Inadequate Moses impersonation

Well, it’s been a long break since my last wride up. I did a couple of rides, even got so far as to write up the first half of one before losing interest, and then life got in the way. My car broke down, my job went crazy, my fitness level plummeted, and global warming caused low temperatures and appalling weather.

My interest in unicycling was sustained at tick over level by visits to this forum, and by two or three regulars who took the trouble to check up on me because I’d not posted for so long. Thanks.

I did a ride on Sunday morning. Not a bad ride at all: all the usual stuff, bridges, herons and morons - regular readers will know the form. With a Morris newsletter to edit, and a job that is 80% writing, I couldn’t find the brain space to write it up.

But I did a ride this evening, and it was sufficiently different to prompt me to chronicle it, so here goes.

(Shifts gear into the present tense to create a sense of immediacy…)

Tonight’s mount is the Bacon Slicer, possible a unique unicycle. The wheel is 700c, custom made with a Mavic Open Pro rim, shod with a 23 mm Kevlar-beaded tyre and a lightweight latex tube pumped up to 130 psi - that’s around 9 Bar. The tyre is as near as dammit slick. The cranks are lightweight 114 mm with no additional Q factor. The seat is an unmodified Miyata. Who needs an air seat when you have buns of steel?

The uni is beautiful to ride, but, despite being very responsive, it is probably not as fast as a proper barnstorming twenty-niner. The light rim and cranks and the rock hard tyre that make it so responsive also mean that it can easily be stopped by a carelessly discarded matchstick, so riding it takes precision and concentration.

I start my ride at Holme Pierrepoint National Water Sports Centre. I tried to start Sunday’s ride here, but it was snided out with cyclist taking part in a local charity ride. Tonight, it is snided out with runners, apparently taking place in some big organised 10 k run or something. There are hundreds of them - does no one do anything on their own initiative these days?

Kitted up, I mount and ride across a short apron of rough parking bay and up a small ledge onto the tarmac. There’s a few metres of smooth tarmac then a turn, and a section of slightly sloping ballast path, and a small ledge up onto more tarmac. All of this would go unnoticed on a normal unicycle, but it takes bum-hovering-over-the-saddle levels of care and concentration on the Bacon Slicer, especially this early in the ride.

Then it’s over a small hill and down a slope towards the edge of the rowing course. A few years ago, this short slope was a major obstacle, even on the 26" which had 150 mm cranks at the time. Now I barely notice it on this far twitchier machine.

The main rowing lake is dead straight, and about 2,500 metres long. There is a single-lane tarmac track around it which is used by joggers and cyclists as a circuit, although strictly speaking it’s there for those wobbly cyclists with megaphones who spend their evenings tormenting innocent rowers. If ever I took up rowing, I think I’d carry a megaphone, and at an appropriate moment, I’d use it to say to the coach, “Come on, sit up in that saddle, get those pedals spinning! Change gear. Faster! One two three four…”

I haven’t brought the GPS, but I’d guess I’m doing about 8 or 9 mph (say 13 kph). The uni seems to be leaning slightly to one side and I can’t get completely comfortable. I used to train around this lake, 10 or 20 miles at a sitting, on the Coker, head down and legs spinning, steady 11 mph for two hours. It seems so long ago.

Tonight, I take it at a brisk but not racing pace. There is much to see. To my left, the white water course is, er… brown water. The surface is almost perfectly smooth, and the river level is higher than the lake to my right. Much of England has been affected by flooding recently, and there’s more on the way. A few years ago, the river breached the bank and did huge damage to the Water Sports Centre, and it only looks a few days’ bad weather away from happening again.

But right now, the weather is pleasant. Swallows swoop low over the water feeding on insects. Flotillas of greylag geese and Canada geese bob on the water. There’s a breeze, but it’s not cold. It’s a nice place to be.

I make it to the head of the lake easily enough, but already, I’m bored with the easy riding. By temperament, I’m a cross country rider. I say cross country rather than MUni, because I like to ride interesting stuff for reasonable distances, rather than really technical stuff. Semantics aside, the smooth tarmac is neither cross country nor MUni territory. Unfortunately, the mown grass landscaping to the side is sodden with the recent rain, and hardly suitable for a razor thin, 130 psi slick-tyred unicycle.

So, half way down the other side of the lake, I turn left up a path, away from the lake and up and over a small hill. Then it’s down through a gate, turn right, and I’m on a poorly-maintained tarmac drive with speed humps. There is a fishing lake to my left, surrounded by small trees. Every few metres there is a cut patch of bank, providing a space for a fisherman - but there are no fishermen to be seen. Looking down at the water, I see the tell tale splashes and circles of minnows feeding in the shallows.

Out onto the road, I cruise along at a merry pace. There is little traffic, although one car of youths passes, with friendly catcalls issuing from the open windows. A bicyclist approaches from the opposite direction. Is he going to say something stupid? “Blimey, I can’t even do this properly, never mind that!” he says, which is fair enough. It’s friendly, and not as predictable as some of the real old chestnuts.

I pass the entrance to the Water Sports Centre. There is a lot of traffic, and a self-important event marshal is marshalling cars into the event, whether they want it or not. There are exactly two ways for the traffic to go: straight on along the road, or left into the entrance that is marked with a great big sign, so you can immediately imagine how difficult it would be without the marshal!

I slow down and signal to turn right up a footpath that leads towards the river. I make the turn smoothly enough, but I’m looking so far ahead that I completely fail to spot this substantial log that is blocking my way. The first I know is when my feet hit the floor, jarring my back. First UPD of the day. Bugger!

