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Saturday 10 February 2024

Drizzly visit to an old favourite

Today's ride saw us head through the drizzle to that winter favourite of the group, Craigie's Farm. The drizzle had stopped by the time we headed back after lunch, but it had turned cooler. On the homeward stretch, two riders were unfortunate to suffer punctures.

Given the heavy drizzle at the start, a turnout of fourteen riders was good for February. The leader's briefing was very thorough. After mentioning that there would be three busy roads to cross, he then proceeded to [seemingly] reel off the names of every road we would be on. If nothing else, it gave the group confidence that the leader knew exactly where he was going. This was borne out later with an unexpected detour to avoid the rugby crowds at Murrayfield on the way back to town.

Leaving the Meadows behind, familiar paths and roads led us to Roseburn Park via Bruntsfield Links, Leamington Bridge and Telfer subway. Crowds were building up in the area prior to the Scotland v France rugby match. The writer couldn't help but smile as we passed one of those stands at the roadside selling Scotland merchandise; the seller having a distinctly English accent. Past Murrayfield Stadium, across Balgreen Road and we were soon skirting Carrick Knowe golf course. Through the quiet backstreets of Carrick Knowe, the obligatory pause at the dovecot in Dovecot Road, through Gyle Park and we were beside the busy Glasgow Road. With everyone safely across, we passed Craigmount School and went down Craigs Road to cross the busy Maybury Road. We were now on the continuation of Craigs Road. With all the new houses that have sprung up there, the place is unrecognisable to those remembering it as open fields. On better, but busier roads we made our way to Cammo Park via West Craigs. Leaving the road behind, a very muddy path led downhill to the Grotto Bridge, where we paused as Ian handed out lovely homemade cake that was greatly appreciated. Through the eerily deserted Craigiehall army housing estate, the path beside the A90 and we were on the road to Kirkliston. Up the hill to Craigie's Farm, which always helps to build up an appetite and we were at our lunch stop. Some of the group headed to the café, whilst the remainder headed to the undercover picnic tables. It's usually busy as the pick-your-own area, but is not used at this time of year so was a great picnic area.

With everyone suitably replenished, we sped down Craigie Hill, and were soon on the path beside the A90 on our way to Cramond Brig. Following the obligatory pause on the bridge, we headed through Barnton and Silverknowes. On Silverknowes Drive a rider at the back of the group suffered a puncture. Although the group never leaves a rider in difficulty, they were insistent that they were happy to walk home - so the backmarker and writer headed off to Craigleith to re-join the group. We expected to take the familiar route back to town, but the leader had other ideas. To avoid the rugby crowds, he led us on a detour missing out Murrayfield. We left the Roseburn Path and took West Coates to Haymarket Terrace. There we had to contend with heavy traffic and crossing of tram tracks. All safely across, along Dalry Road, up Dalry Place, across the West Approach Road and we were soon back at Leamington Bridge. Having declared the ride officially over, we realised that one of the riders had a puncture. With the drizzle returning and watched over by a swan on the canal, many hands made light work to fix the puncture and get the rider back on the road.

Thanks to Alan for leading us on an interesting route and to Yaz for back marking. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ride, despite the weather. 

Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn 

Monday 5 February 2024

February ride this coming Saturday

Now that the shortest winter days are behind us, we will be resuming our full-day rides this month, the next one being this coming Saturday, 10 February.

For this month's ride, Alan will be our leader. Our route will take in Gyle Park, West Craigs and Cammo Park, before reaching our lunch stop at Craigie's Farm. We'll then return to town via Cramond Brig and Craigleith.

We will be on quiet roads and bike paths most of the time, including a couple of short stretches that will probably be muddy. There will be a steep climb just before lunch, as well as a few more moderate hills during the morning. The total distance will be about 22 miles. 
More than half of that will be in the morning, so the lunch stop might be on the late side. The afternoon leg will be relatively short with some nice downhills.

Lunch stop

The cafe at Craigie's Farm offers a choice of sandwiches, salads and a soup of the day.
For those who prefer to bring a packed lunch, there are picnic tables, including some that are under cover.

Time and place

As always, we will meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure. We will aim to finish the ride around the middle of the afternoon. There is no need to let anyone know in advance whether you plan to join us.

Before setting out ...

... please give your bike a quick look-over to ensure that it is in good condition, especially if you haven't ridden for a while. Check that the tyres are properly inflated, that the brakes are working well and that the chain is well oiled. And please remember to bring a spare inner tube, plus whatever tools are needed to remove a wheel (if you don't have quick-release hubs). If you are in doubt about any of this, your favourite bike shop will be pleased to advise.

Saturday 13 January 2024

Five parks and back in time for lunch

For the second month in a row, today saw us take a shorter than usual half-day ride, finishing in time for lunch. The leader led us on a ride that took in some interesting bike routes in the south of the city, including no fewer than five parks. The five parks were Holyrood Park, Cavalry Park, Craigmillar Castle Park, Inch Park and Hermitage of Braid. Whilst it wasn't a warm day, it was milder than of late and it remained dry and sunny for the duration.

It's no doubt that the weather helped, but a turnout of eighteen riders in January was quite impressive. Following the leader's briefing, we headed off to Duddingston village through Holyrood Park. From there, Cavalry Park Drive and the path beside Duddingston golf course took us to Milton Road, down to the bus terminus at Bingham and onto the Innocent Railway heading back towards the city centre. Having crossed Duddingston Road West, we cut through Peffermill Industrial Estate and headed through Craigmillar Castle Park. Across the busy Old Dalkeith Road, and we were on the quiet road that skirts Inch Park. Across Gilmerton Road, down Double Hedges Road and we were waiting for the lights to change at the junction of Kirkbrae and Liberton Brae. After navigating past walkers, dog walkers and cars, Blackford Glen Road soon came to an end and we were on the Hermitage of Braid path beside the Braid Burn. The first section was busy with more walkers and dog walkers. It was also quite muddy, so we slowed right down, took it easy and the path widened which led to easier progress. Following a comfort stop near the visitor centre, we left the path behind and made our way back to the Meadows via the quiet back streets of Morningside.

At the Meadows the leader declared the ride officially over. A well deserved round of applause followed. Thanks to Alison for leading an interesting ride around five parks on a bright sunny day, and thanks to Yaz for back marking. For February, the plan is to be back to our normal length of ride to include a lunch stop.

Leader: Alison

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 8 January 2024

January ride this coming Saturday

We've got our first ride of 2024 coming up on Saturday (13th). This will again be a half-day run, starting at 10:30 from our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, and finishing at or near the Meadows around 13:00.

Under Alison's leadership, the ride will take in some interesting bike routes in the south of the city, including no fewer than five parks. The total distance will be about 12 miles, with most of the route being traffic-free. There will be a few hills, none of them particularly difficult. There will also be a couple of short stretches which will be rough and possibly muddy, where we might need to dismount.

Because this is just a half-day ride, there will be no official lunch stop. There are plenty of cafés, coffee shops and pubs near the finish for those of you who would like to go for a post-ride snack or meal, but that won't be part of the official ride.

Looking ahead, we will be reverting to our usual full-day format from February. I'll post the details of the February run nearer the time.

Remember, there is no need to book in advance for any of our rides.

Saturday 9 December 2023

A short wet cycle

For today's ride we departed from our usual format with a shorter than usual half-day ride finishing around lunch time. Given the weather, no one seemed bothered. The leader had devised an interesting and unusual route to Musselburgh involving some little-known back streets of Portobello, a newly surfaced path near the Honest Toun's station, and some quiet paths through the Gilbertstoun estate. Even our habitual riders found that there were parts of this route that they had never cycled before. It was a wet ride; but the rain wasn't heavy, there was hardly any wind and it was milder than it has been for a while. We did have a bizarre incident with a nimby in Portobello - more of which later.

Given that the day dawned wet from the start and the forecast was for heavy rain later, a turnout of 13 riders was quite good. Following the customary leader's briefing, we headed off to Holyrood Park and on to Duddingston village. Down Duddingston Road, across Milton Road, we waited at Hamilton Terrace to regroup. It was here that the bizarre nimby incident occurred. The leader/writer/photographer (one and the same) was taking photos of the riders on the segregated cycle lane when a local resident appeared telling him not to take photos of lots of riders on the cycle lane, as very few cyclists used it. He didn't want the photos to be used as part of a campaign suggesting the cycle lane was well used. A strange conversation followed where it was explained to him that the photos were being taken for a report on today's 20 Milers ride. The conversation became quite strange and the leader was rescued by Mike who told him politely that we were on a schedule and had to go. Fortunately he didn't run down the road after us trying to continue the conversation, but if he had, few of us would have been surprised. It was a relief to escape from the bizarre conversation. We continued down Brighton Place and onto Portobello prom. Just past the Portobello Swim Centre, we turned up Pittville Street Lane to begin our discovery of the delightful little lanes that exist so close to the prom. To avoid a deep puddle across the width of John Street Lane, we made a detour back to the prom and back up to James Street Lane. Here we found a second wide, deep puddle that stopped us in our tracks. This had not been there on the recce two weeks earlier. More backtracking to the prom followed, along Bedford Terrace and the narrow and cobbled Joppa Park to emerge on Joppa Road. Following that road to Musselburgh would have been the preferred choice; but our recce had flagged a hold up further along due to temporary traffic lights. So a steep little climb up Colliesdene Drive, a twiddle through more quiet back streets and we were on Milton Road. From there, it was an easy run to Fisherrow Harbour for a comfort stop. Ian kindly went round the group handing out lovely homemade mince pies. 

Suitably replenished, we pressed on to the river, ducked under Musselburgh's main road bridge and were soon crossing Olive Bank Road. From there, we joined the Grove to run alongside the River Esk, before crossing it on the footbridge. At Monktonhall, we nipped under the railway bridge on the path which had recently been resurfaced. So much better than the wet muddy mess it used to be, especially on a day like today. Up the lovely new cycle path to the station and back on the familiar territory that is the path to Newcraighall. At Gilbertstoun, we took the last less-familiar part of the route to twist through the estate and emerge at Brunstane station. The familiar Innocent Railway then took us back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride officially over. He thought a round of applause was beginning, until the rider explained that he was simply trying to warm his cold hands. Perhaps next time. Despite that and the weather, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride, and no one seemed upset to have had a shorter route and earlier finish.

Leader: Glenn

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 4 December 2023

Half-day ride this coming Saturday

As you might know, our rides take place right through the year, including during these winter months. However, for this month and next, we will be departing from our usual format. In December and January, our runs will be shorter than usual: just half-day rides, finishing around lunch time. This is partly in deference to the winter weather and the short daylight hours; and partly (in the case of December) because of the difficulty of finding lunch venues during the festive season.

With that in mind, here are the details of our next ride, which takes place this coming Saturday (9 December).

For this ride, Glenn has devised an interesting and unusual route, involving the back doubles of Portobello, the Musselburgh waterfront and a delightful stretch of the River Esk walkway. Even if you are one of our habitual riders, you might find that there are parts of this route that you have never cycled before.

The total distance will be about 16 miles. It should be a straightforward run, with no difficult hills and with generally good surfaces - apart from a couple of short cobbled stretches.

Time and place

The ride will start as usual at 10:30 form the north end of Middle Meadow Walk.

We will aim to get back to the Meadows by 13:00 at the latest. There will be no official lunch stop, but given the large number of pubs, sandwich shops and cafés near the finish, some of you may wish to get together for a meal or snack after the ride. But if you do, it won't be part of the official event.

Looking ahead

For various reasons, we have decided not to run our customary Christmas morning ride this year. It's possible that someone else will organise a ride for that day. If so, I will let you know.

Our January ride will follow the same half-day format as in December. From February, we will return to our usual full-day runs.

One more thing ...

As some of you will know, 2024 will be a momentous year in the history of the 20-Milers: our 20th anniversary. Our first ever ride took place on 11 September 2004. I would very much welcome any suggestions you might have for how we might mark this important milestone. Please get in touch if you have any ideas.

Saturday 11 November 2023

The wrong way to Mortonhall

Today's ride saw us take some interesting and unusual routes in the south of the city, taking in the Bioquarter, Burdiehouse Valley Park, Mortonhall and Swanston. Lunch was at the Mortonhall Garden Centre. We've been there quite a few times over the years, usually approaching from the west; today we arrived from the east. Crisp, bright winter sunshine and barely any wind was the order of the day, which was nice for November. Thirteen riders mustered for the start.

At the leader's briefing, he emphasised that there would be a few crossings of busy roads to contend with. Briefing over, we headed off towards the Innocent Railway. We whizzed through the tunnel and left the path at Bingham to head up Hay Avenue. This road had been in the national news a week earlier with rioters attacking police with fireworks and petrol bombs; but there was nothing to suggest that as we cycled up the quiet, almost deserted road. We continued through the backstreets of Niddrie to the Bioquarter and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. From there we rode through Moredun, took the cycle path beside Gilmerton Road, which we crossed and took the path beside Morrisons. Cycle paths took us through Gilmerton and Burdiehouse Valley Park to arrive at Lasswade Road. Having crossed the busy road, we regrouped at the entrance back into Burdiehouse Valley Park. As we waited, Ian handed out homemade baking to the group. The path beside Burdiehouse Burn, through quiet backstreets, Captain's Road, Frogston Road East and we were at Mortonhall Garden Centre for our lunch stop. It's a long time since we arrived for lunch before 1200. Most riders headed to the café, whilst a few hardy souls sat outside to eat their packed lunches.

We frequently leave Mortonhall and head towards the Braid Hills. Not today. We took Frogston Road West towards Fairmilehead, turning left and headed towards Morton House and cut through the housing estate just north of Lothianburn Junction. We crossed the busy Biggar Road, then the off and on slip roads for the City Bypass. Leaving the traffic behind, we began to climb the rough path that would take us to the delightful Swanston village where we paused to get our breath back and admire the village. We crossed the City Bypass again, but this time a bridge made life much easier. Across Oxgangs Road, quiet roads and paths through Oxgangs took us to Greenbank Crescent and the traffic lights at Comiston Road. Despite the road works, we were able to go straight across and cycle along Braidburn Terrace. The quiet backstreets of Morningside and Marchmont, along Leamington Walk, and we were back at the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over.

Everyone enjoyed the ride, the weather was kinder to us than we had dared hope in November and it was nice to visit a familiar destination using a far from familiar route. Thanks to Mike for leading, and Yaz for back marking.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn