EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas morning in the city


Nine and a half miles in a little over two hours is not exactly a reckless pace, even by 20-Milers standards. But our Christmas morning rides are meant to be sociable rather than speedy, with several sight-seeing and refreshment stops along the way. Today's event was no exception. Eleven riders turned up (including one Santa impersonator), on an overcast morning, with the Middle Meadow Walk thermometer-cum-bike-counter showing 6C.

Our first stop was the Castle esplanade, where we enjoyed fine views to the north and south (a dusting of snow was visible on the Pentland summits). We then had a rapid descent of Ramsay Lane (very steep) to Market Street and Waverley Bridge. Next came a double traverse of Princes Street – westward as far as Castle Street, then back the other way to Waterloo Place. There were a few buses and taxis around, as well as a couple of council cleansing vehicles, but almost no other traffic.

In Regent Road, we paused to look at the Stones of Scotland Monument (a circle of 32 stones, one from each of Scotland's local authorities, commemorating the rebirth of the Scottish Parliament). Then came the hard work of the day: the ascent of Calton Hill. At the summit, we lingered to take in the panoramic view. This was our main refreshment stop, with mulled wine, home-made mince pies and chocolate truffles all in evidence.

We left the hill by way of the path-cum-steps that goes down to Greenside Church. We then weaved through the back doubles to St Marks Park and the Water of Leith, then headed west via King George Park, Canonmills, Stockbridge and Dean Village. After the recent rains, the Water of Leith was unusually fast, and the path was muddier than usual.

At Roseburn, several members of the party went their separate ways. The remnants of the company headed back to town via Haymarket Terrace, West Maitland Street and Rutland Square. By the time we reached the Usher Hall, only three riders remained, so we declared the ride officially over. Judging by the feedback along the way, it was another successful event.

Leader, report, photos and map trace: Mike

Monday, 21 December 2015

Half-day ride this coming Friday


We've got our traditional Christmas morning ride this coming Friday (25th). You're very welcome to join us if you are free.

One of the advantages of cycling on Christmas Day is that the traffic is relatively light. We will take advantage of that to visit parts of the city centre where we might not otherwise cycle. I can't tell you our exact route just now, but it is likely to include the Castle, Princes Street, Calton Hill, and nearby districts. The total distance will be about ten miles.

Although we'll take the ride our usual relaxed pace, be warned that there will be a couple of steep climbs (including the aforementioned Calton Hill), a number of cobbled streets, and possibly one or two short flights of steps to negotiate.

Time and place

We'll leave at 10.30, from our usual meeting spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We'll return to the Meadows by 13.00 at the latest. Obviously, there will be no lunch stop, and nowhere to pick up a coffee en route, so you might want to bring a snack to keep the hunger pangs away.

Like all our runs, this one is "just turn up" - no need to book in advance. It's open to all, so feel free to bring your pals or family members.

For those who have better things to do on Christmas morning, our first ride in 2016 will be on 9th January.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

A meandering route to the Gallery of Modern Art


The final 20 Milers ride of 2015 saw us take a meandering route to the Gallery of Modern Art. This meant we had a longish morning ride, a later lunch and a short afternoon ride back to the finish. After some very wet weekends of late, the forecast suggested we were in for a rather chilly but mainly dry day. It was nice to welcome one new rider amongst the regulars as a total of 18 set off from the Meadows in one group. It was chilly and grey but dry as we made our way to the Innocent Railway via the new cycle track. From there the group made its way through the Magdalenes, across Milton Road and over the big bridge crossing Sir Harry Lauder Road. From the back streets of Portobello we made our way to the promenade. One rider commented on how lovely the view across to Fife was. Those of us not wearing tinted glasses wondered what she was talking about. It just looked dull and grey to us! We pressed on via Seafield to Restalrig. It was here that we were delayed by our only puncture of the day. Being delayed by a puncture is never much fun, especially on a cold grey day. The leader made the decision that the puncturee and two helpers would fix the problem whilst the rest of the group would make their way to Pilrig Park and wait there. Parking up in the deserted children's play park, the group enjoyed the cakes and mulled wine that magically appeared from rider's bags. The puncture repair party joined us. With everyone suitably replenished, we made our way to a comfort stop at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Through Inverleith Park, we went along Carrington Road and through Craigleith. At Craigleith Park we joined the Roseburn Path, climbed some steps and made our way to the Gallery of Modern Art for lunch. The cafe was surprisingly busy. But we split up and all managed to find a seat. Whilst enjoying our lunch, we glanced out of the window to see it raining heavily. We hoped it would be finished by the time we were ready to leave.

The rain had eased, but it was still a bit damp as we departed. Following the recent rain, the water was fast flowing and at quite a high level as we rode beside the Water of Leith. The familiar route through Roseburn, the Telfer subway, Fountainbridge and along the canal to Leamington Bridge took us back to our start point in the Meadows. After lunch various riders peeled off as they got close to home. So only six actually made it to the official finish.

Thanks to Mike for planning a ride that took such a long and meandering route to get us to our lunch stop. Yes, we could have got there much quicker in less miles - but that wasn't the point. A short run back to the finish was also appreciated on a cold and grey December afternoon.


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

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Heading towards winter via Mortonhall

 
Heading towards the end of another good year of cycling; the November 20 Milers ride saw us head to Mortonhall by a rather indirect route. On a day when heavy rain was forecast, a turnout of 19 was respectable. This meant we only needed one group. Fortunately the rain stayed off. Instead we had a grey, coolish and slightly windy day with a feeling that winter was on its way. The impressive new cycle track made getting away from the Meadows so much easier than it used to be. In next to no time we were heading down the Innocent Railway towards Niddrie, where we turned off and made our way through quiet residential streets. A new stretch of road allowed us to cut through and emerge on The Wisp. From there we made our way to Danderhall and through the lovely Drum Estate. The new cycle path that runs alongside the busy Lasswade Road was greatly appreciated. We continued through Burdiehouse Valley Park, along Captain's Road and Frogston Road East to the Mortonhall Garden Centre. This was our lunch stop. Half the group headed for the cafe in the garden centre, whilst the remainder made their way to the nearby Stables Bar.

Reconvening after lunch, we made our way on muddy tracks to Braid Hills Drive. Whilst not the quietest of roads, it caused us no problems and we were rewarded with views to Blackford Hill and beyond despite the gloom. As we arrived at Braid Hills Road, one of our regular riders suffered a puncture. Rather than hold up the group on a cold day, he left us to make his way home, which was nearby. Another member of the group also decided to head home at this point. The remaining riders made their way through Braidburn Valley Park, Colinton Mains Park and along Redford Road to Colinton. From there we joined NCN 75 and began heading back towards town. Through Colinton Tunnel and onwards to join the Union Canal Towpath, we made our way back to the Meadows on very familiar roads.

Thanks to Verity for leading us on an interesting ride. Cleverly mixed in with some very familiar sections were some less familiar and totally new ones.


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

Saturday, 10 October 2015

An Icelandic invasion of South Queensferry


The October 20 Milers ride saw the group head out to South Queensferry. The numbers being swelled by an Icelandic contingent. An impressive group of thirty riders gathered at the usual start point at the top of Middle Meadow Walk. One third of them were a group of riders from Iceland. Being in Edinburgh for a long weekend, they decided they wanted to explore the area by bicycle. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, they found our group, arranged bicycle hire and turned up raring to go. We split into two groups, with most of the Icelanders opting to go with the first group. Leaving the Meadows behind, we made our way on to the busy Bruntsfield Place for a short spell, before turning off and meandering through the quiet back streets of Merchiston. A loud bang that sounded like a gunshot turned out to be a puncture. Quickly fixed, the small group pressed on through Polwarth and caught the main group at the entrance to the Roseburn path. A familiar route for the regulars took us past Craigleith, through Barnton and on to a sweetie stop on Cramond Bridge. From there we rode through the beautiful Dalmeny Estate, which was lovely with the trees just beginning to turn to autumn colours. On past Dalmeny House, we came out of the estate to be greeted with a slightly misty view of the Forth Rail Bridge. It was impressive to those of us that have seen it many times. But to our Icelandic visitors it was breathtaking. From there a short run into the centre of South Queensferry brought us to our lunch stop. Our usual bike parking spot afforded us another wonderful view of the iconic bridge. Whilst some of the group made their way to various eateries; the remainder enjoyed the view as they tucked into their picnics. It was nice to still be picnicing in mid-October. But there may not be many more opportunities left this year.


By the time we headed off, it was beginning to feel somewhat cooler. Rather than take the short, sharp climb up the main road straight after lunch; the leader had us carry our bikes up a flight of steps and walk up an alley. The jury is still out on which is the best option. At the top, we cut through the Co-op car park to get onto the cycle path that would lead us back towards Edinburgh. We eventually emerged onto a cycle path running alongside the busy A8 near the airport. After a short distance, we wheeled our bikes up and over a footbridge across the A8. Whilst crossing the bridge, we were treated to the spectacle of the last flying Vulcan bomber in the world come towards us before banking steeply and roaring away into the distance. Amazing! We made our way past the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters and on into Edinburgh Park. A cycle path beside the tram track took us past the Jenners Depository building and on to Murrayfield. From there we made our way back to the Meadows via the Telfer subway, Fountainbridge, the canal and Bruntsfield.

Thanks to Jim for leading us on such a pleasant early autumn ride. The weather was typical of what could be expected at this time of year. Not overly warm, but still OK for picnicing. Our friends from Iceland seemed to have enjoyed the ride. Hopefully we showed them some areas that they would not have seen. The flypast by the Vulcan bomber was pure luck. But what a sight.


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

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

October ride this coming Saturday


For our ride this coming Saturday, Jim will be leading us on a tour of bike paths and quiet roads in the west of the city. We'll be taking in Dalmeny, South Queensferry, Kirkliston, Ratho Station, Gogar and Edinburgh Park. At 25 miles, the ride will be a little longer than usual, but there will be no particular difficulties: just a few hills, and some paths that might be rough in parts.

We'll take our lunch break in South Queensferry. There is no eating place there large enough to hold us all, so we'll spread out among the several cafés and pubs in the town. For those bringing their own food, there is a nice picnic spot overlooking the harbour.

