With ChoccyMuffin “bagging” the use the computer in the spare room, I was at a loose end and wondered what to do with myself this fine, dry, but cold and rather windy evening. Of course, deciding what to do didn’t take more than a few Nano-seconds. Go turfing, obviously. My choice of steed this evening was my faithful Surly Pugsley, now in his eleventh year and still going strong. In bicycle-years, Pugsley is about 60, same as myself. My destination, the zones in the woods around NewBattle Abbey College.
First stop was zone PeacocksBeard for a revisit, then a fast zoom down the B6392 Bonnyrigg Distributer Road to Hardengreen Roundabout, the big knobbly tyres on the Pugsley sounding like an army Landrover on the tarmac. I usually ride the pavement down here as I’m sure it’s actually a shared path and I’m pretty sure there were signs to that effect at one time a few years ago but they have vanished. Probably adorning someone’s bedroom or shed wall. The pavements at the Hopefield end and also on the way to Eskbank are shared, so seems this one is likely the same. I’ve been passed my police cars on various occasions and they didn’t stop me. Must find out for sure some day. Then, after risking life and limb dodging the busy commuter traffic on the roundabout, zone StoneGate was my first takeover of the evening.
Zone AncientBattle was next, located across at the River South Esk in Dog Houses Wood. The zone seems much easier to take now that an enormous mature beech tree at the zone has toppled into the river following the recent storms. No problem with the GPS now. Straight into the zone and takes without issue. Great stuff but shame about the tree. I now had a decision to make. Which way to go. Clockwise or anti-clockwise? Both directions are much the same, both with long slow climbs. How to choose? Then something very spooky. Pugsley’s handlebars turned to the left, towards the direction of Kirk Bank Wood, all by themselves. Sent a shiver down my spine that did. Clockwise direction is was then. Better not go against the mysterious working of Fate.
An easy ride back across the grass brought me to the muddy track leading up through Kirk Bank Wood and my next zone, OldBattle. The short but steep and muddy climb is often a challenge, especially in muddy conditions. However, while still muddy it hasn’t rained for a few days now so the mud has dried out somewhat and isn’t too slippery, about the consistence of Tesco crunchy peanut butter. I cleaned it all the way to the top, other than having to lug the bike across a large fallen tree. I was never able to perfect the “bunny hop.” I’m no Danny MacAskill. Too cautious.
The route through the wood gave me zones RecentBattle and Newbattle, then a fast downhill along Newbattle Road brought me to the imposing stone entrance gate of Newbattle Abbey College. BattleAbbey zone is found in the ornamental gardens to the rear and can be approached from the left hand side of the house or the right. For those interested, the zone stands beside an ornamental sun-dial but it wasn’t working tonight. Quite a few low-flying UFO’s in the open parkland, though I suppose they could be dog’s with LED lights on their collars. No, UFO’s I reckon, much more interesting that way. The normal world is far too boring. My world is full of wonder, bad zpeling and way more fun.
My next zone, TheNorthPath, is located across the river and the most direct route is to use the timber Grotto Bridge. As I crossed, my lights revealed a young couple lurking in the shelter of the icehouse. I won’t say what naughty shenanigans were up too but they could have found a more secluded location. As I was using both my LED lights on maximum mode, they had no-where to hide from the 2000 lumens that revealed all and they turned away to keep their faces hidden. Nice evening for it, I said as I passed. Should have said the Police are on their way. Naughty me! Perhaps next time.
The climb up to zone TheNorthPath is slow but steady, then a sharp left at the top just before the gate to Easthouses takes me along a very muddy section for zone Mary, located beside a rapidly collapsing culvert, so watch your step at night. Once the path emerges into open fields, its back downhill again on Roan’s Dyke Path for zone TheSouthPath. I could see lights bobbing up and down not far ahead of me. Not UFO’s this time but night runners, two of them with both chest-mounted lights and headlamps running in my direction.
So, being a kind soul and rather than blind them with my nuclear-powered bike lights, I pulled over to let them pass. As they approached I heard one say, “Bloody hell what the fucks that?”. “It’s just a bike”, his partner replied. “Christ, what a fright, I nearly shit myself”, he replied. I guess my lights and all the reflective gear I was wearing might be mistaken for something sinister or whatever. It can be difficult to determine what things actually are at night, and also how far away they are. I said sorry for giving them a fright and we all laughed.
Crossing the road takes me into Lady Lothian’s Plantation and onto Lady Lothian Walk. This would eventually take me to zone TheRedWoods, not far from The Sun Inn at Lothian Bridge. There’s quite a gap between the previous zone and TheRedWoods. Perhaps I’ll request one to be added*. The usually busy A7 was quiet and I crossed easily, then set off for Grove Farm, and the two zones, ByEskWeir and GroveFarm. Then it was off for home along the main road. The fast downhill to the crossroads at Cockpen Dairy had mud from the tyres flinging off in all direction. A fair shower of mud, mostly over me.
After a revisit at zone KirkCockpen and a couple of take-backs (from turfer Hodge), zones Brixwold and Pittendriech, I was back home again and into the shower. I’d been wearing my new Proviz Nightrider cycling jacket and was disappointed to see how wet the interior was. The mesh lining was dripping with moisture from my exertions though my fleece was fairly dry as was my t-shirt. I guess you get what you pay for. The Nightrider cost £85.00. I knew I should have bought a Gore-Tex one at three times the price. Back soon.
* And suddenly, as if by magic, it was there the next day at 21:40, a new zone, FatBikePath. I am so chuffed about the name, it’s brilliant! Thanks, a muckle. I’m humbled to know people actually read my blogs.
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