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Saturday, 11 September 2021

Heading towards autumn

Today's ride had a feeling of autumn about it. No, the trees hadn't begun to change colour. There wasn't that autumnal nip in the air - the weather was nothing special; it was pleasant, not too hot or too cold, there was a short spell of light drizzle that came to nothing and it was overcast with a light wind. Wasps! It was the number of wasps affecting the outdoor diners at lunchtime. It was good to eat outdoors at Craigie Farm, but we were plagued with numerous annoying wasps. Sixteen riders made the start. We were given one of the most detailed briefings ever from the leader. It seemed as if every road we would travel on, was named and every turn described. All very commendable, but somewhat wasted as phrases like, "he lost me after the Leamington Bridge" were overheard.

Fully briefed we headed off to the Leamington Bridge via the usual Bruntsfield Links route. We left the canal and were soon on Dundee Street. Due to roadworks and a one way system, we deviated from our usual route to Murrayfield via the Telfer Subway. Instead we went down Henderson Terrace and along Gorgie Road before turning right down Mcleod Street to get to Russell Road. This detour was unfamiliar to many, but got us to where we needed to be. Past Murrayfield, through Carrick Knowe, the quiet backstreets of Broomhouse, Gyle Park and we emerged beside the busy Glasgow Road. All safely across and we were on the quiet Dechmont Road. We had to negotiate six steps, but were soon speeding past Craigmount School. The quiet Craigs Road took us to the busy Maybury Road. As there is no crossing and a very narrow central reservation this can be a difficult road to get a group safely across. But today the temporary traffic lights [that probably annoyed the drivers] made it a doddle to get across. We continued along Craigs Road with Edinburgh Airport to our left. This area is a huge building site with numerous houses due to be built. Temporary traffic lights delayed us slightly, but we were soon on peaceful country roads just a stone's throw from the airport. We turned off and a rough track through the woods took us down to the delightful Grotto Bridge which crosses the River Almond. After a brief stop to admire the view, we pressed on through the eerily deserted Craigiehall army housing estate. A cycle path beside the A90 took us to the Kirkliston road. A short stretch on this road and we were soon turning right for the steep climb to Craigie Farm, which would be our lunch stop.

Despite the wasps, everyone seemed to enjoy their lunch and fortunately no one got stung. For some unknown reason, lunch stops often seem to be followed by a steep climb. Today it was the opposite - a lovely steep descent. At the bottom of the hill we joined the cycle path beside the A90 and began our journey back towards Edinburgh. A familiar route via Cramond Brig, Barnton, Davidson's Mains, the Blackhall and Roseburn paths, the zig-zags, Russell Road and the Telfer Subway saw us back at the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over.

It may be only the second 20 Milers ride in fifteen months, but it's good to feel that we might just be heading in the direction of some sort of return to normality. Another good ride that seemed to be enjoyed by all. The weather was pleasant, if nothing special; but considerably warmer than in January when this route is usually ridden. Thanks to Alan for leading, finding a way around the roadworks and giving one of the most in depth briefings of all time. Thanks to Mike for back marking. Fingers crossed that this is the 20 Milers back in business.

Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn 

Monday, 6 September 2021

Next ride: Saturday 11 September


It was a pleasure to see many familiar faces on our first post-lockdown ride last month. This was a limited ride with some Covid precautions still in place. In order to keep the numbers manageable, we decided not to publicise it widely. And we made a point of staying out of doors the whole time. Thank you all for your cooperation in that respect.

I am pleased to say that our September ride (details below) will be much more like a normal ride. We are not placing a firm limit on numbers, so feel free to invite your friends. If a large number turn up, we will split into two groups, with ten minutes or so between them. We still encourage you to bring a picnic lunch, but there will be a cafe option for those who prefer.


The ride will take place next Saturday, 11 September. We will meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, near the junction of Lauriston Place, in time for a 10.30 start.

