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Saturday, 20 August 2016

20-Milers Extra to Merryhatton

Whilst today's ride did go ahead; unfortunately neither of the group's usual scribes were available to bring you a report. Mike was leading guided walks around Edinburgh as part of the Festival, and Glenn was recovering from a crash at the Meadowbank velodrome.

By way of compensation, here are a few photos instead. Normal service should be resumed by the time of our next ride.

Leader: Logan
Photos: Michael
Map trace: Jim

Sunday, 14 August 2016

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday

We've got another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday. Logan will be leading us on what promises to be a very pleasant run into East Lothian, with a lunch stop at Merryhatton, near East Fortune.

Please keep in mind that these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual "second Saturday" runs. We start a little earlier, finish a little later, and maintain a slightly higher average speed - although 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 unsure of your abilities, you may prefer to give this ride a miss.

Our route on Saturday will be either 44 or 50 miles, depending on the start point (see below). There will be some short stretches that might be busy with traffic, but there should be no other difficulties. Most of the route will be on quiet roads or well-surfaced paths, and there won't be any nasty hills.

Lunch venue

Our lunch stop will 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.

Meeting time and place

For this ride, there will be a choice of meeting place. You can turn up either:

(i) At our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, but at the earlier departure time of 09.45; or

(ii) At Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. We will be leaving from there at 10.30.

Choose whichever meeting point is more convenient for you. Either way, you don't need to let anyone know in advance. As with all our rides, you can just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Festival escape to Dalkeith

Our regular meeting point at the top of Middle Meadow Walk was heaving with people courtesy of the Edinburgh Festival. Today's ride to Dalkeith was something of an antidote to the hustle  and bustle of the city in August. A bright, sunny and pleasantly warm morning greeted the 24 riders that turned up at the start. One unicycle and one recumbent made for a more eclectic mix of cycles than usual. It was nice to see some new comers in amongst the regulars. Numbers meant we could manage with one group. It's always nice to have a big turnout; but it becomes more challenging when a second group leader and back marker need to be pressed into action. Following the customary leader's briefing we headed off. A one way system in operation around George Square forced us to take an alternative route. For once we rode up, rather than down Middle Meadow Walk. Going round the Forrest Road and Bristow Place triangle soon had us back on the right road. From Potterow we turned into West Nicolson Street and made our way into Holyrood Park. Due to the volume of traffic, it took a couple of minutes to get all of the  group safely across Queen's Drive and onto the cycle path at the other side. Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few pedestrians about on this shared path. But we made good progress and were soon climbing the steepest hill of the ride up towards Dunsapie Loch. The hill wasn't too steep, and we turned off before too long to head onto the quiet residential back streets of Willowbrae. We crossed the busy Willowbrae Road quite easily, before heading through Northfield and into the delightful Figgate Park. A quick whizz through the park and we found ourselves rattling down the bumpy cobbles of Brighton Place. We were soon heading along the Portobello prom. Despite the sunshine and games of beach volleyball, it would take some stretch of the imagination to think we had magically arrived in Rio! The coast road took us to Fisherrow Harbour where we had a brief comfort stop. From there we headed out past Tesco and onto the Grove and onwards to Whitecraig. As it is no longer possible to ride through Dalkeith Country Park free of charge; we opted to take the busy A6094 into Dalkeith. That really is not a pleasant road to cycle along. The way some drivers drive along it making it quite a dangerous option. Fortunately, we made it safely into Dalkeith in time for lunch. Part of the group went to the pub with the remainder heading to King's Park. For a cycling group renowned for riding on it's stomach; there was nearly a major incident when the leader inadvertently ate someone else's lunch in the pub! With the situation rectified and everyone fed, we hit the road again.

Through a new housing estate and an obstructive gate and we were in the grounds of Newbattle Abbey. Leaving the estate behind, we made our way to Dalkeith High School via quiet residential streets and cycle paths. At the school we joined NCN 1 for a pleasant run to Whitecraig. Much nicer than the busy A6094 we had encountered earlier. Remaining on NCN 1 we made our way down the Grove back towards Musselburgh. Just before the bridge that carries the East Coast mainline, we turned off and crossed the bridge over the River Esk. This path took us past the golf course, under another railway bridge and through a housing estate, bringing us out at Musselburgh station. A run down the quiet path to Newcraighall was followed by a short spell on the busy road through the village. We soon left that behind and most of the remainder of our ride back to the Meadows was on the delightful Innocent Railway. Our respite from the busyness of the  Festival was clearly over when we arrived back at the Meadows. Thanks to Michael for leading a pleasant ride that allowed us to escape from the Festival for a few hours.

