Some bad puns and some puzzles

Two slightly trickier than usual deliberate mistakes to look out for.

First day back at work after my holiday, and everything goes wrong - even the coffee machine. I get a coffee from the machine in the other wing of the building, carry it back to my desk, and then knock it over with my mouse cable before I’ve drunk a drop. In the ensuing panic, I accidentally unplug the power supply and have to reboot, only to find all my passwords need resetting.

At the end of a long day, the journey home is longer than usual due to road works.

Time to go riding. I need exercise and fresh air.

My last few rides have all been on the KH24 Muni with the big soft 3" section tyre and the 165 mm cranks. The Road Razor (700c x 28 mm high pressure tyre and 110 mm cranks) needs a run. It feels incredibly light as I carry it down the steps and push it the short distance to the car. My new lookee-likee camelbak with extra carrying space for Soreen feels heavy and unfamiliar.

I park some distance from the skate ramps. This is a wise decision as, for the first time in ages, I fluff the first attempt to mount. The second attempt is a bit wobbly, then I’m away. A short section of rolled grit path slopes gently down to the field, then suddenly I’m on a narrow trodden path across the grass, barely distinct enough to be single track. (I’d call it half track, but I can’t see any caterpillars.)

Onto the river bank and I turn left, heading up river. The wheel feels improbably wobbly, and I look down at the speed reading on my GPS to see I’m only doing about 9 mph. Every ridge in the path is an obstacle. This tyre could trip over a badly folded Rizzla paper…

Under the old railway bridge (now a road bridge) and then past the rowing club and the kayak club. Here, the path is raised on an embankment, and there are kids in canoes far below, shouting and laughing. One shouts, “Hey look!” and another makes a poor attempt at singing Fucek’s Entry of the Gladiators. Educated kid - but tone deaf.

On past the big glass frontage of the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest. I attempt to adjust the position of my foot on the pedal, catch my heel on the thick end of the crank and UPD to the accompaniment of jeers from the canoeists.

I ride past the other three rowing clubs, then down under the arch of Trent Bridge, up onto the embankment, with Trent Bridge Cricket Ground to my left - the scene of England’s abject capitulation today. Ahead of me is the suspension bridge, mentioned in too many previous reports. As one of the 10 longest single span suspension bridges in the world, it’s a challenge, but one to which I am equal.

Swooping down the ramp on the far side, I turn left and then zip across the grassy apron down to the river bank. The path here has been “improved” by which I mean it’s rather less fun to ride on. At least it gives me an easy opportunity to experiment with a bit of speed. The 700c, once so familiar, feels like an unwilling partner in the adventure today. Whatever the merits of the KH24, it feels like its forgiving nature has made me a less controlled rider.

All along the river bank there are young courting couples, various races, and even some mixed race couples. It’s a pity that I notice that, but that’s the way the world is. With Nottingham having such a bad reputation for gangs and violence, it’s nice to see so many different people just existing side by side, and enjoying the sunshine.

Soon I am approaching the toll bridge. To my left is some sort of memorial and two winos are leaning against it. One shouts, “I bet your bllcks are sore on that!” He thinks for a bit then adds the stunning thought: “I’m glad I’m not your bllcks!”

We have so much in common: I am equally glad that he is not my bllcks.

I cruise smoothly along the cycle path next to the main road until I reach the narrow entrance to the fisherman’s path. This is surfaced with grit and light ballast, and is slightly tricky. Round the corner, I find four ducks blocking my path. I clack my plastic wrist guards together to shoo them away. They waddle off, leaving a single pale blue egg on the path. Ducks are appalling mothers. Then again, my mother wouldn’t be a very good duck: she can’t swim.

Under the main road bridge - cold grey concrete and bright graffiti - then a short wobbly section over some broken tarmac and I’m on the road that runs past the sports ground. To my right there are golfers, and then later I pass cricketers practising hard. On current form, any one of them could be batting or bowling for England in the next series.

My favourite little winding path was “improved” a few months ago, and is now mainly rolled grit, two metres wide, and boring. The river is to my left, there are fields to the right. I feel isolated from the countryside by the mere presence of the low fence that some official has deemed necessary.

