King of the Munitants?

The bizarre and counterproductive flexitime arrangements at work meant I had to leave early today or I’d lose the time on Tuesday that I’d been forced to earn last week. So…

I take the MUni in the car and drive up to Deerdale, one of my regular starting places in Sherwood Forest. I mount and set off up the easy forest track, legs and seat-interface still a little sore from Sunday’s epic ride on the 28. The change from thin 28 with 110s to fat 26 with 150s is huge, and that knobbly tyre is quite a handful on the hard packed surface.

Very quickly, I decide to divert down one of the many narrow single tracks that criss cross the forest. The track is pleasant and swoopy, with a few tricky bits, but nothing too difficult. It’s a fine chance to get the feel of the MUni again, and to let my legs warm up.

Then I reach the gravelly and sandy incline. I stand on the pedals, grasp the handle, and plod up the hill, struggling a bit with the fine control, but doing quite well. Mixed gravel and sand spread in variable depth on a hard rutted base is a challenging surface to ride! Eventually, all those little errors and over-corrections overwhelm me and I UPD. 0.7 miles covered (1.1 km approx.). I take the opportunity to put some air in the tyre. I takes more than I expected! I really don’t know how you guys ride on soft tyres. It might be good for drops and hops, but it definitely doesn’t help with normal cross country riding.

The extra air makes a difference, and soon I’m making better progress. I find myself back on a wide hard packed forest road, then I turn up a narrower track with more gravel and sand before taking an enticing looking single track which disappears into the forest on my left.

This bit of single track turns out to be a “cresta run” - a U-shaped trough which zig zags and swoops through the forest and was clearly made for cyclists. Riding it takes complete concentration, because if I wander too far away from the centre of the U, the sloping sides interfere with my balance. A couple of times, I’m impressed with myself as I ride down short steep slopes (almost drops, honestly!) and I don’t “trip” at the bottom. The conifers on each side are crowding in, and the air is thick with the heavy smell of pine, like a recently cleaned bathroom.

Then I come to a series of humps and hollows, all in a particularly winding section of the cresta run. I like to read the ground ahead, pick my route, and fence the trail, but the obstacles are too close to each other for this, and eventually I paint myself into a corner and UPD. I feel no shame, because this is difficult riding, by my standards.

I pick the uni up and walk back a few paces before remounting. Does everyone else do this? I always have to try to ride the bit that beat me the first time. This time, I manage it and my reward is an even more difficult section! By now, I’m breathing hard and loud, and at every “nearly moment” I grunt, and after every little unexpected triumph I emit a “Yes!” through clenched teeth. I must sound like an overweight sailor on the first night of shore leave.

From the end of this section, it’s an easy climb up a steady trail to the start of the “Dual Descender” - a pair of tracks specially designed for alleged mountain bikers. Frankly, I could ride most of this on my granny’s bike, although I’d probably remove the eggs and milk from the wicker basket first. On the MUni, the Dual descender (or one of them!) is quite tricky, but there’s nothing I can’t manage if I grunt loudly enough. There are one or two wooden ramps with drops which I cunningly avoid. Wheels are round for a reason, I always say.

I get to the end of the difficult bit. There’s even a sign saying, “End”. This is where I fall off, full length, and roll in the dust.

I remount and continue along some normal single track, parallel to the main trail. A mountain biker rides past on the main trail and shouts, “Well done! respect for that!” I don’t shout back, “Lazy sod! What are all those gears and suspension for then, huh?” but I think it.

Then I reach the steep gravelly incline - steeper than the previous one, and gravellier. I UPD about 2/3 of the way up, and the pride demon makes me ride all the way back down and try again. I UPD about 3/4 of the way up, and the pride demon looks me in the eye, and I know I have to do it. At the third time of asking, I ride the entire ascent in one. Other people measure their success by having big houses, prestige cars, and ulcers, and here’s me getting my sense of self-worth from riding an overgrown circus prop up a bumpy footpath in the woods. Who’s the barmy one?

Let’s fast forward a bit now, to The Desert… mentioned in my previous ramblings… The Desert is the local name for a huge expanse of sand and mud at the edge of a quarry. Near to the Desert is The Pond, and this is the most dismal place on Earth - and that’s from someone who’s been to Skegness in winter. The Pond is a slimy black and grey oily mess, with dead trees standing in it. There are rusted and burned out cars upturned in the water, and all around is devastation; litter, broken concrete, abandoned fridges, shattered glass, and obscene grafitti.

Honestly, the first time I came here (in my 4x4, exploring) it spooked me. I drove away in silence and didn’t whistle, hum a tune, or even turn the car radio on for about half an hour after I was back on the main road. So much senseless destruction, in what could be a lovely place. It’s like the Cursed Earth from the early 2000AD comics.

