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?
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.