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.