Being confined to home during the building works for our new porch (to keep a keen beady eye on the builders), I made use of the opportunity for some TV binge-watching on Netflix. And having just watched the entire first season of Wednesday, I must say how much I enjoyed it. Wednesday is based on The Addams Family, a fictional family created by American cartoonist Charles Addams, back in the 1930’s. It actually started as a single panel cartoon series in The New Yorker and was later followed by TV series and subsequent movies.
Yes, fine, but what has this to do with turfing? Well, Wednesday, the young girl who is the main character in the series, has a younger and rather chubby brother called Pugsley. And I ride a bicycle called a Surly Pugsley, a fat bike with 100 mm wide tyres. (You can see where Surly got the name from. They also produce a Surly Wednesday bike, an even fatter fat bike, though Wednesday isn’t actually fat.) So, with my head full of Addams family quirkiness, I just had to get out turfing on the Surly Pugsley.
With the weather just above freezing, there would still be patches of frost and ice in the sheltered shady areas so using the fat-tyre Pugsley is ideal. The huge footprint of the tyres really does instil confidence on slippery surfaces. But that’s not to say you can ride like an idiot, some care is still required. Before heading out I set the tyre pressures to 15 PSI front and 17 PSI rear, my preferred range for mixed conditions.
But where to go? Well, my wife Cathryn, aka ChoccyMuffin, had turfed the Newbattle area at the weekend, so might as well annoy again her by taking the Pugsley around the Newbattle woods. I started off heading out towards the Dalhousie area, aiming for zones GroveFarm and ByEskWeir near Grove Farm, but also picking off Pittendriech, Brixwold and KirkCockpen in the passing. Conditions under tyre were mostly wet and muddy with a few patches of frosty ice lingering in the shadows. Definitely colder down by the river South Esk. The weather forecast suggested 4 Degrees C., but it must have been around freezing beside the river.
As I rode, I was thinking about Örebro Kalender Turf 2022, and my disappointment at failing both options as early as day three, procuring assists just wasn’t practical. And no way was I going to cycle into Edinburgh, or perhaps Penicuik, to seek out three different turfers for an assist. Not when there was still frost and ice about on the cycle paths. But ho-hum, I can still always go for the subsequent assignments, though I won’t be able to enter the finishers raffle.
Under the Lothian Viaduct, past the Sun Inn (and the enticing smell of freshly cooked chips) and onto Lady Lothian’s Walk, aiming for zone TheRedWoods. The terrain until now had been relatively flat but it was now uphill all the way until zone Mary.
Okay, enough is enough. As I write, or at least try to write at the computer, the builders are working away above my head. I cannot take the noise any more. The cacophony of nail bashing, electric drilling, reciprocating saw sawing, Kango hammer thumping, electric chop sawing, joiners swearing and shouting at each other, highly inventive cursing aimed at the electrician and the Devil knows what else, means Mr Brain has stopped working. How is an artist to work in these conditions? Bye for now. I’m off somewhere quieter.
Right, back again. The noise has reduced and is now bearable. So, the climb uphill begins. And this is where I find out if I’m wearing too much clothing. i.e., long-sleeve thermal t-shirt, warm fleece top and thick water and windproof jacket. Oh, winter gloves and winter hat as well. I’m okay at zone TheRedWoods, the path is fairly easy along to zone FatBikePath and I’m still comfortable by EquinoxZone. Then the long climb up Roan’s Dyke, taking zone TheSouthPath and eventually reaching zone Mary at the top. Feeling a bit of the warm side but still comfortable. Now I have the long downhill, so keep my jacket on as it will be chilly whizzing down to the river. Zone TheNorthPath is taken along the way.
Back down at the river South Esk, the cold is obvious here. The surface of the timber footbridge is frozen solid as is the grass leading to Newbattle Abbey. The concrete slabs are slippery with ice in places but Pugsley copes well, not a single slip or slid. After zone BattleAbbey, I followed the river downstream, the cold increasing as I rode. At the Maiden Bridge, and zone SouthEsk, the mud on either side was wet and sticky but frozen solid on the bridge itself, due to the colling effect of water flowing underneath, something to be aware of in freezing weather.
Following the tarmac road, zone BattleForest is next, then into Kirk Bank Wood for zones Newbattle, RecentBattle, OldBattle and StoneGate. Nice to see a tawny owl flying across my path. Which reminds me to mention something I saw at zone BurnbraePoint the other evening. While taking the zone a large brown bird hopped away from me on the grassy area. Swinging the bike light onto it revealed a woodcock. Not the bird I’d expect to see here. A short detour across to the river for zone AncientBattle was my final zone for the evening.
And that was that. Good to be out on the Surly Pugsley again. Most enjoyable after a noisy day in the house. Just praying for some snow down in the Moorfoot hills so I can make more fat biking videos. Fingers crossed!
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