Saturday, 23 May 2015
The Extra rides usually have a lower turnout than the main 20 milers. The lovely weather obviously helped as an impressive 30 riders assembled at the Criagleith meeting point. It was great to see some newcomers in amongst the familiar faces. Lets hope they enjoyed the ride and will return. Opting to keep in one group, we headed off along the familiar NCN 1 route through Barnton before making our customary stop on the Old Toll Bridge at Cramond. We then pressed on to South Queensferry for a comfort stop at the Co-op. From there we followed the shore and made our way into the Hopetoun Estate. The views of the existing road and rail bridges, the new Forth crossing and the Forth itself were stunning bathed in bright sunlight with a backdrop of blue sky. Today these views were in vivid colour. So often they seem to be available only in monochrome. This led us on to our lunch stop at the impressive Blackness Castle. There was a minor diversion on the way to lunch when two of the group nipped into a deserted children's playpark to have a shot on a rocking horse they remembered from their childhoods.
We spread out across a number of picnic tables beside the castle. How nice to enjoy a picnic lunch in the warm sunshine for a change. Our departure was delayed whilst one of the rider's needed to have their brakes repaired. Some wag suggeted they wouldn't need their brakes for a while as the first section after lunch was uphill. This was certainly the case as two quite stiff climbs greeted us as we hit the road again. We made our way to Philipstoun where we climbed up to join the Union Canal. We followed the towpath for four miles, before leaving the canal at Niddrie Castle. Quiet roads, paths and a stretch of main road took us to Kirkliston from where we returned to the Old Toll Bridge at Cramond. A brief stop to admire the River Almond in the sunlight, before retracing our steps back to the start point at Criagleith.
Monday, 18 May 2015
Route and destination
For this week's ride, we will heading out along the John Muir Way. We'll take in South Queensferry, the Hopetoun Estate and Blackness. The return leg will consist of a longish stretch on the canal towpath, then back to town via Winchburgh and Kirkliston.
The total distance will be about 35 miles. A lot of the route will be on paths, and these may be rough and muddy in places. There will also be a couple of stretches on busy main roads. There will be one killer hill, just after lunch.
For lunch, we will have a picnic at Blackness Castle. You can buy drinks and confectionery at the castle shop, but there are no cafés or pubs in the vicinity, so be sure to bring your own food.
If the day is slightly wet or showery, we'll go ahead as planned. But if the weather is really foul, we'll do a different, shorter run, with a café for lunch.
Meeting time and place
For this ride, we'll meet at our alternative meeting point: the junction of the Roseburn, Telford and Blackhall paths in Craigleith. If you're not sure where that is, see this blog post for detailed directions.
We'll start at 10 am, which is half an hour earlier than usual. The ride will probably end a little later than usual - about 4 pm or so, depending on progress.
So, to summarise the important points:
- Meet at Craigleith, not the Meadows.
- Meet at 10 am, not 10.30.
- Bring a picnic.
Sunday, 17 May 2015
The second annual 20 Milers weekend away ride saw 13 riders gather on a cool, damp and breezy morning that felt more like March than May. Someone once said May is the best month of the year if you're after good weather in Scotland. There was a theory to test. The leader handed out encapsulated (oh ye of little faith) route cards, gave the customary briefing and we were off.
On reaching the busy A72 into Peebles the leader gave the group a choice of two routes into town. After such attrition, it wasn't surprising that ten opted for the more direct route along the main road whilst only three agreed to stick to the planned route. A trouble free run saw the group of ten quickly get into town. The intrpid three now headed on the more scenic, but longer route. Only at this point did the leader admit he wasn't totally sure of the route! A promising start led through some lovely countryside. But it all went wrong when they arrived at the main road they had been trying to avoid. Damn! If it wasn't for tiredness, the fact that time was getting on and the allure of the pub there may have been some retracing of steps and serious studying of maps. Instead it was a case of, "stuff it! We'll take the main road." The group met up again in the pub for a well-deserved post-ride pint before heading off to find their accomodation. Was there ever a harder earned beer? Following the luxury of a shower and change of clothes, we all met up for a lovely pub meal to round off what many were claiming to be their toughest day on a bike ever! We had ridden 43 miles, but for most of us it felt like 20 more.
So there ended the second annual 20 Milers weekend away ride. A thoroughly enjoyable trip that had been made more challenging by the weather conditions. For those that completed the first day or [especially for those] that completed both, give yourself a big pat on the back for completing ninety-five challenging miles. Where to next year?
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Our regular monthly rides invariably start on Middle Meadow Walk. But we occasionally organise additional runs, and these sometimes start from an alternative meeting point in Craigleith. If you are not sure how to find that point, read on.
