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Old 2002-09-30, 04:13 PM   #1
Mark Wiggins
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Anthony Nolan Trust "bike" ride - Trip Report

Hi,

Yesterday (Sunday 29th) Alan "Arnold the Aardvark" Chambers and I rode
Cokers in a 35-mile charity bike ride around the Northern Warwickshire
Cycleway.

The week leading up to the event was difficult enough - my knees were
giving me grief so I didn't want to walk anywhere nevermind ride and
Alan's innertube had 3 patches and was still leaking. The replacement
tubes from unicycle.com hadn't arrived. On Saturday, my knees were still
hurting and Alan still didn't have a tube so I spent some time doing
gentle unicycling to check the effects while Alan drove over to Rugby to
borrow a tube from Chris Dobbie. Thanks, Chris. By that evening, Alan
had his Coker ready to go and I'd decided my knees preferred unicycling
to walking so we were all set. Phew.

Sunday morning. Loaded up the CamelBak with as much water and chocolate
as it would hold. Just enough room for a camera and GPS. Hey, you've
gotta have some toys, right? Threw the gear in the car and went to pick
up Alan. Added his stuff to the pile in the car and we were off to
Kingsbury Water Park.

The bicyclists were pretty quick to notice that something was different
- lots of positive comments. The reaction of two bikers who saw us turn
from the 10-mile route onto the 35-mile route was worth the price of
admission alone. :-)

The first 10 miles were reasonably flat but we were approaching a point
on the map that had been tagged with a sad face. We figured this sad
face had been put there for the benefit of bikers rather than
unicyclists so just how bad was it going to be? :-} We soon found out
- it was pretty bad but not impossible. The gradient was OK (sorry,
forgot my inclinometer) but it dragged on for a while. I made it to the
top but the pounding of my pulse in my head warned me that I was maybe
pushing it a bit too hard - especially with 25 miles to go. Ho hum. I
had a good rest at the top waiting for Alan who'd apparently had a bit
of a lie down half way up. Ahem. :-)

This is where I suspect we come to another difference between Americans
and Brits. On David Stone's 100-mile ride, he seemed kinda focused on
the finish line and getting there as quickly as possible. Our map had
all of the local pubs marked on it. :-) Looking back, most of the
photos recording the trip feature either the interior or exterior of a
pub. Hmm. Anyways, the first pub we planned to stop at was closed so we
had to continue an extra 100m or so to the next. This pub happened to be
a marshall point - the chappy asked if we wanted some water, we thanked
him but headed for the bar. Now the real pain started - going into a
real ale pub and asking for a Coke. Aarrgghh. See, we're not *that* laid
back about this, er, "athletic endeavour". :-)

Having chatted to the locals about the terrain and the mechanics of
unicycling it was time to hit the road once more. They'd told us that we
were at the highest point. Hurrah. But that there was a steep downhill
coming up. Bugger. Nevermind, onwards and, er, downwards. As it happens
the downhill wasn't too bad at all, 10% (I read the sign this time) and
it was pretty short. We carried on, stopping every few miles to eat
chocolate and adjust position. Of course, we only stopped for 30 seconds
at a time. Except the GPS trace tells me the stops averaged about 5
minutes each. Well, it was a nice day... :-)

When we reached a park, the signs ran out. I wish I'd been a boy scout.
We followed the logical path and turned up in a housing estate with no
obvious bike path. Time to backtrack. Ah, there's a sign that's been
thoughfully painted over. Nice one. OK, we're probably going the right
way now, along a nice dusty track. Only there are still no signs. Half a
mile. No signs. Three-quarters of a mile. No signs. Time to stop and
check the map. Yup, the description sounds right. We carry on and
eventually come out at the end of the track. There in the distance,
barely visible with the naked eye is a sign. Hurrah. We've made it
through the wilderness...

