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Monday, 18 June 2018

Summer solstice evening ride this coming Friday

This week sees the summer solstice: the longest day of the year. To mark the occasion, we are organising a ride for Friday evening. We'll meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We'll set out at 19:00, aiming to finish about 21:30. Sunset is not until 22:03, so the entire ride should take place in daylight, but I advise you to bring lights anyway, in case of delay and to see you home.

This will be a leisurely ride, taken at our usual easy pace. We'll stay mainly near the city centre and on the North Edinburgh bike paths. There will be an optional ascent of Calton Hill towards the end, but no other serious hills or other difficulties. The total distance will be about 14 miles.

There won't be a meal or refreshment stop during the ride, but we'll finish near a pub in case anyone wants to go for a drink afterwards. By all means bring some nibbles on the ride if you want to keep the hunger pangs away.

Like all our rides, this one is free and open to all, with no need to book in advance. Feel free to tell your pals about it.

Other evening rides

Ours isn't the only evening run this week. Both CTC and our own Jim Cameron have their usual evening outings, on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. And Laid Back Bikes have a special ride on Tuesday evening for those interested in recliners, trikes, cargo bikes, tandems and the like; this includes a behind-the-scenes visit to their shop in Viewforth. Full details of these rides (and many others) can be found as usual at www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk.

Our next daytime rides will be on 14th July (our usual monthly run) and 21st July (our third Extra of the season). I hope to see you at one or more of these events.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

A picnic high in the Pentlands

On a lovely warm summer's day we headed up into the Pentland Hills for a picnic lunch beside Harlaw Reservoir. There was a bit of climbing up past the lower reservoirs and some tracks were quite rough and stony, but the lovely weather and stunning views made it all worthwhile. Last month's leader, Dawn was on backmarker duty today. Following her pre-ride briefing last month, she received [an unheard of] round of applause. The same happened today when the leader announced she would be back marking.

A turnout of twenty-five riders was respectable; but given the lovely weather we might have expected
more. As ever, it was good to see some new faces in the mix. A few of our regulars were abscent;  they were off on a challenge to ride 100 miles in a day. The days where we could muster numbers in the high thirties seem to be gone. At least it meant we only needed one group today. Followimg the leader's briefing; for the second time in a month, we set off on foot wheeling our bikes past the roadworks on Middle Meadow Walk. Once clear, we mounted up and rode off towards Bruntsfield Links. From there, the back streets of Morningside took us to Braidburn Valley Park. Through the park, we continued to follow the Braid Burn and made our way through back roads in the Redford area, emerging on Redford Road. A short spell on that road and we turned left into Redford Drive.
More quiet back roads around Bonaly followed before making our way up Bonaly Road, past the primary school, over the City Bypass and along Torduff  Road to Torduff Reservoir. As we were now in the Pentland Hills, the climbing began. On past Clubbiedean Reservoir and we were on rough rocky tracks that didn't make for easy going, especially given the very dry conditions under wheel. At least the climbing was now behind us. unsurprisingly given the lovely summer weather, it was very busy at Harlaw Visitor Centre. All the picnic tables were taken, so lunch was taken on the banks of Harlaw Reservoir. A picnic lunch on a fine sunny day sitting in the Pentlands beside a reservoir in good company - what more could anyone want? Oh, and the satisfaction of having gotten there under one's own steam.

Lunch over; we rode off along the track past Threipmuir Reservoir to begin the descent of Mansfield
Road. The road was in a terrible state and we all had to be aware of the awful potholes that could so easily catch out the unwary; especially on a descent. We all made it safely down into Balerno. There was a long queue of traffic on the main road out of town due to temporary traffic lights. The group circumvented these, and soon we had left the busy road behind and were enjoying the Water of Leith path. Onwards through the Colinton Tunnel (which always reminds the writer of the "Italian Job") to the canal. Here, we would usually follow the canal back into town. But not this time. The leader took us away from the canal on an unfamiliar [to many] route through Redhall. We crossed Longstone Road and a [very easy to miss] cut-through beside the Longstone Inn took us onto a path that led to Stenhouse. From there we went through Saughton Park and on to Murrayfield where preparations were under way for the evening's Rolling Stones concert. Through Roseburn Park, and the familiar route via Russell Road, Dalry Road, the Telfer subway, Leamington Bridge and the King's Theatre saw us return to the Meadows.

Thanks to David for leading us on such a lovely route through the Pentlands on such a glorious day.
Interesting little twist near the end by taking us through Redhall and Longstone - somewhere very few of us had been before.

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

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

June 20-Milers this coming Saturday

We've got our June ride this coming Saturday (9th). David will be taking us along the classic Reservoir Route on the edge of the Pentlands. This is a very scenic route, away from busy roads and traffic, and with excellent views.

There will inevitably be a fair bit of climbing (this is the Pentland Hills, after all). But we'll take it at our usual steady pace and cheerfully wait for stragglers. Most of the uphill work will be in the morning, so we'll have some nice freewheeling in the afternoon. Apart from a mile or so on a rough track, we will be on good surfaces most of the time. The total distance will be 22 miles.

Our lunch stop will be at the Harlaw Reservoir. I suggest you bring a picnic. Although there is a snack bar at the reservoir, it serves only a limited range of food and there is usually a long queue. A toilet is available at the visitor centre.

As always, we'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure. If the weather is really bad, we might opt for a shorter route with a cafe stop; we'll make that decision on the spot.

Summer Solstice

We are also planning an additional ride for later in the month. This will be an evening run on Friday 22nd June to celebrate the (approximate) summer solstice. I'll post details as they get firmed up. (Note that this will be in addition to Jim's weekly evening ride, which will be the day before.)

We've got two rides planned for July: our standard run on the 14th and our third Extra of the year on the 21st. Again, more details as and when.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

A Fab day out

For our second Extra ride of the year we headed across the Forth to Scotland's ancient capital - Dunfermline. We were blessed with gloriously warm, if slightly muggy weather. Not surprisingly, thunderstorms were forecast for around 3.00 pm. That would keep us on our toes. On our way back, the leader kindly treated us all to Fab ice lollies in Inverkeithing.

Maybe potential riders had taken more notice of the forecast for thunderstorms than appreciated how warm it was at the time leading up to departure; but a turn out of just twelve riders was a little disappointing. Those that stayed away ended up missing a great ride in lovely weather. Following a briefing from the leader, we headed off on the familiar route via Silverknowes and Barnton to Cramond Brig. To everyone's surprise, the leader swept across the bridge there without stopping - an almost unheard of occurence! We took the path beside the A90 and on into Dalmeny village. From there we made our way past the new houses and through the back streets of South Queensferry to the Forth Bridges Viewpoint, where we had a comfort stop. From there, we headed onto the Forth Road Bridge. It is so nice now it is almost free of traffic - so much quieter; although everything still vibrates as a bus goes past. It was warm and there was barely any wind, but the mist did somewhat spoil the views.

Such a contrast to an early recce for this ride back in March when the riders had almost been blown off the bridge by very strong winds. It had been so bad that the group caught the train home rather than risk crossing the bridge a second time. Across the bridge, we threaded our way through the paths and quiet roads in the area. It was great to cross the [once horrendously busy] road off the bridge without any trouble. There was a swirl of wind as we passed beneath a bridge; astonishingly [for Scotland] the wind was actually warm! We took the B981 and on through an industrial estate and past Rosyth Dockyard, before turning up and joining a road that took us past the MOD Caledonia camp. There followed a short stretch on the busy A985, before turning off onto Grange Road and making our way into Dunfermline. The delightful Pittencrieff Park was our lunch venue. Here we split into two groups, one made for the picnic tables whilst the other headed for the cafe and enjoyed lunch on the terrace. This was only the second Extra ride to Dunfermline, and on both ocassions we have enjoyed lunch sitting outside in Pittencrieff Park in lovely warm sunshine. 

As we reconvened after lunch, the leader was conscious of the 3.00 pm forecast for thunderstorms. Whilst the pace in the morning had not been slow, it was certainly cranked up a notch or two on the homeward leg as we aimed to outrun the storm. We exited the park and were soon negotiating a mixture of busy roads and shared use paths in the centre of Dunfermline. It was good to leave them behind and head towards Inverkeithing. On this stretch, a kind car driver let us all across the road despite the lights being in his favour. We were most thankful, unlike the irate driver behind him who sped off giving him hand signals that are certainly not in the Highway Code! The phrase, "calm down dear" sprang to mind. Despite trying to outrun the storm, the leader stopped in Inverkeithing and very kindly bought everyone a Fab ice lolly. We retired to a quiet little park just off the high street to enjoy them and reminisce about Fab lollies and childhood days. At the far end of the park, through the trees was a view of an expanse of water. One rider said, "what a lovely pond". It was pointed out to them that it was actually the Firth of Forth! Ice lolly stop over, we headed back across the bridge and had a comfort stop at the Forth Bridges viewpoint. One of the group checked his phone and told us of heavy rain south of the City Bypass - it wasn't far away. From here on in the pace definitely picked up - we were on a mission. We took the same route as we had taken out in the morning. But this time we did stop at Cramond Brig to regroup. We arrived at Craigleith and it was still dry as the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Verity for leading. A good route with some sections unfamiliar to most, lovely weather, great lunch venue and what a fab (groans all round) move buying us all an ice lolly. At the end of most rides, some of us finish off with a coffee. As we all felt the need to continue outrunning the storm, we gave that a miss today. In typical fashion, the storm never materialised. A little light rain hours later was as bad as it got.

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

Monday, 28 May 2018

20-Milers Extra on Saturday (2nd June)

We've got the second of our Extra rides planned for this coming Saturday. Verity will be leading us on a sortie over the Forth Road Bridge and into Fife with a lunch stop in Dunfermline. The whole route will be on roads and well-surfaced paths, but that includes a couple of stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. Verity points out that Dunfermline was built on high ground, which means that there will be a long-ish climb just before lunch (but a nice freewheel just after). The total distance will be about 35 miles.

Please keep in mind 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, less so for those who are less fit or who haven't cycled for a while.

By the way, if you haven't ridden over the Forth Road Bridge recently, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the change. Since the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing last autumn, most of the traffic has disappeared from the old bridge, so crossing it is a much more agreeable experience.

Lunch arrangements

Our lunch stop on Saturday will be 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 for a 10:15 departure.

Lots more rides

With summer now more-or-less under way, there are a lot more rides coming up. We've got our normal "second Saturday" runs on 9th June and 14th July, and another Extra on 21st July.

Jim is continuing his weekly Thursday evening rides; these start at 18:30 from the Victor Hugo café (corner of Melville Terrace and Livingstone Place). Other local cycling groups, such as Spokes, Mellow Velo and EasyCycle, also have rides that you are welcome to join. These vary from short easy rides to longer full-day runs and weekends away. And with the annual Edinburgh Festival of Cycling due to start soon, there will be the usual programme of cycling-related talks, workshops and entertainment.

You'll find details of all these events on the Cycling Edinburgh website: www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Flying solo

Today's ride took us out to South Queensferry via the lovely Dalmeny Estate. Last year, today's leader led her first ever ride. On that occasion she set a precedent with there being two leaders. Today she was flying solo; thus proving to the group [and herself] that leading a ride is not as daunting as some would have you believe. Maybe that is why she received [an unheard of] round of applause following the pre-ride briefing.

It was great to be blessed with lovely weather. Warm, sunny, blue skies and little wind was the order of the day. A turnout of twenty four riders was good and meant we only needed one group. As ever, it was good to see some new faces. There is so much to be said for a group which has the philosophy of "no need to book, just turn up and enjoy the ride". The group walked away from the start point. Yes, walked! Half  the width of Middle Meadow Walk had been dug up at that point, forcing us to walk along pushing our bikes for the first 100 yards of the ride. We remounted and rode to the Leamington Bridge via Bruntsfield Links. A short stretch on the canal towpath, down past Fountain Park, through the Telfer subway, Russell Road and we were riding up the zig-zags to join the Roseburn Path. The Roseburn and Telford Paths took us onwards to Granton, past the gasometer which was gleaming in the sunshine. From there it was down to the waterfront and along Silverknowes Esplanade to Cramond for a comfort and sweetie stop. A sharp little climb up School Brae followed to join Whitehouse Road. A right turn down the delightful little Peggy's Mill Road and we were on the River Almond Walkway. We had the mandatory stop at Cramond Brig. What should have been a quick stop ended up being more lengthy due to a mechanical problem requiring attention. We followed route N76 through the delightful Dalmeny Estate, which was lovely at this time of year in the sunshine. We followed the path that skirts the coast to emerge beside the Forth Rail Bridge. We thought the paths through the estate were busy; but that was nothing compared to how busy South Queensferry was. Even on nice days there is often a cool breeze blowing off the Forth. For once, this was not the case. Perfect picnic weather.

As we were preparing to head off after our lunch stop, a few of us were reminiscing about something that happened a couple of years ago. Despite it sounding too good to be true, the leader told us he had discovered a way of avoiding the steep climb up the main road to the Co-Op where we would join the cycle path. Unfortunately, the alternative route involved carrying bikes up a couple of flights of steps! Needless to say, we have never used it since. The short, steep climb over and we were on the cycle path that took us to Dalmeny village. Back into Dalmeny Estate, this time on roads rather than the paths of the morning. There were a couple of hills to deal with in the warm sunshine; but payback came in the form of a glorious downhill section. Another stop at Cramond Brig - this time a brief one. We made our way back through Barnton, Davidson's Mains, Silverknowes and past Craigleith. From there, we took almost the same route back as we had taken out in the morning. The difference being that we returned to The Meadows via Tollcross rather than Bruntsfield Links.

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. The weather certainly helped. Thanks to Dawn on her first time as sole leader; and I'm sure she will have appreciated David's assistance as backmarker-cum-wingman.

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

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

May 20-Milers this coming Saturday

Just a quick reminder of this Saturday's ride, in which Dawn will be leading us out to South Queensferry. There will be a few moderate hills and a couple of short stretches on paths that might be a little rough or muddy. But apart from that, it promises to be a pleasant route with no particular difficulties.

South Queensferry offers a choice of cafés for lunch. If you prefer to bring your own food, you can enjoy a picnic on the benches overlooking the Forth.

As always, we'll gather at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure.

Looking further ahead, our next Extra of the summer will be on 2nd June, when we'll be crossing into Fife - more details of that one nearer the time.