Turf Blog 12-09-22

Turf zone – RomanBrig

No turfing yesterday due to a dodgy back after bicycle turfing down in the Scottish Borders, but should manage a circuit of the home patch of Bonnyrigg later this morning, and perhaps Eskbank and Dalkeith later on. It would have been so much better if we hadn’t evolved into walking upright on two legs. You don’t see our four-footed friends with the same dodgy back issues as we have. I should say that’s the first day I’ve not been turfing for 365 days, been doing the Daily Five. Anyway, a week has passed since the start of TURF 2022, so what’s on the board Miss Ford? *Can you recall which game show that is from?

At the moment we are sitting third overall with 28 points, Uppsala is second with 34 points and in first place, Västmanland with 40 points. So, we have some catching up to do. We seem to lead on average points taken but fall behind on average zones taken and average round unique taken. I suppose I should suggest we all try harder, get out in the middle of the night and get the proverbial finger out. However, I’m not going to do that, namely because I’m about the least competitive person in the entire Multiverse and it’s supposed to be enjoyable. Just do what you can and is best for you.

My main anti-turfing issue at the moment is my dodgy back, which as I mentioned yesterday, is not generally due to cycling or kick scooting but the times I have to carry or push/carry the bike up steep hills or steps, or manhandle it across near impossible styles like those on the Haystoun estate in Peebles. Yes, one option would be to miss out the zones where this is required but as I’m slightly OCD, leaving the odd zone dotted about untaken while I’ve taken all the others is a big no-no for me. So, what can I do about that?

Well, my thoughts turn yet again to bicycles, most definitely lighter weight bicycles at that. My Surly Ogre, stripped down without racks and all the assorted crap I tend to carry weighs in at 16 Kg, add all the aforementioned assorted crap when out turfing and its nearer 20 Kg. That’s where my back problems sneak up on me. The strain on my back when trying to lift the bike across styles, walls and gates is the issue. So, would a lighter bike make any difference? A few years ago, I built a lightweight single-speed using a Genesis Day One Reynolds 853 frame and managed a build weight of about 10 Kg. It certainly made all the difference but a single-speed isn’t really ideal. You spend much of the time walking, stopping to get your breath back or massaging dead legs back into life. So, with a target weight of 10 Kg or less, what’s available out there in Bicycle World.

I’m been looking at Ribble Cycles again, who offer a good range of bikes with the CGR range catching my attention for turfing needs. CGR stands for Cross, Gravel and Road, a kind off do-it-all hybrid. They offer a wide range of build specifications with frames available in carbon fibre, titanium, Reynolds 725 steel and aluminium. Weights are all close to 10 Kg and there’s also an electric version at 13.5 Kg, which is very tempting. An e-bike that weighs less than my present Surly Ogre. Amazing.

Delivery dates are December 2022, which I could live with and prices range from £1300 to £4500 and above if you decide to customise your build further. And that’s the problem, too much choice. I have the money for any of them but which one do I go for? What frame material should I choose? What component specification is best? Should I plump for the electric version? Too many choices. Take handlebars for instance. Straight drops or flared drops? Some riders say the wider flared drop bars offers more control off-road, other say different. So, confusing.

Well, as you might guess I’m undecided. Should I perhaps stick to walking and accept that turfing on foot is slower than cycling and avoid back issues. Would a drop bar bicycle be a bad idea as far my dodgy back is concerned? Should I give up turfing and do something not quite so pointless as hunting down little red or yellow dots and turning them green, as one turfer recently noted? I know, I’ll have a nice coffee and a four-finger Kit-Kat. That should help. But, I have a plan. I’m going to remove the racks from the Ogre, discipline myself not to carry so much crap and see how that goes. I’ll limit carrying capacity to the frame bag and small handlebar bag. This should help until I can get myself to come to a final decision about another bike. If ever I do.

Now, press the fast forward button to 12 noon and that’s me completed a circuit of Bonnyrigg with 37 zones taken. Not a lot to say about the session, all pretty much run of the mill stuff. In fact, I cannot recall actually taking a zone or two, the route is so familiar. All zones are showing green on the turf app and were red before, so I must have. What is interesting though, are the sights seen while turfing on automatic pilot. There’s the sight of a beautiful woman standing next to a brand new shiny Landrover Defender 90, which has me **drooling. Then she lights up and puffs away on a cigarette. I find this very disappointing.

Then there’s the school girls who, when they see a male watching them, in this instance myself, immediately attempt to pull down the nano-micro-mini skirts they are wearing in case I see their legs. Or whatever. Then this final one, a woman, who I think I’ve come across before, trying to catch her dog, one that’s chasing a small white poodle across the playing fields. The dog seems to be called You Bastard; from the name she is calling out to it. Yes, I think I’ve seen her before.

Finally, to finish, I once met a cyclist, an exceedingly large chap who really didn’t suit the skin-tight Lycra outfit he was wearing, struggling up the long steep climb into Bowbeat Hill windfarm down in the Moorfoot Hills. We stopped a chatted for a while and he was telling me about his new bicycle. It cost him about £10k and was as light as a feather (I cannot recall the model but it was about 8 Kg when I looked it up) but he was still struggling on the climbs. I suggested the more you ride the easier it gets. I didn’t have the heart to say he could do with losing about 10 Kg in weight himself. Sometimes all the best equipment in the world doesn’t make much of a difference.

*The Generation Game with Bruce Forsyth and Rosemarie Ford.
**For the Landrover Defender 90, of course!

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