Snow is no excuse not to unicycle! When you live in South Dakota and snow covers the ground several months out of the year, we figure we might as well have some fun with it. Plowing through a bunch of snow and ice can be lots of fun, and you should see the looks we get! A number of people have told us to use chains or nails for traction, but we don't. We have, however, put a mountain-bike tire onto our 24" make-shift MUnis. We also decked them out with miyata air seats and Odyssey Triple Trap pedals. It's amazing what a good MTB tire can do for you!
Here, we share our experiences of riding through the different types of snow. Enjoy!
Shoveled sidewalks are no sweat (well, maybe a little). It really can't get any easier in the winter. It's just like normal, except maybe a few specs of snow every once in awhile.
A thin layer of fine, powdery snow is not bad either. Riding through it just takes a bit more leg power, and the uni will make more noise crunching and squeaking through the snow!
Even more snow really starts to give your legs a work-out: Try plowing through six inches of snow! Other than that, it's not much different. Putting more weight on the pedals will help you stay upright, but wear you out faster too. It's easiest to uni through untouched snow. If it has footsteps in it already, the wheel does funky things as it slips to one side or the other. Packed snow on streets is also challenging, as it is uneven. Sometimes, in deep snow, you have to really fight to stay on. You may have to do some creative body contortions and twist around a lot to maintain balance, but usually it works if you tell yourself you can do it!
Slushy snow is probably the most challenging, especially mounting. It's difficult to get traction, and if by some chance you manage to get on your uni, it's only a matter of feet before you it bucks you right off! Idling, going backwards, and turning suddenly become much harder. Also, you get a major build-up of wet snow on your tire and pedals. But it's still fun to try. :)
Last but not least, we have unicycled on ice. Smooth, unscratched skating rinks are nice for a little adventure. We haven't tried mounting on the ice, but we have found that if you start on the side, then ride slowly and evenly onto the ice, it actually works! Dismounting is a little hard because your feet may slip as you get off, but we haven't suffered anything worse than what would happen while ice skating! Unicycling on ice-covered sidewalks isn't too bad either - we recommend not riding too fast and to keep pedaling at a steady rate.
Sliding is another fun activity to try: ride along, stop with your pedals horizontal, and skid until you lose momentum (or fall!). Then keep riding! The nice thing about snow is that it makes a good cushion when you fall. Plus, if you have an embarrassing landing, just start making a snow angel!
And make sure you're properly dressed! Bulky coats may be a bit of a bother for unicycling, but once you get used to it, it's not a problem. Note: it is difficult to mount when you can't feel your toes, so when they get numb, come inside for hot cocoa! :)