Mountain Unicycling or MUnicycling is seen by many as an extreme sport but keen unicyclists often buy a MUnicycle (mountain unicycle) just to get fitter.
Once the basics of unicycling are mastered, what comes next? Learning simple tricks like cornering and free mounting a unicyle are essential to actually go anywhere on one wheel, but once those skills are in the bag, what is the next challenge?
Whilst some riders stick to street performing and juggling on their unicycles, others take up team sports like unicycle hockey or simply go road touring. But if all that sounds too boring, then MUnicycling may be just the thing for a great fitness boost if nothing else.
What is MUnicycling?
MUnicycling is the act of riding a one-wheel bike off road. It is also known as Rough Terrain or All Terrain Unicycling and, in the past decade, has become the hottest trend around in the unicycling community.
Off road terrain is, of course, uneven and mountains have gradients, rocks and other obstacles to get in the way of the intrepid unicyclist. Whilst jumping over rocks provides the fun element, cycling uphill on a unicycle demands incredible strength and lung capacity. Additional balancing skills, including the ability to back-pedal, are also needed to safely negotiate a downhill section on a unicycle. As a result, above average fitness levels are required to MUni.
The Extreme Sport of MUnicycling
Unicycling off road moves into the extreme category when speed, jumps and extremely rough terrain is involved. For the average rider, speed is not an issue as unicycling is about staying on rather than getting somewhere fast. Extreme sport enthusiasts have taken MUnicycling to another level and learn how to bunny hop to get onto or over obstacles plus they can ride backwards on a unicycle to get themselves out of trouble.
Municycles need to be built much stronger than a standard unicyle to cope with rough terrain so they have larger wheels (24” to 29”) and huge knobbly tires. Many models also have a back brake and some even have gearing to make it easier to climb steep gradients.
Technical advancements may have made it easier to ride a MUnicycle but one look at a video of someone tearing down a forest trail on one wheel fills the novice unicyclist with terror. Falls or UPD’s (unplanned dismounts) as they are known in the MUnicycling world are inevitable so protective clothing is essential.
Safety When MUnicycling
Always wear a helmet plus knee and elbow pads as worn by skateboarders when unicycling off road. Extreme MUnicyclists will need full body armour and a full-face helmet for downhill MUni racing. These are also useful for riders who experience frequent face plants!
Growth in MUnicycling
In the last decade unicyclists have taken to off road riding in greater numbers. Unicyclist.com currently has over 19000 members worldwide, many of whom are into MUnicycling. They are getting fitter not just climbing hills but entering mountain bike races alongside their two wheeled rivals. The MUnicylist can go anywhere a mountain biker can and the best can turn corners more sharply plus fit through narrower gaps, gaining an edge on the mountain bikes.
Buying a MUnicycle
Prices range from around $300 for an entry-level model to well over $1000 for custom built MUnicyles. The Kris Holm brand is perhaps the best known offering high quality MUnicyles for around $600.
Get Fit on a MUnicyle
Whether taking unicycling to the extreme on a trail that would scare many two wheeled cyclists or simply having fun jumping onto rocks or rolling over logs, MUnicycling offers a great workout. Improve balance, concentration and strengthen those abs and leg muscles by adding mountain biking on a unicycle to your list of superpowers.