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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.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

20-Milers Extra next Saturday

We've got one of our Extra rides coming up on Saturday (23rd).

Given that our group has been on the road for 13 years, it's inevitable that we often do the same rides many times. Today's run will be different: a completely new route that we have never before done as a group. What's more, it will take in some particularly attractive countryside with above-average scenery. It will essentially be a circuit of the eastern fringes of Midlothian, including Mayfield, the Tyne Water and Crichton Castle, with a pub lunch in Pathhead.

But be warned. The ride will be quite a bit longer and faster than most of our runs, and there will be a fair bit of climbing. Although we'll mainly be riding on quiet roads, there will be one short stretch on a busy main road, and another where we might have to walk along the pavement.

We'll meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh in time for a 10.30 start. The route is about 35 miles from Fisherrow back to Fisherrow, but if you are coming from central Edinburgh, you will need to add about 12 miles to the total. Depending on progress, you can expect to get back to Edinburgh between 4 and 5 pm.

As always, there's no need to let us know in advance whether or not you will make it for this ride. Just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

A few steps and lots of parks

Today's ride saw us head south-west to Colinton, followed by a big loop round to Leith and Craigentinny in the north-west. Our route took us through a number of Edinburgh's many parks, and saw us navigate several flights of steps.

A lower than expected 18 riders assembled at the start. Despite knowing a few of our regulars were
riding through to Glasgow for the following day's Pedal for Scotland; the weather was quite pleasant - so the relatively low turnout was a bit of a mystery. At least it meant we only needed one group and we did have a couple of new faces. We left the Meadows behind and threaded our way through the backstreets of Morningside and on through Braidburn Valley Park. On through Colinton Mains Park, Spylaw Park and bypassing Colinton village, we rode through the curved Colinton Tunnel. That tunnel so reminds the writer of a scene from the film "The Italian Job", that he now finds it impossible to ride through it without whistling, "We're all members of the self-preservation society". Each to their own! We followed NCN75 before joining the Union Canal towpath. A short run along the canal and we dismounted to walk across the Slateford Aqueduct. Once across, we negotiated the steep flight of steps down to the Water of Leith path. Past the cemetery and allotments, across Gorgie Road and into Saughton Park. Major works in the park resulted in a detour that brought us out on Stevenson Drive. A twiddle through the backstreets of Saughton took us past Murrayfield Stadium and into Roseburn Park. Across the busy Roseburn Terrace and another flight of steps got us back on the Water of Leith path. We left the path at the rear of the Britannia Hotel and climbed up to Belford Terrace. From there a short ride saw us arrive at the Gallery of Modern Art - our lunch stop. The cafe was the quietest many of us had ever seen it. We quickly got served and enjoyed lunch sitting in the garden making the most of the sunshine.

Lunch over, we made our way through Ravelston Dykes and the grounds of St George's School for Girls. Another flight of steps took us down to join the Blackhall Path. The Roseburn, Telford and Ferry Road Paths took us to The Shore at Leith via Victoria Park. From Leith Links we made our way through Lochend Park and through Restalrig to Craigentinny. Hidden away down Craigentinny Crescent, an unassuming suburban street is a most impressive mausoleum - the Craigentinny Marbles. Jim is the group's expert on its history. In his absence, David and Mike did a good job of telling the interesting story of the Craigentinny Marbles. From there, Fishwives Causeway, Mountcastle Drive North, Figgate Park and Durham Road took us back to the familiar Innocent Railway for our return to the Meadows. At lunchtime, one of the riders, new to both the group and Edinburgh had asked what the Innocent Tunnel was. So it was great for him to experience it first hand. Thanks to David for leading us on an interesting ride that despite never being too far from the city centre, showed the wide variety of what Edinburgh has to offer.

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

Monday, 4 September 2017

This month's ride this coming Saturday (9th September)

This month's ride will provide a chance to explore some interesting bike routes within the city. Under David's leadership, we will be heading first to Colinton in the south west, then taking a big loop all the way round to Lieth and Craigentinny in the north east.

The total distance will be approximately 20 miles. Much of the route will be on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths, although a few of the paths might be a little rough in places. There will be a couple of short sharp climbs, and also one or two short flights of steps to negotiate, but no other particular difficulties.

For lunch, we will be stopping at one of our more popular venues: the modern art gallery in Belford Road. The café there serves an excellent range of snacks and light meals. But be warned that it gets quite crowded at times. If you want to avoid a possibly long queue and a wait for a table, consider bringing a picnic instead. The gallery has plenty of picnic tables on its spacious terrace.

We'll meet at our usual place at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Please get there in time for a 10.30 departure.

