Saturday Oct. 17, Auburn State Recreation Area -- Sunday Oct. 18, Sly Park
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The California Mountain Unicycle Weekend is the first and only event of its kind, a convention dedicated solely to off road unicycling. Beginners and experts alike will be traveling to Northern California from all over the country to ride some of our spectacular and scenic trails. Click on the links at left for specific information.
MUni (Mountain Unicycling) has become increasingly popular in the last few years. Though unicycling has always existed as a recreational activity, few people knew about it, or were able to find information. National competitions in racing and freestyle have been held for over twenty five years, but when most people see a unicyclist, they still think only of the circus.
"Maybe some of us got into MUni to get away from the circus image" says John Foss, host of the event, "But it doesn't work. You can be miles from the nearest road, on the edge of a cliff, covered with dirt & mud, wearing a helmet and Camelbak and riding a unicycle with a knobby tire and toothy pedals. People will still pass you on mountain bikes and ask if you're in the circus."
But he's working on it. Often John will be greeted by riders on the trail who have seen him before, and the vast majority of comments from other trail users are positive. "Most people are amazed, and say things like 'That's gotta be hard' or 'You guys are studs!'," Foss says.
John Foss has been unicycling for 19 years. He learned as a teenager in Michigan, riding on dirt paths and winter snows even then. But he didn't get seriously into MUni until moving to the Sacramento area in 1994. His first visit to the American River Canyon in Auburn was in Spring of '96. He was so excited about his experiences riding those trails that he devised and organized first-ever off road unicycle convention, which took place less than six months later.
John has had some experience with such things. He's a former world unicycling champion both on the track and in the freestyle arena. He also holds a past Guinness World Record (89 - 92 books) for unicycle speed in the 100 meter race. Nowadays he writes competition rules for the International Unicycling Federation's World Championships, and serves as a judge and official at the competitions. John used to work for the National Circus Project as a circus skills instructor. Here in California he's a web developer for a large computer firm in Folsom.
Riding unicycles on mountain bike trails is a combination of two extreme sports. People who have tried unicycles before have felt it, and anyone contemplating the idea can imagine what's involved in keeping yourself balanced atop a single wheel. Take all that into the woods, on advanced trails, and you have something that can't be believed by people who haven't seen it.
The unicyclists will contend that it's not all that hard. Though learning to ride on smooth level ground is the recommended way, when riding over bumps you still have a center of mass, and a wheel that you try to keep under it. So they say.
Due to the popularity of mountain biking, mountain unicycling has gotten much interest from the press. MUni articles have recently appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Sports Illustrated, Bicycling Magazine and countless newspapers. Other magazines and television shows frequently contact Foss looking for photos and video.
Best and easiest places to be:
At Saturday's Confluence Uphill Race, riders must zoom up a short hill in the least amount of time without falling (we say dismounting). This will happen right at the Confluence in Auburn, where people traditionally park to enjoy the trails and the river. See the schedule for details. Before the race, we'll have a workshop on off road riding, to hone everyone's skills before we start off.
Sunday's Jenkinson Lake Wheel Dip is what may be the first 'observed trials' competition ever held for unicycles. You will see riders using all sorts of techniques to deal with the rocky surface including hopping and zig zagging around to find the easiest route.
(916) 487-8959 - or
Don't miss this fabulous opportunity to get stories,
pictures and video of this hot, new and rare sport. See you there!
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