We'll set out from our usual meeting place, at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, at 10.30.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

"Riders down!" in Linlithgow


The final 20 Milers Extra ride of the year saw us head to Linlithgow. Good weather, an interesting route taking in some delightful quiet country lanes and a picnic lunch beside Linlithgow Palace made for a lovely day. On the down side, two of the group were involved in a minor accident; which fortunately, involved nothing more than cuts and bruises. As usual when heading out west on one of our longer runs, we met at the Craigleith marker. It was slightly cooler and the skies a little greyer than the last few days as seventeen riders assembled. This made for a managable sized single group and we headed off towards Barnton and Cramond Bridge, where we had our customary pause. We then made our way to Kirkliston where we had a comfort stop at the leisure centre. From there a few short spells on busy roads mixed with some lovely quiet country lanes took us on to Philipstoun. The weather had now warmed up nicely and we had blue skies overhead. At times it felt more like summer than early October. We had a trouble-free run towards Linlithgow. The final run into the town saw us descend a fast steep hill. It was here that disaster struck. At the bottom, the road turned  a corner and the front riders were suddenly faced with a single track bridge crossing the canal with priority to oncoming traffic. With an oncoming car on the bridge, the lead rider braked sharply. The following rider could not stop in time, hit the lead rider a glancing blow and they both went down. The second rider was lucky not to end up under the car. Fortunately, nothing worse than two shaken riders, a shaken car driver and superficial cuts and bruises to one rider was the final outcome. It could easily have been much more serious. Bikes and riders were cleared from the road and the injured rider checked over and patched up. After a short break, the group carried on down a delightful little road that was closed to through traffic which brought us out beside the railway station. From there, a short ride along the busy high street took us to our lunch stop at Linlithgow Palace. Often the group will go into a cafe and rearrange the tables and chairs so we can sit together. Today, two large wooden picnic tables were carried across the grass and placed beside a third. Sitting in the warm sunshine beside the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, overlooking the loch, we enjoyed a delightful picnic lunch. Those that remember this year's Pedal for Scotland lunch stop, will be delighted to hear there was no cuss cuss salad in sight!

A pleasant ride alongside the canal and then we made our way through the lovely Hopetoun Estate. There was now more cloud and it was a little cooler, but still pleasant. On leaving the estate we passed the new Forth crossing which is progressing well. On through South Queensferry, we made our way onto familiar paths and roads through Dalmeny, Cramond Bridge and Barnton before arriving back at the Craigleith marker.

Thanks to Julia for devising a varied and interesting route to bring to a close the series of 20 Milers Extra rides for 2015. Roll on 2016. A great shame about the accident. But the fact that we were looking at nothing worse than minors cuts and bruises and a couple of shaken up riders, was a great relief.


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




Saturday, 12 September 2015

A damp ride to Roslin


Today's ride to Roslin was a little damp. We ran a police roadblock and had the first unicycle on one of our rides. The weather forecast suggested we would be in for a ride blighted by long spells of heavy rain. Whilst it was grey and damp with some heavy showers; it wasn't as bad as the forecast had suggested. But it had been a while since we had to endure a wet ride. This may have affected the numbers turning up today. Just 22 riders started. It was good to see a few new faces amongst them, including a unicycle rider which was a first for the group. Despite the lower than usual turnout, the leader took the right decision by splitting the ride into two groups to keep things manageable on the several sections of busy road. We left the Meadows and made our way to the new traffic signals and cycle path at Hope Park Crescent. Its nice to have the cycle path there, but they need to hurry up and get the traffic signals switched on. From there we followed a familiar route to join the Innocent Railway. Riding through the Innocent tunnel, one of our regular riders suggested that we use it so often on our rides that perhaps it should be renamed the 20 Milers tunnel. At Bingham, we cut through a tunnel which led us onto the busy Niddrie Mains Road for a short stretch before making our way through Niddrie and Greendykes to emerge beside the Royal Infirmary. From there, we made our way through Moredun and along Gilmerton Road before turning in to Burdiehouse Valley Park. This section was rough and bumpy with exposed tree roots to contend with. But it caused us no problems and we emerged on to Lasswade Road. A few cones and blown over barriers slowed us as we made our way down the soon-to-be-completed cycle path beside the road. We then joined the cycle path that skirts the edge of Loanhead and crosses the Bilston Glen viaduct for our run into Roslin for our lunch stop. The majority of riders went into the pub out of the rain for lunch, with a few hardy souls picnicing outside.

After lunch we retraced our steps along the cycle path to Lasswade Road. But this time we headed towards Gilmerton and through the Drum Estate to come out on Old Dalkeith Road. Through Danderhall and a rough track allowed us to cut through to Millerhill Road. At Hilltown, we were confronted by a police car blocking the road and a "Police road closed" sign. The police car was empty. After weighing up the situation, it was decided to make our way along the closed road as we decided the worst that could happen would be us being sent back. A quarter of a mile later we came across two police officers and a recovery truck hauling a badly damaged minibus back onto its wheels. No one seemed to mind us being there so we had made the right decision and avoided a long detour. When the second group arrived, they took the "road closed" sign at face value and did take a detour. Once clear of the incident, we found ourselves in heavy traffic on the Wisp and Duddingston Park South. It was nice to turn off and get back onto the quiet Innocent Railway for the final stretch back to the start.

