Tunnel Trail -- Santa Barbara, California

This last Sunday, six of us shuttled to the top of the mountain and headed down Tunnel Trail, the most continuously difficult single track in Santa Barbara. We’d tried Tunnel various times before–usually in brutal heat–and always had to walk around sections. It took us 4 hours, and multiple tries on several crux sections, but this time we rode the whole enchilada, top to bottom. Unfortunately for me, I took a bad fall near the bottom and broke a bone in my thumb (doc said today I’d be fine in 3 weeks). That was after Jess almost busted his femur (we thought he did) and Josh wrenched his ankle, but before Hans ground his knee down to the wood and Chris got a pedal bite as though a polar bear took a swipe at him. The boys were really going for it! Amazingly, Eyal and Dennis rode away unscathed. Here’s a few pics:

Note: Because this web page won’t accept the long link, type in http://www.
before the following and you should be good to go.



Here’s the proper link. Sorry.

Man, trying to post a link to those share sites is horrendous.

Try this one:


Sweet. I live in SB. How hot was it in the mountains? Regularly it was only about 70-75.

Hey Largo, neither link works. Maybe the album’s not shared? Not sure what’s up…

That was the most awesome ride I’ve had to date, and my ankles were fine for once. I didn’t even come close to tweaking them, even though I repeatedly took some of the biggest drops of my MUni career…I think Dennis got a few wrenchers, though.

Hope the thumb heals quick!

will: Temps were around 80 at the top. You should ride with us!

The second link to the photos works for me just fine, as long as I log on to snapfish first. Man, those photos are awesome! Props to Alex for taking them!

I have to say, I had the best time on that ride. Who’d a thought we could roll the whole damn thing? There was really just one (4 ft) drop that I shied away from. Amazingly, Josh, Dennis, and Chris rolled right off it with ease - and they have a lot fewer hours of muni’ing under their belt. Yeh you all sustained a lot of injuries, but man, you earned em! How’s the soreness? Somehow, I woke up today not sore at all! What a pleasant surprise. Guess I’ll have to work harder next time.

The group as a whole has gotten a lot better. I’ve even seen visible improvement since muni weekend. Hans is now choosing whatever line he wants, instead of letting the line choose him. John is connecting separate pieces together better than ever, and rolling things that used to be much easier to hop. Josh and Dennis have improved their rolling at least threefold in the past 2 months. Very solid. Jess and Chris are taking bigger risks than ever, and this has led Chris to finally contemplate leg guards. What a concept! Can’t wait for the next ride. John I’m not letting you come unless you wear a boxing glove.

here are my (few) pics of the Tunnel ride:


tunnel trail

God, that was a great ride, perfect day and great group
Almost everyone polished off their 3 liter camelbacks before getting to the bottom (except camel eyal) who had plenty left and shared what he had left with thirsty riders.
When first setting one wheel on Tunnel less then two years ago I was only able to do about a quarter of it and never thought we’d be riding it all
We’ll definitely be up there again this winter, for more riding and less bloodletting, I can’t believe I got injured 50 feet from the parking lot!
The best knee scrape I ever got, I’ll be nursing that baby for a few days
I also could not log on to the fish pics, I’ll have to get some tech advise from Eyal


way cool. i’m jealous!


Okay, here’s a couple of other ways to get the pictures John linked above.

Try this link to the Snapfish album:

I posted the same thumbnails in my gallery:

You can get full-resolution image downloads and prints by purchasing them from Snapfish.

Looking at those gave me a huge urge to ride more trails. Especially that single picture of me kicking up some serious dirt. Hats off to the photographer, Alex Armitage. Those are some nice shots.

Back to work…

Josh managed to load the photos on the galley. Thanks, Josh.

I love your threads…one day I’ll get a chance to ride with you all. One day. I’m sure I’ve asked this before, but the answer may have since changed so I’ll ask again. How much of these lines are you rolling? Would this line have been rolled? - http://www.unicyclist.com/gallery/?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=163162 (great photo by the way). I’d love to see videos. :slight_smile:


Hmmm… I’m seeing a lot of pictures with a bit of daylight between John’s wheel and the ground. I don’t see how one could really roll that trail unless they travel at sloth speed… that’s crazy technical!

Great pictures. I can’t wait to ride in SB again. I’ll be prepared with a stronger hub and bigger camelback next time :slight_smile:

Jeez…That looks like one awsome trail. Some very nice pictures as well.

Ha! Your doubts are very flattering, but YES we rolled the whole damn thing! :slight_smile: The reason you see air between the tire and the ground in those pics is usually not because of deliberate hopping. It’s because when you’re bombing down sections that steep and rocky, you get bucked into the air like a pebble! My exclamation marks are not because I’m being defensive, only because the feeling is so exhilerating! Also, sometimes we’re in the air because we do planned rolling hops, which in my book are fair game for purists like myself. Granted, I’m not saying we did it all in one shot. We do sections, take breaks, do them again, take more breaks, etc. But we now know that Tunnel is rollable, and we can’t wait for y’all to come down and see for yourself :slight_smile:

Hi, Andrew, et al:

The whole rolling thing is a work in progress, a long process (at least for us) that’s happened naturally on that particular terrain (steep, rocky, and long single tracks).

