Tonight, was the night for my attempt at another Eager Ferret medal, this time locally to home in Bonnyrigg. Back in March 2021 I achieved my Eager Ferret medal on the cycleway between Roslyn and Loanhead, finishing with a time of 9:01 minutes. Even before then I’d had the idea that such a run might be possible locally to home between Roslin and Bonnyrigg, along the cycle path.
I made preparations during the day. Pumping up the bicycle tyres to rock hard, lubricating the chain and removing any excess items to reduce weight, such as tool roll, pump, spare inner tube, etc. I would just have to hope that I didn’t have any mechanical problems or a puncture. In any case, it’s only a mile or so to walk back home. I started out the back of 11.00 pm when it should be quiet enough not to have too many other users on the path.
My plan was to cycle up to Rosewell, take a few zones there to get the GPS bonus active for the run, starting at zone HalfwayPath. The GPS bonus would reduce my take time from 20.4 seconds to 15.4 seconds. That’s a 5 second saving on each zone. Something worth having. From there, pedal like a mad-thing all the way down the cycle path to finish at zone WaverleyPath in Bonnyrigg, a total of 10 zones. However, there was a potential spanner already in the works.
The few days ago I noticed that the cycle path was closed at the top end of Bonnyrigg. Some works in connection with a water mains problem. Should this be the case, I had Option B, substituting the final 4 zones with 4 zones located along the footpaths running down through the Hopefield housing estate. The distance was slightly longer but the descent was steeper and therefor possibly faster. I thought things might even themselves out.
As I made my way towards Rosewell, I kept the GPS off at any target zones but did take a few others along the way. At the top of Hopefield I saw that the cycle way was indeed still closed. Looks like it was Option B tonight. At zone LouiseGorden in Rosewell, I was delighted to encounter a badger scratching for grubs in the grass there. It ran off along the street. I took this to be a good omen.
Soon I was ready for the off at my start zone, HalfwayPath. First, I adjusted the zoom level on the turf app to Goldilocks level, not too far in that I wouldn’t get advance warning of the zone approaching and not too far out that I don’t get enough close-up details for stopping and starting off again within the ideal positions in the zone. Just about perfect. The notification volume was already set high enough to hear. Next, I ramped up my LED light to high. I’m using my 1600 lumen Magicshine light for max power. All the better to see the horse droppings, tree root bulges, curious cats, Foxy the fox and whatever else might hinder my progress.
I selected 5th gear to start off, then it was pedal to the metal and we’re off. Up into 6th, pedal hard, then 7th, pedal hard, then 8th, top gear. 58 seconds later I’m in zone ExitRosewell. Taking zone. I click down into 6th this time. Zone taken and we are away again. Pedal hard and back into top gear. Soon I’ll spinning out and not accelerating any faster. I thought this might be an issue. The Surly Ogre is setup for low gearing, for climbing the hills of the Southern Uplands rather than bombing along flat or downhill railway lines. Options are to either reduce the size of the rear sprocket or increase the size of the front chainring. But that’s something for another day.
Zone SandQuarry comes up fast after 67 seconds and I skid to a stop. Taking zone. I ready the gears again, zone taken and away we go. Same routine for zone HopeBridge and BonnyriggPath. At the latter, a series of tree roots bulges across the path give both myself and the Ogre a bumpy ride, the brick hard tyres not helping one iota. Corrugations on the footbridge also chatter my teeth.
After taking zone CockpenBypass, the closure of the route ahead means I take a right turn into the Hopefield estate. You can actually get through but that would mean time-a-wasting as far as the Eager Ferret is concerned. It’s now a fast downhill but need to remember the sharp bend at the bottom. Spin those pedals, Gary, and don’t freewheel. Make sure left-hand pedal is up on the tight corner. Don’t want to hit the tarmac and end up in the Pittendriech Burn. A ginger cat scoots out of the way. Round the bend and the way ahead is clear. I notice a Mini moving to the right; it’s heading out of the estate.
Must remember there’s a road crossing ahead. Hopefully no traffic and no need to slow down. Bugger there’s traffic. That pesky Mini I saw a few moments ago. Why aren’t you in bed, I shout. Better slow down. Only lose a few seconds, so not so bad. Next zone Auldcoal. Taking zone. Down into 6th gear, zone taken. Away we go again. Zone AuldChester is next, off to the left along another path. Off route and not ideal but turfers cannot be choosers. There’s a dog walker ahead. Where’s the dog? It’s on a leash, so okay. I think they have seen me but better ring the bell anyway. I’m soon safely past and say thanks. I take the left-hand bend at speed, perhaps a little too fast but I make it round, just. Bugger, another dog walker but they have already seen me and moved off the path onto the grass. Dog’s on a lead so no-worries.
Only two more zones to go and my time is looking good for a sub-1o minutes. The path is a fast downhill with sweeping right followed by a sharp left. I take it easy here as you cannot see what’s around the corner. Bloody hellfire! Another dog walker with two mutts. What’s going on, a dog walking convention? I ring my bell a couple of times but don’t slow down. She calls the dogs close so I should be okay. Thank you. I feel a tad guilty about blasting hell-for-leather down the shared path. Perhaps I should have got the police to close the path? A skid/stop gives me zone ChesterGarden. Just one more to go, zone Groovy Farm.
A long straight downhill now. Spin those pedals, Gary. I’m soon flat out. Better slow for the metal barriers, down into 5th and across the road. No traffic this time. Within seconds I’m at the final zone, GroovyFarm. Taking zone. 15.4 seconds later, zone taken. Finished. No medal award pop-up this time. But doubt enters my mind, have I miscounted the number of zones? Do I need another one just in case? No, don’t be daft. You’re done. A few minutes later I’m back home.
With Ogre safely locked away in the shed, I’m onto the computer and call up my times on FRUT Excellent! I’ve done it under 10 minutes with a time of 9:25 minutes. Kind of as expected. I didn’t think I’d better my 9:01 minutes from the Loanhead Ferret Run but was hopeful of getting under 10 minutes. I think I can do better with changes to the Ogre’s gearing and making use of the straight run right down the cycle path once the water mains works are out of the way. And also go for later time and avoid dog walkers. So, that will be my goal, reduce that 9:25 to under 9:00 and better my Loanhead Ferret Run. Fun for another day.
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