Munifest: Riding Moab’s rough terrain on one wheel
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Mar 20, 2014 | 1100 views | 0 0 comments | 168 168 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Moab Munifest
A group of mountain unicyclists make their way up the Moab Rim trail during the 2008 Moab Munifest. Photos by Laura Haley
A group of mountain unicyclists make their way up the Moab Rim trail during the 2008 Moab Munifest. Photos by Laura Haley
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A unicyclist rides down a steep hill on the Slickrock Trail, using his feet on the tire to help slow his descent.
A unicyclist rides down a steep hill on the Slickrock Trail, using his feet on the tire to help slow his descent.
slideshow
After a five-year hiatus, the Moab Munifest will return to Moab this spring. The event, now under the direction of Jonathan Davis of Provo, will be held March 21-23.

The festival includes options for riders of all levels, including rides at the Slickrock Trail, the Bar M trail system, and Porcupine Rim. Participants can also play a game of unicycle basketball on Friday, March 22.

“The old Munifest was one of the most fun things I have ever done,” Davis said. “I couldn’t be more excited to bring such a great thing back.”

The sport of mountain unicycling is thought to date back to 1990 when Gregory Peck of Alaska took a unicycle his wife had salvaged from a dump and rode it on dried river beds, frozen lakes and mountain trails.

Peck eventually started building his own unicycles designed to stand up to the harsh riding conditions. Like mountain bikes, mountain unicycles are built with stronger frames, knobby tires, and more resilient hubs.

In 2000, Rolf Thompson and a group of his family members and friends met in Moab for the first Moab Munifest mountain unicycling festival. By 2009, when Thompson announced that he would no longer be organizing the event, the event had grown to include more than 200 riders from across the country.

While mountain unicycling requires many of the same skills as mountain biking, it also presents unique challenges. Because most unicycles aren’t geared, riders are unable to freewheel when going downhill or switch to an easier gear when climbing uphill.

Kris Holm, another pioneer of the sport, is widely credited with bringing mountain unicycling to the public eye. He’s been featured in movies, magazines and TV shows, according to his website. Holm was also a regular attendee at the Moab Munifest.

Davis described unicycling as surprisingly accessible.

“The only hard part of the learning curve is starting out,” he said. “Once you can ride a few feet on a paved surface, then riding off-road is a fun, doable transition.”

However, Davis admits that the sport was daunting at first. The first time he ever heard of it, he responded by saying, “You can’t do that. It’s too hard,” according to his biography on the Munifest website. Davis started riding unicycles in 2001. By the next year he was out cycling on the trails.

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