Here’s a few rambling thoughts on it all, worth writing out, I think, because I rarely read anything about this.

The SB trails are not spectacular, high flying, North Shore type stuff. Rarely are there drops over 3 or 4 feet. What makes the riding technical is the narrowness and steepness, all the rocks mixed with sections of loose dirt, the off-camber drops and tight corners, and the fact that hard sections can sometimes go for 1,000 or more yards. So it’s often as much a fitness challenge as a technical drill.

My own progress is pretty typical for our group, and for anyone who has slowly realized that rough terrain rolling is the one thing that distinguishes Muni as separate and totally different from trials riding on a trail. Hard rolling, we’re learning, is a skill as specialized as hard freestyle moves or complex street shenanigans.

Anyhow, 16 months ago I couldn’t roll the hard sections at all. I used to watch Eyal and want to kill him. I didn’t know how to continuously back pressure the cranks, which is THE key.

Perhaps the turning point for many of us came on a group ride at Point Magu, several months ago, on a trail that Hans “The Flying Dutchman” used to jog up (because he’s insane) That trail—rarely wider than a few feet and hedged in by tragic cactus–was so steep we could only plow down a half revolution at a time. I think that one experience opened up a new level of violently backpresuring to limit speed. Pretty much from that trip on, the roll was on for every bit of every trail up in SB. Before that, only Eyal had the confidence that if you started trying to roll the steepest bits, you wouldn’t simply blaze out of control and faceplant onto the rocks–a very real possiblity.

As the rolling gets more familiar, we’re finding that this technique works on stuff we thought impossible just a few months ago. But this is concerning the steep stuff, and the fact is, lower angled rolling can also be damn hard.

There’s basically two different rolling techniques worth mentioning.

“Tractoring” (I’m just pulling these terms out of my ass) is essentially rolling over lower angled terrain that is uneven and rocky. Here there aren’t any significant drops, and it’s much more of a brute leg strength and slow-speed balance drill, where you’re putting down quick bursts to power over stuff, back pressuring on the backside of rocks to limit speed, and often still standing for very short intervals to maybe get straightened out or to put in a mini hop to get steadied up, line something up or to get your cranks just so. Tractoring blasts your legs and leaves you gasping after 100 yards. The challenge is to see how far you can go without halting the “roll” and stepping off for a breather. In our group this technique evolved through the attempt to clean entire stretches of some of the trails.

The other kind of rolling is tackling the steep stuff, the stuff I used to try and side hop down. This is intimidating, and you can get hurt. It’s different than tractoring because you’re often slightly airborn (as Maestro pointed out) and have to negotiate drops and obstacles (with no roll outs, just more rocks) with your cranks in all kinds of goofy positions. Gravity is shoving you down faster than you want to go and backpressuring is the only way to stay in control. If you can’t launch and land with either foot back, you won’t make it very far. If it’s steep and smooth and you have a brake, steep rolling isn’t too bad. But we don’t use brakes and it’s never smooth.

In SB I feel we’re only starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible with technical rolling, mainly because we’ve only started consistently trying to roll the steepest sections. Should be interesting to see where everyone’s at a year from now. If we’ve learned anything it’s that you can roll stuff that absolutely blows your mind. The trick is to keep from getting too beat up while we work the kinks out of learning how to do this with more control and consistency.

John L.

I an a avid hiker before I got into MUni so this is a natural transition for me.
Looks like you guys in Santa Barbra do some serious MUni. I am here on OC where there are some awesome double or single tracks. The latest one I tried was the “Luge” in the Santiage Truck trail 3 weeks ago. I admit I had to walk through alot of the trails because it was so gnarly. There was rocks, shrubs, and more rocks down some steep trails. On one bad UPD during way back, I got cut all parts of the body(even w/ helmet and protection). :frowning: And I think I may have fractured one rib(xrayed yesterday to check). I was bit unprepared because I did not enough water and got lost for 3miles and got cramps on my a calf.

Anyways, I will be heading out there and other great OC trails soon. I won’t quit! I wish you guys can join sometimes, there are some truely cool trails here. :smiley:

I find sometimes that this method of tackling the steep and technical is a good manner of conserving energy, but it can make riding a bit more difficult at times. Sometimes it’s best to compromise and use roots and rocks to your advantage, rather than fighting the “slightly airborn” effect, use it to clear obstacles that would be difficult or dangerous to try and roll. I also use those quick periods of flight to re-orient my cranks so I’m ready to tackle a rocky landing.

My methods, however, may fly in the face of a rolling purist. I know John Foss wouldn’t approve. :stuck_out_tongue:

On a different note, I find that practicing trials techniques (rolling hops, drops, stillstands, riding skinnies) has been developing my muni technique. Maybe the two go hand in hand. Granted, it helps when I decide to hop sections of trail, but it’s also training me to land drops from all odd angles with more control. I think it may also be developing my sense of balance, and ability to recover from potential UPDs before they happen. What a great side-effect!