A couple of hundred metres on, the path narrows and becomes hard-packed earth. Instead of fences, there are now nettles, lurking at shin height, and I regret my decision to wear shorts. Concentrating on not getting stung, I fail to notice a sudden topographical discontinuity and I UPD, running forwards into a whole bed of nettles, and hearing the dull sound of something valuable falling from my pack. Tourettes breaks out as I realise it is my mobile phone. The memory card has come out, but it all goes back together and seems to work.

Back on the uni, and taking it a bit more steady, I hear a bicycle approaching behind me. The track is to narrow and winding for me to look over my shoulder to see if he wants to overtake. He doesn’t ask, so I carry on, keeping considerately to the left in case he wants to squeeze through.

A double bend ahead, I slow down, but not enough - a family of three on ill-controlled mountain bikes comes round the first bend. I decide to bail out, catching the seat before it hits the floor. The leader of the trio apologises and thanks me.

Back on, I can still hear the bicyclist behind me. He isn’t pushing to get past, but I keep the speed up, my GPS showing speeds either side of 11 mph (17-18 kph). Within minutes, I am at the next sports field, where there is plenty of chance for him to overtake. I veer off to the left, over mown grass, past a startled teenage couple, then pick my way down a short broken slope onto the concrete ramp leading down to the side of the weir.

I ride down the ramp, then along a narrow slightly-raised strip of concrete, and dismount. I turn round to see the cyclist has followed me. He looks alarmed that I have spotted him, and turns and rides away. Strange. Perhaps I have a stalker - they say that in unicycling, you’re no one until you have a stalker!

I pause, take a couple of half-hearted photographs, then ride back up the ramp, and pick my way gingerly over the broken ground back up to the path. To my left is the shortest of slopes, and a bicyclist has dismounted to push his bike up it. I ride Soreenly past him, then cross the two foot bridges over the canal, make the sharp 180 degree turn to the left and ride as far as the marina.

As I ride along the rough riverbank path towards the marina, I feel/hear a slight knocking. I run through the likely causes: items in my rucksack, loose crank, loose pedal, loose bearing clamp. I decide it is the last. At the marina I stop and check, and find that I was right. A few twist with the spanner and everything is OK again.

I remount and ride round the nature reserve, through thick clouds of insects, and past a crowd of thick Cub Scouts - some of whom are somewhat cheekier than I was when I was in uniform.

Riding on the nature reserve in nice weather is always a mistake because it’s too crowded, and the paths are too narrow to pass people. Most of the bicyclists have no idea how to time their manoeuvres to pass at the widest point, and they just brake, then put their feet down before the bike has come to a rest - then they clumsily lift the bike between their legs and hutch it sideways. It’s always me, on the one wheeled bike, who has to slow down, steer, control, go onto the rough bits, and generally look like I know what I’m doing.

I start to gain on a young lady who is jogging in very tight Lycra. Disappointingly, she waves me past, so I thank her and race on towards the footbridge. This is a difficult little climb, with a moment at the top to readjust, then a tricky little descent with a small drop. It would be nothing on the MUni, but on the 700c, it’s precision stuff - and with a bored angler watching and smirking, I don’t want to fall off.

Back onto the level with no UPD, with something of a flourish, and feeling slightly macho, I start to accelerate, and suddenly get a nasty twinge behind my left acappella. Knee injuries are a bad thing for dancers, and I slow down, then realise it’s very bad, and I stop and walk for a bit. From little big horn to wounded knee in the space of two minutes!

I find a log and sit for a bit, rearrange the contents of my bag, and try to find if there’s a kink in my drinking hose - it’s very difficult to get any significant supply of water from the mouthpiece. I am forced to make inane conversation with a middle aged couple who ask me if it’s difficult to ride the unicycle, but make it clear that whatever I say, they know it’s difficult. At least it gives me an excuse to rest. When I remount, the knee feels better.

A mile or two later, as I ride along the river bank, I suddenly get the strange feeling that my left buttock is exposed to the fresh air! Weird. Have I torn my shorts on the log? I reach round with one hand and find the fabric is not torn, but is soaking wet. Perturbed, I reach round with the other hand and feel my left buttock. (If my boss discovers I can find my backside with both hands, I’ll never get promoted to management!) It is dry. Further exploration reveals that the bottom of my camelback is wet. Then my knee gives a sudden twinge, it all gets too much, and I dismount.

