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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Ice and easy does it

Following a week which gave us the worst weather so far this winter and the threat of icy conditions under-wheel, it wasn't surprising that only 13 riders turned up at the start of today's ride. Several of our regulars decided not to risk it. Maybe the memory of the ill-fated January ride that had to be curtailed due to lethal black ice was still fresh in their memories.

For the first time in a while there was no need to split into two groups as we headed towards the Innocent Railway via the path across the Meadows which was freshly gritted. We went through Craigmillar Castle Park where the mud wasn't too bad due to the frozen ground. On past the Royal Infirmary, through Moredun and into Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park. At this point we stopped for our customary sweetie stop. Upping the stakes from the usual passing round of Jelly Babies, Andy opened a flask and passed round a quaiche of mulled wine which was greatly appreciated on such a cold day. Our sweetie stops may have changed forever! The conditions under-wheel were now quite treacherous with sheet ice often stretching across the width of the path. The only consolation being that we could actually see the ice; therefore much better than the black variety. Crossing a particularly dodgy bit, one rider was heard to say, "I want my mum!" Brave souls these 20 Milers! We made it safely to our lunch stop where the group split between the Mortonhall Garden Centre cafe and the Stables Bar.
With everyone fed, watered and warmed up, disaster struck! One of our group had securely locked his bike only to realise that the key was still at home. As several members of the group set about breaking the lock, others stood around getting cold whilst some were less than helpful asking "does anyone have a hand grenade?" Just as it looked as if the rider and his bike may have to be abandoned, the skilful wielding of a large rock solved the problem. More trying to ride on treacherous ice covered paths / walking followed as we made our way to Braid Hills. From there we rode back into town via the Astley Ainsley Hospital, mainly on ice-free roads. Prior to finishing the ride, Andy gave us a brief history lesson about the Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women and Children which used to stand on Whitehouse Loan. We may have had a few hairy moments, but we did get back safely with no injuries or fallers.

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

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