The Insane Sport Of Mountain Unicycling
How to Off Road Unicycle
In recent years, unicycling has returned in force as a popular sport. From the unicycling pros in town squares, to the little kid who rides around the neighborhood, unicycling has sprung up quickly in unexpected places. And it was inevitable that it would also move into the last frontier – the off-road unicycling (ORU) sensation. If you want to move on from paved surface unicycling, this article will help you to get started in off-road unicycling, a challenging sport of agility, balance, and strength.
This article provides some pointers on unicycling off-road. It is assumed that you are already aware of the basics of unicycling. Note that off-road unicycling is also known as mountain unicycling (MUni), or rough terrain unicycling.
Understand what's involved.Off road unicycling means getting off paved areas and surfaced roads and hitting the dirt or rock trails. If you don't want to wander too far from home, you could use local parks and trails. Alternatively, you could pack the tent, a backpack, your unicycle, and head out into the country for a genuine get-away, remote experience.
- Core strength and balance are essential for good unicycling, on all surfaces. You will need to be strong, agile, and have a good sense of balance.
- It is a really good idea to try to attend a workshop run by professionals in off-road unicycling. They will be able to watch your technique (or lack of it) and set you straight. Look for local clubs, groups, or university teams for possible weekend courses.
Make sure you have a suitable off-road unicycle.Off-road unicycles or mountain unicycles are different from their city cousins. The off-road unicycle will have tires similar to those of mountain bikes (larger and knobby), with the ability to handle any terrain. In addition, off-road unicycles tend to have stiffer saddles, lighter and larger hubs and rugged frames. There are other possible features too (such as rim brakes), which your retailer can convince you the worth of paying for.
- Get all the safety gear together before you even start. Always wear your helmet, elbow pads, and shin guards!
Start easy, start slowly.Rough terrain is hard enough on a bicycle. On a unicycle, it is going to feel challenging at first, so expect to make slow progress. A good approach to going off-road the first time is to try grass, and then gradually progress to rougher textured terrain.
- Practice on grass first. It provides resistance and some bumps to get you used to being off paved areas. And if you fall, it's usually kind to your bones.
Start looking for trails in your locale.At this stage, it's good to stay near home as you'll appreciate the opportunity to nip home and re-energize in comfort. A number of countries, such as the USA, Canada, and New Zealand, have online directories of suitable trails for off-road or mountain unicycling. Off-road terrain can range from dirt tracks, hiking trails, fire trails, mountain bike trails, to paths made by animals such as deer, goats, or sheep.
- Find flat dirt trails first. Try to find one that doesn't have any rocky outcrops or potholes. The smoother it is to begin with, the better. The idea is to simply get used to the feel of unicycling over dirt and minor bumps at this stage. Ride as straight as you can, going as slowly as you need to feel confident.
- Progress to a bumpier, pebble or small rock strewn pathway.
- At all times, concentrate. Learn to read the trail as it looms ahead so that you know what to avoid - this comes with practice and experience.
Keep one hand hard under the seat as you learn to ride over each new texture.This can help to give you a little more control over the process, as well as helping you to place more force on the front pedal.Keep your backside about half an inch to an inchoffthe seat.
- Keep practicing until you can not only unicycle on the rough terrain but you also feel confident that you are able to recover from going over bumps, rather than tipping over.
Once you feel confident that you can ride and recover on a flat, rocky trail, then you are ready to tackle inclines and declines.These bring their own set of hazards to the novice off-road unicyclist.
- Look for low, gently sloping hills to begin with. As with the first time you try rough terrain, try to find a smooth incline to begin with.
- Ride up the hill at varying speeds. Start out slow, then gradually build up speed until you feel comfortable going up the hill fairly quickly. Pull up on the seat as you go uphill, as this will give extra climbing force – you may need to keep practicing to feel confident using only one arm for balance.
- Gradually increase the steepness of the inclines and keep trying out the varying speeds. Note that can be a source of help as you climb higher on steeper hills.
- Practice declines. This is not as hard as going uphill but the speed means that there is a greater likelihood of falling a longer way and hurting yourself considerably. Also, going downhill requires a lot of strength in your legs and grip, to slow down the unicycle's speed.
- Hold the seat when going downhill. You will need to be able to pull the seat up enough to apply backward pedal pressure to slow down. As with a bike, it's much harder to ride slowly downhill than it is to ride fast. Bend your knees inward as this lets you squeeze together your legs and apply pressure on the seat.
- Concentrate on keeping your feet on the pedals as you ride downhill, as bumps are liable to throw your feet off. It's a good idea to practice riding one-footed to get used to the balance required in the event that one foot flies off.
- Again, bunny hopping skills can help, or using the technique of "switchback" on steeper, slippery terrain. Once you've mastered downhill, you're ready to enter MUni challenge races!
- If it's too steep, get off and walk until you feel surer again. That's better than having an accident.
Keep practicing.As with any learning, practice is essential - no article, no teacher, no theory can teach you muscle memory. You simply need to get out there, and learn by giving it a go, again and again.
- Challenge your mountain bike buddy to a race when you're super confident. This can be a great test of strength and ability when you're ready for it because there is no way you'll want that mountain bike beating you!
- Try to learn with a buddy, or at least have someone around to help you if things go wrong.
- This is a fantastic way to get fit and to build up your strength. It's also a great excuse to bond with buddies for a weekend away.
- Consider attending mountain unicycle events held in your country. You'll meet a lot of other enthusiasts, as well as have the chance to pick up great tips and even enter challenges.
- When you're really good, try unicycling on snow trails.
- A typical 10–15 kilometers (6.2–9.3 mi) off-road mountain trail ride will take a good unicyclist about 2-3 hours. This includes elevation changes.
- This is a very physically demanding sport. If you don't have adequate strength, you will need to build up strength before attempting off-road unicycling, especially for remote experiences.
- Be properly protected; ride with elbow pads, shin guards and a helmet. Some people like wrist guards also, but it's up to you.
Things You'll Need
Helmet, elbow pads, shin guards
Video: First Off Road Ride - Learning to Unicycle EP5
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