Today, I see a mother moorhen leading her chicks out across the mud towards the pond. Somehow, this is a symbol of hope - nature reclaiming what man has nearly destroyed.

From here, I ride up a steeply sloping gravel and sand track at the side of the desert. (Say, there’s waaaay too much sand and gravel in this one!) After a few hundred yards, I UPD. As I pick up the MUni, I notice the broom bushes are in flower. Something makes me stop, and I sit for several minutes. Behind me is The Desert. Below me, just out of sight, is the filthy Pond with its wrecked cars and abandoned fridges, but in front of me is a sloping area of bright yellow broom bushes in full flower. Beyond them there is a row of hawthorns in blossom, some pure white, some tinged slightly pink as if they’ve been washed with a red T shirt. There is also gorse, the yellow flowers not as bright as the broom. In the foreground I can see an amazing variety of grasses and wild plants, and in the distance I can see the lush green canopy of the forest.

A crow flies past and I watch it, noticing that it flies straight. Is that where the expression comes from? Most of the other birds seem to flutter from place to place with no obvious plan; overhead, swifts soar and swoop as they feed on the wing; but that crow just flies straight on, in no rush, but with a fixed purpose.

And do you know, if I didn’t ride a unicycle, I wouldn’t be here. The youths who ride moto cross bikes around the desert, and the blokes with quad bikes and Land Rovers probably don’t see all this - and I’m damned sure the little sods who steal other people’s cars and set fire to them before pushing them into The Pond don’t notice it. It might do them some good if someone held them down and made them look. Or perhaps if they just held them down in The Pond…

After a few minutes, I notice the clouds are gathering, and I’m chilling off. I remount and ride up to the top of the hill. I set of down a steep sandy ramp, lose my nerve, bail out and scrawk the back of my leg on the pins of my pedal. Discretion is the better part of cowardice, and I take a different route, ending up on a huge area of compacted black grit - it looks like powdered coal - with deep fossilised wheel ruts in it, and random pools of slime. This makes The Cursed Earth look like a top holiday destination!

For a moment, I see myself in my red full face helmet, my back pack and riding an off road unicycle, and think how this image would have fitted in well with the Judge Dredd story line. Of course, in the story, Graark, King of the Munitants, wouldn’t UPD on a wheel rut and nearly end up in a pool of slime like I did - and, to be honest, he wouldn’t keep rubbing his undercarriage and wishing he’d worn his cycle shorts!

From here, it’s forest trails and footpaths back to the car. I’ve been out and about for a couple of hours, and covered 7.25 miles (11.7 km). Uncle Michael says, “Wear your cycle shorts - you know it makes sense!”

Re: King of the Munitants?

All the time. When the goal is to ride the whole trail, the hard parts are the “candy!”

When all’s said and done, I’ll retire with the house. :smiley:

Thanks again for a nice tale of riding. I’ve got to do more of those myself…

I think we should have a unimeet in Nottingham. We could ride all over the place and see how many times someone says “wow, I remember this bit!” even though only Mike has ever been there…


Re: King of the Munitants?

That’s just given me an idea, unicycle egg and spoon racing, has anyone tried this?

Re: King of the Munitants?

On Tue, 25 May 2004 15:15:54 -0500, “Mikefule” wrote:

>The bizarre and counterproductive flexitime arrangements at work meant I
>had to leave early today or I’d lose the time on Tuesday that I’d been
>forced to earn last week. So…

You really love your work don’t you? (Otherwise you wouldn’t endure so

>I take the opportunity
>to put some air in the tyre. I takes more than I expected! I really
>don’t know how you guys ride on soft tyres. It might be good for drops
>and hops, but it definitely doesn’t help with normal cross country

I decided to put some air in my 24 x 3 tyre before yesterday’s MUni
ride. It appeared to be 10 psi and I upped it to 23. Made be a better
rider. I too, was surprised at how low it was.

>I pick the uni up and walk back a few paces before remounting. Does
>everyone else do this?

No, I either cheat and mount where the dismount has left me (accepting
that I failed this time), or I do the whole thing (slope or other
difficulty) anew, if I aim at a Full Monty Glory. If I just do the
failed bit again and succeed, that for me doesn’t count as Full Monty

Klaas Bil - Newsgroup Addict

be sure to remove the saddle and simply sit on the seat post. this is far more comfortable - tennisgh22 on the comfort of Savage unis

Klaas Bil in his full Monty glory… pictures please? No, on second thoughts, this is a family forum. :astonished:

Full “mounty” I could understand…

Yes, there are different degrees of going back and re-riding a section. Usually what my friends and I do is back up to before the hard part and try again on that. No sense starting from the middle. But sometimes time and tiredness cause us to adjust our sensibilities in this area.

Plus for the true purist, you have to go back to the beginning of whatever it was. If it’s a climb, you must return to the bottom. If it’s a downhill stretch, back to the top, etc.