You are welcome to join our easy-paced bike rides. Click here for all the information you need.


Saturday, 9 December 2017

A cold finale to Riccarton

For the final [second Saturday of the month] ride of the year, we headed out to the Heriot Watt University campus at Riccarton. Although it was a bitterly cold day, the fact it was dry meant ice was not a big problem. There was a bit on the paths around the campus, but nowhere else.

The day began bitterly cold, but dry and sunny. This meant the roads and paths used to get to the meeting point presented no problems for the 14 riders that made the start. A combination of the weather, and being one of those busy weekends in the run up to Christmas kept the numbers down. Unsurprisingly, there were no new riders on today's ride. No need to worry about two groups. Following a briefing from the leader (which included a bit about everyone being responsible for their own safety), we headed towards the quiet back streets of Marchmont via Bruntsfield Links. We then crossed Comiston Road and entered Braidburn Valley Park. From there, Colinton Mains Park and Redford Road led us to our comfort stop in Colinton. As the temperature never got above 2°C all day, we didn't hang around for long. Being well wrapped up and keeping moving was the secret to staying warm. Woodhall Road led us to a rough path that cuts through to join Blinkbonny Road. At this point, the group waited for a couple of minutes whilst the leader went ahead to check the path was clear of ice. It was, so we made our way along it. Joining the road we came to a T-junction with the Kirkgate. We usually turn left and head up the steep hill towards the Harlaw reservoirs. This time we turned right and headed downhill to Lanark Road West. Across the busy road, along some quiet residential roads in Currie and we were on Curriehall Road. This led us to the back entrance into the Riccarton Campus. Here we encountered our first ice of the day. Nothing too serious, but we took it easy. At least we could see the ice, unlike the lethal black variety. Safely past the icy stretch, we piled into the warmth of the spacious canteen for lunch. Several of the group commented on the fact they had never seen it so busy on a Saturday.

After a pleasant lunch, it was time to head back out into the cold. More icy paths around the campus (despite having been gritted) meant we took it easy and can happily report no incidents. We left the campus and the ice behind as we took the back way into Edinburgh Park. We headed towards the Gyle shopping centre, where we stopped and the leader and back marker swapped roles. As David knows the area like the back of his hand, he was able to lead us to South Gyle station avoiding the need to cycle through the shopping centre car park, which would have been heaving with Christmas shoppers. At the station, Mike took over again and led us through Broomhouse and on to Murrayfield. Around Murrayfield, it was great to see the new paths which have opened recently, and very impressive they are too. Our well-used route via the Telfer subway, Fountainpark and the canal took us back to the Leamington Bridge. Here, one of the group discovered their slow puncture was no longer "slow". They were almost home, so opted to leave the ride and head home. Our usual route would have taken us to Tollcross and the King's Theatre. But today, the leader took us back via Leamington Terrace and Bruntsfield Links. At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over. At 19 miles, it was one of our shorter rides. Given the low temperatures and small turnout, no one seemed to mind. Thanks to Mike for leading, and to David for leading us through the Gyle avoiding the main car park. Don't forget our final outing of 2017 - the Christmas day ride.

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

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Three rides coming up

We've got no fewer than three rides planned for the coming weeks. Details below.

9th December

The first of these rides will be our standard monthly run this coming Saturday. Our route will depend on the conditions on the day, but it's likely that we will be heading out towards Colinton and Currie, returning by way of Edinburgh Park and the Gyle. Our lunch stop will be the spacious canteen at Heriot-Watt's Riccarton campus.

In deference to the short winter days, this will be a short ride and a fairly slow one. We'll aim to finish at around 3 pm. If anyone wants to get home earlier than that, there will be the option of a shortcut back to town via the canal towpath.

As always, we'll meet at 10.30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Sunset on that day is 15:40, so I strongly recommend that you bring lights in case of delay and to see you home.

25th December

This will be our traditional Christmas morning ride. This is a popular event which often attracts a large turnout. I don't have any details of the route yet, but the general idea is to take advantage of the lack of traffic in order to visit parts of the city centre that we might otherwise avoid.

We'll leave from our usual spot in Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30, returning to the Meadows by 1 pm at the latest. There will be no café or pub stop, so you might want to bring a little snack to keep your energy levels up.

6th January 2018

For the third of these three runs, Jim will again be organising a Back to Basics ride. If you haven't done much cycling lately, or if you are feeling below your normal fitness level, this ride is for you. It will go a little slower than our normal runs, take slightly longer breaks and try especially hard to avoid nasty hills. This is just a half-day run, finishing around 1 pm. I'll post more details of this event nearer the time.

Cost and booking

All of the above rides are of course completely free and open to all. There's no advance booking, and no need to reply to this message. Just turn up at the appointed time and place.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

A rookie leader, and a large turnout

It's always good when someone that hasn't led a ride before steps up and volunteers. It often results in
a new approach, new ideas and a new route. It also bodes well for the future of the 20 Milers. Most of
today's route wasn't new, but we have usually done it in the opposite direction - so, different in that
way. The ride took us out to Musselburgh, then on to Dobbies Garden Centre via Dalkeith. We returned to town via Gilmerton and Craigmillar.

We had a fine, dry, sunny, if slightly chilly day. It was beginning to look as if a small turnout was on the cards. But, as the departure time grew closer, more and more riders arrived. Some cut it so fine that they arrived midway through the briefing. By the time we rolled away, there were thirty of us. Very impressive for a November ride. Two stalwarts of the group (who have only missed a handful of rides between them over a number of years) noted how often there has been the situation where a rookie leader has had to contend with a rather large group. Today was no exception. For a number of reasons, we also ended up riding as one group. From the Meadows we headed to the Innocent railway. Through the tunnel and  on familiar paths as far as Musselburgh station. We had a stop there in the sunshine for sweets and cake. All replenished, we headed off again. We crossed the main road into Musselburgh. It was easier than usual as the traffic was snarled up and going nowhere due to what looked like a nasty accident. From there the delightful path beside the River Esk took us to Whitecraig and on to Dalkeith. Some twiddling through back streets, through parkland and we found ourselves at a kissing gate that brought us out into a new housing estate. Not sure who thought it would be a good idea to put a kissing gate on a recognised cycle path. It certainly made getting thirty cyclists through quite a chore. After that we negotiated the horrible Eskbank roundabout, crossed the busy A7 and arrived at Dobbies for lunch. The leader told everyone we would be leaving at 1345. Despite how busy the resturant was, we all got served quite quickly. Thirty-five minutes earlier than expected, the leader told us all that we were ready to leave. Alas, one rider had just gone to get a second coffee and a cake. As their bike was locked to two others, that meant at least three of us would not be leaving early. What with that and others wandering round the garden centre, we eventually left at 1345.

We left Dobbies and took the shared use path beside the busy road back to Gilmerton. We cut through the lovely Drum estate. We were followed by an estate worker in a small truck. We couldn't help but wonder if he was making sure we didn't loiter and ensured we left the premises promptly. Across Old Dalkeith Road, through the quiet back streets of Danderhall and we emerged on The Wisp. A short run down there and we turned off to cut through towards the Royal Infirmary. A run through Craigmillar Castle Park, across Peffermill Road, through the industrial estate and we were back at the Innocent railway. From there it was an easy run back to the Meadows via the Innocent tunnel. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. We had no mishaps and the weather had been kind to us. Thanks to Julia for leading a good ride with such a display of Teutonic efficiency. We'll gloss over the glitch at lunchtime as this was her first time as leader.

Leader: Julia L
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Monday, 6 November 2017

November ride this coming Saturday

We've got our November ride this coming Saturday (11th). This should be a particularly interesting ride because our leader, Julia (Loecherbach), has succeeded in finding a lunch venue which we never visited before as a group (as far as I know). It is the spacious self-service restaurant at Dobbies Garden Centre in Lasswade. They do a good range of soups, sandwiches and snacks, and the service is reasonably fast. There are also seats outside for those of us who want to brave the November temperatures for a picnic.

