EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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Saturday, 24 June 2017

A windy sojourn to Linlithgow


For the second 20 Milers Extra outing of the year we headed into West Lothian to the historic town of Linlithgow. It was a cool day with a much stronger wind than expected in late June. Battling into the wind heading out did mean that it helped blow us home. We may have been home in record time had it not been for some stiff climbs. One rider was glad he had opted to bring his electric bike; whilst another was delighted that he helped push her up the steeper parts! A good turnout of 22 riders, with a few new faces rolled away from the start point at Craigleith. It was lovely to see our leader for today, Julia, riding the late Logan Strang's bike. The very familiar route through Barnton, over the Cramond Bridge, the path beside the A90 and Dalmeney soon had us in South Queensferry despite the headwind. Following a comfort stop in the town, we were on our way again. One of our regulars suffered a puncture at this stage. What should have been a quick and easy fix was compounded by not one, but two faulty inner tubes. This was obviously going to take longer than expected. It was agreed that the victim and one other would fix the puncture and meet us in Linlithgow for lunch. It was not a day for standing around. Having got quite cool waiting, it was a relief for the main group to be moving again. We headed out through the Hopetoun Estate. To everyone's delight, the irritating gate that used to take ages to get anything other than a very small group through had finally been replaced by something much more user-friendly. This replacement was long overdue, but most welcome.
Leaving the estate behind, a mixture of paths, quiet roads and a path alongside a busy road led us to Philipstoun. Whilst crossing a busy road at a blind bend, someone shouted "car!" so loudly that a couple of rides fell over and landed in a heap in the middle of the road. Fortunately, the car stopped, the riders picked themselves up, brushed themselves down - the drama was over and we were on our way again. Across a lovely hump-back bridge, a right turn and we were on the towpath beside the Union Canal. This path led us to Linlithgow and our lunch stop. In the square at the bottom of the hill that led up to Linlithgow Palace, it felt quite cool and windy. As a result, most of the group headed off to various cafes. Only four brave souls made their way up the hill to the palace for a picnic lunch. Surprisingly, it was less windy and much warmer there. For a short time the sun came out and the picnicers enjoyed what would be the warmest part of the day.

After lunch, we regrouped in the square and retraced our route to the canal. The two missing riders were now back with us. There were a few puzzled faces as we headed west! Not to worry - the leader knew exactly what she was doing. It was a great relief to have the wind behind us. Before long we were on the climb up to Ochiltree Castle. We had been warned to expect a stiff climb; but it still took many by surprise and the group was soon quite spread out. It was on this stretch that the rider on the electric bike was able to [quite literally] lend a helping hand and push another rider towards the top. Another rider had told us earlier that she had seen a fantastic T-shirt slogan that read, "It's a hill - get over it". So that's what the group did. There were a few moans when we thought we had reached the summit, only to find a further climb around the next corner. Eventually it was all behind us and a pleasant run on a high level road followed before heading gently downhill all the way to Niddry Castle and Kirkliston. A comfort stop was planned at Kirkliston Leisure Centre. Unfortunately, it was closed. So to any bystanders, a group of cyclists rode into the car park, did a circuit and left. We rode through Kirkliston and joined the cycle path for a pleasant ride through the trees before heading onto the road towards Burnshot Bridge. There we had to navigate through the roadworks, nip through the underpass and we were on our way back to Cramond Bridge and onwards to Craigleith. Thanks to Julia for leading us on an interesting (and at times challenging) ride out to Linlithgow.

Leader: Julia
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Monday, 19 June 2017

20-Milers Extra this weekend



Our second Extra of the year will take place this coming Saturday (24th).

Julia (Richardson) will be taking us to Linlithgow. For the outward run, we'll head out to South Queensferry, the Hopetoun Estate and the village of Philpstoun, ending with a stretch along the canal and into the town. After lunch, we'll have a stiff climb up to Ochiltree Castle, but this will be followed by a delightful high-level run on a quiet road heading gently downhill all the way to Niddry Castle and Kirkliston. Apart from one short stretch on a main road, the entire route looks very pleasant.

For lunch, we'll head for the grounds of Linlithgow Palace for a picnic (we'll pause in South Queensferry for anyone who wants to buy a sandwich on the way out). For those who prefer a hot lunch, there are several cafés around the main square. Toilets are available in the nearby Burgh Halls.

