A completely new route, and a quiz

There are three deliberate mistakes in here. They are all general knowledge, so you should be able to get them even if this is your first visit to the forum and you know nothing about unicycling. They are errors of fact, not spellings or grammar.

I think one is very easy, one is fairly easy, and one is a bit trickier. There’s an obvious song reference too.

If you want to play, PM me the answers. if you don’t want to play, enjoy reading the wride up, but please don’t refer to the mistakes in any replies you post.

Answers to be published approx. Tuesday evening.

Friday: another long, busy day, the sun shining bright and inviting through the office window, not that I’m bitter. Five o’clock: down tools and scarper.

Where to ride? Nottingham is the city where traffic cones come to die, and at this time on a Friday, gridlock means my options are limited. Another ride around the slurry lagoon? More ducks and herons?

No. During my last few rides, I have been casting a speculative eye at the opposite bank of the river. I had to be careful, because sometimes kids on the other side were casting speculative stones at me. It looks like a good place to ride, but I’ve never worked out how to get access to that particular stretch.

But this evening, the silicon ship inside my head is switched to know the road, and I suddenly realise how to get there: over the Gunthorpe Bridge (that bit was obvious!) then right towards Shelford, then turn right in the centre of the village and see how far the road takes me. I have vague memories of driving down there once and coming out opposite the Ferry pub - and it makes sense that if there was once a ferry there, there should be road access to the other side.

It works. Stoke Ferry Lane is narrow and winding, but eventually I reach a small lay by. The options here are to park or to continue and make quite a splash. The lay by is unappealing, with clear evidence of the carbon footprint of a car that has been burned out at some time in the recent past. However, I decide I should be safe at this time in the evening.

I climb over a stile and onto the top of a low flood bank that runs parallel to the river. I am directly opposite the car park where I normally park. Familar bends of the river look different from this side, and it is more peaceful. I am alone in the field apart from a few dozen sheep and lambs. Voices carry across the river, but only faintly.

The top of the flood bank is shortish grass, and the riding is easy. To my left is a drop of a metre or two to a fence and then field of yellow rape. To my right is a similar drop, then a narrow strip of grazing land and a short drop to the river. Swallows swoop low over the water and the field, feeding on the wing. Startled sheep and lambs skip out of my way then, after only three or four steps, forget to be startled and resume their grazing.

After a few hundred metres, I reach a stile and dismount to climb over. After the stile, the flood bank curves to the left, away from the river. The top is less well groomed, and riding is slightly more difficult. My view of the river becomes obscured by a thicket of willow trees. To my left, the rape field has given way to rough grazing land. Far to the left is a steep hillside, with a tempting looking wood at the top.

A few hundred metres further, the climb starts in earnest. I am already probably five metres or so above the river level, but now the flood bank is no longer needed, and the land rises naturally. I choose the narrow path that is sign posted “Trent Valley Way” (an official long distance path) rather than the informal path that runs parallel to it on the other side of a hedge.
I can hear a child giggling, and the squeak of bicycle brakes. A small girl and her father are riding bicycles down the hill, but on the other side of the hedge. The father is shouting encouragement. The child glimpses me through a gap in the hedge and is surprised, but concentrating too much on steering the bicycle for her brain to function properly. She squeals, “Look, Daddy! That man’s on another one, on an only one, look!” Her brakes squeak again, and Daddy shouts a warning to concentrate. I tense guiltily, waiting to hear the crash and the scream, but she keeps control.

The climb gets steeper. The path is hard packed mud, with chippings and ballast embedded in it. To my right, woodland drops down steeply towards the river, and I can see interesting paths, but exploration would be at the expense of hard-earned gravity karma, and I stick to my task, slogging up the hill. Most of the time, I stay in the saddle, but my quadriceps and quintriceps are starting to burn, and my breathing is getting heavy.

Soon, I am at the top - I made it without a stop - and I am faced with a choice: carry on along the path, which is now level or slightly descending, or turn left and climb further up a rough grass and mud farm track to the very top of the hill. The hill is the one called Malkin Hill on the link posted later in the thread, and the map suggests I am only 50 metres or so up, but it looks further to me - maybe a trick of perspective, or just wishful thinking. For now, I decide to carry straight on. I’ve earned a rest, so I cruise easily for a while.

