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Monday 4 December 2023

Half-day ride this coming Saturday

As you might know, our rides take place right through the year, including during these winter months. However, for this month and next, we will be departing from our usual format. In December and January, our runs will be shorter than usual: just half-day rides, finishing around lunch time. This is partly in deference to the winter weather and the short daylight hours; and partly (in the case of December) because of the difficulty of finding lunch venues during the festive season.

With that in mind, here are the details of our next ride, which takes place this coming Saturday (9 December).

For this ride, Glenn has devised an interesting and unusual route, involving the back doubles of Portobello, the Musselburgh waterfront and a delightful stretch of the River Esk walkway. Even if you are one of our habitual riders, you might find that there are parts of this route that you have never cycled before.

The total distance will be about 16 miles. It should be a straightforward run, with no difficult hills and with generally good surfaces - apart from a couple of short cobbled stretches.

Time and place

The ride will start as usual at 10:30 form the north end of Middle Meadow Walk.

We will aim to get back to the Meadows by 13:00 at the latest. There will be no official lunch stop, but given the large number of pubs, sandwich shops and cafés near the finish, some of you may wish to get together for a meal or snack after the ride. But if you do, it won't be part of the official event.

Looking ahead

For various reasons, we have decided not to run our customary Christmas morning ride this year. It's possible that someone else will organise a ride for that day. If so, I will let you know.

Our January ride will follow the same half-day format as in December. From February, we will return to our usual full-day runs.

One more thing ...

As some of you will know, 2024 will be a momentous year in the history of the 20-Milers: our 20th anniversary. Our first ever ride took place on 11 September 2004. I would very much welcome any suggestions you might have for how we might mark this important milestone. Please get in touch if you have any ideas.

Saturday 11 November 2023

The wrong way to Mortonhall

Today's ride saw us take some interesting and unusual routes in the south of the city, taking in the Bioquarter, Burdiehouse Valley Park, Mortonhall and Swanston. Lunch was at the Mortonhall Garden Centre. We've been there quite a few times over the years, usually approaching from the west; today we arrived from the east. Crisp, bright winter sunshine and barely any wind was the order of the day, which was nice for November. Thirteen riders mustered for the start.

At the leader's briefing, he emphasised that there would be a few crossings of busy roads to contend with. Briefing over, we headed off towards the Innocent Railway. We whizzed through the tunnel and left the path at Bingham to head up Hay Avenue. This road had been in the national news a week earlier with rioters attacking police with fireworks and petrol bombs; but there was nothing to suggest that as we cycled up the quiet, almost deserted road. We continued through the backstreets of Niddrie to the Bioquarter and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. From there we rode through Moredun, took the cycle path beside Gilmerton Road, which we crossed and took the path beside Morrisons. Cycle paths took us through Gilmerton and Burdiehouse Valley Park to arrive at Lasswade Road. Having crossed the busy road, we regrouped at the entrance back into Burdiehouse Valley Park. As we waited, Ian handed out homemade baking to the group. The path beside Burdiehouse Burn, through quiet backstreets, Captain's Road, Frogston Road East and we were at Mortonhall Garden Centre for our lunch stop. It's a long time since we arrived for lunch before 1200. Most riders headed to the café, whilst a few hardy souls sat outside to eat their packed lunches.

We frequently leave Mortonhall and head towards the Braid Hills. Not today. We took Frogston Road West towards Fairmilehead, turning left and headed towards Morton House and cut through the housing estate just north of Lothianburn Junction. We crossed the busy Biggar Road, then the off and on slip roads for the City Bypass. Leaving the traffic behind, we began to climb the rough path that would take us to the delightful Swanston village where we paused to get our breath back and admire the village. We crossed the City Bypass again, but this time a bridge made life much easier. Across Oxgangs Road, quiet roads and paths through Oxgangs took us to Greenbank Crescent and the traffic lights at Comiston Road. Despite the road works, we were able to go straight across and cycle along Braidburn Terrace. The quiet backstreets of Morningside and Marchmont, along Leamington Walk, and we were back at the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over.

Everyone enjoyed the ride, the weather was kinder to us than we had dared hope in November and it was nice to visit a familiar destination using a far from familiar route. Thanks to Mike for leading, and Yaz for back marking.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 6 November 2023

November ride this coming Saturday

We've got our November ride coming up on Saturday (11th). I hope you'll be able to join us.

For this ride, we'll be exploring some interesting and unusual routes in the south of the city, taking in the Bioquarter, Burdiehouse Valley, Mortonhall and Swanston. Most of the ride will be on quiet roads, with just one short stretch that might be busy with traffic. There will also be a couple of rough and possibly muddy paths, but these will be quite short. We will face some moderate hills during the morning, compensated for with a nice a downhill run in the afternoon. It won't be a long ride: slightly less than the nominal twenty miles.