Distance and pace

The total distance will be about 35 miles. As always with our Extra rides, we'll be cycling somewhat faster than our usual 20-Milers pace and with fewer breaks. Please keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to join this ride.

Time and place

Our meeting point will be the Sustrans marker at the Craigleith path junction (see http://20milers.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/how-to-find-our-craigleith-meeting-point.html if you need directions). Please be ready to leave at 10.00.

There's no need to book in advance for this ride. As usual, just turn up on the day.

Other news

Our Thursday evening rides are continuing through the summer. As this coming Thursday (22nd) is very nearly the longest day of the year, we will be having our traditional summer solstice run, where we visit some unusual places of interest around the city centre and enjoy the panoramic view from Calton Hill. For more information, see http://20milers.pbworks.com/w/page/117130077/FrontPage.

Finally, one of our regular riders, Jenny Tizard, has just completed an impressive ride up the length of Scotland: 515 miles from Gretna Green to John o'Groats. She completed the run in ten days, mainly cycling alone. Jenny has now written an entertaining account of the ride, accompanied by some superb photos. You can see it at http://neverkissamaninacanoe.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/gretna-green-to-john-ogroats.html.

That's all for now. Enjoy your cycling.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Craigie Caper



When I woke up this morning the rain was pounding on the window panes. And the forecast promised more relentless rain throughout the morning. Pessimistically, I donned my waterproofs and set out for Middle Meadow Walk. But such are the uncertainties of Scottish weather. By the time I arrived, the downpour had turned into a light drizzle. An hour into the ride it had stopped, and by lunchtime we were sitting in the sun with the temperature in the twenties.

Despite the poor weather at the start, 22 people turned up for the ride – a very satisfactory number. There were several newcomers, including some graduates from Cycling for Softies and EasyCycle – all very welcome.

After the customary briefing, David, our leader for the day, took us down to the Leamington lift bridge and on to Roseburn Park and Murrayfield. We picked up Quiet Route 9 through Corstorphine and the Gyle, then took the lochside path through Edinburgh Park. After passing through a new underpass below the main Glasgow Road (see photo), we paused for our first break of the day at the gleaming new Edinburgh Gateway station. Our leader, who was fresh off the plane from a business trip to India, produced some interesting sweetmeats purchased in Bangalore. I'm not sure what they consisted of, but they were definitely edible.


The next section of the ride took us north along Cammo Way, into Cammo Country Park and across the delightful Grotto Bridge. This is a beautiful spot, with the fast-flowing Almond gushing through a deep tree-lined valley and not a building or road in sight.

By complete contrast, we then approached the busy Queensferry Road. This is the spot where, because of the closure of the Burnshot Bridge, cyclists (and pedestrians) are obliged to use a coned-off lane of the dual carriageway. On our last ride, despite a strict admonition from the leader to stay as close to the verge as possible, one of the party ventured onto the wrong side of the cones and, sheep-like, half the group followed, despite cars speeding past inches away and other cyclists coming towards them. Obviously, the authorities had taken note of this flagrant transgression. Today, the lane in question was guarded by a solid metal barrier keeping us cyclists well and truly where we belong.

Once safely off the dual carriageway, we quickly tackled the only serious climb of the day and were soon taking our ease on the sunny terrace of Craigie's Farm, where luncheon was served.

For the afternoon leg, we went down the far side of Craigie Hill and back across the Queensferry Road to join NCN 1. We pedalled about half a mile north, then through the Chapel Gate for a circuit of the Dalmeny Estate. We re-joined NCN 1 at Burnshot, then headed back to town via Cramond Brig and Barnton. By the time we passed Roseburn, people started to peel off, with the remnant of the group making it back to the Meadows with time to spare for a coffee. At 23 miles, it was a very satisfactory ride with some interesting new sections and plenty of variety – not to mention the satisfaction of confounding the weather forecast.

Leader and map trace: David
Report: Mike
Photos: Michael


Monday, 5 June 2017

Rides in June


We've got two rides planned for the month ahead.

On this coming Saturday (10th), David will be leading us on what promises to be a very interesting tour of bike paths to the west of the city, taking in the Dalmeny Estate, Cammo Park and the western reaches of the Gyle - including a chance to see the brand new Edinburgh Gateway station.

