Bride along the river (Easy quiz)

Just one easy one to make up for the difficulties of the Mara quiz. Bonus marks for accidental mistakes spotted, though. PM me as usual.

Back out on the Coker on Friday night, with a vague plan to do the “thon”.

The first lap of the main rowing lake is easier than before. There is less wind, and everything feels more relaxed. As I’m regaining confidence on the big wheel, cruising at 11 mph (17 kph) is fairly easy, with occasional quick bursts to 13 or 14 mph (22.5 kph). There are more geese around than usual, and when I slow down to weave carefully through an enormous group of Canada geese and greylags spread across the track, one turns to confront me, hissing through gaping beak, wings spread wide.

I see a man and a teenage girl walking towards me. The girl is in a red football top; she has long ginger hair. As I’m about to pass her, she smiles thinly, but the smile distorts into a malicious grin, then a contemptuous snigger.

After one lap of the main lake, I decide to break the monotony with a brief burst of easy cross country over some of the low landscaped grassy hills. Seeing that part of my regular route is blocked by a bunch of lads loudly playing football, I divert and do a steeper descent than usual, back to the lakeside.

On the long flat strip of tarmac, I spin the wheel a little faster, watching the numbers come up on the GPS display. 15 mph shows, then - briefly - 16.2 mph (26 kph).

I pass a young woman jogger who smiles in a friendly way, then a few minutes later, I meet the young man and the teenage girl in the football top. Again, she catches my eye, then lets her smile turn into a smirk, then a snigger, pretending she is unable to contain her mirth at the sight of a unicyclist. It is the sort of allegedly irrepressible snigger that is perhaps permissible in a wife who sees her husband make a fool of himself when he thinks he’s being clever. As a way of interacting with a stranger, it is simply rude.

At the end of this lap, more easy cross country, with a couple more variations on my regular routes. As penance for my alleged syntactical ambiguity in the logic puzzle in my last write up, I ride over the top of scoreboard hill. This is the tallest of the hills around the main lake, and the peak is behind the scoreboard. The scoreboard is positioned part way up the slope affording the spectators a clear and unobstructed view of the scores. Will that do?:slight_smile:

Back on the lakeside, I pass the pleasant young woman jogger who smiles in recognition. A little later, I meet the ginger sniggerette, and just before she does her little routine, I lift my hand to my face and snigger at her, my eyes projecting what I fancy must be a look of cold contempt. She is somewhat startled, and her snigger freezes into a tetanus-grin.

More attempts to spin the wheel up to top speed, and this time I see a peak speed of 16.6 mph (26.7 kph). This is on 150 mm cranks, and with some safety margin built in because I am wearing only shorts and a T shirt, with no proper protection other than wrist guards and a helmet. I’ve skinned my knees before in a high speed Coker dismount, and I really don’t fancy doing that again.

A little later, I see I have done over 10 miles (16 km) without a dismount. I’ve been riding for 50 minutes or more. The seat is starting to become uncomfortable. It’s time to try something a little different, so I divert across rough ground and try to ride up a short winding track that cuts through the trees to the riverside. I’ve ridden down this track many times, but never up. The hill is not that steep, and the track is short, but with twists and turns, low branches and roots across the way, I soon lose momentum and UPD. The GPS shows 58 minutes and an average speed so far of 11 mph (17.6 kph).

I take this opportunity to rest for a few minutes, regain my composure, and remove my T shirt, which is wringing-wet. I remount clumsily, then weave my way through long rough grass onto one of my favourite tracks. Rabbits scatter before my approach as I ride through long fresh grass, with trees and bushes lining my route and almost meeting overhead.

Back onto the lakeside, I divert to ride over some of the landscaping humps next to the white water course. I descend the steepest hill of all to a chorus of gasps from a small group of spectators. At the first opportunity, I turn away from the white water course, then line up to attack the next run of grassy hills.

The little slope up onto the ridge is easy, then I ride the skyline, gradually climbing. At the very end of this little ridge is a slight dip, then a steep little hill that experience tells me I can sometimes ride, but only if I get it exactly right. The trick is to rush at it to let momentum do most of the work, but to leave enough in reserve in case the wheel “trips” in a small dip concealed by the grass. I juuuuuuust… make it, standing on the pedals for the last metre or so, and grunting with exertion. These hills are only pimples - I estimate that I never climb more than 10 metres from water level - but the steepness and uneven surface makes them an ideal playground for unicycling.

The reward for this little climb is the steep descent back down to the white water course. I then follow the river bank as far as the sailing club, ride along the concrete jetties, then stop at the gate.

Remounting, I ride along the crushed grit path of the Trent Valley Way (official long distance path) with the river to my right and fields to my left. Soon bored, I divert onto an unofficial rough single track which goes diagonally across the field towards the skateboard ramps. As I cross one of the main paths, I see a family, out for a walk, led by a father who looks like a character from a 1950s public information film: respectable, boring, nerdy, going for a bracing walk in his ill-fitting dark suit, collar and tie, followed by his wife and two children.

As I approach the skateboard ramps, my attention is drawn to group of teenagers reclining in the long grass to my right. The girls make inane “Wooo wooo!” noises which are mainly friendly; the boys make inane “Baahaaaahaaaa” noises that are mainly contemptuous. As I pass the ramps, a few skaters and BMXers applaud me ironically with meaningless shouts and claps. Over a hundred years of compulsory education, and our society produces children with neither good manners nor the ability to be rude in an articulate fashion!

Back down to the river bank, and I head upriver towards the City Ground, home of former European Cup winners, Nottingham Forest. I pass the rowing club, then the kayak club, then to my horror, I see a massive crowd in front of the City Ground, blocking my way. There is a fire engine and I also see an open-topped vintage car and some stretch limos. It is not a football crowd, but some rather vulgar OTT wedding, and the crowd comprises some hundred or more over-dressed people aged around 20 - 30. How will I get through this?

The fire engine starts to pull through the crowd, occasionally flashing its blue lights. The crowd parts. I nip in front of the vintage car and ride close behind the fire engine. The first of the drunken guests to notice me responds with an imaginative “Wooooooooooooohoooooooooo!!” and all the others join in, clapping and cheering. This is a level of social interaction that reminds me of those pointless programmes on TV like Big Brother and those alleged talent shows, which seem to consist almost entirely of people going “Woooooooooooooooooooohooooooooooo!!” and clapping and cheering. In a slightly grumpy attempt to be gracious, I wave and smile weakly as I ride through the crowd.

Cheered on my way by drunken chavs, I ride past the other rowing clubs than turn down the path that runs under one of the side arches of Trent Bridge. The bridge is to my right, three pillars and two spans, like a wicket. The wrought iron sections are painted blue and gold. Built to celebrate the centenary of the test cricket ground after which it was named, it is a fine tribute to the elegant game that England now seems to be forgetting how to play.

I ride along the embankment, then up and over the suspension bridge and back along the other side. I see two young Asian women feeding the geese and ducks. As I ride past, a couple of the geese go into a sudden frenzy fighting over some bread. There is much splashing and the two women step back in panic, then laugh in embarrassment. One of them turns away from the river, sees me and does a classic double-take, then smiles, sharing the silliness of the moment.

I ride through the small formal gardens and up the ramp onto the top of Trent Bridge, then cross the bridge on the footpath. A stretch limo crosses on the opposite carriageway, and young women hang from the rear window shouting, “Raaaaay! Woooowooooowoooo!” What they are trying to say is, “Look, we’re in a stretch limo.” What I hear them say is, “… but don’t think that means we have class.”

Back down onto the riverbank, and I see that the wedding party is still blocking the roadway. There must be well over a hundred tipsy guests, and this time I have no fire engine to clear the route for me. I slow down and consider my options and have the misfortune to attract the attention of a drunken young man who has separated a woman from the rest of the herd and is exerting his somewhat limited charms on her.

Young Casanova sees in me an opportunity to impress, and staggers towards me. Is he going to make a comment, or step in my way, or do something really stupid like try to push me off? His body language is not good, and he is clearly not thinking straight. No time to reason, I need to persuade him in language he understands - I flick my fist out towards his face, letting my elbow lock to emphasise the suddenness of the movement, knowing that my wrist guard will be inches short of his nose, but seem closer. He flinches, pulls back, then launches a half-hearted volley of drunken threats.

The crowd is more or less parted in front of me, and I weave through carefully. The ridiculous “Wooooowoooowoooo!” starts again, and a couple of drunken girls totter across in front of me. I make it through and ride away, muttering grumpily.

Some minutes later, I reflect. I am wearing nothing except shoes, socks, and skin tight Lycra shorts, a plastic helmet, wrist guards and a Camelbak, and I’m riding a huge unicycle. Am I the one to be judging what is “normal and appropriate behaviour”? Looked at like that, no. But then I wouldn’t dream of making stupid personal comments, or howling theatrically at complete strangers. Sometimes I think I live in a different world from these people.

It is only a couple of miles along the river bank now. I break the ride for a few minutes just to watch the world go by. I reach the car after 17.6 miles (28 km) of riding, with the GPS showing a max. speed of 16.6 mph (26.7 kph).

Sounds like a great ride.

I was thinking the other day as I rode along. There I was on my big wheel with a lilac frame, wearing a matching lilac waterproof jacket and singing audibly along with my MP3 player. I must have looked particularly ridiculous that day.

I am amazed at how well I cope with the comments these days. They came as a nasty shock when I started uincycling and Sam still can’t get over them when we’re out together. Then I have to cope with the comments and the young child’s puzzled “Why are they talking to you mummy. They always say things like that to you.” Poor thing, to have such a mad mummy.

Anyway, fab write up. I felt like I rode through that crowd with you.


Answer to quiz in next reply…


Another one that’s not entirely fair on the American readers, although readers from Australia, , Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies should have got it.
The “offending section”:

  • <<...under one of the side arches of Trent Bridge. The bridge is to my right, three pillars and two spans, like a wicket. The wrought iron sections are painted blue and gold. [B]Built to celebrate the centenary of the test cricket ground after which it was named,[/B] it is a fine tribute to the elegant game that England now seems to be forgetting how to play.>>

Trent Bridge, named after Trent Bridge Cricket Ground? How prescient of the people who named the cricket ground!:smiley:

Of course, the ground is named after the bridge. (Although, to be fair, the current bridge is not the original.)

Two people pointed out that if a bridge had three pillars and two spans, then how would you get to it from the river bank? Good point - I hadn’t thought of that - but the idea of Trent bridge being shaped like a cricket wicket amused me.

MattyJ noticed the three pillars two spans bit, as did EddBMXdude.:slight_smile:

Rob got the fact that the bridge is not named after the cricklet ground, as did Naomi.:slight_smile:

Sorry. But, what a confusing thread.

I decided I had to get a look at the bridge. The following, rather long, web address gives a very nice picture of Trent Bridge. As to which, or how many, of those structures count as “pillars” I have no idea.
Good looking bridge.

Nao…What sort of duck is that on the river Mike? That blurry spot in the forewater. Click on the picture to blow it up for more clarity. Mallard?