Leader: Alan Orr
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Map trace: David


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

September 20-Milers ride this coming Saturday


We've got our September ride this coming Saturday (12th). We'll be heading into Midlothian. The route will be a straightforward one, but be warned that there will be a couple of long-ish stretches on busy main roads, as well as a few rough paths which might be muddy.

Our lunch stop will be in Roslin. There is a pub and a café there, and also a pleasant spot for a picnic.

We'll meet as usual at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, in time to leave by 10.30. There's no need to contact us in advance; if you can make it, just turn up.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

I rode over 50 miles for a packet of crisps?


Making up one thousandth of the entry, an intrepid team of eight 20 Milers made the journey west to Glasgow to ride this year's Pedal for Scotland. An uneventful coach trip over, we found ourselves at Glasgow Green, reunited with our bikes, we crossed the start line and began our journey back towards Edinburgh. Riding through central Glasgow on closed roads and being waved through red lights by police officers was a joy. On reaching the suburbs we even found we had dual carriageways to ourselves. An opportunity to ride in the outside lane just added to the experience of the day. Even the weather was on our side. Lovely blue skies, warm with just enough of a cooling breeze to stop it getting too hot. Who said it always rains in Glasgow?

We left Glasgow behind and rode on through pleasant countryside to our first feeding station at Drumpellier Country Park where we stopped for refreshments. The group almost had a mutiny to deal with when it was discovered there were no Tunnocks caramel wafers left. Perhaps we should have chosen an earlier start time. At this stage of the ride the group stayed together quite easily and there were not too many other cyclists to get in our way. That would come later. We carried on, marvelling at how lovely the countryside between Glasgow and Edinburgh is. So different to dashing along the M8 motorway. We'd often turn to eachother and ask where we were. None of us knew the area well and we ended up reading the signposts before giving up and just enjoying being wherever we were. On through Longriggend and Limerigg we arrived at the second feeding station at Avonbridge. Here we found hundreds of cyclists queuing for the home baking on offer. After a brief rest and sharing the food we had brought with us, we hit the road again heading towards the lunch stop at Linlithgow Palace. It was on this stretch that it became clear that this year's route was much tougher than in previous years. There were some seriously steep climbs and plenty of them. The 20 Milers peleton began to split on the hills. With so many others getting off and walking, it was quite a challenge to thread our way through. Hill after hill led to tiredness setting in. One of the team made the fatal error of changing up three gears instead of down which resulted in them grinding to an halt. It was on this stretch that one of the funniest moments of the day occurred. A group of Glaswegian guys were struggling up an hill past a group of first aiders. One of them asked the lady if she had anything for a sore bum. Quick as a flash she replied, "I'll get big Jimmy to rub it better for you!" The guy fairly flew up the rest of the hill! On a more sombre note, we descended a very steep hill with a tricky bend at the bottom. Within a hundred yards there were two injured cyclists being patched up by first aiders. It was on this stretch that one of the team was riding along, heard a loud bang and wondered what it was, before realising he had just suffered a puncture. Three of them fixed it and made their way to the lunch stop some way behind the rest.

It was very busy at the Linlithgow Palace lunch stop. Were we ready for lunch? There were five packets of egg and cress sandwiches and a table groaning under the weight of cuss cuss salad. We may have been at the palace; but this was no feast fit for a king! Lunch was something of an anticlimax after 30 miles of hard riding. Back on the road again, we consoled ourselves by riding on the right hand side of the [closed] roads. One of the team said it was as close as he would get to a continental cycling holiday this year. The hills kept coming and more threading between weary walkers followed. One of the team was talking to a young woman who had never ridden a bike before doing this event. Talk about a baptism of fire! There would probably be others that would never ride a bike again! We swept past the Kirkliston Leisure Centre feeding station without stopping. We were now on familiar roads and on the home straight. An uneventful ride took us back to Murrayfield and the finish. A shame we didn't get to ride through the stadium this time. No one ever does these sort of rides for the goody bag. But this year's was particularly disappointing, and there was no medal. Quote of the day from Dawn summed it up, "you mean I rode over 50 miles for a packet of crisps?" But it had been a great day. It was about 54 miles and we had done it at an average speed a couple of miles per hour faster than a typical 20 Milers ride. The hills had made it more of a challenge. We had enjoyed it and finished with a well-deserved sense of achievement. It must have been seriously tough for the many occasional cyclists that did it. Those of us on the team now realise that going out most weekends in all weathers really does pay dividends.


Team: Christina, Jim, Dawn, Peter, Jenny, Logan, Michael and Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael and Glenn
Trace: Jim

Saturday, 22 August 2015

An Extra ride into the depths of East Lothian


For the penultimate 20 Milers Extra ride of the year we headed deep into East Lothian to the Merryhatton Garden Centre. The weather was very kind to us, with the temperature perfect for cycling with a gentle breeze keeping it from getting too warm. A little more sunshine instead of grey skies would have been nice; but you can't have everything. Rain threatened a couple of times, but was considerate enough to only come when we were undercover at our lunch stop.

