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Thursday, 28 June 2012

20-Milers Evening Ride (27th June)

This Wednesday, we tried something new for our group: an evening ride. Devised and led by Andy Hunter, eight of us enjoyed a pleasant run to Portobello, returning by way of Holyrood Park. We set out at 7 pm, and as the summer solstice had only just passed, we were able to finish the ride comfortably before dark.

We started by heading down the Royal Mile to the Parliament, then along Abbeyhill and up Regent Terrace. From Regent Road, we climbed to the top of Calton Hill. On a good day, this has some of the finest views in the city, but this evening, it was grey and overcast, and even the Castle was hidden by cloud (as you can see in the photo).

We then enjoyed a dramatic descent to London Road, followed by a stretch through quiet back streets before emerging in the northern reaches of Easter Road. Here we joined the excellent bike path that goes through Quarryhole Park and on to Seafield. The section of this path east of Lochend has been greatly improved recently, and provides some superb traffic-free cycling. The only difficulty is the very narrow and often muddy descent from the end of the path down to Seafield Street.

On arriving at Portobello Promenade, Andy (who is a professional story teller) told us how the district got is name. (Short version: Robert Jenkins gets his ear cut off; Britain declares war on Spain; Britain captures Spanish town of Porto Bello on the Panama coast; much celebration back home; several places around the world are named or re-named in honour of the event; Edinburgh's seaside suburb is one of them.)

We left the prom by way of Bridge Street (passing Sir Harry Lauder's birth place), then via Fishwives Causeway, Mountcastle Drive and Abercorn Avenue, before entering the east end of Holyrood Park by Duke's Walk.

At this point, I was just reflecting on what a pleasant, gentle ride it had been, and how I would be home in a few minutes. But then we made a sharp left turn onto Queen's Drive. As we started the long, slow slog up to Dunsapie Loch and the back of Arthur's Seat, I could see the riders in front of me disappear into the clouds. After a lot of slow pedalling, we all made it to the top. Of course, we then had a lovely freewheel down the other side to the park gate.

We were back at the Meadows a little after 9 pm. The total distance was just over 12 miles. It was an excellent route, and, despite the cloud, the weather had stayed dry and reasonably warm. All in all, a very pleasant way of spending an evening.

Leader: Andy
Report by: Mike
Photo by: Andy

Saturday, 9 June 2012

July's ride

Next month's ride will be on Saturday 14th July - Bastille Day. More details on route to be posted nearer the time. But I think it's likely that we won't be going to France.

June's ride to Ratho EICA

Today it was my turn to lead the group, and 30 people turned up - the last few days have had pretty miserable weather but apart from a few spots of rain at lunch and not long after, we had a lovely day for a ride. It wasn't too windy and the sun shone frequently.

The route took us out along the signed route from Roseburn to Edinburgh Park, and from there we crossed under the bypass slightly north of our "normal" place; today's alternative involved using a right of way across a field, although it wasn't very well used and it did just feel as though we were cycling across a field of corn. That was an interesting experience for many. After that we took a more recognisable route along some farm tracks near Roddinglaw, and then turned off the road to Ratho to hoist our bikes over a farm gate and cycle along beside the railway. Jelly Babies and Liquorice Allsorts were served along with a view of the Pentlands as we crossed the railway line. After that we had a mile or so along a footpath (muddy in bits but actually had a good hardcore surface most of the way - we just had to ride "thin" and avoid the nettles...) to Ratho Station. After a short section on roads we used another track to take us up beside the M9 to Claylands, which then fed us onto a short stretch of busy road (with a useful pavement one could cycle on) - under the M8, under the canal and then turn left into the EICA access road.

Lunch for some was a picnic in the sun/rain, for others was a sandwich from the cafe looking out over the climbing arena.

After lunch we used the canal for a couple of miles then took to the road again past Suntrap Gardens and under the bypass on the Gogar Station road route. Then up and over past the Novotel at Edinburgh Park and all the way into town along Bankhead Drive, Broomhouse Drive and Stenhouse Drive. There is a good cycle path along here, although it's a bit of a bore with a big group as we get separated at the crossings. From there, we went across Saughton Park, along a (newish, I think) shared use path behind Hutchison Road and then up to Slateford Road, Shandon Place, Harrison Park and back along the canal. We were shedding people all the way home as people got to places they recognised, but about 6 people made it all the way back to the top of Middle Meadow Walk at about 3.30pm. Total distance was about 23 miles, by my reckoning. 

We had several new faces on today's ride which is always good to see.

Photos from Andy here:

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Sunday, 3 June 2012

20-Milers Extra Ride to East Lothian (2nd June)

For our second Extra ride of the summer, Logan led fourteen of us on a delightful tour of East Lothian villages, using a varied mixture official bike paths, forest tracks, stony paths, estate roads, quiet lanes and main roads.

We started by heading out on NCN 1 as far as Musselburgh Station, and then turned off towards the harbour and race course - and straight into a cold easterly wind. At Prestonpans, we paused for a "comfort break". (Did you know that the public toilets in Prestonpans have been voted Loo of the Year every year since 2001? They've got certificates on the wall to prove it.)

After passing the site of the Battle of Prestonpans (1745), we took a railway path to the edge of Tranent, then continued east through the town centre and along the main road to Macmerry. Then came a delightful off-road stretch, emerging at the entrance to Winton House (dating back to 1150, and now a wedding and conference venue).

We then headed west along a pleasant lane, which our leader insisted was the quietest road in the Lothians ("If we see a car, I'll eat my helmet"; mind you, by that time, some of us were so hungry we would have joined him).

A mile or so later found us in Ormiston, where we stopped for lunch at the Coalgate Bar (see photo). This is surely one of the most welcoming pubs our group has ever visited. After showing us where we could safely leave our bikes, the friendly staff opened the lounge for us, where platters of complementary sandwiches and biscuits were waiting, along with huge pots of tea and coffee. With the sun almost (but not quite) making an appearance, most of us chose to eat in the sheltered garden.

After lunch, we faced three miles of hilly roads into Cousland. We stopped for a quick look at the 18th Century smiddy (now back in use after extensive restoration; the adjoining cottage has an exhibition, but this is only open a few days a year). Then came the last leg of the ride, via the Carberry Estate, Whitecraig, Newcraighall and the Innocent Railway. At the top of the tunnel, we went our separate ways, after a very enjoyable 32-mile run.

Leader: Logan
Report by: Mike