Muni in Oxfordshire

Hi, I’ve been riding for about 18months and I’m looking to try some Muni.
The only experience I’ve had is riding off 1’ - 2’ drops, riding over piles of rubble and through wheel ruts, and up and down the grassy bank outside the juggling club.

So does anyone know where I should go in the Oxfordshire area in the UK? I don’t want anything too well organised - I only want to play around on some fairly tricky terrain to start with, and I haven’t got any safety equipment - will that stop me from getting into some places?
Obviously I want something suitable for a Muni beginner, and for a 20" learner unicycle!

Hmmm. I don’t know Oxfordshire all that well, despite being a Morris dancer, but I’d expect there to be lots of challenging riding there, with all the rolling hills and the generally rural nature of the county.

On a 20, virtually anything can be challenging. If it’s easy downhill, ride up the hill!

Just get out there and explore. A 20 is good for 20 miles in a day, but you’ll probably be knackered (US = “pooped”?:wink: ) after a couple of miles of hard riding of road - at least at first.

Find a wood with a few footpaths, or a cart track or bridle way and just explore.

If you want to do serious technical MUni, you’ll need local knowledge to find the right places. there must be plenty. get an OS 1:50 000 map, or even a 1:25 000 map (available from the library?) or search your area on streetmap.co.uk at the appropriate scale.

(Or you could buy a map, but that would be too simple.)

My only advice to a beginning MUniteer or cross country rider is don’t be too ambitious in terms of distance. When you get too tired to freemount, and you start UPDing every few yards, it becomes a trial, or even a tribulation - sometimes both.

Good luck.

Having lived in four different places in the last few years I’ve had to find new places to ride fairly regularly. You can’t beat an OS map of the area and the willingness to go explore places that look promising.

I look for green bits - especially if they have the purple outline of Forestry Commission land, they often contain well maintained and interesting tracks to ride on - contour lines, car parks in the middle of nowhere and bridleways.

Looking at the OS map of Oxford, the random car park appears to be next to the Farmoor reservoir to the west, which looks flat (not too surprising) but a nice length for an evening lap assuming the path is decent enough.

Just to the north of that are the contours, at Wytham Hill. The map doesn’t show any paths other than a fireroad or something through the middle, but it looks worth a peek.

East and out a bit from Oxford there’s some Foresty Commission land; one bit is called “Drunkard’s Corner”, which must be worth a visit if only to get a photo of the signpost!

Slightly south of the city is Bagley Wood, which looks smaller but has a few tracks marked that makes it look a possibility.

These places may turn out to be rubbish, but you might find somewhere better while trying them out. I’ve done that a few times; spending an afternoon riding somewhere really boring and featureless only to find a downhill track or something on the other side of the car park. Seek and ye shall find, as it were.

As for safety equipment… I generally stick to a helmet and some light fingerless gloves for muni. I only use any more if I’m riding somewhere really extreme; normally I find the extra hassle, sweat, chafing and general inconvenience isn’t worth the bother.

Phil

Perhaps you’re using too much hair gel?:smiley:

Seriously, on safety equipment: I’ve put myself in hospital twice (as an outpatient) in a couple of years. The first would have been prevented by wristguards (about £10 from a snowboard shop) and the second would have been prevented by a full face helmet.

I once tore both knees and elbows, but not too badly, and I find knee pads and elbow pads too much trouble for normal riding. I virtually never ride without the wristguards and full face helmet though.

Get an OS map and know how to use it.

Ask local mountain bikers where they ride.

Ask in bike shops.

Ask on www.singletrackworld.com

If you find out anything, post up here, I know at least some of the woods there are closed except with a special permit, but I don’t know how much and it looks like a fun shortcut on a ride being planned currently.

Joe

There are a load of really good trails between Wallingford and Henley in South Oxfordshire. Mostly rooty single track but there are a few bits with drop-offs and craters.

HTH
Nick

I’ll let you know if I find anything, but I won’t be able to go out and play for at least a month, probably 2.
I live in Abingdon so Wallingford and Henley aren’t TOO far away if I ride my bike there, or even better, make friends with someone with a car! There aren’t really any mountain bikers around to ask, most people ride road bikes, or pose on their BMXs.
One of the main problems with Abingdon is that there are absolujtely no hills, so the terrain is quite boring.
Although now that you mention it (which you didn’t) I’ve just remembered a tiny patch of forgotton woodland near to the centre of town, with some trails in it, so I’m going to stop writing this, and go and see what’s what.

well I went down on the bike just after the last post and its a “Wildlife walk” or similar, it’s about 1/2 mile long (guestimate) and tarmacced. Because the woods are quite small, there are lots of tracks (just the sort created by people wandering off the main path) going from one side to the other, from the path to the stream, and even all the way along the path, just a few metres away from it. I took the unicycle down there yesterday on the way back from the supermarket, and despite the fact that there are about twenty little tracks leading from the main path, I only followed one of them, which looked as though it should join up with another one about 20’ ahead.

As anyone in the UK will know, yesterday wasn’t really the best time to be trying out Muni for the first time especially if mud isn’t really your thing (which, on a 20" unicycle with an almost slick tyre, it isn’t) and not suprisingly I UPDed more times than I would have liked. The first time I got into the seriously greasy stuff, I managed to get traction back again, but after a while I began to slip back into my road-riding position, leaning forward more than I should have been, and the next time, the wheel span about two revolutions without me moving, and I fell off. I got to a fork in the track, one fork carried on alongside the stream, and the other one went, slightly uphill, back to the main path. I decided to take the one along the stream because I didn’t think I’d be a ble to make it up the decidedly muddy looking slope.

I did quite well alongside the stream, until I looked ahead of me and saw the way the stream had eroded the bank to about a 45 degree angle, and UPDed just at the sight of it! That was probably a good thing as it was incredibly greasy and I had enough trouble making it on foot, one for the summer I think. Once out of the woods, a fairly short ride back home, sticking to the bits of grass the council haven’t mown yet in attempt to lose some of the mud.

all this lot probably won’t be paticularly interesting to anyone already committed to Muni, as it’s not incredibly difficult terrain, but I’ll definitely be going down to play again. I’m going down to Cornwall this weekend, and will be staying on my Grandad’s farm, so plenty of oppurtunities to try out some tough terrain there, which should be fun, assuming its not raining too much.
I’d like to get a bigger unicycle for it. I’m thinking of buying a secondhand 24" learner thing, and just fitting a fairly knobbly tyre to it.

And I’m now a member of a very elite group of people who can say they had their first taste of Muni in the rain, on the way home from the supermarket with 8 pints of milk in their bag!

Sorry if I’m boring :smiley: ,
Luke