It had to happen. I’ve been riding the Bacon Slicer on a 23mm tyre for a while and just had to go skinnier. I couldn’t find a 19mm tyre, but today my mail order 20 mm tyre arrived through the post.
I took the time to swap the cranks too from my “winter cranks” (125 mm) to “summer cranks” (114 mm). The longer ones are more practical and versatile, but the 114s are more fun.
Surprisingly, the kitchen scales showed that the new skinny tyre was a couple of Ounces heavier than the 23mm one. I even fancied I could tell the difference by hand. However, at a glance you can see that new one is more puncture resisitant. Punctures have been a perennial problem on the 23 mm.
Down to the riverside, where a Goldfinch on a nearby bush watched me adjusting the seat. Goldfinches: the birds with the Midas touch.
After three missed mounts, I was up and away. I had to dismount for the gate, and I remounted first time. I had over adjusted the seat height and was just a tad too far away from the pedals. It’s amazing how a few mm can make so much difference to your confidence, as the Bishop famously remarked.
A few hundred metres of tarmac with a couple of speed humps, and then I reached the cattle grid. A wise man once said, “Don’t ride your unicycle across the cattle grid!” (and an unwise one ignored him) and I wasn’t going to risk it in damp conditions on a slick tyre pumped to over 100 psi.
I took the opportunity to lower the seat a few mm and it instantly felt better. Onwards… and now I’m relaxed, the unicycle almost silent beneath me, with none of the grumble and buzz of a knobbled Muni tyre on hard ground.
Then down onto hard baked mud between damp grass. Right at the gate and a picturesque if brief swoop through the woods with undergrowth brushing against my bare legs (yes… I know…) and out onto the farm track. The grass here is long and wet, and I sense that it coneals ruts. I stand on the pedals, and instead of extra fine control I get extra torque and the slick tyre spins beneath me without gripping. The uni dumps me unceremoniously.
I remount and pick my way carefully, then turn along the field boundary. So far so good, but the tiny but steepish damp slope at the end is beyond me and I UPD. A short section of tarmac, then a quick climb over a gravelly bridge, then a long and careful ride along a green lane, interrupted by a pleasant chat with a dog walker.
20mm tyre? It seems to handle better than the 23mm. It gives no assistance whatsoever in coping with bumps, roots and loose surfaces. This is unicycling as pure balance and concentration with none of the “just go for it” gung-hosity of the Muni. Great fun.