If you’re interested or have suggestions, post here. I’ll put up more details, like directions and exact times as I get a feel for who all’s coming.


Here’s the Richmond unicycle map, local spots, trailheads, etc.

Circus Skills

Not far from Belle Isle (see above map), there is a circus group that meets at Byrd Park on Sundays to practice anything that falls into that category. It’s a nice place to set up a slackline, juggle, unicycle-- it wouldn’t be a bad plan B for the last day of the weekend if anyone else is interested; no clowns, circus music, or mimes, maybe some hipsters.


It’s gonna be a good time. I think Richmond is a good central location on the eastern seaboard to hold a uni gathering. Some distances to RVA:

Raleigh - 175 mi.
DC - 105 mi.
Philly - 250 mi.
NYC - 340 mi. (you can take the Chinatown bus - $60 roundtrip)

I might head out to the Belle Isle rocks tomorrow and get some video to give you an idea what you can expect.

I’ll be coming down for Saturday only (dad can’t get off work to drive me for friday too). I’ve never done a trials comp before. Is it a good idea to read the NATS rulebook (or at least skim it)?

I might head on down, I’ll post a reply later in the week.

Awesome. You could read the book if you want, I’m bad at explaining things, but I’ll try and get the gist of it here. The main thing to know about NATS rules is dabs. A dab is any time part of your body* touches the ground (or a grounded object like a tree or boulder). Of course, they’ll probably let it slide if you just brush up against a tree, but if you use it for support…you get the idea.

You’re going for the lowest score possible. If you put your foot down once that’s one point. On any particular line, you can get between 0 and 5 points - after five dabs, you’re done (though they’ll usually let you finish the line for fun). If you put both feet down, or actually fall off your cycle, you get 5 points.

Also, the line is marked off with caution tape. As long as the axle(s) of your cycle are within the tape you’re inbounds. If your axle crosses the tape, you get 5 points. Sometimes you’re timed, but I think that’s usually just for the Expert and Pro categories. Unicycles can usually competitively compete in the Beginner and Sport categories.

Granted, these rules were designed for bicycles, and it’s a rare occation that you put just one foot down on a UPD. The “U-system” developed by Kris Holm is much better suited for uni trials (and just generally more fun), I admit. But there’s something satisfying about competing with bikes, with their rules, and doing well at it. If you train yourself at it, you can learn to “dab” and even stratodab (dabbing on purpose to get over an otherwise impossible obstacle) on a unicycle.

*Not sure if this is accurate, it might only apply to your feet, for instance, if you touch the ground with your hand or grab a branch, is it 1 point or 5?

Sounds simple enough. What kind of guidelines are there for each category (in term of how hard the lines are in each category)?

Should be fun to see you guys again.

I’m not sure how the organizers work it out, except to “eye-ball” it based on their intuitive knowledge of “trialsability”. They may base it on hop height and gap length. I’m not a great trials rider, but at the two trials comps I’ve been to at this location, the beginner lines were well within my ability, and the sport lines were definitely “doable”, but a challenge for me (Local Max beat me at the last comp). The biggest hop we had to do was probably 15-17" (Is this right, Local Max?) I know I’ve posted these before, but here’s some pictures of him on a typical Sport line. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Also, I’m trying to get some newly designed Hell on Wheel T-shirts made up by then, I’ll update here.

Hmm… the sport category sounds easily within my limits, so I’ll probably do that.

Missed my edit time. Where on Belle Ilse are the rocks that the comp is held on? I’ll be using different uni’s for the trials and muni, so I’m wondering if I should take both when I go for the trials and then haul around my 20" while riding my muni for the muni part, or take only my trials onto the island and then go get my muni out of the car and put my 20" back in the car.

“Natural Trials” .

It’s probably a 15 minute walk back to the Belle Isle parking lot from the rocks, maybe a mile.

When’s lunch?

Hmm…yeah this was an issue for me last time. If you refer to the map BluntRM has kindly set up a few posts above, you’ll see the “Belle Isle parking lot”, just north of the island. If you recall, that’s where we parked when you were down here last November. The comp will be on the south side of the island, marked “Natural Trials” on the map. Pretty far to go just to switch unis. So, when driving in, I recommend crossing the river on the Robert E. Lee Bridge, take the first exit onto Riverside Dr., then making your first left onto W 20th St., where there’s plenty of street parking, and only about a 3 min. walk off the rocks. I’ll be stowing my muni in my car there until after the comp.

Ryan beat me to it. Lunch…probably after trials comp, before group muni ride. I could order a pizza, or we could caravan somewhere (4th St. Cafe?) or brownbag it on the rocks.

Thanks. I think I’ll do that. From W 20th, how do you get to the Ilse though? Is there some kind of footbridge?

I am the map keeper.

I added another marker to the Richmond map. The “Back Door to Belle Isle” (switch to satellite view) is a footbridge that connects to the Isle’s trail system. After parking at 20th Street, look across Riverside Drive for the entrance. I don’t think it’s marked, but there should be a noticeable recess in the trees, it’s a concrete structure set in about 30 feet from the road. After crossing, you’ll want to keep the railroad tracks on your right (heading east) and follow the trail until you can start hopping over onto the river rocks.

Edit: Here’s a confusing park map-- scroll to the right side.

Thanks for the help. See ya there.

Two corrections:

  1. The beginner and sport categories will start at 9AM, not 10AM.

  2. The registration fee is $25, not $20.

Sorry, hope this doesn’t screw up any plans.

Is everyone planing on doing the beginner or sport categories? I’d hate so show up at 9 and do one of those categories but find that everyone else was going to do one of the higher levels.

yea i dont think that anyone on a uni would have to much of a chance in any of the higher levels.