Uncharacteristically, there were two start points for today's ride. One at the Commonwealth Pool and one at Fisherrow Harbour. It was nice to see a couple of new faces amongst the 23 that rolled away from Fisherrow. This was an impressive turnout for an Extra ride. Usually the numbers are well down on those for regular 20 Milers rides; but not today. The leader decided to go with one group rather than two. A decision that worked admirably. After crossing the River Esk, we ground to a halt due to temporary traffic lights and roadworks on the main route out of the Honest Toun beside the racecourse. Leaving the roadworks behind, we made our way along the busy coast road. Beyond Gosford Bay, we left the main road to meander along the path between the trees that runs parallel to it. Its always nice to leave a busy main road behind, even if only for a short time. A short ride down Aberlady high street before turning off and heading inland. The group followed the leader as he confidently turned right on the road towards Haddington. This led to the exchange of a few quizzical glances between those that knew the area [and thought they knew the route]. Within a couple of hundred yards, the leader turned right into a campsite. Despite the suggestion that this was our overnight stop, the group turned round and headed back the way we had come, much to the confusion of those at the back. Wrong slot corrected, we headed down the quiet country lane past the Myreton Motor Museum which is well worth a visit if you're in the area. Another section of busy main road took us to Drem. Turning off and going past the railway station put us back on a much quieter road which took us to our lunch stop at the Merryhatton Garden Centre. We were all safely ensconced in the undercover dining area when a brief spell of heavy rain made its appearance.

The rain had passed and it was slightly cooler as we made our way past the Museum of Flight at East Fortune. We passed through the charming village of Athelstaneford, the home of the Scottish Saltire. A few comments from the group made it clear that quite a few were in new and unexplored territory; and how lovely it was too. We passed the Hopetoun Monument and headed in the direction of Haddington, up the only serious climb of the day. A right turn, and we were back enjoying more quiet country lanes. A surprisingly quiet main road took us to Macmerry, where we joined an unsurfaced cycle track. We meandered on a few more quiet country lanes before running down into Tranent. Here we joined another cycle track and quiet road into Prestonpans. A comfort stop and then back on the coast road towards Musselburgh. At Tesco, the ride was declared over and riders began to head off, with the majority following the leader back towards Edinburgh.

Leader: Logan
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Trace:








Monday, 17 August 2015

20-Milers Extra this Saturday


We've got the third of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (22nd August). Logan will be leading us on a foray into East Lothian. The lunch stop will be the Merryhatton Garden Centre near East Fortune. There is a spacious cafeteria there offering a good choice of snacks and light meals. As always, you can bring your own food for a picnic if you prefer.

For this ride, there will be a choice of meeting points:
  • Either: 09.45, at the side entrance to Scottish Widows in Holyrood Park Road. This is across the road from the Commonwealth Pool car park. Note that other cycling groups often meet at the front of the Commonwealth Pool, so don't join the wrong group by mistake.
  • Or: 10.30, in front of the Harbour Café, at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh.
As we will have a lot of miles to cover, we will be leaving promptly at the times mentioned above.

Logan has worked out a very pleasant route for this outing. We'll be heading out along the coast, and returning by a more inland route. There will be a few moderate hills, but nothing too demanding. But there will also be several stretches along main roads, which might be busy with traffic.

The total distance will be about 36 miles for those starting from Musselburgh, or 50 miles for the Edinbugh contingent.

Remember, our Extra rides are faster than our usual second-Saturday runs, with fewer stops. Please bear that in mind when deciding if this ride will be suitable for you.

There's no need to let anyone know if you are planning to come. Just turn up at your preferred meeting point.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

A summer ride to Dalkeith


Following a spell of changable weather; today's ride was blessed with sun shining down from a lovely blue sky. The temperature may have been slightly below the average for the time of year, but it really was ideal cycling weather. A relatively low turnout of 25 riders was a touch disappointing. But it being holiday time for many and the start of the Edinburgh Festival may have had something to do with it. Despite that, it was nice to see more new faces. We headed off in one group. Road closures brought about by the Festival meant we headed off up [rather than down] Middle Meadow Walk and took a detour to get onto the road we needed. A short while later we stopped and waited upon realising that four riders were still at the start point. A minor mechanical issue had delayed their start. It was quickly fixed and they caught us up. There was much more traffic on the road than usual and this delayed us for the early part of the ride. Leaving the traffic behind, we took back streets and paths to make our way into Holyrood Park. Despite quite a few pedestrians to contend with, we were soon climbing Queen's Drive. Turning off half way up the hill, we took a path and climbed a few steps to emerge in the back streets of Willowbrae. We whizzed down to the busy Willowbrae Road. A fortunate break in the traffic meant all of the group managed to get across in one go. We made our way to Northfield, where a few quiet roads led us into the delightful Figgate Park. Once through the park, we were soon navigating the bumpy cobbles of Brighton Place on our way into Portobello. A couple of twists and turns and we were on the busy Portobello Promenade. One rider commented that on a day like today, we could have been beside the Mediterranean. We must remember that when riding along it in January, freezing cold and being lashed by horizontal sleet. Once at Joppa, there was no alternative but to join the busy Musselburgh Road for the run to Fisherrow Harbour where we had a comfort stop.


