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Old 2019-10-16, 03:03 AM   #1
unicycleharry
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2019 Mt. Diablo Challenge

We represented with 4 unicyclists at this year's race. Weather was great, with little to no wind (~3mph SSW). Starting at around 43F and ending at 63F for my ride.

Mt Diablo Challenge is an uphill cycling race. There's been many unicyclists at the event in the past (long before I even started riding ).

Ben: 1:06:59.8
Harrison: 1:09:06.6
Josh: 1:29:01.1
Jim: 1:45:36.3

Ben's new record time is incredible! People I talked with afterwards said he was riding faster than some "professional bicyclists".

As far as riding sub 1-hr, I think a 36" or a guni 29"/36" is almost necessary. (and crazy fitness. I'm not even close to 1hr on a bike)

Since I rode a 29"x2.35" ungeared, I decided to look at my data a bit.
Sub-1hr would require spinning at around 125rpm for the whole time. That's how fast I was spinning when the gradient was around 0-1%. Most of the ride is 3-10%. The picture below shows my average speed/cadence for different grades throughout the ride. (total avg speed for me was about 15.3
kmh)

Interesting thing from the chart (maybe real or just data inaccuracies), is that my cadence deviates higher than gps speed for higher grades around 8-10%. My hypothesis is that I ride in a more squiggly path when it's steeper.

Ben's facebook post with photos :
https://www.facebook.com/ben.vanmuni...09594809252287

(it's supposed to be 11.2mi = 18.0km, but I think my garmin underestimates and says 17.6km)
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Last edited by unicycleharry; 2019-10-16 at 03:33 AM.
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Old 2019-10-16, 08:10 AM   #2
Quax1974
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I'm really interested in Uni-climbing and thats some detailed analysis there!
And some very fast riding!!!

It would be nice to know the wheel size and cranks used by the unicyclists that competed.

I just searched Strava for the stats of this event and get different results for length, elevation and average grade.
Do you happen to know the correct one?

Mt Diablo Challenge Blackhawk, California 17.5 963 5%
Mt. Diablo: Mount Diablo… Diablo, California 17.9 990 6%
2013 mt diablo challenge climb Diablo, CA 17.4 960 6%
Mount Diablo Challenge Diablo, California 17.9 962 5%


Earlier this year I participated in "Climbing for life" with stats:
Ballon D’ Alsace: 8.9 km, 707m, 4.9% in 1h40min (my own strava data, including relatively flat warm up 1st km)
Planche de Belles Filles : 7.9 km, 552m, 7.0% in 1h6min (my own strava data).

My times are "moving time" because I took some breaks.
I would have to check separate segments to get better climbing info.

Now looking back at your "real" times I'm even more impressed!!!
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Old 2019-10-16, 10:34 AM   #3
Quax1974
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At 1:15 minute: Ben Soja rippin' it up

https://youtu.be/EydxOM-hlDo


Question: did Ben complete the Everest?
On the blog where I originally found the YT video the writer suggests so.

Last edited by Quax1974; 2019-10-16 at 10:35 AM.
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Old 2019-10-16, 02:11 PM   #4
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Question: did Ben complete the Everest?
Yes, this is Ben`s post on facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/ben.vanmuni...25268591018246
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Old 2019-10-16, 06:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quax1974 View Post
It would be nice to know the wheel size and cranks used by the unicyclists that competed.
I rode. 29"x2.35" with 125mm cranks.
Ben: 29"x2", 137mm, geared
Josh: 26", not sure about crank, geared
Jim: 29"x2", not sure about crank

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quax1974 View Post
I just searched Strava for the stats of this event and get different results for length, elevation and average grade.
Do you happen to know the correct one?

Mt Diablo Challenge Blackhawk, California 17.5 963 5%
Mt. Diablo: Mount Diablo… Diablo, California 17.9 990 6%
2013 mt diablo challenge climb Diablo, CA 17.4 960 6%
Mount Diablo Challenge Diablo, California 17.9 962 5%
Around 17.6km to 18.0km, at about 5.5% average grade, so those are all approximately correct... Maybe someone else knows how to get a more accurate length/elevation.
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Old 2019-10-16, 06:05 PM   #6
Quax1974
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Originally Posted by fetzenschorsch View Post
Yes, this is Ben`s post on facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/ben.vanmuni...25268591018246
I found out about everesting here on the forum but never found out if an unicyclist ever succeeded.

Now I know 😀
Simply amazing!
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Old 2019-10-17, 05:38 AM   #7
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Great effort guys! I love reading up about these challenges. Good to have the detailed analysis too.

Kudos for spinning that fast on 125's. Did you consider going shorter?

Maybe I'll come and do one of these hillclimbs next year!
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Old 2019-10-18, 02:41 PM   #8
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Harrison, great effort and analysis!

Let me contribute a comparison of our efforts. This shows where the Schlumpf is faster and where it's worse. My time (pink curve) is relative to Harrison's (black straight line). The elevation profile is in the background. In the first half, I gained 3 minutes and in the second half, where it is steeper, I lost 1 minute. The green boxes are the sections I rode in first gear, and that is where I lost most time. It makes sense, since when I have to ride in first gear, my setup is clearly worse than Harrison's (longer cranks and heavier due to the Schlumpf hub).

For this course, I believe my setup (G29/137mm) was pretty much perfect. Unless you go full custom, I believe 36ers are simply too heavy. If the course would a bit steeper, let's say 7% average grade, ungeared 29ers would probably be the way to go.
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Old 2019-10-18, 03:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by GizmoDuck View Post
Maybe I'll come and do one of these hillclimbs next year!
Great idea! If you do, you will be welcome to stay at our place, and I'll show you the historic Muni Weekend trails, or Downieville, and then you can go toward the coast for the famous Santa Cruz area trails, and Rob's Ride.

Also congratulations to you uphill athletes; quite an achievement! For less-fit people, our conclusion in 2007, on a training ride for Ride The Lobster, was that the 36" was a little faster, if only because it's hard to go slower than a certain pace when grinding up most of the second half of the climb. That was Mike Scalisi and me, switching back and forth between 29" and 36". Not very scientific...
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Old 2019-10-20, 08:27 PM   #10
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Congratulations!

I wish I could do a hill race like this. I'm very interested by this thread for some reasons.

Like as saw on facebook, you both have the two lightest 29" wheels in the market, Ben with a schlumpf hub and Harrison without. For a few months, I had been thinking about a setup with a lightbicycle 29" carbon rim and the schwalbe big one tire with the idea of riding road climbs. And the same week, I see your two wheels and the Unigeezer one. I wonder how you chose from the wide choice of rim width and the 2 designs RECON and RECON PRO (Ben ride a RECON PRO).
Maybe we (I?) need to create a new thread about the lightbicycle carbon rim

About the difference between Harrison and Ben, or rather between 29 and G29, as I can see, the first 10km were about 4%, the last 8km about 7,5%. Even if the first part is not very steep, I doubt the interest of the schlumpf when it comes to climbing.

I also think that a 36" seems to be an interesting wheel size for this climb, but the negative point is that a 36" stealth2 rim + 36" nightrider are more than twice as heavy as a 29" carbon rim + 29" big one tire... I wouldn't have said that before I climbed Mount Ventoux in July with my G36 (about 10kg, my heaviest unicycle), it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
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Old 2019-10-21, 01:06 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GizmoDuck View Post
Great effort guys! I love reading up about these challenges. Good to have the detailed analysis too.

Kudos for spinning that fast on 125's. Did you consider going shorter?

Maybe I'll come and do one of these hillclimbs next year!
I hadn't seriously thought about shorter. I can see it working better for me now though, now that my fitness has improved. However, I actually think I can still go faster with my same setup.

I would have thought that my low-gradient speed would have stayed about the same as I got faster with the same cranks and wheel size. And my speed for steeper sections would be where I improved the most. However, it seems I was able to raise my speed across the board from my previous attempts, in the first picture.
2017 in green was when it was super windy and I used 150mm cranks. Other 3 years were all 125mm 29er.

In the second picture: my 3 best unicycle times and my best bike time. Even against myself, I made up the most time in the second half. Not sure if that's good or bad pacing...
First 6 miles, my average HR was 180bpm. Second half I let it go up to 190bpm. I was kind of worried when I first saw 180bpm; I had no idea what HR was sustainable since it's all flat around where I live now, and I can't get my HR up nearly as much (165bpm for a 20 minute effort already hurts as much or more).

Interesting my old bike time is considerably slower, and only made up time on the two flat/downhill sections.
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Last edited by unicycleharry; 2019-10-21 at 01:10 AM.
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Old 2019-10-28, 10:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnfoss View Post
Great idea! If you do, you will be welcome to stay at our place, and I'll show you the historic Muni Weekend trails, or Downieville, and then you can go toward the coast for the famous Santa Cruz area trails, and Rob's Ride.
May take you up on that, in a year or two!