Ah, a good opportunity to weigh in. Maestro is a great tackler of terrain. He and Corbin really stood out on our recent weekend rides in Tahoe, and also this past Sunday in Oakland (Bevan also, but in different ways).

My current idea of terrain rolling is not so strict that one must think he has to pedal along the cliff face at 32’ per second squared. There is perhaps a question of whether it’s “in good form” to launch oneself off of obstacles rather than riding over them, but certainly if you don’t make an effort to get airborne and you do anyway, it’s perfectly acceptable. Therefore it is a legitimate way to get over closely-spaced obstacles. Ride off the first part with some speed, and skip over a few nasties before gravity brings you down.

What I try to avoid is re-positioning or re-balancing hops. If you hop, you have broken your roll. But even in cases of a less-than-perfect roll, you can still shoot for distance covered without dismount. However it’s okay to stop. Sometimes you have to, because your body is trying to go in the wrong direction. I find that sometimes I stop and do some weird contortions to try to get my center of mass oriented in the right direction. You can even idle, though that’s generally a bad idea on rough terrain. It’s still rolling, but granted not a constant roll.

That Tunnel Trail sounds pretty awesome. And scary. I’m a chicken about a lot of terrain. It keeps me from getting scarred up, but also takes away some of the fun I’m sure. Every time I go on rides where I do well, it boosts my confidence so I’m ready to bite off a little more. The Friday ride at MUni Weekend was a big confidence-builder, even though there were many sections I didn’t ride. I can’t wait to get down there again.

In Eyal’s photos, I was amazed to see “naked” Chris in the third photo. Bare hands, bare legs, bare elbows? That’s pretty darn risky on a trail of pure broken rock like the ones we experienced at MUni Weekend! At least he’s got his brain covered.

Congrats on a monumental ride down Tunnel Trail. I hope to try it myself someday. This time, I’m glad nobody got killed. :astonished:

John, that’s a fantastic post. (Edit - I meant John L, but the same applies to John F) Mind if we quote you at www.unicycle.2ya.com? This is great…we don’t talk about muni technique nearly enough on the forums (fora?) here. Here are my thoughts…

To be honest I’ve never followed the same line of thought as you about rolling over things and I’m beginning to think I should change the way I approach muni riding. I’ll at least try it out for myself for sure.

What I’m talking about more specifically is constantly back-pressuring and the mentality that seems to come with it. Granted I am doing the action of back-pressuring but I’m not thinking about it the way you are. Basically, although I am working on improving my control at various pedal orientations, I know that I’m always going to much prefer the left foot forward and generally having the pedals close to horizontal for the most power. So I think what I try to focus on more than anything else is increasing my awareness and perception of what’s ahead on the trail. For me, the line I choose dictates my pedal orientation as much as my pedal orientation dictates my line. In fact it’s kind of fun deciding which is going to take priority. :slight_smile: Instead of focussing so much on powering through a line (that sounds condescending to people who do so but it’s not supposed to…I know there’s much more involved than just powering through) I try to anticipate where my pedals are going to end up on each area of the line and adjust my body weight accordingly. I don’t necessarily only do lines in a series of half-rev pauses, that can get boring on even the toughest lines because you know there is a more interesting and challenging alternative.

Anticipation of the line dictates;

  • The angle you put your body and the muni in (This can be very important, especially where drops are involved. I think complementing the camber of a landing can put you in so much more control even if you would have landed it otherwise.)
  • Where you send your centre of gravity
  • How heavily or lightly you treat a section (I’ve found that by instinct I tend to treat the sections very lightly where I have my pedals vertical. I’ve also found that this is where I often move my body around most, particularly up and down above the seat…which is all about letting the muni flow over those sections I have little control over. I say move my body around over the unicycle because at that point in riding a line I have more control over what I do with my body than where I send the unicycle.), and
  • How quickly you tackle it.

Hmmm…now the funny thing is I started off thinking our styles were quite different, and now I see there are many similarities and I at least can learn a lot from the way you seem to be tackling lines. What a fun discussion! :slight_smile:

John Foss mentioned before about corrective hops on the trail. Personally, I think whether or not a person hops on the trail is an individual technique issue and I can still be very impressed by a rider who hops mid-line. What I think is most important to me is keeping the momentum in a line, and not only that but keeping the feel of progression down a line there. Even if a rider stops, I’m usually just as impressed if they keep leaning forward and if they seem determined to keep on moving. I’m picturing the sort of situation where someone rolls to the top of a series of rocks, does one hop to better line themself up for the following descent (the whole time changing from having their weight behind the uni when stopping, to having it in front to launch down the next part), then rolling down another rocky chute, for example.

That’s about all I have to say for now, but I’d love to hear what other people are thinking and how they’re tackling technical muni lines.