600+ mile municycle beginner problems

Discussion in 'rec.sport.unicycling' started by ChangingLINKS.com, Oct 2, 2004.

  1. I rode my first few hundred miles on various tires and surfaces.
    Then, I got "into" distance for a month which taught me a better spin.
    After that, I decided to dedicate myself to off-road until a reach 1000
    miles.

    I rode 5 miles yesterday on an intermediate trail and it felt like 13
    miles of road.
    I put the hookworm on my unicycle last night, and learned that I could
    barely ride on pavement anymore.
    The problem is that I backpedal too much (to avoid UPDs).
    Imagine riding standing up for 5 miles (it's much harder).

    Aside from consistent practice, can anyone give me some tips on how to
    be more efficient off-road?
    Has anyone else felt the weird feeling of riding on the road after a lot
    of riding a lot off-road?
    Speed, leaning more forward, and lower air pressure has helped (and
    hurt) some - but there has been no significant breakthrough.
    Currently, I am so inefficient that I am limited to about 5 miles
    off-road (and all of the trails around are about 7 miles :( )


    P.S. Hopefully some of those who bust out 12+ miles off-road will
    respond.


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  2. tennisgh22

    tennisgh22 Guest

    ive been on some 10+ mile rides, and the best advice i can offer is to
    do the least amount of physical work necessary. See if you can ride
    without standing up the whole time. Try standing up only for the roots,
    drops, and other small obstacles. And dont grab the seat too tightly
    when theres no reason too...I hardly ever hold the seat (only when im
    standing up). im not sure exactly why you backpedal...maybe if you
    clarify that ill get a better sense of why ur limited to 5 miles

    -grant


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  3. onefiftyfour

    onefiftyfour Guest

    hey drew -

    i think by "back pedaling" you mean that you are sometimes putting
    pressure on the rear pedal (slowing down) so that you regain your
    front-to-rear balance. am i right?

    it would be more efficient if while wanting to move forward we never
    tried to slow the wheel. * i think what needs to be fine-tuned is the
    amount you lean forward and a steady forward pedaling.* if you pedal
    too hard forward (or jerky), the uni may get too far ahead of you
    forcing the need to "back pedal" to allow your body's momentum to catch
    up.

    what do you think?


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  4. souleater12

    souleater12 Guest

  5. I think that you are both correct.
    Still, if when I try to lean forward and do "as little work as possible"
    I soon get surprised by a quick UPD - it can be anything a single rock,
    a small incline in grade. It is a "vicious 'cycle'" (gotta love that
    pun). Once I relax, I UPD, once I tense up, I lose energy too quickly,
    so I relax . . . .

    Tomorrow, I will just try to pedal the speed that I am going rather than
    accelerate or slowing down. I noticed that raw speed seems to help as
    well - it is just tough to maintain the 6 mph average that I need.

    Part of the problem is that I have a rearward riding style - which ain't
    good for rolling drops, climbing or anything but downhill.

    Have any of you evolved from a rearward style to a more forward one?
    Has anyone had an "energy problem" with off-road and grown out of it?


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  6. souleater12

    souleater12 Guest

  7. If you can train your legs to relax where possible this will help.
    Instead of pumping your legs up and down move them in circles and sit
    heavily in the seat. I find really agressive spiked pedals help with
    this and shoes that lock into them nicely. It will also smooth out your
    riding and give you better control when tackling the difficult routes.
    The other option to doing your 7 mile rides is take a break after 4
    before you are wacked, take in the scenary, enjoy the day.... then do
    the last 3 with renewed vigur. :)
    I have no problem doing 20mile + off road rides, but I do normally take
    a break or 2 during these rides even when riding by my self.

    Roger


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  8. onewheeldave

    onewheeldave Guest

    ChangingLINKS.com wrote:
    > *
    > Part of the problem is that I have a rearward riding style - which
    > ain't good for rolling drops, climbing or anything but downhill.
    >
    > Have any of you evolved from a rearward style to a more forward one?
    > Has anyone had an "energy problem" with off-road and grown out of it?
    > *


    I'm not entirely sure what you mean by a 'rearward' riding style,
    presumably you're saying that your body tends to hang back rather than
    commiting your weight forwards.