For lunch, we'll stop at one of our most popular venues: Craigie's Farm. This is a very nice café with a good choice of meals and snacks and plenty of space - including picnic tables outside for those who like to eat al fresco.

The total distance will be about 22 miles, mainly on good surfaces. There will be a steep climb just before lunch and a few other moderate hills, but no other particular difficulties.

We'll set out at 10.30 from our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As always, just turn up on the day; no need to tell anyone in advance that you are coming.

St Andrews ride on the 17th

Several members of our group will again be tackling the Edinburgh - St Andrews run this year. If you would like to join them, meet near the "6 - 7 Hours" flag in Inverleith Park. It's not too late to register for the ride; you can even do that on the day (but you will need to arrive about 20 minutes early to do so).

For more information about the event,see http://www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk/lepra-ride.htm.

20-Milers Extra on the 24th

For our second Extra of the season, Julia will be leading, with a route provisionally planned for Linlithgow. I'll post more information nearer the time.

A reminder

Finally I'll take this opportunity to remind you always to bring a spare inner tube on our rides if at all possible, as this makes life a lot easier if a puncture strikes. If you don't know what size or type of tube to bring, your favourite bike shop will advise. It's also helpful if you could bring whatever tools are needed to remove your wheel if it doesn't have a quick-release hub (most modern bikes do).

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Turned out nice again. Well, almost.


Following two days of glorious summer weather, today's opening 20 Milers Extra ride of the year looked set to continue the trend. The day dawned warm, bright and sunny. Alas, the forecast suggested something different later on. The promise of a heavy thundery downpour complete with hail around lunchtime did not bode well for the planned picnic lunch in Almondell & Calderwood Country Park. In the end we got to enjoy our picnic lunch in the dry. There was a bit of rain, but nothing like as bad as suggested. The weather of the previous two days and the lovely start to today resulted in a respectable 18 riders making the start. The leader had made it clear that the ride would begin at 1015 sharp, and it did. But riders finishing coffee and faffing about meant the ride was in disarray from the start. The one group that left the Craigleith start point was not back together as one unit until we reached the bridge at Cramond. A short distance up the A90 sliproad and we crossed to go through the subway. This detour was necessary due to the closure of the Burnshot Bridge. We found ourselves on the diverted route for cyclists and pedestrians. This consisted of a narrow track seperated from the fast moving traffic on the A90 by nothing more than cones and rope. It was a relief to ride up the slip road and follow the road to Kirkliston for a comfort stop at the leisure centre. We left the main road behind heading under a bridge carrying the M9 motorway. Beside a much older bridge, we were faced with a steep climb to join the railway path. A couple of hardy souls rode up it, whilst the rest of us got off and pushed. A short while later we joined the canal towpath to Broxburn before getting on the road to Uphall. Off road again and we were in lovely West Lothian countryside.
We paused atop the Camps Viaduct to admire the view and take photos. With the weather still on our side, we pressed on towards lunch. Probably the best kept secret in West Lothian, Almondell & Calderwood Country Park is tucked out of sight in the valley of the River Almond between Broxburn and East Calder. Behind the converted stable block house that is now the visitor centre lies a delightful garden complete with benches and picnic tables. That is where we enjoyed a picnic lunch. It remained warm but the sun was hidden by cloud.

Lunch over, the first spots of rain were felt. There then began that silly indecisive dance. Shall we or shall we not put on our waterproofs? Some said it would make them too warm, some put them on, others copied what the person beside them did. We climbed the hill we had earlier whizzed down back to the entrance and the main road. It soon began to rain heavily and riders stopped to don waterproofs. Then it stopped raining. Some removed them, whilst others kept them on. It looked set to be "one of those days". We pressed on accompanied by changeable weather. Although annoying, the rain was not that heavy and continued to come and go. At the Bridge Inn at Ratho we joined the canal towpath and headed towards Edinburgh. We passed the lovely little Ratho Marina and stayed on the canal as far as Gogar Station Road. Leaving the canal behind we cut through to Edinburgh Park and the Gyle. Onwards through Broomhouse, we rode past Murrayfield where a couple of cricket matches were in full swing. At the bottom of the zig zags leading onto the Roseburn Path, the leader declared the ride over and we headed off in different directions. Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting ride out into West Lothian. Thanks to the weather for failing to live up to expectations - intermittent light rain was as bad as it got.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim



Monday, 22 May 2017

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday


The Camps Viaduct. On Saturday's ride we will be cycling
over the top of this imposing structure.
This coming Saturday (27th) sees the first of our Extra rides of the summer. We'll be heading west, passing through Kirkliston, Broxburn and Uphall, then crossing the magnificent Camps Viaduct (75 feet above the River Almond) before returning to town by way of Bonnington and Ratho. Most of the route will be on quiet back roads, but there will also be a couple of stretches on the canal towpath (reasonably good surfaces) and about a mile or so on a narrow path that might be rough in places. There will be a few hills, but nothing too demanding.

Distance and pace

Please keep in mind that our Extra rides are longer than our usual runs and go at a faster pace with fewer breaks. This one will be 35 - 38 miles. If you find our normal rides well within your comfort zone, you should have no difficulties with this one. But if that's not the case, you might prefer to give this one a miss. Try a few shorter rides first, then come back when your fitness level improves (we have several more Extras planned for the coming months).

Despite the faster pace, we will still try to keep the ride "sociable", with our customary friendly atmosphere.

Lunch venue

We will have our lunch break in the beautiful Almondell Country Park. Note that there is no catering of any kind in the park, apart from the visitor centre which sells vending-machine drinks and a limited range of confectionery, so be sure to bring food for a picnic lunch. There are toilets in the park (and we will have an additional comfort break mid morning.)

The ride and picnic lunch will go ahead as planned even if the weather is poor. A light drizzle or gusty wind won't put us off. But if conditions are really atrocious, we might choose a shorter route and a café for lunch.

Meeting time and place

Regardless of the weather, the ride will start from the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions).

Please gather at the meeting point from about 10.00, and be ready to leave at 10.15 sharp.

We will probably be back in town around 16.00. We won't necessarily return to Craigleith; we will probably pass Murrayfield, Roseburn Park and the southern end of the Roseburn Path on the return leg.

I hope to see you either this coming Saturday or one of our other rides.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Eight out, two back – a damp weekend to Perth


The fourth annual 20 Milers weekend away saw us head north to the fair city of Perth. What turned out to be a damp, and at times downright wet and blustery weekend saw eight set out on Saturday morning. But only two rolled back into Edinburgh in the early evening sunshine on Sunday. Whilst that may seem like a terrible rate of attrition, it wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds.

On a cool damp Saturday morning, a mere eight riders met at the Craigleith marker to begin our journey to Perth. No doubt the weather played a big part, but this was the lowest turnout since our weekend away rides began in 2014. With us all in waterproofs, we headed off along the familiar path towards South Queensferry and the Forth Bridge. One of the group fell courtesy of an uneven drop kerb at Dalmeny. Fortunately, no injury or damage occurred and we carried on through the new housing estate. As we got closer to the bridge we stopped to speak to an old lady walking her dog. She told us she thought the bridge was closed to cyclists as a result of kestrel damage! On arriving at the bridge, we discovered this was not the case. But it certainly made us smile and cropped up in the conversation a number of times over the weekend. Our concern at the bridge was the chaos caused by the roadworks. We are so used to quickly and smoothly making our way to the foot and cycleway on the eastside of the bridge. But not today. We had to negotiate our way to the westside before we could begin our crossing. Once across we were confronted with miles of cones, rope and strange door frames at crossing points. There was one benefit. The usually horribly busy road into Inverkeithing was as quiet as most of us had ever seen it. We left Inverkeithing behind us and headed towards Dalgety Bay. From there we found ourselves on the B901 Clocklunie Road – not Clock-the-loony as some on the group had christened it. This was a steep road that went down into the valley before climbing out at the far side.
Being a busy and narrow road meant we were delighted to see a lovely wide, well surfaced cycle path running alongside. Two brave souls wanted to whizz down the road and see how far up the other side their momentum would carry them. The rest of the group took the path not caring that a gateway at the bottom would scupper any chance of that. It was great zooming down; but it was very hard work going up the other side. We then pressed on through Crossgates, Cowdenbeath and on to Kinross. In Kinross it began to rain heavily. Fortunately, our lunchstop, the Muirs Inn emerged from the gloom and we rushed inside. The rain continued as we enjoyed a lovely lunch. We didn’t rush. One of the group had been checking train times and urged us to get a move on so he could make Perth in time for his train back to Edinburgh. Well, it was time to get moving and the rain had stopped. We made our way through Milnathort and turned left up a minor road towards Netherton. A sign told us this road was closed, but fortunately we were able to get through. On this road about ten horses decided to gallop up and down their field for a few minutes. Perhaps they didn’t get to see many cyclists. We passed through Colliston, Drunzie, Duncrevie and Glenfarg. Near Dron we found ourselves on a beautiful long descent. It may have been a minor road, but the curves were gentle and the surface smooth and free of the dreaded gravel. Some reported hitting 40 mph here. Then came the cloud burst. There was no shelter on this stretch. We had agreed to regroup beneath a bridge that carries the M90 motorway. There was plenty of room under the bridge. It looked as if the weather had set in for the day. We anticipated it being like that all the way to Perth. The rider who wanted to catch his train realised he would make better progress alone, so left us and headed out into the rain. Astonishingly, a few minutes later the rain stopped and the sun made its first appearance of the day, and that’s how it stayed as we made our way into Perth. One rider headed off to meet their lift home, whilst three piled into a strategically parked van for their return to Edinburgh. And then there were three. We made our way to our overnight accommodation, enjoyed the luxury of a hot shower and change of clothes before meeting up for dinner. Obviously, dinner was less lively than in previous years due to depleted numbers.

