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Monday, 24 July 2017

Extra ride this coming Saturday

We'll be having another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (29th). As you know, these rides are longer than our usual runs, with a faster pace and fewer breaks - but still, we hope, with the same sociable atmosphere.

This time, Verity will be leading us to Haddington. The outward route will be via the East Lothian coast and the Longniddry cycle path. We'll be returning by way of East and West Saltoun and the Pencaitland cycle path. Most of the route will be a reasonable gradient, but we can expect a couple of short climbs in the afternoon. There is one short section on a busy main road.

For lunch, there will be several options. If it's a nice day, you can head to the river for a picnic (bring your own food or aim to pick up a sandwich in the town). There is also a choice of pubs and cafés for those who prefer to eat indoors.

Our departure point will be Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. This is about six miles from central Edinburgh. The total length of the ride (Fisherrow - Haddington - Edinburgh) will be about 35 miles.

Please aim to get to the start point in time for a 10.30 departure. There is no advance booking for our rides; just turn up on the day.

Evening rides

We've still got a few Thursday evening rides coming up. On this coming Thursday (27th), we'll be heading north for a tour of the Edinburgh waterfront, taking in various harbours and beaches. The meeting point for these rides is outside the All Bar One, next to the Sheraton Hotel in Lothian Road. The ride starts at 18.45 and aims to finish around dark (be sure to bring lights).

That's all for now. I hope to see you on one or more of our rides. In the meantime, happy pedalling.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A summer meander to Dalkeith

Today's ride saw us meander our way to Dalkeith on what felt like a summer's day. Summer in Edinburgh so far could best be described as mixed. The preceding week had once again given us a day of wall-to-wall rain. Against this backdrop, we were blessed with a lovely summer's day. There was a slight breeze, sometimes it was a little cool. It wasn't continuously sunny; but it was pleasantly warm without being too hot - a perfect day for cycling. Obviously the weather played a large part in us having 35 starters. As ever, it was great to see a smattering of new faces in amongst the regulars. We split into two groups and rolled away from the start. Over the George Square cobbles, we twiddled through a mixture of back streets and main roads to find ourselves in Holyrood Park via Dumbiedykes Road. We crossed Queen's Drive to join the shared path which was busy with pedestrians on such a lovely day. From St Mary's Loch we began the climb up the road towards Dunsapie Loch. This was our first climb of the day, and was made less pleasant as this narrow road was busy with cars. Half way up the hill we left the road behind and joined the path that would take us through a gate into the back streets of Willowbrae. We waited for the second group to arrive as their leader was not totally sure where to leave the road. A quite indistinct path, it would be easy to miss. All sorted, the first group moved off. The quiet roads of Willowbrae were soon behind us and we made our way into Figgate Park. Through this delightful park and soon we were held up by temporary traffic lights and heavy traffic on Brighton place.
The cobbles on that road seem to get more bumpy every time we go down it. One rider was unfortunate enough to have the top part of their bell shake loose and fall in the road, where it was run over by a car. We then headed towards the beach and joined the Promenade beside the Portobello Swim Centre. Thanks to the weather, this section was very busy with pedestrians, dogs and cyclists. We took it carefully and emerged unscathed onto the road towards Musselburgh. A brief comfort stop at Fisherrow and we took quiet roads, crossed Olive Bank Road and made our way onto the lovely path beside the River Esk to Whitecraig. From there we took the busy A6094 to Dalkeith. Despite us splitting into smaller groups to make it easier for traffic to overtake, we still saw examples of reckless driving as drivers refused to be held up by troublesome cyclists. That road is probably one to avoid in future. Even the most experienced cyclists in the group didn't feel safe on it. Normally we would head into the back of Dalkeith country Park to avoid the road. But that wasn't an option due to the Dalkeith Country Show being held there. With a sigh of relief we left the road behind and twiddled through almost deserted back streets. As that bit of the route was quite tricky to follow, the leader went back to guide the second group through whilst the writer led the first group to the pub and picnic spot in King's Park.

After a nice lunch either sitting outside the pub or picnicing in the park, we were ready for our return journey.  Two riders that wanted to get back quicker tranferred from the second to the first group at this point. We headed out of Dalkeith on Lothian Road and turned into the new housing estate near the fire station. The leader must have got a sore arm as he got the group through the kissing gate. There is no record of how many kisses he received! Through Waterfall Park, across Newmills Road, through another park and we were back at the horrible A6094. Fortunately, we were not going back that way. Instead, cycle paths took us back to Whitecraig via Dalkeith High School. From Whitecraig we took the Grove back towards Musselburgh. But this time we turned off and headed towards the railway station. From there we took the familiar route back to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway. Thanks to Michael for leading us to a familiar place, but by an interesting and less common route. Was great to have something akin to proper summer weather; long may it continue. Was also good to see some new faces. Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves and we'll see them on future rides.

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

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

July ride this coming Saturday

Just a quick reminder of our ride this coming Saturday (8th July).

We will be heading out to Dalkeith, with Michael (Law) leading. The route will be mainly on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads, with just a couple of small hills - nothing too onerous. The total distance will be about 20 - 22 miles.

