Unicycle Nerdery: NAUCC 29er Marathon Class?

No joke, I like racing unicycles.  Since 2008 it’s mostly replaced my need to bicycle race.  That’s changed a bit over the last couple of years as I’ve begun to again occasionally toe the line on two wheels, but high speed unicycle racing will always fascinate me as unlike bike racing, the sport is relatively new.  The first Unicon (unicycle world championships) wasn’t until 1984.  Before that, North America had the North American Unicycling Championships and Convention (NAUCC) which dated back to 1973 for the first one.  The 36″ wheel wasn’t available until the late 1990s, and the Marathon didn’t really take hold until at least the mid 2000s.  The 2 speed 1.54 overdrive hub, the Schlumpf, wasn’t available until 2005.  Since then, speeds have increased as well as participation in racing.  Just how fast?  The current world record speed for the Marathon (yes, 42.195km) is 19.9mph.

With all of this significant development in the sport, there is significant development in the sport’s rules.  As with any sport, some of the rules to unicycle racing are going to differ from those in other racing disciplines.  Since many unicycles are direct drive, the size of the wheel matters.  In theory, the bigger wheel goes faster.  This is mostly true in practice- in Road Racing.  Off-Road racing is a whole other discussion.  Things also get a bit messy when considering the 2-speed shiftable overdrive hub as it alters the virtual wheel size with it’s own changes in handling due to the transmission.  While that is part of this discussion, it’s not the focus.

Now that the background rambling is over, we can now get to the question:

Should there be a separate 29er class for the NAUCC Marathon?

The short answer: No. 29ers are welcome to race as part of the Unlimited class and placings count in age group placings as well (and also get counted towards the subset of overall Ungeared).  However, there should not be a separate class for the 29in wheel ungeared unicycle.

Reasons:

  1. Speed.  Road Racing is supposed to be fast.  For the most part 36″ riders on ungeared unicycles are much faster than 29″ riders on ungeared unicycles since most riders run out of cadence before strength.  36″ wheels travel 24% further every pedal stroke. Even though the 36er wheel is heavier, it’s incredibly difficult to spin 24% faster on the smaller wheel.  There is not a full Ungeared 36″ class yet as there aren’t enough Schlumpf hubs being raced to warrant splitting the Unlimited class fully into Geared and Ungeared, so why would a slower wheel get preference?
  2. Time.  Very few elite riders at NAUCC choose to road race smaller wheels.  This typically leaves the Ungeared 29er for those who are not comfortable on a 36″ wheel yet.  A 26.2 mi Marathon is a long race.  While the fastest riders are in the 1:30ish range (geared 36″= virtual 54″ wheel), the slowest ungeared 36″ riders sometimes still struggle to make 3:30.  Some riders have finished on ungeared 29″ unis ahead of some ungeared 36″ unis, but they have not broken the top 10 of the ungeared 36″ unis yet.  The Marathon is a long event.  Being part of an approximately 30 event schedule for a week, it needs a cutoff time.  By adding a 29er class (before 36″ ungeared) we would possibly be encouraging a few more riders to attempt the Marathon, but we would also run into more riders hitting the cutoff time and needing to be swept from the course.
  3. Geared (36, 29, 27.5, or 26) vs. Ungeared is a class designation that needs to develop first.  Being that geared hubs have proven to be a definite advantage in Road Racing over the past 10 years, we recently added to the rulebook a clause to recognize the top finishing Ungeared rider as North American Champion.  That clause is in effect when 5 or more Schlumpf riders are entered in an event as the Ungeared rider can get squeezed out of a top 5 finish.  Unfortunately, uni racing hasn’t hit the point where the geared hub is ubiquitous enough yet to separate into Geared and Ungeared categories.  It’s likely when the Geared vs. Ungeared split happens that the 36″ ungeared (the current biggest pneumatic wheel size) will be faster than the 29″ ungeared.  Then again, maybe something bigger than a 36″ wheel will take hold by then.  Giving the smaller wheel the nod now by making a 29er class would not make sense.
  4. For the good of the sport we should encourage racers to race at the highest, fastest level they possibly can.  While geared unicycles can typically be the fastest, geared unicycles are not for all unicyclists.  A single speed direct-drive unicycle is a very simple machine.  It’s pure in a running sort of way.  In a foot-running race, the person who runs the fastest wins.  On an equally wheel sized simple machine, it’s the person who pedals the fastest.  That has strong roots in the sport of unicycle racing and should be honored.  A geared unicycle is comparatively much more complex and expensive- pretty much tripling the cost of the uni.  And there’s a much greater chance of mechanical failure as well.  In the realm of road racing, geared riding is typically the fastest, which is one of the main goals of racing.  But, the addition of a transmission, extra expense and complexity skew the sport away from running races and more towards bicycle racing.  Uni racing occupies that unique space somewhere in the middle and we should continue to respect the past and look forward to the future.

Completing a Marathon- whether by running on foot or balancing on top of a wheel with not much more than a seat and pedals, is indeed a significant accomplishment and should be celebrated.  Anyone who completes the distance on any size wheel should always have their time and placings recorded.  Newer riders should be encouraged to ride the Marathon as it’s the longest distance race offered in many unicycling competitions.  However, until the ridership is large enough to support multiple class splits from what we currently have, we should not have a 29er class offered at NAUCC.

Now, the devil’s advocate addendum:

The 29 ungeared (instead of 36) is the Standard Class at Unicon.  I was on the Rulebook Committee when we debated the merits of it.  The reasons presented for the 29 becoming the standard before the 36 in the realm of intercontinental competitions were:

  1. Intercontinental air travel is the norm.  A 29″ wheel is the biggest that fits standard airline baggage restrictions for international travel.  A rider can also easily pack a frame and several wheels (29, 27.5, 26, and/or 24) and be able to compete in many of the events at Unicon.
  2. At the international level there are many 29er riders who are faster than many of the ungeared 36er riders attempting the Marathon for the first time who are not Road Racing Specialists.  Timing is much less of an issue.
  3. It may seem unfair that the Ungeared 36 did not get a class designation yet, but the top 3 Ungeared riders will now be recognized.  This was another rule that was voted into the rulebook the same time the 29 as the Standard size wheel was.

 

Maybe you enjoyed some of this nerdery, or maybe you tuned out.  It’s OK either way.  Unicycle racing is important, but not very profitable.  Being a North American Champion, along with $3, will buy a cup of coffee at a decent coffee shop.  This blog’s about the same as it isn’t about making money, it’s about making sense of the world around me.

 

Advertisements

Upcycling Downhilling

I have a few friends that partake in marginally bad ideas (as evidenced above).  The Power Wheels phase isn’t the first time we’ve upcycled some downhill steeds, padded up, and ignored Consumer Product Safety Commission Stickers.

That would have been the scuttle of scooters from SRU. These scooters were not of the Razor death trap variety (we do have a moderate understanding of physics), rather the 12″ (and maybe one 16″) mag-wheeled, fast rolling, marginally braked flashbacks to probably somewhere in the 90’s or so.  Since they were fairly safe (other than the brakes that were more yields), we usually raced them under the cloak of darkness.  Often for donut runs.

Sadly, as much fun as they were, it became increasingly difficult to find enough people to form a gang and cruise downtown.  People grew up, got jobs, moved away, and got into grown up stuff.

The next phase would be the snowbike/ snow scooter phase.  These are still in the arsenal and poised to make a comeback.  They were built from junk kid’s bikes and dysfunctional scooters from the first wave of shenanigans.  While they’re fun, fun shouldn’t be limited to the snowy season.

Which brings us to the Power Wheels.  When the batteries go bad and the kids grow out of them, we give them a second life.  The first step is to pull the motors.  The second step is to beef up the chassis with metal bits, 2x4s, or whatever else is stiffer than the plastic designed for 60 lbs or less.  Seats often need modified as does the steering.  When it’s all said and done, they’re marginally safe:

Marginally safe is sometimes a fun place to be- as long as you have a good chiropractor.

Who knows what the next phase will be.  I do know I’m glad technology has evolved enough since this first started that we can shoot and edit video easily.  Someday I may be too old for this.  Maybe.

 

Sheep go to Heaven?

2015/01/img_1267.jpg

Sometimes stories are about how everything comes together. Other times, it’s how it all falls apart. Hopefully there’s still room in the middle.

Disclaimer: There’s going to be reference to religion throughout this post. Above all else, I do NOT want this to devolve into hate or name calling. If you want to load your gun to take shots at a side, you may be able to find some ammo here, sure. But, that is DEFINITELY not my intent. We have enough soundbytes and tweets floating around the interwebs at this point to keep the war against people’s beliefs going for longer than I’ll live. So- if you’re going to skim or take things out of context, you might want to stop reading and go click on some top 10 reasons why you’re right or “They” are wrong. That’s fine. Honestly. If you want to see what a goat thinks (it’s in the web address along with “surly” and “speed”, and “wordpress” at this point too), you’re welcome to read on. After all it is 2015, the Year of the Goat.

Also, if after reading the whole thing, you’d like to discuss my observations and experiences further, I’d welcome the discussion. However, I’d prefer to do it face to face. We could involve coffee, but I’ll let you know now that Decaf is against my religion. I like to think Hate is too.

2015/01/img_0967.jpg

Sometime in late 2006, we saw a long standing event here in Butler, PA come to an end. It was a free bike giveaway that was part of the Island Community Day in the summer. Annually, 100+ bikes were fixed up and put back into the community. I took part for a few years up to that point as one of the main mechanics. It was great in that it got bikes into the community. It wasn’t so great in that the work was focused among a few people who would fix the bikes, transport them, and distribute them. Some of the free bike recipients were grateful and enjoyed and used the bikes for a long time. Others treated it as we often treat free stuff: the bikes were disposable. A flat? Ditch it in the weeds. Then, the local Police would find the bikes, store them while the owner was sought (they were considered potentially stolen property), and when no owner was found, they would be released back into circulation through the annual bike giveaway.

Circumstances were such that 2006 was the last Community Day. It wasn’t due to lack of bikes, but other factors. They’re not relevant to this story.

People were initially upset that this event came to an end. After all, kids got bikes and this was good, right?

Being that I was spending around 100hrs or so each year volunteering for the project I wasn’t disappointed in seeing it come to an end. The idea was wonderful, free bikes for all. The problem was in the division of labor. There needed to be a bigger buy-in on the recipient’s end.

So in 2007 we started the Fixed Gear Community Bicycle Collective. (OK, I’ll have to confess most of the “we” was me. I did have some definite support however, from Jeff Rapp, the owner of Rapp’s Bicycle Center, who had been the driving force of the Community Day Giveaway for years. Jeff Rapp is an amazingly generous human. I’ll have to tell more of those stories in the future.)

Coincidentally- then again, maybe not (you decide)- that was the year the community bike shop conference (BikeBike!) was held in Pittsburgh- a nice bike ride away.

At BikeBike! I learned a lot about what happens all around the country (and throughout the rest of the world as well) regarding bike shops that are non-profits, or in many cases, pretty much no-profits. While the demographics of the attendees ranged wildly, the love of people and bikes wasn’t. The community of leaders believed (and most likely still do) that the world would be a better place if more people were on bikes. And by more people, that means, anybody who is able to ride regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion.

Amen.

By the end of the conference, the Fixed Gear Community Bicycle Collective really had gained an organizational focus. We would welcome everyone. We would help them fix their bike- for free. If they needed a bike, we could help find one that would fit them and they could have it- AFTER they helped us fix it up. We would also welcome them to join the party and learn how to fix bikes themselves. And so the cycle would go.

When we organized, we needed space for the bikes and tools. It was essential that the space be in a downtown location for easy accessibility by people of all socioeconomic statuses. (Note: I’ve always seen bikes as potential class equalizers. They’re a cheap, efficient, and relatively safe form of transportation for pretty much anyone who can walk, unlike automobiles which cost a lot more (as just a starting point). Stick with me here, I’m not going anti-car, I’m voting pro-bike. Big difference.)

I thought a logical choice for a collective to happen would be a church. After all, a church should be a pillar in the community where good things that benefit all people of their community happen. At least that’s what I get out of reading what people wrote a couple of thousand years ago about that guy Jesus. He seemed to be all about loving those around him, even those whom he didn’t approve of their lifestyle. He didn’t necessarily condone their actions, but he didn’t immediately condemn the person either.

So, we operated out of a church for a couple of years. Unfortunately, the church that we started at did not have a lot of extra space. We needed more than they could provide so we moved operations to another church. They gave us this space:

2015/01/img_1263.jpg

Thanks to the generosity of individuals making donations (some monetary, but mostly of parts), we were able to function for 4 years out of this location- without taking any money from the church budget. Each summer we were more and more successful, both number wise, and people wise. Our collection of participants included people from many socioeconomic backgrounds and with many different religious beliefs. And we did a lot of good fixing bikes with people. It got to the point where in a 2 hour session we’d typically help 5-10 people with their mechanical needs.

