102 Damnations

Tuesday’s ride…

After a lousy day at work, I need a ride to burn off some of life’s frustrations. I’m also keen to get some more miles in with the 102 mm cranks on my 28.

So I park the car, get the uni out and check the crank nuts. I’m about to put some more air in the tyre when my phone rings. It’s a friend who seems to want to chat because he’s bored. For 20 minutes, the start of the ride seems no closer. To cap it all, he tells me about a mutual friend who’s fallen on hard times and is in a bad way.

At last, I set off. Within 30 metres, I get cat calls and mild abuse from the kids on the skateboard ramps by the playground. Who said skater kids were mostly harmless?

Within 5 minutes, the phone rings again. A friend is desperate for me to deliver a sword to him. I’ve done some repairs to it, and now he needs it for a fencing match tomorrow. 10 minutes are spent making arrangements.

Less than two minutes later, whom should I meet but my li’l sister? A brief chat ensues, and again the rhythm of the ride is lost. Also, we nearly fall out over a disagreement about our Nazi brother. So much for riding off the frustrations of a bad day!

Blah blah river, ducks, tarmac etc… usual nonsense…

And I reach the underpass. This is a challenge on the 102s - there are 6 slopes in all - all quite steep - and there are 3 blind corners. I have never previously met anyone at all in the underpass. Today, I meet a gang of 6 youths, blocking my way. I’m concentrating on pedalling smoothly up the hill. What’s going to happen? Well, they part, three to each side, and virtually form a guard of honour. One expresses respect for the unicycle, and a tense moment passes.

But at the next corner, I hear a skid of rubber and an idiot on a mountain bike comes sideways round the corner, oblivious to the possibility that there might be, for example, a unicycle in his way. Fortunately, he misses me.

Blah blah, blather, river, ducks, single track etc…

I’m riding along single track and rough grass at the edge of a cricket field. With an audience of about 24 young males, I hit a rough patch and UPD. You can ride for 20 miles and fall off once and it’s the fall that people notice.

Freemounting neatly, and hopefully regaining some credibility, I reach one of my favourite stretches of river bank - winding swooping single track… and my way is blocked by two joggers and a dog. I’m forced to dismount and wait.

50 metres later, one walker and an incredibly stupid dog block my path. The dog runs at me, barking. I dismount until the dog is safely past.

5 minutes later, I meet a group of young blokes on a fishing trip. One shouts, “Look Mum! No hands!” At least it has the virtue of originality, but why oh why oh why do these people feel they have a right to comment to strangers? I don’t shout, “Who ate all the pies?” to fat people, or “Where’s your trawler?” to fishermen.

I reach the Marina, then the nature reserve at Attenborough. In 1987, I bought my first unicycle - a Pashley 20 inch UMX with 5 inch (127 mm) cranks - and I used to ride around this nature reserve. A full lap without a dismount was a huge challenge, and there is one particular steep and uneven bridge that used to be the my downfall almost every time. Now I’m on a 28 with 102s, and I ride the bridge fairly easily.

Back through the nature reserve and down onto the canal towpath. Oh joy and rapture unconfined! There is a fishing match on. The canal is about 8 metres wide, and our friendly neighbourhood anglers are using 11, 13 and even 15 metre carbon fibre poles! Why not sit on the other bank and use a 1 metre pole? Anyway, the towpath is an obstacle course of fishing equipment. Each angler has to move his pole for me, which means I’m teetering along at low speed on a big wheel with small cranks, next to deep and dirty water, with a large, mostly male audience of irritated people. What fun!

More towpath follows and I get to the steep narrow footbridge. I think I’ve successfully ridden this bridge about twice. It’s a pleasant evening, so many young people are sitting outside the nearby bar, drinking beer. Pride takes over - I’d rather fail gracefully than go for broke and fall clumsily in front of this crowd. I dismount ever so shortly before the highest point of the footbridge, slightly disappointed. A narrow boat is passing. The driver smiles a friendly smile and shouts, “9 out of 10 for that.”