On a real Camelbak, the hose fits to the bottom of the bladder with a simple foolproof push fit. On this lookee-likee, it is a screw fit with an O ring. This has worked loose. I tighten it, and suddenly find it’s easier to drink from the mouthpiece - but not for long as the bladder is now almost empty!

Past the marina, along a short section of road, where I am forced to play “chicken” with a motorist (I have right of way, he has 1.5 tonnes of metal and an attitude) and then up and over the cobbled hump-back bridge. On the skinny tyre, this is really difficult, because the gaps between the cobbles are quite deep, and about, er… a tyre’s width wide.

That brings me onto the canal towpath, where I start to speed up until my knee starts to hurt again, and I stop for a rest. I must be 4 or 5 miles from the car and it will be a long walk if I have to stop riding.

It is peaceful sitting on the edge of the towpath, my feet dangling over the edge of the canal (no alligators here!). The bird song is constant, and surprisingly loud. I see a common tern fly past, almost along the centre line of the canal, and followed closely by a crow. It’s a strange sight, the one, a delicate, smooth white bird with a smart black cap; the other a big ugly thing, totally black.

I remount, and take it steady, cruising along the towpath, then up a gradual ramp onto the cycle path that runs beside the road. To my right are the five a side football pitches where testosterone is king. It’s sometimes a relief not to be mainstream.

The next big feature is the traffic island under the flyover. I have a number of options here, and decide to cross the road and ride through the pedestrian underpass. I have done this many times on the way out, but never on the way back. Half way across the road is a central reservation, and as I approach it, I come face to face with a cute blonde chick on a mountain bike.

The cute blonde chick is in fact my mate Josie from the fencing club. We both stop and express surprise at meeting here. She is unphased by the unicycle, and far too polite to mention my Lycra shorts. We decide to ride together and follow cycle paths over the Clifton Bridge, then down a nasty steep little ramp - it never crosses her mind that it might be difficult on one wheel and, through gritted teeth, I commend her on my faith in my riding. Then we ride along the south bank of the river.

We chat about this and that, and fencing club politics - I resigned from the committee yesterday. The GPS says we’re cruising at around 9-10 mph, and I’m not rushing and she’s not deliberately slowing down. However, the constant spinning eventually brings back the twinge in my knee, and as we approach the toll bridge, I UPD twice in quick succession.

Josie prefers the higher of the two paths that run back along the embankment, and this has ridges across it where tree roots are breaking through. My knee is worse, and I suggest we walk over the suspension bridge. We then ride together as far as Trent Bridge before separating.

Another mile or two of steady riding, then the slightly tricky bit of half track, and I’m back at the car.

Now, here’s some interesting figures, because I had the trip computer set on the uni, and I also had the GPS working:

Max speed 13.2 mph (21.23 kph)
Trip distance 14.7 miles (23.65 km)
Average speed: 7.8 mph (12.55 kph)
Movement time: 1:52.

Trip computer:
Max speed: 13 mph (i.e. the same)
Trip distance: 15.11 miles
Movement time: 1:47

Less than 3% difference in the distance.

There are two slightly trickier than usual deliberate mistakes in the above. PM me with the answers. I’ll give it a couple of days before posting them this time.

wow that was LONG

Great story… of course


Post the pictures you took. :slight_smile:

I’ll see what I can do tonight, but they weren’t that good. Problem with riding alone: pictures all end up as bland landscapes.

Mikefule, you write in great detail of your uni rides. Tell us how you do. Do you take notes or in any other way record facts and impressions during cycling? Or do you (just) make it all up?

Brilliant! I love reading the stories of your rides! The puzzles are a bit tricky in this one though!

Rock on!

Nice write up, Mike.

I think there must be different camps of Mikefule readers - many will probably read for the technical descriptions of which uni was used and the terrain covered, etc. Others will enjoy the descriptions of the countryside traversed. I tend to look out for the sections where you interact with the others you come across on your travels.

Always a pleasure.