Quote:
Originally Posted by toutestbon View Post
Like as saw on facebook, you both have the two lightest 29" wheels in the market, Ben with a schlumpf hub and Harrison without. For a few months, I had been thinking about a setup with a lightbicycle 29" carbon rim and the schwalbe big one tire with the idea of riding road climbs. And the same week, I see your two wheels and the Unigeezer one. I wonder how you chose from the wide choice of rim width and the 2 designs RECON and RECON PRO (Ben ride a RECON PRO).
Maybe we (I?) need to create a new thread about the lightbicycle carbon rim

I raced Unicon 19 on a 29" Light Bicycle carbon rim/Schwalbe Big One setup, which is very light (sub 4kg) but I don't rate the Big One as a particularly good tyre. It punctures going over not very much, and needs very high pressures to handle camber.

I have a H Plus Son Archetype/Schwalbe Kojak combo which I think would work better for a hillclimb.


Quote:
Originally Posted by unicycleharry View Post
I hadn't seriously thought about shorter. I can see it working better for me now though, now that my fitness has improved. However, I actually think I can still go faster with my same setup.

I would have thought that my low-gradient speed would have stayed about the same as I got faster with the same cranks and wheel size. And my speed for steeper sections would be where I improved the most. However, it seems I was able to raise my speed across the board from my previous attempts, in the first picture.
2017 in green was when it was super windy and I used 150mm cranks. Other 3 years were all 125mm 29er.

In the second picture: my 3 best unicycle times and my best bike time. Even against myself, I made up the most time in the second half. Not sure if that's good or bad pacing...
First 6 miles, my average HR was 180bpm. Second half I let it go up to 190bpm. I was kind of worried when I first saw 180bpm; I had no idea what HR was sustainable since it's all flat around where I live now, and I can't get my HR up nearly as much (165bpm for a 20 minute effort already hurts as much or more).

Interesting my old bike time is considerably slower, and only made up time on the two flat/downhill sections.
Really interesting graphs. I think unicycles are faster than bikes at the right gradient- your power goes directly into the wheel instead of through a drivetrain.
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Old 2019-10-28, 04:26 PM   #13
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Really interesting graphs. I think unicycles are faster than bikes at the right gradient- your power goes directly into the wheel instead of through a drivetrain.
I think some unicyclist are better at at climbing hills because in general they develop stronger legs then bike riders. The power train on bikes have very little loss and turn at an ideal speed most of the time. With longer cranks on a bike, no need to hold back on the up stroke and the ability to coast they simply do not have to work as hard as a unicyclist to cover the same distance. With the added work just to ride a unicycle they develop stronger legs and that is a benefit when the going gets tough on a hill climb.
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Old 2019-10-29, 03:18 AM   #14
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I think some unicyclist are better at at climbing hills because in general they develop stronger legs then bike riders. The power train on bikes have very little loss and turn at an ideal speed most of the time. With longer cranks on a bike, no need to hold back on the up stroke and the ability to coast they simply do not have to work as hard as a unicyclist to cover the same distance. With the added work just to ride a unicycle they develop stronger legs and that is a benefit when the going gets tough on a hill climb.
I think you get fitter from riding a bike, as you can ride a constant and higher resistance with gearing to match the terrain.

Drivetrain loss- may not be much but I've read anywhere from 3-6% loss, which would be significant compared to a unicycle, which transfers power directly into the wheel.

Coasting- not an issue for a hillclimb, hence why I said 'given the right gradient'.

I'm not sure by what you mean 'holding back on the upstroke'? Most of the power is delivered on the downstroke, and comparing like with like- you can also use clipless pedals on a unicycle.
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Old 2019-10-29, 07:02 AM   #15
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I think some unicyclist are better at at climbing hills because in general they develop stronger legs then bike riders. The power train on bikes have very little loss and turn at an ideal speed most of the time. With longer cranks on a bike, no need to hold back on the up stroke and the ability to coast they simply do not have to work as hard as a unicyclist to cover the same distance. With the added work just to ride a unicycle they develop stronger legs and that is a benefit when the going gets tough on a hill climb.
The idea that unicycles could be faster than bikes, on any kind of terrain, given equivalent rider strength, is completely absurd and contradicted by every data point we have.

But, as you say, there are many unicyclists, including Ben and Harrison, who are faster than many bicyclists. Ben is an amazing athlete who would be beating 1:00 on Diablo if he were training on bike. (Harrison, probably, also). Glenn Drummond, the previous record-holder on Diablo at 1:13 (since 2005), was an extremely strong bike rider, and had finished in the top 5 in the bike category, and still finished sub-1:00 as recently as 2017 (at age 55).

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