On Sunday morning, the three remaining riders met beside the main road bridge across the Tay to begin our journey back to Edinburgh. It was dry, bright but cloudy and a touch cool. We retraced our route from the previous day. With the beautiful steep descent near Dron now ahead of us as a most foreboding climb, the leader turned left on to a flat road. Phew! This quiet road led us to the A912. We headed south on this fast twisty road keeping in single file. There was some traffic, but being a Sunday morning it was not overly busy. This led us to our morning coffee stop at the delightful, friendly and welcoming Bein Inn. From there we went through Glenfarg, Duncreavie, Drunzie and Milnathort before arriving at Loch Leven Larder for lunch. The café there looked very nice. But the “you’ll have to wait at least 20 minutes for a table” did not appeal. We got some food from the deli and sat outside, but under cover as it was now raining. In a field closer to Loch Leven a cricket match continued despite the rain. At this point one of the group left us to head to Cowdenbeath for a train back to Edinburgh. And then there were two. We headed down to the loch. A lovely path and fine views should have made this part of the ride lovely. But there was a drawback – the swarms of flies and midges. It began to make sense why so many cyclists heading towards us had their faces covered as if they were on their way to rob a bank. On leaving the lochside and getting back on the road the wind got up. This annoying headwind did not seem to let up until we were back in Edinburgh. This headwind and some dull featureless roads made parts of our journey out of Fife something of a slog at times. At Dalgety Bay the leader suffered the first puncture of the weekend. He told the writer to go on. That wasn’t going to happen. The 20 Milers ethos has always been that we stick together. No one ever gets left on their own.  Puncture fixed and we were rolling again. Once more we threaded our way through the maze of roadworks to get onto the Forth Bridge. Thanks to the strong headwind, climbing to the highest point on the bridge felt like climbing a mountain. Eventually we got across. Not a kestrel in sight. From there familiar roads and paths took us back to the Cramond Brig Hotel for a well-deserved pint. We sat outside the pub in the early evening sunshine and shed our jackets for the first time all weekend. From there we returned to Craigleith where the ride was officially closed, and the final two headed home in opposite directions.

The weekend had been tough at times. Not Peebles tough, but no easy amble. There had been stretchs on some busy roads; but that was balanced by some lovely quiet lanes. Some of the climbs were tough, but going from Edinburgh to Perth – there are hills in between. Think of them as a challenge. Remember, there is no shame in walking up the steepest ones. Sometimes its quicker and easier than riding them! A big thanks must go to Jim for all the effort he put in to planning, recceing and leading the ride. Going out on his own recceing the route in the winter months deserves a mention in despatches, if not a medal.

Leader: Jim
Organiser: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn and Graham
Map trace: Jim