Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,433 feet
Date Posted:  08/15/2008
Modified:  08/26/2008
Date Climbed:   08/11/2008
Author:  MUni Rider
 Unicycle descent on Mt. Elbert  

11 August 2008
7:50 a.m. start time.
2:15 p.m. end time.
Solo mission: MUni Rider

A late start, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. A good sign. Even if I would have to eventually turn around due to weather, it all still beats sitting on the couch.

Today would be all about the downhill. I pushed/carried my mountain unicycle (MUni) up from the trailhead. The ground was pretty moist. As long as it didn't rain, it would make for perfect riding in the afternoon. No dust or dry sand. Once the Colorado Trail leveled out at this little ring of rocks on the trial,
I was able to ride along, took the Elbert trail to the right, and kept riding, enjoying the occasional up hill grind until it just got too be too much continuos steep. I would estimate one good mile or so. So far everything looked great for the return ride.

After dismounting, it was time for the long walk to treeline. Well, not so long really. About 1- hour from the car.
After resting in the last shade and a snack it was time to head up, up, and up. There would be very little up-riding from this point on. It was one big long push and on the steeper parts, over the shoulder carry.

I snapped a few pictures along the way.
Passing hikers would comment on the unicycle along the way. Sometimes I would take a break and talk to people for a few minutes. If they asked to take a picture I would give them my email address so they could forward me a copy. When the pics start coming in, I'll post them on the trip report.

Thank you Robin & Dorane Wintermeyer for the following three pics!

Thank you "HONZA" for the following pic!

Hopefully the two guys that took some video come thru too!

Other times I would have fun with the questions. You have to realize that unicycle riders hear the same questions over and over and over, so it's pretty easy to have a good response already in mind. Children are always given a free pass, but adults may get a wise-crack of an answer... (All in good fun) Examples:

"Where's your other wheel?" My response: "I have to give you a F for originality, but to answer your question; it's on my other unicycle."

"You're missing half of your bike!" My response: "I no longer require a training wheel."

"Are you going to ride that down?" My response: "It beats carrying in back down."

"How do you ride that thing?" My response: " I use the pedals."

"You can ride that here?" My response: "I hope so, otherwise this is all a big waste of time."

I always like to keep a sense of humor.

I reached the top 2 hours after leaving treeline, so 3- hours overall. There had been cotton-candy clouds for the last hour or so, but not near threatening. After the requisite summit pictures, (Sporting a new shirt!)
a quick bite to eat and changing into my riding clothes,
the small clouds had increased, merged and started bulking up. It was Noon, time to go.

I only rode about 10 or 15 feet on the summit itself. Not a lot of room, plus lots of people. I did ride off and on getting off the short summit ridge, but there are lots of loose softball size rocks, and worse, solid pedal-grabbing rocks. When hit, a pedal strike likes to flip the unicycle sideways instantly. I usually dismount and walk passed the worst ones. I try to thread my tire around and between the not so threatening rocks, but quite often I would UPD, (Un-Planned-Dismount). I just run it off and let the unicycle fall over, or I can grab the seat if I'm not going to fast. Not actually a fall. Big difference from a fall.

There were lots of these today. I knew there would be, but that's part of the challenge. There would have been more, but there were many sections that I walked. If fact 90% of the upper part of the mountain was a walked. The steepest part around 13,500 was walked. If the tight switchbacks were too short to get two tire revolutions, or there was steep- loose sand/gravel, or loose rock, or pedal grabbers.... I'm not a purist, so I walked a lot until I got off the long ridgeline. The lower I got, the more I was able to ride. Whe I found a good solid area I made sure to ride it, such as this:
After I dropped below 12,500 and started the long straight section of trail that leads to the trees I was able to ride with only a few UPDs. Once I hit the treeline, it was off to the races.

100% of the trail from here on out was rideable. I did UPD a few times, but no falls this day. I only walked a couple drops that totaled of no more than 40 or 50 feet combined once I hit treeline. From treeline it was less than an hour to the car. I stopped for pictures a few times along the way, but didn't want to be there long.... I ran out of water about 10 minutes into the trees. And I knew better than to only take three liters. Oh well. It was a damn good ride. Lots of roots and rocks and log steps to roll/hop/jump off. The biggest log was this one, yep, ridable:
No dry sand, no dust. Good gripping trail dirt. Nice.

One thing that I did notice. My tire pressure changed significantly throughout the day. Up top, it was great for rolling. Near treeline it was good for taking small/moderate drops ranging 6 -12 inches.
The lower my elevation, the lower the tire pressure. 18-20 psi is best for the bigger drops found down low. By then I was probably riding 12-15 psi. Still okay, but I'm lucky I didn't pinch-flat on the section approaching the creek crossing, one of the best part of the ride, for sure.

I'm not sure how many more of the other 14ers need to be ridin' on the MUni. Pikes Peak via the Barr trail is FOR SURE in the future. Miles of good ride potential there. On other mountains, I'll probably leave the MUni at the base of the too-steep-to-ride portion of the mountain.

ps.... When anyone else on the mountian that days forwards pics of me riding, I'll post them here.

***Pikes Peak Unicycle trip can be see here:

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

interesting and different
08/16/2008 20:35
nice display of creative talent....

Ken Gross

08/15/2008 18:20
Way to work!


In awe!
08/15/2008 19:19
You make it look easy, and I know it is not. (Wonderhubby is a unicyclist)

Thanks for sharing this fun report. Great pics; hope you get lots more.


Very Creative!
08/16/2008 14:13
Two thumbs up for doing something different.



08/17/2008 11:41
Sweet Tights!


08/17/2008 15:21
You are a hero to my son...he started cycling last year...


08/18/2008 23:07
This might be the greatest thing I‘ve ever heard of. I used to do some unicycling (on pavement, not dirt) and couldn‘t even imagine the skill needed to pull this off. Congrats.


I‘m envious!
08/21/2008 17:15
Wow that is awesome! I‘m a mountain unicyclist (munisano on from Huntsville, Alabama. I was going to do a unicycle descent of a 14er (I won‘t say which ) but I was out too early i.e. June and there just was too much snow/mud to make it worth while. Perhaps when I can get out there in August some time we could meet up for an adventure! Great job! Back to the sweltering jungle heat...


This is what you do when you‘re not kayaking
12/23/2008 17:22
Very nice report.

It probably won‘t surprise anyone to know that MUni has the highest solo run of the Royal Gorge in a kayak in over a decade at 3900cfs. We were both part of a group that ran it at 4200cfs(cubic feet per second, a 12 year high. By comparison it‘s considered ”high” at 2000 cfs and the raft companies stop at 3200.

Unicycling off the highest point in Colorado is a pretty normal day for MUni.


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