Unicycling in UK, US and Canada

I am trying to apply for a student exchange program, and I am given 5 choices. I will only get 1 out of the 5 choices, and will be picking universities from these countries. However, I know nothing about MTBing in other countries and would really appreciate your help.

No.1 on my list is the University of Glasgow (UK), because I have a friend living there. For the next 4 choices, a big factor is the number of trails nearby. After all, what’s more awesome than cycling in a foreign land?

I will be going around the period of January to April 2013 (Dates vary a little depending on university). Would it be too cold in Canada and US? From what I read in google, UK seems to be warmer during this time.

I have posted an identical thread in MTBR forums. I am intending to bring at least a Muni with me, and if possible, a larger wheel for cruising around town.

You include University of California but there are ten campuses around the state. Here is a list. I will let others weigh in on their favorites. (April is usually nice in California)

San Diego
Santa Barbara
Los Angeles
Santa Cruz
San Francisco (no undergraduates)

Santa Barbara may be closest to really good technical riding. Any of them except Davis and Merced should have some riding in the area. (Davis and Merced may be great, but I am not very familiar with the area.)


I live in Edinburgh, so if you came to University of Glasgow, you’d be within a 45 minute drive of me and I’d be happy to ride with you. We have a couple of other riders locally too.


I went to the University of Arizona in Tucson and had an hour long commute 70% of which was on technical singletrack. In retrospect it was heaven. I wish I realised at the time. There are a bunch of great trails nearby too (see current Mt Lemmon thread) and it is a good school.

I can answer to trails that are near University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. How far is nearby and what kind of trails are you looking for? There are several trails in Chapel Hill and several more within a short driving distance. Here’s a link:


The zip code can be replaced in the URL to look up trails in any US city. The main trails I hear talked about among people that muni in this area are:
Chapel Hill High School
Lake Crabtree County Park
Hog Run/Harris Lake
Umstead/ATT - double track and much easier, but can be ridden after (or during) rain.

Be warned that I see a few trails on the list that are no longer open. You can google search or ask here if you have a question about a specific trail. Also, Chapel Hill is in the Piedmont area, you won’t find any epic climbs. If you are willing to drive there are several very nice trails in the Appalachian mountains and several nice trails in the Charlotte area.

First things first:

Will you have access to a car?
Yes, then any city will have trails within driving distance.
No, then you need to pick a place that has trails in the city, which will likely mean picking a smaller city.

Some places just don’t have any decent riding, i.e Tulane (New Orleans), so don’t picka place that’s too flat.

Politics and such:
Now this is where some might differ, but personally, I’d avoid some places due to their conservative nature which affects the feel of the place, the kind of services/attractions they offer, and the faculty and student mentality.

January to April is Winter in most parts of the Northern US and Canada, which means snow, rain, cold, and dark.
Drier places are better for year round riding, but if it’s in the Southern US, the warmer weather offsets the rain.

Other attractions, i.e. access to a life beyond muni:
Pick a place that is central to a lot of metro areas so you can travel around by car, for sure a place that has a major airport, beach access is nice.

Top Choices Based on Nurse Ben’s Criteria:

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (My faculty has more slots here)
-Close to me :slight_smile: , small city, lots of riding, liberal, warm

University of Virginia (Charlottesville)
-Small city, lots of riding, warm, close to DC

University of Arizona (Tucson)
-Bigger city, lots of riding, warm and dry

College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, near DC)
-Small city, lots of riding, warm, near DC

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta)
-Very big city, lots to do, good riding accessible by car, warm

University of Texas, Austin (Austin)
-Big city, warm, dry, lots to do, it’s Texas…

Texas A & M University,College Station,Texas (near Austin)
-Same as Austin, but smaller city

University of Southern California (downtown LA)
-It’s California.

For your Canadian Options, most will be snowy for some/most of that time period. Best bet weather wise is UBC. It will be rainy, but little to no snow. Lot’s of good riding in Vancouver too, eh?

Wow, lots of information here! If I get Glasgow, my friend will have a car. But anywhere other than that, I will not have one. Is it affordable to rent a car for a few months in the US?

UNC Chapel Hill seems to be a good 2nd choice!. There is no guarantee that I’ll even get a spot out of 5 choices, so I would be grateful if I get the chance to live in another country. UNC has four slots for my faculty, so there’s a good chance of getting in.

As to what kind of trails I’m looking for, I’m not sure yet. But a mix of different kinds would be ideal. I live in a small country, and the trails here are really tiny. I want to see the world :slight_smile:

Texas cities tend to be difficult to get around in without a car. The weather is good for riding though. Summers are nasty, but Winters are pretty mild. If you have the right gear, you can ride almost year round. Even in the worst of the heat, it’s possible to have fun riding in the early mornings if you find a shady trail.

Rice is a very nice University, but it’s in Houston. Houston is monstrously huge, and the public transportation sucks, and it’s flat, and it’s really humid in the Summer.

The University of Texas in Austin would be a fun place to live. Austin is supposed to have quite a few other unicyclists. The terrain is kind of hilly out there, so there’s probably some interesting muni.

I don’t know much about Texas A & M University in College Station. I’ve only been there a few times. My impression is that life revolves around the University, and there’s not much else going on.

If you somehow end up in Dallas, I’ll ride with you.

well if you come to the t dot its pretty awesome unicycle wise. may be colder and more snow then b.c. but in toronto there’s the toronto unicyclists club which is every monday and thursday evenings (in the winter they rent a gym). they do street rides, xc muni rides and stuff in the summer and hockey and basketball and stuff in the winter.
Toronto is also home to bedford unicycles. bedford is awesome. darren is an awesome guy he’s really helpful and really good to make you the best uni he can. He stocks many of his own parts, some KH parts, and other stuff too.

McGill is a very reputed university. A good thing about going to McGill and wanting to do Muni is living in a city AND having a little mountain right in the middle of the city. There is muni rides EVERY week-end in Montréal on the Mont-Royal. Those are organised by the unicyclist of Monotréal (Montréal unicyclist community) There at least 3 to 5 people every muni ride. The mountain is walking distance from the university, so it is also riding distance. Actually the university is at the bottom of the mountain.

You have never heard of winter/snow muni, have you? Unicyclist in Montréal enjoy snow muni as much as normal muni if not more. Also, as long as your greatly dressed up, the cold isn’t a problem.

Here’s the vimeo profile of a really crazy Muni guy in Montréal, there’s alot of snow muni videos: http://vimeo.com/user983514

EDIT: Same goes for Concordia University.

EDIT2: www.monotreal.com for Montréal unicyclist community. It’s in french, but you can use google to translate the page, and no worry about posting in english if you don’t know any french :wink:

EDIT3: Just read the rest of the thread. Not having a car in Montréal is perfect, especially in winter. You want to travel by metro (subway), unicycle or bus.

If you end up at UBC there are the endowment lands right nearby for XC as well as some good mountains a little ways away. Check out vanuni.com if you’re seriously considering it. In the late spring/summer we have a weekly beginner/casual meet as well as random muni/other rides throughout. You know you want to ride the north shore, here’s our ride a couple weeks ago.

EDIT: you asked if it would be too cold? The weather is quite mild in Vancouver but it would be a bit on the rainy side during your visit.

What are you going to choose?

I just submitted my application yesterday! Thank you for all your advice. :slight_smile:

  1. University of Glasgow
  2. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  3. McGill University
  4. University of British Columbia
  5. University of Virginia

Let us know when you get the answer!

I will. :slight_smile:

Okay, I got University of Virginia. Kind of bummed out, because I spent a lot of time on researching modules I can take for the first 3 choices!
I am still not sure if I should accept or decline the offer, as I am having a hard time finding modules to take. (I major in Information Systems.) 9th december is the deadline for acceptance/rejection.

Glasgow is a great university
Beautiful countryside very close by
Great city loads to do
But the weather sucks

Good choice if you ask me
Don’t know much about the other options