Learn more at Ride the Raccoon Muni Gathering: https://sites.google.com/site/southeastmuni/home
For many people, riding the trails on a mountain bike is a tough-enough challenge, but Ben Kadas and his friends have taking off-road cycling to an entirely new level.
Kadas does his mountain riding on just one wheel -- a unicycle.
Mountain unicycling, known as "muni," is a small but growing sport in which riders use specially designed unicycles to ride on dirt trails and gravel service roads -- pretty much anywhere a mountain bike can go but using half the wheels.
The Kadas family was in Colorado for a ski trip several years ago when a friend showed up with a unicycle.
"My son saw it and was just bugging me to get him a unicycle," Kadas said. "I finally told him that if he could ride [about 20 feet] without falling by the end of the week that I'd get him one, and he did it."
After training and developing his own skills on the unicycle, Kadas has made it his primary way to ride off road.
"I don't bike anymore. I haven't been on a bike in four years," he said. "I was an avid mountain biker and rode three or four times a week on a bike, and now I ride three or four times a week on a unicycle."
This weekend, Kadas and others will be on the Raccoon Mountain trail system for the Ride the Raccoon Muni Gathering. The Saturday and Sunday event is free and open to the public.
Riders and spectators will meet at the picnic area at Laurel Point before traveling to the trail system for various events, including a downhill challenge, trials competition, cross country trail rides and a time trial road ride.
In addition, Kadas and other unicyclists will be helping teach their sport to anyone who would like to give it a try.
"Because there are so few unicyclists out there, we're trying to just get as many folks to come out as possible," Kadas said. "We just want everyone to show up -- and we're going to camp out -- and just come check it out. Any time you can get together with other unicyclists is just amazing."
Kadas said off-road unicycling is an easy sport to get into and is one of the toughest workouts he's ever done, and he would encourage anyone to take a chance on learning the sport.
"It's incredibly portable and an amazing workout," he said. "I've biked all over the country and I'm an avid climber, skier, backpacker ... and I've never had a workout like I get on an unicycle. In an hour I can get a workout that it would take me all day on a bicycle."
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...