EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Somewhere new "fore" lunch


Today's ride saw us explore some of the bike paths and quiet roads in the south of the city. We also
found a lunch venue we had never used before. As the 20 Milers enters its fourteenth year, it is
inevitable that we often find ourselves visiting places we have been many times before. So credit to
today's leader for devising a route that included some unfamiliar places weaved in amongst the sections we know so well.

The forecast had us expecting a rather wet day. In the end, we had not a drop of rain and some long spells of sunshine. Yes, it was a bit windy at times; but nothing like on the recce which had to be abandoned [in the interests of safety] when a rider was blown off their bike. Today was the first time in a while it wasn't bitterly cold or wet, or both. Given the forecast, a turnout of 25 riders was quite impressive. Following a comprehensive briefing, we headed off [in one group] towards the Innocent Railway. Onwards through the tunnel to Bingham, where we turned right under the bridge. From there we meandered through the backstreets of Niddrie and Greendykes to emerge on The Wisp. Up The Wisp on the shared use path beside the busy road, along the quiet roads of Danderhall and we came to the busy Old Dalkeith Road. Across that, through the green doors set in the wall and we found ourselves in the lovely Drum Estate - a perfect setting for a cake and sweetie stop. Leaving the estate behind, a stretch on the busy Gilmerton Station Road followed. It was here that the rider had been blown over on the recce. Fortunately, there was no drama on this ocassion. We took the path beside the road to climb the [deceptively steep] Lasswade Road. We made our way through Burdiehouse Park. From there, some unfamiliar back streets brought us out on Captain's Road. We pressed on along Frogston Road before turning into the Mortonhall Estate. We stopped to regroup outside the Stable Bar. For once, this was not our lunch venue. Some slightly muddy tracks led us to the Braid Hills Golf Centre at Liberton. This was our lunch venue; and a good one it turned out to be.

All suitably replenished, we headed out onto Liberton Drive. The leader had warned us that this, and Braid Hills Drive that followed, were very poor quality roads. She wasn't wrong! The state of the road could only be described as appalling! Past the Braid Hills Hotel, along Braid Road and Braidburn Terrace and we were in Braidburn Valley Park. We often use this route as we head towards Colinton. But it did seem strange being there in the afternoon rather than the morning. This was part of the loop out to Colinton. From there we began to head back towards the Meadows. Through the Colinton Tunnel, alongside the Water of Leith before joining the Union Canal towpath which took us back to Leamington Bridge. As we got closer in towards the city, a number of riders peeled off towards home. The remainder headed back to the finish at Middle Meadow Walk.

Thanks to Verity for leading an enjoyable ride. Good to visit less familiar places, and all credit for
finding a new lunch venue - one I'm sure we will be happy to use again.

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



Monday, 5 February 2018

February ride this Saturday


We've got our next ride on this coming Saturday (10th February). I hope you'll be able to join us.

Verity will be leading us on a tour of bike paths and quiet roads in the south of the city. Our route will include Danderhall, the Drum, Gilmerton, Burdiehouse Valley Park, Mortonhall and Braidburn Valley Park, finishing with a loop to Colinton and back along the Water of Leith. As far as gradients are concerned, I'm told that we can expect undulations rather than killer hills. The total distance will be about 23 miles, mainly on good surfaces but with a few rough tracks and a couple of short sections on main roads.

For our lunch stop, Verity has managed to find a venue that we have not visited before as a group. This is the café at the Braid Hills Golf Centre in Liberton. Their menu includes a range of sandwiches, baked potatoes, burgers and the like. As always, you have the option of bringing your own lunch if you prefer.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure. We should get back to the Meadows around 15:00 or so, which will be well before dark (sunset is at 17:08), but it might be wise to bring lights in case we get delayed, especially if you live some distance from the end point.

Remember, our rides are free and open to all, with no advanced booking.

Monday, 15 January 2018

A January jaunt



For our first 'second Saturday' run of the year, twenty so or riders gathered in Middle Meadow Walk on a somewhat dreary morning, albeit a little milder than of late. It was good to see a couple of newcomers, plus one or two others returning for their second outing with the group. All very welcome.

With Alan Orr leading, we set off towards the Union Canal. Usually when we take the canal towpath, we head straight down Leamington Terrace to join the path near the lift bridge. Today, just for a change, Alan took us through Morningside, along Balcarres Street and through the woods on the northern flank of Craiglockhart Hill, eventually reaching the canal at Allan Park. We stayed on the towpath for three miles of easy pedalling, keeping up a brisk average of around 14 mph.