For lunch, there will be a choice between a picnic in the King's Park in the town centre, or a meal in a nearby pub. If you prefer the picnic option, there will be an opportunity to pick up some food in a the supermarket next to the park.

As always, you don't need to reply to this post. Just turn up if you are coming. We'll depart from our habitual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A windy sojourn to Linlithgow

For the second 20 Milers Extra outing of the year we headed into West Lothian to the historic town of Linlithgow. It was a cool day with a much stronger wind than expected in late June. Battling into the wind heading out did mean that it helped blow us home. We may have been home in record time had it not been for some stiff climbs. One rider was glad he had opted to bring his electric bike; whilst another was delighted that he helped push her up the steeper parts! A good turnout of 22 riders, with a few new faces rolled away from the start point at Craigleith. It was lovely to see our leader for today, Julia, riding the late Logan Strang's bike. The very familiar route through Barnton, over the Cramond Bridge, the path beside the A90 and Dalmeney soon had us in South Queensferry despite the headwind. Following a comfort stop in the town, we were on our way again. One of our regulars suffered a puncture at this stage. What should have been a quick and easy fix was compounded by not one, but two faulty inner tubes. This was obviously going to take longer than expected. It was agreed that the victim and one other would fix the puncture and meet us in Linlithgow for lunch. It was not a day for standing around. Having got quite cool waiting, it was a relief for the main group to be moving again. We headed out through the Hopetoun Estate. To everyone's delight, the irritating gate that used to take ages to get anything other than a very small group through had finally been replaced by something much more user-friendly. This replacement was long overdue, but most welcome.
Leaving the estate behind, a mixture of paths, quiet roads and a path alongside a busy road led us to Philipstoun. Whilst crossing a busy road at a blind bend, someone shouted "car!" so loudly that a couple of rides fell over and landed in a heap in the middle of the road. Fortunately, the car stopped, the riders picked themselves up, brushed themselves down - the drama was over and we were on our way again. Across a lovely hump-back bridge, a right turn and we were on the towpath beside the Union Canal. This path led us to Linlithgow and our lunch stop. In the square at the bottom of the hill that led up to Linlithgow Palace, it felt quite cool and windy. As a result, most of the group headed off to various cafes. Only four brave souls made their way up the hill to the palace for a picnic lunch. Surprisingly, it was less windy and much warmer there. For a short time the sun came out and the picnicers enjoyed what would be the warmest part of the day.

After lunch, we regrouped in the square and retraced our route to the canal. The two missing riders were now back with us. There were a few puzzled faces as we headed west! Not to worry - the leader knew exactly what she was doing. It was a great relief to have the wind behind us. Before long we were on the climb up to Ochiltree Castle. We had been warned to expect a stiff climb; but it still took many by surprise and the group was soon quite spread out. It was on this stretch that the rider on the electric bike was able to [quite literally] lend a helping hand and push another rider towards the top. Another rider had told us earlier that she had seen a fantastic T-shirt slogan that read, "It's a hill - get over it". So that's what the group did. There were a few moans when we thought we had reached the summit, only to find a further climb around the next corner. Eventually it was all behind us and a pleasant run on a high level road followed before heading gently downhill all the way to Niddry Castle and Kirkliston. A comfort stop was planned at Kirkliston Leisure Centre. Unfortunately, it was closed. So to any bystanders, a group of cyclists rode into the car park, did a circuit and left. We rode through Kirkliston and joined the cycle path for a pleasant ride through the trees before heading onto the road towards Burnshot Bridge. There we had to navigate through the roadworks, nip through the underpass and we were on our way back to Cramond Bridge and onwards to Craigleith. Thanks to Julia for leading us on an interesting (and at times challenging) ride out to Linlithgow.

Leader: Julia
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Monday, 19 June 2017

20-Milers Extra this weekend

Our second Extra of the year will take place this coming Saturday (24th).

Julia (Richardson) will be taking us to Linlithgow. For the outward run, we'll head out to South Queensferry, the Hopetoun Estate and the village of Philpstoun, ending with a stretch along the canal and into the town. After lunch, we'll have a stiff climb up to Ochiltree Castle, but this will be followed by a delightful high-level run on a quiet road heading gently downhill all the way to Niddry Castle and Kirkliston. Apart from one short stretch on a main road, the entire route looks very pleasant.

For lunch, we'll head for the grounds of Linlithgow Palace for a picnic (we'll pause in South Queensferry for anyone who wants to buy a sandwich on the way out). For those who prefer a hot lunch, there are several cafés around the main square. Toilets are available in the nearby Burgh Halls.

Distance and pace

The total distance will be about 35 miles. As always with our Extra rides, we'll be cycling somewhat faster than our usual 20-Milers pace and with fewer breaks. Please keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to join this ride.

Time and place

Our meeting point will be the Sustrans marker at the Craigleith path junction (see http://20milers.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/how-to-find-our-craigleith-meeting-point.html if you need directions). Please be ready to leave at 10.00.

There's no need to book in advance for this ride. As usual, just turn up on the day.

