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Sunday, 23 September 2012

20-Milers Extra ride to Aberdour (22nd September)

For our last Extra ride of the summer, we were lucky to have some of the best cycling weather of recent weeks: chilly at first but getting gradually warmer, with clear bright skies and virtually no wind. It was an ideal day for our trip into Fife.

Under the capable leadership of Julia Richardson, our 22-strong group headed up the familiar NCN1 route by way of Cramond Brig and Dalmeny. But when we reached the Forth Road Bridge, Julia took us on a less familiar turn-off, through a car park and the edges of a building site, to emerge at the back of the old toll offices. This hidden-from-view spot was where the Queen officially opened the bridge in 1964, and it provides one of the most spectacular views you'll find of both road and rail bridges (usefully, there are also public toilets there).

We lingered at this delightful spot for quarter of an hour, then continued across the bridge at a leisurely pace. It was unusual to cross the Forth on such a clear, wind-free day, and we couldn't resist the temptation to constantly stop, to take photos or to simply gaze across the water.

Once clear of the bridge, we got back to the serious cycling. We quickly headed up the main road into Inverkeithing, which was busy with Saturday shoppers and traffic. From the High Street, we took the cut-through by the Mercat Cross into Bank Street, then zoomed down the hill onto the bike path that skirts Inverkeithing Bay (see photo, top).

For the next five miles, we followed the coast, by St. David's Harbour, Downing Point and Donibristle Bay (famous for its radioactive waste), and on past the ruins of the 12th Century St. Bridget's Kirk. For most of this stretch, the route alternates between residential roads with modern housing and pleasant paths close to the water's edge. Navigation can be a little tricky in places, but Julia's local knowledge paid off, and she led us unerringly along the way.

After the kirk, we turned slightly inland, to follow a minor road across fields and a golf course, emerging into the centre of Aberdour. From here, it was only another mile or so to our lunch spot at Silver Sands beach.

According to an information board, this area is officially "Scotland's Riviera". Even on a sunny day like this was, I felt that was a bit of an exaggeration. Still, the beach is surely one of the best in Fife, with fabulous views across the Forth and round the coast (provided you close your eyes to the alumina plant in Burntisland). Most of our group chose to picnic on the beach, while others made for the recently-refurbished café.

For our return trip, we headed back the way we came. The only drawback was that the hill in Inverkeithing that we had earlier zoomed down now had to be climbed up. We didn't linger on the Forth Road Bridge this time, and we were soon heading back along NCN 1 to our starting point on the Roseburn Path. The total distance was 36 miles.

Thanks to Julia for planning and leading an excellent ride, to Alan and Jenny for back-marking, and to the weather gods for giving us the ideal day for it.

Leader: Julia
Report and photo: Mike
More photos from this ride

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Long September ride

A bit more about this coming Saturday's Extra ride:

At 36 miles, this run will be quite a bit longer than our usual trips. We'll cover the extra distance by starting a little earlier, finishing a little later, and pedalling a little faster - but not so fast as to kill conversation or leave people behind. Our aim is always to have a sociable ride, without undue pressure, and with time to stop occasionally to admire the scenery or take photos.
If you find you can easily manage our normal 20-mile outings and you now want to try something a bit more challenging, I suggest you give this week's ride a try. But if you sometimes struggle to keep up on our normal runs, or you find yourself always at the back, you'll probably prefer to give this one a miss.
The route
Julia Richardson will be our leader this time. She will be conducting us over the Forth Road Bridge, and then eastwards through the intricacies of the Fife coastal path. This is a delightful route, with excellent views for most of the way.
Much of the route will be on well-surfaced paths and roads. But there will be several miles on a somewhat rougher track. This is unlikely to cause any difficulties, and I doubt that we'll have to dismount anywhere. We will, however, encounter several hills. These will be fairly gentle, except for one particularly steep climb on the way back.
Our lunch stop will be at the Silver Sands, just beyond Aberdour. This is a beautiful beach with superb views over the Forth. There's a nice cafe there where you can get a sandwich or a bowl of soup. For those of us who prefer to bring our own food, the beach is a good place for a picnic.
If you decide to join the ride but then find it's too much of a struggle, you have the option of taking a train part or all of the way home. There are two trains per hour from Aberdour, but keep in mind that bike space is limited. If more than a couple of people take this option, you might have to wait for a later train.
Time and place
For this ride, we'll forsake our usual meeting point on the Meadows. Instead, we'll gather on the Roseburn Path, by the Sustrans marker at the junction of the Blackhall and Telford paths. If you're not sure where that is, look up South Groathill Avenue on a street map. The access to the bike path is by the toucan crossing near the Sainsbury's petrol station there.
Remember, the ride will start earlier than usual. We'll gather at 09.45, for a 10.00 start. I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but we're unlikely to get back to the start point before about 4.30 pm.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

September's ride to Craigie Farm

A smaller group than recently turned up today - perhaps people are saving themselves for the Glasgow-Edinburgh Pedal for Scotland tomorrow. We had about 20 people, and this month Logan was the leader and took us out West, past the new tram depot (large hole in the ground), the airport (planes!), through a nice path down to the River Almond and an old bridge across the river, and then up the only real hill of the day to Craigie Farm where there is a very nice farm shop and cafe, and lovely views across the Forth and up to the Pentlands.

View 20milers to Craigie Farm Sep12 in a larger map

After lunch we made our way back to Cramond Brig and from there we turned left and went down to the promenade in Cramond, all the way along back to nearly Granton Square, and then up the old railway line back to the centre, including making sure that people knew where the meeting point for the next ride is (30+miles, to Aberdour, on 22nd September).

Monday, 3 September 2012

September's forthcoming rides

Next ride (Saturday 8th September)
Logan will be leading our ride this coming Saturday. This will be our normal "second Saturday" outing, but it will be a little longer than usual - about 24 miles. It's not a particularly difficult route, but there will be one steep climb, just before lunch.
We'll be taking an attractive route along bike paths and quiet roads to the west of the city. As well as some pleasant country lanes, we're promised fine views of the River Almond, Cammo Park, Edinburgh Airport and the Gogar tram depot.
Our lunch stop will be at Craigie Farm. There's an excellent cafe there, where we can get soup, baked potatoes, salads, and the like. For those who prefer to bring their own food, there are picnic tables and a lawn behind the cafe.
Note that the morning section of the ride will be longer than the afternoon, which means the lunch stop will be fairly late. So adjust your appetite accordingly. After lunch we'll be heading to Cramond and the Silverknowes Esplanade. Those who want a slightly shorter day will have the option of going straight home from Cramond Brig (but you'll have to find your own way).
The meeting time and place are the same as ever: 10.30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As with all our rides, there are no formalities of any kind, and no need tell anyone in advance that you're coming.
20-Milers Extra (Saturday 22nd September)
Two weeks after the above ride, we will be having another of our Extra rides - probably the last one this year. These rides are longer and faster than our normal runs, but are still sociable and un-pressured.
For this month's Extra ride, we'll be heading over the Forth Road Bridge and along the Fife coast to Aberdour. I'll send you more details nearer the time. For now, you might like to note the date, the earlier start time (10.00), and the fact that we will be meeting, not at the Meadows, but at the three-way junction of the Roseburn, Blackhall and Telford paths, near Sainsbury's in Craigleith. (At the green Y in the paths here: http://goo.gl/maps/iUGQ9)