For this ride, our leader, Alan, has plotted an interesting and unusual route through the west of the city. Most of the route is on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads, although there will also be one or two rough paths, as well as a couple of short stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. There will some gentle hills, and one fairly steep climb just before lunch. The total distance will be about 22 miles. Most of the mileage will be in the morning, with a fairly short run home in the afternoon.

Lunch stop

Our lunch stop will be at Craigie's Farm. The cafe there is now open again, but there have been some changes since our last visit. They now only do table service with a reduced menu, and there is a limit on the number of people sitting at each table. This means that the service is likely to be slower than before. For that reason, you may prefer to bring a packed lunch. There are picnic tables outside the cafe.

Covid precautions

Please keep in mind that the pandemic is not yet over. We will continue to maintain a measure of social distancing where possible, even though this is no longer a legal requirement (out of doors). And of course you should not join the ride if you or any members of your household have Covid symptoms, have recently received a positive result from a Covid test or have been told to self-isolate or go into quarantine.

I think that covers everything. I'll look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Saturday.

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Back on the road again

After an hiatus of 16 months, it was fantastic to have the 20 Milers rolling again. To see familiar faces and be out riding in a group again was priceless. We headed to Dalkeith Country Park by a less familiar route, overcame a locked gate, and except for the briefest of showers, enjoyed reasonable weather. It felt like a 20 Milers ride should - a much-needed touch of normality after the last year-and-a-half.

All credit to Mike who had meticulously studied the ever changing Covid-19 regulations to see when it may be possible to resume our rides. Following a few false starts, we settled for August. On the assumption that we might get 30 riders, we had two leaders and two backmarkers lined up to deal with two groups. A pleasant day dawned; not too warm, slightly overcast, a light breeze and no rain in the forecast. So it was a bit of a surprise that only 15 riders turned up. Still, only those on the mailing list were invited and the ride wasn't publicised more widely. There were no new faces, but it was great to see familiar ones and catch up.

Following a briefing from the leader, which covered Covid-19 and road safety; for the first time in 16 months, we rolled away from our starting point as a group. The Innocent Railway is currently closed due to danger of rock falls. Yes, a large number of people are using it; but in the interests of everyone's safety we were not going to risk it. This resulted in us taking an interesting and unfamiliar detour via the Grange, Mayfield, Prestonfield and the Peffermill Industrial Estate to re-join the path at Duddingston Road West. As we were leaving the Meadows, we were hit with a brief shower of light rain. The leader stopped so riders could don waterproofs. A few minutes later, the rain was gone and there was no more for the rest of the ride. Back on the familiar route, we made our way to Musselburgh and onwards to Whitecraig. From there we made our way to Dalkeith via NCN 1. Heavy traffic on Dalkeith High Street briefly delayed our entry into Dalkeith Country Park. But once through the gates, we sped downhill to our lunch stop. On the recce a couple of weeks earlier, we had our picnic lunch on the grass beside the orangery. This area was now closed. A quick scout round and we found a grassy area across the road.

Picnic lunch over, we headed past the new Go Ape facility towards the east gate at Smeaton. We were soon brought to a halt by a locked gate across the road. Options were considered including lifting the bikes over; but a couple of heavy electric bikes in the group made that an unappealing option. The possibility of making our way through the cattle pens alongside the road was being explored when a cyclist approached from the opposite side of the gate. She explained she had ridden out that way earlier and with a deft move the gate was open. How had she done it? Although the chain was padlocked, she had noticed a carabiner link which released it easily. As they say, "it's easy when you know how". Well worth remembering when next confronted by a locked gate. We thanked the cyclist, made our way to the park exit and joined the busy A6094 for the short run into Whitecraig. From there, we retraced the morning's outward route. With the exception of a thrown chain (which was quickly sorted), the return leg was trouble-free. At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over.

