Sailing the 7 hundred C

I had the day off work to get various jobs done. All morning, it poured with rain. Around 1:30 p.m. it dried up…

Half an hour later, I’m putting a bit of extra air in the 700c tyre, checking my trip computer, adjusting my wristguards… and I’m off along the river bank!

The first part of the ride is along familiar paths, past the football ground, under Trent Bridge, and along the embankment. There’s a strong headwind, and riding is challenging. I pass a group of young males who appear to be physiologically optimised for answering no-brainers. Their witty comments range from, “What the f***?” to, “Yayaya yayaya yayaya! Whoooo!” I politely ignore them.

Up the steep ramp onto the suspension bridge. Here there’s a strong cross wind, but that’s no excuse for the soft UPD when I fail to make enough allowance for the unevenness of the slats making up the deck of the bridge. So I’m a couple of miles into the ride, and there go any ideas of 20 miles “at a sit”. (I’ve only achieved that once - and that was on the Coker.)

I follow cycle tracks alongside the road. Most of the people I meet are friendly. A few drivers toot their hooters; others hoot their tooters - a subtle distinction, but not wasted on a man of my sensibilities.

I decide to aim for the University Park, but the cycletracks draw me to the entrance to the main campus where I have to approach a security booth and a barrier. I try to look like any other road user. In the end, I’m forced to dismount. Then the guard raises the barrier. With an ironic smile, I prepare to remount and ride through - until a loud blast on a horn warns me that the barrier wasn’t raised for me, but for the bloomin’ great lorry approaching from behind me!

The university is on a hill - a surprisingly large one - and I slog my way up, wishing I’d not worn the extra top. The weather might be miserable, but it’s not cold. My route is fringed with students, and I prepare for witty comments. My riposte is ready: “I see you’re studying mediaeval humour.” No comments are made - I just get a few friendly grins.

Over the top of the hill and down to the exit, where I skirt past the barriers before following the pavement round to the park entrance. From there, I do a clockwise lap of the lake, exploring some narrow and quite steep paths. The walls are marked with notices: “Please do not climb on the wall.” Presumably, these hark back to an age when students were assumed to be reasonably literate and moderately obedient!

About now, it starts to rain, quite heavily, and I’m about 5 miles or so from the car. I decide to cut through a residential area, following a posted bicycle route. I’m riding on the roads some of the time. Most of the drivers are courteous, but one sees me signal to turn right, and accelerates to get past me before I make the turn. I give him the internationally recognised signal that he could have waited 2 seconds.

Eventually, I reach the canal. The tricky cobbled bridge awaits - and the cobbles are wet and slimy, and my tyre is rock hard. I’m pleased to make it over the bridge AND to make the tighter of the two turns available immediately after.

From here, it should be an easy sail along the canal towpath - the wind is behind me, but the towpath is a muddy mess of puddles. Oh for some mudguards! Then a mile or two later, the towpath is closed for maintenance, and I have to divert through more backstreets and along cycle paths before I return to the canalside.

So far, I’ve had one UPD on the suspension bridge (about 2 miles into the ride) and one UPD when I failed to idle at a junction. I have one more (totally expected) UPD on a steep slope up to a bridge, and one unexpected UPD as I drop down from Trent Bridge back onto the river bank. From there it’s an easy ride back to the car.

All this on a 700c (28) with 110mm cranks. Riding time 2:00.48 (elapsed time about 2:10).
Top speed 13 mph. (21 kmh)
Distance covered, 15.97 miles. (25.7 km)
Average speed approx 8 mph (12.8 kmh)

Question: would I get a better average speed on 125 mm cranks? I know that every time I approach an obstacle on the 110s, I have to slow down well in advance, and ride with extra care. Would the extra control on tricky sections buy back the time lost on the straight flat sections? I might try it.

I found I get a slightly better average speed, but I fall off a whole lot more on 110s. I found that 110s went over things better when I didn’t slow down, but I had worse falls from going fast into obstacles. Although it depends on the terrain, off-road I found the 125s faster because I could ride more powerfully.

