In the wild wood. (And 2 puzzles),352500&st=4&ar=N&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf&ax=459500&ay=354500

Not the best link to a map ever, but it shows part of the ride. I started on the south east side of the red road, a short distance down from the railway bridge, about opposite the farm entrance.

Following the success of the last ride report with built in puzzle, I’m trying it again. Last time, 7 people answered, of whom 2 got it wrong, and 1 said it was too easy! So, this time, there are two deliberate mistakes in the story, pitched slightly differently.

The deliberate mistakes are not to do with grammar, punctuation or spelling, and you will need no specialist knowledge to spot them. Just ordinary general knowledge. If you do want to play, just PM me with the answer. No prizes except kudos, and extra kudos if your answer is amusingly-written. And if you don’t want to play, that’s no problem, but please don’t spoil it for those who do by posting the answers or referring to them in a reply. Thanks.

So, another hard day at the office, with an early start, and too much brain work. It takes some effort to get ready for a ride, but I know I’ll enjoy it once I get out there. Cycling leggings are nowhere to be found. In the absence of a summer dress, I decide shorts are the next best thing, and put on my ever-so-slightly too tight Lycra shorts. Ooooh!

It’s a while since I’ve ridden in the woods near to Calverton. there’s only a smallish area to ride, but there are some nice tracks and some steeper hills than I normally ride. I need the training for the Dartmoor weekend, so I decide these hills are just what I need.

I park in a lay-by on the A614. This is an almost straight main road - an old Roman road which links up to the A1 (sometimes called the Great North Road). I doubt the Romans would recognise it now, with cars swooshing along it at 70 - 80 mph. The railway bridge would be a bit of a surprise, too.

But soon I am in the wood, walking gingerly through short stinging nettles until I get to the path that runs parallel to the road. The shorts were a mistake and already my legs have been stung.

Only a few metres from the edge of the modern A614 is an original Roman way-marker stone. The words are faint, but I can just make out “VIA A DCXIV”. I mount next to this and set off south west-ish along narrow muddy single track. To my left the hill slopes up, with rank upon rank of tall slim pine trees. To my left, the traffic roars past.

Within a couple of hundred metres, I come to a junction. I can go straight on or make a tricky left turn up a shallow muddy incline and ride up the hill.

Or I can try to turn left, stall, swear and fall off.

I choose option C. I remount and try again. This time the tyre side-slips in the mud and I UPD again. It’s early in the ride, and already I am annoyed and disappointed. This is silly: I am doing something that most people will never do - that even most unicyclists will never do - and I’m angry with myself because I’m not doing it well enough. I push for a few metres, try to mount on the uphill and fail. A couple more attempts and I manage it, then I’m storming up the hill with bright blue forget-me-nots along the left side of the path, and even the occasional early bluebell. Wood pigeons and crows flap between the trees, and the road seems a long way behind.

At the top of the hill, I turn right, still riding on firm “yeller brick”, although occasionally, I divert onto soft silent tracks of pine needles, that meander between the trees. This is one of the most peaceful unicycling experiences, the tyre almost silent, the ground smooth, soft and yielding, and the unicycle flowing easily.

Back onto the yeller brick, I see a couple walking ahead of me. As I approach, the man warns me to watch out for his dog - it might bite my wheel. I’m tempted to suggest he should train the bloody thing or put it on a lead, but I decide instead tot hank him cheerily for the warning before diverting onto a side track and accelerating up a short muddy hill. I hear Mr. responsible Dog Owner explaining to his partner that, “He’s going up there, look.” Dog trainer, observer and conversationalist - what more could a woman want from her man?

This track is lovely, and runs for several hundred metres before it is blocked by a fallen tree that it is beyond my feeble powers to jump. I dismount, get my breath back, climb over the trunk and remount.

Minutes later, I am on a long steep descent, possibly steeper than any sustained descent I’ve ever done before. The ground under the tyre is muddy, and mixed with needles and pine cones, with occasional roots across my path. The fat tyre soaks it all up and I find myself at the bottom almost too soon. From here, I follow a short grassy section of single track with stinging nettles at the side which reach out and sting my shins as I pass.

To my left is a field, and I see a hare loping across it. On my rides, I see plenty of rabbits, but hares are much more rare. Most people seem to think that hares and rabbits are pretty much the same sort of thing (hence all those awful punning titles on Bugs Bunny cartoons) but rabbits are small and scuttle about at high speed, whereas hares are almost the size of foxes, and stand up quite tall when they run. It’s quite a privilege to see one so close up.

Then I am on a pubic road, but not a busy one as one end has been blocked off recently. I ride for a couple of hundred metres along the road, then find a gate leading back into the forest. There is a narrow “squeeze” gate wide enough for pedestrians but not for horses or bicycles. I almost make it through but lose my nerve and UPD, the pedal catching the post.

Back on and up the hill for a bit before diverting down a muddy side track until I am at the foot of that exciting long descent. I go for it and make it about half way up - one of the toughest technical climbs I’ve ever done - before my wheel slips. I regain my balance, but I’ve lost momentum. With much grunting and grinding of teeth, I coax the wheel into moving again, but only to UPD when I hit a root.

It has to be done: I put a mark in the mud with a twig, then ride back down, do a really tricky three point turn on uneven ground, and ride back up. This time I do better, making it fairly easily past the place where I stalled before, but slipping and falling 5 or 10 metres later.

The boiler man is throwing the seats and curtains into the firebox, but the legs are running out of steam, and I decide to walk the rest of the way.

