20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 13 July 2024

Summer ride in the Pentlands

Those present on today's ride will recognise the irony of the blog post title. Drizzle, light rain, dry but damp and misty - we had the lot on our ride to Harelaw Reservoir. Everything except warmth or sunshine. Early in the ride, one rider said, "if it gets no worse than this, I can put up with it". Granted, it could have been a lot worse, but it is July. Given the weather, it was a pleasant surprise to see 21 riders gather at the start, including several new faces.

It was cool and drizzly as we left the Meadows and made our way to Roseburn Park. A sign at the top of Leamington Terrace told us the road was closed, but threading our way past the sign, we found it wasn't. What we did find was that the road surface was as shockingly bad as ever. We can only hope they are going to resurface it. By the time we reached Roseburn Park, we had encountered no less than three sets of temporary traffic lights. Delays were minimal, and the whole group managed to get through each set. Through the back streets of Balgreen, through Carrick Knowe and Broomhouse and we were negotiating our way through the Gyle centre car park. Via Edinburgh Park, the subway and Gogar Station Road we arrived at Heriot Watt University where we had a comfort stop. Ian passed round delicious homemade cake which would sustain us on the climbs that lie ahead. We left Heriot Watt by the back entrance, through Curriehill and the quiet back streets of Currie to cross Lanark Road West and join the Water of Leith path. In Balerno, we took a slightly different route from our usual one. This one involved the same overall ascent but was spread over a somewhat longer distance, so we  avoided the worst of the gradients. From the number 44 bus terminus, we took a quiet cut through to re-join our usual route at Malleny Mills, and onwards to Harelaw Reservoir. Thanks to the unseasonal weather, the verges on the road to the car park were devoid of cars, and the car park itself was far from full.

Although it was cool and the hills were shrouded in mist, we managed to eat our picnic lunches in the dry. But no sooner had we set off on the homeward leg, the heavy drizzle returned and it turned cooler still. The rough path down towards Clubbiedean was treacherous in places. In the interests of self-preservation, we walked a few short sections. There followed some most welcome surfaced tracks, then more rough stretches. At the bottom of one steep descent was a wooden bridge. It was soaking wet and riding on it was akin to soap on marble. Fortunately, everyone got safely across, but the writer did have a wee heart-in-the-mouth moment. Back on smooth tarmac, all was going well until we met a large SUV heading up towards us. As it took up most of the width of the road, one-by-one we had to squeeze past on the grass verge. All the times we've been down that track over the years, yet no one ever recalled having met a vehicle coming up. The remainder of the descent into Bonaly passed without incident. As did our ride back via Redford, Greenbank and Morningside. At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride officially over.

Thanks to Mike for leading and Alan for back marking. The trip to Harelaw is always enjoyable, but the weather didn't help today. Let's hope for some proper summer weather by the time of our next ride.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 8 July 2024

July ride this coming Saturday


This is a reminder of our next ride, which will take place this coming Saturday. We'll be heading out to a familiar destination: the Harlaw Reservoir at the edge of the Pentlands. I can promise you a particularly scenic route with pleasant countryside and nice views.

The total distance will be about 24 miles. Inevitably, there will be a fair amount of climbing, especially in the morning (not for nothing are they called the Pentland Hills). However, we will be taking a slightly different route from the usual one. This will involve the same overall ascent but it will be spread over a somewhat longer distance, so we will be avoiding the worst of the gradients.

And we'll be rewarded with some nice downhills in the afternoon. But the afternoon will also see a couple of very rough paths. On previous visits some of us have had to dismount and push on these rough bits; fortunately, they are fairly short.

Lunch arrangements

There are no shops, cafés or other catering outlets anywhere near the reservoir, so it is essential for everyone to bring food and drink for their lunch. Happily the reservoir provides several nice spots for picnics.

Since more than half our mileage will be in the morning, lunch will be a little on the late side. You may wish to bring an extra snack to ward of the hunger pangs on the outward leg.

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

Time and place

This is the same as always. We'll set out at 10:30 from the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As you know, there is no advance booking for our rides, so just turn up if you decide to join us.

Please be sure to bring a picnic even if the weather is bad, as we have an alternative spot in mind where we can eat our lunch under cover if necessary.

Looking ahead

Our next Extra ride has been fixed for 27 July. I'll post the usual details here nearer the time. In the meantime, happy pedalling.

Saturday 22 June 2024

A Fife favourite

Today's second Extra ride of the year saw us cross the Forth and follow the Fife Coastal Path to Silversands Bay at Aberdour. The weather forecast suggested we could be in for wall-to-wall sunshine. In the end, we had a mixture of sunny spells and some bright, but overcast skies. There was a bit of a breeze, but that and a pleasant temperature made it ideal for cycling. The weather clearly helped us muster seventeen riders at the Craigleith starting point. With the briefing over we headed off on what for many in the group is their favourite ride. We took the familiar route to Cramond Brig where we had the obligatory pause. The path alongside the A90, through Dalmeny village, quiet residential streets of South Queensferry, past the new houses and we were at the Forth Bridge Visitor Centre for a comfort stop. From there we headed across the old Forth Road Bridge into Fife. No matter how many times we've cycled across the bridge, it remains a magical experience. Today, there was a bit of a breeze, it was pleasantly warm and the waters of the Forth were a lovely blue and quite calm. One rider had never ridden across the bridge before, so was able to experience that magic for the first time. Having crossed the bridge, we had to endure the least enjoyable part of the ride - an uphill slog along the main road to get into the centre of Inverkeithing. Leaving the town behind, we headed for the Fife Coastal Path. A mixture of tracks with stunning views across the Forth, and paths through fancy housing estates took us past St David's Harbour, Downing Point and Donibristle Bay on the edge of Dalgety Bay. How the leader found his way through the maze of paths remains a mystery. But he did and we were soon passing the impressive ruins of St Brigget's Kirk. Just prior to St Colm House, the leader's view was obscured by a rider getting too close and he missed the turning for the underpass. As a result, we ended up at the oil terminal gates, and had to retrace our steps. Through the underpass, we were back on course. Turning slightly inland, we followed minor roads and tracks past fields and a golf course to emerge in the village of  Aberdour. Another mile, and we were at Silver Sands for our lunch stop at the lovely Sands Café.

Lunch over, we left Silversands Bay behind and began our journey home. We retraced the outward route from the morning, and were once again able to marvel at the views across the Forth. No missing of the underpass this time, and once again, the paths through the houses saw the leader seem like he was a local. Leaving the delightful coastal path behind, soon we were through Inverkeithing and heading back across the Forth Road Bridge. Another comfort stop at the visitor centre, and we were soon leaving South Queensferry behind. A pause at Cramond Brig, and a short while later we were at Craigleith where the leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Alan for leading us out to that old favourite, and to Neil for back marking. Everyone had enjoyed themselves, the cycling and scenery had been great and the weather had been kind to us.

Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 17 June 2024

Second Extra of 2024 this coming Saturday

We've got the second of this year's Extra rides coming up on Saturday (22nd).

For this ride, we'll be heading to one of our more popular destinations: the Silver Sands beach at Aberdour. This is a delightful spot, with a lovely beach and fine views over the Firth of Forth. The route promises to be a very pleasant one, particularly the section along the Fife Coastal Path. But be warned that this will include several fairly rough stretches which might be muddy. The total distance will be about 35 miles, including a few moderate hills.

As you will know by now, these Extra rides are longer than our usual runs, with a faster pace and fewer stops, although we still aim for a sociable atmosphere. If you find that you can easily manage our usual 20-mile runs, Saturday's ride would be a good choice. But if you sometimes struggle to keep up on our usual runs, you might prefer to give this one a miss.


For this ride, you can either bring a picnic lunch or visit the Sands café which is right on the beach. This offers a range of sandwiches and other snacks, but it can get very busy, especially on a nice day. If you want to avoid a long wait for lunch, I suggest you go for the picnic option. There are plenty of places to sit on the beach, and there are also toilets there. (And we'll have comfort stops on both the outward and return legs.)

Time and place

The ride will start at 10:30 from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction - see here if you need directions. The ride will finish back at Craigleith mid- to late-afternoon.

As always, there is no need to let us know in advance whether or not you plan to come along. Just turn up if you have a mind to.

And, as always, please remember to bring a spare inner tube plus whatever tools (if any) would be needed to remove your wheel in the event of a puncture.

Whether or not we see you on Saturday, our next 20-mile run will be on 13 July. And we've scheduled 27 July for this year's third Extra. I'll post details of both those rides in good time.

Saturday 8 June 2024

A bike swap on the way to Dalkeith

On today's ride to Dalkeith, one rider was unlucky to have a serious bike issue that looked set to end their ride almost before it had begun. But they managed to limp home, swap bikes and caught us up before we got to Musselburgh. It was cooler and windier than of late as the fifteen riders mustered for today's ride. Once again, Alan ensured that no one was in doubt that riders were in the right place, thanks to the 20 Milers 20th anniversary banner. The leader gave the customary briefing, adding a superb line to discourage anyone from overtaking the leader: "please don't overtake me as I'm likely to blindly follow you and we'll probably get lost". After that, we headed off towards Holyrood Park.

Just after we'd left St Leonard's Street, at the back of the pack, one of the stalwarts of the group had their bike skid to a halt when the back wheel locked up. Despite being able to dislodge the jammed chain, it was clear the ride was over for the rider - or so we thought. The group pushed on having agreed the back marker would catch us up, which they did further along the Innocent Railway. Pressing on towards Musselburgh station, the writer got a shock when the rider we thought had gone home, appeared beside him on a different bike. Having limped home on their first bike, they had swapped over to another bike and raced off to catch us up. The things folk will do to avoid missing a 20 Milers ride! With a full complement again, we headed down to the Grove. Today, this section of path was clear and dry. But two weeks ago [on the recce] those present had to endure mud, standing water and floods. The leader took us on a less familiar route through Whitecraig to join the path towards Dalkeith. After an easy run on the path, we found ourselves in quite heavy traffic in the centre of Dalkeith before arriving at King's Park. Here we enjoyed our picnic lunches in the sun.

We rode through the park and took an unfamiliar path to emerge on Abbey Road. Through the new houses and we were at the kissing gate. Without hesitation, Alan took on the duty of gatekeeper to ensure everyone got through the gate easily. He even stayed at his post to help through a couple of riders that weren't part of our group. Through delightful woodland and parks, we were soon back at the main road into Dalkeith where we had been in the morning. Following a short stretch on the main road, we entered Dalkeith Country Park. Through the park, a short stretch of busy road [made worse by temporary traffic lights], and we were back on the Grove. From Musselburgh station we retraced our outward route back to the Meadows. The only difference being that this time we went through the Innocent Tunnel. The leader declared the ride officially over, and received thanks from the group for an enjoyable ride.

Thanks to Alison for leading, Yaz for back marking, and Alan for his gate keeper duties.

Leader: Alison

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 3 June 2024

Two rides for June

We can look forward to two rides this month: our standard monthly run this coming Saturday, and the second Extra of the season two weeks later.

Saturday 8 June

For this week's ride, Alison will be leading us to Dalkeith. It will be a bit longer than our usual "second Saturday" outings - probably about 24 miles - but there should be no particular difficulties. We will be mainly on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads and there will be no killer hills. However, there will be a couple of short stretches  through the centre of Dalkeith that might be busy with traffic.

For our lunch stop, we'll head to the King's Park, which is an especially nice spot for picnicking. For those who prefer to eat indoors, there is a cafe in the Morrisons supermarket across the street (and also toilets). The cafe serves a range of snacks and light meals, or you can pick up a sandwich and take-away drink there to take to the park.