The Craigleith meeting point is at the junction of three bike paths: the Roseburn, Blackhall and Telford Paths (see photo). It is 1.8 km (just over a mile) north west of the start of the Roseburn Path in Russell Road. As you approach from that direction, you will pass under Queensferry Road. You will then see a Sainsbury petrol station through the trees on your right. There is a Sustrans marker at the path junction, as well as several signposts and information boards.
If you are still not sure where it is, look up South Groathill Avenue in any street map. This is a small road that runs alongside the Craigleith Retail Park. To reach the meeting point from there, look for the signposted access to the bike paths, next to a lights-controlled crossing.
The grid reference of the meeting point is NT 233 747. On the Spokes Edinburgh map, the reference is G9.
Saturday, 9 May 2015
Today's ride took us through fourteen Edinburgh parks and the touch of culture was provided by visits to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Craigentinny Marbles.
A chilly, damp start to the day resulted in a [relatively] low turnout of 22 riders. A very rare occurence for recent rides; this meant we only needed one group instead of two. We left the Meadows and threaded our way through the backstreets of Morningside and on through Braidburn Valley Park. We carried on through Colinton Mains Park, Spylaw Park and bypassed Colinton village. We rode through the curved Colinton Tunnel and onto the Water of Leith Path. Having crossed the busy Slateford Road, we paused briefly at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre before pressing on past Murrayfield Stadium and through Roseburn Park. The Water of Leith Path and Belford Road took us to our first culture stop and lunch at the Gallery of modern Art. Many of the group were more interested in lunch than the art. It was even suggested that one of the sculptures would be ideal for locking bikes to! You can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. We partook in a very pleasant lunch from the cafe. By now the weather had improved. Sitting outside, the sun came out and for a while it felt quite warm.
Sufficiently fed and watered, we made our way through Ravelston Dykes before taking the Roseburn, Telford and Ferry Road Paths to head towards The Shore at Leith. Just before we left the path, we stopped to admire a cormorant sitting on a log in the middle of the Water of Leith.
The paths across Leith Links, through Lochend and Lochend Park took us to Craigentinny. Tucked away down Craigentinny Crescent, an unassuming suburban street is a most impressive mausoleum - the Craigentinny Marbles. David, ably assisted by Jim gave us an interesting talk about it. It is well worth a visit if you're ever in the area.
We made our way via Mountcastle into Figgate Park where we rode round the pond. After donning waterproofs due to a heavy shower, we left the park and headed through Duddingston before returning to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway Path. This final stretch was where we had our only puncture of the day.
Monday, 4 May 2015
Our lunch break will be at the Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road (see photo). If the weather is good, we'll sit outside, so bring food for a picnic lunch. Alternatively, you can get a snack at the café.
The arrangements are the same as ever. We'll meet at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, and set out at 10.30.
Saturday, 11 April 2015
Following a week of weather that made us all think that spring had finally arrived; today we ended up with another day that suggested otherwise. A good turnout of 32 riders gathered at the start. It was good to see several new faces in amongst them. On her first ride as leader, Verity turned tradition on its head by letting the second group head off first. With Julia leading the second group with typical Teutonic efficiency; this reversal of roles was a good idea and avoided the potential embarassment that would have resulted had the second group caught up with the first.
With the strong wind behind us, we zoomed out of town via the Innocent Railway towards Brunstane. A short stretch on the very busy Milton Road was followed by a more relaxed ride to the edge of Portobello via the cycle path and bridge over Sir Harry Lauder Road. Following a ride along the busy Portobello High Street, we made our way onto the promenade where the wind whipped up a sand storm. It now began to rain and the colour of the sky [in the direction we were heading] looked as if it would be more substantial than a passing shower. With waterproofs on we pressed on along the prom towards Leith. We took the cycle path through Restalrig, snaked around the back streets of Bonnington and came out on the Warriston Path. We went up the Goldenacre Path to Five Ways where we turned back and headed in the direction we had come from. This led to a little confusion in the group with questions of, "isn't this the direction we just came from?" To add to the confusion, the two groups met at one point travelling in opposite directions. We cut through and crossed the very busy Commercial Street and made our way to Ocean Terminal for lunch. Given the cold, wind and hail shower it was little surprise that no one wanted to picnic outside.
We had a couple of mechanical issues, one puncture and a bag that needed extracting from a rear wheel. We also endured cold, wind, rain, hail showers and a sand storm. One of the group blamed the weather on the geostrophic wind. No idea what it means, but it sounds impressive. Let's hope May's ride is blessed with better weather.