That was it, the first 20 Milers ride of 2021 was over. An enjoyable ride, bit of less familiar territory, reasonable weather, good lunch stop and a hint of excitement - what more could anyone ask for? And of course, the joy of being back riding socially in good company. Thanks to Mike for leading and Yaz for back marking. Already looking forward to September's ride. Perhaps we'll get a larger turnout.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn 

Monday, 21 June 2021

June 2021 update

It's been a while since our previous blog post, so I thought this would be a good time for an update.

Until recently, we had been hoping that we could resume our rides - albeit on a limited basis - in July or August. As you probably know, Edinburgh was expected to move to Level 0 this month, which would have allowed up to 15 of us to meet for a ride. But that didn't happen.

Right now, we are still in Level 2, which only allows eight people to meet out of doors. Given that our rides typically attract 20 to 30 riders, and that we have 140 names on our mailing list, it would clearly not be feasible to organise a ride on that basis. Nor is there any indication of when we might move down to a lower level. For that reason, I'm afraid I can't hold out much hope of getting back to normal in the next month or so.

I know that some of you are getting together for informal rides in small groups, in line with the regulations. That's good to know.

Be assured that we are watching the situation, and that we will resume our rides as soon as we can safely and legally do so.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Covid-19 update

This post is to explain why we feel that we are still not ready to resume our rides. I am posting this after discussing the matter with several of our regular riders.

The current government guidelines impose a maximum of 15 people from up to five households when meeting out of doors. Since almost all our riders join us as individuals (rather than as married couples or in family groups), in practice that means a limit of five people on a ride, which means four riders plus the leader.

Clearly it would not be feasible to organise anything like our usual 20-Milers outings on that basis.

The guidelines do permit organised "sports" to take place out of doors in groups of up to 30 people from an unlimited number of households. This applies to events organised as part of a "club activity", delivered by a "qualified coach or leader" and overseen by a Covid-19 coordinator.  There are requirements for collecting contact details and preparing a risk assessment.

We have considered running a ride on that basis, but decided against it, partly because of the time and effort involved in setting it all up, and partly because we felt it would go against the ethos of the 20-Milers, which is to meet up for friendly rides without any formalities.

Some of you have asked why we don't set up a booking system for our rides. The reason is that we have around 140 names on our mailing list. Even if half of these are inactive or have gone away, that still leaves around 70 people to be circulated each month, 70 emails to send out, potentially 70 replies to deal with, not to mention having to deal with waiting lists, last-minute changes or cancellations, and so on. That is simply too much effort for no clear benefit.

In view of all of the above, I'm afraid I can't hold out too much hope of our rides resuming in the near future. I know how much we all enjoy the rides, and I miss them as much as everyone else. I can only hope that you are still managing to get out on your bike, either on your own or in small groups of family or friends.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

August ride not taking place

I am sorry to have to tell you that we are still not ready to resume our rides. The ride that would normally have taken place this coming Saturday will not be going ahead.

The reason for this is simple: the current government guidelines still only permit people from five households at a time to meet out of doors. Since most of our runs attract between 20 and 30 riders, there is clearly no way we can work within that limit. And regardless of the guidelines, it would be impossible for us to manage social distancing with such a large group.

I'm still hoping that we will be able to resume our rides, albeit on a reduced scale, in the not-too-distant future. I'll let you know as soon as we feel ready to do that. In the meantime, I hope you manage to enjoy some cycling on your own or in a small group with your family or friends.

Monday, 6 July 2020

No 20-Milers in July

I'm sorry to say that there will again be no 20-Milers ride this month. After careful consideration, we have decided that it is still too early to resume our rides. Although restrictions on extended groups meeting out of doors are due to be lifted this week, we felt that it is still not possible for a large group like ours to safely maintain physical distancing while cycling on busy bike routes.

We have now pencilled in 8th August for our first post-lockdown ride. This might be a shorter ride than usual, possibly with no cafe or pub stop. It might involve splitting up into two or more smaller groups. We'll work out the details nearer the time. I'll keep you informed.

I'm sorry that we won't be meeting this month, but I am sure you will understand the reasons.

Despite the absence of our official ride, I hope you manage to enjoy some cycling in the weeks ahead.