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Saturday, 9 October 2021

"Why did it have to rain on my parade?"

 Having established herself as an integral member of the 20 Milers, today Yaz stepped up to lead her first ride. Her question, "why did it have to rain on my parade?" summed up the weather. It was dry when we started, but within minutes the rain began to fall. It was certainly heavier than the forecasted "light showers". Fortunately, the rain had almost stopped as we arrived in South Queensferry for lunch. The afternoon was just about dry, but we were all back home long before the sun made its first appearance of the day. The 21 riders that arrived at the start made this our highest turn out since our rides recommenced in August. It was a bit of a surprise, especially considering a far from promising weather forecast. Following an impressive maiden leader's speech from Yaz, we rolled away from the Meadows to Leamington Bridge via Toll Cross. Just beyond the bridge, we paused briefly whilst waterproofs were donned. In rain that was heavy enough to be unpleasant, we followed the well worn route to Dalry Road via Fountain Park and the Telfer Subway. Negotiating the roadworks and one way system at Murieston involved a short walk along the pavement. Back on the bikes, we climbed the zig-zags to join the Roseburn Path to Craigleith. The rain wasn't getting any heavier, but neither did it show any sign of easing. We took the Blackhall Path and made our way through Barnton to Cramond Brig. 

The leader held a brief conference with a couple of experienced leaders, and concluded that given the under-wheel conditions, it made sense to abandon the planned route through the Dalmeny Estate. It was an unfortunate, but necessary choice given the conditions. It would have been quite treacherous in places. After informing the group of the change, we headed off following the path alongside the A90 instead. As we headed towards the Chapel Gate entrance to the Dalmeny Estate, a rider fell. Fortunately, it happened at low speed and caused no damage or injury. They picked them self up, brushed themselves down and we were rolling again. Through Dalmeny village and along the path that emerged beside the Co-op and we were in South Queensferry. As we'd arrived at the opposite end of town due to the change of route, we had to make our way through the one way system to Hawes Pier for our lunch stop. Those that got themselves sorted quickly made it to the pub. Those that weren't so quick arrived to find there was no room left, and ended up eating alfresco on the sea front alongside the picnickers. It had just about stopped raining, but there was nowhere to shelter and riders were still wet from the earlier rain. As a result, several riders opted to abandon the ride and head home.

We regrouped after lunch, and with a depleted field, made our way back through town. It's great that the road is one way for motor vehicles [whilst being two way for cycles], but the narrow roads and concern that drivers don't realise this to be the case was a slight worry. The rain had stopped. Although it hadn't got any warmer and the sun hadn't appeared, wet gloves etc. were beginning to dry. Up the steep little hill to the Co-op and we were back on the path to Dalmeny village. Back alongside the A90 and we were soon taking a longer pause at Cramond Brig. As the group got moving again, a couple of riders were dawdling until the backmarker uttered the words, "come on. My tea's getting cold!" At the cycle and footpath link between Barnton Avenue West and Barnton Avenue we were held up by a car exiting the drive of one of the houses. Obviously they have every right to exit their drive (and did allow us to squeeze past); but meeting a car there was a big surprise, even to those that have used that path numerous times. From there we retraced the outward route from the morning. The closer we got to town, the more riders peeled off and headed home. Six of us made it back to the Meadows where the leader announced the ride officially over and heaved a sigh of relief.

Thanks to Yaz for doing such a good job of leading her first ride. The weather did her no favours, but deciding to scrap the route through the Dalmeny Estate was definitely right. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ride, despite the weather and thanked the leader. Thanks to Alan for back marking. A final word from the writer; Ken will be, and Logan would have been so proud of you. Well done! 

Leader: Yaz

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Sunday, 3 October 2021

October ride this coming Saturday

 We've got our next ride coming up on Saturday (9 October). I hope you will be able to join us.

For this ride, Yaz will be charge. She will be leading us on a scenic circuit via Cramond Brig and the Dalmeny Estate, returning by way of Dalmeny Village and NCN 1. The total distance will be about 22 miles. Most of the route will be on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths, but there will also be a couple of rough paths, as well as two places where we will need to dismount and push because of road works. There will be just a few hills, none of them particularly difficult.

Lunch arrangements

Our lunch stop will be in the shadow of the Forth Bridge, at Hawes. There are two sit-in restaurants there (the Hawes Inn and the Three Bridges), but because of Covid, they are both operating with restricted access. When we went there for a recce recently, people were queuing up to go in. To avoid a long wait, please consider bringing a packed lunch instead.

There is also a snack bar which does take-away sandwiches and hot drinks. There are seats overlooking the Forth where you can eat your lunch, and public toilets nearby.

Time and place

We will meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10:30 departure. We will aim to be back at the Meadows around mid-afternoon. The ride is free, of course, and you are welcome to bring your friends. We don't operate a booking system, so just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Heading towards autumn

Today's ride had a feeling of autumn about it. No, the trees hadn't begun to change colour. There wasn't that autumnal nip in the air - the weather was nothing special; it was pleasant, not too hot or too cold, there was a short spell of light drizzle that came to nothing and it was overcast with a light wind. Wasps! It was the number of wasps affecting the outdoor diners at lunchtime. It was good to eat outdoors at Craigie Farm, but we were plagued with numerous annoying wasps. Sixteen riders made the start. We were given one of the most detailed briefings ever from the leader. It seemed as if every road we would travel on, was named and every turn described. All very commendable, but somewhat wasted as phrases like, "he lost me after the Leamington Bridge" were overheard.

Fully briefed we headed off to the Leamington Bridge via the usual Bruntsfield Links route. We left the canal and were soon on Dundee Street. Due to roadworks and a one way system, we deviated from our usual route to Murrayfield via the Telfer Subway. Instead we went down Henderson Terrace and along Gorgie Road before turning right down Mcleod Street to get to Russell Road. This detour was unfamiliar to many, but got us to where we needed to be. Past Murrayfield, through Carrick Knowe, the quiet backstreets of Broomhouse, Gyle Park and we emerged beside the busy Glasgow Road. All safely across and we were on the quiet Dechmont Road. We had to negotiate six steps, but were soon speeding past Craigmount School. The quiet Craigs Road took us to the busy Maybury Road. As there is no crossing and a very narrow central reservation this can be a difficult road to get a group safely across. But today the temporary traffic lights [that probably annoyed the drivers] made it a doddle to get across. We continued along Craigs Road with Edinburgh Airport to our left. This area is a huge building site with numerous houses due to be built. Temporary traffic lights delayed us slightly, but we were soon on peaceful country roads just a stone's throw from the airport. We turned off and a rough track through the woods took us down to the delightful Grotto Bridge which crosses the River Almond. After a brief stop to admire the view, we pressed on through the eerily deserted Craigiehall army housing estate. A cycle path beside the A90 took us to the Kirkliston road. A short stretch on this road and we were soon turning right for the steep climb to Craigie Farm, which would be our lunch stop.

Despite the wasps, everyone seemed to enjoy their lunch and fortunately no one got stung. For some unknown reason, lunch stops often seem to be followed by a steep climb. Today it was the opposite - a lovely steep descent. At the bottom of the hill we joined the cycle path beside the A90 and began our journey back towards Edinburgh. A familiar route via Cramond Brig, Barnton, Davidson's Mains, the Blackhall and Roseburn paths, the zig-zags, Russell Road and the Telfer Subway saw us back at the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over.

It may be only the second 20 Milers ride in fifteen months, but it's good to feel that we might just be heading in the direction of some sort of return to normality. Another good ride that seemed to be enjoyed by all. The weather was pleasant, if nothing special; but considerably warmer than in January when this route is usually ridden. Thanks to Alan for leading, finding a way around the roadworks and giving one of the most in depth briefings of all time. Thanks to Mike for back marking. Fingers crossed that this is the 20 Milers back in business.

Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn 

Monday, 6 September 2021

Next ride: Saturday 11 September


It was a pleasure to see many familiar faces on our first post-lockdown ride last month. This was a limited ride with some Covid precautions still in place. In order to keep the numbers manageable, we decided not to publicise it widely. And we made a point of staying out of doors the whole time. Thank you all for your cooperation in that respect.

I am pleased to say that our September ride (details below) will be much more like a normal ride. We are not placing a firm limit on numbers, so feel free to invite your friends. If a large number turn up, we will split into two groups, with ten minutes or so between them. We still encourage you to bring a picnic lunch, but there will be a cafe option for those who prefer.


The ride will take place next Saturday, 11 September. We will meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, near the junction of Lauriston Place, in time for a 10.30 start.

For this ride, our leader, Alan, has plotted an interesting and unusual route through the west of the city. Most of the route is on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads, although there will also be one or two rough paths, as well as a couple of short stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. There will some gentle hills, and one fairly steep climb just before lunch. The total distance will be about 22 miles. Most of the mileage will be in the morning, with a fairly short run home in the afternoon.

Lunch stop

Our lunch stop will be at Craigie's Farm. The cafe there is now open again, but there have been some changes since our last visit. They now only do table service with a reduced menu, and there is a limit on the number of people sitting at each table. This means that the service is likely to be slower than before. For that reason, you may prefer to bring a packed lunch. There are picnic tables outside the cafe.

Covid precautions

Please keep in mind that the pandemic is not yet over. We will continue to maintain a measure of social distancing where possible, even though this is no longer a legal requirement (out of doors). And of course you should not join the ride if you or any members of your household have Covid symptoms, have recently received a positive result from a Covid test or have been told to self-isolate or go into quarantine.

I think that covers everything. I'll look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Saturday.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Back on the road again

After an hiatus of 16 months, it was fantastic to have the 20 Milers rolling again. To see familiar faces and be out riding in a group again was priceless. We headed to Dalkeith Country Park by a less familiar route, overcame a locked gate, and except for the briefest of showers, enjoyed reasonable weather. It felt like a 20 Milers ride should - a much-needed touch of normality after the last year-and-a-half.

All credit to Mike who had meticulously studied the ever changing Covid-19 regulations to see when it may be possible to resume our rides. Following a few false starts, we settled for August. On the assumption that we might get 30 riders, we had two leaders and two backmarkers lined up to deal with two groups. A pleasant day dawned; not too warm, slightly overcast, a light breeze and no rain in the forecast. So it was a bit of a surprise that only 15 riders turned up. Still, only those on the mailing list were invited and the ride wasn't publicised more widely. There were no new faces, but it was great to see familiar ones and catch up.

Following a briefing from the leader, which covered Covid-19 and road safety; for the first time in 16 months, we rolled away from our starting point as a group. The Innocent Railway is currently closed due to danger of rock falls. Yes, a large number of people are using it; but in the interests of everyone's safety we were not going to risk it. This resulted in us taking an interesting and unfamiliar detour via the Grange, Mayfield, Prestonfield and the Peffermill Industrial Estate to re-join the path at Duddingston Road West. As we were leaving the Meadows, we were hit with a brief shower of light rain. The leader stopped so riders could don waterproofs. A few minutes later, the rain was gone and there was no more for the rest of the ride. Back on the familiar route, we made our way to Musselburgh and onwards to Whitecraig. From there we made our way to Dalkeith via NCN 1. Heavy traffic on Dalkeith High Street briefly delayed our entry into Dalkeith Country Park. But once through the gates, we sped downhill to our lunch stop. On the recce a couple of weeks earlier, we had our picnic lunch on the grass beside the orangery. This area was now closed. A quick scout round and we found a grassy area across the road.

Picnic lunch over, we headed past the new Go Ape facility towards the east gate at Smeaton. We were soon brought to a halt by a locked gate across the road. Options were considered including lifting the bikes over; but a couple of heavy electric bikes in the group made that an unappealing option. The possibility of making our way through the cattle pens alongside the road was being explored when a cyclist approached from the opposite side of the gate. She explained she had ridden out that way earlier and with a deft move the gate was open. How had she done it? Although the chain was padlocked, she had noticed a carabiner link which released it easily. As they say, "it's easy when you know how". Well worth remembering when next confronted by a locked gate. We thanked the cyclist, made our way to the park exit and joined the busy A6094 for the short run into Whitecraig. From there, we retraced the morning's outward route. With the exception of a thrown chain (which was quickly sorted), the return leg was trouble-free. At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over.

That was it, the first 20 Milers ride of 2021 was over. An enjoyable ride, bit of less familiar territory, reasonable weather, good lunch stop and a hint of excitement - what more could anyone ask for? And of course, the joy of being back riding socially in good company. Thanks to Mike for leading and Yaz for back marking. Already looking forward to September's ride. Perhaps we'll get a larger turnout.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn 

Monday, 21 June 2021

June 2021 update

It's been a while since our previous blog post, so I thought this would be a good time for an update.

Until recently, we had been hoping that we could resume our rides - albeit on a limited basis - in July or August. As you probably know, Edinburgh was expected to move to Level 0 this month, which would have allowed up to 15 of us to meet for a ride. But that didn't happen.

Right now, we are still in Level 2, which only allows eight people to meet out of doors. Given that our rides typically attract 20 to 30 riders, and that we have 140 names on our mailing list, it would clearly not be feasible to organise a ride on that basis. Nor is there any indication of when we might move down to a lower level. For that reason, I'm afraid I can't hold out much hope of getting back to normal in the next month or so.

I know that some of you are getting together for informal rides in small groups, in line with the regulations. That's good to know.

Be assured that we are watching the situation, and that we will resume our rides as soon as we can safely and legally do so.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Covid-19 update

This post is to explain why we feel that we are still not ready to resume our rides. I am posting this after discussing the matter with several of our regular riders.

The current government guidelines impose a maximum of 15 people from up to five households when meeting out of doors. Since almost all our riders join us as individuals (rather than as married couples or in family groups), in practice that means a limit of five people on a ride, which means four riders plus the leader.

Clearly it would not be feasible to organise anything like our usual 20-Milers outings on that basis.

The guidelines do permit organised "sports" to take place out of doors in groups of up to 30 people from an unlimited number of households. This applies to events organised as part of a "club activity", delivered by a "qualified coach or leader" and overseen by a Covid-19 coordinator.  There are requirements for collecting contact details and preparing a risk assessment.

We have considered running a ride on that basis, but decided against it, partly because of the time and effort involved in setting it all up, and partly because we felt it would go against the ethos of the 20-Milers, which is to meet up for friendly rides without any formalities.

Some of you have asked why we don't set up a booking system for our rides. The reason is that we have around 140 names on our mailing list. Even if half of these are inactive or have gone away, that still leaves around 70 people to be circulated each month, 70 emails to send out, potentially 70 replies to deal with, not to mention having to deal with waiting lists, last-minute changes or cancellations, and so on. That is simply too much effort for no clear benefit.

In view of all of the above, I'm afraid I can't hold out too much hope of our rides resuming in the near future. I know how much we all enjoy the rides, and I miss them as much as everyone else. I can only hope that you are still managing to get out on your bike, either on your own or in small groups of family or friends.