It was a big turf day yesterday. Six hours in the saddle, 103 zones taken and 45 miles under Ogre’s wheels. Not a brilliant ratio of takes to time taken and miles covered but most of the zones were unique for this month and hopefully useful in Team Scotland’s scores for TURF 2022. It seemed a more sensible idea than turfing local monotonously boring and tedious revisits, around Bonnyrigg for only half the points. At least this way I get twice the points for the same time and effort.
My route took me across Bonnyrigg and Dalkeith, joining the Pencaitland Railway path at Carberry. The gradient of the old railway line is gentle though you soon notice the steeper sections, one stretch after Pencaitland was most noticeable. Overall, the route is good cycling. Other traffic was fairly light, just the occasional dog walkers, pram pushers and joggers.
At zone ParkByPuddle, a large light brown labradoodle decided to give chase. And this after I’d slowed down, almost to a stop, thanked the party for securing the dog and continued onwards. Of course, doggy thinks, “Doh. Fun. I chase bicycle. Doh”. And it did, snapping at my heels, running in front of me and generally getting in the way. Eventually, the owner managed to call the dog back and then said, to the dog, why do you always chase bicycles, you naughty boy?
To be honest I nearly lost the plot at this. I almost turned about to remonstrate with the owner. I’ll tell you why it “always” chases bicycles, because you haven’t fecking trained the fecking thing properly. What would happen if it chased a child or teenager and they crash. What if they get injured, or worse? But I counted to ten in Klingon, took a few deep Jedi breaths, used the Force and pedalled on my way. There was four in the party with the dog, so probably a wise decision not to start a confrontation. Still annoying though. I just cannot understand why people don’t train their dogs properly.
The railway path ends at zone ToOrmiston, though the actual route of the old railway line does continue, all the way to Gifford, where it terminates. I don’t know if the route is actually navigable by bicycle or on foot but that’s an adventure for another day. Now on smooth tarmac, I made good progress, first through West Saltoun, then East Saltoun. At zone HolySaltoun, it starts raining and I seek shelter under the trees in the churchyard. However, it passes quickly and no need for waterproofs. Jumping back on the bike I’m surprised to feel large gravel chips sticking to the underside of my shoes. That’s not right, me thinks, gravel shouldn’t stick to shoes like that.
Of course, you know what it was, a bloody sticky, smelly, slimy, Richard the Third. Just great. For goodness’ sake, why would you let your dog leave chocolate otters in a church yard? You know, I think we should have officials who deal with this type of thing, serious officials. They would be called Judges. They would all be named Judge Dread. They would be judge, jury and executioner, all rolled into one. And people who allow their mutt to crap in churchyards would be terminated and buried right there. On their tombstone the words,
“Here lies another twat who let his dog crap in a churchyard.”
The road, actually National Cycle Route NCN 196, from here to Haddington is pleasant, fast and smooth, though spoiled by overly fast traffic on the long straights. And fast bicycles as well. I thought I was proceeding along fairly briskly when a female cyclist flashes past in a blur of pink and yellow Lycra. Well, it was “most likely” a female cyclist, looked like a female cyclist from behind, but may not have been. Anyway, I’m wondering why they are so much faster than me? It is the level of fitness? Is it the lightweight £7,500 carbon-fibre and titanium bicycle? Is it because I’m getting old? At least she/he said hello.
Into Haddington. As I knew this would be a long and tiring day, I didn’t want to stray from the cycle route and searched for signs leading to NCN 76, for Longniddry, joining the railway path. Received a message from TheInquisitor, who was heading in my direction, asking where I was heading. We did try to avoid clashing but I was blocked for about 10 minutes at zone Moncrieff, however used the opportunity for a lunch break. About half the zones along this route were uniques for me, and that was another reason for choosing this route today. It was only later that I realised I’d missed two uniques in Haddington. Bugger!
I now cycled back towards Bonnyrigg, heading along the coast and ticking off another handful of unique zones. Met up with TheInquisitor at zone TheYearlyBath, and he kindly showed me the best way to reach the uniques I was after. Poor Ogre struggled on the sandy path along the shore, his narrow road tyres not really suited for this type of terrain. I picked off a few more zones along the way but really just followed a more or less direct route home. By this stage I was getting rather weary and the legs and back were beginning to complain.
I was back in Bonnyrigg around 4.00 pm, taking my last zone WayOfBaird, having started out at 10.00 am this morning. Quite a long day in the saddle but rewarding all the same. With an overall total of 243 zones to my name, I was still considering the possibility of that Greed-350 but not really all that keen as I knew I’d lose too many zones before I was out turfing again. And only two days before the current round ends. I knew how my legs would be feeling next day as well. In any case, a forecast of heavy rain and winds gusting t0 50 mph was reason enough for a rest. Might get out later in the evening when it all dies down. Back soon.
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