By the end of October, the nights have drawn in, temperatures have dropped and the weather is, well, just the weather, usually cool, wet and windy. However, sometimes conditions some together to entice me to get up at Midnight, otherwise known as Silly O’clock, wake my Surly Pugsley from his slumber in the shed and go for a night-ride.
The night of 30th of October 2020 produced such conditions. Overnight temperature was around 14 Degrees C., well above average for the time of year and it was one night away from a full moon, a blue moon actually, so named when two full moons occur during a single calendar month. Cloud cover was sparse allowing plenty of moonlight to light my route and no rain was forecast. Ideal for a night-ride on local trails.
Some people might find getting out of a warm bed at midnight an almost impossible task, however, I have the ability to set my internal alarm to wake me at approximately any time I desire, usually with 15 minutes. No need to set the bedside clock alarm, I just seem to wake up when I need too. Means I don’t disturb my partner asleep beside me in bed.
Preparations had already been completed the day before, tyre pressures set to low as recent heavy rains had saturated the ground, my clothing was all ready to hand and everything set to go. It was odd to be wearing shorts and t-shirt on a late October night but that’s how warm it was even with the wind gusting quite strongly. My route this fine night took me across the local housing estate and along a disused railway line now serving as mixed-use path. There was still people out and about though with a couple of dog walkers out with their dogs.
My first destination was the local Broomieknowe Golf Course, where I hoped to see the odd badger or Roe deer, having seen them at this location in the past. As always I keep to the rough, always avoiding the greens and only riding the fairways if I must. Sadly, no wildlife was abroad tonight. From there I dropped down a gap in the hedge to another golf course, Melville, again keeping to the perimeter to avoid any un-necessary damage, though the wide footprint of the low-pressure fat tyres on the Pugsley tend to leave less of an imprint than a person walking.
Leaving Melville golf course, I snuck into the woods surrounding Melville Castle Hotel, now closed due to lack of business caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, crossing the new timber bridge across the River South Esk and then a quick circuit of the ground. There are usually Tawny owls calling here but the strong wind blowing in the trees made hearing anything difficult, so I retreated back the way I’d came.
I now followed streets towards Dalkeith, taking in a couple of short off-road stretches, then slipping into the car park of yet another golf club, Newbattle, where a gate allows access to the course. Again, I followed the perimeter in the rough, this time spotting a badger feeding by the side of the fairway. I even managed to light him up for a few seconds before he slipped silently into the nearby woodland. Sometimes if you are downwind, they will ignore your lights and continue feeding but not tonight.
I’d been out for around and hour and a half by now, so decided to head for home, following paths through the woodland surrounding Newbattle Abbey, my bike lights showing up quite a few bats feeding on insects in the shelter of the trees. By 2.00am I was back home, Pugsley was secured away and it was time for a cup of tea before bed, but not before the rear gate was bolted and locked, the shed double locked and alarmed, my bikes all fitted with Gold standard security locks, the electric fence was live and my ex-police German Shepherd was in his kennel out back. It was time for bed.
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