Lunch stop

We'll stop for lunch at the garden centre at Mortonhall. This has a spacious and comfortable self-service restaurant, albeit a little pricey (sandwiches start at £6.25, baked potatoes £8.95). As always, you have the option of bringing a packed lunch.


We'll set out at 10:30 from our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will go ahead whatever the weather, but if conditions are  particularly bad, we might shorten the route slightly. We'll decide that on the day.

Now that the clocks have gone back, this would be a good time to check that your bike lights are in good order with plenty of battery power. Saturday's ride should end well before dark (sunset is at 16:15 that day), but you might need to bring lights if you have a long way to ride home.

I hope to see you on Saturday, but if you can't make it, keep in mind that our rides continue right through the winter. I'll post details of our December run nearer the time.

Saturday 14 October 2023

How to get lost on the canal

There is a saying in the 20 Milers, "you can't get lost on the canal"; but today's ride to the climbing arena at Ratho saw us do just that. But, in all fairness, it was a matter of missing a turning to leave the canal that caused the problem.

After last Saturday's wall-to-wall heavy rain, it was a relief to see the sunshine today. There was a noticeable breeze and the temperature was below average for mid-October, but the sun stayed with us all day and there wasn't a drop of rain. Following a comprehensive route and safety briefing from the leader, 14 of us left the Meadows to head to the busy Morningside Road via Leamington Walk, Whitehouse Loan and Canaan Lane. The right turn into Balcarres Street at the lights could have been problematic, but we all got across relatively easily. At the end of Craighouse Gardens, we went through the gate in the wall to enter the delightful woods of Easter Craiglockhart Hill. For once, the ground was quite dry. We exited via several steep steps to emerge in Lockharton Crescent. From there we made our way to the busy Colinton Road. We quickly left that behind and were soon joining the Union Canal tow path, which we stayed on for a few miles. It became quieter and more rural as we left the city behind. The trees were beginnig to change colour. With the sunshine and reflections in the water, this was a lovely section of the ride. We left the canal near Ratho Park Golf Club and headed towards the Ratho village. At the back of the group, one unfortunate rider suffered a puncture. The backmarker headed after the group whilst others began to remove the wheel. The backmarker caught the group who were waiting in Ratho village. The group settled down to wait as Alan swapped his leader's hat for his chief mechanic one and headed back down the hill to help. It wasn't quite as straight forward as it might have been, but the puncture was fixed, the group were back together and we were rolling again. We climbed up through Ratho village to join the B7030 at Bonnington. From there, we had some lovely downhill to enjoy, and were soon at the climbing arena. We enjoyed an al fresco lunch at the picnic tables on the terrace, which was a great sun-trap.

Retracing our steps to the B7030, we turned right and just before the bridge carrying the M8, we turned left onto a steep rocky path up to the Union Canal. A couple of riders rode up, but the majority opted to push their bikes up. It was on this stretch that the ride began to unravel. After all, no one gets lost riding beside the canal, do they? The group got stretched out with the front section disappearing out of sight. So, when they left the canal at Ratho's Bridge Inn, those behind sailed past remaining beside the canal. After a while it began to dawn on some of us that the front group were not ahead. So we stopped chasing shadows and decided on our next move. A couple of phone calls later and we were heading back to the Bridge Inn. There we regrouped and began heading back towards the city. We followed quiet back roads, lanes and paths to emerge at Edinburgh Park. Through the Gyle shopping centre, past South Gyle station, through Broomhall and we were soon at Roseburn Park. From there, the familiar route took us back to the Meadows via Russell Road, the Telfer Subway, Fountainpark and the canal.

At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride officially over. There had been a couple of hic-cups along the way, but it had been an enjoyable ride with some lovely scenery and decent weather. Thanks to Alan for leading (and swapping over to become chief mechanic temporarily) and to Mike for back marking with a little help from Yaz.

Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 9 October 2023

October ride this coming Saturday

 We've got our October ride coming up next Saturday (14th).

Under Alan's leadership, we will be heading out to Ratho. The route will take us along some nice country lanes (with good views of the Pentland Hills), a couple of stretches on the canal towpath, and a short rough-ish path through some woods (which might be muddy). There will be more than a few hills especially in the morning, but no real killers. The total distance will be about 22 miles.

Our lunch stop will be at the climbing arena in Ratho. This has a café which serves hot and cold drinks and a limited selection of sandwiches and cakes. On past visits, the service there has been very slow, so you might prefer to bring a packed lunch. There are picnic tables on the terrace as well as some indoor seating (with views of the climbing wall). There are also vending machines selling hot and cold drinks.

As always, these details should be regarded as provisional. We sometimes need to vary the route and destination, depending on conditions on the day. But the meeting time and place are the same as ever: 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk.

There's no need for you to contact us in advance. If you fancy joining us, just turn up a the meeting point.

Saturday 23 September 2023

Westward to Almondell

The fifth 20-Milers Extra ride of the year saw us head into West Lothian by way of Almondell Country Park. Following a week of changeable weather and autumnal winds, we were hoping for favourable conditions for today's ride. Showers approaching from the west in the afternoon were expected, so there was a sense of urgency from the ride leader when his unusually concise briefing was given to the group at the Craigleith junction.

A respectable turnout of 18 riders headed off from Craigleith towards Silverknowes. The familiar route took us through Barnton and on to our obligatory pause at Cramond Brig. An earlier fall and an unrelated mechanical issue had meant that by the time we were at Cramond the group had shrunk to 16.

As we headed towards Kirkliston via Carlowrie Road, the leader turned left to join the disused railway track. A slightly over exuberant rider had gone ahead of the leader on the earlier downhill section and missed the call to turn left at the junction. A brief delay ensued whilst the person in question returned with the search party that had went after them.

Back on track we followed the old railway path towards Kirkliston. There was a brief comfort/refreshment stop at the leisure centre. Suitably refreshed we headed under the M90 and M9, followed the quiet Overton Farm road towards Niddry Castle. From there we joined the Union Canal, and followed that as far as the southern tip of Broxburn. Rejoining the tarmac, we headed along Drumshoreland Road and into Almondell Country Park. 

 Picnic lunch

 With no significant catering facilities the group enjoyed a picnic lunch whilst taking in the flora and fauna within the gardens. As we congregated for the return journey, one of our regular riders requested permission from the leader to jump ahead to view the nearby viaduct before rejoining the group. Unfortunately another six riders followed without the leader's knowledge, resulting in a significantly reduced main group heading back.

As a consequence of the split group, the leader set off at a reduced average speed so as to allow the 'viaduct viewers' an opportunity to rejoin in a timely manner. They eventually caught up as the main group approached the level crossing at Kirknewton. The barriers closing at the crossing offered those who had taken the scenic detour a few extra moments to catch their breath.

From Kirknewton we enjoyed a slight tailwind as we followed the Long Dalmahoy Road. From there  we went through Gogarbank, under the bypass, and onwards towards Edinburgh Park. From there we cut through a bustling South Gyle shopping centre car park to join local cycle route 9 which took us past South Gyle station, through Carrick Knowe, and onwards towards Murrayfield. A quick meander around Roseburn Park brought us to Russell Road, up to where the zigzags join the Roseburn Path, at which point the ride was officially declared over. 

Many thanks to Alan for leading us to a popular destination via a scenic route. Thanks also to Yaz for back-marking what turned out to be quite  an eventful ride. 

Leader: Alan

Report: Neil

Photos: Neil and Alison

Monday 18 September 2023

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday

We've got the fifth of this year's Extra rides on Saturday (23rd). Alan will be leading us to Almondell Country Park, near East Calder in West Lothian. It won't be a particularly demanding ride, but, like all our Extras, it will be longer than our usual 20-mile outings, at a somewhat faster pace and with fewer stops. Please keep that in mind when deciding if the ride is right for your fitness level.

Almondell Country Park, with its setting in the deep wooded valley of the River Almond, is at its best at this time of the year. And the visitor centre has a delightful garden where we will aim to have our picnic lunch.

The route

The ride will start from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction (see here if you are not sure where that is.) We'll head out on a mixture of bike paths and mainly quiet roads as far as Niddry Castle, then pick up the canal towpath for about four miles before joining the road into the park. The return leg will be on quiet roads via Kirknewton and  Long Dalmahoy.

The total distance will be about 35 miles. We can expect a few short steep climbs in the early afternoon, but no other serious hills or other difficulties.

Lunch arrangements

Note that there is no café or pub in the park, so be sure to bring food for a picnic lunch. The visitor centre has vending machines for hot and cold drinks, but unfortunately it is closed between 12:30 and 13:00.

There are toilets in the park. We will also have a toilet stop on the outward leg, about half way through the morning.

Meeting time

You should plan to arrive at the meeting point (see above) in time for a 10:30 departure. The ride will end in the Bruntsfield / Leamington area mid- to late-afternoon.

Please be sure that your bike is in good mechanical order before you set out. And don't forget to bring a spare inner tube as well as any tools that might be needed to remove your wheel in the event of a puncture.

Looking ahead

Our next "second Saturday" run will be on 14 October. After that, I am hoping that we will fit in one more Extra this season - depending on the weather and other factors. I'll post details of both those events in due course. Meantime, enjoy your cycling.