We also had a lot of fun spending time together as well.

Then it all came to a screeching halt when the church decided to tear down the building we were using:

2015/01/img_1266.jpg

It wasn’t that it was in disrepair. It was decided that the expense of the utilities was greater than the benefit of the space. So, our bikes and tools were moved to a storage spot in the main building and the house and garage were torn down (see the image at the top of the post).

In 2013 I was told that the church planned on building a shed for Fixed Gear operations. We waited. Then in 2014 I was told to pack up my stuff and get it out of the church. There would be no space. A short time later the church announced a $3.5 million dollar campaign for building projects. I’m not against those projects, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how a group that helped the community at no cost to the church whatsoever (except for the space) was told to leave.

Let me be clear: I am not bitter. I’m not harboring a grudge. If anything, I’m sad.

I do have a core set of beliefs. We all do. Since they’re my beliefs, I would like to think I’m right as well. After all, who wants to believe in something false?

One of my core beliefs is that we’re all citizens of earth (at least at this point) and we NEED to make the world a better place for as many of us as possible. I’ll throw the word love somewhere in there for sure. If that’s too vague, how about the concept of “Let’s be a bit less selfish and think of how our actions impact others and then do what’s best for ALL of us.”

Do the right thing. Do it all the time.

Once we get towards the details of beliefs and religion and such, I differ from a lot of my friends. And I’m totally fine with that. As long as we’re making the world a better place together I don’t really care about some of the points of their faith.

If someone is to have a religious belief system, it should cause them to act in a way that would benefit others- not just those who believe the same thing as they do.

If someone identifies themselves as an Athiest, I’m OK with that too- as long as their actions are working towards the benefit of mankind.

I know some wonderful people who I consider friends that are Athiests, Buddhists, Agnostics, Jewish, Christians, and some other places inbetween. I hope if they read this they still consider me a friend as well. I’m the same person I was before I wrote today, and I’ll be the same person after. Right now, I’m just disclosing some information to tell the story.

Now back to the Fixed Gear Community Bicycle Collective and the church story:

The church, as a whole, never understood what we did. We fixed bikes (typically on Mondays). The we in this instance was much, much more than myself. It was the nice cross section of our local community. Unfortunately, churches have more of a habit of functioning as fraternities or
sororities than they do as parts of a community.

There isn’t inherently anything wrong with taking care of your own and having a brotherhood or sisterhood relationship. Humans need fellowship. We are social creatures.

Churches do a great job of fellowshipping amongst themselves through church services, classes, studies, and groups. They also do quite well with physical and financial resources that support these ends.

For the most part they fall horribly short in getting out into the community. Take a look at the nice buildings, and then check to see what percentage of the time they get used for non-directly religious related purposes. It’s not wrong that they are used for religious purposes, after all, that’s part of an organization being an organization. It’s the percentage of the time that’s the problem.

Lack of human resources isn’t often the issue as well. People spend a lot of time with church-y activities to hang out with others of their same beliefs. Again, nothing wrong with fellowship. However, if you only spend time with people of your own persuasion, you’ll get a false sense of composition of the 7 billion inhabitants of this planet.

When a church does attempt to go beyond its doors, it’s often labelled as a “ministry” or an “outreach”.

Might as well put the Greek letters on your chest and show your true colors. The problem with “ministry” and “outreach” is that it identifies you as part of a group and separate from those around you. You get to “help others less fortunate” rather than live life as part of the community of humans on planet earth. For the most part, they’re cop out words to avoid getting real.

Of course, as with many things, there are exceptions to this, but they are just that- exceptions.

A few months back I was having a conversation with some friends where one mentioned that he had a friend who was an Athiest, yet joined a new church every year for 2 reasons:

1. For fellowship.
2. To see if there really was a church worth joining.

I think churches have tremendous potential. They typically have a great set of resources, both physically and financially. Having resources is good. Using them wisely for the greater good of EVERYONE is excellent.

Unfortunately, in my experience, the resources are far too often consumed in being a church rather than doing good in the community at large.

In spite of being kicked out of a church, the Fixed Gear Community Bicycle Collective will return for 2015. We’re working with a long time friend of the collective on a space. Actually, as soon as we were told to move our stuff out of the church, this person stepped in with a moving truck and storage space while we prep the new space.

I’m sad that the church never understood that we didn’t have to be a “ministry”. We were much more than that.

Bikes are a way of life.

Sha la la la la la la.

