Writeup: Churned mud and puddle phobia

Discussion in 'rec.sport.unicycling' started by gkmac, May 11, 2006.

  1. gkmac

    gkmac Guest

    After becoming more or less fit enough to go round the 3.5 mile fireroad
    circuit of Norbury Park twice, time off work meant time to try out
    something new.

    My starting point was a car park on Mill Lane, somewhere between
    Leatherhead town and Headley village. My OS map, Surrey Street Atlas
    and Google Maps all have different ideas on whether the car park was on
    the left or the right side of the road. Turned out there were car parks
    on both sides, opposite one another. The north one is an open air
    affair with six cars there, but my choice is the south one covered in
    trees and nobody there, a lovely privacy feeling. Two bridleways fork
    away from my parking space.

    As I get ready, a silver estate car pulls in and parks on the other
    side. The occupant is alone and sits in the boot and changes his shoes,
    before locking his car and walking on the left fork. I mount and set
    off on the right fork.

    The track is easy. It's a hot sunny day with the tree cover letting
    through a pleasant amount of light, then the trees on the right thin
    out rather quickly to reveal a busy golf course. The illusion of
    privacy is destroyed, as is the apparent easiness of the route. Horse
    hoof prints were apparent here and there, but the track quickly narrows
    and green stalks stick out from the left, right, and above me. A horse
    couldn't get through this, surely.

    As the golfers play on the track widens considerably. Unfortunately
    there's no extra room for wobbling as most of the track is churned up
    with thick mud. I stay to the left despite the gully trying to bring me
    down and dirty, but a thin tree branch in the way stops me. A few
    footsteps on and I'm back on rolling. By now there were no more trees
    on the right, just a rusted metal fence leaning over in places. A lot
    of sunlight is let in, and I'm in clear view of the distant golfers if
    they decided to look this way.

    More churned mud sits on the sides of the path which is no problem,
    then it disappears back to concrete and narrows again. A little curve
    to the right, I'm in the open air and I reach a crossroads, a fifth
    route blocked by a gate with cows standing right inside it. I get the
    map out and confirm that I've reached the long trackway of many names.
    The roman road. Stane Street. The Thames Down Link...

    Ahead of me a group of four people are sitting having a snack. They
    never notice me, even as my wheel cracks it's way along this smooth
    gravel track. Within seconds I'm under the cover of trees again,
    another rusted metal fence separating me from the other side of the
    golf course. A bunch of golf players are within feet of the fence, too
    busy lining up for their next shot to notice me. The gravel stones are
    getting a little bigger, big enough to up the attention and get a
    little grip on that saddle handle. Suddenly there is a downhill which
    gets surprisingly technical with tree roots here and there. I make the
    downhill, and voluntarily dismount for the first road crossing over
    Mill Lane.

    After passing an amusing "no vehicles" sign the track continues uphill.
    I attempt to power up it, but the loose stones and roots resist the
    wheel enough for my weakness for take over me and start walking,
    pushing my muni in front of me. The tree cover is thickening and the
    lumpy mud is increasing, this uphill walking shows no sign of ending
    until I see light ahead and it levels out. The cause of the light is
    the second road crossing, this time a quiet residential road.

    I mount under cover of trees again and attempt to ride on avoiding the
    muddy patches, but then another uphill and I "choose" to walk it again.
    My choice is influenced by some of the thickest, lumpiest mud churn
    I've ever seen. Ridges of brown over 3 inches high that not even a
    bicycle could get though. A short section of wooden fence on the left
    signals the end of the uphill, I believe there isn't any more mud churn
    at this point and I remount. The tree cover opens out around the next
    bend, an apparent fork. Which way? The right fork is wide but more
    impassable mud, so I choose the left narrow one which has a set of mean
    tree roots. My determination to get through them is no match for their
    determination to UPD me. As I walk on looking for my next mount point
    the two forks meet up again.

    Yet another mudbath with a puddle in the middle with a little diversion
    fork is immediately next, but the diversion is too blocked with
    dangling green branches so I walk around and remount afterwards. The
    trees left and right give me a speed sensation and made me so glad I
    got the chance to get back on and ride. Gaps in the trees indicate a
    potential crossroads into the adjacent fields. 10 seconds before I get
    there, some kind of light brown quadruped leaps from the left into
    view. Is it a dog? Is it a horse? No. It's a deer, stopped and staring
    at me for exactly 1 second before leaping off to the right.

