Earlier this summer a French rider working and living in Whistler was denied access with his unicycle to the lift-accessed Whistler bike park. This is a big deal because the Whistler bike park is probably the world’s most influential bike park in terms of any precedents set.
I chatted with Brian Finestone, Whistler’s bike park manager, and gave him a list of about 20 resorts where I know unicyclists have already ridden. Brian turns out to be a friendly, open-minded person who himself does a number of different adventure sports, and who can actually ride a unicycle although he’s not a regular rider.
Long story short: all Whistler bike park staff have now been informed that mountain unicycles are officially allowed.
There is one caveat: they must have a functioning brake, in addition to foot braking. Brian understands that this requirement makes no sense for unicycles. However, it’s a requirement by their insurer, for all cycles, and they are not able to make an exception for unicycles. It’s not the first time I have heard of unicyclists being denied access due to the brakes rule, but at least it is good to have an explanation. It’s something we will have to live with, at least for now.
If anyone else runs into problems with denied access to a lift-accessed bike park in your area, let me know and I’ll see whether there is something that can be done, given this positive response from the world’s biggest bike park at Whistler.
That’s awesome Kris! I’ve always wanted to ride in Whistler since I saw a few of your videos from there. If I ever go to BC I’ll be sure to contact you and get on these mountains with my uni There’s a place here that wont let unicycles ride their trails. I can’t remember which mountain but I’ll talk to my Muni friends and I’ll try to make them accept unicycles
It was fun to be part of what may have been the first official opening of Snowbird for unicycles in 2004 (NAUCC 2004, Salt Lake City). The requirement at Whistler is the kind of thing that might spur me to get a new MUni (someday). This would probably be easier than retrofitting my aluminum Wilder for brakes…
In the future, hopefully there will be more recognition of unicycles to the point where insurance companies will take us a little more seriously.
The first large group to ride at a ski area was probably at NAUCC 1999, right? That’s pretty early in the days of commercial ski areas catering to offroad cyclists.
The earliest rider I know of to ride at a ski resort was Roger Davies in the late 80’s, I think at Bear Mountain, which I recall landed him on the cover of MBUK magazine. Roger could share more light on that one.
Yes, I hear you on this one, about brakes. After talking with Brian, and having met him once some years ago, I’m convinced he is sincere on this one. He is all for mountain unicycling at Whistler and has good control over many aspects of that, but he still has to play by the insurance-imposed rules.
We had about 40 riders at MUni Weekend 1997 at Northstar (Tahoe), but the 1999 NUC probably had double that, at least. It’s hard to remember in relation to Unicon 11 3 years later, which was an even bigger group. As to when ski resorts started doing summer mountain biking, I really don’t know.
If I remember correctly, I think it was Mammouth Mountain, but I think he told me about 1995, so that might have been a different event. But it was also in relation to a mountain biking mag cover. Roger?
One of these days I’d like to check out Mammouth Mountain, but the drive there is quite a bit farther than the crow flies! About 5 hours by car, according to Google.
Yup, has nothing to do with logic. A unicycle is not going to roll out of control for more than a few meters until it’s no longer upright. Unless you end up unintentionally coasting–which always seems farther!
Well, it sort of makes sense if you don’t really know much about unicycles, or know who to believe and where to find those individuals regarding such matters.
When I first got really interested in unicycling I found it odd that most riders don’t use brakes and didn’t really understand how for most riders a brake is unnessesary. It wasn’t untill I had the skill and confidence to ride some steep technical terrain myself that I really understood.
Now I know a brake may help an individual ride steeper terrain more easily, lacking one would never cause a rider to loose control and become a danger to others like a biker easily could.
The brake requirement sounds like a reasonable compromise.
I do not think we really want insurance companies to focus on MUNI riding on ski slopes. I suspect flying under their radar and accommodating a brake rule is a better deal than what we might get if they really looked at the sport. That is not to say MUNI is particularly dangerous, but it certainly may appear dangerous to the uninitiated.
We did hold the downhill, uphill and trials muni events at the Summit Central area of the Snoqualmie Pass ski area in '99. By my recollection, we had somewhere around 65 riders competing - maybe more. My most vivid memory of the '99 event is of you playing around on the trials course in the middle of a huge thunder storm after the competition had ended.
I may be wrong, but I think the opposite would be true. We don’t have the speed. We don’t have the handlebars to get flung over, or otherwise easy ability to get cartwheeled onto our heads. If insurance companies got educated about unicycles, it would save us a ton of money to be able to ride indoors, buy insurance for events, etc.
There’s more to that story. But what you actually saw was me being the last competitor on the course, and Geoff Faraghan being kind enough to stand out in the rain and score me. I came in second; something I will get to own foreve! Second place to Kris Holm in Trials! I was also second to KH in the MUni race; a very close squeak against Brett Bymaster, who came in third. Ah, those were the days.
And then the headline in the paper the next day; something about 10,000 lightning strikes during that storm… !
I remember riding my 16 inch muni with the thunderstorm all around us! that was so long ago… Kris i also have old footage of you riding my 16 inch on some trials obstacles and my little mini giraffe that i had.
Thanks Kris! That’s great news!
A few Muni riders went to Highland Mountain Bike Park in NH last year. MountainUni1 called ahead and got the OK from Mark (the owner). Our presence there was well received by staff and fellow park users.
Perhaps we should start a list of MUni friendly parks…
Here’s a list of areas where I have heard of people riding their unis:
Northstar at Tahoe
Lutsen Ski Resort, Minnesota
Snowqualmie Summit (1998-2002)
Camp Fortune (Ottawa)
Gunstock (Gilford, NH)
Copper Mountain. CO
Big Sky MT.
Beaver Creek, CO.
Attitash (New Hampshire)
Snowshoe Mountain, WV
Mt Hood Ski Bowl
Whakapapa Ski Area, Mt Ruepehu, NZ
Marble Mountain (Western Newfoundland)
Dundret in Gellivare in Sweden
Snow World in Landgraaf, The Netherlands (Indoor Ski Resort)
Snowbird (NAUCC 2004, Salt Lake City)
Highland Mountain Bike Park, NH (from the message above =))
That’s a cool list Kris! Who’s riding at what place?!
There’s also Mont Saint-Anne in Québec that alows unicyclists, but only if you consider yourself an expert. I have to say, the trails are really boring, I ride a Camp Fortune and the trails are way harder, they just told me it was at my own risks when I first went there!