All the stories are fundamentally true, and are never made up. I recall the details because the routes I follow are usually easy to remember, and I can just picture what happened where. Of course, I forget important detaisl, too, like the totally unexpected squirrel at the top of Yes Tor, miles from the nearest tree; the Dartmoor ponies beside the old railway track; the coarse ruffians on the speeding cabin cruiser last night…

Lots of answers have been submitted, but only three people have got both correct. And one of those employed a scattergun approach, listing every area of doubt and scepticism…

It is NOT the blue duck egg, laid on the path. That is entirely true. Ducks are like that. They lay their eggs willy nilly and abandon them, unless they happen to be broody. Colours vary from breed to breed. I saw the ducks, I saw the pale blue egg. (Some people would say pale green.)

It’s not the mis-spelling of Fucik. That was simply my ignorance.:o

Yes, I really did do all those UPDs.:frowning: The answers are general knowledge, and should be noticeable to someone who is unfamiliar with my previous adventures, and who has never ridden a unicycle.

You have a good intrinsic recording facility then. Mine is not that good. Usually I have to take loads of notes (I work as freelance writer).

Your stories bring colour and nuances to the sport - things that are not always conveyed on this forum.

You could try using more dialogue. Dialogue is fun to write and gives the story a good push. Dialogue can also act as a counterweight to the internal musings of the mind.

I enjoy reading your posts but I am to stupid to solve the riddles :slight_smile:

Yes, but I can only work with what fate puts in my way. Dialogue on solitary unicycle rides is normally restricted to members of the public saying banal things and me responding with various degrees of rancour. The other day, a Japanese pedestrian shouted, “Rancour!” and I said, “You mean rancorous.” "He said, “No, you a comprete rancour.”

That dialogue was a gem! I wonder where the English language would stand today if it had not continuosly been mistreated by us non-native speakers.

As for the shortage of conversations during unicycle rides, you are right of course. They are scarce and they are brief. Personally I am not very verbal when riding and usually I just nod regardless if a person just told me I am a genious or an idiot. On my muni rides I mostly meet squirrels, anyway.

Great story as always, Mike. You are indeed talented!

For as much mileage as you get out of that reference (is this the third time you have referenced it in a puzzle?), I would have thought that you would learn to spell “Fucik.” :smiley:

I have now been comprehensively informed of my mistake. Ditto with Rizla. I am good company: Google has 88,000 matches for Rizzla! (And 880,000 for rizla.)

Fucik has appeared in previous write ups, but never as the subject of a puzzle in his own right.

Not the best photo in the world, but this is from where I rested by the weir, just after the bicycle stalker rode away. I’m facing down river. The flat concrete area in the foreground is part of the weir when the water level rises. It sheds the water in a different direction to break the flow and reduce erosion down stream.

I wonder, if one day I found myself wondering around the lanes of Nottingham, I would ever think to myself that a place seemed really familiar although I had never been there before. But it would be a place that I recognised from your stories.


OK, folks, the attempts to answer have dried up a bit, so I will post the answers in the next reply.

If you’re still playing, then don’t read the next reply.:slight_smile:


The people who got both answers correct were, in order of receipt:

Mark Williamson
Domesticated Ape
Martin Phillips
John Himsworth (at the second attempt!)
Rob Northcott (at the second attempt!)

I had 19 replies.

Lots of people went for the blue duck egg. The blue duck egg was true. I saw it. Mallard eggs are pale blue.

Lots went for the spelling of Fucik. That’s just my ignorance: I went to a cheap school.

A few picked up on my inconsistent uses of right and left. That was just tired writing, and not “general knowledge”.

One optimist said that Nottingham isn’t violent.

The correct answers:

The suspension bridge is not one of the 10 longest single span suspension bridges in the world. Reading my previous posts would reveal it as a short footbridge (about 100 metres), but general knowledge would bring to mind the Golden gate Bridge, Sidney Harbour Bridge, The Severn Bridge, The Humber Bridge… and so on and suggest that a small inland provincial city like Nottingham is unlikley to have a world-class bridge.

My left knee cap is a patella, not an acappella. a cappella is unaccompanied singing. Naomi did well with her amusing reference to patella/paella, and there were many musical puns about my Morris man’s knee.

Thanks to those who made the effort to enter.:slight_smile: