Turf Blog 22-02-21

The next Turf challenge I’d set my eager sight on was the Eager Beaver medal which requires you to take at least 10 zones in under 20 minutes. Initially, you might think this is not possible but over 130 turfers here in Scotland have already successfully achieved the Eager Beaver, with times ranging from 19:59 all the way down to 7:49. Times under 15:00 minutes grant you the Eager Weasel medal, with times less than 10:00 minutes gaining the Eager Ferret medal.

My first task was to find 10 suitable zones. The Beaver Toplist was my initial port of call. It lists all the times for turfers who have gained the Eager Beaver medal. If you click on the time, you can view a map of the zones used. You can also filter down to your local area, in my case Scotland, and see what others have been achieved nearby. I could see a few good areas in Edinburgh, Portobello and Musselburgh but decided to keep those in mind and see what I can devise one on my own doorstep, the town of Bonnyrigg.

Eventually, after much head scratching, copious cups of strong coffee and the essential brain-power enhancing Kit-Kat, I’d pulled together a potential plan. My start zone would be CockpenBypass, at the top end of the Hopefield estate, I’d then follow a downhill gravity-assisted route taking in Skeltiemuir, AuldCoal, ChesterGarden and GroovyFarm. Then a short uphill loop to the Sherwood estate to take LadyMarion, then back downhill again for Brixwold and Pittendriech, both on a downhill path. Next, a flat loop around to WayOfBaird, then across to the cycleway again and downhill to final zone Wishart. All, hopefully, in under 20 minutes.

Then I did some rough calculations. Starting with the time allowed, 20 minutes or 1200 seconds. I then deducted my take times. My current take time is about 25 seconds, less 5 seconds GPS bonus gives 20 seconds per zone, multiply that by 10 zones and we get 200 seconds less, giving us 1000 seconds for travel between the zones. However, we are already at the first zone, that leaves 9 zones requiring travel time. 1000 seconds divided by 9 gives us 111 seconds per zone. The distance from the first zone to the last is 2.1 miles. A simply calculation shows I need to cycle at an average 8 mph to be able to complete the run within the time period. I’m pretty sure I can manage that. Hope all that makes sense. Of course, on the other hand you can ignore all that and simply go for it. I think I have a headache now.

To enhance my chances of success, I also looked at what other factors might affect my ability to achieve this medal. The first was to decide on the optimal time to actually tackle this run. It seemed, without burning out any brain cells, that early mornings would be ideal. No fitness fiends, dog walkers, pram pushers, uncontrolled children, horse riders, commuting cyclists or even other turfers to get in the way. Next, I wanted dry weather conditions, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about losing grip while speeding around corners and finally, I wanted to make sure the GPS was on to gain the 5 second bonus reduction in takeover time.

The weather forecast for Monday morning looked suitable and at 4:15 I was ready to leave the house, the streets were dry with the sky overcast. To warm up my muscles for the Eager Beaver run I took a roundabout route towards Bonnyrigg town centre, taking WaverleyPath, Bonnyrigg and RobinAndTuck. I also thought this would get the GPS signal well-tuned in and settled. Then onwards up the cycleway to the first zone, CockpenBypass. Then Thunderbirds are go!

Down the cycle path to Skeltiemuir, turn right and take footpath to AuldCoal, then ChesterGarden, and then GroovyFarm, located by the balancing ponds. Some mallard ducks were quacking to encourage me onwards. Or were they laughing? Then a short uphill loop to the Sherwood estate to take LadyMarion, then back downhill again for Brixwold and Pittendriech. Then much to my astonishment, as I thought I still had two further zones to take, up pops the Eager Beaver medal alert on the phone. It seems that the two zones, Bonnyrigg and RobinAndTuck, taken earlier in my warm-up, had also counted towards the medal. Mission accomplished.

Checking my time later revealed 17.19 minutes, almost three minutes to spare. This led me to thinking what would my time have been if I’d stuck with my original zone sequence. Could I have been under 15:00 minutes and gained me the Eager Weasel? Zones Bonnyrigg and RobinAndTuck had been taken at a leisurely pace, so a possibility. A challenge for another day.

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