Turf Blog 02-10-23

Turf Zone – TheBank

Today’s turf challenge was another turf medal, the Roundpointer-25k. Yesterday’s efforts gained me the Roundpointer-10k, and by the time I was off to bed my points total was sitting at around 15,000 leaving me this morning with just another 10,000 for the next medal in the series. But my first task was to decide where to go to gain those 10,000 points.

Logging onto UrbanGeeks, I used the draw polygon tool to draw an irregular polygon around an area I suspected would be ideal, the towns of Gorebridge and Newtongrange. Zone stats revealed 45 zones with a points total of over 8100, close but not close enough. Then I had a brainwave! All the zones were still at neutral status and that means another 50 points per zone, which adds another 2250 points, more than enough for my needs and in addition there’s PPH as well.

Turfing Gorebridge is always challenge, even more so on the Surly Ogre single speed. Having said that I used to find it a challenge even when I had gears on my bikes. Gorebridge was first, all zones taken without issue, other than the one at the railway station. Had to restart the turf app for that one. At zone GoreField, watched a large man in a Midlothian council van puffing away on a e-cig while an autonomous GPS line marking robot painted all the lines on the foot-the-ball pitches. He looked like he would have benefited from the exercise himself rather than lounging in the van. Makes me wonder if this trend for robots doing everything is a good idea. Yes, might save time and money but at what expense to our health?

Roundpointer-25k – This medal is awarded when taking 25,000 points in a single round.

Newtongrange was next, and as I was approaching from the opposite direction, I grabbed all the zones in reverse direction from my usual route. Not so hilly in Nitten, and I arrived at the Mining museum in time to stop for lunch and cast an envious eye over the old Norton motorcycle sitting in the car park. The owner rode off while I was eating and I was very tempted to ask if he would sell it to me. However, the thought of having to explain that I’d bought a motorcycle to Mrs PlanetGary, put me off. I always try to find a bench to stop for lunch, makes for a more relaxed break.

At zone WelfarePark, up pops an alert on the mobile phone. Again, as with yesterday, no image other than a grey question mark. However, not rocket science to work out that it’s for the Roundpointer-25k medal. Happy that my calculation worked out and still with another three zones still to take. As I write my tally is sitting around 27,500 points.

Now, this places me in good position for the next medal in the series, the Roundpointer-50k. However, I don’t see myself getting another 22,500 points tomorrow, other domestic duties will be getting in the way but, hopefully, I’ll at least grab some points and continue on Wednesday.

Now, onto bicycles. Yes, sorry, bicycles again. Having been riding my single speed bikes for around four months now, I feel I’ve given them a good long try and can now look at making some minor changes. When I built the Harley Quinn single speed, I opted for the recommended starting gear ratio of 2:1, on this build that equates to a 32T chainring and a 16T freewheel. You calculate the ratio by dividing the chainring size with the freewheel size, e.g. 32/16 = 2:1 And to be honest I’m finding it just a little on the high side for general use. This really came to the fore during the 90-minute of crazy mental madness of the Scottish Turf Open Bike Championship last weekend in Edinburgh. I was totally puggled* afterwards.

Similarly with the Surly Ogre, built largely for using off-road, I opted for a lower ratio of 1:1.78, on this build that equates to a 32T chainring and a 18T freewheel, and while this is fine off-road on the steep sections, it’s way too low on the flats where you end up spinning out all too quickly. And when I look at just how much off-road use the bike gets, which is only about 25% of the time, the gear ratio really needs to be slightly higher to be more practical overall.

My initial thinking to remedy this was to replace the freewheels on both bikes with a 17T version. This would give me a gear ratio of 1:1.88. However, my preferred top-quality freewheels are made by White Industries, cost about £100.00 a time, and finding a supplier with them in stock is proving difficult. I did find one but they were asking £135 each plus carriage. No way am I paying that. However, there is another cheaper option.

To achieve the same desired gear ratio, if I swap the 32T chainring on the Harley Quinn with a smaller 30T, and the 32T on the Surly Ogre with a larger 34T, I get the same gear ratio of 1:1.88. And at around a quarter of the price of swapping the freewheels. The chainrings I prefer are by Surly and made from stainless steel rather than aluminium alloy. As I’m not using protective bash rings, I prefer the stronger steel chainrings. There is a slight weight penalty but nothing to bother about.

The other item I’m changing are the tyres on the Surly Ogre. I’ve decided to go back to my original Schwalbe Marathon Plus 29 x 1.75 tyres. It’s all very well going skinny to save weight but I’m finding that skinny does not always mean faster or better. The main issue here is the state of the roads here in Midlothian. There are so many potholes, worn areas, badly repaired patches and badly reinstated service trenches that they are more like being off-road that on-road. In fact, some of the off-road routes are better than the roads!

In addition, these Schwalbe Marathon Plus 29 x 1.75 tyres are claimed to be flat-less though I take that with a pinch of salt, more like 9/10 for puncture resistance. Not only that but the bigger tyres allow you to ride faster over rough roads with a higher degree of comfort. Of course, there is also a weight penalty but I’m happy with that for the benefits gained.

And to finish, I could not help brick spotting when I came across some bricks used as border edging to a house on the steep climb known as Robertsons Bank, up from zone TheBank. The brick is a unique for me, an NCB MITFORD, the first I’ve found. It would have originated at Blaydon Brickworks in Co. Durham, England. Actually, came across someone selling one on eBay and asking £14.00! Back soon with more exciting brick finds, Bet you can’t wait!

*puggled – Scots for tired, worn out, knackered.

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