Further along the towpath, I need to ride up a ramp and double back, turning 180 degrees between metal railings. The shorter cranks make the unicycle less manoeuvrable, and just as a group of lads shout, “Nahahahahahahahaa!”, and one shouts, “You sh*t!”, I UPD.

On to the road, then the pavement, then under one bridge, over the next, and along the tarmac path of the embankment. The morons are out in force and a group of youths laugh derisively. Forced laughter is perhaps the most irritating of comments, because the person laughing is just being unpleasant, but without the brains or imagination to attempt anything interactive. At least you can respond to the standard-format absent component gag.

And finally… as I approach the end of my ride, I pass the skateboard ramps, and the kids all jeer, and one girl shouts, “I hope you fall off and break your neck.”

This unicycling lark is such fun, and you get to meet some any interesting and lovely people.

Actually, it was a good ride, and the section round the nature reserve was great. I guess the total distance covered was about 12 miles/18 km.

Welcome to the world of the chav/sk8er punk/inconsiderate male… Its much more a fact of life in the UK than it has ever been before, but If I manage to go for a ride without some smart-arsed kid taking the mikey its a good day. Even on one of my better rides last saturday (I spent about 20 mins trying to teach some kids who I thought would just take the mikey to try and ride my 20" Trials) I got a seperate comment (after launching down a 5 flight of steps) from a group of youths sat in the park: “You MUST have NO pen*s!” To which I (irritatedly) replied “Bigger than yours, mate”. It was a bit childish, but he didn’t give me any more grief, and the rest of the group seemed very respectful and complimentary about the level of skill (Apart from the “Can you juggle too?” question, and the derisive laughter when I reply “a bit”).

Its just something you have to deal with, usually (for me at least) by ignoring it and riding on. I get 10 times as many positive ‘that looks hard’, ‘how do you do that’, ‘can I try’ comments, and they’re 10 times as effective at changing my mood as the scorn I get from arrogant people.


when you ride a unicycle you have to expect comments, it’s just a shame those inconsiderate, vocally mal-nourished, illiterate, imbercillic dunderhead stereotypes couldn’t have the decency to realise that their comments (or grunts) actually contribute to the ruining of your ride. Maybe worse is the fact that the joggers/ dog walkers don’t move over. I had a similar experience when cycling to town. Some chavs were standing all the way across the footpath and cyclepath and knew I was coming. (leaving me a patch of mud to ride through on my newly cleaned bike). So I just kept pedalling and went right through the centre of the group with inches either side.
Being a riverboat operator i totally agree about the huhe fishing poles too.

But in future, instead of saying “bigger than yours!” reply: “Well, maybe I’m the one with balls of steel!”

Similar canine-related incidents have occured to me also.

Whilst riding the 36" on a local disused railway track that passes through Rugby, a couple were walking ahead, with a small pooch. I gave considerable vocal advanced warning of my imminent approach, so what did they do ? The couple split either side of the narrow pathway leaving said pooch smack in the middle and simply gazed (I guess in surprise rather than in admiration of my rakish good looks - ha!), so to avoid causing pain and suffering to the dog, and a possible kicking from the owners (she looked particularly hard) I executed a running dismount at the edge of my sprinting capability and skidded to a halt just inches from crushing the nearly unfortunate ugly beast ( and the dog ). Once the be-tatooed couple managed to close their gaping maws, they were actually quite nice - “Oh my god, so sorry. How are you going to get back on again ?” That just cracked me up so I attempted my flashest running 36" mount and …

… actually I nailed a good’un, gesticulated (is there such a word as “testiculate” meaning to wave one’s gentals ? if not, there should be, but I digress) fairwell and continued on my way, running the gauntlet of the rottweiler infested, litter strewn cess-pit that is the Great Central Way. If there really is a “Doggy Heaven” then one pooch escaped it that day.

The only thing that really p155e5 me off about dogs is inconsiderate owners who don’t clean up after them - if there’s any more offensive riding experience than hitting a real squelcher, then I haven’t come accross it yet.

I vote this as my favourite Mikefule story ever.

Right up till the I hope you break your neck part, I was laughing (with) you the whole time, great story!

