New climb, new territory discovered. (With quiz)

The following contains two “deliberate mistakes”. These are mistakes of general knowledge. They are nothing to do with spelling, grammar, punctuation or typing errors; they are not technical unicycling matters; you do not have to have been a regular reader of the forum to spot them. They are general knowledge that could be spotted by most readers.

For a change, I have also put a couple of easy literary references in.

If you spot them, PM me with the answers, written amusingly if you like. The correct answers and best replies will be posted in this thread in a couple of days. If you choose not to play, please don’t spoil it for others by hinting at the answers in replies to the thread. Thanks.

I’ve had two or three rides over the last week or two and not written them up. They were on the Holy Roller: my Pashley 26" Muni with a Holy Roller tyre and 125 mm cranks. Today, with one particular climb in mind, I decide to take the KH24 Muni with the 3" tyre and 165 mm cranks.

I park in the small car park overlooking the river. Although it is warm, it is overcast, and everything is rather drab and grey - an unhappy contrast with the clear blue skies that made last week’s rides so enjoyable.

I mount and start to ride out of the car park. A motorist is manoeuvring clumsily in the turning area and there is a moment of embarrassment as I idle, wondering whether to ride past him, and he sits open mouthed with confusion, revving the engine. Then I pass him and approach the gate to the track that runs along the river bank.

I see what looks like a young couple, the man leaning on a fence with his back to the woman, the woman standing with two small dogs on leads. As I ride past, the man turns round and slurs drunkenly, “I should have said to him, ‘Where’s your bike gone?’”

Wow, a new comment! People have accused me of losing the front wheel or the back wheel, the cross bar, the handlebars, and even the brakes, but no one has ever accused me of losing the entire bike before. Clearly he is either an original thinker, or an appalling bad arithmetician.

Through the gate, I reach the tarmac track that runs 20 metres or so from the river. The river is to my left across a grassy field in which a herd of Freisian cows is ambling in the same direction as I am travelling. I get ahead of them then drop down the short grassy slope and totter across the grass until I reach the narrow trodden path that runs on the edge of the river bank.

The river is a metre or two below me, and the bank is almost vertical, with a narrow strip of sand below that forming a beach. After a minute or two I find a slope and ride down it. I have done this before on the Holy Roller. Today, on the “unstoppable” KH24, I am overconfident and I UPD, running a few steps alongside the water before returning to retrieve the unicycle. I remount and ride along the sand. A horse has been this way and its hooves have disturbed the sand so I go as close to the edge of the water as I can manage in an attempt to find a smooth surface. The sand here is moist and soft and the wheel starts to sink and I UPD again.

Remounting, I ride along the sand for a bit longer. To my right, at eye level, there are burrows in the sandy cliff. Whether they are the homes of mammals or birds I don’t know. Burrows in sandy banks can belong to kingfishers, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one along here. Eventually I find another sloping path to get back to the grass above.

A few minutes later I reach the cattle grid. The Cattle Grid is a fantastic facility allowing cattle to be produced at a few central points then distributed by a network of pylons and cables to wherever they are needed in the country. I dismount until I am safely past, then remount and turn to my right into the woods.

This area of woodland has tall willows near to the river, and a variety of trees set further back. The path is uneven and gravelly. In the later summer, predatory nettles will line it and snatch at my ankles and shins. This early in the season, the undergrowth is short and I ride unmolested.

The shortness of the undergrowth has exposed the concrete piles where a building once stood. The piles stand a metre or so tall, and would have acted as stilts to protect the building in the event of the river level rising too far. Now, without the building, they stand in solemn rows among the trees, resembling an ancient lithographic temple.

Out of the woods, I go through a gate and ride along a fisherman’s path that runs by the river. It is hard-trodden single track, the river to my left, and the ground sloping down from right to left. The KH24’s wide and soft tyre is more of a handful than the Holy Roller on this, squirming on the camber. Again, in the summer, this path will be lined with nettles, and riding it will be a real challenge. However, in April, the only hazards are the low branches of a couple of willow trees.

After a few minutes, there is a tall earth bank to my right. I know from many previous rides that there is a path at the top, and two artificial lakes contained by the bank. I have ridden down a trodden path on a shallower part of the hard mud slope many times. Last week, I tried to ride up this same path on the Holy Roller and nearly succeeded. Today I plan to do a comparison test on the KH24…

The slope is steep enough that I would have to be careful riding down it, the surface is hard and uneven, and the total elevation is something like five metres, or maybe a little more. I choose my starting line, ride at the slope and stay in the saddle for as long as possible, hoping to “rush” as much of the climb as I can. The uneven surface disrupts my rhythm and I have to stand up and plod, pedal stroke after pedal stroke, pulling against the handle on the front of my seat. I zigzag to avoid bumps and ruts, and find myself 45 degrees off my planned direction. I turn too far the other way, and laboriously make it to the top, like a ship tacking into a strong wind.

Just as the slope levels out and I relax, I hit a tussock of grass and UPD. I know that it is nothing to do with the climb, but I also know that I will have to come back and do the whole climb cleanly. It’s an obsession thing.

For now, I ride on the gritted path that runs along the top of the bank. To my right is a lake, fringed with rushes. The bank forms more or less a square, and there is an additional bank that cuts across the middle, leaving two “pounds”. One pound is completely flooded to make an artificial lake. The other is half flooded, and half mud flats. The whole area is a nature reserve.

Coils of barbed wire are there to stop people walking out onto the mud flats. Helpful notices declare, “Danger! Deep Water”, or “Danger! Slurry Lagoon!” or just, “Danger, keep out.”

Fantastic! I can picture the scene now: a small group of teenagers arrive one afternoon… Perhaps they are carrying a wicker picnic hamper…
Edmund: “Crikey! I jolly well think I’ll go and have a walk on those mud flats. They look spiffing!”
Susan: “Wait, Edmund. What does that notice say?”
Peter: “I’ll check…”
Lucy: “No, please, let me. I love reading, and it will help my personal development and career prospects to practise the literacy skills I am learning at school… Oh, cripes! It says, ‘Danger! Slurry lagoon. Keep out!’”
Edmund: “I say, Lucy, thank goodness you read that. What on earth was I thinking of? I’m only a young boy, and I must be careful not to take risks in my quest for adventure and new experiences. Let’s sit here and have the picnic, then perhaps we can go litter picking.”

That is how it is with young people, isn’t it?

Apparently not, because the mud is criss-crossed with the tyre tracks of mountain bikes and motor bikes.

Still contemplating the mentality of people who put up signs to attract the attention of stupid children to dangers they might otherwise not have thought of, I ride on. I can’t help thinking that it would be better to allow natural selection to do its job. Better drowned than duffers if not duffers won’t drown.

I reach a path that leads down the bank and drop down 5 metres or so to a narrow footpath. I turn left, and ride along a familiar path until I am heading back towards the river. The bank and the artificial lakes are to my left, and to my right is a railway embankment. I see a small group of children coming towards me on BMX bikes. See how well the notices worked? The kids are nowhere near the slurry lagoon! I shouldn’t have been so cynical.

I pass the kids, smiling to them in a way that is intended to say, “Hello, please don’t even think of asking where my other wheel is.” Five seconds after we’ve passed each other, one of the boys shouts, “I can go faster than you!” With typical unicyclist’s paranoia, I assume it’s directed at me, but it could easily have been addressed at any of his three companions.

Slowing down a little, I notice a path to my right which goes through an arch under the railway embankment. I have ridden along this route many times, although usually in the opposite direction, and I have never noticed this arch before. I go through it, pausing briefly to admire the impromptu vernacular art gallery that adorns the dingy brickwork.

On the other side of the arch is a previously unsuspected secret world with tracks, humps, bumps and berms for mountain bikers, BMXers and off road motorcyclists. It’s not attractive (there is at least one burned out car) but it is varied and challenging, and I spend a good quarter of an hour or so trying various circuits. Some of the descents are almost at the limit of what I can manage safely, and some of the climbs are too steep, long, or uneven for me to manage, but most of it is within my capabilities. I just wish I had more stamina. I will certainly come back here better prepared.

Eventually, too breathless to enjoy the tougher challenges, I emerge back onto my earlier route and ride steadily for a minute or two. This brings me to the climb that I almost managed cleanly earlier in the ride. This time I do it fairly easily.

As I reach the top, I notice two joggers approaching from my left. They are going faster than I wish to ride so I allow them to catch up with me. I take the opportunity to look for a route back down to the river bank. I hear the joggers talking. I pick out the word “Circus” and prepare for an inane remark as they pass. The jogger catches my eye and thinks better of it and they carry on past me.

The descent I have chosen is too steep for me. It is a convex slope - i.e. steeper at the bottom - and the “run out” is an uneven and narrow piece of river bank, followed by a steep drop into the River Trent. This plays on my mind unduly, and I zig zag half way down the slope then dismount. I’m 44 you know!

