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THE OUTDOORS ALMANAC | MIGRATIONS

Just out spinning their wheel

October 11, 2005|Bill Becher

WHAT is the sound of one-wheel mountain biking? Sometimes it's an oops, followed by a thud. That's because riding rocky trails, difficult on a regular bike, is a whole lot harder when balanced on a single wheel. Eyal Aharoni, a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara, found this out when he started riding his father's unicycle on mountain bike trails. He thought he'd invented a new sport until a friend introduced him to others who ride trails on one wheel. Now Aharoni is helping organize the 10th annual California Mountain Unicycle Weekend. About 50 riders are expected to show up from across the country for the trail riding and trials competition in Santa Barbara, including world champion Kris Holm of Vancouver and unicycle video maker Dan Heaton. Rocky sections, roots and stream crossings will spice up the trail rides, says Aharoni. The cycles have a hydraulic brake but no gears, so the ride -- down the five or six miles of trail, with a 3,000-foot drop -- is grueling. The trials competition tests riders' ability to stay balanced while negotiating wooden ramps, bridges, stairs and a teeter-totter. The California Mountain Unicycle Weekend 2005 will be held Friday through Sunday at locations near Santa Barbara. The spectator-friendly trials competition is Saturday at Summerland Preserve in Summerland, starting at 2 p.m. For more information go to www.sbuni.org/2005cmw/. Aharoni says the weekend is more about bringing together members of the tiny, scattered tribe of mountain unicyclists than it is about competition. Woo-hoo! Thud.

-- Bill Becher

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