Leaving the canal at Gogar Station Road, we headed north for a couple of miles before crossing the Glasgow Road by the RBS footbridge. After passing the tram depot and the new Edinburgh Exchange station, we turned up Turnhouse Road, aiming for Cammo Park.

Up to now, the route had been familiar to most of us. But then came an unexpected new section. Thanks to a slight navigation error, we missed the planned right turn, and didn't realise our mistake for at least another mile. Rather than turning back, we took the next turning on the right, which was Turnhouse Farm Road. This proved fortuitous. The road in question, which was very quiet, meandered through pleasant woodland before joining the Cammo Road to the north of the country park. We thus avoided the unpleasant path that runs parallel to Maybury Road (where we often have to face fast oncoming traffic), but at the expense of only very little extra pedalling.

Back in familiar territory, we paused at the delightful Grotto Bridge, where the fast-flowing River Almond gushes through a deep tree-lined valley. This made an ideal spot for a refreshment break. Various treats, including some very tasty home-made fudge cake, were duly produced and consumed.

For the next section, we had to negotiate the temporary bike lane along the hard shoulder of the busy Queensferry Road. This arrangement is the result of the closure of the Burnshot Bridge, which normally carries cyclists (and other traffic) across the dual carriageway to the Kirkliston Road. The bridge closed last May, hence the need to use the temporary path. But changes have taken place since our previous visit. The bridge has now been completely demolished, and what looks like a narrow footbridge has been erected in its place. However, this is currently fenced off. Meanwhile, it appears that the temporary route on the hard shoulder is being widened and turned into a proper bike (and pedestrian) path. Whether this arrangement is permanent, or whether the above-mentioned footbridge will be available for us to use, remains to be seen.

Fortunately, we were soon clear of this problematical stretch. The only remaining obstacle between us and lunch was the hill leading to Craigie's Farm, which we tackled if not with enthusiasm then at least with hunger. Craigie's is one of our more popular lunch venues, with plenty of room for us to spread out in the spacious café and a good range of snacks on the menu.

For the return leg, Alan took us down the far side of Craigie Hill, then across the Queensferry Road to join NCN 1. The last half-dozen miles proceeded without incident as we followed the familiar route across Cramond Brig, through Barnton and onto the Roseburn Path. A few of the group peeled off along the way, with most of the riders returning to the Meadows at just before 3 pm – plenty of time for a coffee before dark.

Leader: Alan
Report: Mike
Photos: Mike and Verity
Map: David

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

January ride this coming Saturday


We've got our monthly run this coming Saturday (13th). I hope you'll be able to join us.

Alan (Orr) will be leading us on a circuit of bike paths and quiet roads to the west of the city, with a lunch stop at Craigie's Farm. The total distance will be just about 20 miles, most of which will be on firm surfaces, although there will be an occasional section that might be rough or muddy. The only serious hill of the day will be the climb up to Craigie's from the Kirkliston Road (just before lunch).

Craigie's Farm has a spacious café serving a good range of soups, salads and sandwiches. There is also a terrace for those who prefer an al fresco lunch. Note that the lunch break will be fairly late - we'll do most of the mileage in the morning - so adjust your appetites accordingly.

Our meeting point is the same as always: the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Plan to get there in time for a 10:30 departure. The ride should end before dark, but I would advise you to bring lights in case we get delayed.

As always, the meeting point and start time are fixed, but the route and lunch stop are subject to change, depending on conditions on the day.

A reminder ...

I'll take this opportunity to remind you to bring a spare inner tube on all our rides if at all possible. Changing an inner tube is a lot faster than repairing a puncture. Don't worry if you don't know how to change a tube; there are usually people willing to help if the need arises. If you don't know what size of inner tube you need, just ask at your favourite bike shop.

That's all for now. Remember, there is no advance booking for our rides. If you are planning to join us, just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

A Baltic Back-to-Basics opener


Today, we opened the 20 Milers 2018 account with a Back-to-Basics ride to Craigmillar Castle. We ran one of these rides early last year to address concerns that some of our rides were becoming faster, longer and more demanding than expected. A year on, these concerns remain; hence the need for today's ride. We don't want to frighten off potential riders that are capable of managing one of the group's rides.

Following a couple of wet days and rain during the night, the forecast suggested we would be in for a bright, sunny, but very cold day. There was more cloud cover than expected, but fortunately no sign of  ice as we began to assemble at the start. Credit where credit is due, the forecast was spot on. The sun did come out, it remained dry, but it was bitterly cold as the day wore on. A turn out of sixteen was respectable under the circumstances. It was great to see some new faces amongst the regulars - just what we wanted. Following a briefing from the leader [where he explained the reason for this ride], we rolled away in one group and made our way to the Innocent Railway. Through the tunnel, onwards past the Range and onto the Brunstane path to emerge at the Booker cash and carry on the edge of Musselburgh. We then took the road towards Portobello, turning onto the prom at Joppa where we paused to regroup. A strong wind was blowing off the sea - that sort that cuts right through one, regardless of how many layers one has on. It really felt as if the wind had come non-stop from the Arctic! Needless to say, we didn't hang around for long. It was a relief to leave the prom and head inland. Out of the wind, we had a quick sweetie stop before taking the bridge over the Craigentinny railway sidings.

Via the superb new cycle paths beside Portobello High School and Duddingston Park South, we returned to the Innocent Railway and on to Duddingston Road West, where we cut through the industrial estate and crossed Peffermill Road. We then entered Craigmillar Castle Park and made our way to the castle. The leader had intended to take us along the path in front of the castle; but being slightly uphill and looking muddy and slippery, he led us back the way we had come on easier to ride paths. We exited the park, crossed the busy Old Dalkeith Road and rode through The Inch Park. Short spells on Gilmerton Road and Liberton Road, and we were on the quiet Blackford Glen Road and heading into Hermitage of Braid, which was busy with walkers. Following a brief comfort stop, we emerged onto Braid Road. Hermitage Drive and Braid Avenue which led us into the back streets of Morningside. A narrow little path [which was new to many] took us on a cut-through beside St Peter's Primary School. From there, we rode through the back streets of Marchmont to return to the Meadows, where the leader declared the ride over in time for a late lunch.



Thanks to Jim for leading us on an interesting ride. There is a plan to run another Back-to-Basics in the spring; when hopefully, the weather will be warmer and result in a larger turn out. We have our usual (second Saturday of the month) ride this coming Saturday. As ever, no need to book - just turn up.

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



Monday, 1 January 2018

Back-to-Basics ride this Saturday


We've got an additional ride this coming Saturday (6th January), which Jim will be leading. This will be a Back-to-Basics ride, similar to the one we did this time last year. It will be a half-day run, taken at an easy pace. If you haven't done much cycling this winter, or if you are feeling below your normal fitness level, this ride is for you.

We'll start from our usual spot on Middle Meadow Walk at 10:30. I don't know the route yet, but the aim is for it to be mostly flat and avoiding busy roads. We'll plan to finish by 13:00. There won't be an official café or pub stop en route, but if anyone wants to find somewhere for lunch after the ride, they will be welcome to do so.

The ride is free and open to all, with no advance booking. Even if you have been cycling all winter, and you are above your normal fitness level, you will still be welcome to join us - provided you are happy with the slower pace.

And don't forget that we've got our normal monthly ride the following Saturday. I'll post a reminder of that next week.

Monday, 25 December 2017

At least there was no wind ...


There's no other way of describing it. As far as the weather was concerned, this year's Christmas morning ride was a washout. The 40 mph winds of recent days had gone. What we had instead was incessant rain, often heavy, which lasted well into the afternoon.

But the eleven riders who turned up at Middle Meadow Walk were all in good spirits, determined not to let a bit of dampness spoil the morning. Fortified along the way with mulled wine and other treats, the ride proved to be an enjoyable one – at least until the final couple of miles when the cold and wet started to take its toll.

Our first stop was the Castle, where we did a circuit of the esplanade and posed for photos next to William Wallace. The Pentland Hills were just about visible through the murk. We then headed down the Mound for our traditional traverse of Princes Street. Not surprisingly, the city centre was dead. A few buses and taxis were to be seen, as well as the usual forlorn tourists looking in vain for something to do. Apart from that, we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

The next stage took us to the summit of Calton Hill, where we toasted the season with the aforementioned mulled wine, which was much appreciated (thank you, Michael). We then headed down to Greenside and through empty streets to Easter Road. At the Easter Road / McDonald Road junction, we experienced the new bike-friendly traffic lights, where a special green light gives cyclists a momentary priority over other traffic.

Our route then took us to St. Mark's Park, then via Five Ways to Goldenacre, Inverleith Park, Stockbridge and along the Water of Leith, which was unusually fast-flowing because of the rain. At Dean Village, we crossed the river by the narrow footbridge, then headed up Belford Road. By now, we were thoroughly wet and cold. By the time we reached the West End, about half the party had either peeled off or were seriously considering doing so. So at about 12.30, and with just under eight miles on the clock, we declared the ride officially finished. We went our various ways, with most of us heading for a hot shower, a change of clothes and a good meal. What better way to spend Christmas?

Leader: Mike
Backmarkers: Jenny and Derek
Report and photos: Mike
Map: David