To my right, the drop to the river is almost vertical, and through occasional gaps I can see the river. The sound of the weir is surprisingly loud - a constant roar - although I seldom notice it when I am down by the river side. As I continue, and more gaps open up, I see the artificial lakes (the slurry lagoon) and the fishing lakes spread out below. The aqueduct that carries the railway looks different from here, the brick arches silhouetted against the silver blue of the river. This is a good place to be.

The path becomes tarmac, and quite formal, with a narrow apron of mown grass to my left, and occasional wooden benches. Most of the benches are marked as memorials to various deceased citizens of Radcliffe, and, surprisingly, there is little vandalism. It feels like the sort of place where older people can feel safe as they walk, sit, ponder, and take in the view. There are too few such places left.

The path starts to descend, and there are occasional individual steps. I treat these as kerbs and ride down them, but soon they start to come close enough together that I have to be more careful. I manage a few, then see an elderly lady walking ahead of me. Falling off and catapulting my unicycle down the steps at her is too horrible to contemplate, so this is the excuse I need to dismount. As I do so, the lady turns, does a discreet double take and then asks, “How far do you go on that?”

Here is a lady of unusual intelligence: she has asked a question that implies immediate acceptance of the idea that someone might have travelled some distance on a unicycle. We have a pleasant conversation:
“Oh, usually five or ten miles in an evening, sometimes a bit more.”
“Oh,”(thinks) “Shelford, then?”
“Not far off. I’ve parked opposite the pub on the lane from Shelford to the river.”
She makes no comment, but accepts without question that this is the sort of thing people do on unicycles. I like her.
We chat as we walk down the steps. At the bottom, she asks me which way I’m going. I suggest I may try to get to the river bank. She feels I am unlikely to succeed from here, but wishes me luck.

I turn right, down a road that leads towards the river. She takes the path opposite.

The road leads straight to the barriers at the entrance to a private mobile home park. I look and see no sign that says, “No entry to unicycles” and feel safe to enter. The park is well maintained, and feels like quite an enclave of civilisation and good order. I feel slightly as if I am intruding, but the one person I pass makes no comment.

There is access to the river bank, but only for a short distance. There is no obvious path or route for me to follow. I turn back, pass the barrier, and set off up the road. To my right is a playground that I used to visit as a teenager (I lived about five miles away) but it has now been greatly improved, with an excellent skateboarding/BMX facility with half pipes and quarter pipes. All that stuff is beyond me, so I carry on, hoping to find a route back to the top of the hill that avoids the steps. There is none, and I turn back, deciding I’ll have to walk up the steps.

I see four or five youths walking towards me. The tallest catches my eye, and it is clear he is about to say something. He comes to the edge of the pavement and I fear he may attempt to push me off. I raise my free hand a little, planning to lash out with the hard palm of my wrist guard if I need to.

“I’ve not seen you round here before…” he says.
Is this a territorial challenge? I decide to take his statement at face value.
“No, I usually ride on the other bank of the river. It’s the first time I’ve come this way.”
“Can you idle?”
An unexpected question! A technical unicycling term! I demonstrate.
“Can you ride backwards?”
“A bit.” I demonstrate.
“How far have you come on that?”
I tell him.
“I once rode my mate’s unicycle to Cropwell Butler.”
I stop and chat with the lads for a while. One is angling for a go on it, but, thinking of the pinned pedals and no quick release on the seat, I make polite excuses.
“Who’s that other guy who’s dead good?”
“Kris Holm?”
“Yes, him. He’s wicked. I seen his video.”
“Yes, he’s far far better than I am!”
“You seen unicycle dot com?”
“Yes. Do you go in the forum?”
“Er… sometimes.” (I guess he means no, but hello if I’m wrong!)

We chat for a while longer. One lad is the main spokesman for the group, and clearly knows a bit about unicycling. One of the others keeps his comments to the occasional, “That’s wicked!” or “That’s crazy!”

