EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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Monday, 19 August 2019

Extra to Merryhatton this coming Saturday


We've got the third of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (24th). Glenn will once again be leading us into the East Lothian countryside. The total distance will be 45 - 50 miles, mainly on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths, but with a couple of short stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. There will be a few hills, but no killers.

Remember, these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual runs. We maintain a slightly higher average speed, but not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation. Most of our riders find the pace comfortable, but if you haven't cycled for a while or are concerned about your fitness level, you may prefer to give this ride a miss.

Lunch venue

Our lunch stop will at the Merryhatton Garden Centre, where there is an above-average café serving a good range of light lunches (soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes, etc.) as well as more substantial meals. As always, you have the option of bringing food for a picnic lunch if you prefer.

Time and place

The ride will start from Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh, which is about six miles from central Edinburgh. Please aim to get there in time for a 10:30 departure. There are toilets available at the start point. I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but it is likely to be after 4 pm.

As with all our rides, this one is free and open to all, with no advance bookings.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Are you sure this is the right way?



Earlier in the week the forecast was promising a day of thundery showers. By this morning it sounded somewhat better - a mixture of showers and light rain with thundery showers arriving after five o'clock. In the end, our ride to South Queensferry was blessed with warm sunshine, not a drop of rain and everyone was safely home by the time the thundery downpour did eventually arrive. We have a ride to South Queensferry every year, so there is always the risk of it becoming rather familiar and lacking in interest. Not this time; the leader did us proud by picking a route that none of us had taken before. We even got tangled up with a parade.

Despite the forecast, a turnout of 18 riders was quite good, with the added bonus that we didn't need to split into two groups. Good to see some new faces in the mix. The first part of the route was familiar until we arrived at Bruntsfield Place where we turned left and joined the main road. Those not paying attention almost went over the crossing and down to the canal. Instead, we meandered through the less familiar back streets of Bruntsfield, Merchiston and Polworth before arriving in Roseburn Park. More quiet paths and we emerged at the busy Glasgow Road. There was a little confusion as the leader had told us we would be crossing the road beside the Jaguar garage - which is now a Volvo garage. We left the busy road behind and threaded through more quiet back streets before emerging at the busy Queensferry Road. Across that and a quick whizz down Whitehouse Road, where we turned off and headed down to Cramond Bridge for the obligatory stop whilst cake and sweets were passed round. It was now warm and sunny. Heading out in the morning everyone was so busy ensuring they had got their waterproofs that no one had given a second thought to sun cream. We then took the path beside the road towards Burnshot Bridge. On arriving at the cattle grid at the entrance to the Dalmeny estate, we surprisingly went in rather than riding past and heading towards Dalmeny village. A cyclist coming out warned us to look out for a large highland cow standing in the middle of the road. Pre-warned, we were able to slow down and give the cow a wide berth. We rode through the estate and came into South Queensferry beneath the majestic Forth Rail Bridge. As we headed into town we came to a barrier and a "road closed" sign. It turned out to be the day of the Ferry Fair Festival parade. One of the stewards said we could head along the road so long as we dismounted and hurried up so as not to get tangled up in the parade. We made it to the centre of town and riders headed off in various directions in search of lunch. We'd never seen the place so busy.

After lunch, we had a short walk wheeling our bikes to reach the end of the high street. From there it was up the hill, through the Co-op car park and we were on the path to Dalmeny village. We then took the familiar route back towards Cramond Bridge. Re-grouping at Burnshot Bridge, we were joined by a rather muddy French mountain biker who asked the best way back to Portobello. It appears he had got lost near Craigie's Farm and ended up riding across a potato field. We told him we were heading in the direction he needed to go, so he rode with us for a short while. He soon left us to go and seek out a jet wash for his bike and himself. We held with tradition and paused briefly on Cramond Bridge. From there it was onwards through Barnton with an easy crossing of Cramond Road South courtesy of temporary traffic lights. We had never before experienced such an easy crossing. Through Silverknowes and the Blackhall path took us to Craigleith. From there, the familiar route of the Roseburn path, Russell Road, Telfer subway and the canal took us back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Alan for leading an enjoyable ride. It just goes to show that with a little thought and imagination, what looks set to be a somewhat predictable and familiar ride can easily become something more interesting. Thanks also to the weather for being on our side. None of us expected to stay dry all day and be concerned about forgetting to apply sun cream.

Leader: Alan
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: None available

Monday, 5 August 2019

August ride - and others


We've got our August ride this coming Saturday (10th). I don't have any details yet of the route, but I do know that we will be heading to South Queensferry. Alan will be in charge. There are several cafes in South Queensferry, as well as a good picnic spot overlooking the harbour and bridges.

As always, we'll set out at 10:30 from our usual meeting point in Middle Meadow Walk.

More rides

We've now fixed the dates for the remaining Extra rides of the summer. They are as follows:

24th August: Merryhatton Garden Centre in East Lothian. Glenn leading.