From there we took a less familiar route through Musselburgh to join the Grove near Tesco for our run towards Whitecraig. At Whitecraig we joined the busy A6094 to reach the outskirts of Dalkeith. More twiddling through unfamiliar back streets brought us to the lunchtime pub stop. A small number of the group availed themselves of the pub's facilities, whilst the rest of us headed to the park opposite Morrisons supermarket to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine. This finally felt what summer should be like. Suitably replenished, we regrouped and headed off towards more new cycle paths through a new housing estate. The paths were great, but a difficult-to-negotiate gate delayed us as 25 riders had to get through it. Not really what you'd expect on NCN 1. All through, and the unfamiliar paths led us back to Dalkeith High School and the familiar path towards Whitecraig. Yet another detour through an housing estate cut off a stretch of busy road and we were soon back on the path to Musselburgh. Instead of following it back into town, we turned off for Musselburgh railway station. From there we made our way through Newcriaghall and Brunstane to join the Innocent Railway to return to our starting point.

It had been a good day and the weather had been kind to us. Thanks to Michael for planning such an interesting route. Its always nice to be surprised by new ways through areas you think you know well.


Leader: Michael
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael and Glenn
Trace: Julia


Tuesday, 4 August 2015

August ride this coming Saturday


Just a quick reminder of this Saturday's ride. Under the guidance of Michael (Law), we will be heading out to Dalkeith. The route is a straightforward one: paths and quiet roads, but with a couple of stretches on busy roads; moderate hills, no killers. Total distance: about 22 miles.

There will be a couple of options for lunch. Some of us will have a picnic in Kings Park near the town centre. If you don't want to bring your own food, you can pick up a sandwich across the street in Morrisons. Those who prefer a hot meal will make for a nearby pub.

As always, we'll muster at the top of Middle Meadow Walk in time to leave at 10.30.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

An Almondell Outing

 
For today's ride - our second Extra of the summer - Peter (Bennett) led us on an interesting excursion into West Lothian. The day was tolerably warm and dry, but we had a fresh wind in our face for much of the morning.

About 18 of us set off from the Craigleith path junction. For the first few miles, the route was so familiar that our bikes could probably have found their way on their own: along NCN 1 to Cramond Brig, then via the Carlowrie Road to the Kirkliston railway path. On leaving Kirkliston, we paused at the leisure centre, which provided a handy comfort stop. Then came a short stretch on the main road, followed by a pleasant mile and a half on the back road to Niddry Castle.

We then joined the canal towpath for about three miles, apparently heading back to town, which seemed counter-intuitive. But this was the part of the canal that makes a big loop around three sides of Broxburn, so in fact we were heading more south than east. After leaving the towpath at Bridge 23 (no other place names shown on the map), we enjoyed a delightful stretch along a country lane which took us through the Strathbock and Kirkhill woods, and so through the north gate of Almondell Country Park.

The country park is an excellent place for a bike ride. It has good paths and traffic-free roads, with dramatic views of the River Almond flowing through a deep wooded gorge. It was also our planned luch stop. But just as we arrived at the picnic tables - can you guess? - the sky darkened and some splodges of rain appeared. About a dozen of us headed for the shelter of the visitor centre. The friendly attendant allowed us to invade the centre's diminutive conservatory, where we somehow managed to squeeze around three tiny tables (with apologies to the family that was trying to enjoy their own quiet lunch there). However, a few moments later the rain stopped and the sky cleared, so some of us decamped to the centre's walled garden.

For the afternoon leg, we picked up NCN 75, which skirts East Calder and heads south east to Kirknewton and Long Dalmahoy. The wind was behind us now, and much of the route was slightly downhill, so we were making very good time. We paused for a few moments at a junction which is known in 20-Milers folklore as Yaz's Corner (after a memorable puncture there a year or so ago; I'll say no more). At the point where NCN 75 turns right for a long climb to Balerno, our leader wisely took us straight ahead on a gentler gradient towards the Curriehill road.

We ended the ride by pedalling through the Riccarton campus, Edinburgh Park, the Gyle and Corstorphine. By the time we reached Roseburn, several riders had peeled off. The rest of us took the Roseburn Path back to our starting point. At 30 miles, it was a very enjoyable ride.

Leader: Peter
Report and photos:Mike
Map trace: Sorry - didn't do one this time.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Picnic at Harlaw Reservoir



Heavy drizzle around 0800 suggested another typical summer day in Edinburgh was on the cards. Fortunately, by the time the 31 riders assembled at the start, it was merely grey skies and warmish but dry weather that greeted us. It was good to see some new faces as well as some riders who hadn't ridden with us for some time, in addition to the usual stalwarts of the group. Following a briefing from the leader, the two groups headed off along the familiar roads through Morningside. Before we had got as far as Braidburn Valley Park we had to wait whilst a wobbly wheel was investigated. This resulted in the rider heading off to the nearest bike shop. It looked as if their ride was over. But once fixed, they raced and caught the group and were able to complete the ride. Continuing on the cycle path through Colinton Mains Park and the housing estate near Redford Barracks, we made it to our comfort stop on Colinton Road where the first of the day's sweets were passed round. We pressed on leaving the city behind. We passed the impressive new riding school buildings on Woodhall Road before heading off road to Blinkbonny. Passing the cemetery we turned left into Kirkgate. This tough climb inevitably led the conversation (for those with any breath to spare) onto the subject of the Tour de France polkadot jersey for the King of the Mountains. We're not sure who got to the top first. But everyone made it and could feel a sense of achievement in having done so. From there it was a relatively short and easy run to the lunch stop at the Harlaw Reservoir Visitor Centre. We commandeered the picnic tables. A few riders took advantage of the catering caravan. The food was freshly cooked and very nice, but there was a long wait to get served. Former 20 Milers regular, Livia joined us with young Matthew and passed round some delicious wedding cake. Congratulations to Livia and Andrew (who was actually on the ride) on their recent marriage.

