Back On One Wheel At Last!

Well, my first ride since 21st September. It’s been a difficult autumn and early winter, but today at last I had time, daylight and reasonably good health. I’ve mentally downgraded my recent “suspected cracked rib” to a “probably only badly bruised rib”, and my “man 'flu” (quite a nasty cold) is nearly better.

So, after such a long break, which uni should I take? The Muni would be too much like hard work after such a long break. Could I still freemount the Coker in public? I want to ride a respectable distance, comfortably, and keeping to fairly easy surfaces, so the 28 is the obvious choice.

However, It’s not ridden the 28 for months. It has been standing upside down in the spare room, and the tyre has gradually deflated. When I turn the uni over to pump the tyre up, I notice that the leatherette surface of the standard Miyata saddle is deeply marked with a “cast” of the thread from the end of an old barbell. Hopefully, the alleged padding hasn’t been damaged!

For those of you who care about such details, the 28 is an old-style Nimbus (US = Yuni) with the rounded Y-shaped fork crown. It has the original 700c x 32 road tyre, and 110 mm cranks. I like riding this set up as it’s always a challenge - you’re never bored with a hard skinny tyre and short cranks.

I park the car at one of my regular starting points, and take the uni through the gate onto the path leading down to the river. It’s a lovely day with clear blue skies, and temperatures just above zero. I’m glad of my sweatshirt and gloves, but at least I won’t end up dripping with sweat. I freemount first time (Yay!) and set off. Oops! I had forgotten that this path peters out into a thin line of trodden mud across a rough grass field. The mud is slimy, the tyre has no grip, and I’m out of practice… and look… look… see the many spectators… can you see the many spectators? They are smiling in gleeful anticipation of my muddy demise.

But no! Pride goeth instead of a fall (this time) and I keep the rubber side down all the way over the tricky bit and onto the solid path by the river.

From here, it’s an easy scoot along the river bank, relearning the feel of the uni. The 28/110 requires that bit more concentration than anything else I’ve ridden (except for my brief flirtation with the 24/89) because the wheel has virtually no momentum. Every tiny obstacle is a potential tripping hazard. Every burst of enthusiasm brings the risk of a faceplant, and every attempt to slow down carries the risk of the short crank flipping past the point of no return and firing me skywards. (Of all my unis, this is the only one with an ejector seat.)

As I ride past the City Ground, and on towards Trent Bridge, I hear a motor boat chugging up river. A voice from the boat cries, “Oi! mate. D’you know someone’s nicked your back wheel? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!”

I’ve not heard that one for, oooh, well not since last time I rode. So, I wittily respond by slapping my forehead with a Simpsons-like “D’oh!” then, momentarily losing patience, I give my interlocutor the internationally recognised hand signal for, “You mean it should have 2?”

From here, I ride under Trent Bridge (there’s a pedestrian tunnel, so I don’t have to swim), and along the formal embankment towards the suspension bridge. I already feel at home again on the uni, and I turn quite neatly between the bollards, and step step step my way up the steep ramp and onto the slatted deck of the bridge. A family is coming the other way, and father says, “He’s lost half his bike.” The older child then says, “He’s lost half his bike.” Then the younger child says, “He’s lost half his bike.” Then father says to me, “You’ve lost half your bike, mate.” Smiling through gritted teeth, I thank him, and tell him “You’re 2, 3 and 4 today.” Curmudgeonly? Me? Well, it is bloomin’ Christmas.

After the bridge, it’s a quick swoop down over wet sloping lawn (much to go wrong here, but I survive) and onto a tarmac path alongside the river. Then it’s a slip slip wobble slip back up the grass to the roadside, where I follow the cycle path as far as the retail park. Here, at about 1:45 p.m. two days after Christmas Day, cars are queueing for the road leading to the slip road leading to the entrance to the car park to Toys ‘R’ Us. Are these the western values for which we are fighting in The Gulf?

The next obstacle is the underpass, which is a series of quite steep ramps down and up, and has walls adorned with much witty graffiti - or, for pedants, many witty graffiti. For no obvious reason, the underpass seems full of traffic cones - probably the result of some hilarious student prank, I shouldn’t wonder. It is clearly only because I am not interlec’sh’ly elite like what they are that I can’t see why getting totally Dixie fried and then putting traffic cones in inappropriate places is highly amusing. Oh, I feel so inadequate!

But enough of this biting satire. I emerge from the underpass and manage to cross the road junction without having to dismount. I decide to take an unusual route, and follow a driveway down towards a football club so that I can ride the path by the river. Unfortunately, this means riding a few hundred metres across wet grass, with the wheel sinking slightly. It’s worth it, though, because it leads to a hard path that snakes and swoops along the river bank, offering fun without too much exertion.

I see a heron taking off from the edge of the river a couple of metres below me. They’re elegant birds, and, even though I’ve seen hundreds, it always feels like a privilege. This one flies low over the river and lets out a cry. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a heron’s cry before. It’s not much to write home about: a sort of “Cronk!” - a little bit like a juvenile raven whose voice is breaking, I imagine.

From here, it’s an easy ride to the complicated footbridge over the canal. It’s all zig zags and railings low enough to ensure that if you fall, you will bruise your thighs and hit the water head first. Then, after a short burst along the side of the river, I arrive at Beeston Marina Tea Rooms, for coffee and cake. I’ve made it in one: no dismounts, no UPDs. I haven’t brought my trip computer, but experience tells me I’ve covered somewhere between 5 and 6 miles (say 6.5 km.). That’s pretty satisfactory for a first ride in months.

I decide to follow the canal bank back towards the car. This is one of my standard routes, and is almost completely level, and mainly well surfaced. However, there is one section where the surface is well rutted, and puddles have formed, and frozen. Ruts, I can cope with; puddles, no problem; riding beside a freezing cold canal, no problem. But frozen puddles in muddy ruts, next to a freezing cold canal, on a skinny high pressure tyre and short cranks? There’s some squirming of the tyre, and I have one or two “moments”, but I survive, and feel pretty pleased with myself. This is not tough MUni, I’ll grant you, but neither is the unicycle I’m riding!

Pleased with myself too soon? I reach the difficult hump-backed footbridge. This has a steep ramp each side, and there are rows of bricks across it which stand just proud enough to trip the uni. I think I’ve only once made it across this bridge without a UPD. Well, today wasn’t the second time! I do a UPD1 - that’s where I stay upright and the seat doesn’t hit the floor. I then twice fluff my remount before taking the coward’s way out and walking off the bridge before trying again.

After that, it’s just a matter of spinning the pedals, shifting my weight on the alleged padding of the seat, and pretending not to notice that it is getting colder and that I have in fact been sweating. There’s only one new challenge: a wheelchair ramp with a 180 degree turn in it that has been built since I last came this way. I always worry when riding near railings because if I UPD, I won’t fall cleanly. However, I make it up the ramp with considerable nonchalance, or possibly insouciance.

By the time I return to the car, I’m ready for a break. As a first ride for several months, it’s been great: I must have lost some of the finer skills, but the basics are still there, and, with the exception of the tricky footbridge, I’ve had a clean run. About 11 or 12 miles (say 18 km.) and some excellent post-Christmas exercise. I feel like I’m back.

Welcome back. Sounds like a wonderful way to conclude the holidays. I’m glad that your rib feels good enough that you can ride again. I always look to your ride reports for inspiration. As a very new rider with limited skills I have visions of doing distance riding. My best so far is 3 miles and not yet without UPD. But getting better daily. Very reassuring to hear that even after an extended time off one can still get on and ride competently.

Re: Back On One Wheel At Last!

I hate to tell you this but in the Heron’s language that means “You’ve lost half your bike, mate.”

Welcome back, it’s good to know you’re feeling better.
Thanks for another wonderful story, Mike. I can always depend on your posts to relieve some of the boredom whilst I sit at the job with very little to keep me occupied:D

Re: Re: Back On One Wheel At Last!

I don’t like to overuse “LOL”, but this time I really did laugh out loud!:smiley:

nice to hear of good unicycling rides in nottingham… its a little erm naff out this way!.

If I lived nearer to Newark, I’d go riding in Stapleford Woods. (I think that’s the name.) Head out along the A46 towards Lincoln and turn right, or head out along the Sleaford road (A158?) and turn left. There are miles of woodland with a variety of forest trails. I’ve Cokered there.

Also, there’s the river bank. From the Nottingham end, I’ve ridden the river bank to within about 2 miles of Newark. So, you should be able to ride the North bank of the Trent.

And what about all those back lanes leading off the A46 on the Leicester side of Newark? There are some quiet roads there, and I bet you’ll find no end of footpaths and bridle paths cutting through those fields. There’s a Civil War sconce (earthwork) only a couple of miles out of Newark, and I know you can ride to that.

There must be loads of varied riding if you look for it.

i moved here from matlock 3 months ago… were some nice trails out there, i miss having all of that on my doorstep.

There are several things that do not let me ride as often as i would like to.

1: im manager of a pub!.. my shifts change day in day out, today has been my first day off in 3 weeks i think, chushty money wise as i dont go out and spend it!.. but no real time to set aside to ride like i would want to, i have so much to learn and have so much inspiration.

2: i dont drive… good old busses and trains for me, at least i can hop on and off with my uni and get to places only if work allows me time off.

So i’ve been here 3 months, not really had chance to go and explore whats around here other than the school next door, but astroturf hockey pitches are certainly not the best surface to practice on, plus they hold in water after the rains.

Today i went out, i think iwas riding for around 5 hours today, mostly practicing my left foot riding… damn i’ve been riding nearly 3 years now and still only level 4… but today i discovered a little skatepark in town its a little small to say the least, but i had a good play anyway, was just enjoyable to not be at work and be on my uni… was kewl to just hang out with the skaters there, havn’t done that for a long time… just hang out even if i am 10 years older than any of them.

anyway enough of my ramblings, thanks for all the information mike, very much apreachiated, if ever your in newark come for a beer in the grove on london road.
enjoy being back out on the uni too.

Hmmm. OK, so Newark offers less challenge than Matlock, I’ll grant you! I once rode up the first incline of the trail from the canal up to Black Rocks (with about 150 stops!), and the next incline up to Middleton Top is “My Own Personal Everest” - the best I’ve managed is to ride up it with only 3 stops.

But if you travel by train, here’s a thought: Nottingham Midland Station is about 50 yards from the canal bank that I was riding along in the ride written up at the start of this thread.

Straight out of the station, turn right, 50 yards or so, then left down a ramp onto the canal bank. Continue in that direction for 3 miles or so and you get to Beeston Marina, Attenborough Nature Reserve, and then the world’s your lobster.

(Alternatively, there are stations at Beeston and Attenborough which put you much closer to the river bank and rough ground. It’s all flood plain, so no steep hills, but there’s plenty of technical challenge in rutted slimy mud and tussocky grass…

Mike - good to hear you’re riding again. I recognise everywhere you’re riding nowadays! Get in touch some point after new year if you’re wanting to go riding.

pk - Come to Nottingham and ride unicycles. There’s a few of us who ride here, and it’s easy to organise rides with other people here. You could be really keen and organise a ride from Nottingham to Newark.


nottingham to newark on a 20" now theres a challenge :slight_smile: i heard that there were a few uni riders in notts, i’ve been meaning to head over that way now for a while, but hence work always seems to be in my way.
I will however do it before i move again, only this time i am moving to italy, i will be living in the mountains there so there will be many a challenge to face other than the language barrier.

what do you guys mostly ride there?.

Mike i know those trails, i infact remember reading your writing about them last year, when i first moved to matlock, it was that post that inspired me to ride to the top of heights of abraham, there are many a trail to the top, the inclines are tremendous, even the road that runs up there is a mission, i came back down that way, my poor legs the following morning!.
I filmed that ride too with my camera, i had it posted on my website for a while but the video’s are currently not online.

Shall definatly have to hook up with you guys when there is some thing happening in notts.

I did Nottingham to Southwell on a 20" once. 125 mm cranks, full Morris dancing kit, and stopping at nearly every pub.

lmao now that would have been a sight for sore eyes huh!.. im not going to ask what comments you recieved that day!.

dude i have enough organising 1255 members on my website and the meets we do there!, im still feeling fresh and new to uni and well up for meeting up some time in notts.

Re: Back On One Wheel At Last!

On Mon, 27 Dec 2004 12:29:08 -0600, “Mikefule” wrote:

>tells me I’ve covered somewhere between 5 and 6 miles (say 6.5 km.).

Experience is one thing, a calculator is something else. Anyways,
welcome back!

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

Today (29 December) is the last day this year that is neither the last day this year nor the last day this year that is not the last day this year.