20140717-184912-67752270.jpg

“She works at Liberty Travel- She’s got a heart made of… gravel?…” Fountains of Wayne, Denise

Go pedal. Now. That’s the message. If you want to skip all of the rest of this, that’s fine. The moral of the story is at the beginning of this paragraph. If you want a bit of background as to one of the reasons why I follow that ethos, read on.

This pic was taken today. It’s on one of my favorite loops that leaves from my doorstep. Leaving from my doorstep and taking a few hours to outrun some demons means a lot to me. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I drive to get a good ride in. That’s cool, but I’d rather just ride and skip the drive part altogether. If I can pedal from and to the house I don’t waste any extra travel time. That leaves me more time to ride. I like love to ride.

On today’s ride I revisited a loop I’d done once before. It’s 27.5mi or so long and includes 21 or so miles of pavement. The rest is comprised of No Winter Maintenance roads, and even less accessible roads than that. In those areas of the ride I find it difficult for F150 drivers who can’t read STOP on a sign to give me the run down. When they’re using an exit ramp, not so much.

The steed of choice today was The Great Gonzo. Not all of my human powered vehicles (HPVs) have names. I don’t g out of my way to name inanimate objects, but sometimes there’s a reason to. The Hunter geared 36″ unicycle has a myriad of reasons. This uni belonged to a dear friend before it moved in with me. Dan used in in Ride the Lobster in 2008 when we were members of the Surly Speed Goats. He commissioned The Great Gonzo. After riding it for a while though, he determined that a geared unicycle isn’t his thing. For a long time I wasn’t sure it was my thing either. A geared hub complicates a unicycle on many levels. It often costs 2x or more the price of a high end unicycle for the hub itself. It adds complexity and a maintenance schedule. It makes riding a unicycle so much harder than without one.

It also opens up whole new worlds.

If you want to go really freaking fast on one wheel, this is the best gig going. That’s not entirely why I’m fond of The Great Gonzo though. I do like to go fast, BUT I realized a few years ago that I like to go a Med Express or FastER Care level of fast. For those not familiar with those places, they’re emergency care places that are a level shy of visiting the Emergency Room. They’re good for somewhere around the level of stitches. Broken bones are for the ER. I’ve had stitches several times. They caused me to miss some pool time, but rarely caused me to miss much riding. I’m not saying I’m a fan of getting them, but in the grand scheme of things, they’re tolerable.

I am fond of The Great Gonzo (if you don’t know who this is yet, Google the Muppets) because the overdrive of 1.5:1 in second gear allows me to have a really, really, really versatile unicycle. Unicycles without gears are limited by their wheel size and crank length. A 36″ wheel may sound ginormous, but when it comes down to covering ground it’s about equivalent to putting a normal bike in the middle chainring up front and several cogs in from the biggest in back. Comfortable for smelling the roses, but not so good if you’re in a hurry.

To compensate for a limited wheelsize, (ungeared) unis often use shorter cranks to make smaller circles. It’s a good plan, and it can help a rider achieve some good speeds, but the tradeoff is that hills are harder and the torque is less. Smaller circles with the legs are good for speed, but not so good for control in sketchy situations.

The second gear overdrive of a geared hub changes things.

I like 100mm cranks on my ungeared unicycle when I’m in a hurry. The downside rears its ugly head when I can’t climb the 15%+ grade 2 blocks from my house at the start of the ride and I have to take a detour of several blocks (or walk, but walking on a ride?- no thanks). I discovered with the geared unicycle I can run 150mm cranks and climb up the beast 2 blocks over, then shift into overdrive and cruise several mph faster than I can on the ungeared uni.

I’ve really grown to like the 150s for that reason. I also like them because they do slow me down a bit. I know a fair number of go fast people who prefer shorter cranks (137mm typically) on their geared 36″uni so that they can, well, go fast, and spin smaller circles when they’re in the 1:1 mode the hub offers.

I totally respect that thinking. For me though I prefer the slightly longer cranks because I get a first gear that allows me to get lost enough that F-150s can’t change the color of my chamois to brown. First gear allows me to climb almost any hill within reason and then keep the speed in check when I shift to a FastER Care level on the other side. Sure, I could go faster with shorter cranks in second gear. My Jedi skills just may not be there yet.

Or I may just be a chicken. I did see a feral one on a gravel road through Moraine a few rides ago. That may be a story for another time. Or not.

Clarity

Image

20130427-104436.jpg

 

Last post I said, “Ride the Lobster wrecked my life.”

I need to clarify.  Wreck isn’t always a bad thing.  Don’t think automobile wreck.  Think Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989.  Good things can spring from the rubble.

The pic above tells the story.

Yes, it’s my trusty Cross Check.  Yes, it has more than one wheel.  I’m fine with that.  I’m still bike curious.  One or Two is fine by me- as long as it has pedals and no motor.

I captured this moment in time Tuesday night on the what now has become semi-regular loop of gravel roads in Moraine State Park.  These roads have existed for decades; yet, for some reason I didn’t take to exploring them much until last year.  Most don’t consider 28c tires a wise choice for blasting down a path of marbles at 20+ mph. Then again, they aren’t checking to see if roads are suitable for oxygen deprived unicyclists to hammer at race pace.  If it hadn’t been for ride the Lobster, I don’t think I’d be obsessing over suitable racing routes much at all.

This pic is of a road that didn’t make the cut- for the uni race.  However, my tires (on a bike or uni) often find themselves testing the limits of friction on Burton Road.

Riding the road is fun.  The view is spectacular.  Bonus.

The Story of My Life

Image

20130411-065844.jpg

This showed up from one of my friends this morning.

It speaks volumes.

Roots. As much as things have been changing around here recently, every now and then I get a reminder of what’s been an influence on me up until this point.

Like at 7am as I sit here trying to think of something I can type so it doesn’t look like this blog is all ghost town. And “Creep” by Radiohead comes on the radio- the actual radio, not my made for me customized station.

2 reminders before work. I’m not sure if I’ll be singing Radiohead or Rainbow Connection for the rest of the day.

Out of Focus

Image

IMG_1846So- I forgot the password to the blog.  I guess if this thing’s going to be the cash cow I need to step it up.  Eh.

The above pic is from yesterday’s ride.  I try not to make this a “LOOK AT HOW MUCH I TRAIN YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO ALL MY BORING  AMAZING STORIES” type of blog, but every now and then I need to sneak something in, because I find the experience noteworthy.

That, and I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be a counterexample of what to do.

The above pic did make the cut, not because it was the most amazing thing that has happened since the invention of the internet, but because in the seconds and minutes that followed it made me take stock of the weekend.

The boring part involved a 40 mile uni ride on Saturday.  Well, boring for the 4 of you who may be reading this.  For me it was cool.  Actually, really cool as it was in the 20’s the whole time.

After that came a Y session with the Butler Wobble:

If you haven’t “Liked” the Butler YMCA on Facebook, please do. Without them that video wouldn’t have happened.  We’ve got a crazy amount of unicycling going on and it’s their fault.  Without their support we wouldn’t have such a hard time keeping track of how many people show up to get some exercise and hang out.

Sunday morning it was time for a fun project (to pass the time as the weather climbed out of the teens):

I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the Surly Knard 29″+ tire.  It looks like fun for a uni, but the first one is destined for the front end of the El Mariachi.  I’m not a huge fan of suspension on bikes for me.  I don’t think it’s a bad idea.  I just don’t really need it.  However, I’ve wanted a bit of extra cush over the rocks and roots around here- especially in the front end.

I picked up the original On-One wheel from Heath and the 38mm wide KH rim at the Dirt Rag swap meet.  The ERDs measured out to be close so I made the swap.  The time elapse video was just a bonus.  Makes my wife scratch her head (and she hasn’t heard the soundtrack just yet- I added it this morning).  I’m excited about the slightly overweight front end on the cheap- I didn’t pay a lot for the original wheel or the rim- much less than even an Enabler fork.  The end result should be a lot of fun for little more than the cost of a tire and a rim.

Back to the picture’s story: I was riding through the woods Sunday afternoon around 4:30 when I hit a patch of ice (lower right of the pic).  The ice broke and grabbed the wheel.  When I went to catch my balance I was again on ice (the bare spot).

Time to bail.

I ran it out and the uni landed in the brush.  Nobody else was around.  My best UPD (unplanned dismount) of the weekend and no one got to see it.  That’s fine by me.  Some people like parades and the attention unicycling garners.  I prefer the spectacular bails in the woods in 20 some degree weather riding solo.  Or slogging it out in high gear on a 36″ wheel on back roads in similar weather.  Riding with friends is fun too, but not always necessary.

Why tell these stories?

There is a moral:  When unicycling in the woods, watch out for ice.