    A tiny smooth descent before a silver metal barrier, this is the
    Headley Road crossing. Quite a busy road, so I get off, walk across and
    remount. A smooth-ish gravel track leads uphill a little and to the
    most public part of the ride, a wide bridge crossing over the M25
    motorway. Now the track from this point takes on the name Pebble Lane,
    and under cover of trees I notice a perfect reflection of a big puddle
    ahead. Since there isn't that much mud I decide to charge through the
    middle and give my tyre a nice wash. A few moments later, another
    puddle and another speed through adding cold drops of water to my
    thighs. After a staggered crossroads, a tree-shaded exciting descent
    puts my pedal braking to the test and opens out to a proper tarmac
    road. On the right is Thirty Acre Farm.

    A further network of bridleways and byways provides plenty of choice,
    but I ride up the road. The reassurance of a relaxing ride on tarmac
    fades as loose stones and potholes provide me something to weave
    around. I suddenly hear the sound of heavy farm machinery and turn
    around to see if it's behind me. My ears did seem to tell me it was,
    but it's behind some trees on the right. I turn my head to the front
    and see that I'm immediately heading into a set of two potholes. My
    emergency mechanisms activate, quickly grabbing the seat handle and
    putting power to the pedals. I make it out the first hole, but it's
    slowed me enough to ditch me in the second one and a violent UPD
    results.

    A little further up the road, I pass a set of posh houses in a
    cul-de-sac on the left. A lady is standing next to a 4x4 on her mobile
    phone, she seems to take no notice of me. I notice something shiny on a
    pole in the distance, it's a parabolic mirror signalling the end of
    this road and my turnaround point. I ride to the end of this junction
    and at least a dozen cars on the other roads of this busy junction may
    have seen me "idle-turn". I notice the sign for this road is
    "Shepherd's Walk", it's changed again. I ride back down the road a
    little bit and stop in a lay-by for a short rest. It's 45 minutes since
    I left the car...

    *end of part one*


    --
    gkmac
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  2. Naomi

    Naomi Guest

    Excellent. Thankyou GKMac


    Nao


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  3. Mikefule

    Mikefule Guest

  4. cathwood

    cathwood Guest

  5. phil

    phil Guest

    gkmac wrote:
    > I mount and get somewhat excited, rolling over tree roots that provide
    > natural steps and generally getting bodyshaken as the wheel rolls over
    > root over root, the water in my CamelBak sloshing around like crazy.



    Just in case this wasn't just creative licence, here's a top tip: water
    in camelbaks only sloshes if there's air in there too. Before you set
    off turn the bladder upside down and suck all the air out first; slosh
    free riding!

    An old bladder of mine must have aged enough to be watertight but no
    longer airtight; it would very slowly accumulate bubbles in it during a
    ride, and it's surprising how little air is needed to make a right
    racket as you ride along!

    Phil


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    phil

    "Cattle Prods solve most of life's little problems."
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  6. gkmac

    gkmac Guest

    Mikefule wrote:
    > Excellent write up. Made me chuckle a few times too.:)


    Wow! A real privilege to receive approval from who is undoubtedly king
    of the ride writeup. Thanks for that sir, it's not often I get to do a
    ride unique enough for a writeup. It's only the third writeup I've
    done.

    My inspiration and ideas for them come from someone else who does ride
    writeups. Not too sure who he is, but I think he's called Mike and he
    certainly provides enough fuel to fire my imagination.;)

    phil wrote:
    > Just in case this wasn't just creative licence, here's a top tip: water
    > in camelbaks only sloshes if there's air in there too.


    That wasn't the first and worst time I've experienced water sloshing in
    there. The first and worst time was practicing static-mounting into
    hopping on the spot on a bridleway (just like I've seen you do
    sometimes) and it was quite amusing. Sloshing water doesn't seem to be
    a problem though.


    --
    gkmac

    "It's a marvellous thing to see, someone in full flight on the
    unicycle." - Stuart Maconie, Radio 2
    "Oh no! Both my toes have gone numb!" - Joe Hodges
    "You also met me gk! I was the one eating the sandwich!" - Adam Gayne
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  7. Mikefule

    Mikefule Guest

  8. Jerrick

    Jerrick Guest

    Ive actually read it a few times now. =p But I have never put a replay
    until now. Great write-up!


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