Daftest ride ever. (And name that song!)

Ther eare no deliberate mistakes in this wride up. Everything in this wride up is as factually correct as I can manage, making due allowance for my bizarre sense of humour. It all happened, and there is no deliberate exaggeration.

However, can you find the hidden song title, and, for bonus marks, name the group? Answers by PM, pease.

I explained my KH24 disaster to a female work colleague. Unicycling is hard to explain to the non unicyclist, but her ears pricked up when I told her my three inch thick twenty four incher had exploded between my legs.

So, with my KH flat out with a torn rim… I decided to take the Holy Roller out tonight. I drove a bit further than usual, to a starting point on a hillside overlooking the Trent valley.

Shortly before the starting point I noticed a young couple walking hand in hand along a bridle path across a field. I’d never noticed that bridle path before, and I made a mental note to see if I could find the other end of it at some stage during the ride.

I set off along a rough and rather unpleasant track. The ground under my wheel is hard mud, with a light scattering of gravel and chippings. Deep potholes have been loosely filled with ballast, which will only make things worse. The potholes are where vehicles’ wheels cause the most wear. The wheels will either cause the ballast to grind the pothole deeper, or they will scatter the ballast to the edges of the track where it will lie undistrubed and useless.

Be that as it may, this part of the ride is only a couple of hundred metres, but it is not much fun, combining the need for concentration with a complete absence of a sense of achievement. The tyre is at 40 psi which is probably a bit too hard for this surface, too.

Soon I reach the sharp right hand bend. Now the interesting part begins: the three hills. From here, the route is up a hill, down a hill, up a hill down a hill, up a hill then doooooooown a very long descent to the riverside. each of the hills has a different character. For a few years in my early MUni career, it was the peak of my ambition to ride all three hills without stopping. I finally achieved it last year on the KH24 with its big fat soft tyre and 165mm cranks. Now I’m on a thinner, harder tyre, a bigger wheel, and only 125mm cranks.

The first hill is hard dry mud with bits of rock and ballast sticking through the surface. I have to ride carefully, but there are no big technical challenges. Indeed, if there is a challenge at all, it is to avoid complacency. I soon reach the top and the Trent valley is spread gloriously to my left, the river shining like polished metal as it curves far below, the fields mainly green, but with bright patches of yellow rape. The sun is shining, and it’s a nice place to be.

The descent is longer than the climb, and quite deeply rutted. I have to pick my route carefully, choosing when it is safe to cross one of the ruts. The next climb is longer still, and very deeply rutted. Sometimes, I get stuck in a rut (didn’t I take up unicycling to avoid that?) and there is a danger of a pedal strike. I survive, so perhaps those 125mm cranks have their uses after all.

By the time I reach the second hill crest, I am breathing hard. The next descent is even harder, with really deep ruts that look like fossilised tractor tracks. In places, the grass is long enough to obscure the surface, and the ruts are baked hard, so there is a constant danger of a UPD. When I reach the third crest, I am breathing really hard, but feeling pretty hardcore.

The third descent is completely different. It is mainly grassy, and is not rutted. If anything, it is slightly stepped, with the ridges running across my path instead of along it. The path bends to the left, and the hedges on each side draw closer. Trees overhang my path, and I lose that wide open “roof of the world” feeling that I had earlier.

This third descent is also much longer, and gets steeper and steeper. Here, the shorter cranks are a liability. I have a few hundred metres to travel, so simply spinning down the hill is not an option. I have to heep the uni under control, pulling against the handle, using my insteps on the pedals and frantically reading the path ahead for bumps and dips. This is hard work but fun.

Then, within sight of the gate at the bottom, I hit two or three bumps in quick succession, and the cadence is all wrong. I bounce out of the saddle, the wheel bounces off the ground, legs and arms flail. Suddenly I am running down the hill, fighting for my balance, half laughing, half cursing. When I stop, I turn and the uni is a long way away. Obsessively, I count the paces: 22 long paces: 22 yards, the length of a cricket pitch. Not that we English want to be thinking about cricket at a time like this.

I remount and ride carefully the last 100 metres or so to the gate and stile. I climb over the stile and I am in a rough field of longish grass. The river is still some distance below me, and a few hundred metres away. I have been this way a few times before, and I recall that last time I came, the landowner had blocked access to the river bank. I therefore decide to climb over a stile to my left into a field that offers a guaranteed easy route to the river.

I hear galloping hooves. The field seems full of horses, and they are galloping joyously towards me. The leader of the herd is huge. These don’t look like the normal “riding horses” that rich people use to block the roads to annoy motorcyclists. They look like “heavy horses” or “shire horses”. Each is a different colour, and they look like a gang of slightly crazed equine ruffians. I wait until they gallop away.

I mount and ride down the slope along a path of baked mud hoof prints. The horses gallop back towards me. I UPD, and stand stock still, the uni between me and the horses. The leader comes right up to me, there is a slightly mad glint in its eye. I don’t think of horses as territorial animals, but this one looks like he’s warning me off. Perhaps he’s unsettled by the unicycle, or perhaps he’s protecting the foals.