7th September: Peter leading. The date is fixed but the destination is not yet decided.

28th September: Glenn will be leading us into Midlothian.

I'll let you have more details of the above nearer the time.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Picnic in the Pentlands

 
Who can explain Scottish weather? All week, the forecasters had been promising us a fine, dry day for our July ride. And the day did indeed start dry and sunny. But within a minute of my setting out for our meeting point, the temperature dropped and the rain came down, sending me scurrying back indoors to pick up my helmet cover and a warm jacket.

Despite the change in the weather, 28 cyclists turned out for our ride to the Harlaw Reservoir at the edge of the Pentland Hills. Such a high number often sees us splitting into two groups in order to keep things manageable, but, after some discussion, we decided to keep together this time.

And so we set off on what is now a familiar route: Whitehouse Loan, Hermitage Drive, Braidburn Valley Park, the path along the Braid Burn, and down Redford Road to Colinton, where we paused for snacks and sweeties.

From Colinton, there are basically two routes up to Harlaw. The first climbs up to the Torduff and Clubbiedean reservoirs and then along a rough track to Easter Kinleith. The other follows Woodhall Road to Blinkbonny, then up the killer Currie Kirkgate. This time, we opted for the latter, partly to avoid the difficult paths by the reservoirs, and partly to get the climbing over in one go. Inevitably, we were very spread out on the Kirkgate ascent, but we all made it to the top without too much suffering.

By now, the rain, which had been hovering all morning, was clearly not going to return. By the time most of us were battling up the hill, the sky had brightened and the sun had come out. A few minutes after that, it was hot enough to encourage us to strip off our outer layers. It stayed warm and dry for the rest of the day.

After a long breather at the top of the hill, we set off for the last mile or so to our lunch spot. The Harlaw Reservoir was at its best in the sunshine. Unusually, we had the place almost to ourselves, the earlier rain having presumably discouraged other visitors. Most of  us squeezed around the picnic tables behind the visitor centre, while others installed themselves on seats near the reservoir wall. Everyone had brought a packed lunch, which was fortunate given that the mobile snack bar that used to be parked here is no longer in business.

After a leisurely lunch break, we set off for the run back to town. This started with a somewhat rough ride alongside the Threipmuir Reservoir and through Redford Wood, followed by an exhilarating freewheel down the well-surfaced road to Balerno. After negotiating some unexpected road closures (which weren't there on the recce), we managed to get on to the Water of Leith path, and then on to the canal towpath to the Leamington Bridge.

On Bruntsfield Links the ride was officially terminated. At just over 20 miles, it wasn't as long as some of our recent outings, but it was not exactly a doddle either. Well done to everyone for making it up the big hill.

Leader, report and photos: Mike
Map: Jim




Monday, 8 July 2019

July ride this coming Saturday


We've got our July ride on Saturday (13th). For this month's run, we'll be heading to the edge of the Pentlands for a picnic at the Harlaw Reservoir - a particularly nice spot for an al fresco lunch. I hope you can join us.

As usual, we'll leave from Middle Meadow Walk at 10:30. It won't be a particularly long ride, but there will be a reasonable amount of climbing, especially near the start and again just before lunch (these are the Pentland Hills after all). We'll be rewarded with some excellent views and some lovely freewheeling in the afternoon. Most of the route will be on quiet roads and paths with good surfaces, but there will be about half a mile on a fairly rough track.

Lunch

Keep in mind that we will be having a picnic lunch. There is no catering of any kind at the reservoir, so be sure to bring a packed lunch and something to drink. (The mobile snack bar that used to be parked at the reservoir has gone out of business. As far as I know, it has not been replaced.)

There is a single toilet at the reservoir. We will also stop for a comfort break in Colinton, about 40 minutes before lunch.

The ride will go ahead whatever the weather, but if the day is really bad, we might opt for a shorter low-level route, with a stop at a cafe or pub.

As you know, all our rides are free and open to all. There is no advance booking.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

An East Lothian drama


For this, the second 20 Milers Extra ride of the year, we were expecting a straight forward run through the delightful East Lothian countryside. What we got was one of the most dramatic rides for quite a while. No disrespect to the good folk of the town, but the words "Haddington" and "drama" seldom appear in the same sentence. On the outward leg we had a rider fall and cut his head. Fortunately, we had a first aider on the group who was able to deal with the situation. On the return leg, the backmarker had to relinquish the role when a serious mechanical issue stopped them in their tracks.

The weather forecast seemed to be constantly changing prior to the ride. A warm day was promised, but uncertainty remained as to whether or not we would have to endure showers, at what time and if they would be thundery. Never mind the forecast, we still mustered an impressive 17 starters at Fisherrow Harbour. As ever, it was great to see quite a few new faces in the mix. Following one of this leader's typically thorough and safety-orientated briefings, we rolled away onto the Musselburgh coast path. It was warm but overcast as we crossed the River Esk and made our way down Goose Green. The familiar route alongside the sea wall took us onwards to Prestonpans. At the end of the path, the leader gave a further safety briefing before we joined the main road through the town. We were split into groups of five and made to wait until the group in front was a good way ahead. The backmarker ensured that no group was larger than five or that they set off too soon after the one in front. The military precision paid off. Holding up of other traffic was minimal, and [most importantly] we all got along the main road safely. A rider was placed to indicate turns at junctions which worked perfectly. We were soon at the start of the Longniddry railway path; where we had a stop for sweeties. A reasonably smooth and wide path devoid of traffic should have presented no problems. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Back on tarmac and about to enter the underpass beneath the A1, disaster struck. A rider had hit an innocuous looking tree root and gone down, cutting their head in the process. Fortunately, our resident first aider, Ollie was on scene and knew exactly what to do. Some were further along the path, but the whole group stopped and waited. The leader made the decision that the majority would push on into Haddington and have lunch, whilst those who were actively involved would remain with the casualty. There was no need to call an ambulance and the casualty was able to walk the short distance into Haddington. They ended up being patched up in a pharmacy in the town. The decision was made to put the rider in a taxi with Barbara [and their bikes] to Longniddry station. From there they were able to return to Edinburgh.

The group reconvened after lunch to learn what had happened, and we began the homeward leg two riders down. Down to the river, over a bridge, along a path and we arrived at a quiet road. The leader told us it was a very quiet road, but we may encounter some light traffic so we should "be sensible". That comment inevitably led to smiles, laughter and wise cracks. It was pleasantly warm and sunny as we rode through the lovely East Lothian countryside to West Saltoun. Having survived the quiet roads and light traffic, we headed off-road onto the beginning of the Pencaitland railway path. Within 100 yards, disaster struck for the backmarker. They veered to one side and only just managed to stay on the path. Fortunately there was no injury. But close inspection of the bike revealed that the rear derailleur had sheared off. That could so easily have been a ride-ending issue. After a few moments of consideration, it was decided that shortening the chain and making the bike into a single speed would allow it to be limped home. The tools and know how were there, but some of the chain links didn't want to play. As is the case when the backmarker hits a problem, hardly anyone is there to help. Meanwhile, the main group had pressed on to their cake stop. The backmarker and the writer were left to try and sort matters. The chain links were being a real pain. Following a couple of phone calls, Jim was dispatched to help. It was good to see him, and even better that he had brought cake. The leader made the decision that the main group should press on and the other three make the repair and head home independently. The main group managed to outrun the rain and get to Fisherrow where the leader was relieved to be able to declare the ride officially over. The remaining three finally got the repair made and began the homeward trek. Unfortunately, several further stops were required to make adjustments to keep the wheels turning. These extra delays meant that the three got caught in a heavy shower. The backmarker finally threw in the towel and headed for Musselburgh station rather that limp back into town.

All in all, quite an eventful day's ride! The weather was kind to us - just, the route was a good one, lovely coutryside - but, it will be remembered for different reasons. Here's hoping the new riders don't expect all our rides to pack in so much drama. Thanks to everyone that helped keep the ride running smoothly. But mention in dispatches are undoubtly due to Verity, Ollie and Barbara. Verity for managing the logistics to ensure the ride ran smoothly despite everything. Ollie for putting her first aider skills to use when needed; and like Verity, wolfing down a hurriedly bought sandwich rather than enjoying a leisurely lunch. Barbara for volunteering to end her ride early and see that the fallen rider got home safely. She even managed to blag them a free ride on the train back to Edinburgh! Finally, here's wishing all the best from the group for a speedy recovery - hope to see you out again soon.

Leader: Verity
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: David


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Haddington Extra this coming Saturday


Our second Extra of the summer will take place this coming Saturday (29th). Verity will be leading us into East Lothian, with a lunch stop in the delightful town of Haddington where there is a good choice of cafés and picnic spots.

Much of the route will be on bike paths, in particular the Longniddry and Pencaitland paths, both of which are fairly flat and have reasonably firm surfaces (albeit not tarmac). Other parts of the route will involve a few hills, especially in the afternoon, but nothing too challenging. There will be one short stretch on a busy main road where we will split into small groups for safety.

For this ride, we will meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh, in time for a 10:30 start. The total distance (Fisherrow to Fisherrow) will be 33 miles. For those coming from central Edinburgh, add about eight miles each way.

The lunch stop will be relatively early, with most of the mileage in the afternoon. You may want to bring a biscuit or some fruit to sustain you on the return leg

Longer and faster

Please keep in mind that our Extra rides are longer than our usual "second Saturday" runs and go at a somewhat faster pace. Most of our regular riders find these rides are within their comfort zone, but it's something to take into account if you haven't cycled for a while or are unsure of your fitness level.

As I write, the forecast for Saturday is good, so this promises to be another enjoyable day.