Mountain Unicycling

When and when did Mountain Unicycling start?...

In the late 1980s a group of extreme sportsmen, led by pioneer Kris Holm, took an interest in the unicycle, which led to the creation of off-road unicycling (an abbreviation shortening mountain unicycling to MUni). Like their brother enthusiasts who take the two-wheeled more rugged versions over mountainous and much rougher terrain than is found in a paved urban setting.

Mountain Unicycling photo
Unicycling done on rough terrain has been the fastest growing form of unicycling seen in recent years, and popular with all ages. Any place that a mountain bike can go, a mountain unicycle can go too, sometimes even more easily, due to the unicycle's greater ability to maneuver.

Like the mountain bike, the off-road unicycle ("MUni" or "muni") has to be more ruggedly constructed than its flatland counterpart.

The MUni has a number of the same kinds features as the trials unicycle. The frames are stronger than on standard unicycles to withstand the stresses brought about by jumping, dropping, and supporting the weight of the unicycle and rider on various parts like the pedals and cranks.

The tire diameters are wider on these unicycles to enable the rider to roll over obstacles such as roots, limbs, uneven ground and rocks more easily. The tires are often wider and have nubs on them to help cushion them during a drop or if the rider has to hop the unicycle up an incline.

The pedals on a MUni are higher grip versions than found on other unicycles. Brakes sometimes are installed on a MUni to better control steep descents. The seat is also better padded, thicker and far more comfortable on a MUni to compensate for the rougher terrain encountered on a mountain trail.

Mountain Unicyclinng photo

Unicycling Safety

Unlike with other sports, wrist guards are one of the most important pieces of safety equipment for unicycling, especially off-road. When falling off a unicycle, the impact points most commonly damaged are the hands and wrists. Wrist guards receive the most wear and tear of any safety gear.

The second most common impact points are the knees followed by the elbows. While elbow pads can be optional, knee pads are required for MUni events.

A good quality helmet is especially important when participating in specialty riding like MUni or racing, and in some locations, a helmet is required for road riding, as well. Shin guards are a necessary component of safety equipment if the unicycle comes with metal or pinned pedals. These types of pedals provide better shoe grip, but can cause greater injury to the rider’s legs.

Those who participate in MUni events also need to develop a few more skills than are essential to participate either in mountain biking or in regular unicycling. In addition to balance and endurance, a MUni rider needs to work on core strength.

MUni Events

In the United States, the two biggest gatherings for enthusiasts are the California Mountain Unicycle Weekend and the MUni Fest held in Moab, Utah. For enthusiasts in the UK, there is the British Muni Weekend (BMW).

Recent years have seen a growth in events scheduled for Muni enthusiasts because of the first ever Colorado Munifest was organized by Colorado Muni in 2007, and the very first Arizona Mountain Unicycle Weekend was in February of 2009, organized by the Arizona Unicycle Club.

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