Turf Blog 02-03-24

Turf Zone – CollegeZone

Tomorrow sees the start of another turf session, Round #159, another 4-week Round, and I’m thinking to add an additional challenge this time round. The main one I’m thinking about comes from a post and short discussion on the Turf Scotland WhatsApp group and concerns the term “self-propelled” or turfing under your own steam.

I quite like the idea of doing this coming Round entirely self-powered, i.e. either on foot or using the kick-scooter or bicycle. No using the car to take unique zones further away or hopping on public transport into Edinburgh for turfer uniques, or flying to foreign lands and taking zones there, not that doing that is even remotely likely. If I want to go turfing, I walk, I kick scoot or I cycle, all straight from the front door of the house. How difficult can it be?

The discussion also involved the idea of segregated groups within turf to allow like-minded turfers to compete against each other. At the moment, everyone competes against everyone else, regardless of age, sex, fitness level, marital status, employment status, mode of transport, available time, health and so on. I can understand the thinking behind same groups completing but, in my opinion, it would never work as there is no realistic means to know for certain if someone is actually turfing as they claim to be. For example, how would you tell if someone not so fit is using an electric bike or if someone is using a lightweight bike and is young and extremely fit? Or between someone running and someone kick-scooting?

I think the beauty of turf as it stands, is that it’s open to all comers and all legal means of transport is allowed. I would also say that you are more competing against yourself than against other turfers. I came to realise that when trying to better my times for the Eager Ferret. At the moment, my best time is 07:53 achieved on the Loanhead Ferret Run in Midlothian, Scotland. The fastest time in Scotland is 06:00, almost 2 minutes faster.

There are many different factors in play here that make this far from a level playing field. For example, age, level of fitness, type and weight of bicycle used, wind strength and direction, where the actual attempt was made, and so on. Then there’s Turf factors like take time, GPS bonus and Region Lord bonus, the latter shaving a whopping 50 seconds off your run time. The listed times are not really comparable. I do think it would be good idea to indicate if the times included the Region Lord bonus, it would at least offer a more realistic guide to those trying for better times and what can actually be achieved.

And while in the shower this morning, as you do, I was thinking about turf, specifically for ways to encourage turfers to visit those forgotten zones, the out-of-the way zones that are more distant or difficult to reach. The idea I’ve came up with is to give them more points, lots of them.

So, first decide what a forgotten zone might be, perhaps one that has not been visited during the previous Round. Another might be to take 10% of the least visited zones in an area or region, for example Midlothian, and give them each 500 or even 1000 points at the start of a new Round. Also change their icon colour to blue so that turfers can easily spot them. An option might also be to change the 50-point Neutral bonus to a higher value. I’m pretty sure that would have turfers fighting to take them. And add some fun and excitement as well.

And finally, bikes again. A few days ago, I mentioned I’d reduced the width of the handlebars on the Surly Ogre, chopping 35 mm of each end. And I must say I’m quite astonished what a difference that has made. The bike feels totally different, more solid, more accurate. It’s as if the bike has finally become complete, as if something was missing previously. Quite difficult to put into words but it’s like I have an entirely new bike. Back soon.

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