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Monday, 8 August 2022

Two rides for August


We've got two rides in the pipeline for the next couple of weeks: one short and one long. Here are the details.

Saturday 13 August: Southern outskirts

For this coming Saturday, Alison will be leading us on an attractive route through the southern outskirts of the city. Our route will include the Cockmylane path, the old village of Swanston, the Winton Estate and Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park.

The mileage will be a little less than the nominal twenty miles. But be warned that there will be several hills, including a couple of fairly steep ones. There will also be several stretches on rough tracks. But we will take these difficulties at our usual steady pace, and cheerfully wait for stragglers.

Our lunch stop will be in the Mortonhall Estate, This is a good spot for a picnic, so feel free to bring a packed lunch. Toilets are available in the garden centre. If you prefer to eat indoors, the Topiary Restaurant offers a good selection of soup, sandwiches and light meals.

The ride will start at our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We will set out at 10:30, and aim to arrive back at the Meadows around mid-afternoon.

Saturday 20 August: East Lothian

The following Saturday will see our third Extra of the season. These rides are faster than our usual "second Saturday" runs and have fewer stops. For this run, we will meet in Musselburgh, then head into East Lothian, with a lunch stop at the Merryhatton garden centre. The round trip distance from Musselburgh will be 36 miles (but keep in mind that Musselburgh is about seven miles from the city centre, so if you are starting from town, your total distance will be closer to 50 miles).

I'll post more details of this ride's meeting time and place, route and lunch arrangements early next week.

Please keep in mind ...

... that any information that we circulate in advance about any of our rides should be regarded as provisional. We occasionally need to make last-minute changes to the route or the lunch arrangements according to conditions on the day and other factors. However, the meeting time and place will always remain as advertised.

That's all for now. I hope to see you on one or more of our rides.

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Across the water to Fife

Our second 20 Milers Extra ride of the year saw us head across the water to Fife. Following a week which saw the record for the warmest day in Scotland broken, we were expecting good weather. We had a bit of drizzle at the lunch stop and it was pleasantly warm; but it was nothing compared to the stifling heat seen earlier in the week. Good summer cycling weather.

A reasonable turnout of 18 riders listened to the leader's customary route and safety briefing before we headed off from Craigleith towards Silverknowes. The familiar route took us through Barnton and on to our obligatory pause at Cramond Brig. From there NCN 1 took us up the path beside the A90 to the Dalmeny estate's Chapel Gate, where we crossed the B924 and headed to Dalmeny village. Through the new housing development and more of South Queensferry's quiet back streets saw us emerge at the Forth Bridges viewing area for a comfort stop. The foot and cycle path on the east side of the Forth Road Bridge is currently closed. As a result, we had to go down and up the service road to get onto the west side. Crossing the bridge, there was little wind, it was pleasantly warm and far below, there was barely a ripple on the water. Not surprisingly, several rides commented on how there remains a magical quality to crossing the bridge - no matter how many times you've done it before.

One rider was delayed when their chain came off on the bridge. The group waited, and we were soon back together and on the good cycle path leading towards Rosyth. Unfortunately, it finishes abruptly forcing riders onto the B981. It's a narrow, twisting road with blind brows. Add to that several psychopathic drivers, and this was the least enjoyable part of the whole route. Leaving that nasty stretch of road behind, Hilton Road took us past the MOD Caledonia military base. There followed a mile on the busy A985 Admiralty Road. The leader had warned us about this road at the briefing. But with it being a wide, flat, straight road and having considerate drivers on it, there were no problems. A left at the roundabout, along Bankholm Brae and Grange Road, left at the traffic lights and we arrived at the entrance to Dunfermline's Pittencrief Park. Up the hill through the park to the Glen Pavillion, and we were at our lunch stop. Some riders headed for the cafe, others sat on the grass to eat their picnics, whilst a few bagged a picnic table under the trees.

There was some light drizzle as we finished our lunch and began our return leg; but it soon petered out. With one exception, our return saw us retrace our outward route. The exception being when Dawn led us on a path off the busy A985 across a field, and through an housing estate. This took us into Rosyth avoiding a section of the busy main road. Unfortunately, we still had to endure the unpleasant B981 and an even more psychopathic driver. Pleased to have survived that stretch of road unscathed, the remainder of the homeward route passed without incident until we were almost back at Craigleith. On the final stretch of the cycle path, a wobble or lapse of concentration led to two of the group colliding and ending up on the deck. Others helped them untangle themselves. Fortunately, there was no damage or injury, so we continued back to the start where the leader declared the ride officially over.

Thanks to Alan for leading us on an interesting ride which was enjoyed by all, and thanks to Dawn for leading us on the detour on the way back. If only we could find an alternative to the B891 - there's a challenge before our next excursion to Dunfermline.

Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday, 18 July 2022

20-Milers Extra to Dunfermline this coming Saturday

We've got the second of this year's Extra rides coming up on Saturday (23rd). Alan will be leading us on an excursion over the Forth Road Bridge and into Fife, with a lunch stop in Dunfermline. The route will be on a variety of roads and paths, and that includes a couple of stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. The total distance will be about 35 miles.

As you might know, Dunfermline was built on high ground. That means that there will be some long-ish climbs in the morning, and some nice free-wheeling after lunch - but no real killers.

Please remember that these Extras go at a somewhat faster pace than our normal rides, with fewer stops. They are suitable for those of our riders who find our usual runs well within their capabilities. Those who are less fit or who haven't cycled for a while will probably prefer to skip this one.

Lunch arrangements

Our lunch stop will be in the delightful Pittencrieff Park in the centre of Dunfermline. This is an ideal spot for a picnic, so either bring some lunch with you or aim to pick up a sandwich at the nearby Tesco. There's also a cafe in the park that serves a good range of snacks and hot drinks.

Meeting time and place

For this ride, we'll meet at the Sustrans marker at the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions). Please aim to get there in time to leave promptly at 10:15.

As always, please bring a spare inner tube in case you are hit by a puncture, as well as whatever tools you need (if any) to remove your wheels. And given the current hot weather, be sure to bring plenty to drink, to avoid dehydration.

I hope to see you on Saturday. If you can't make it (and even if you can), our next standard 20-miler ride will be on 13 August.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

Three reservoirs and plenty of sun

If today wasn't the warmest day of the year, it must have been very close. Our ride saw us head up to Harlaw Reservoir in the Pentland Hills. We had a slight delay due to a mechanical issue early on, and there was a minor incident with some cows. But overall an interesting route and glorious scenery made for a great day out, with the leader receiving numerous compliments at the end.

We had a reasonable turnout of 21 riders. Amongst the regulars there were a couple of new faces and a rider we hadn't seen since pre-Covid days. It was already pleasantly warm with the sun shining down from a blue sky, with a gentle breeze as the leader gave the customary briefing. With the briefing over, we headed off to the Leamington Bridge. A rider was having a mechanical issue. Quick as a flash, Alan was there to help. A quick adjustment and we were on our way. Unfortunately, the issue wasn't cured, so another stop ensued. This time the tools came out and the delay was longer. As this occurred at the back, the leader and rest of the group were oblivious and pushed on. Stopping to regroup at the entrance to Roseburn Park, the leader was informed of the situation. After a wait and a phone call, the missing riders appeared and we set off to Edinburgh Park via Broomhall and South Gyle. Travelling in the opposite direction to usual, we took the familiar route to the Heriot Watt University campus where we stopped for a comfort break. Leaving the campus behind, we made our way through Riccarton and Currie, emerging from the new housing estate for a short stretch on the busy Lanark Road West. Leaving Balerno behind, we began the long steady climb up Bavelaw Road and Mansfield Road.  Pausing to regroup at the top of the climb, we then headed up to the Harlaw visitor centre for our lunch stop. Some riders opted for the picnic tables in the garden, whilst the rest enjoyed their picnic lunch sitting on the banks of the reservoir.

Lunch over, we headed away from the reservoir retracing our route to the road. Here we turned right  towards Currie. At the sharp left hander we went straight on rather than take the steep hill down into Currie. Shortly, the surfaced road came to an end and we were on a rough stony path for our descent past Clubbiedean and Torduff reservoirs. Before arriving at the first reservoir, following riders saw the leader stop, dismount and wheel his bike off the track and onto a wide stretch of grass. All riders followed his lead. Those at the back wondered what was happening; but as the drew closer, all became clear. A number of cows accompanied by their calves had decided to lie down in the middle of the path. To avoid disturbing or spooking them, the leader decided to give them a wide berth, especially as they had calves with them. Safely past and the lovely descent began in earnest. This was the most scenic part of the whole ride. The reservoirs and surrounding countryside look lovely at any time; but bathed in sunshine shining down from a clear blue sky looked absolutely stunning. Down off the hill and we were in the quiet back streets of Bonaly. The writer commented on how nice and colourful the houses looked. On too many previous occasions he had seen them on dull, grey and wet winter days. We headed on through Colinton, the estate behind Redford Barracks, Colinton Mains Park and Braidburn Valley Park. A short hop through the back streets of Morningside and we were on Whitehouse Loan. Here the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting and enjoyable ride. The numerous compliments he received were well deserved. Thanks to Alan for back marking and wielding the spanners.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn 

Monday, 4 July 2022

July ride this coming Saturday

We've got our July ride this coming Saturday (9th). It will be a particularly scenic route through some nice countryside, so I hope you'll be able to join us.