    You also mention that small inclines are causing UPDs.

    It could be worth finding a steep road hill and work on riding up it
    every day. Find one you can't get up and work on it till you can. A road
    hill will be better so you can focus totally on the right technique for
    climbing, without having to worry about falling off due to bumps etc.

    The only way you'll get up a steep hill is to commit fully to getting
    your weight forward, so it should help not only with inclines, but also
    in shedding your 'rearward' riding style.

    When you can get up the hill, find a steeper one and tackle that.


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  9. onewheeljoe

    onewheeljoe Guest

    I think I experience what you describe when I am on trail rides. I
    wouldn't say that I develop a rearward style, but I definitely catch
    myself getting over-cautious. After riding through a particularly
    technical section unscathed (small victory) I will tend to be light on
    the seat with my weight a little forward. Maybe we can call it riding
    defensively.
    I recommend just visualizing your good unicycling form, on the street
    and on the road. You should be able to smooth things out by sitting up
    straight and looking down the trail or the road and trying to
    accelerate. I like really non-technical mtn biking trails with simpler,
    less frequent obstacles so I can ride long sections of trail without any
    UPD's. On smoother trails you are less likely to ride so defensively and
    it is possible to accelerate here and there.


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  10. maestro8

    maestro8 Guest

    rogeratunicycledotcom wrote:
    > *If you can train your legs to relax where possible this will help.
    > Instead of pumping your legs up and down move them in circles and sit
    > heavily in the seat. I find really agressive spiked pedals help with
    > this and shoes that lock into them nicely...*



    This is great advice. In general, try to relax as much as possible when
    you ride. Start with your shoulders, arms and hands... use the handle
    as little as possible. Relax your lower back and thighs by putting as
    much weight as possible on your seat... a good pair of shorts and a
    comfy seat make a difference here for big distance. And do use good
    posture! You'll end up with a sore back if you're hunched over the seat
    the whole time; sit up with a straight back, and keep your head up!

    You can conserve energy by using your legs as efficiently as possible.
    Ride with the balls of your feet at the pedal's axle. This will allow
    you to use an optimal combination of thigh and calf muscle throughout
    the pedal stroke (you are using lots of calf muscles, right?). As in
    the above quote, imagine spinning circles with your feet and toes; this
    will begin to feel fluid when you get it down.

    Navigating tricky terrain doesn't have to be tough. I find just by
    gripping the seat between my thighs and "twitching" my hips one way or
    the other, I can make it around roots and rocks with little effort.
    Again, keep as much weight on the seat as possible, even through little
    roots and drops; your tire will take up a lot of the shock of small
    obstacles.

    Lastly, remember that you are a fine-tuned engine and you need fuel,
    water and air. Carry lots (at least 1 liter, 2 is better) of water and
    drink it. Eat a good meal or two before you ride, and snack lightly
    while you ride to make sure you don't run out of steam too early! And
    take huge, deep, gulping breaths of air instead of "panting" on those
    uphill climbs. Your muscles will appreciate the extra oxygen.

    Have fun!


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  11. Ken Cline

    Ken Cline Guest

    I recall John childs' advice that working on level 4, 5, & 6 freestyle
    skills can help Muni riding.

    Ken
     
  12. Well, there is good news and bad news.

    Today, I tried everyone's advice through 5 miles of very sticky mud.
    The mud taught me to sit up straight and conserve energy.
    I made it 5 miles and felt like I could have gone seven - especially in
    dirt.

    I learned that I was "racing" rather than "riding" and settled for
    4mph.
    I learned to relax, keep my hand off the handle, & pedal the speed that
    I am going rather than slower or faster. I am now content with a lower
    speed (but not low enough to the point that it is more work).
    It was a nice ride - I went a different way than normal and it seemed
    like a completely different trail.

    The bad news is that I left prior to maestro8's post:
    "And do use good posture! You'll end up with a sore back"
    During the ride everything was fine. Shortly after cool down, deep pain
    set in to my mid-back. The way it feels, I can't tell if it is muscle,
    spine or both.
    It's pretty bad.

