Ben Plotkin-Swing Dropping in to the Moab MUni
photo by Cory Hurst 2005
content below is historical only. Any
references to any planned events have already taken place. There are no plans for any future events.
Organizer: Rolf Thompson, year
What is the Moab MUni Fest (an historical treatise)?
Moab MUni Fest is short for Moab Mountain
“Moab” is a
city located in Southeastern Utah and location of the famous Slickrock trail, a well known bicycling Mecca attracting some 150,000 riders
annually. The BLM opened and dedicated
the Moab Slickrock Bike Trail on July 22, 1969; two
days after the first walk on the moon.
I started riding it annually at the end of March (spring break) about 20
years ago. In 1999, I got the weird idea
of taking my old cottered-crank unicycle along—just
for fun. Well, I got hooked on unicycling there. I
haven’t ridden my bike since at Slickrock and have,
like many others, transitioned into more serious equipment better suited to the
rugged terrain of Slickrock and rough terrain unicycling in general.
The first Moab MUni Fest was held the
following year (2000) when I put the word out on the internet to see if anyone
wanted to come along and ride. I had
Joe, Judy, and Jared Stoltzfus along with Rouff—their
photogenic K9 friend—come down from Idaho
to join in. Of passing interest might be
the rapid growth of the event in the last few years. The attendance since inception is as follows:
2000 – 5
Riders, ~ 10 total with Friends/Family
10 Riders, ~15 total with Friends/Family
2002 – 8
Riders, ~ 13 total with Friends/Family
68 Riders, ~ 95 total with
Friends/Family, see 2003
130 Riders ~180 total with Friends/Family, see 2004
162 Riders ~206 total with Friends/Family, see 2005
169 Riders ~229 total with Friends/Family, see 2006
178 Riders ~271 total with Friends/Family, see 2007
Attendees, nearly 300 attended the dinner at the Grand Center
192 Riders ~323 total with Friends/Family, see 2008 Attendees
208 Riders ~344 total with Friends/Family, see 2009 Attendees
“MUni” is short for Mountain Unicycling. The word
“Muni” is a trademark of
Pashley Cycles a British company.
I believe John Foss was the
first to capitalize the “U” making it “MUni”, which
is the form I favor. I learned a lot
about mountain unicycling equipment from Joe
Stoltzfus that first year at Moab. The main thing was that many if not most
people were making their own unicycles.
What little was commercially available was very pricey. Luckily, the last few years have seen great
progress made in available equipment for the sport of mountain unicycling. This is
due to a number of pioneering individuals who have pursued perfection in
mountain unicycles and have worked with frame builders and suppliers to make
them available to others. Also, a great
deal of credit—at least here in the USA—belongs to people like John and
Amy Drummond, owners of www.unicycle.com, who have supported the sport like no others. They can provide parts or complete MUnicycles for just about any budget. Their most recent offering, the Yuni, is in my opinion a good value for the money and is a
very adequate entry level machine. In
1997, Brett Bymaster posted a treatise on the
Internet covering many of the salient aspects of mountain unicycling. I highly recommend it for newbies
(click this Brett’s MUni Website Link to get
there, thanks Brett!).
“Fest” is short for Festival, and that’s what the Moab MUni Fest is all about.
It’s a time to break the winter cabin fever and get out to the pleasant
March/April climes of Moab;
to ride and socialize with other MUni riders in the
scenic wonderland of what has come to be known as “Gods Country,” the redrock landscape of Southern Utah. It’s a place to test and expand your riding
limits, hone your skills, and learn new techniques from other riders. The entire Slickrock
area is red sandstone rock, which means you’ll have traction to climb and
descend angles you never thought possible.
The landscape IS a trials course.
For non-trials riders it’s just as much fun figuring out how to avoid
the obstacles. In either case there’s
plenty to keep you entertained. It’s a
great place to make and renew friendships within the com-MUni-ty
of riders. Check out the pics in some of these Moab Area Photo Galleries:
Aerial Photo Gallery
Slickrock Trail Photo Gallery
Arches Ntnl Park Photo Gallery
Amazing Photos of Moab Area
When is the Moab MUni Fest? The
MMF Event is held annually at the end of March.
Some years it slides into April but only when the big Jeep Safari
weekend event in Moab
conflicts. The Jeep Safari is always the
week leading up to and including Easter Sunday.
We also have to dodge the Moab
½ Marathon which is typically mid March. This year, 2009, it worked out to be Friday
March 27th to Sunday March 29th, two weeks before Easter.
What actually goes on at the Moab MUni
Fest? Every year is a different
experience. The point is to provide
world-class mountain unicycling experiences for all
who attend. Classic group rides are
scheduled daily in Moab’s
scenic environs. Sometimes multiple
rides are scheduled and options are always available for riders of differing
skill levels. Some years we have
competitions. Some years we don’t. Each year’s plan seems to emerge from an
intermixed stew of available planning time, available help, and insurance and
BLM and SITLA issues that seem to change dramatically from year to year. Also, I get bored easily and need new and
interesting rides and experiences to look forward to; after all, I am a rider
too. The only thing that seems to be
constant is the desire to DO IT. Doing
it with friends is icing on the cake.
For a good idea of the Moab MUni Fest
experience please see Professional Videos of the MMF04 event posted at 2004 Photo/Video
under New MMF04 Videos or 2007 Photo/Videos.