For this ride, we will be heading up to the edge of the Pentlands, with a picnic lunch at the Harlaw Reservoir. There will be a fair amount of climbing in the morning (it is the Pentland Hills, after all), but we will be rewarded with some nice downhills on the return leg. Most of the route will be on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths, with just a mile or two on rough tracks.

The total distance will be about 22 miles. About two thirds of the mileage will be in the morning, which means that we will have a late lunch followed by a relatively short run in the afternoon.

There is no catering of any kind at the reservoir, so be sure to bring food and drink for a picnic. If the weather is bad, bring a packed lunch anyway, as there is the possibility of an alternative lunch venue under cover.

There are toilets (portable loos) at the reservoir. We will also stop for a comfort break about half way through the morning.   

The meeting time and place are as constant as the North Star: 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As always, the ride is free and open to all. You don't need to contact us in advance. Just turn up if you fancy joining us.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Return of the Extras

The last 20 Milers Extra ride was back in September 2019. After a gap of nearly three years, it was great to be back. Some riders that joined the group a few months prior to lockdown had never ridden an Extra before. Today saw us head out to the popular destination of Almondell Country Park near Livingston. 

It was pleasant, rather than warm and quite breezy as fourteen riders mustered at the Craigleith junction meeting point. Briefing over, we headed off towards Silverknowes. Our familiar heading-west-route took us through Barnton and onwards to Cramond Brig, where we took our customary pause for a few minutes. The cycle path beside the A90 took us to Burnshot Bridge and along the road to Kirkliston. As ever, we left this road and made our way onto the much nicer railway path to Kirkliston. Following a comfort stop at the sports centre, a quiet back road took us towards Niddry Castle where we joined the Union Canal towpath. After three miles on the towpath, at Broxburn we left the canal behind and took the road to Almondell Country Park where we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the garden behind the visitor centre.

After taking lunch sitting in the warm garden, what better to get the group moving again than a short, sharp climb to exit the park. The NCN75 path was closed due to building works. As a result, we had to take a detour onto a busy main road for a mile. Back on the planned route, and we arrived in Kirknewton which was full of visitors enjoying gala day. Via Dalmahoy we took the back exit into Heriot-Watt University. Through the campus, we were soon on a familiar route home via the Gyle, Broomhouse, Murrayfield, Dalry, the Telfer subway and Fountain Park. Thanks to the Edinburgh Canal Festival and Raft Race, we had to dismount and wheel our bikes through the crowds. At the Leamington bridge, the leader declared the ride officially over.

Everyone enjoyed the ride, the weather had been reasonably kind to us with it being less breezy in the afternoon, and it had been a trouble-free day. Thanks to Mike for leading and kicking off the first Extra ride of the year.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Extra ride this coming Saturday

 I am pleased to announce that our first 20-Milers Extra ride of the year - in fact, the first since September 2019 - will take place this coming Saturday, 18 June.

As you probably know, our Extra rides are somewhat longer and faster than our usual 20-mile runs, with an earlier start and a later finish. But we still aim for the same friendly atmosphere and unpressured pace. You won't need to be super fit to join these rides, but if you haven't cycled for a while, or if you feel that you are below your normal fitness, you may prefer to give this one a miss, and to stick with our usual "second Saturday" runs instead.

This week's route

For Saturday's ride, we will be heading out to one of our more popular destinations: Almondell Country Park. The total distance will be about 32 miles. Most of the route will be on quiet roads and bike paths, including about three miles on the canal towpath. But, because of the closure of the bike path in East Calder, we will need to divert onto a busy main road for a mile or so. There will be a fairly steep climb just after lunch, and a few other moderate hills during the day.

Lunch arrangements

There is no cafe or other food outlet in the country park (the former pop-up cafe is no longer in operation), so be sure to bring food for a picnic. There are vending machines serving hot and cold drinks in the visitor centre, but note that this is closed between 12:30 and 13:00. The toilets are open throughout the day. (We will also have a "comfort break" en route during the morning.)

Time and place

For this ride, we will meet at our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction. If you are not sure where that is, see here for directions. Please be there in time for a 10:15 departure.

Note that we will not be returning to Craigleith. The nearest point to it on the return leg will be Russell Road, which I expect we will reach around 16:00 (but don't hold me to that; it's just a rough estimate). The ride will officially end somewhere near the Meadows.

What if the weather is bad

A stiff breeze or light drizzle won't put us off. But if the weather is really atrocious, we might opt for a shorter route - and perhaps a cafe visit. We'll make that decision at the meeting point.

Other information

As always, we ask that you bring a spare inner tube in case you have a puncture. If your wheels don't have quick-release hubs, please also bring whatever tools you need to remove your wheel. If you are unsure what you need, your favourite bike shop will be pleased to advise.