Suitably fed and watered, we bade farewell to Livia and young Matthew and began our journey back towards Edinburgh. We did a circuit of the Harlaw and Threipmure Reservoirs. After that it was downhill almost all the way home. A fast run down into Balerno was followed by a brisk run along the Water of Leith path. There is something about riding through the curved Colinton Tunnel that always makes the writer want to sing "We're all members of the self-preservation society"! We made it back to the Water of Leith Visitor Centre where the leader declared the ride officially over. Most of us enjoyed a well-earned coffee before making our way home in various directions.

Fortunately the rain stayed off and we enjoyed reasonable weather for the ride and our picnic. Thanks to Mike for leading the run, and a big thanks to Dawn for leading the second group so well on her first time in that role. Looks like we have another leader to add to our roster for forthcoming rides.


Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Trace: Jim

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Two rides coming up in July


Once again we have two rides this month. Please treat this post as your official reminder for both of them.

Normal monthly ride: 11th July

Photo: Michael Law
For this month's "Second Saturday" run, we will be repeating one of our more popular summer events: a picnic at the Harlaw Reservoir in the Pentland Hills.

Our route will be just under 20 miles. Most of it will be on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads, although there will be a couple of rough stretches that might be muddy. Be warned that there will be a fair amount of climbing, especially in the morning, with one particularly steep hill just before lunch. But we'll be rewarded with a lot of nice free-wheeling in the afternoon.

Lunch arrangements

There is no café or pub at the reservoir, so you are advised to bring a picnic. There is a mobile snack bar there, but this offers only a limited range of food (and sometimes has a long queue), so it might be sensible not to rely on it.

There is a single toilet at the reservoir. We will have an additional comfort stop about 40 minutes before lunch.

Depending on numbers and progress, we might stop for a coffee near the end of the ride.

Time and place

As usual, we'll leave at 10.30 from our standard meeting place at the top of Middle Meadow Walk.

We'll go ahead with the picnic even if the day is chilly, or if there is a light drizzle or an occasional shower. But if the weather is really bad, we'll do a shorter ride, probably with a café stop at lunch time.


20-Milers Extra: 18th July

Our second ride this month will be on the following Saturday. This will be one of our "Extra" rides. At about 30 miles, it will be somewhat longer and faster than our usual runs - but still at a sociable pace.

For this ride we'll be heading out to West Lothian. The route will be mainly on quiet roads, but with a couple of short stretches on main roads which might be busy with traffic. Thre will also be about three miles on the canal towpath, and this might be a little rough in parts. There will be a few moderate hills, but no killers this time.

Lunch arrangements

For our lunch stop, we'll aim for Almondell Country Park. There are toilets there, and you can buy hot drinks at the visitor centre, but there is no food service, so you should again bring your own food for a picnic. If the weather is particularly bad, we'll divert to a nearby garden centre where there is a café.

Time and place

The ride will start at our alternative meeting point: the three-way path junction at Craigleith. If you are not sure where that is, see this blog post.

Remember, this ride will start half an hour earlier than usual, at 10.00. It will probably finish around 16.00, depending on our progress.

As with all our rides, there is no need to tell us in advance whether or not you are coming. Just turn up on the day.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Our third summer solstice ride


For the third year running, Jim led us on an evening ride to celebrate the (nearly) longest day of the year. Fourteen of us set out from the Meadows at 6.30 pm. We didn't get the same beautiful sunshine that we had last year, but at least it stayed dry and reasonably clear.

Our route was an interesting one. We first headed south west through Marchmont, Morningside and Craiglockhart, to reach the canal at Allan Park. On passing Harrison Park, Logan once again kindly tolerated us invading his house for liquid refreshments – very welcome. We then resumed the canal path to Fountainbridge.

The next stage took us through the city centre. We weaved past the EICC and Usher Hall, then down the Grassmarket and Cowgate to Holyrood. We paused at the Burns Monument, and again at the Stones of Scotland, where there is a fine view of Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat. Next came the only hard work of the evening: an ascent of Calton Hill. We lingered at the top for a while, enjoying the atmosphere and the panoramic views (see photo).

After freewheeling off the hill, we headed north along Easter Road. At Thorntreeside, we turned onto the Restalrig Path, which took us quickly to Leith Links and the Shore. For the final leg, we followed the Water of Leith path to Goldenacre, where some of the party peeled off. The rest of us continued to Fiveways, Craigleith and Roseburn.

On arriving back at Fountainbridge a little after 10 pm, Jim declared the ride officially finished. It was another excellent run. Those who were still present went off in various directions; some made a desultory search for a pub; and Logan went home to wash up the beer glasses.

Leader: Jim
Report and photos: Mike
Map: Jim


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Evening ride this coming Friday


A reminder of our evening ride this coming Friday (19th June). It will be about 15 to 20 miles, taken at our usual sociable pace. Friday is very close to the summer solstice, so we should be in daylight most of the way, but we are likely to finish after dark, so be sure to bring lights.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to set off at 6.30 pm. I'm not sure what time we'll finish. It might be as late as 10.30, although I expect some of us will peel off earlier than that.