Eventually, I move on, with the advice ringing in my ears that “I’d hop up those steps.”
Right, I’ll bear that in mind. As I reach the steps, I see the old lady I spoke to before. We exchange greetings like old friends.

I walk up the steps. When I reach the flat bit at the top, I remount and poddle along at a steady pace.

To my horror, I see ahead of me a group of about a dozen or so young teenage girls, all dolled up like they’re off to their evening jobs as pole dancers. I estimate they are three or four minutes away, so that gives them plenty of time to think of something really really original to say. Right?

There is much giggling and pointing as I approach. These kids look about twelve or thirteen years old, but are dressed like self-confident twenty-somethings, with short skirts, low cut tops, black tights - they are completely sexualised so young. The apparent leader of the coven is wearing an optimistic push up bra and a very low neckline, and the combined effect is almost to make her look like she has mumps. The tops of her breasts overflow, like small loaves baked in very very small tins. She probably isn’t entirely clear in her mind what they’re for, but she wants everyone to know she’s got them, just in case.

“Is that hard?” she asks, prompting giggles from her companions.

I decide to go on the counter attack. I look at my crotch for a moment, then, as if I’ve just realised what she really meant, I say, “Oh, you mean the unicycle? Yes.”

There is a moment of confusion. They all know what I’ve implied, but don’t know how to react. One, more bold than the rest, bursts out laughing - more at her friends’ discomfiture than at what I’d said. One of the others darts towards me as if to knock me off the uni. I ride on.

“I want to see how you get on that thing. Show us.”

The tone implies a “please” although the word is not used. I stop, pause, then remount, idle for a moment, do a couple of tiny little hops then ride on, waving a good bye. Laughter, thanks and banal expressions of amazement follow me.

On my way out, I had passed a children’s play area. I now reach it and, momentarily losing my sense of direction, I cut across it. I pass an elderly man who remarks, “That looks hard work.” I smile.

Seconds later, I realise I have taken a wrong direction and turn back.

“Changed your mind?”

I think I recognise his voice. We make eye contact. We each know we ought to recognise each other, but we don’t. There is a moment’s embarrassment then we go our different ways with a brief exchange of meaningless pleasantries.

Soon I reach the highest point of the path, and I turn right onto the farm track that runs up to the top of the hill. This is a tricky little climb, steep in places, and bumpy and rutted. I am pleased when I make it to the top in one. I continue round to the left until I reach a view point where I stop and look down at the river. This is a familiar sight but seen from an unfamiliar angle.

The river has been constrained between flood banks in one place, and from this angle, the natural S is almost a 5 instead. Beyond the river I can see far across the Trent valley, where yellow rape fields and green grazing land are interspersed. I can just see my car, not torched yet! So far so good.

Remounting, I follow a similar rough grassy track around a field boundary, past woods with no obvious entry point. I reach the road. I now know exactly where I am. I ride down the road for a couple of hundred metres, hoping to find an entrance to my left. There is none, and I am losing height too rapidly. I turn back and retrace my route along the field boundary to the viewing point where I stopped before.

I turn down a steep little drop through a gate and then ride a long tough section of wheel ruts concealed by long grass, the river valley wide splendidly open to my left. I wish people could see me now because this feels like real Muni - I am high on a hillside on a track that would stop most bicycles and I got up here entirely by riding.

The descent may be a challenge. I stop and view the options. One way, my route will definitely be blocked by a hedge. I make my decision and set off down a steep slope. A tractor has been this way in the wet, leaving deep tread marks and ruts which have since fossilised in the sun. Riding is hard work, and my leg muscles are burning again. I make it down without a descent and then turn left, to follow the line of the hedge, climbing slightly. I make it most of the way before a wheel rut provokes the first UPD of the ride. Not bad going, but a disappointment when it happens.

I remount and pick my way carefully though a shallow bed of nettles. With bare legs, a UPD here would be uncomfortable, but I make it, then promptly UPD on a rut. This must be the rutting season!

