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Saturday, 14 March 2015

A record turnout

Who would have thought that a dry but chilly and overcast March day would have resulted in an all-time record turnout for a 20 Milers ride? The previous record turnout of 38 in June 2013 was beaten as 43 turned up for today's ride. Other Edinburgh cycle groups must be wondering how we do it. There's no secret formula. We simply arrange interesting rides with good company and make sure everyone feels welcome. The unsung heros of the group are those that put in the effort behind the scenes planning and recce-ing the routes and deciding on suitable lunch stops to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day.

You could see the leader, Michael's jaw drop as more and more riders arrived. We split into the customary two groups and headed down to cross the canal at the Leamington bridge, before carrying on down through the Telfer subway. Russell Road was closed to traffic for bridge repairs; but fortunately not to cyclists. We pressed on through Roseburn Park and past Murrayfield Stadium to join the Water of Leith path which we stayed on until Curriehill. The leading five of the second group missed the turning and ended up in Balerno, whilst the remainder of the group were paying attention and took the correct turning. A minor detour via the busy Lanark Road West got them back on the right route and we all headed into the back entrance of the Heriot Watt Riccarton campus for our lunch stop.

The large canteen was ideal for accomodating such a large group. In addition to getting lunch, the group met up with 20 Milers regular Livia and 3 month old baby Matthew who was presented with a teddy bear (almost as big as him) wearing a 20 Milers tee shirt. The 20 Milers main man, Mike Lewis was also presented with a card from the group in recognition of his 70th birthday. Happy birthday Mike. Suitably refreshed, the group said "goodbye" to Livia and Matthew and set off towards Edinburgh Park. We went past the lochs and busts of poets and onwards towards the Gyle shopping centre. As we made our way through the busy car park, we were relieved to be cycling rather than shopping on a Saturday afternoon. We carried on past South Gyle station, through Broomhouse, past the back of the Forestry Commission headquarters and onto the cycle path skirting Carrick Knowe golf course. This took us back to Murrayfield and we returned to the start by the same route we had headed out on earlier.

Considering the record turnout, the ride went smoothly. The only mechanical issue of the day was a thrown chain which was quickly fixed. Leading a large group is quite a challenge. So all credit to Michael on a job well done. I wonder how long until this record is broken?

Leader: Michael Law
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael and Glenn
Trace: Jim


Sunday, 8 March 2015

March ride this coming Saturday

Our March ride will be this coming Saturday (14th). Michael (Law) will be leading us out of town along the Water of Leith, returning by way of Hermiston, the Gyle and Roseburn. This promises to be a pleasant run, with just a few moderate hills and one or two rough paths. The total distance should be about 22 miles.

For lunch, we'll stop at the Heriot-Watt campus, where there is a useful cafeteria as well as seating for those who bring their own food.

As always, we'll set out at 10.30 from the top of Middle Meadow Walk. Remember, there's no need to let us know in advance if you will be coming. Just turn up on the day.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Our next cycling weekend: Peebles in May

By Glenn Brearley

The 2015 20-Milers cycling weekend will be to Peebles on 16th - 17th May.

We'll leave Edinburgh on the Saturday morning and head to Peebles via Gladhouse Reservoir, Eddleston, the Meldons and Lyne Station. We'll  stay overnight (all meet up for dinner) in Peebles and return to Edinburgh on the Sunday via Innerleithen and Middleton.

The pace will be similar to a usual 20-Milers rides. The distance each day will be about 40 miles.

You will need to book your own accommodation. It's very likely that we'll end up in several different hotels / guest houses / bed &  breakfasts. A quick on-line search suggests that you should expect to pay about £50.00 each for accommodation. You may be able to find  somewhere cheaper or more expensive. Some may want to have a single room, whilst others will be happy to share.

I'm after an idea of how many might be interested in joining this ride. Please let me know if you are interested. This does not commit you to going. But I do need to know if there is sufficient interest in order for the trip to go ahead.

Please reply to me,  Glenn Brearley, at Glenn.BrearleyATTforestry.gsi.gov.uk. (Replace ATT by the usual at-sign.).

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Valentine's Day ride through the mist

The February 20 Milers began in murky and misty conditions. The weather forecast suggested that it would have cleared somewhat by lunchtime. This was not the case and peering through the gloom with lights on was the order of the day. There would have been some fine views, but they remained hidden in the mist. It was a pleasant change not having to worry about ice. Although it was milder than of late, the damp and misty weather made it feel colder than expected.

It was good to see a few new faces along with a recumbent rider that had not ridden with the group for several months. We set off with 26 riders split into two groups. Arriving at the canal, it was one of those rare occasions when the Leamington Bridge was raised. Most carried their bikes up the steps, whilst a few (including the recumbent rider) opted to ride down to the canal basin and up the other side.

