Turf Blog 06-03-24

Imagine the scene. A new zone has appeared, SouthEskBrig. The location is a beautiful river valley, the snowdrops are out and the wild garlic has started to appear, leaving a heavy scent in the still air. Kingfisher are fishing for unlucky minnows above the weir, a remnant from a hydro-electric generating station. A family of otters are frolicking in the tumbling waters. The first buds of a new spring are beginning to freshen the trees to green. Imagine you are heading to that new zone on your trusty bicycle, delighting at the amazingly smooth hard-packed gravel path. Now, wouldn’t that be lovely?

Unfortunately, while most of that is actually true, I must admit I was day-dreaming somewhat about the state of the path. It would be more accurate to say that mud, mud, glorious mud was the order of the day. Thick, sticky glutinous mud, great for hippos, for wallowing pigs and naughty dogs to roll in, but not for crazy turfing cyclists riding single speed bikes with skinny touring tyres. In addition to the mud, add mature fallen trees blocking the path, hundreds of exposed slippery tree roots and countless fallen branches. And not forgetting the roving gangs of teenage tattie-bogles carrying cans of Tennant’s lager. All making this a turf zone not for the faint-hearted cyclist.

The path from the parking area to the zone is frankly a mess and appeared far worse than I recall. Mind you, last time I was here was on the Surly Pugsley fat bike and big fat tyres tends to lessen the effect of such conditions. I don’t suppose I’ll return here very often for zone SouthEskBrig, unless of course, a few more zones – three or four would be ideal – are added on the path continuing upstream to Temple, linking up with the zone there. Fingers crossed.

Tried to include a nice photo of the wee bridge at the zone but couldn’t produce anything I liked, so added one of The Kings Cave, above. It’s within sight of the zone and you will pass it when approaching upstream. According to legend a thief used to steal cattle and hide in this nearby cave. I think there are also legends associating the cave with Robert the Bruce and Wullie Wallace as well. As to the cattle, the cave is far too small and I’d like to watch any stockman get a coo up to that slope! Some nice bedding planes in the sandstone if you like that sort of thing.

Now, interesting observation of the day. I did this route on my trusty Surly Ogre, and he’s fitted with 35 mm touring tyres, not the ideal choice for routes such as this. However, I managed without too much bother. No matter what bike and tyre combination I could have used, I’d still have to lug is across fallen trees, up too-steep slopes and through the extensive patches of wheel-clinging mud. Had me thinking, how many bikes do you really need? Reminds me of a that quote in Lord of the Zones.

“In the Land of Midlothian where the Zones lie. One Bike to rule them all, One Bike to find them, One Bike to take them all and in the madness hold them. In the Land of Midlothian where the Zones lie.”

Back again soon.

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