I know what you mean there, but at least they apologised. Where I come from if the ‘she-monster’ had apologised then I’d literally pinch myself.

and the dog poo? I once caught a chav-granny letting her dog crap right by the gate to the park. where someone WILL step in it. So naturally I went and politely told her that her dog had left it’s leavings behind and she blanked me (she wasn’t deaf or blind) in disgust that I should have the very idea of telling HER what to do. Well that’s Essex for you.

This funny story reminded me of the funny I tip I read years ago and still talk about it, so I decided to search for it.

Wouldn’t you know it, Mikefule wrote that as well!

It’s tip #2

Wow, remembered and quoted from 2002 - I’m flattered and humbled.:o

Thanks Mikefule, that’s the closest I’ve got to riding since Tuesday, due to a severe dose of the man-flu. I had a couple of unpleasnats episodes on tuesday - stones thrown towards me, forced laugher, that sort of thing, but generally enjoyed myself as it was the first time that I had uni’d in the rain.


ive never been in a city that rude.:slight_smile:

yesterday almost the same thing happened to me on my 29".
the dog was small and I could have run over it and just get a small shquish.it went to the left then to the right then to the left and I was pretty sure to get it: so I dismounted.

the lady supposedly in charge did’nt even hear my warning, gave me a blank stare, and went her way . I was wondering wether she was deaf and dumb or just happened to land from another parallel world.

Best thread title… EVER.

Re: 102 Damnations

“Mikefule” <Mikefule@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com> wrote in
message news:Mikefule.1svg6j@NoEmail.Message.Poster.at.Unicyclist.com

Mike, you really deserve to be riding quiet river banks, where otters and
kingfishers pause between fishes to admire your skill and pass such comment
as they see fit. What a shame that Sherwood, once the forest home of such
good and merry, if mythical, men, is now it would seem, infested with
uncouth youth, car thieves and other degenerates.

Passers by will frequently make comments at the unusual, at anything that
stirs them from their general total indifference to life, the universe and
all else, and these comments are a cross that as unicyclists we have little
option but to bear. At least the people have shown an interest and not
thrown anything. It is probably wrong to be critical about the banality of
their humour. We have had months or years of riding and of reading rec.uni
to help gain inspiration for our replies. They have had but a few seconds
to be witty, and are often educationally far from being up to the task. I
shy away from annoying them, as they may not then feel so friendly towards
me the next time we meet. I am probably getting a reputation for preaching
tolerance here in rec.uni, but I know that I also need equal tolerance from
the people I ride past.

The rude and abusive comments are more difficult to cope with, and I have
suffered even on my very short rides, and have little option but to ignore
them, especially those involving over-imaginative speculation as to why I do
not fall off. I mentally try to grin to myself and not picture them being
suitably punished for their misdeeds. I don’t always succeed.

Fishermen: the roach pole is certainly a nuisance to other users of the
towpath, but I suppose the anglers are enjoying the countryside in their
own way. It is somewhat unfortunate that you disturb each of them but once,
whereas you have to idle for each of them. I understand that the long
poles give them the ultimate in control of their fishing floats. I hope so,
for they probably cost far more than most unicycles do. I suspect they fish
the far side of the canal in the belief that the fish there are less likely
to see them, and therefore will not be too scared to feed on their baits.
Most fishermen do have a level of respect for this world, and whilst sitting
on their basket they are not breaking into my car or scaring little old

Dogs: I hate them all, and see little need for most of them. Cats too!
Goldfish I can cope with.

These “interesting and lovely” people are all around us. Until unicycling
becomes mainstream, we are actively seeking their attention. The best we
can do is to try and reduce the span of that attention, whilst not inspiring
them to greater things.


Grandparents are those people that encourage your kids to do all those
things they would never let you do, and at a time in your life when you have
finally come to accept that, all those years ago, they were right.

Re: Re: 102 Damnations

There’s something about dogs that always puzzles me. They start making noise from several hundred metres away; before you know it they’re running round your wheel, getting in the way, you’re having to ride really slowly to avoid running them over…

Finally the owner calls (or drags) them off… and it’s /me/ who says “thanks”?

I just don’t understand it.