A short steep descent through a field and I reach a gate. I climb over it and I am more or less at the start of the steep path that took me up to the top of the cliff. To my left is the way I’ve been. To my right is the flood bank and the car.

I ride straight on, a steepish descent through mixed woodland until I pop out in a field by the river. I turn right, keeping the river to my left, and try to find my way through the small thicket of willows back to the flood bank. The path drops to the dried out bed of an old part of the river bed. I am surrounded by willows and colourful wild flowers, but my way ahead is blocked by nettles and a short climb back up to the flood bank.

After a couple of UPDs, determination fatigue kicks in. I dismount and carefully pick my way through the nettles to the top of the flood bank.

From here, it is a fairly easy ride back towards the car. Youths on the far bank laugh too loudly, unable to think of anything to shout, but determined to show that they think I’m the stupid one. A heron rises from the river bank and flies lazily away. The swallows are still swooping. Ducks, grebes and moorhens bob on the water. One of the ducks is unfamiliar. with a distinctive red mark on its head; my RSPB book suggests it is a Scottish didnae duck, which is fairly rare this far south.

I reach the last stile. A mountain biker is climbing over it.

“That looks hard work!” He says.
“That looks complicated!” I reply.
We exchange smiles. I wish him a good ride.

Then I’m back at the car, tired but happy. Not many miles covered, but some tough and varied riding. A new territory discovered, and some paths left unexplored.

What a great sport this is.


ONly one set of answers so far, but with all the answers correct.

Nice article!

Now, the mistakes:

Silicon ship? I’m not sure if this is a typo, or a literary allusion. It may even be a song title, but if so it’s a new one for me.

Quintricips? No, too much sun.

Railways cross rivers on viaducts, not aqueducts.

Didnae duck - hence the blood-coloured head? I’ve just got the joke!


Bother! I thought I’d PM’ed. Sorry Mike, but it’s Monday morning and I’m not awake yet.

It’s almost tuesday here and i’m not if i’m awake or still sleeping. :thinking: :thinking: :smiley:

Well, fewer entries than usual, although that may be because the answers were accidentally posted to the thread.

The correct answers in order of receipt were:

  • ian.stockwell - all three
  • kington99 - all three
  • rob.northcott - all three
  • cathwood - two

Plus most got the song reference. thanks for answering.

Here’re the answers in more detail:

  • the silicon ship inside my head is switched to know the road

The silicon chip inside her head is switched to overload… Boomtown Rats, I don’t like Mondays - a song going back to the days when kids shooting other kids at school was a shocking new idea, rather than depressingly common place.

  • my quadriceps and quintriceps are starting to burn,

I don’t know about you, but I have biceps, triceps and quadriceps, but no uniceps or quintriceps.:slight_smile:

  • One of the ducks is unfamiliar. with a distinctive red mark on its head; my RSPB book suggests it is a Scottish didnae duck, which is fairly rare this far south.

Red mark on its head, “didnae duck”, Scottish? For those of you unfamiliar with our Caledonian cousins, “didnae” is how some Scots allegedly pronounce “didn’t”.:smiley:

  • The aqueduct that carries the railway looks different from here,

This is the subtle one. Viaducts carry roads or railways. Aqueducts carry water. A railway may go over a viaduct, but not an aqueduct. A canal or water supply goes over an aqueduct. The clue is in the name.

You can edit your post for up to 10 minutes. If you had done this fewer (if any) people would have seen your error. Now that you know you can keep this from happening again. (Don’t worry too much if you forget, I’ve missed the 10 min. cutoff and posted info I wished I hadn’t before)

Before you hit “submit post” there is also a preview button. I frequently use this.

Testing the feature…

(A minute later)

Ooo… it works!


Yes, disastrous indeed. However I know you can write and must insist you compensate us with a ride report.


Yes, disastrous indeed. However I know you can write and must insist you compensate us with a ride report.


Sorry I missed this one. I look forward to the next installment.

Well Nao, the long weekend is coming and a ride might be a possibility. However, Mike is the Master Storyteller and we bow at his feet. Hope he gets out this weekend.