This has been a rare dark week in my unicycling life.
Still persisting with the 110’s on my 29-er despite the fact that the wheels momentum with such short cranks gives it a life of its own. Gone are the days of being able to mount with 99% certainty whilst facing uphill and cruise with impunity over small obstacles.
Ease of riding has been replaced by a need for total focus, a continual scanning of the ground ahead and keen anticipation of upcoming dodgy road conditions; a limbo like state of waiting for the time when I acclimatise to the new set up.
On Tuesday I discovered that a uni rider at the local juggling club had got a muni and we arranged to go for a off road mission in the Bole Hills.
After so much time spent on the 29" tourer the smaller wheel and extra long 150mm cranks of the muni felt most bizarre, for the first few minutes I could barely ride it.
Soon got back into the swing though and had a great time bombing through the woods, hurling ourselves over rough ground and falling off safe in the knowledge that our pads/helmets would take the edge off any bad landings.
It was great riding back down the road to be able to relax and look around without having to constantly scan the ground in front like on the 29-er.
I promised myself that I’d be spending more time on the muni from now on.
That evening I noticed on the front page of the local paper that a friend of mine had chained herself to a company building near Sheffield airport; it had connections with armanents manufacturers and her and her friends were protesting against it’s bomb links.
I decided I’d go for a long distance ride to the airport on the muni.
Next day I set off with an a/z and lots of water.
I’m rubbish with maps and as usual I decided to be clever and take a series of more complicated, but shorter, roads and paths, rather than heading down the main roads.
Despite my exellent planning and knowing exactly where I was on the map, I found that reality wasn’t cooperating and basically spent most of the time in an annoying haze of confusion.
In addition I was in a pretty primal area of Sheffield. I seem to have carved out a bit of territory in the corridoor between town and the area I live where I can ride and only recieve the odd inane comment about ‘missing/stolen front/back wheels’, car horn pipping etc.
Cruising through the industrial areas of Attercliffe/Darnall it was painfully apparent that large wheeled unicycles were an uncommon sight, and that most of the population lacked any form of restraint mechanism between their minds and their mouths.
Many hours later I was in a place that my out of date a/z assured me was in the region of the airport; it looked to me like I was in the middle of a wood!
At last I could see my destination, a mere few hundred yards in front, I could actually see the name of the company where the demo was supposed to be.
Sadly, between us was a securely fenced off runway and a simple choice- left or right. My initial attempt was left which turned out to be wrong, so it was all the way back and go right.
By the time I got there the demo was long over and I realised that in my saddle sore, exhausted state I now had to ride all the way back home.
Trudging back through bleak industrial areas populated only by morons with loud voices I started to curse this strange obsession that obliges me to take to the streets on one wheel.
After a days break to let my crotch recover I headed out this evening on the 29-er.
I’ve been thinking of putting the longer 125mm cranks back on cos I’m not particularly enjoying the rides; they’re interesting and I seem to be improving a little, but I miss the days when riding was fun!
However, I decided to persist with them. Tonight I had a harsh series of mounts facing uphill before giving up and walking it up the hill. I was again having the problem of the big wheel not being particularly suited to pavement but the roads having two many cars to feel safe on, in addition it was dusk; so I was just getting a decent speed going then having to dismount cos of a approaching car.
And then, to finish, just before I get home I have my worst uni fall ever.
Rolling off a curb I get thrown off backwards and land on my butt/tailbone/pelvis. It’s a real shock, hurts bad; my first concern is that I’ve broken/fractured my pelvis so, having heard that in the event of a fracture its impossible to stand,I stand up to prove that it’s not serious.
I hurts, but I can stand, and proceed to walk home, uni in hand.
I’m pissed off, and really don’t need any more hassle.
That’s when I spot it, out of the corner of my eye; surely not!
But yes, it is in fact that visual aberation that is the start of a migraine aura. This is a condition experienced by the roughly 10% of migraine sufferers (it’s known as ‘classical migraine’) in which, over a half hour period, a patch of shimmering light grows, gradually filling up the entire visual field.
Despite, over the years, coming to an understanding with this condition and finding ways to minimise the ensuing headache, I still have an instinctive horror of these auras from my childhood when they invariably preceeded a full day of severe head pains/rolling nausea, punctuated by the interspersed bouts of vomiting which brought a few blissful minutes of relief, before the whole headache/nausea cycle would begin again.
On getting home I lay down while the aura passes, then try to get on with stuff, but the pain necessitates heading back to a dark room and trying to sleep through it.
So here I am at 12.30 in the morning, writing this.
I’ve had enough of the 110’s; maybe the steep hills and rough roads of Sheffield are simply too much for them; maybe I’m just a wuss.
During the time I’ve been using them, there only seem to have been brief periods when they felt comfortable, then some bump in the road happens and it’s back to battling the wheel.
I feel lucky that. on tonights fall, I wasn’t on the road or facing into it, cos the backwards fall send to uni crashing into a wall in front.
But, given the harshness of tonights fall, I feel that for my own safety and the safety of others, it’s time to give the 110’s a rest.
Cos of the painkillers I took for the migraine, it’s difficult to tell how bad the pelvis situation is, I’m having difficulties walking but hopefully I’ll be ok tomorrow.
I should say that this has been an uncharacteristic dark few days; the vast majority of my unicycling has been an immmensly joyfull experience.