Turf Blog 01-12-23

Turf Zone – Bonnyrigg

It’s Friday the 1st of December and the first ever Turf Scotland Advent Calendar 2023 is now underway. The first task looks easy enough, though I’m wondering just why I ever came up with the idea in the first place as the temperature this morning is below freezing and everywhere has a very pretty coating of frozen snow and ice. The task today is called Compass Turf and there are two options.

Easy Option
Select a suitable starting or base zone and take that zone, then take 4 zones that are at least 500m away, as the crow flies. The first zone should be to the north, the next to the south, then to the east and finally to the west. The map on turf.urbangeeks.org can be used to check the distances between zones.

Challenging Option
In addition to Easy, take another 4 zones at least 1000m away from the starting or base zone. Again, the first to the north, the next to the south, then to the east and finally to the west.

Turf Zone – IKnowBroom

Actually, just a few days ago, those 500m and 1000m distance away elements were not included, they was only added at the last minute. I guess to spice things up a little. Without it the tasks just seem too simple and did not offer much of a challenge, easy or otherwise. I also specified the N, S, E and W order for maximum effort. So now you know. Naughty me!

Turf Zone – BroomieGolf

Anyway, having decided I’d better have a go at my own creations, I started by thawing the locks on the shed and gate, roused the Surly Pugsley fat bike from his slumber and got myself dressed for Arctic conditions. You would think I’m participating in the Iditarod Trail Invitational fat bike race in Alaska, a 1000-mile race from Knik to Nome in March each year. Two pairs of trousers, t-shirt, long-sleeved t-shirt, fleece and jacket. Add warm hat, neck-warmer and the warmest winter gloves I can find. Yes, all that for a short cycle around Bonnyrigg!

Turf Zone – AuldChester

But first, the groundwork, and onto the Urban Geeks website to plan which zones I’m going to take. I had a pretty good idea what would work and what wouldn’t, and selected the Bonnyrigg zone, located in the centre of town, as my starting zone. Then I used the measuring tool to calculate which zones were at least 500m away from base, then did the same with those 1000m away. These were then double check (imagine my embarrassment at getting that wrong!) and scribbled them down in the correct sequence on a sheet of paper. Yes, paper, the old school method and often the simplest and the best. I also made sure I was able to actually take the zones in question.

Turf Zone – Bannockrigg

By 9.00 am I was ready to go, with coffee and Kit-Kat providing the fuel for the assault. First stop zone Bonnyrigg, picking off a few other zones along the way but careful not to take WayOfBaird as I would need that free for later. At zone Bonnyrigg I decided that this would be the ideal opportunity for a photo blog as there’s often not a lot you can say about taking only a handful of local zones, all of them having been taken, and blogged about previously on countless occasions.

Turf Zone – PeacocksBeard

Re-reading the task instructions and remembering to RTFN (you can work that out for yourself), I headed north and my first zone, IKnowBroom, over 500m from base zone. Then after a quick photo, continuing onwards for the zone at least 1000m away, in this instance, BroomieGolf. And again, another photo session. The track here was very manky and wet where the greenkeeper’s vehicle had cracked the ice on the puddles.

Turf Zone – WayOfBaird

Next, it was time to head south, aiming for zone AuldChester, the 500m away choice, followed by Bannockrigg at the over 1000m mark. Other than the main road, which was clear, all the sides streets were still hard-packed snow and ice. It was interesting to watch a few cars slithering about, struggling for grip on even the gentlest of slopes. Though I guess some people just cannot drive to the conditions. Yet, here I am on bicycle, albeit a fat bike, my Jumbo Jim tyres providing plenty of grip and inspiring confidence even on the sheer ice sections.

Turf Zone – FreeKick

With north and south now in the bag, it was time to head east. My first stop, zone WayOfBaird as my 500m choice, and zone PeacocksBeard as my 1000m choice. Six zones down, only two remaining. With both zones only meters from the house, I was tempted to stop for a coffee and warm my frozen parts (no, not those parts, my toes and fingers!) but decided might as well keep going. It seemed a long slog west for the final two zones, FreeKick and ArgylePlaza, but it actually didn’t take that long, even including stopping for a few zones takes along the way.

Turf Zone – ArgylePlaza

And that was that. A couple of very pleasant, if bitterly cold, hours riding the Surly Pugsley fat bike in the conditions he was designed for and Task No 1 – Compass Turf was complete. Must admit I quite enjoyed that, even if I dd make up the task myself. Also came up with some variations on the same idea for next year. That is assuming that this year’s turf advent goes down well with participants. Back tomorrow, hopefully.

Copyright ©2023 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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