There are two deliberate mistakes in here. They are of a general knowledge type, and should be reasonably obvious even if you are not a unicyclist, and this is your first visit to the forum. If you spot them, please PM me. I will post the answers and the winners in a couple of days. Please don’t refer to the answers in a reply to the thread as it might spoil it for someone else. Thanks.
The sun is out, the sky is fairly clear, but there is a chill wind. I am feeling lethargic after a very late night, and it takes all my determination to get changed into my clingy Lycra shorts, skimpy T shirt and cycling shoes, and pack the KH24 MUni into the car. It is only habit that forces me - I’d rather be sitting down and reading, but I know that at this time of year, there is plenty of time to read, and precious little time to ride.
On the way, I stop for fuel. The young woman in front of me at the pump has a car about the size of a shopping trolley which must have a concealed expedition fuel tank because it’s taking her a very long time to fill it. Come on, Mrs., it’ll soon be dark, and I’ve got a unicylce ride to do! One thing she isn’t concealing is the cleft between her buttocks. She is wearing the lowest low slung jeans I’ve ever seen, without even the sop to dignity of a cheap thong, and looks like a podgy pink cycle parking facility. Why do people do that?
I park in a layby on the A614, and find my way through a gap in the hedge to the woods beyond. The path is narrow and winding, and my enthusiasm is low, so I walk to a straighter easier bit a few metres further on and mount.
After only 50 metres of riding, I come to a grassy incline. It’s wide enough for a Land Rover, although the grass is fairly long. There is a strip of trodden single track up one side and I use that. To my right is mixed woodland; to my left, a hedge, then fields.
The ride up the slope is just right. It’s technically easy, as long as I concentrate; it’s steep enough to be a challenge, but not so steep that it’s a struggle; I’m gaining height fairly rapidly and feeling pretty hardcore - or at least, mezzocore. It’s the sort of path where witnesses would be welcome, if you know what I mean.
Near the top, I have a choice of a narrow winding path or a broader forest road that follows the contour. I choose that, but a hundred metres further on, turn about 120 degrees back to the left over ruts and bumps (small cry of “Yes!” through gritted teeth as I make it) then I wind between undergrowth and saplings until I come to a fence. On the far side of the fence is what I believe to be grassed over spoil from the former Calverton colliery, although I’m not sure. It’s certainly artifical landscaping anyway.
I turn to follow the line of the fence, ducking and twisting between young birch trees. There are still a few fly agarics around: red toadstools with white spots, as featured in a child’s fairy story book near you. I avoid squashing them - too many people deliberately trample fungi because they can. We’re not a nice species.
As I come out from under the birches, the path becomes more undulating and winding. There are nettles and some briars close by. With care, I suffer only minor scratches and no stings. Then I drop down a short muddy slope onto a path that runs down a field boundary. The main road is some distance below me to my left, traffic buzzing past, the drivers probably not even noticing the woods, fields and wildlife a few metres from them.
At the bottom of the field, I wiggle though a gap next to a rotten stile. I can hear “Clack! Clack!” noises somewhere, almost but not quite like someone is shooting. There must be few sights as tempting as a unicyclist riding past a clay pigeon shoot, and I make a mental note to be cautious. However, a few metres later, the source of the sound is identified. I come to an old disused railway, and there are two bored youths there. One has a small plank and is picking up pieces of ballast and using the plank to bat them as far as possible. He does a double take as I cross the railway line carrying my unicycle.
I climb over a stile. The path beyond it is dead straight, with a barbed wire fence to the left, and a bushy hedge to the right. The ground is slippery mud. I duck and wiggle my way down to the bottom without a fall, then climb over the next stile, and cross the road.
Over the road is a wide track across farmland, and the riding is easy and pleasant. I pass a disused tumbledown farm building to my right. I stopped to examine it once on an earlier ride. It’s full of both satanic and Christian graffiti. Weird. Say what you like about Jesus, but I doubt he intended that 2,000 years later, people would be using aerosol paint to deface disused buildings with his name.
The track bends to the right, and there is a maize field to my left, the crop looking very sorry for itself. The next field is full of sheep, feeding on exposed root crops. One ewe tries to mount another. That’s how you tell the difference between the sexes in mammals. Females will mount each other now and again; males will mount anything that stands still long enough. To my right is a pond surrounded by trees and thick undergrowth. My attention is attracted by something fluttering in one of the branches. A Jay? No, I just catch the distinctive wing markings and crest of a lieutenant pigeon.
I turn to the left again, and approach the next set of woods: a pine forest. The track angles steeply up in a straight line through the pines. There has been no attempt to dig the track into the hillside, so there is about a 20 degree slope from right to left. Pine forests are usually a quiet place to ride, with little in the way of wildlife, and with soft needles under the unicycle’s tyre, and I cruise up the hill surrounded by tranquility.
At the top, the path levels off and becomes more gravelly and rough as it leads across open farmland to a road. I pop out of the end of the track and find that the road is a dual carriageway. There is little traffic and I ride across, then follow the continuation of the track though more farm land. In the distance is a higher hill with more woodland, and I have a vague idea that the track will carry me there.
However, I am disappointed, as I soon reach a small village, and what looks like the continuation of the track turns out to be a private domestic drive. I turn right onto the main road into Oxton village, then left to continue in the general direction I want to go. I’m not really used to riding the KH24 on the road - it’s far slower than the Coker or the Bacon Slicer - but it feels pretty smooth, and the road isn’t busy.
The road undulates a little, gradually gaining height until I reach a T junction with a somewhat wider road. It’s not exactly some larger way where many paths and errands meet, but it would be fair to say, “Whither then, I cannot say.” I randomly decide to turn to the right, hoping to find a path or track to my left leading towards the tempting hills and woods I can see inthat direction. However, a few hundred metres on, I lose confidence. The late afternoon sun is not that warm on a damp autumn day, there is now some cloud cover, and it is just starting to look like it will be dark in an hour or so.