We pressed on alongside the canal through Wester Hailes. On leaving the canal towpath to make towards the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ; the second group had a pleasant surprise. The first group had left them some heart-shaped chocolates on the barrier beside the path. Having polished off these surprise treats; one of the riders passed round some delicious homemade heart-shaped biscuits she had brought along. On past the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ, over the bridge and down the lovely sweeping path that brought us out beside the A8 and on beyond Gogar Roundabout. Along Turnhouse Road and onwards to whizz down Cammo Walk. We carried on making our way eventually to the steep climb up the road to Craigie Farm for a well-deserved lunch stop. During the course of the morning, the five minute gap between the two groups had increased considerably. As a result, a few minutes after the second group arrived, the first group headed off. On the run back into town, both groups suffered more punctures in addition to having to take a diversion through the Dalmeny Estate whilst NCN1 is closed for widening and resurfacing. Once the diversion had been navigated, it was back onto familiar territory and the run back to the start via Cramond Bridge, Barnton, Roseburn Path, Dalry, the Telfer subway and the canal.

Leader: Alan Orr
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Trace: Jim

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Four seasons in one day in north Edinburgh

Any hopes of a record turnout for the first 20 Milers ride of 2015 seemed to have been dashed by the previous night's strong winds and heavy rain. The forecast for more strong winds and the possibility of snow was not appealing. After an unpromising start, we managed to muster a total of 20, including several new faces

Before we had reached the canal at Leamington Bridge, the group had been buffeted by several strong gusts of wind, one of which blew a rider clean off her bike, fortunately without injury. The weather settled down for a while. Having crossed the tram tracks at Haymarket without incident, we stopped to regroup. At this point the sky went very dark and we were battered by a heavy shower of stinging sleet as we made our way towards the Roseburn Path and on to Silverknowes.

By the time we reached Silverknowes Esplanade the sun was shining down from a cloudless blue sky. This had all the makings of a typical Edinburgh four seasons in one day type of day, except it never got warm. The group had gradually become more and more spread out.

There were now two groups. We had already decided to abandon plans to go along the Western Harbour Breakwater near Newhaven Harbour as it was very exposed and we didn't fancy getting blown into the Forth. The first group stuck quite rigidly to the agreed route. But they were forced to take a diversion due to a path closure. This led them across a wet and slippery wooden boardwalk which resulted in a faller; fortunately without injury. The second group were somewhat lax in sticking to the agreed route and managed to arrive at the lunch stop in Leith first. We split between two venues for lunch.

Suitably warmed and fed, the two groups became one again as we headed back towards town via Portobello, the Magdalenes and the Innocent Railway. The skies became very grey and we finished the ride through sleety snow. Our only respite from it being our ride through the Innocent Tunnel.

Thanks to Mike for leading us on an interesting first ride of 2015; one which could so easily have fallen victim to the weather. Although the weather was far from ideal, it was considerably better than the forecast had suggested.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Trace: Jim

Friday, 9 January 2015

Andy Hunter, 1954 - 2015

I am sorry to report that one of our long-standing members, Andy Hunter, has died at the age of 60.

Andy was a well-known member of the Edinburgh cycling community. He often led our 20-Milers rides, the most recent one being just last month, when he took us on a tour of south Edinburgh, serving mulled wine at the rest stops.

He was an active member of Spokes, and had recently started leading rides for Ageing Well. He organised an annual bike ride for his church, and feeder rides for Pedal on Parliament. As the founder of Storybikes, he combined his love of cycling with his role as a professional story teller, organising cycling tours of Scotland for visitors from around the world. His story-telling reached audiences on BBC radio, at the Edinburgh Book Festival, and at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

I don't have much information about the circumstances of Andy's death. According to a report in the Herald, Andy was in England at the time, cycling to a friend's funeral in Herefordshire. His body was found alongside his bike at the side of the road in the village of Michaelchurch Escley. I understand there were no other vehicles involved and no suspicious circumstances. A post-mortem was carried out, and this showed that he died of a heart attack.

There will be a funeral service for Andy on 23rd January at 11am in Polwarth Parish Church, then at Mortonhall Cemetery.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

First ride of 2015 this coming Saturday

For Saturday's ride, we'll be heading north to Silverknowes, then following the waterfront towards Portobello, visiting the harbours at Granton, Newhaven and Leith along the way. The total distance will be about 21 miles. Most of the route will be on tarmac, and it will include a couple of stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. There'll be a few moderate hills.

For lunch, we'll stop at the Shore in Leith, where there are several cafés to choose from, plus benches for those of us who prefer to bring a picnic.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to leave at 10.30. The ride is planned to finish at the Meadows between about 15.00 and 16.00. Sunset is at 16.05 that day, so you will probably need lights to see you home.

As always, the above route information should be regarded as provisional. On all our rides, we might change the route or destination (but not the meeting place or time) at the last minute, according to the weather or other factors.