    I also fell late in the ride - the tire didn't have any traction on
    moss.
    My left hand sat me down for a bit. Oh well, I am hoping the hand will
    itch and the back will heal by the time I wake up. I'm all beat up.

    I don't know which I prefer:
    A sore back (and hand) . . ..
    or the muscle cramps that I usually endure about now.

    I know I'll get better in skill and health - just hope it's soon.
    Thanks for everyone's help - the advice yeilded noticable improvement.


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  13. I used to have the same problem as you. That is, I leaned way too far
    back on downhills and tried to control my speed too much. Doing this
    always ends in the tire losing traction and the rider landing on his
    @$$.

    I found that just holding the handle and sitting on the saddle helps. Do
    this and just go the speed the hill wants you to go. You need to keep it
    limited though so you can catch the unicycle up when you hit that rock
    you didn't see.

    If you're going over really gnarly stuff it helps a lot to learn to keep
    fluidity in your wheel. You want to roll out of everything and just keep
    moving. Practise rolling out of small drops...it helps keep the fluidity
    if you can just rotate the wheel to one of the hopping postions for any
    small drops you have to take.

    So, basically the method that works best for me is sitting whenever not
    dropping or torquing uphill and going at a good speed as determined by
    the steepness of the hill.


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  14. john_childs

    john_childs Guest

    Muni is unique among most sports that require endurance. In muni skill
    trumps fitness when it comes to endurance. In MTB riding I’d say skill
    and endurance are more evenly matched. In road cycling it’s almost all
    fitness. In sports like running it’s almost all fitness. How many
    other sports are there where skill plays such a vital role in
    endurance?

    You can take a novice unicyclist who is incredibly fit and they will
    have a very difficult time on a technical 12 mile muni ride. Take a
    very skilled muni rider who is not very fit and they can do the ride.
    Take a very skilled muni rider who is also incredibly fit and they can
    absolutely breeze through the ride.

    The skilled muni rider is able to minimize their energy expenditure
    during a ride. They are able to minimize the energy wasted in balance
    corrections. They are able to maintain constant forward momentum when
    riding over bumps and logs and rocks. They almost float over the bumps
    and roots and rocks. They have very good technique for climbing. They
    are able to ride relaxed. Everything is easy for them. It’s all in the
    skills and technique.

    Watch a rider like Kris Holm or Ben Plotkin Swing or Ryan Atkins on an
    intermediate level muni trail. This is on intermediate level trails,
    not the extreme North Shore or extreme downhill stuff. Then compare a
    rider like me on the same trail. There is a world of difference (there
    is a world of difference when compared to almost every other muni
    rider). Kris, Ben and Ryan are a lot smoother than I am. I’m not too
    bad when it comes to long muni rides, but I’m nowhere near the level of
    Kris, Ben or Ryan.

    So, what does this mean? It means that if you want to increase
    endurance it is better to focus on the riding skills rather than
    building fitness. After you have the skills then fitness becomes more
    important.

    Some things that I have found important for efficient muni riding:

    When standing on the pedals learn how to dance on the pedals rather than
    mashing the pedals. When you are dancing on the pedals you are able to
    maintain a good smooth pedaling. When you are mashing on the pedals you
    are wasting energy.

    Point the toe down when at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Don’t keep
    the feet flat. This helps you to pedal through the bottom of the pedal
    stroke and helps to keep you from mashing the pedals.

    Learn some freestyle skills like one foot riding and wheel walking.
    These skills get you more in tune with the balance point on the unicycle
    and they teach you better balance and control. I know that my muni
    skills improved when I started playing around with basic freestyle
    skills.

    Practice rolling over small obstacles and work your way up to rolling
    over bigger obstacles. The good riders can float over the small stuff
    and flow smoothly over the big stuff. Learn to roll over the small
    obstacles in any pedal position. When rolling over obstacles think of
    floating over them rather than plowing in to them. When you approach
    the obstacle you unweight the cycle (I can hear George Peck saying those
    exact words right now) and give the mass of your body some upward
    momentum as you go over the obstacle.

