I went on holiday with my family in Devon this week, and I naturally took my unicycle with me, so I could keep up with the training for the Coast to Coast unicycle challenge. When I got back, I had another go at riding the Bastard Hills of North Bristol route without dismounting, which I failed yet again. Oh, and I rode to Bath and back, just for fun.
Since I was on holiday, I didn’t do any commuting this week, but I still got plenty of riding in. We went down to Devon on Monday morning, and I’d promised my brother that I’d make him some ice cream for his birthday while we were there. However, I didn’t have the necessary ingredients, so my first ride of the week was quite a short trip to the shops. Now that I have a fancy GPS-enabled phone, you can see precisely where I went, though I’m rather skeptical of that 18mph maximum speed. Most of that route was on very narrow little roads with high banks at the sides, so the high riding position that a unicycle affords was a definite advantage. Despite getting the ingredients though, I was convinced not to make the ice cream that evening.
The plan for Tuesday was to set out for the beach before the rest of the family, in order to arrive there at a roughly similar time. However, as usual, I didn’t get going nearly as early as I’d planned, and left at the same time as everyone else. And due to some navigational difficulties, what I thought was going to be a two hour ride of 15 miles turned into a three hour ride of 20 miles. This meant that I arrived at the beach probably 2 hours after the rest of my family, delaying lunch for everyone. Sorry, guys. Still, the route was pretty hilly, so it was good practice for the Coast to Coast ride.
Wednesday’s plan seemed foolproof though. I’d eat breakfast as soon as I got up, go for a two hour ride, and be back before anyone missed me. I did manage the first part of this reasonably well, leaving the cottage before 9am, but the rest of the plan soon fell apart. The idea was to ride out on the road for about 45 minutes, then ride back on the Tarka Trail cyclepath, which I figured would only be slightly less direct than the route out. As you can see from the route I took however, the Trail is not slightly less direct; it goes much further. So while it took only 43 minutes to get to the “halfway” point at just under 7 miles, it took twice as long to cover the 10.5 miles on the ride back, including rest stops. This meant that I didn’t have time to take a picture of my unicycle next to a sign that I’d seen on Monday: “Way out vehicles only”. I’d also almost run out of time to get my brother’s ice cream made, so I got started on that straight after having a much needed shower. The recipe claimed a preparation time of 15 minutes, which I jokingly said meant that it would take me two hours. As it turned out, it only took me an hour and three quarters, and I was very glad that I’d made the shortcake before leaving Bristol, or I might only just have been putting it into the freezer when it was actually time to take it out. It was very nice though; real raspberry ice cream with chunks of shortcake frozen in.
I was banned from riding on Thursday, as it was keeping me away from my family. Instead we went to the Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, where we were actually able to go into the lemur cages to feed them. Click on the pictures for larger versions:
Back in Bristol on Friday, I thought it would be worth trying the Bastard Hills route again, since my legs were fresh from not riding on Thursday. I failed yet again to get up Brook Hill cleanly, but did at least manage to stay on while waiting for the lights at the bottom of St Michael’s Hill. The only other upset was on Park Street, where an unseen divot threw me off. That did give me the opportunity to tighten up all the bolts on my unicycle, though; the reassembly after getting back from Devon obviously hadn’t been thorough enough, as I’d been hearing clunks and creaks after only a few minutes’ riding. I could blame the Brook Hill dismount on that assembly, too; I don’t think I’ve got the saddle quite high enough. After the cake stop on the Downs, I attempted to find the interesting hilly roads towards Lawrence Weston which I have travelled a couple of times as a car passenger late at night. That does make them a bit hard to locate and recognise on Google Maps, but I think I found at least one of them to continue the hilly nature of the day’s ride.
I had to deliver the payment to the cat sitter on Saturday (Karen from Pet Companions, who I can highly recommend), which meant a ride out to Kingswood. From there, I rode to the Bath end of the Bristol-Bath Railway Path along the roads, then back along the Path to Bitton station for lunch. The straight half mile to the station seemed kind of endless; I was pretty hungry by that point, and looking forward to a rest, but eventually I reached the rather dairy-obsessed café. The breakfast panino was very nice, despite replacing the expected egg with cheese, a theme followed in most of the menu. Thus refueled, I rode the rest of the Path into Bristol, and up the hill to home. The whole ride was only about as long as the shortest day planned for the Coast to Coast ride, but it all counts, right?
Training this week: 91 miles – less than the 100 I’m trying to do every week, but I only rode 5 days this week rather than the usual 6. Total training so far: 1139 miles.