Suddenly the horses turn and gallop away.

A short distance below me is a small pool - it may be the remnants of an oxbow lake - and the horses gallop down a steep slope into the pool, and splash through deep mud and dirty water. A few seconds later, they gallop back, the big stallion (it may be a gelding, but I’m not getting close enough to check) hits the mud at huge speed. I have never seen this sort of behaviour from horses before, and I feel alarmed. I have ridden horses a couple of times, and crossed many fields full of horses, but this is just weird. I don’t like it.

Discretion being the better part of valour, I walk carefully back towards the stile, pushing my uni before me. I hear galloping hooves approaching from behind, and I sense that one of the larger horses is following me, only a pace or two behind. I turn to face it, and make a few conciliatory noises. It seems unimpressed. There’s certainly a message floating in the air here; it’s a warning… I climb back over the stile and consider my options.

Behind me is a field full of crazy horses. The other way is a field bisected by a barbed wire fence. The only other options are up hill. I decide to retrace my steps. It’s far too steep and rough for me to ride, so I walk as far as the top of the first hill. Even walking is hard work. Through gaps in the hedge to my right, I can see the horses, which have stopped galloping about on the field below and followed me. This is like something out of a Hitchcock film!

From the top of the hill, I ride down the first descent, and ride most of the way up the next hill before I UPD. Remounting, I reach the top and I notice a gate to my right. The horses are there watching me. Determined not to be defeated by dumb animals, I walk over to the gate, and the younger horses come to me and let me stroke their heads. The bigger, older horses watch for a while then muscle in threateningly.

The next descent, climb and descent are fairly easy, although - tired - I UPD unnecessarily a couple of times. What we English call “soft dismissals”.

At the bottom of the last hill, I now have three options: straight on, turn left back to the car, or turn right down to the river. I choose option three and start a steep descent of a very rough and gravelly path. This is quite hairy, the wheel constantly wanting to run away from me, and sometimes wanting to slide on the loose stuff.

Here’s the difference between the two unis. The first time I tried this hill on the KH24, I rode all the way up in one; on the 26" Holy Roller with 125 mm cranks, I am having to work hard to ride down it! Indeed, half way down, just before the steepest bit, is a flat area used by the farmer for storing trailers and stuff, and I’m very tempted to turn off onto that to rest my legs.

Immediately opposite this area are a caravan, a van, and a battered old car, guarded by the largest German shepherd dog I have seen for some time. It’s the sort of dog that prompts werewolfs to say to each other, “Stay out on the moor. Don’t go into the field…” This looks like a very small but heavily defended traveller’s camp, and I don’t want to disturb the occupant of the caravan, or provoke the dog more than necessary, so I continue my descent.

At the bottom, I reach a wide area with tall tree cover. I turn right and ride down river for a few hundred metres, toying with the idea of going for a swim. I often toy with the idea of going for a swim when I’m out on the unicycle. The important thing is never to put the idea into practice!

After a while I turn back and ride past the bottom of the steep hill and along a familiar path that is right next to the river. The hill to my left is steep, sometimes a cliff. I know that somewhere up there is an area of BMX obstacles. Red brown scars on the hillside show where kids have come down. The land owner has strung fresh barbed wire across these. Monkey-brained petty-minded territorial cretin. So he’ll maybe get to injure one or two kids before someone thinks to bring some wire cutters. Great.

Soon I reach a narrow area of gravelly beach. The cliff to my left is almost vertical now, with horizontal stripes of white crystaline stone (calcite?) between red brown sandstone. I ride across the beach and reach the concrete ramp that runs up the side of the weir. The weir is wide and loud. The sun is reflecting brightly off the water. A huge heron rises from the shallows and flies across the reflection, its silhoutte like a pterosaur.

I stop and watch the weir for a while. I now have to decide which way to go. If I continue the way I’m going, I will reach the road within a few hundred metres, then it’s a slightly perilous slog up a winding lane back to the car. That would be boring. Hold on to the thought that I want to avoid boredom. If I turn back, I have the steep gravelly climb and the gypsy’s dog to contend with. That would be unpleasant. Hold ontothe fact that I want to avoid unpleasantness. Swimming the river would be stupid. Hold onto the fact that I want to avoid stupidity…

That leaves option four: the cliff. There is a dark smooth scar down the cliff which looks like it has been made by kids climbing down from the field above. It’s a fair old climb - a good thirty metres or more. There’s little to hold onto except the exposed roots of trees. The surface is hard, dry, smooth, and with a loose sandy covering. Only a fool would climb that, especially carrying a unicycle.

So a couple of minutes later, I am five or ten metres up this cliff, regretting my decision. I now recall that I gave up rock climbing because I was scared of heights. I cannot let go of the unicycle for an instant because the slope is far too steep. I should have taken off my wrist guards because my hands feel clumsy and I can’t grip the small handholds. My shoes are designed to be gripped by pinned pedals, and are not optimised for rock climbing. A climber always tries to keep three points of contact with the cliff. I have a unicycle in one hand.