At the top of the hill, I sit and rest for a while, then take a swooping path down into the woods again. I make the mistake of diverting to the right, and the path gradually disappears until I am riding completely “off piste” through undergrowth and bracken. I don’t like this because it’s not good for the wildlife habitat, and I am just contemplating whether to dismount when the worst happens: I almost ride over a badger’s nest. The eggs are unbroken, but the covering of ferns and leaves has been disturbed. I do what I can to cover them, using a stick to rearrange the covering so that I don’t leave any scent by touching the nest or eggs with my hands, then I ride on, slightly chastened.

Soon after this, I find myself on a muddy path with some log and mud obstacles for mountain bikers. It takes me three attempts to ride the first one, but I manage it at last, and the second one is slightly easier.

By now, I am tired and I take a familiar track down to the roadside. Soon, I am near to my car, and very tempted to give up. However, determination kicks in, and I find an easy firm track back up to the top of the hill. I then ride along a very narrow winding path, with a barbed wire fence to my right, only a UPD away from gashing my bare legs.

The trees in this area are mainly young birches, and the branches are thin and low, brushing against my helmet as I ride in an uncomfortably crouched position. There are roots below to trip my wheel, branches above to poke my eyes, barbed wire to my right to gash me… and nettles reaching up eagerly towards my shins. And I do this for fun!

Soon, the tree cover thins, and I find myself riding among bracken. The evening sun is low, and all the colours are soft and rich. This is a lovely time of day to be riding.

Then I ride down a long slope at the side of an open field, and come to the railway. A sign warns “Beware of Trains”, but saplings growing between the rails suggest that the risk is negligible.

In fact there’s more risk in the next section, which is very narrow, with more barbed wire and more nettles. Then I cross a road and find myself on a bridle path that leads through fairly flat farmland. I pass a big old derelict building to my right. I resist the temptation (for now) and carry on, past fields and woodland, just cruising effortlessly.

The next big obstacle is a long steep woodland slope. Not only is this a steep slope to climb, but the track falls away to the left so that maintaining balance and traction is at least as difficult as finding the power in my tired legs to climb the hill. But I make it, and then ride on more flat farm track as far as a main road.

The track continues on the far side of the road, but that’s for another day. It’s getting late, I’m tired, and I haven’t eaten. So I retrace my route stopping only to inspect the derelict building. Graffiti on one wall says, “SATAN”. On another wall, a little unconvincingly, it says, “Lucifer woz here.” Not to be outdone, someone has written, “Jesus is Lord” on another wall. I have wandered into the crossfire in some strange sectarian graffiti war! Time to move on!

The only difficulty now is the climb back up the field boundary. Weariness is sapping my control, and I UPD so many times I decide to walk the last bit. At the top, I disturb a pair of partridges - something I don’t see often. I remount at the top of the hill and take a fairly easy route, mainly down hill back to the car. To my surprise, I find I’ve been riding for nearly two hours.

What an amazing ride: steep hills up and down, beautiful wild flowers and birds, rabbits and a hare and I know why I love this sport.

I sure hope that wasnt one of your intentional puzzles.

A mixture of answers so far.

No, it’s not the childishly amusing reference to the “pubic road”. That was a simple typo.:o

No, it’s not the early bluebells. I’m no botanist, but these are the first ones I’ve seen this season. Usually in bluebell season the woods are carpeted with them but today there were just a few isolated ones. If they weren’t “early” then that’s my ignorance, rather than a deliberate mistake.

And it isn’t the reference to both the road and the wood being to my left. That was a simple typing error.

The two deliberate mistakes are to do with general knowledge, rather than the typing/writing. And the answers don’t require any more general knowledge than you should have from taking an interest in life generally.:slight_smile:

A few more answers have come in.

It isn’t the pair of partridges. That was a genuine incident.

It isn’t the fact that I went up a long descent (instead of ascent). That was lazy writing. I was referring to the long hill I had come down a few paragraphs before, and was now going up.

One think about this type of competition - it makes me realise how many genuine mistakes I make!:o

Yes, you need to thing a bit more and not rely on the spell checker.

Nao…running away very quickly.

Very clever, Nao.:slight_smile:

Now, I’m going to post the best two answers in the next reply box, so if you don’t want to know the answers yet, don’t read any further.


The best two answers, from the many correct ones (and a few creatively wrong ones):

Mike Penton
I think the badger’s nest was probably abandoned already, as the nest had probably fallen out of the tree, but I’m impressed that the eggs were unbroken…

  • Badgers are of course mammals. They don't lay eggs.

I bet the Romans had Satnav as well as OS maps. They would have marched along the via, drowning as the DCX1V crossed the Trent or the Soar or whatever river they hadn’t yet bridged.

  • This one was a bit harder, but A DCXIV is Roman numerals for A614. A614 is the modern route number and of course it would be er... highly unlikley that the road would have been the A 614 1,900 years ago in Roman times.

I had a heck of a lot of good answers. And there are some very clever people out there who came up with some quite obscure theories. It wouldn’t be fair to naome names.

I was accidentally wrong about the bluebells:

They bloom in April and May. Strange, though, that most years I see carpets of them, and this year I can’t recall seeing any until this ride.

I dunno about badgers but I came across a clutch of bear eggs the other day.

That’s 'cause they’re late this year :stuck_out_tongue:

My local bluebells seem to be having no problems this year. Usual numbers , usual flowering dates.


sorry not guilty … I suspect those are Orang-Utang’s balls…

I’d like to hear some of the creatively wrong answers… those too embarrassed to admit ownership can just keep quiet!

I have to admit I thought that Mikefule’s reference to brain work may have been factually inaccurate.


Oi! I resemble that remark.:wink: