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Saturday, 12 October 2013

October's ride to East Lothian

After the nice weather last weekend, today's ride was in more autumnal weather - colder, mostly grey (although with tantalising patches of sun on distant hills) and the occasional spot of drizzle. This didn't stop 27 people turning up for the ride though.

We set off and headed through Holyrood Park (I had a brief mechanical emergency when the cable on my front brake slipped through the bolt and became effectively useless - thanks to Handy Alan and Andrew who helped me get it back in working order) and then Willowbrae and down through Mountcastle (crossing over the A1 - always a challenge with a big group) and then onto Fishwives Causeway and into Portobello. We went gently along the length of the Promenade - it's only recently that the "no cycling" signs have come down (even though it had long been agreed by the council that they were wrong) and "cycling OK" signs have gone up. There was a Doctor Bike van doing good business half the way along.

We then carried along the main route into Musselburgh, turning off at the harbour and then along the water front to the River Esk. On the far side of the river we continued on past the cadets' hut and found the large concrete arrow - apparently used in the war to line up bombers on training runs on targets in the Forth. Someone pointed out that the Germans weren't silly enough to place large blue arrows pointing towards the targets in the war... We also met a friendly dog who brought us a ball and invited us to throw it for them. Repeatedly.
Bombing target
A very short distance further on we made a slight detour to look at the ash lagoons (spoil from Cockenzie Power Station, now drying out and has vegetation starting to grow, so looks less of a moonscape than it used to). Back down the hill and turn left, we continued on a rough track along the side of Musselburgh racecourse, testing the skills of the people with skinny tyres.

Beside Musselburgh Racecourse
Near Prestonpans
In Prestonpans we turned right and started to climb (after a short break at the Award Winning Loos), passing under the railway line and over the A1. Most of us then took a rough-ish track East, parallel to the road, while some went up the hill and along the A199 into Tranent the "smooth" way. At the site of the battle of Prestonpans (there was an information board), we turned up the hill and into Tranent where we regrouped before the final climb up to Fa'side hill and a lovely (if rather murky) view of Edinburgh, the Pentlands, the Forth and Fife.
View from Fa'side hill
We then enjoyed a swift descent (caution and group size and occasional stretches of gravel tempered the speed slightly) down the hill to our lunch break at the Premier Inn near Whitecraig.

After lunch (which was very efficiently delivered), and a group photo we went down Cowpits Road and onto the River Esk path down to Musselburgh, where we retraced our route slightly along the coast, before taking the Brunstane Burn path (newly surfaced with tarmac for most of the route) and then joining Route 1 home.

In total it was about 27 miles - a bit longer than our normal distance, and it showed (we were back quite late, at about 5pm, even though we were spared any waits for punctures this time).
Fa'side hill from Musselburgh Racecourse
Leader: Glenn
Report: Livia

View 20milers to East Lothian Oct-13 in a larger map

Saturday, 5 October 2013

20-Milers Extra to Linlithgow

Today's run was the last of our Extra rides for the summer. Under Julia's capable leadership, 17 of us headed west to Linlithgow - our first visit to that town as a group.

We started from Craigleith, following the familiar route to Cramond Brig, and then on to the Carlowrie Road and the railway path into Kirkliston. Continuing westward, the B9080 was busy with traffic, but we only had to put up with it for a mile or so. After branching off onto the lane towards Niddrie Castle, we stayed on quiet roads for the rest of the morning.

This was a delightful stretch of route: a little hilly, it's true, but with excellent views towards the Firth of Forth and beyond. At Wester Ochiltree, we turned north, and enjoyed a fast freewheel down to the main road at Champfleurie (see photo).

Linlithgow turned out to be an ideal lunch destination. Half a dozen of us commandeered a picnic table outside the palace, enjoying a superb view over the loch. The rest of the group headed for various cafés nearby.

For the return leg, we headed up to the canal basin, then took the towpath for a while, returning to the road at the Park Bistro. By now, the sun had come out. In fact, it was a surprisingly warm afternoon: 17C at one point - not bad for October.

At Philpstoun, most of the group turned north east, taking a scenic loop through the Hopetoun Estate and South Queensferry. But a few of us decided we wanted a quicker route home, so I led a break-away contingent at a fast-ish pace, making a bee-line towards Edinburgh via Winchburgh and Kirkliston.

In theory, my group should have got home quite a bit earlier than the main party. I don't know what went wrong. Either we weren't pedalling as fast as I thought, or the "slow" party was in fact moving at a very fast clip. But, to my embarrassment, the two groups converged just north of Cramond Brig. Ah, well ...

Apart from a puncture just before the end of the ride (the second one of the day), the rest of the run was uneventful. We got back to town at by about 4.30 pm, after cycling 35 miles or so on a very pleasant day. All in all, it was another successful outing.

Leader: Julia
Report and photo: Mike