As always, the above information should be regarded as provisional. We will definitely meet at the usual time and place (10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk), but we might vary the route and destination according to conditions on the day (especially in the light of any damage to bike paths following the heavy rains last month).

Saturday 22 June

For our second Extra of 2024, Alan will be leading us over the Forth to Fife. This should be a particularly scenic run. I'll post full details, including the meeting point and the lunch arrangements, nearer the time. For now, note the date.

There's no need to reply to this post. If you plan to attend either or both of the above events, I'll look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Somewhere new beneath blue skies

For the opening Extra ride of the year, we headed deep into Midlothian to somewhere we had never visited before. Accompanied by blue skies, warm sunshine and a gentle breeze we made our way to Vogrie Country Park. A most impressive 20 riders mustered at the Fisherrow Harbour start point. That number for a normal 20 Milers would be good, but for an Extra it was very impressive. If not the highest ever turnout for an Extra, it must have been close. As ever, the weather must have played a part, but the lure of a new route and destination would have also swelled the ranks.

With the customary briefing over, we left the harbour and gathering mist behind to thread through an unfamiliar [to most] maze of Musselburgh residential streets to arrive at the town's railway station. A whizz down the new path, under a couple of bridges, over the roundabout and we were on the Grove heading towards Cowpits and Whitecraig. There we joined the path towards Dalkeith High School. We turned off the path and made our way up the hill past Smeaton Shaw Farm to the B6414. A number of the riders expected us to turn left; but no - it was right then next left to head towards Cousland. On this section, one rider began to have problems with slipping gears. Given the climbing that lie ahead, they made the decision to turn round and head home to get their bike fixed. It was a shame they would miss a delightful ride, but it was the right decision. Leaving that road, we climbed up the A6124 and took the bridge over the A68 trunk road. Over the bridge, a deft left followed by a quick right saw us on a lovely quiet country road with great views across the Midlothian countryside. The leader made it look easy, but that wasn't the case on the recce a couple of weeks earlier. Two wrong slots and a few minor detours had resulted. But that's why we do recces. On approaching the T-junction, the leader informed those around him that a left turn onto the main road would be followed by a stiff little climb. Hopefully the message got passed down the line. Onwards through Edgehead, down a lovely descent, a right turn onto the B6372 and we were on the final run towards Vogrie Country Park and our lunch stop. Into the park, a short ride down a narrow road and we were at Vogrie House. Riders split between the picnic tables and the Tree Top Café.

Lunch over, we regrouped and made our way back to the park entrance. A steady stream of traffic meant that we didn't all get out together. At the cross roads the first part of the group turned right and waited for the others to join us. It seemed like a longish wait before the others appeared. Apparently, they had been waiting for a gap in the traffic when two cars had a minor coming together. The damage was minimal, no one was hurt and none of our riders were involved; but it did result in a slight delay. With the group back together, we headed towards Pathhead. A glorious downhill run into the village of Ford was enjoyed by all. But the village lies at the bottom of a valley, and a substantial climb back up to Pathhead followed. At least we had time to get our breath back waiting to cross the busy A68 in the village. Lovely quiet country roads led us towards Cousland. A couple more steep hills, and we were in the village. The leader promised that it was now downhill all the way back to Musselburgh. Few believed him, but it was the case. We headed downhill away from Cousland, turned left at Crossgatehall and were soon whizzing down past Smeaton Shaw Farm. This time, we stayed on the road to enjoy our last glorious downhill blast of the ride. A short stretch on the busy A6094, a left as we entered Whitecraig, and we were back on the Grove. At the footbridge over the River Esk, the leader declared the ride officially over. It appeared that everyone had enjoyed the ride, the destination and the weather judging by the round of applause the leader received. Last, but by no means least, thanks to Neil for back marking.

Leader: Glenn

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn