Slicin' Bacon (With one quiz question)

OK, folks. One deliberate general knowledge type mistake in here for the alert reader to spot. if you want to play, just PM me the answer. I will psot the answer in a couple of days when the resposnes dry up. If you don’t want to play, that’s OK, but please don’t point out the answer in a reply on the thread. Thanks.:slight_smile:

A new super lightweight tube in the 23 mm 700c tyre, a new track pump, and 130 psi of pressure. Time to give the Bacon Slicer another try.

Not wanting to suffer a pinch flat in the first 20 metres, I push the Bacon Slicer over the ballast path and mount on the tarmac. The uni is light and skittish, but the 102 mm cranks seem to offer too little control for the easy down slope to the side of the rowing lake. I teeter onto the lakeside, adjust my position on the pedals and the seat and get into my stride, cruising easily at 10 - 11 mph. The wheel feels weightless, but there is a slight rattle. I’m not quite sure but I think it’s that little ring that goes round the valve stem, tinkling against the rim. Whatever… I’m riding, and I don’t like to stop.

Skimming along the lakeside, it’s warm and muggy. A few rowers are out on the water. To my left, loud music is blasting from speakers near to the white watercourse. Flotillas of Canada geese and greylags drift in the middle of the lake. Other geese forage on the grassy banks, or scatter noisily across the road as I approach.

A mile and a half brings me to the end of the lake, and I am very aware of the seat. The 23 mm race tyre has no “give” in it, and I’m learning how much difference even a softer 28 mm tyre would make to saddle comfort! The steering is a little awkward too. The tyre is narrow, but has quite a tall profile, meaning it tips quite suddenly into turns. All challenging stuff.

Back along the other side of the lake into the stiff breeze. To my left is the water ski lake. There is an overhead cable way, and beginners are being dragged round one at a time. The bloke on at the moment is having a great time - holding on with only one hand and flapping his other arm like a mad thing.

OK, so the seat is getting a bit firm now. Time to add some variety! I turn left onto a little grassy cut-through that runs along the side of the water ski lake. The track slopes down from my right to my left, and the ground is grassy and slightly soft. This takes concentration, and the wheel is crabbing slightly, turning into the slope. I reach the end of the track, and stumble but remain upright as I step up the last little grassy slope onto the tarmac. I turn right, over the little hill and back down to the rowing lake. Something is knocking slightly. I think it’s the bearing clamps.

I scoot down the lakeside, occasionally sprinting and checking my speed on the GPS. 13 mph or so is possible, but it is skittish at these speeds. I know a 29er would be faster because it would be smoother and more predictable. The Bacon Slicer might even be faster with slightly longer cranks - say 110s - because of the extra control they would give. But that’s not the point!

Round the end of the lake past the boat houses, over the rough ridged concrete strip that I wouldn’t notice on any other uni, and back onto the long side of the lake. Ahead of me are geese - lots of geese. There are Canada geese and greylags, some with goslings, and there are ducks - mallard, bombay and tufted. As I approach, I clack my wrist guards together to clear a path through the geese. Then on a whim, I turn left, away from the lake and up the grassy goose-shitten slope.

This hill used to be the big challenge of my evening rides on the Coker. It’s long enough to get bogged down on and stall. The last bit is steepest, although none of it is very steep. Now here’s me riding up it on a machine that is little more than a vinyl LP with a seat attached, and 4 inch cranks.

At the top of the hill, I stop and tighten the bearing clamps. I also lower the seat slightly, in the hope that this will stop my knees twinging. That sounds daft, but no, it isn’t the deliberate mistake. With short cranks, your legs move less, and there is an argument for lowering the seat slightly so you’re not just using that limited range of movement at the point where your knee is almost but not quite straight. It works for me, anyway.

I get my breath back. 3 miles or so covered, but the concentration level needed is higher than on any other unicycle I’ve ever ridden.

I remount on the ballast track. Pinch flats or no, my demon says I have to try stuff, so I try it. I stand out of the saddle, use the remains of my knees as suspension, and hope that the wheel will have the good sense to find it’s way round the worst of the ballast. It’s hard work, and a little slow, but I console myself with the thought I’m doing something that’s probably not far of unique. Call me an arrogant so and so… no, better still, call me a taxi, because I’m knackered.

And now… the back of Scoreboard Hill… I can do it on the Coker, I can do it on the Holy Roller… I’ve even done it on the Road Razor on 125s… but can I do it on the Bacon Slicer? The wheel is responsive because it has very little inertia. Put another way: it has very little momentum, and needs positive input for both movement and balance every step of the way. So, when I make it to the top, I’m pretty proud. The seat has twisted to one side, so I stop, straighten it and tighten the clamp.

Now for the descent, and this is quite hairy. It’s not just the ratio of leverage, but shorter cranks give inherently less control on descents because you are controlling such a small movement. It takes precision, otherwise the pedals flick past unexpectedly like a cam, and you’re off the back before you know it. Spinning out isn’t an option because right across the bottom of the hill is a ballast path, and I don’t want to hit that at high speed on a 130 psi liquorice boot lace of a tyre.

