On or about the 5th of March 2021, a flurry of new zones appeared on the Roslin to Shawfair cycle way, situated to the south of Edinburgh, and the interesting thing about these zones is that there’s a nice concentrated row of them from zone RoslinCopse to SkippingZone. The distance overall is about 2.50 km or 1.60 miles. Just about the prefect setup for attempting any of the Eager medals.
- Eager Squirrel – take 10 zones in 30 minutes.
- Eager Beaver – take 10 zones in 20 minutes.
- Eager Weasel – take 10 zones in 15 minutes.
- Eager Ferret – take 10 zones in 10 minutes.
The great thing about this location for attempting these medals is that the cycle way takes you away from busy urban streets and many of the associated dangers we might have to contend with when attempting these medals. Racing about urban street against the clock is not the ideal activity and full of hazards. At least here there’s no road traffic to contend with, the surface is good smooth tarmac and while we may encounter pedestrians, walkers and the like, if we carefully chose our time, we may just get the place to ourselves. The route is also relatively flat, with a slight railway-type gradient downhill from west to east, and the prevailing wind direction is from the west potentially providing a helpful tailwind to assist our efforts.
I was originally going to work out a few calculations to see what is possible here but other turfers have already gained the most challenging of the Eager medals, the Eager Ferret, taking 10 zones in 10 minutes. Turfer MarkkuESOC completed the run in just over 7.00 minutes, so it can be done and if that one can be done, so can all the others with longer times allowances. Quite a few other turfers have also gained either the Eager Weasel or Eager Ferret medals. I suspect the Loanhead Ferret Run will become a popular mecca for turfers of all ages looking to add these medals to their collection and perhaps also better their existing times.
So, how does one go about tackling the Eager medals? Let say, for example, the Eager Weasel. The first thing I would suggest is visit the location and get to know the zones, checking out each one and determine exactly where they are. This will save time and help eliminate possible errors that may waste time. Time is the enemy here. Next, decide the optimum time of day, or night, for your attempt. You will want a quiet time with minimal risk of people delaying your run, perhaps early mornings, late evenings or even the wee small hours. The zones themselves should be available for the taking and without any take-over blocks from other turfers.
Unless you plan on running, a bicycle will be essential. It should be in good running order, with brakes that stop you on a sixpence and pump up those tyres to max to reduce rolling resistance to a minimum. If you normally carry stuff on your bike, leave it at home and keep your trusty steed as lightweight as possible. Next, check the weather forecast, aim for a dry day when the prevailing wind will be behind you, from the west. No point in having a 50 mph headwind on the above route. I’ve been there and done that and I tell you it’s a hard bottom-gear slog. The best direction here is downhill, from west to east, that’s starting at Roslin and heading for Loanhead.
Before you start the actual run, make sure your muscles are warmed up, they will perform much better than when cold. Also switch on your GPS beforehand and get the bonus of a 5 second deduction in your take time for each zone, that 50 seconds overall. On your phone screen zoom in to enlarge the zone area, enough so that you can easily see when you are entering the zone. Not too large that you don’t have any warning of your approach to the zone, which could result in an overshoot. While the zone is being taken, ready yourself for the next zone. If you click down through the gears while you are breaking, you can get into the optimal gear for taking away again. Then put the pedal to the metal and go for it.
There are also various other locations where this type of linear zone cluster could be setup. The cycle way between Rosewell and Bonnyrigg is one and the same could be said of the route between Dalkeith and Whitecraigs. I’m sure there are other similar areas that would also benefit from this, providing relatively quiet and safe places to attempt these medals.
Looking at the cycle way between Roslin and Shawfair above, it might be an interesting idea to increase the number of zones over the 5 miles stretch to 30 zones, making a really cool place to tackle the Darkest Ninja medal – taking at least 30 zones between the hours of 2:00am and 3:00 am. I for one would love to try that, 30 zones in 60 minutes over a 5-mile route, what a great challenge!
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