After yesterday’s bitterly cold wind, bright blue skies and firm packed snow, today was something completely different. The morning started, as forecast, with leaden grey skies and freezing temperatures but the weather forecast had the mercury rising all the way up to an amazing 7 degrees during the day. Wanting to make the most of the packed snow before it melted, and also to avoid all the resulting nasty wet slushy stuff, I decided to take the Surly Pugsley fat bike and head for Penicuik, following the cycleway and, of course, ticking off a few zones on the way.
By 9.30 am, the black ice from overnight had melted, so we set off, delighted to be able to make good progress on snow-free local streets, before joining the still hard-packed snow covered cycleway. Other path uses were few and far between this early on a Sunday and I soon reached my first zone of the day, CockpenBypass, only a revisit for 85 points. Next in line was HopeBridge (185 points) and at the outskirts of Rosewell, ExitRosewell (170 points), EnterRosewell (155 points) and RoslinGlen (185 points) were soon in the bag. Then the fun began.
This part of the cycleway is very exposed and drifting snow provided a few squirrelly manoeuvres as I ploughed through them, manoeuvres that have you not quite falling off yet still managing to keep going, sort of thing. The next three zones appear to have been named after Three Hares Woodland, first TwoHares (170 points), then HareWhere (170 points and finally, OneHare (185 points). There was quite a lot of ice on the cycle path, and even with the fat tyres on the Pugsley, picking a careful line to follow is always a good idea.
Other cycleway users were beginning to appear now, with numerous runners coming towards me from Penicuik, along with the usual dog walkers and family groups out for a morning stroll. FirthViaduct offered up 185 points and it was on through the old railway tunnel at Dalmore Mill, zone OldDalmore giving up another 185 points. Now, the tunnel itself is worth a mention. After the recent sub-zero weather, the tunnel roof is festooned with icicles, some close to 1.00m long. The tunnel floor was littered with broken fragments from falling icicles and made for some interesting cycling. The Mines of Moria from Tolkein’s Lords of the Rings came to mind, for some reason. Glad I was wearing my cycling helmet, although I’m pretty sure it was never tested by falling icicles. No evil Balrogs, either, thankfully.
My journey continued in my now familiar manner, stopping to take zones and snapping a few photographs for the blog, and soon I reached Penicuik and the last zone, Valleyfield (170 points) at Valleyfield Pond, but not forgetting RiverNorthEsk and BeeSlacker for 185 points each, TheLoon, EauDePenicuik, TheBackdoor and EskBridge, all for 170 points each. After a quick sip of water, it was back down the cycleway to Rosewell, there I planned to do a quick circuit to take a few more zones, a few of which I’d suggested back in January and my thanks to the zone makers for adding them.
First for the taking was AbdenCircus but the 185 points was hard-won. A fierce headwind had risen since I left the relative shelter of the old railway line, and I was now pedalling in bottom gear straight into the wind. The local terrain was also funnelling the wind and as we all know from our school days, when you squeeze a wind into a narrow space it gets faster. It was one of those strong winds that suck the breath from you. The snow was also getting softer with the rise in temperature, requiring much more effort to pedal through. Happily, the path soon swings around almost 180 degrees and the shelter provided by some houses was welcome.
After RosewellPath (185 points), I crossed through Rosewell onto the White Hill estate, picking off a whole bunch of zones including ShielBurnOn, NoHorseFires, ExitWhitehill, WhitehillGolf, EnterWhitehill, RosePark and ShielBurnTwo, all with 185 points each. One final zone, HolyStMatthew has been there a while and is more popular with turfers, offering only 155 points.
Having carried a packed lunch with me, it always seems a shame not to eat it outdoors, so I searched for a sheltered spot out of the wind to scoff it down, finding a suitable spot at the entrance to the Hawthornden Cemetery. It was nice to take a short break, replenishing my energy supplies for the last leg of the journey, a short blast down the cycleway to Bonnyrigg and home. The Turf app showed a few red zones ready for the taking, and as I was passing, more or less, I started with CatSchool (170 points), followed with nearby FreeKick (185 points), then across to the town centre for Bonnyrigg (170 points) and the final zone of the day, Pittendriech (170 points), just a few meters from the house.
With the time now around 1.30 pm, the snow was beginning to turn slushy and I was glad to have made use of the colder part of the day, at least as far as cycling on snow is concerned. With the weather forecast for the coming week reaching into double figures, it would not be long before the snows are all but forgotten and I look forward to be able to head out turfing at any time of day, or night, and not worry about slipping on icy patches. Today’s efforts had my rank upped to Rank 26 – Novice Conquistador, my points tally for this round was now sitting at 33,900 and my overall points total a very pleasing 200,800.
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