I make it, and set off across the grassy hilltops, riding under the sculpture, but tripping over the edge of the little dip and UPDing. I laugh. This is like learning to ride cross country all over again. Back up in the saddle, and along the ridge, past the elderly spaniel that is zigzagging aimlessly, then past its owner - an elderly man, listening to his MP3, who reacts with startled amazement as I pass him.

To my left are tents, and music is blaring out. There’s some big kayak event on this weekend, and one must suppose that the addition of loud music will add a much-needed dash of excitement to the sport of propelling a tiny plastic boat though roaring tons of fast moving water with stopper waves that can pull you under and spit you back out 10 metres down stream.

So I turn left, and approach the white water course, then right again to make my way up the short but winding ballast path to the top of the hill that overlooks the back of the spectators’ terraces. Can I recognise the music? Sounds a bit like P!nk, but not a song I recognise. The sound quality is dire.

So I make a careful descent of the long steep slope back to the rowing course, the follow my usual route along the flood bank, then down the wide grassy fisherman’s track past a group of open-mouthed (or possibly slack-jawed) anglers who take it in turns to point me out to each other.

I’m feeling confident, now, and when I make it through the long rough grass to the next wide track, I’m feeling fully in control of the uni. The next wide track goes up hill, then down, through a sudden little dip, then back up and down. A couple of years ago, it used to be touch and go on the Coker, but now I ace it on the Bacon Slicer, and I even make it safely down the little winding path through the trees, avoiding all the roots. I UPDed here on the Coker the other day, but that was riding in the opposite direction, up the hill.

Through long stubbly grass and ruts, I make it back to the rowing course without a fall. I zip round the end of the lake and then decide to go for it: the long grassy slope where (blah blah blah wrist blah low speed fall blah years ago).

And you know what? I make it all the way up the hill, and I don’t even UPD at the top - which I did on the Holy Roller on my last visit. I love this bit of the ride, because the climb is really technically challenging, and the trickiest bit is almost at the very top, where you turn right and the grass gets longer and the ground gets rougher. Then you suddenly go through an entrance between two lots of trees, and you’re on mown grass, looking down on the water ski lake.

The descent takes care, and there’s always an audience of water skiers waiting by the jetty, and I have to weave carefully between them before I go out through the narrow gate and onto the concrete path.

Next, the single-sleeper footbridge, across the deep ditch. I hit a hidden dip and UPD. Some ungenerous-spirited skier goes, “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!” mockingly. I glare at them and the tone suddenly becomes more good-natured, and there’s even a smile. I try four times, but today the wheel does not want to even reach the bridge, let alone go over it. Like a sentient egg white, I know when I’m beaten, so I walk over the bridge and remount, then tiptoe carefully across the skiers’ ballast-strewn car park.

My route now takes me along easy tarmac back to the rowing lake. Once again, I ride up the goose-shitten grassy slope, along the zigzag ballast path, and I make an attempt on the back of Scoreboard Hill. The willpower has gone and I UPD. My Camelback is almost empty. I’ve had a workout equivalent to twice the distance on the Coker. The car park is only 50 metres away, so I remount and trundle back to the car, UPDing on a speed hump to end the ride on a bathetic note.

Ride stats:
Max speed 13.8 mph (22.2 kph)
Distance: 6.51 miles (10.5 km)
Average speed: 7.9 mph (12.7 kph)
Riding time: 0:49:25

So, was this wheel worth it? It isn’t faster than the Road Razor, and it’s harder to ride. If I wanted faster and easier, I’d buy a 21 speed mountain bike. The Bacon Slicer is a challenge to ride, something very different, and makes me look at old terrain with new eyes. That’s all good in my book.

that was very entertaining to read. I think it would bw worth it to put a break on the bacon slicer.

I think you should actually try to slice something with it…that’d be cool

you’re a taxi.

cheers Mike!

That’s weird… my new bike wheels are built with Open Pros and on the first few rides last week I had an annoying tinkly rattle. I checked everything else (I’ve just built the bike up from scratch, so it could be anything) and eventually traced the noise to the front wheel. It sounded just like there was a bit of swarf or grit between the two skins of the rim - bugger :frowning:
Then I noticed the valve stem nut was loose!
I never had that problem with my old rims - the new Open Pros have quite a pointy section and the nut doesn’t touch the rim much so I suspect that’s why it came loose so easily. I’m considering putting a speck of thread lock on it. (Don’t do it up tight - with most modern tubes you’ll get problems with the valve base coming away from the tube where it’s pulled against the hole in the rim).


I’m not an alert reader :o
Enjoyed the ride though.


A person I used to know in a motorcycle club was adamant that the purpose of the valve stem nut was to hold the tube in place while the tube and tyre were being fitted and to stop the valve disappearing down the hole when you attach a pump or airline to it. Once the tube is fully inflated, the nut should be good and loose, and not in contact with the rim at all. I’m not saying he was right, but it is an interesting theory, and was propounded with conviction.

OK, the answer tot he quiz question is bellow, so if you don’t wanna know, don’t look




<<There are Canada geese and greylags, some with goslings, and there are ducks - mallard, bombay and tufted. >>

An easy one, this, but I think I concealed it pretty well:

A Bombay duck is a fish.:slight_smile:

Quite a few entries. Two people thought there shouldn’t be goslings in late June/early July. There should.

Thanks to everyone who entered.

I completeley missed that.:slight_smile: