It was quite an experience turfing Edinburgh the other day with Harley Quinn and Shaun the Sheep peeking out of the rucksack. I deliberately set out without a plan other than parking the car along Claremont Park then simply exploring and taking a few zones. And when I say quite an experience, here’s a few of the comments I overhead: “Mummy, mummy. Look at that bike, can I have one!”, “Look, Shaun the Sheep!”, “Love your bike!”, “Geez a shot of your bike, mister!”, “Harley Quinn. Cool.” “Does it glow in the dark?”. “Look at that twit!” There was quite a few more but you get the gist.
The plan today was to be totally random. No uniques to hunt down, no areas to clear of zones, just going turfing. Picked off some zones at Leith Links then wondered where to go next. I know, up Leith Walk. I’ve wanted to ride the new cycleways. It was quite busy with non-thinking pedestrians doing their best to get in my way. And even the apparently “thinking” pedestrian would look in my direction, not see me and walk into my path. How can you miss a cyclist wearing a glowing yellow t-shirt, multi-coloured shorts and riding the brightest single speed bike on this side of the galaxy. My bell was red-hot by the time I reach zone TheGoldenTurd. What a name for a zone!
Now, where to next? Ah, yes, Calton Hill. A good spot for a Where’s Shaun? Quite a steep climb on the single speed but manageable. Lots of tourists as you might expect, many of them totally oblivious of anyone else wanting past in the narrow paths. And that wasn’t me complaining, it was other tourists. Princess Street gardens was next, requiring some rather enjoyable dodging and diving the bike between pedestrians. You know what I mean. Slow down, wait for that gap to open, then pedal to the metal. Then freewheel along, spot another gap. Can I make it before the gap closes? Great fun! Hmm, are you allowed to cycle in Princess Street gardens?
Next up to Edinburgh Castle. Johnston Terrace was closed to traffic but does that include bicycles? Naw, I don’t think so. Off we go. Quite a climb on the single speed but was able to get a breather with all the congestion at the top. Some Edinburgh tour buses have ignored the road closed sign and are now blocking everything. Absolutely no chance of riding the bike here. Too many tourists visiting the castle. Walked up anyway but turned back. Can always return another day, when quieter.
The steep climb up to the castle had me fair puffing and I’m wondering about my gearing again. I’m presently running 32/16 and thinking that 32/17, a slightly lower gear ratio, might be a good idea. Similarly, with the Surly Ogre, I’m running 32/18, lower for the hills but I’m finding it too low for anything else. Again, thinking 32/17 would be the ideal if I was starting again. Okay for now but we shall see in the future. Good quality freewheels are around £100 a pop.
Doon the Royal Mile. Cobbles should be banned. However, noticed the smooth stones in the gutter and rode along that. More weaving between tourists, taxi cabs, delivery vans and Mr Grumpy Looking Policeman. More comments about Harley Quinn and Shaun. Might try charging £1.00 a time for photographs. Grabbed a few zones along the High Street then across the grass to St Margaret’s Loch to see what birds are about. Just the usual suspects but an albino blackbird caught my eye in the trees. Where next? I know somewhere nice to sit for lunch, with a sea view. Newhaven Harbour will do just fine.
Bloody hellfire, more shoogly cobbles. A nightmare on a bike with 30mm wide tyres. They would have been more comfortable on the Ogre. And with the Surly Pugsley fat bike, what cobbles? I must admit to being rather naughty and taking to the pavements a few times when the cobbles have been particularly tiresome. Becoming a bit of a hooligan, I am. You watch, I’ll be going fixed-gear next, wear my baseball cap back to front and grow a ZZ Top beard. The word hipster comes to mind. Oh dearie, dearie, me.
After lunch at Newhaven Harbour, some encounters with cyclists, the inconsiderate type. They tend to be elderly riding e-bikes, or foreign tourists riding heavily loaded “Dutch” style bikes. Neither seem to have any concept of sharing the cycleway. Twice, I had to get out of their way as they were riding two-abreast, chatting to each other and taking up the entire cycleway. Totally oblivious of anyone else. So annoying! Then there’s the snobbery of some cyclists, usually those riding the latest lighter-than-air cardboard-fibre “racers” with skinny tyres, wearing black Lycra and the latest Red Bull helmet. Think they own the road! I did laugh when one of them whizzed past then almost crashed into some nettles. He, he, he!
I then followed the coast back to the car, nipping out to get the zone out at Leith docks entrance. Amazed at the sheer size of a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship in Leith Docks, the Fort Victoria. Then back to the car and home. A grand day out in Edinburgh. Must do this again soon.
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