I’m feeling quite smug at the moment cos I did 22.5 miles without a dismount the other day. Including a big hill that I’ve never ridden up before at about 18 miles!


Mikefule: 20 miles “at a sit”.

Joe: 22.5 miles without a dismount the other day.

I remember my first 7 mile ride on my Niner. I finished with a sore boohiney. Now, I ride 7 or 8 miles regularly with much less normal seat-rub/pressure related discomfort. (I do experience abnormal discomfort because last summer my giraffe kicked my tailbone so hard so as to break it. So now, it pains me plenty).

Ive done 8.5 miles “at a sit”, followed by 7 miles to get back home after a rest. So, 15.5 miles in a day. (Boohiney very angry at me)

My Niner is the Yuni with your garden variety KH seat.

Question 1. Are you guys hurting after your long voyages?

Question 2. What seat? Upgrades? Air?

For me, it’s the KH seat, not upgraded. Personally I don’t like the feel of airseats and I do really like the comfort of the KH.

The thing about chafing and pain from riding long distances is that the more you ride, the less it happens. Especially if you’re riding a KH seat which is pretty good for distance riding. There’s nothing more complicated about it and no extra equipment needed.

I ride 8.5 miles without dismounting twice a day, 4 days a week at the moment. I currently do it on the 29er with a KH seat, but I used to do the same with a coker + viscount seat and that was fine too. It’s similar to what happens when you start riding. When you first ride, 100 metres hurts, but after doing that regularly, it feels like nothing much.


mike,when are you going to get a real 29er tyre? thats where the true differance is.

I don’t think I will get a 29 tyre. The 28 is my road uni - faster than a 26, safer in traffic than a Coker. If anything, I’m more likely to get a skinny rim and super narrow tyre made up - make a real thoroughbred uni.

I try to have a clear use for each uni. The 26 is for mud plugging, the 28 for roads and paths. The Coker is… well, when I have the time and energy, it’s for barnstorming. The 24 seems to have fallen between two stools. I might sell that, and maybe the 26 and get a really good 24 MUni. Then the 20’s for playing on.

As for seats: I experimented briefly with air seats and didn’t like the feel. The 28 has a standard Miyata which is good for a couple of hours with a few breaks. The Viscount on the Coker is more comfortable. I had a Velo and hated it.

i understand what you mean about the throughbred,but you will go faster on a 28 with a 29er tyre on it.much like most people go faster on a Coker than they do on a 48" with a hard tyre.

you sould at least try will be surprised how much you wont have to slow down on those 110’s when your “approaching an obsticle”

You may well be right. But how many of us choose our unicycles purely on the grounds of practicality? I quite like the delicate skills needed to tip toe a skinny hard smooth tyre through the maze of minor obstacles which I wouldn’t notice on the Coker or the MUni - fencing the foil, not swinging the claymore.

Yeah, super narrow tyres are totally not where it’s at for fast road unicycling on a 700c rim any more. You’d probably go faster with a fat slick. Narrow tires and rims are pretty much just for cool road bike looks, rather than actually increasing speed.

You want a Schwalbe Big Apple 700c x 60. Nothing else compares. I’ve ridden a few 700c tyres now, starting with a narrow one, getting variously fatter and each time I sped up a bit and gained control. It’s noticeably faster on smooth roads and much much faster on roads that have any bumps or potholes in them. It’s also a much smoother ride.

Come to BUC and try one. I’m sure there’ll be a few there including almost certainly mine.


Re: Sailing the 7 hundred C

My selfless hours of work in this area area should mean that most of them were thinking ‘it’s that guy on a unicycle… but something’s different…’
That bit of campus does have some nice riding. Apart from anything else, one of the hills is very steep, and the fun that can be had overtaking some of the slower bikers is priceless. :slight_smile:
Thinking of a ride along the canal sometime on saturday if you’re around that area Mike. Don’t know when, or I’d give you a time. Probably afternoon. (I am a student- Saturday mornings happen to other people)


Can’t make Saturday afternoon. Busy weekend: dancing Saturday evening and a fencing competition all day Sunday. I might be riding on Saturday morning (to use a technical term!:wink: )