From here, it is a simple ride back along the river bank, with a detour through the woods, and along the strip of sandy beach. The only unusual moment is when I think I see a heron swimming in the middle of the river. I don’t expect to see herons swimming - I don’t even know if they can - and I look twice. The bird rises from the water and flies away. It is not a heron, it is either a cormorant or a shag. I can’t tell the difference at this distance. I am slightly overwight, tired, sweaty and dirty, and a cormorant seems rather more likely.

Lovely, enjoyable read as always. It’s great to be riding with you again :smiley:

I love the imagery your stories create while I read.

Its ends up like watching a short little film with a nice voice doing the narration, and I just sit back and watch.

4 responses so far. No one has got both of the deliberate mistakes - although I think everyone got the big easy one. No one spotted the subtle one. Perhaps you’re not used to seeing something that old in print.

No one has even tried for the (easy) literary references.

I believe the cows were Freisians. I used to live on a dairy farm and they kept Freisians. However, that was 35 years ago, so my cow recognition skills are not what they were. If they were another breed of black and white cow, then that is not a deliberate mistake.

It wasn’t the heron. I said in the wride up that I didn’t hink herons could swim - they certainly don’t do it often. It wasn’t the cormorant/shag thing either - we really do get at least one of the two species this far in land.

Four more replies, and someone now has two of the deliberate mistakes and one of the literary references. Some others are so near but yet so far.

So far, exactly one person has got all four right - and he did it with no guess work, hesitation, or extras. I won’t give his name away yet, so I’ll just call him Phillip Martin for now.:wink:

I’d never herd (pun intended) of Friesian cows so I had to look it up. They are indeed a black and white cow from which our Holsteins (on this side of the pond) were derived. By the way, it is i before e in this case.

I had intended to paint my white VW van in the distinctive black and white cow pattern until I saw one painted that way here in my town. Can’t do it now. I hate being a “me too.” Then I thought, “zebra stripes!” Yep. Someone’s done that too. Darn!

Yes, and they’ve done ladybird spots and tiger stripes, and even bar codes - the modern zebra stripe.

I’m afraid the V-dub paintscheme thing is all out of fresh memes.

Are you an author?

Seriously, I hope you save these entries to your computer. You could compile them into a journal/book that I’m sure many unicyclists would enjoy reading.

Well, a mixed bag of responses.

The easy deliberate mistake was:

  • The Cattle Grid is a fantastic facility allowing cattle to be produced at a few central points then distributed by a network of pylons and cables to wherever they are needed in the country. I dismount until I am safely past, then remount and turn to my right into the woods.

A cattle grid is a shallow pit blocking the road, with a metal grid over it. Cattle can’t cross it because their hooves would go through the gaps. The National Grid is a fantastic facility allowing electricity to be produced at a few central points and then distributed by pylons and cables… See what I did there? Cattle grid/National Grid. :roll_eyes:

The more subtle deliberate mistake was:

  • they stand in solemn rows among the trees, resembling an ancient lithographic temple.

There are various ancient monuments in this country. Many are bronze age or dark age, but the oldest are neolithic.

  • Neolithic is the "new" stone age. Complex societies growing crops and rearing livestock, and sometimes producing permanent structures from stone.
  • Mesolithic is the middle stone age. Hunters, gatherers, herdsmen. Usually nomadic.
  • Palaeolithic is the "old" stone age. Very simple tools, hunters and gatherers.
  • Lithographic has "lith" in it (from "lithos" meaning stone) but is to do with printing.

That one was for the interleckshuls in haec foro.

Now the literary references.

It is surprising how many people though Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were the names of the famous five. (Count 'em!) Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were of course the kids in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and the other chronicles of Narnia. Wasn’t there a film last year?

And the other: “Better drowned than duffers if not duffers won’t drown” is the famous telegram from Father to Mother giving John, Susan, Titty and Roger permission to take the boat out onto the lake and go camping in Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome.

These days, a children’s author couldn’t get away with a character answering to the name, Roger the cabin boy. :astonished:

The first person to get all the answers right was martin.phillips:D

By the way:

  • Kingfishers are birds and [I]do [/I]make burrows in sandy banks.
  • Cormorants and shags are similar, and we do get a few of them here on the Trent.
  • We do get Friesian cows - the standard black and white cow is often of that breed.
  • I don't think herons can swim, but I'm not sure. I imagine they'd try if they fell in, though.
  • You do get convex slopes. They are steeper at the bottom, and shallower at the top.

Well done Mike, as usual.

I enjoyed the read. I picked up on the Narnia kids, but never could find the mistakes. I read right past them