    When going on short muni rides, practice rolling over all of the small
    obstacles on the trail that you can find. Pick the hardest line on the
    trail and take that line. Don’t look for the easy lines. If there is a
    rock in the middle of the trail then roll over the rock, don’t zig zag
    around it. On the long muni rides you can save energy by looking for
    the easy line, but on the short muni rides take advantage of the
    opportunity to practice rolling (or floating) over obstacles.

    At the Vancouver Island Muni Weekend, Kris Holm demonstrated a technique
    of using almost rolling hops to get over roots and similar obstacles.
    They don’t have to be actual rolling hops because you don’t actually
    have to leave the ground. It’s yet another technique for learning how
    to float over obstacles. Compared to the way that I plowed through
    those same roots and the way that Kris literally floated over the tops
    of those roots, the difference is night and day. Kris’ method is more
    efficient and allows him to maintain speed so it is much faster. To be
    most effective you have to be able to do this technique from any pedal
    position. You also have to learn where you want to aim for. For some
    roots you’ll want to aim for the top of the root. For other roots
    you’ll want to aim just a little beyond the top. This is one technique
    that I still can’t do very well. It’s not as easy as Kris makes it
    look. I suppose it would help if I took the time to learn a smooth and
    consistent rolling hop. One of these days Kris needs to do a video
    where he demonstrates and describes these magical techniques that he
    has. He’s got more in his bag of tricks beyond this little skill.

    Learn to relax as you ride.

    Learn your ideal pedal speed and then work to increase that ideal pedal
    speed.

    I know there are more tips, but this is what I can come up with from the
    top of my head right now.


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  15. GizmoDuck

    GizmoDuck Guest

    ChangingLINKS.com wrote:
    > *I rode my first few hundred miles on various tires and surfaces.
    > Then, I got "into" distance for a month which taught me a better
    > spin.
    > After that, I decided to dedicate myself to off-road until a reach
    > 1000 miles.
    >
    > I rode 5 miles yesterday on an intermediate trail and it felt like 13
    > miles of road.
    > I put the hookworm on my unicycle last night, and learned that I could
    > barely ride on pavement anymore.
    > The problem is that I backpedal too much (to avoid UPDs).
    > Imagine riding standing up for 5 miles (it's much harder).
    >
    > Aside from consistent practice, can anyone give me some tips on how to
    > be more efficient off-road?
    > Has anyone else felt the weird feeling of riding on the road after a
    > lot of riding a lot off-road?
    > Speed, leaning more forward, and lower air pressure has helped (and
    > hurt) some - but there has been no significant breakthrough.
    > Currently, I am so inefficient that I am limited to about 5 miles
    > off-road (and all of the trails around are about 7 miles :( )
    >
    >
    > P.S. Hopefully some of those who bust out 12+ miles off-road will
    > respond. *



    I've just raced for 12hrs off-road. I'm still working on being more
    efficient, but I'm certainly feeling much better than when I rode for
    12hrs last year.

    -Stay relaxed- the more tense you are the more energy you expend, and
    the less flexible you are to correct your balance on uneven terrain, and
    the more energy you end up expending to correct for large deviations of
    balance.
    -Keep one hand on your handle at all times- but keep it relaxed, except
    when you hit bumps/steep downhills
    -You can stand up on your pedals, putting your weight on the handle, for
    short steep hillclimbs- like a rider on a bike getting off the seat.
    -Ride more
    -When steering- especially on big wheels like Cokers, use pedal pressure
    to help you turn. ie more pressure on the inside pedal of a turn.
    -Look ahead- pick your best line and anticipate bumps
    -Equipment- a stiff seat helps- there is less flex when you are pulling,
    which helps the wrist a bit. Also adds more power to your pedal stroke.
    Lightweight is nice too. On the other hand, a 29'er is very light but
    often not as nice to ride on bumpy stuff as a big 26" off road.

    Hope that helps.

    Ken


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    fish, and he feed himself for life. Teach man to wheel ride, and he
    make friends everywhere, anywhere, and even have lunch at their
    place."
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