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

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

August ride this coming Saturday

We've got our August ride coming up this Saturday (13th). Michael (Law) will be leading us out to Musselburgh and then on to Dalkeith. Most of the route will be on good paths and quiet roads, although there will be a couple of stretches that might be busy with traffic. There will be one steep climb near the start, with the rest of the route being reasonably flat. The total distance will be about 24 miles.

Our lunch break will be in Dalkeith town centre. Some of us will opt for a picnic in the King's Park; there is a good supermarket nearby where you can pick up a sandwich if you wish. Those who prefer a hot lunch will head for the Blacksmith's Forge pub, which does a good range of snacks at very reasonable prices.

You don't need me to tell you that the ride will start from the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30. There is no need to reply to this post: just turn up if you can make it.

Looking ahead, Logan will be leading a longer run into East Lothian on the following Saturday. I'll post more details of that ride here next week.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

An evening ride to the foothills

Tonight's evening ride started with a brisk spin along the canal towpath and the Water of Leith. We were about a dozen in the group, including one newcomer, as well as a visiting cyclist from Spain – both very welcome.

We left the path at Currie Kirk. At this point, and with memories of our recent Harlaw picnic in mind, I suggested that we tackle the long steep climb up the Kirkgate, but for some reason the group was unenthusiastic. So instead, we turned east through the hamlet of Blinkbonny (nice views over the Forth) and down the rough path to the Woodhall Riding School, then down Woodhall Road to Colinton.

For the next leg, we sauntered along the Braid Burn path, through Braidburn Valley Park and across Comiston Road. There was still a good half hour's daylight left at this point, so we decided to do an extra leg through the Hermitage of Braid. After emerging at Blackford Glen Road, we did a circuit of the King's Buildings. Then, as we headed west along Blackford Avenue, we were treated to a golden sky lit up by the setting sun. We arrived back at the Meadows, having pedalled 16 miles over two and half hours, with a fine evening all the way. A few of the group then went off to find liquid sustenance, while others made their weary way home.

Leader and report: Mike
Photo: Michael
Map: Jim

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Pedal for Scotland 2016 – Not what it seems

If you are planning to take part in Pedal for Scotland on 11th September, be warned. This year's event is not the usual Glasgow to Edinburgh ride, but rather Glasgow to Ingliston. The ride ends at the Royal Highland Centre, which is some nine miles short of the city centre. What's more, the early-morning buses that take you to Glasgow for the start of the ride will also leave from Ingliston. This means that Edinburgh-based cyclists will face a long and possibly dangerous ride to the start point just to get on the bus.

Getting to the bus departure point

The quickest way to cycle to Ingliston from the city centre will be along the busy Glasgow Road (A8). That's about nine miles each way, part of which involves cycling in the carriageway, taking your chances with the fast-moving traffic. It's possible to find other – less dangerous – routes, but none of these will be sign-posted, and all will add several miles to the trip.

For the day of the ride, Edinburgh Trams will relax its normal limit of two bikes per tram on services between Haymarket and Ingliston Park & Ride. Two trams per hour will carry more bikes (it's not clear how many more). But here's the snag: you will have to book your bike on the tram in advance. At present, there is nothing on either the Pedal for Scotland or the trams' website to tell you how to do that. Presumably your reservation will apply to a particular timed service. That's not so bad in the morning when you are heading for the bus. But it will mean added pressure during the ride itself to make sure you arrive back in time for your booking.

Friends and supporters

It's not just cyclists who will be inconvenienced by the change of venue. In the past, the ride has attracted friends and supporters who gather at the finish to cheer the riders on. These people will now also have to make the journey to Ingliston.

Now, the purpose of this post is not to discourage you from doing the ride. Pedal for Scotland is a great day out, and it's for a worthwhile cause. But do think carefully about the practical implications. Given the hassle involved, several of our members have decided to give the ride a miss this year, and at least one who has already booked has asked for her money back. Nobody will blame you for doing the same.

Evening ride this coming Thursday

We have an evening ride planned for this coming Thursday (28th). The route will be about 15 miles, which we'll take at our usual sociable pace.

We'll meet at our usual departure point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will start at 7 pm, and we'll aim to finish around 9.30 pm.

It should still be reasonably light by end of the ride, but please be sure to bring lights anyway, as you will need these to see you home - and also in case we get delayed.

We don't stop for a refreshment break on these evening runs, but if anyone wants to go for a drink afterwards, that will not be discouraged.

Remember, you don't need to book in advance for our rides. Just turn up on the day.