As always, the above details should be regarded as provisional. The meeting point and start time are definite, but we reserve the right to change the route and lunch venue according to circumstances.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Logan's ride

Five months and one day after our great friend passed away, today's Extra ride to Merryhatton was very much his ride. For the last few years, Logan always led this ride in late August; and being led by him, we always knew it would be good fun. Today's ride seemed to follow that formula. We had a strange moment during the briefing, a short history lesson and the re-enactment of a classic Logan moment. As if that wasn't enough, we were also blessed with lovely weather.

A respectable turn out of 19 riders assembled at Fisherrow for the start. Looking back towards Edinburgh there were rather grey and threatening looking skies. Looking the other way into East Lothian (the way we were going) and we saw welcoming blue skies. Time to head off and hope we could leave the grey skies behind. The leader climbed up onto a convenient wall and began his briefing. He was in full flow when a random member of the public appeared beside him and asked if he could photograph the bemused looking cyclists. He took the photo, thanked us and wandered off. How very strange! I'm sure that would have had Logan giggling. The leader recomposed himself, finished the briefing and we headed off towards the blue skies of East Lothian. Heading towards the race course, we paused briefly beside the large blue painted arrow beside the Air Cadets hut at Goose Green. The leader explained its role in training bomber crews during the second world war by guiding them towards target ships out in the Firth of Forth. History lesson over, we pressed on past the race course. A little further on, that dreaded shout went up, "puncture!". It was now warming up and the sun was shining; so having to wait for the puncture to be fixed was no hardship. It's a different story when it's sleeting horizontally and the group has to hang around! Puncture fixed, the unfortunate rider opted to take the road rather than continue on the rougher track. We were rolling again and all met up where we re-joined the road in Prestonpans. We took the coast road to Cockenzie where we detoured past the lovely harbours of Cockenzie and Port Seton. A comfort and sweetie stop followed before we rejoined the coast road. We stayed on that road until just before Gosford farm shop. A few years ago, Logan invested in a road bike (one of the first in the group to do so) and the writer ribbed him about riding a "girly" bike. As ever, he took that ribbing in good stead; always capable of giving as good as he got. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, the leader said, "those on "girly" bikes may want to take the road. Those on "proper" bikes can follow me along this wooded path". We reconvened in Aberlady and took a quiet back road to avoid the busy high street. Leaving Aberlady, those in the know realised we should have turned left, but the leader turned right, headed down to the entrance to a caravan site, turned in and stopped. This was the re-enactment of a classic Logan moment. On this ride two years ago, that is exactly what he did. The difference then being that he didn't stop; he just headed back the way he had come hoping no one had noticed his wrong slot! Back on the right route, we headed down the beautiful East Lothian lane that passes Myreton Motor Museum. A short stretch on the busy main road into Drem, turn right by the station, another quiet road and we were at Merryhatton Garden Centre - our lunch stop.

Following a pleasant lunch we set off again. Two riders that needed to be home quicker left us at this point. One rider had phoned home during the lunch stop and told us it had been raining heavily in Edinburgh. Hard to believe as we headed off past the Museum of Flight in bright sunny conditions. Onwards through the lovely village of Athelstaneford, past the Hopetoun monument and more deserted country lanes brought us to the level crossing west of Longniddry. In such lovely weather, no one minded having to wait for two trains to pass. Across the A198 dual carriageway, along the cycle path and down the hill back to the coast road. To avoid the main road, we retraced our steps from the morning to Cockenzie harbour. From there we took a less familiar route behind the site formerly occupied by Cockenzie power station. It's a nice route. But there are a few steps to contend with. But much worse was the large amount of broken glass strewn across the path. We were fortunate not to have our second puncture of the day. We re-joined the main road beside the Lidl store. One of the group had been unfortunate enough to be stung by a wasp a few miles earlier and wanted to buy some anti-histamine tablets. Fortunately, another member had some - so no need to head to Lidl. Back along the main road to Prestonpans where we re-joined the John Muir Way path. The morning's puncture victim opted to take the road route and met us further along. As we got closer to Musselburgh, the skies turned greyer and the temperature dropped a little. But fortunately, it stayed dry. Along the prom and we were back at Fisherrow harbour. Here the leader declared the ride over. It can be put down as a successful ride. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Only one puncture. Lovely weather, despite the heavy rain just a few miles to the west. The fact there was fun, laughter and everyone enjoyed themselves made it just the sort of tribute Logan deserved. There were a few riders on today's ride that had never met Logan. Hopefully they went away with an insight into what a great character and friend he had been to those who had been lucky enough to know him.

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