The familiar on the unfamiliar

Over the last two or three weeks, I have been round my usual stamping ground of the Water Sports Centre on most of my fleet. I’ve been out on:
The Coker, with 150 mm cranks.
The Road Razor. 700c x 28 mm, with 125 mm cranks.
The Bacon Slicer. 700c x 23 mm, with 102 mm cranks.
The Holy Roller. 26 x 2.4" with 125 mm cranks.

Yesterday, I spent most of the afternoon playing hockey on the 20.

Today, then, time for the KH24 to do its first round of the Water Sports Centre, meaning that my entire stable of serviceable unis has had a gallop recently.

Blimey! It feels slow - 24 x 3" tyre, and huge 165 mm cranks. It cruises across the car park at a distinctly unbrisk 7 mph. I head up a steepish path and am out of breath by the time I reach the top. Here I turn left and batter my way through a too-narrow entrance between bushes and small trees into the “tunnel” that I rode through a few days ago on the Holy Roller. The tunnel has a floor of dead leaves, and walls and roof made of intergrown tree branches. It’s quite an exciting place to ride.

I reach a junction. Last time, I went straight on, so today I turn left. It descends steeply and there is a sharp turn to the right. The trees are too close together, I can’t read the route quickly enough, and I lose my nerve and grab a tree trunk. I’m not sure I’ll find a way though what lies ahead, so I walk back up to the junction, remount and ride down the tunnel that I followed last time.

This brings me out near the white water course, and I follow my familiar routes over the various grassy humps. Interesting: the KH24 is not very good at rushing up short steep slopes. The Coker would sail up some of this, and the Holly Roller would make it quite easily. However, the KH is slower and the longer cranks are unwieldy so every slope means standing up and pulling on the saddle. That said, I find that I am attacking the hills more directly, and seeking steeper routes. I certainly descend some stuff I wouldn’t risk on the Coker.

Back round near the rowing lake, I ride up a hill I have never attempted before, and succeed. I know I would not have succeeded on any of the other unis, unless I had zigzagged and picked my route with care.

More familiar sections follow at depressingly low speed. But I have a plan - I will see if the KH24’s magic tyre, small wheel and long cranks will get me up the Impossible Hill.

To get there, I follow my regular climb up to the back of the water ski lake, and my usual theatrical swoop down and through the crowd of waiting skiers. I make it easily across the single-sleeper footbridge that defeated the Bacon Slicer four times the other day.

Then I cut through to the main rowing lake and see the Impossible Hill on my left. I scan it to decide on the best route, and notice someone sitting in the long grass at the top. A young woman. Her head is bowed as if she is reading a book. Is it fair to disturb her? Then I see that her head is bowed because she is billing and cooing tenderly with a partner. It might be boorish to disturb them. Then I notice that the partner is also a young woman, and I figure that they will appreciate their private space considerably more than I need to ride up the hill today.

Instead, I follow the tarmac, then set off across the rough rutted field with the long dry scrubby grass. This is some of the least pleasant terrain to ride that I know, but it is a challenge. Disappointingly, I UPD, and I realise my legs are very tired from yesterday’s hockey exertions. I take a short cut back down to the lakeside and decide to take it easy for a while.

Easy is, of course, boring, so when I glance down at the GPS and see I’m only doing 7 mph, I decide to see what speed I can hit flat out. The idea of a comparison with the other unis is there in the back of what passes for my mind.

First run shows 11.5 mph. A second attempt brings it up to exactly 12 mph. A third run has me UPDing flat out, and having to sprint to stay upright. 12 mph seems to be the maximum - which is surprising as I’m sure I saw a higher figure on the Dartmoor trip. Perhaps that was a UPD-related anomaly.

Then as I approach the main buildings of the Water Sports Centre, I notice a large group of young males sitting at an outside table. One gets up and walks towards the lake, on more or less a course to intercept me. His body language is too casual, and his complete lack of eye contact tells me he is going to try to stop me. Is he friendly or hostile…

He steps almost in front of me and asks in a European accent, “Please can I 'ave a go on your monosickle?” I stop and ask if he’s ridden one before. “Yes, I 'ave one in France where I live.”

I point out the pins on the pedals, and hand him the uni, with a word of caution.

He leaps into the saddle more elegantly than I could ever manage, hops on the spot a few times, rides away, hops and turns, and rides back before UPDing. He picks it up with some embarrassment, trying to dust away the scratches on the handle with is hand. I tell him not to worry. He says, “Eet is not easy to ride in these fleep flops,” and points to his flip flops. Then he remounts, scoots around a few times and hands me back the uni.

In a bid to further international understanding and goodwill, I endeavour to make conversation, but we don’t get far.

I remount and ride back towards the car, finishing with a path I haven’t ridden for a couple of years which is steep and narrow between trees.

Ride stats:
Max speed 12 mph (19.4 kph)
Distance: 3.78 miles (6 km)
Average speed: 5.8 mph (9.3 kph)
39 minutes.
Energy left: 0 Joules.


nice write up you got there (thumbs up)

That sounds like a puncture waiting to happen.

Jpegs please :wink: