C2C unicycle training week 19 – another long walk home

The success of this week’s training for the Coast to Coast unicycle challenge suffers rather in comparison to last week’s, but there were a few highlights.

We had another conference call on Monday to get things organised for the C2C ride. We had two possible routes planned, and the general concensus was to go for the 140-ish mile Sustrans Sea to Sea route (Whitehaven to Sunderland) in four days, rather than the 160 mile route from Bees Head to Robin Hoods Bay (approximating Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walking path) in five days. I’m going to have to change the sign on my bag which currently says “160 miles on 1 wheel,” but I’m also somewhat relieved about the reduction in time and distance. We now have 6 confirmed unicyclists who are planning to do the full route (myself included), 1 doing the first two days, and 1 doing the last 2. We’ll also have 2 or 3 people riding those complicated two-wheeled contraptions which seem to be all the rage these days.

I played unicycle hockey as usual on Wednesday, which can get quite intense, so a few accidental dismounts in an hour of play are to be expected. This week however, I managed a particularly spectacular manoeuvre wherein one foot suddenly leaving the pedal didn’t immediately result in a loss of balance. Instead, I flailed around for what seemed like several seconds during which my unicycle stubbornly refused to drop me onto the ground, somehow keeping up in the air despite me having no real idea what was going on or any control over it. It was all very silly and I was asked whether I’d ever thought of joining a circus, so it must have seemed at least slightly unusual to some of the other players, too. I did start to feel the old knee twinges after that, so I wonder whether I landed strangely during one of my dismounts. It’s possible that I just had my foot in a bad position on the pedal.

On Thursday I went to the Bristol Cycling Campaign meeting, which was supposed to start at 7:30, before an 8:00 ride to the Watershed to see Tour Des Legendes as part of its Bike Film Festival. However, when I got to the pub, there didn’t seem to be any other cyclists, and the bar staff were pretty sure that the BCyC meetings were on Wednesdays. Fortunately, I stuck around long enough to see some campaign members turn up at about 7:50, and we set off on the ride only slightly late. We took a pleasant but very circuitous route to the Watershed, getting there a couple minutes after the film started, but we wouldn’t have got in anyway, as the tickets had sold out a couple of days previously. Undeterred, we retired to the bar for various bike-related discussions. I rode home over the Downs, which I hadn’t realised were unlit at night. I have lights for night riding, but they’re more for other people to see me than for me to see the terrain. That made for an interesting ride for a few minutes, as I pedalled cautiously across an unseen surface, but I reached the safety of the streetlamps and thence home without anything untoward happening.

After the success of last week’s ride to Cardiff, I was determined to finally ride the Bastard Hills of North Bristol route without dismounting for part of the weekend’s long ride on Saturday. Naturally, I fell off almost at the beginning, at the very top of the first climb on Brook Hill, but I didn’t want that to spoil my fun, so after remounting I looped back down York Road and started the route again from the beginning. This time I began the climb with enough momentum to reach the top, and actually stayed upright for the next 90 minutes through the nasty rain until the last climb up Bridge Valley Road. Sadly, I only got about a third of the way up that before one of my most disappointing UPDs ever. There was nothing particularly unusual or injurious about the fall itself, but I’d been so close to nailing the whole route without dismounting that I couldn’t hold back a loud cry of frustration. I was also starting to feel the knee twinges again, and shortly after the customary cake stop at the Downs cafe, I was forced to admit that if I rode any further I’d only make it worse, which might make the Coast to Coast ride impossible. Thus began my second long walk home in as many weeks, but at least this time I was able to push my unicycle rather than having to carry it.

Training this week: 85 miles, well short of my 100 mile per week target. Total training so far: 1576 miles. I was expecting to reach my 1600 miles target this week, but it wasn’t to be. I may have to nurse my knee a bit next week, and forgo hockey during the last two weeks of training, but I should pass the 1600 mile mark within the next few days. This effort is all for the British Heart Foundation and the fantastic work they do, so please give generously.

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