Back onto the road to a place called Hartshill. Can you see what's
coming? We didn't. I know, I know, Harts*hill*. There's a clue there -
but nobody said it would be *up*. This hill was steeper than the first
but not as long. It was complicated by having a horsewoman riding slowly
up it with a pony to the side of her. Oh and lots of cars trying to go
up and down. Anyways, the cars coming down were waiting for the horses
but the horses were going too slowly for us to keep going behind them. I
gingerly pulled over as far from the horses as I could and rode past
watching them more than the road or the cars in case they were spooked.
In the event they were fine and I trundled past up the hill. A car had
been following me up and I wondered how much I was annoying him by going
this slowly - but I was having enough trouble getting up the hill and
avoiding the horses without worrying too much about him. At the top, he
pulls over, winds down the window - and congratulates me on making it up
the hill. Nice one. :-)

At the top of the next hill, we found the other marshall point and
pulled in for a chat. The marshall at the first had radioed ahead to
warn that two nutters were out there. Fame at last. Turns out that one
of the marshalls here had a unicycle and could just about ride it. We
told him about the joys of mountain unicycling - but I suspect he
thought we were winding him up.

The route eased up a lot from this point. Trouble is, we didn't know
that at the time. Rolling along looking for the next hill and, of
course, the next pub. The Rose at Baxterley is very nice. Got it's own
duck pond and everything. Called in for a swift Coke, ignored the ales
(sob) and eventually dragged ourselves away for the final few miles.

When we got back to the Water Park, the officials were impressed. I
think they'd expected to be sending out an ambulance for us. When we
said we'd look out for future rides they asked if we'd be using a bike
next time. What kind of a question is that? Pah.

Regards,
Mark.
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Old 2002-09-30, 04:43 PM   #2
Arnold the Aardvark
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Re: Anthony Nolan Trust "bike" ride - Trip Report

> Alan's innertube had 3 patches and was still leaking.

I pinched it when levering the new tyre onto my nice new
alumini(US only: ^H)um rim. That bugger's tight ;-). Thanks
again Chris for coming to the rescue.

> had a good rest at the top waiting for Alan who'd apparently had a bit
> of a lie down half way up. Ahem. :-)


You'd lie down too if your heart was pounding like mine. There was a
flat bit 2/3 up the hill. I went from "Hurrah! I made it!" to "Bollocks!
There's
more." in the space of 20 yards. The flat bit was rather comfortable.

Hartshill was worse. I decided not to frighten the horses with my laboured
breathing and enjoyed the short stroll to the top.

> duck pond and everything. Called in for a swift Coke, ignored the ales
> (sob) and eventually dragged ourselves away for the final few miles.


I'm pretty sure we should have had a swift one here. Only about eight
miles to go. I mean, how bad could it be?

Wiggins is on about a 55 mile ride next! I think I could do it, but my
rear will never forgive me.


Arnold the Aardvark


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Old 2002-09-30, 11:08 PM   #3
Klaas Bil
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Re: Anthony Nolan Trust "bike" ride - Trip Report

Thanks a lot Mark and Alan for the report and congrats on the
achievement. I've got nothing specific to remark but I'd just like to
say that such write-ups are appreciated. Nice read!

Klaas Bil

If you had this signature, I have forged it.
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Old 2002-10-01, 12:18 PM   #4
Mark Wiggins
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Re: Anthony Nolan Trust "bike" ride - Trip Report

Klaas Bil wrote:
> Thanks a lot Mark and Alan for the report and congrats on the
> achievement. I've got nothing specific to remark but I'd just like to
> say that such write-ups are appreciated. Nice read!


Cheers. It's nice to hear that people read these witterings. :-)

Regards,
Mark.
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Old 2002-10-01, 03:24 PM   #5
unicus
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Re: Re: Anthony Nolan Trust "bike" ride - Trip Report

Quote:
Originally posted by Arnold the Aardvark
You'd lie down too if your heart was pounding like mine. There was a flat bit 2/3 up the hill. I went from "Hurrah! I made it!" to "Bollocks!
There's more." in the space of 20 yards. The flat bit was rather comfortable.

Hartshill was worse. I decided not to frighten the horses with my laboured breathing and enjoyed the short stroll to the top.
This doesn't sound like you Alan

Nice write up Mark and well done on the ride to both of you.

Cheers, Gary
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