For those unfamiliar with my “wride ups”, the rules are these: everything in the story is true except for some specific “deliberate mistakes”. In this story, there are 3. They are general knowledge and everyone has an equal chance. If you want to play, PM me the answers. Winners will be posted in a couple of days. If not, please don’t spoil it for eanyone else by referring to the mistakes in replies to the thread.
Wednesday, my concertina lesson cancelled, and an evening unexpectedly free. In a way, it was a relief because two of the strings need replacing before I can play it as well as I’d like.
I searched through my diminished fleet of unicycles. Road Razor: sold. Coker: sold. 20: only for Morris performances. KH24: only for extreme stuff. Bacon Slicer: needs a new inner tube. That leaves the Holy Roller: advertised for sale several times, but no takers.
The Holy Roller is a Pashley 26" MUni with 125 mm cranks and a Maxxis Holy Roller 2.4" tyre. It’s great fun, but a little heavy.
So, all dressed up in Lycra for the first time in ages, I set off for my old hunting ground, the National Water Sports Centre. I am travelling light, with just helmet, wrist guards and a belt with a small plastic bottle of water. No tools, no Camelbak. Keep it simple, don’t overdo it… Mike, you’re 44, and you’ve had no exercise for months.
So of course the very first thing is I turn off the ballast path and set of up the soft wet mown grassy slope at the back of Scoreboard Hill, grunt up the last little steep bit, then take the steepest route down. I cross the next path and soon I’m riding the skyline of the biggest area of landscaped hills at the side of the main rowing lake. I weave past someone’s abandoned picnic cloth - they are playing football down the hill - and reach the little dome-shaped hill at the end. The descent is only 3 metres, but I take the steepest route. For the first time in ages, I feel properly up for it.
Then I pick my way carefully up the loose and steep zig zag path, reach the top where a few bored youths are too surprised to comment, then I swoop down towards the whitewater course. I pause for a couple of minutes to get my breath back, and to watch a coxed four go through the slalom gates, then I remount and continue on my way.
A few minutes later, I am on the bridle path that runs along the river bank, then I turn off onto one of my favourite green tracks. White-blossomed hawthorn blooms along both sides. Rabbits scamper out of my way. However, the surface of the track has been spoiled by horses. A new equestrian centre nearby is clearly using this path as a “gallop”. I reach the tricky little dip half way along and it is ploughed into deep mud. I’m not in a mud plugging mood and I try to thread my way through on the dry bits, but UPD.
Some time later, I’m back by the rowing lake. I make my way on smooth tarmac round to the hill that leads up to the back of the waterski lake. It is early in the season and the grass is short, so the climb is easier than I remember it. I reach the crest with little effort and drop down the steep slope to the waterski hut. There are no skiers. It has been a wet winter and early spring, and the waterski slope is a little steeper than is ideal for early season training.
Over the single-sleeper bridge and off round some of my old familiar paths, then out of the Water Sports Centre onto the road. Eventually, I reach the old “Buggy Land” site where motor trikes and quads used to be available for hire. I climb over the gate and ride round both tracks. It’s not as difficult as some of what I’ve laready ridden, but somehow it amuses me to think I’m unicycling on a quad “bike” off road course.
Back to the Water Sports Centre, I divert fromt he tarmac along one of the hinged “gangplanks” that leads to a mooring pontoon. Someone is (allegedly) testing an outboard on one of the rescue boats, circling fast enough to set up some medium sized waves. I’m unicycling on a floating pontoon which should be great fun, but the waves are disappointingly ineffectual.
Back up the ramp and onto the smooth tarmac, I’m just considering my options when, for no reason I can explain, I UPD. Everything goes into slow motion. I know I’m going to fall full length. I have time to think, to position my wrist guards so that the plastic protectors skid and dissipate the energy of the fall. But it’s not enough, and I take skin off my elbow and knee. Later I realise I’ve done my hip too.
A passing bicyclist expresses concern, concealing his amusement fairly well. I tell him, “That’ll teach me not to concentrate. I was miles away.”
Strangely, after several months of living and breathing work, and no exercise, now that I’ve drawn blood, I feel properly alive. The pain isn’t too bad, and the adrenaline has kicked in.
Probably only 3 or so miles covered, but an enjoyable ride.