Other news

Our Thursday evening rides are continuing through the summer. As this coming Thursday (22nd) is very nearly the longest day of the year, we will be having our traditional summer solstice run, where we visit some unusual places of interest around the city centre and enjoy the panoramic view from Calton Hill. For more information, see http://20milers.pbworks.com/w/page/117130077/FrontPage.

Finally, one of our regular riders, Jenny Tizard, has just completed an impressive ride up the length of Scotland: 515 miles from Gretna Green to John o'Groats. She completed the run in ten days, mainly cycling alone. Jenny has now written an entertaining account of the ride, accompanied by some superb photos. You can see it at http://neverkissamaninacanoe.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/gretna-green-to-john-ogroats.html.

That's all for now. Enjoy your cycling.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Craigie Caper

When I woke up this morning the rain was pounding on the window panes. And the forecast promised more relentless rain throughout the morning. Pessimistically, I donned my waterproofs and set out for Middle Meadow Walk. But such are the uncertainties of Scottish weather. By the time I arrived, the downpour had turned into a light drizzle. An hour into the ride it had stopped, and by lunchtime we were sitting in the sun with the temperature in the twenties.

Despite the poor weather at the start, 22 people turned up for the ride – a very satisfactory number. There were several newcomers, including some graduates from Cycling for Softies and EasyCycle – all very welcome.

After the customary briefing, David, our leader for the day, took us down to the Leamington lift bridge and on to Roseburn Park and Murrayfield. We picked up Quiet Route 9 through Corstorphine and the Gyle, then took the lochside path through Edinburgh Park. After passing through a new underpass below the main Glasgow Road (see photo), we paused for our first break of the day at the gleaming new Edinburgh Gateway station. Our leader, who was fresh off the plane from a business trip to India, produced some interesting sweetmeats purchased in Bangalore. I'm not sure what they consisted of, but they were definitely edible.

The next section of the ride took us north along Cammo Way, into Cammo Country Park and across the delightful Grotto Bridge. This is a beautiful spot, with the fast-flowing Almond gushing through a deep tree-lined valley and not a building or road in sight.

By complete contrast, we then approached the busy Queensferry Road. This is the spot where, because of the closure of the Burnshot Bridge, cyclists (and pedestrians) are obliged to use a coned-off lane of the dual carriageway. On our last ride, despite a strict admonition from the leader to stay as close to the verge as possible, one of the party ventured onto the wrong side of the cones and, sheep-like, half the group followed, despite cars speeding past inches away and other cyclists coming towards them. Obviously, the authorities had taken note of this flagrant transgression. Today, the lane in question was guarded by a solid metal barrier keeping us cyclists well and truly where we belong.

Once safely off the dual carriageway, we quickly tackled the only serious climb of the day and were soon taking our ease on the sunny terrace of Craigie's Farm, where luncheon was served.

For the afternoon leg, we went down the far side of Craigie Hill and back across the Queensferry Road to join NCN 1. We pedalled about half a mile north, then through the Chapel Gate for a circuit of the Dalmeny Estate. We re-joined NCN 1 at Burnshot, then headed back to town via Cramond Brig and Barnton. By the time we passed Roseburn, people started to peel off, with the remnant of the group making it back to the Meadows with time to spare for a coffee. At 23 miles, it was a very satisfactory ride with some interesting new sections and plenty of variety – not to mention the satisfaction of confounding the weather forecast.

Leader and map trace: David
Report: Mike
Photos: Michael

Monday, 5 June 2017

Rides in June

We've got two rides planned for the month ahead.

On this coming Saturday (10th), David will be leading us on what promises to be a very interesting tour of bike paths to the west of the city, taking in the Dalmeny Estate, Cammo Park and the western reaches of the Gyle - including a chance to see the brand new Edinburgh Gateway station.

For lunch, we'll stop at one of our most popular venues: Craigie's Farm. This is a very nice café with a good choice of meals and snacks and plenty of space - including picnic tables outside for those who like to eat al fresco.

The total distance will be about 22 miles, mainly on good surfaces. There will be a steep climb just before lunch and a few other moderate hills, but no other particular difficulties.

We'll set out at 10.30 from our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As always, just turn up on the day; no need to tell anyone in advance that you are coming.

St Andrews ride on the 17th

Several members of our group will again be tackling the Edinburgh - St Andrews run this year. If you would like to join them, meet near the "6 - 7 Hours" flag in Inverleith Park. It's not too late to register for the ride; you can even do that on the day (but you will need to arrive about 20 minutes early to do so).

For more information about the event,see http://www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk/lepra-ride.htm.

20-Milers Extra on the 24th

For our second Extra of the season, Julia will be leading, with a route provisionally planned for Linlithgow. I'll post more information nearer the time.

A reminder

Finally I'll take this opportunity to remind you always to bring a spare inner tube on our rides if at all possible, as this makes life a lot easier if a puncture strikes. If you don't know what size or type of tube to bring, your favourite bike shop will advise. It's also helpful if you could bring whatever tools are needed to remove your wheel if it doesn't have a quick-release hub (most modern bikes do).