RR: Unicycling to Wales

This RR is available with pictures at
<url:http://www.colyer.plus.com/danny/cycling/ridereports/severn06/index.html>

The Bristol Juggling Convention is held on a hillside overlooking the Severn Estuary. Both Severn Bridges are clearly visible, making the cyclepath across the old bridge a tempting target for unicyclists.

A few years ago three of us decided to ride to Wales, not knowing that the bridge crossed a peninsula before making landfall in Wales. With one of our number knackered, and another desperate to get back for show rehearsals, we turned back once we were over land and only discovered later that we hadn’t actually made it to Wales. So this year, when I heard early in the week about a planned ride to Wales on the Thursday, I wanted to go along. It also seemed like a good opportunity to try out the Big Apple tyre that I had just fitted to my Muni.

We arranged to meet at 11:00 at my tent. Five of us set off at about 11:20, heading North-West along the footpath that runs for about a mile from the site to the Tockington road. Turning right, we headed through Tockington and Olveston until we picked up the NCN Routes 4 & 41 signs for the Severn Bridge. In Olveston we found a road covered in conkers, one of which caused Dave to UPD.

The last mile to the bridge was along the B4461 - not the most pleasant road to ride along. The only vehicle that I felt passed dangerously close was a Carlsberg lorry. Carlsberg, probably the worst drivers in the world.

We debated whether to stop at the services to allow Darren (the only one of our number without a Camelbak) to get a drink, but decided instead to stop on the way back. So, after a short break while Dave recovered from a dramatic UPD, we continued over the bridge.

It’s always windy across the Severn Bridge, so Dave sensibly stopped to remove his hat. Unfortunately he did so just a few seconds too late, as his hat was carried over the railings to the sound of expletives. I then took my cap off and tucked it into my Camelbak.

At the English end of the bridge there is a sign, alongside the
cyclepath, saying “Welcome to England”. We had hoped to find something similar at the Welsh end to pose under, but in a demonstration of the stereotypical Welsh antipathy towards the English there was none.

Shortly after leaving the bridge Plumsie spotted a sign on the far side of the motorway. I then rode another few hundred yards and spotted a sign on the A466 exit of the roundabout at the top of the motorway slip road. This was shortly after a “Cyclists Dismount” sign on the same post as an NCN sign and alongside a set of barriers. The Welsh must be as crap at cyclepath design as the English.

So, we crossed two roads and got our photo to prove that we’d made it to Wales.

The return journey was into the wind, making it much harder to leave Wales than it had been to enter. But leave we did, stopping for a snack and drinks at the service station on the English side of the bridge.

By this time Dave and Clare were flagging, with Clare talking about calling a taxi. But we carried on, reaching Olveston during the school run. The others had planned to stop at the pub in Olveston for the afternoon and evening, staying for dinner. I chose to press on back to the convention to spend time with my family. (It turned out that the pub was shut, and the other riders left Olveston soon after I did).

I missed a turning by The Swan in Tockington, but only rode a couple of hundred yards out of my way (thinking “this doesn’t look right”) before spotting the convention on my right, knowing that it should be on my left. I turned round and rode the rest of the way back to the convention without further mishap. Well, I say rode, I actually walked most of that last mile uphill back along the footpath.

I finished the ride with my computer reading 14.10 miles, but with the knowledge that it wasn’t calibrated for the new tyre. After recalibrating the computer, the corrected reading was about 14.4 miles. The Big Apple tyre was lurvely on tarmac, combining with the KH Velo saddle and my 125mm cranks to make the Muni the most comfortable unicycle that I had ever ridden. It wasn’t so good on the off-road bits, where I missed the Gazzaloddi that I had just removed.

nice RR danny

Thanks. It’s a shame you and Paul couldn’t make it to the convention, though of course even if you had you wouldn’t both have been able to ride. The Talls were both there, but without unicycles.

It was a great ride although a bit slower than we should have been.

Perhaps it should become an annual thing at bristol convention to see how many people can make it to wales and back on a unicycle.

I would have prefered to do it on a coker though, the 26 is just a touch slow for me.

There is another ride report available at http://bear-blog.blogspirit.com/archive/2006/09/26/pirates-on-the-road-to-wales.html

Plumsie

Nice one. Riding TO Wales sounds a lot more impressive than just riding IN Wales:)

Depends on where you live. From my vantage point deep in West Wales (Aberystwyth), riding out of Wales is a good achievement. The nearest English border is about 65 miles away. :slight_smile:

Well done on your bridge ride! It’s good to know that at least one of the bridges is cycle-on-able and not full motorway.

Sam

Was the cycle path over the bridge open, or did you have to ride over the footpath? When I lived in Bristol I used to go over the bridge regularly by bike and the bike path was almost always “closed for maintenance - please use footpath” :frowning:

I would think a coker would be high enough to feel pretty scarey next to the fence - it’s always windy as well. When I was at school a friend of mine rode a penny-farthing over the bridge and was absolutely pooing his pants.

Rob

Even on a 26 the fence seemed pretty low and with all the people working on the cycle path you were quite close to the fence at times.

The cycle path was open though and is thankfully fairly wide

if you have a look on danny’s website you should fine some photos showing us near the fence and how low it is

Plumsie

Yes, should have looked at that before posting really :roll_eyes:
That’s definitely the cycle path as well (upstream side of the bridge)! It was actually open!

Rob

this shows roughly the height of our uni seats relative to the height of the barrier, we were sat at the same height as the rail, scary stuff.

It was a pity so few unicyclists were at bristol, we didn’t get enough people for a proper game of hockey

I am glad that we did the ride though, it was something we had been planning since we heard it had been attempted in the past so now we just need to start seeing how much faster we can do it.

Plumsie

That was part of the probelm, Paul couldn’t make it and if I’d come for the few days I could do I’d have been a single parent of a 6 month old, not exactly a restfull few days camping and unicycling.

Well, if they call it a “juggling convention”… :roll_eyes:
I probably would have dropped in if I’d known.

Fantastic, a unimeet without hockey - even more reason I should have gone :slight_smile:

One of my favourite training rides was to carry on over the hill to Tintern Abbey and back. That was before I got into unicycling though - might not be so nice on a uni, long hill. Out to Raglan and back was good as well, but would be a bit of an epic on a unicycle :astonished:

Rob

They call it a juggling and circus skills convention, I hate admitting it but unicycling is a skill that is frequently used in the circus and therefore considered a circus skill

http://jay-linn.co.uk/brizzle/2006/index.html

I like playing hockey, I see it as one of the more social things to do on a unicycle. then again distance riding in a group is great fun too and nearly as social

Epic rides are always fun, you should organise it as a muni weekend sort of thing

Plumsie

The best thing was that we got to Wales and it wasn’t raining!

:wink:

There were signs saying that it would be closed at certain times. I think if we’d done the ride a few days later then the cyclepath would have been closed.

I remember commenting during the ride that I really wouldn’t fancy doing it on the Coker, because that rail would look rather low.