With care, I manage to hook the pedals or the seat of the uni over exposed tree roots to take some of the weight off my hand. I pick my route carefully, always trying to find a good bit of root or branch to hold onto. They are few and far between. I look down and it’s fifteen metres or more. If I slipped now, I would go all the way and land on concrete. If I let go of the unicycle, it may well end up in the river. If I climb any further, I’ll be even more exposed. Climbing up is easier than climbing down…

In climbing, every proper climb has at least one “crux”. The crux is a difficult move or section, and once you’re past it, you’re pretty much committed because the descent is more difficult than continuing. The crux here is a mess of exposed tree roots.

The crux is vertical, or even slightly overhanging, but above tghe roots, the climb is much shallower. I look down. Due to what is technically known as “the foreshortening effect of cowardice,” the way down looks far steeper than I remember it being on the way up. Can I get the uni over the roots? Yes. Will it stay there? Yes, but only if I put it on the bit I’d like to use as a hand hold. I push the uni to one side, and the pedals become entangled in some tendrils of something green and growing (I’m no botanist!).

I climb nervously over the crux and make the mistake of looking down. From here, the fall would be almost vertical, or it certainly looks it. It would be like falling from a third or fourth storey window. And I still have several metres to climb, carrying a unicycle. Tell me, does this count as mountain unicycling yet? I wish I’d joined the circus instead!

The next move is tricky: a gritty, slippery slope with no hand or foot holds. I either make it or I slip and fall. I first have to position the uni so I know I can reach it. Then I make the move and try to pull the uni after me. The tendrils have grasped it firmly, and the pedals are thoroughly entangled. There is a tense moment… then it is free, and I am clambering thankfully over the last few branches and roots into the field at the top of the hill. This is the sort of stupid thing I used to do at 14. I should have grown out of it by now!

From the top, the cliff looks far higher and far steeper than it did from the bottom. I know that I wouldn’t even consider climbing down it without the unicycle, but I’ve just climbed up it with the bloomin’ thing! I feel elated but slightly stupid.

From here, the ride is fairly easy, with an upward sloping field boundary, and a long section of baked-mud farm track. I pass a small group of pigs, the sow with her teats hanging down heavily, and a mass of piglets struggling to suckle. I don’t often get to see pigs when I’m riding. Makes a change from herons!

A few minutes later, I am back at the car. I have cuts on my hands and shins from the spikes on my pedals - not from riding, and not from falling off, but from struggling not to drop the uni as I levered and lugged it up that climb. Next time, I’ll take the road.

Only one entry so far - and that one’s wrong - although on the right lines.

Maybe it’s a bit obscure - remember my age group…

what is your age?

A few correct answers and a few crazy guesses. Write enough words and you’ll accidentally include a song title. However, I have quoted two short extracts from the lyrics, and included the actual title.

For those who wish to know, I was born in 1962.

Answer to be published when the entries dry up.

Thanks for all the sympathy for my cuts and scratches. Not.:wink:

:slight_smile: I was trying to think of something funny to say about climbing up that cliff, but couldn’t. Anyway, you can’t expect sympathy when you were clearly doing something stupid :wink: And you should have been wearing gloves.


Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or Ill lay your soul to waste
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name

But what’s puzzling you, is the nature of my game!

OK, the answers are already drying up. Not the best quiz I’ve ever done. So the answer will be in the next reply. If you don’t want to know, don’t look.


The lyrics are below, and I’ve put the excerpts and the title in bold.

There’s a message floatin’ in the air
Come from crazy horses ridin’ everywhere
It’s a warning, it’s in every tongue
Gotta stop them crazy horses on the run

What a show, there they go smokin’ up the sky, yeah
Crazy horses all got riders and they’re you and I

Crazy horses
Crazy horses
Crazy horses
Crazy horses

Never stop and they never die
They just keep on puffin’
How they multiply
Crazy horses will they never halt
If they keep on movin’
Then it’s all our fault

What a show, there they go smokin’ up the sky, yeah
Crazy horses all got riders and they’re you and I

Crazy horses
Crazy horses
Crazy horses
Crazy horses

So take a good look around
See what they’ve done
What they’ve done, they’ve done
They’ve done, they’ve done
They’ve done, they’ve done
They’ve done, what they’ve done

John The Bee and Ian Stockwell were the first two to give a single, confident correct answer. Well done.:smiley:

Others went for Holy Roller, Wild Horses, In a Rut, and even Status Quo’s “Dirty water”.

Hey, give a girl who doesn’t get home until after 6 and then has to take the kid to karate and then do the ironing and then put the kid to bed (as well as getting ready to go to BUC), a chance of replying before you post the answer. :roll_eyes:

I had to take the wride up slowly. It was exhausting. You have much more exciting rides than i do. Very enjoyable.

Great job and enjoyable read, Mike.

Mike - great write up, as usual. I like the challenge of the song lyrics, though I had no clue as to the answer. Wild ride that, with the interested horses (a horse with no name?), and the cliff. Crazy sh!t!