Well, back in Nottingham, after a fortnight acclimatising to Muni on Dartmoor… a Saturday free to listen to the cricket, or to ride a unicycle, and the rain is preventing both.
I go out in the car, do a bit of shopping, spend over £100 in Mercian Cycles on new shorts, longs, a shirt, a pedal spanner, and a “Tool Pot” that will hold my tools and sit in the bottle cage.
Heavy rain means I can’t go out. I decide to do some uni-fettling. Somewhere, I have a rubber strap-on bottle cage mount. (Thinks, that sentence should get us some search engine hits from some very odd characters who don’t usually look at unicycling sites.) I search high and low, and decide it’s in the storage bunker in the back garden. I get soaked searching for it, but find it. I go back in and realise I need an Allen key (hex wrench)… and that’s in the bunker too, so I get soaked again.
I remove the cage from my MUni, fit it to the rubber mount, then try to strap the assembly onto the 28. D’oh! You need to fit the mount before you fit the cage, otherwise you can’t get the straps into place. I remove the cage, then present the rubber mount to the frame, and realise that there isn’t room anyway, because the seat clamp gets in the way. (Thinks, much later: I could put the clamp on the other way round, but that’d look wrong.)
I reassemble everything, put the rubber strap on mount in one of my drawers (ooer, Matron) and then look at the weather. Still raining. Give up on riding today, have a bath and get changed.
Out of the bath, dried and changed, I look out of the window. Mr. Sunshine is smiling, white clouds are fluffing, bluebirds are singing… time to change into new cycling clothes, throw the uni in boot of car, and set off.
Arrive at watersports centre. Get kitted up. Feel uncharacteristically nervous. The 28 feels light and skittish in my hand compared to the Muni I was riding a couple of days ago. I mount, ride 10 metres, UPD! The shame! I then miss my freemount, to the amusement of about 4 passers by.
Second attempt, I mount and ride across the ballast path and onto the tarmac track around the big lake. Having ridden 13 miles at warpspeed on my MUni the other day, my legs are used to 150 mm cranks and a soft tyre. Now I have 102s and a rock hard 28 incher. After all the miles I’ve put in on this uni in the last couple of months, 50 odd miles of Muni have made it feel strange again.
Halfway down the lake, there’s a strange clicking from the wheel. It’s in time with my pedal strokes. I run through the diagnostic check: not a loose pedal, not a loose crank… could be a loose bearing holder, or could be the magnet on the spokes catching the sensor. After a while, I stop to check. Can’t find anything wrong. Must be the plastic end of my shoelace hitting the fork. I re-tie my laces in double knots.
The noise is still there. I ride for another 2 kms then stop for a more thorough check. The noise appears to be coming from the bearings themselves. I adjust the clamps, trying tighter and looser, but the bearings are still ticking. They must be worn or contaminated.
I remount, and a few hundred metres later, I meet a rowing 4 that is being carried across the track. I can hardly complain - this is a rowing lake - so I idle for a good 30 seconds whilst the four lady rowers faff about. Eventually, they move, and I get good natured applause from the nearby male rowers who , like me, have been dividing their attention between waiting for me to fall off, and admiring the Lycra-clad ladies.
I cruise back up the 2.5 km length of the lake. As I reach the end, a small flight of geese comes in to land on the grass near me. I think I take them by surprise, because at least two of them actually crash land, toppling over forwards and into each other as they try to stop in their tracks.
The wind is getting up, and the sky is darkening. The uni is still ticking beneath me in an irritating way. I fancy riding somewhere more challenging, but all the paths are wet, and this isn’t the right tyre for wet mud or grass - and anyway, I don’t want to ruin my expensive new clothes! (Vain creature that I am.)
Bored. I realise I have my camera in my Camelbak - much better than having a camel in my camera bag - so perhaps I can take a couple of photos on the self timer. I stop and start to fiddle with the camera. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, DOOSH! The rain starts. It is torrential! Camera goes back in bag, waterproof jacket goes on (for the first time, I think, since I split my chin and soaked it with blood a year and eight months ago). By the time I’m back on the uni, the rain is hurling down, and I can’t see as far as the end of the lake.
As I ride, head down, my legs and feet soaked, a sudden squall hits me and nearly blows me off. As soldiers say, there are no atheists in foxholes, and a brief conversation ensues:
Mikefule: “Look, just because I don’t believe in you, there’s no need to be like that.”
God: “Well, I’ve got to fill the lake somehow.”
Mikefule: “Intelligent Design Theory, my backside. Why don’t you use a pump?”
God: “And by the way, do you know someone’s nicked half your bike?”
Mikefule: “Ha! I haven’t heard that one in…”
God: “… an eternity?”
Another kilometre or so brings me back to the car, legs and shoes soaked and squelching. So who forgot a spare shirt, then, and is in no position to criticise anyone’s intelligent design? So I drive home dripping wet, and arrive home in bright sunshine. Remember those double knots in my shoe laces? Wet and swollen, they take ages to untie!