The route will be fairly straightforward: about 22 miles in total. There will be a couple of moderate hills, just before and after lunch, but nothing else to worry about. We'll head out via the Innocent path, the River Esk walkway and Dalkeith, returning by way of Danderhall and Gilmerton.

The meeting time and place are as constant as the Northern Star: 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. And as usual the ride is completely free and open, so there is no need to reply to this post.

Lighting up

Now that the clocks have gone back, this would be a good time for us all to check that our lights are in good order. Sunset on Saturday will be at 16:15. Although the ride should have finished by then, it might well be dark by the time you get home. So be sure to bring your lights on the ride, and check that they have plenty of juice.

Christmas ride

Some of you have asked me if our traditional Christmas morning ride will take place this year. Yes, we will definitely have a ride that morning. I don't have any further information just yet, but will post full details here in due course.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Edinburgh coast to coast

Today's ride was billed as an Edinburgh coast to coast. It saw us head to Cramond and follow the coast round as far as Portobello, before heading inland and back to the Meadows. We had another first for a 20 Milers ride today when a cargo bike turned up carrying a family of four. This explains how we managed to have 28 participants, but only 25 bikes.

It was a good turnout for an October ride; no doubt helped by the unseasonably mild and sunny weather. Good to see a smattering of new faces in amongst the regulars. The leader gave the customary briefing. As expected, with the leader being Verity, we were told to act responsibly and be considerate to other road and path users, for our safety and theirs. Briefing over, we split into two groups and headed off towards Bruntsfield Links and the canal at Leamington Bridge. A short stretch beside the canal before turning off and heading down the Telfer subway. Despite a couple of sharp turns, the cargo bike negotiated this stretch without any problems. Onwards to join the Roseburn path at the zig-zags. This time there was a slight delay getting the cargo bike up. This resulted in the second group catching and passing the first at that stage. A strange moment when the two group back markers found themselves riding alongside eachother. The two groups had now merged into one. We then had a faller. A rider in the second group had skidded on wet leaves whilst avoiding a child. No injury or damage. But a search of the undergrowth ensued for missing cycle glasses. The glasses were eventually found. The delay meant that the first group took the front once again. We carried on to Craigleith, where we turned off on the path to Cramond.
We made our way through Barnton arriving at the crossing on Whitehouse Road. Instead of heading down towards Cramond Brig, on this ocassion we turned right and headed up towards Cramond. A left turn saw us head down the steep School Brae, which took us to the River Almond. We stopped for a sweetie stop beside Cramond Island. Was it a coincidence that no sooner were the sweets opened than the second group arrived? A brisk run along Silverknowes Esplanade followed before joining the main road to Newhaven Harbour. We left the main road, passed the harbour and threaded through quiet streets to take the back entrance into Ocean terminal - our lunch stop. During the lunch stop, the writer realised the hazard of walking around a large shopping centre in hi-viz cycle clothing without a bike in sight. A member of the public came up to him to ask directions. His opening line being, "you look as if you work here."

Lunch over, the two groups reconvened at the bike racks. We took the road past the docks and headed up Constitution Street, before turning left into Queen Charlotte Street, which took us to Leith Links. From there we headed back to the coast and on to Portobello Prom via Seafield. Over lunch, the leader had briefed the two backmarkers of the afternoon's route. She told us at Portobello Swim Centre, we were to turn left. Alas, she meant right. Turning left would have taken us into the Firth of Forth. Fortunately, we all turned right; so no wet wheels or riders! We made our way across the busy Abercorn Terrace and took the bridge over the Craigentinny railway sidings. The cycle paths serving the new Portobello High School took us to Milton Road. From there we threaded through the back streets of the Magdalenes to join the Innocent railway for our run back to the Meadows. Having been caught and passed by the second group earlier in the day, those in the first group were surprised at how far behind us they were at the finish. It turned out that there had been two punctures in the afternoon. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. Despite the earlier sunshine having been replaced with grey skies, the weather had stayed reasonable for the time of year. All in all, another successful 20 Milers outing. Thanks to Verity for leading.

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

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

October ride this Saturday

We've got our October ride this coming Saturday (14th).

Verity will be leading us on a tour of Edinburgh's north coast, heading out first to Cramond and then working our way round to Leith and Portobello. We'll be on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths for most of the time, with just a couple of stretches on roads that might be busy with traffic.
The total distance will be about 23 miles, with no serious hills to worry about.

For lunch, we'll stop at the Ocean Terminal in Leith. There are several food outlets there, both to sit in or take away. For those of us who like to picnic, there is a particularly nice spot behind the building with good views of the harbour.

The meeting time and place for this ride are the same as ever: 10.30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Remember, all our rides are free and open to all, so feel free to bring your friends. There's no advance booking. Just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Somewhere new, with a bit of luck

Today's ride saw us head into uncharted territory. The leader who was leading his second Extra ride in as many months, took us into the depths of Midlothian - to Pathhead and beyond. For most this was somewhere new and unexplored.

On a bright and sunny September morning, fourteen riders assembled at Fisherrow Harbour. Following the customary briefing, we headed away from the harbour towards the River Esk. We had only been under way a couple of minutes when a shout went up (that could be heard at the other side of Musselburgh), "oh no! A bird's just poo'ed on me!" We stopped and waited whilst the poor rider cleaned them self up. They were not placated by being told by several of the group, "it's lucky". Drama over, we set off again. The familiar path beside the river took us to Whitecraig where we joined the path towards Dalkeith. Leaving the path, we headed towards the road that we often take to Crossgatehall. At the junction, the leader surprised some [who thought they knew the way] by turning right instead of left. Then a left turn and we were heading towards Cousland. A sharp little climb into the village. It was now quite warm and we stopped to regroup with many shedding layers. It would remain "T-shirt weather" until lunchtime. Through Cousland, down a glorious hill, a hop across the A6093 and we were back on quiet roads heading towards Pathhead. The sun was shining, the roads were quiet and we were blessed with lovely scenery. Perfect day to be out on the bike. Just before Pathhead, we turned left onto an even quieter road.
Now we were out in the country. The occasional couple of houses and a few farms were the only signs of human habitation as we rode past fields with cows, sheep and crops. One field was even shared by cows and a family of ducks. We carried on until we arrived at a T-junction. In front of us was the fast and busy A68 trunk road. Fortunately we had a good view of the road in both directions. When it was clear as far as we could see, we turned right and made our way along it in single file. After a mere 200 yards we turned onto a minor road and left it behind. We were now on a lovely deserted road riding past more fields full of sheep. We turned right at Tynehead and the road fell gradually downhill to the tiny village of Crichton. A dead end road would have taken us to the historically important ruin of Crichton Castle. Instead we took the road towards Pathhead. Another stretch of delightful quiet country road and we were heading into Pathhead. To avoid trying to turn right onto the busy A68 that runs through the village, we took to the pavement, dismounted and wheeled our bikes up to the pub where we would have lunch. The service was not very fast. But the food was good and we were made to feel welcome.

On emerging from the pub, we realised it was a bit cooler and the clouds had rolled in. Many put on an extra layer. Fortunately, it stayed dry; so no need for waterproofs. Again, it made sense to wheel our bikes down the pavement rather than join the A68 through the village. Soon we were back on lovely quiet roads. We re-joined the road we had been on earlier and retraced our steps to Cousland. That steep hill from the morning was much nicer for going down than up. We took a different route out of the village and were soon on the path towards Whitecraig. From there, the Grove took us back towards Musselburgh. Several of the riders commented on how lovely that stretch of path beside the river is. Just before the bridge that carries the main East Coast railway line, we stopped and the leader declared the ride officially over. From there some headed across the river and back towards Edinburgh, whilst others headed back towards Fisherrow and onwards to Portobello. The weather had been kind to us (especially in the morning), the scenery had been lovely, we had enjoyed riding on deserted roads. Everyone had enjoyed themselves and most could say they had been somewhere they had never been before and the only drama had been the bird incident at the very start. A perfect way to round off this year's series of Extra rides.

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