Ben Plotkin-Swing Dropping in to the Moab MUni Fest 2005                                        photo by Cory Hurst 2005

 

 

Warning the 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 2000

Email:   zadig@engineer.com

 

What is the Moab MUni Fest (an historical treatise)? 

 

Moab MUni Fest is short for Moab Mountain Unicycling Festival

 

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

                   2001 – 10 Riders, ~15 total with Friends/Family

                   2002 – 8 Riders, ~ 13 total with Friends/Family

                   2003 – 68 Riders, ~  95 total with Friends/Family, see 2003 Attendees

                                                                                             2003 Rider Comments (.pdf)

                                                                                             2003 Competition Results

                   2004 – 130 Riders ~180 total with Friends/Family, see 2004 Attendees

                                                                                             2004 Rider Comments (.pdf)

                                                                                             2004 Competition Results

                   2005 – 162 Riders ~206 total with Friends/Family, see 2005 Attendees

                                                                                             2005 Rider Comments (.pdf)

                   2006 – 169 Riders ~229 total with Friends/Family, see 2006 Attendees

                   2007 – 178 Riders ~271 total with Friends/Family, see 2007 Attendees, nearly 300 attended the dinner at the Grand Center

                   2008 – 192 Riders ~323 total with Friends/Family, see 2008 Attendees

                   2009 – 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:

 

*       Moab Desert Adventures

*       Moab Aerial Photo Gallery

*       Moab Valley Photos

*       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.  Are you?

 

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)

*       Dream Ride  (Excellent ECO and Biking or Uni Safety Info)

*       Utah Mountain Biking (choose and click “Moab Area,”  Moab area bike trail descriptions)

*       Trail 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)

*       GoMoab.com (Tourist Info and links to pretty much everything in the Moab Area)

*       MoabAdventureCenter.com (One stop adventure info for Moab and surrounding area

*       DiscoverMoab.com (Moab Area Travel Council site)

*       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 vehicle.

 

Driving directions from the Salt Lake City airport are as follows:

 

1.      Take I-80 East bound and after a few miles Merge onto I-15 South toward Las Vegas/Cheyenne.

2.      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.

3.      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).

4.      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-Utah.com

*       Utah.com

*       Discover Moab.com

*       Moab Lodging

 

Moab area restaurant Links:

 

*       Discover Moab.com

*       Moab.com

*       MoabHappenings

 

Who should consider coming to the Moab MUni Fest?

 

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 email.

 

Thanks,

 

Rolf  (The Father of Krazy)

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Page updated 1/6/09

All web content copyright 2000-2009 by Rolf Thompson, except for the stuff I stole.