MUni and Urban Trials
MUni is an addictive sport, and a natural progression for Mountain Bikers.
All around the world people found mountain unicycling independently, and consequently it got many different names such as rough terrain unicycling, mountain unicycling, off-road unicycling, UMX, mountain unibiking and MUni. Duncan Castling designed the first purpose made, mass produced, mountain unicycle for Pashley in 1994 and called it a Muni. John Foss later capitalised the 'u' to make it 'MUni' - similar to the well known abbreviation 'MTB' for mountain biking. Although it is a registered trademark of the Pashley Cycle Company in England, the word "MUni" is becoming the internationally accepted word for offroad riding on one wheel.
Here is some information on the pioneers of MUni.
1994 Polaris, photo courtesy of the Newcastle Journal.
In 1994 Duncan Castling (on left) and Simon Schofield (on right) entered the Polaris Challenge on a unicycle. In what was a straight competition against the mountain bikers in what is claimed to be the UK's roughest and toughest mountain bike happening, they actually beat some of the bikes! The publicity that was created from this act of pure stupidity inspired many people to get on their unicycle and get dirty, including myself.
A Mountain unicycle club called Mt Sensations was started by Thierry Bouche in 1990 near Grenoble in Southern France. The club was affiliated to the French cycling organisation in 1993 and has over 50 active members.
The club uses 20" unicycles with long upward facing seats to give them control when descending the incredibly high mountain using a technique taken from down hill slalom skiers.
George Peck, a soft-spoken magistrate living in Seward, Alaska, is credited with giving birth to the sport of MUni in the US.
George created a videotape in 1987 entitled "Rough Terrain Unicycling", giving tips and techniques that he'd learned on his own. For years this film has been unavailable to anyone but the few who bought original 1987 vintage copies. Happily, this classic film has not been lost to the sands of time. "Rough Terrain Unicycling" is included on the UNiVERsE 2 DVD as a special feature. Though the equipment section is somewhat dated, the offroad skills which George describes on this film are just as relevant now as they were then. His skill level for many years was considered second only to that of Kris Holm: he is awesome. George is also known for pioneering offroad ultimate wheeling!
Kris Holm, a geologist living in Vancouver, B.C. is considered the premiere MUni rider today. Kris is the only unicyclist on the Norco Factory Trials Team, and he can jump a unicycle over 90cm vertically.
Kris started riding off road in 1990, but it was only in July 1998 that he typed "Mountain unicycling" in to a search engine and found he was not alone!
He was also one of the stars in the amazing UNiVERsE video along with Dan Heaton and Adam Ryznar. Since then he has produced two short movies that have gained international acclaim: One Tired Guy and Into the Thunder Dragon. Kris also appears in UNiVERsE 2.
Kris is also deeply involved with Unicycle.com in developing and refining new unicycle products. He has developed the Kris Holm saddle, the Kris Holm mountain and trials unicycles and a range of protective and street wear.
John Foss, a three-time world unicycle champion, began hosting the California MUni Weekends in the Fall of 1996. He said the idea came to him while riding the trails, just after he'd moved to California. "I just gotta share this!" he said to two bicyclist friends nearby.
Promoting the event on the Internet and word-of-mouth, John soon discovered the lure of off-road unicycling. 35 riders attended the first California MUni weekend. By the 1999 event, the number of riders grew to 55.
What is MUni?
There are many types of styles of MUni riding that people enjoy, here are some examples:
Rough terrain: This is generally a trail that has some combination of rocks large and small, fallen trees, stumps, undergrowth and mud. Like a normal cross country mountain bike rider would enjoy.
Uphill: This is one of the toughest types of MUni. It requires an extraordinary amount of leg strength and endurance. Mountain unicyclist Ted Howe rides uphill trails for fitness.
Downhill: These trails are the most fun. The best way to begin your downhill trail ride is on a ski lift. Seriously! Take a lift to the top of a mountain and ride down the bike trails. It's an absolute blast.
Trials: This is similar to what you'd find bike trials riders doing - jumping from log to log and balancing along thin sections.
What kind of equipment do I need for MUni?
MUni pioneers like George Peck and Kris Holm built their own off-road unicycles to begin with, in some cases spending thousands of dollars. Riders like Bruce Bundy and Geoffrey Faraghan applied mountain bike technology to theirs. We have a range of MUnis available, and can custom build on request. If you require something special or certain parts available from our sister sites www.unicycle.com and www.unicycle.uk.com we can order them specially for you.
We recommend wearing all of these items when you MUni: