Turf Blog 08-10-22

Turf zone – WitchesHouse

Watched The Adventure Show on the BBC iPlayer last night. The rather attractive Amy Irons along with Duncan McCallum (who admits only having been out on a gravel bike for a total of three hours) were down in the Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries and Galloway undertaking a 45-mile gravel bike adventure following off-road trails and gravel-packed forest access roads. Now, I’ve been thinking about purchasing a so-called gravel bike for some time but always had the feeling in the back of my mind that this type of bike was simply a passing fad, a money-making marketing exercise. Having watched this program my feelings on the matter have not changed.

Amy Irons never looked very happy, or comfortable, riding the bike, spending much of the time being shoogled to death riding skinny tyres along forest roads packed with 2-inch gravel. She even fell off at one point, which is fair enough. That can happen to any of us. The premise of the gravel bike is that it’s a hybrid mid-way between the lighter weight and faster road bike and the slower and heavier mountain bike. Personally, I think it’s a very niche category and will suit some riders but I suspect not for me, and I don’t really see it as a good turfing bike, which was my main thinking behind the purchase.

Now, come to think of it I already have my own design of gravel bike. About 10 years ago I purchased a second Surly Pugsley fat bike frame and built a bike using a set of 29’er Plus wheels shode with 29″ x 3.00″ tyres. It’s brilliant for hard gravel trails on forestry and wind farm access roads. Good on stubble fields as well. However, I’m always one for changing my mind, so you never know.

Planning for my Midlothian A2Z Mission continues, starting with taking screen shots of the zones in and around Bonnyrigg, loading them up in Paint Shop Pro and adding the first letter of the zone name to the zones shown on the images. This really helps provide a good visual overview of all the zones, though is quite a time-consuming business. Planning the route is proving much more challenging than I originally imagined and will likely involve some considerable amount of cycling here, there and back again. I may also do away with the time limit and substitute a rule that the mission must be completed within a single turf session. More to follow soon.

It’s now 6:30 pm and I have a choice to make. Stay indoors and watch Strictly or head out to Dalhousie and turf the zones there. On the one hand, a nice comfy sofa, a coffee in hand and attractive young ladies in tight clothing dancing on the TV. On the other hand, neutral zones for the taking, clear starry skies, no rain forecast, an imminent almost full moon (95.3%) about to rise, possibilities for wildlife and the planet Jupiter will be close to the moon as well. No contest really, could only be Strictly. Ha, only joking.

So, a turfing we will go. Started off at Dalhousie Castle taking the zone there then along to zone WitchesHouse, taking the zone without being captured by the resident witches, I suspect because they were all inside Dalhousie Castle watching Strictly. A walk along the South Esk gave me zones MillHolm and SouthEskAside, and a walk up the old road gave me zone WatchTheMud. Nothing much ado until zone WatchTheMud. There was a car sitting in the darkness, lights out but considerable vocal activity within. Once I’d taken the zone, I switched the torch on and walked towards the car – it was only about 10 meters away – which immediately started up and drove off towards Bonnyrigg. Occupants were two young women. Wonder what they were up to? Probably just watching the moon rise? Aye, sure.

Next along the road towards home, then across stubble fields for zones DalhousiePath and UpperDalPath. The final two zones were DeanWoodPath and DeanWoodTurn located in the spooky woods. Some excellent views of the moon rising above Gorebridge to the south. Didn’t see the start of the moon rise due to low cloud but still an amazing sight all the same. Tried to take a few photos with the mobile phone with mixed results, i.e. rubbish. Jupiter was clearly visible just a few degrees away from the moon. Wildlife was sparse other than a fox as I neared the town, revealed by eye shine from the torch beam. All in all, a very pleasant walk in the countryside.

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