Turf Blog 04-04-21

Turf zone – WayOfBaird

Today sees the final few hours of the Scotland – Skåne Turf Challenge now upon us, and the last few days have seen many a turfer out grabbing not just a few points, takes and uniques for the team totals, and winning a bunch of coveted medals into the bargain. There has been much chat online about hamster wheels or wheeling, which might sound very strange to anyone not in the ken of turfing lore. Essentially, a small group of turfers follow a circuitous route taking zones. Then, after a short wait to allow the block time to clear, a second group sets out along the same path, doing the same thing. They then simply keep on going round the route as long as they can.

Bonnyrigg was witness to hamster wheeling yesterday, with a fair number of very keen dedicated turfers taking part. They started off around 7.30 am, ran throughout the day and even past teatime! Though I guess they did stop for grub at times along the way. One turfer called Hodge even managed to find a very sneaky way of taking an illicit brake (not a spelling mistake). He used the front brake to bring his borrowed-from-a-friend £8500 Unobtainium framed mountain bike to a dead stop. However, his forgetfulness of the law of inertia – a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force – in simple terms, he contined head first over the handlebars, whereupon he hurt his little pinkie, oh dear. There must be easier ways of taking a break, Hodge?

In a way I wished I’d joined them on that run, ideally with my GoPro mounted and running on the handlebars. I think 10 million views on YouTube would be a certainty. However, such fun was not to be as I’d just had my first AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination and feeling rather crap to be honest. Had the jab at 10.00 am and by 3.00 pm was shivering with the cold, despite being in a 25 Degree C., conservatory. That evening in bed I was roasting hot, my pulse was up to 80 bpm (normally its around 50 bmp) and I felt like I had full blown flu.

Cycling was out of the questions for my own health and for safety’s sake of others. I could foresee a series of unfortunate events occurring. First thing that would happen is I’d throw up my breakfast, leaving a rather unpleasant deposit on the cycle path. Next, a small Jack Russel terrier called Patch, would spy an opportunity for his second breakfast, causing a passing turfer called Hodge, to swerve onto the road, thereby causing an Amazon delivery driver to take Hodge-avoiding action and crash, all be it gently, into a parked petrol tanker. The hand-brake on the petrol tanker, having a fault of its own from being poorly maintained, thus disengaged, resulting in said petrol tanker making a bid for freedom by hurtling down the hill.

And here our story would have ended had the tanker not crashed into the fertiliser store of the local farm. The resulting explosion was heard far and wide, setting off a chain reaction of big bangs in the methane gas filled disused mine-workings of the Midlothian coal field. This eventually reached the Southern Upland Fault in the Moorfoot Hills beyond, causing a massive fissure to open from Girvan to Dunbar, the sea rushed in and a new border with England formed. No-one was hurt in this little scenario and the SNP stopped rabbiting on about independence from England and got on with the job of running the country.

However, I did help in a small way by suggesting a route around Bonnyrigg to follow, using my local knowledge to work out the reasonably optimal route between zones, even using Google Maps to calculate the shortest distance between zones, yet also taking into account surface conditions, locations where broken glass is usually found, road resurfacing work, avoiding known bicycle-chasing dogs and so on. Hope it helped.

Today also sees the finish of Round #129 and the start of a new round, Round #130. My points for the round were again better than last time, up to 214,600 from 192,700 in the previous round, bringing my overall score up to around 574,600 with my rank now sitting at Rank 34 – Master Zoner. Placing in the round, for Scotland only, is 70th out of 760 players, not as good as the 22nd place previously. For interest, in the UK, I’m 88 out of 1147, and 246 out of 9014 in the World. Also added a few more medals to the collection, with the Eager Ferret being the most prized.

By late afternoon, I felt able to head out on the bike and grab a few zones around Eskbank, though certainly wasn’t going to be able to keep up with any of the turfers still wheeling around Bonnyrigg. Cannot say my head wasn’t still throbbing like mad but I really wanted to take railway station zone, Eskbank, as I trying for the Trainer medal. This requires you to take 30 railway station zones on 30 days, one each day. I didn’t want to miss a single one otherwise I’d have to start again from scratch. I have nine so far and want to keep the count going. Perhaps the most difficult thing is remembering to go out each day and take a railway station zone!

Went back out on the bike that evening with the intention of taking the zones in Bonnyrigg but didn’t get very far, only managing to take some 18 zones before I spotted a vehicle with a bicycle beside it parked at Lasswade High School, a stones throw from zone FreeKick. It could only be a turfer, so I wheeled around to investigate and say hello, and it was the Queen of Scottish Turfers, Féarglas. We chatted for what I thought was short while but looking back was actually an hour. That would also explain why I was getting chilled as the evening cooled rapidly after sunset and I had to add another layer of clothing.

It will be interesting to see things return to normal after the dedication madness of the Scotland – Skåne Turf Challenge. Perhaps I’ll be able to hold onto my local zones for longer than my present 18.5 minutes block time. Now, plans for the coming weeks. Continuing with the Trainer medal is first on the list and taking the final few Midlothian unique zones and continue collecting uniques in the City of Edinburgh and East Lothian, the next. I’ll also be looking at attempting the Darkest Ninja medal. And that’s all for now. Happy turfing.

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