Having managed to reduce my Eager Ferret time from 9:01 to 7:56, achieved on the Loanhead Ferret Run, down by a whopping 65 seconds, I started to wonder just how I was going to manage to get it down even further. The current record time for that same run is 6:01, completed by turfer kjtindall, though that was aided by holding the Region Lord crown which takes 45 seconds (9 zones at 5 seconds each) off the total time. So, this gives me a target of 6:46 to aim for, some 70 seconds or so less, just over a minute off my best time to date. Lets say a target time of 6:45. Not much chance I’ll ever wear the Region Lord crown, so no point thinking about that.
One thought that comes to mind is how I managed to reduce my original time by 65 seconds? Well, about 30 seconds of that is due to the reduced take time associated with my present Rank 49. My rank at the time of my first attempt was somewhere between Rank 30 and 35 (not sure which was in effect at the time). This leaves around 35 seconds to account for. Some of that might be down to increased fitness, though that’s difficult to quantify.
The only other change I can think of is I’ve installed a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus 28″ x 1.75″ tyres (45 mm), slightly smaller than the 2.0” (50 mm) tyres they are replacing, and was running them at a higher tyre pressure, possibly contributing to reduced rolling resistance. But as to whether that actually made any difference I don’t know for sure. So for my next attempt, what else can I realistically do to whittle down those seconds and reach, or better exceed, my target time of 6:45?
Would fitting narrowed tyres help? Say 28 or 35 mm wide. I’m thinking about building a single speed bike based on a Genesis Day One 853 frame I have in the attic anyway, so the tyres could be used for that. Buying them solely for a few attempts at an Eager Ferret run seems rather over-the-top. One thing I can do is reduce the weight of the Surly Ogre. If I remove the rear rack, rear bag, both mudguards and the frame bag and all its heavy contents (tools, pump, spare tube, chain lubricant), will likely save 4 or 5 Kg of unwanted dead weight. Again, will it make any difference? Not sure.
Fitness is always something that can been looked at and keeping on turfing is one good way to help with that. No way I’m I going to start some training program or hire a fitness coach. Another thought is to start the challenge with fresh legs. Perhaps take the bicycle in the car to Roslyn, rather than cycle from Bonnyrigg and climb that steep hill up from the River North Esk into Roslyn. Another beneficial factor would be a tail wind from the west. Need to plan the ride during the next very windy day or when Storm Ferret comes blasting in from across the Atlantic, or another Beastie from the East, and try in the opposite direction. Lots of things to think about.
Today, I set my sights on some hill turfing, namely the Mayfield area of Dalkeith, a large housing estate located on the side of a steep hill and no way to avoid lots of tedious climbing, unavoidable descents, then re-ascents. Started off in Newtongrange, planning my route so that the last Newbattle zone is at the highest point and gets me started on the long climb to the top of Mayfield. I plan is to start at the top and try and contour back down again. Doesn’t always work that way.
After zone WhatPark, I took the long slow climb along a grass and mud farm track, quite a challenge with touring tyres on the Surly Ogre. However, I’m pleased to say I managed to stay on the bike and avoid walking. I then worked my way back and forth across Mayfield, perhaps not always taking the best route. After that, across to the Woodburn area of Dalkeith, and finally back through the town, taking in Eskbank as well. All this gave me a good 71 zones for my efforts.
Also pleased to note that my zone count is sitting at 205, which is not an unobtainable amount away from the Greed-350 medal. I already have the Greed-300. Just have to wait and see how many zones I lose overnight. Fingers crossed then. Might just be able to do a mega-turf tomorrow for the rest. I’ll be back, as a certain cybernetic individual once said..
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