I remount and ride up and over the little flood bank and along the narrow path towards the river. Then I turn left, with the river to my right, and make good speed along the smooth grit path. In places the path is muddy, and there are some puddles, but I manage to miss the worst of it. I pass a few bicyclists going in the opposite direction, some of whom go to rather too much trouble to give me room. However, they are being friendly, and there are no daft comments.

I pass a middle aged couple with a child and a dog. The woman restrains the child as I ride past. I thank her. “Good style!” she says, approvingly. Presumably she is familiar with a variety of unicycling styles and therefore feels able to comment knowledgeably.

I pass more people: dog walkers, cyclists, the occasional jogger. They are all friendly, and no one asks about the putative missing wheel. I think everyone’s just glad to have a window in the weather and to get out for an hour or two.

I speed under the Lady Bay Bridge, over the little canal bridge, and weave in between the people outside the kayak club, and then past the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest FC. To my right, the river is far higher than usual, but it has a long way to go before it reaches the top of the bank. Brown water swirls and rushes past, occasional smooth patches showing where a vertical current has reached the surface.

Then I pass the rowing clubs, and drop down the tarmac slope towards Trent Bridge. There is an arch for pedestrians or cyclists. A pedestrian is ahead of me. I’m a cyclist, so we seem to be fully equipped.


What is this? The pedestrian has turned back…

The water is so high here that it has flooded the archway. Where there should be concrete, there is a murky pool of brown water.

Am I a man or a mouse? I can ride that, can’t I? It can’t be that deep…

Can it?

I go for it, and make it about 5 metres before hitting an unseen obstacle. The UPD is both immediate and moist. Moist as far as the knees, in fact.

How I laugh.

Two or so miles from the car, and wet trainers and socks.

Better to turn back. As a dancer, I can’t risk wet socks causing me blisters. That’s my excuse!

So I turn back and ride swiftly past the rowing clubs, the football stadium, the kayak club, over the canal, under the road bridge, and towards Trent Fields.

No chaffing, no blisters, and I’m not too cold. Why take the easy way?

I turn right, away from the river, and towards the adventure playground and the skateboard park. As expected, sk8r kidz shout amusing things, like, er… “Whooooohoooo, check him out…”. There’s a thin line between ironic and moronic, and they’re on the wrong side of it. If Shakespeare and Chaucer were alive today, they’d be turning in their graves.

I turn left along what would normally be a trodden path across grass. At first it is OK, but gradually, I find more and more waterlogged bits. I’m up out of the saddle and riding with rare skill, but the skinny hard tyre seems to be optimised for turf cutting, and it keeps digging a narrow groove until it finds mud. Once the mud is found, the absence of tread becomes a factor, and wheel spins become more and more common until at last I UPD.

This is the first of half a dozen UPDs, but I pick my way between the boggiest bits, relishing the challenge. The KH24 with its 3" tyre at about 20 psi would eat this - I’d barely notice it - but on the Bacon Slicer, I’m riding right at the limit. That’s what makes it such a fantastic toy.

Ahead of me are several people, mostly with dogs. They have plenty of time to think of something amusing to say. I recognise one of them from earlier. “Good style!” she repeats.

Weird. (Or possibly “wierd” - I can never remember.)

Back to the river bank, where I stop to straighten my saddle which has been twisted sideways by one of the UPDs. To my surprise, the hex bolts of the clamp are completely loose.

All adjusted, I remount and skim along the grit path with the river to my left. As I approach the sailing club, there are two people chatting by the gate. One sees me approaching and opens it for me, observing that “Stopping on that must be quite difficult.” Hmmm. That’s a new insight.

Holding back to avoid coming into conflict with a particularly slow jogger, I eventually reach the car park, which is now solid with cars and runners. On the plus side, many of them are young, female and in Lycra. Call me politically incorrect if you like, but they were free to admire my Lycra-clad form had they chosen to do so. I am only disappointed that none did.

That’s about 6 miles, I’d guess, and a rare and pleasant break from my routine. I should do more of this.

Nothing wrong with that. :wink:

It’s ‘weird’.

Lovely writeup, as always!

Funnily enough I was amongst those charity types on the road razor
I ought to go write that up, I was going to wait till the photos were available (supposedly today, but its been put back :frowning: )
I’ll go get typing.

Great write up Mike. I laughed out loud many times. :smiley:

A couple of your comments were particularly amusing, since I had read anam’s write up first.

Nice story, Mikefule, as usual. Puddle stomping has a kind of commited finality to it, like “…was a bit damp, but now fully drenched”, but it takes the pressure of staying dry off of one’s shoulders.

BTW, I occaisionally, painstakingly write up my own rides. As I’m awkwardly word-smithing, I find myself specifically wondering “is this what Mikefule would write?”, as I consider you at the top of the unicycle-ride-writer-uppers’ game. But I have yet to know…

why write up a discription of a ride??
wasting time that could be spent going on another ride! :astonished:
hmm…well done, ignore my post!

That was an entertaining read, thanks for that and you’re right you should do it more because unicycling is great (- the annoying comments). By the way you were right the 1st time, it’s weird not wierd.

i before e except after c and in weird and other weird words like that.

It sounds like the Trent is quite high. Hmm, tomorrow (Thursday) night is coker* night in Beeston, maybe we’ll head away from the river.

If you have an urge for non muddy riding by the way, Bramcote is pretty much totally dry right now, all the trails are good as.


*Although it occurs to me that I don’t think there’s going to be a single actual coker part there except for maybe an inner tube, I think it’ll be schlumpf for me and assorted non coker parts for the others.

i before e except after c when the sound is ‘e’.

this accounts for words such as weird

ok that was way too long