A word about Event t-shirts: Every year, in some form or another, the MMF
event mascot “Koko” can be found somewhere on the t-shirt. Koko is short for Kokopelli
(click here to read the Legend of Kokopelli -
really, I insist). Now, after
you’ve read that, you can understand that as Koko brings the change from Winter
to Spring in Moab he naturally likes to hang out and celebrate with the Moab
Muni Fest crowd. He showed up the first
year back in 2000, borrowed one of our old back-up unicycles, and the rest is
history. By now he is an old pro and
you’ll be happy to know he has got his own unicycle—a Kris
Holm 20” Trials Cycle—which he absolutely loves. In spite of his radical unicycle tricks and
moves he never misses a note on his flute.
He is a maven of the redrock scene and knows
how to party and have a good time. He
welcomes one and all to come join in the fun.
Here are examples of Koko in action:
Koko is putting in some long rides and getting ready for another
great Moab MUni Fest.
If you plan to
attend, please consider: Moab’s elevation is 4000 ft. above
sea level. If you are coming directly
from sea level you may experience a mild altitude sickness. Shortness of breath and slight dizziness
during exertion are common symptoms.
Scale your ambitions accordingly.
John Foss has likened every Slickrock mile to 1.5 miles on other mountain terrain trail
rides. Having completed the main loop at
Slickrock in ideal cool weather, he told me it’s the
most completely worn-out he has ever felt after any single ride. It took us about 6+ hours. Water-wise we each took full Camelbacks (120
oz.) plus additional water bottles. We
all ran out just as we were getting back to the car. During another year which was hotter, a group
of us set out on the main loop and went about 4 miles before turning
around. We ran out of water on the way
back. I was pretty sick from dehydration
but another rider spent the next 3 hours near the toilet wishing he were
dead. One year Ed
Hansen rescued me on the Amassa
Back trail by producing and giving me a full water bottle when I ran out. I now claim him as a blood relative. I guess what I am saying is that if you come
you should gauge your activity level to your ability and the weather
conditions, and make sure you have plenty of water (you can not have too much water
with you). Also, bring energy food
snacks to keep your energy levels up on the trail. The average MUni
Fest temperatures are in the 60s during the day and drop into the 30s or 40s at
night. So far over the years,
knock-on-wood, I have not experienced any significant rain during my springtime
forays to Moab; still anything—including snow—is possible. You’ll want to keep an eye on the weather as
the Festival approaches (click this Moab Weather Link for current Moab weather).
You should be a proficient unicyclist and you should have a MUni-ized unicycle. In
general, a good mountain unicycle will have a fat tire 2.3” to 3.0” with
mountain-bike-type tread. The wheel
should be strong with hardened cranks.
Typical wheel diameters are 24 or 26 inches. Trials unicycles may have a 20 inch or less
wheel diameter and yes I have seen some of the younger rides clear the entire Slickrock trail on a 20” wheel (an incredible feat). The seat should have a handle in the front
for hopping and—for some—a brake comes in handy.
As always in this sport, helmets and protective gear are
strongly recommended. This is especially
important at Slickrock. If you fall, it WILL be a hard landing—ON
ROCK! Additional info and
recommendations for biking—or in our case unicycling—in
red rock country have been posted and can be found here:
BLM Cycling and
Trail Info Link (Important recommendations for
cycling in Southern Utah, Please check out)
ECO and Biking or Uni Safety Info)
Mountain Biking (choose and click “Moab
Area,” Moab area bike trail descriptions)
Monkey.com great maps and trail guides for the Moab area, also
virtual bike tours
Moab area tourist links:
Moab-Utah.com (Top Notch Moab area Information Site)
(Tourist Info and links to pretty much everything in the Moab Area)
MoabAdventureCenter.com (One stop
adventure info for Moab
and surrounding area
(Moab Area Travel
World Web Travel Guide
iMoab a Moab
area open Directory
National Geographic’s Moab, Links covering everything, including
a time zone difference calculator
Frequently Asked Question
About Moab (tourist questions)
You’ll have to work out a plan to get to Moab. For some this will be a drive, for others an
airline flight and a car rental out of the Salt Lake City
or Grand Junction, Colorado airport will be necessary. The drive from Salt Lake
City, Utah to Moab is about 5 hours. Moab
is about two hours drive from Grand
Junction, Colorado. If you are planning to fly in, there is a
chance we can help match you up with others to split the cost of a rental
Driving directions from the Salt Lake City airport are as follows:
Take I-80 East bound and after a few miles Merge onto I-15 South
toward Las Vegas/Cheyenne.
Continue South on I-15 about 50 miles then merge onto US-6 East
via exit number 261 toward US-89 East to Price/Manti.
Continue 151.5 miles and take the US-191 exit, exit number 180
toward Moab (FYI, at mile 130 of the 151.5 mile leg on US-89 it merges with I-70
at exit number 158 and the two highways are the same for the next 21.5 miles).
Turn right on US-191—exit 180—and drive approx. 29 miles south
on US-191 to the center of Moab.
There are many other motel options and prices available. I have included a few links here to help you
zero in on the right situation for you:
Slickrock Campground (this is where the bulk of us will
camp, Host Check-in Site is here)
Moab area restaurant
Who should consider
coming to the Moab
You should. If you have
read the provided information above and it sounds like something you would
enjoy, you are welcome and encouraged to come.
The festival is not intended to be super tightly organized but rather a
break from the norm and a chance to play and show off your riding skills. You may even learn a trick or two and,
without a doubt, meet some interesting people in the process. I hope this next time we’ll see you
there. If you have any questions or
suggestions, please let me know à my
Rolf (The Father of Krazy)
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Page updated 1/6/09
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copyright 2000-2009 by Rolf Thompson, except for the stuff I stole.