We might have a short coffee stop during the evening, but we are not planning to stop for a meal break. You might like to grab a bite to eat before we start, or bring a snack to keep you going along the way.

As always, everyone is welcome. There's no need to book in advance; just turn up on the night.

Our next normal monthly ride will be on Saturday 11th July; I'll post more details of that nearer the time.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Under grey skies to Port Seton and Cockenzie



After three days of the best weather of the year so far, hopes were high that the June 20 Milers ride to Port Seton and Cockenzie would be blessed with warm sunshine and blue skies. Unfortunately, just as many of us finished our working week at the end of Friday afternoon; the glorious weather disappeared to be replaced by grey skies and lower temperatures. That was what greeted the group of 24 riders that gathered this morning. A few of our regulars were away on the LEPRA ride to St Andrews. Not long ago 24 riders would have been a good turnout. Nowadays it seems quite low. But it was good to see more new faces. We dispensed with the idea of having two groups and after a briefing, we headed off via the little-known St Leonards Bank which afforded us impressive views of Arthur's Seat. Shortly after that we stopped and waited whilst one of the riders had to pump up their tyres. Perhaps we hadn't ridden far enough to justify them, but the sweeties that were passed round were appreciated. We then whizzed through Holyrood Park and on into Duddingston village and past Duddingston golf course. We threaded through the back roads around the Durhams before skirting the bottom side of the Portobello golf course. The bridge over the Craigentinny sidings and Sir Harry Lauder Road led us to the quiet back streets of Portobello. This took us to Eastfield where we joined the main road for our run into Musselburgh and a comfort stop at Fisherrow Harbour. It felt noticably cooler thanks to a breeze off the sea as we made our way along the prom. After crossing the River Esk we encountered snarled up traffic due to Ladies Day at the racecourse leading onto the Electric Bridge. Fortunately, our ride down Goose Green was clear and we were soon off the road and heading for the path beside the racecourse. The lure of the BMX track was too great for a couple of the riders who had a play before racing to catch the group.

We then climbed up past the Drummohr caravan site and onto the road to the top side of Prestonpans. Just past the station a shout of "puncture!" went up. A few complications despite having our best men on the job resulted in a longer than expected delay. All fixed, we crossed the brige over the A1 before turning onto a path that led us down to the Meadowmill Sports Centre. From here, a delightful little path took us past the site of the Battle of Prestonpans. We arrived in Cockenzie to find it much busier than expected due to the children's gala parade. The group split up for lunch with the picnicers making the best of far-from-ideal picnic weather whilst others headed to various cafes. One of the best being Cockenzie House where the mouth-watering cakes were amazing.

Lunch over, it was decidedly cooler as we passed the now decommissioned Cockenzie power station with its distinctive twin chimneys. We were now on the coast road which we stayed on until we cut through to Prestogrange Industrial Museum. Time was getting on and the cool weather meant we didn't linger there. Instead we made our way to the coast skirting the ash lagoons. Back to the Electric Bridge with no sign of the earlier traffic snarl ups. Here we had another delay whilst a damaged mudguard was repaired. On our way again, under the main road bridge (remembering to duck), across the road near Tesco and on up the delightful Grove beside the River Esk. From there we made our way to Musselburgh Station, on to Newcraighall and on to the familiar route via the Innocent Railway back to the start. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride; many having been to places they had never been before. So all in all, we can count it as another successful 20 Milers ride. If only the weather felt more like summer.....

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Trace: Alan S


Monday, 8 June 2015

June 20-Milers this coming Saturday


For this month's ride, Glenn will be taking us into East Lothian. At about 27 miles, this will be longer than our usual runs. There will be a mixture of paths and roads, including a couple of stretches on busy main roads. There will also be a few hills, but no killers.

Our lunch stop will be at Port Seton. There is no café there big enough to hold us all, so those who want a hot snack should be prepared to split up among the available eating places. Alternatively, please consider bringing a picnic, as this will help avoid a long wait for your lunch. There are some particularly nice picnic spots overlooking the harbour.

As always, we'll leave from the top of Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30. Remember, all our rides are free, and there is no need to book in advance.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

A sunny (at last) Extra ride to Blackness Castle


For the opening 20 Milers Extra ride of the year we headed out to Blackness Castle via the John Muir Way. This followed the same route we took for last year's John Muir Way inaugural ride. On that ocassion we had a cool, but mainly dry day. This year we were blessed with a warm and sunny day; one of the best of the year so far.

The Extra rides usually have a lower turnout than the main 20 milers. The lovely weather obviously helped as an impressive 30 riders assembled at the Criagleith meeting point. It was great to see some newcomers in amongst the familiar faces. Lets hope they enjoyed the ride and will return. Opting to keep in one group, we headed off along the familiar NCN 1 route through Barnton before making our customary stop on the Old Toll Bridge at Cramond. We then pressed on to South Queensferry for a comfort stop at the Co-op. From there we followed the shore and made our way into the Hopetoun Estate. The views of the existing road and rail bridges, the new Forth crossing and the Forth itself were stunning bathed in bright sunlight with a backdrop of blue sky. Today these views were in vivid colour. So often they seem to be available only in monochrome. This led us on to our lunch stop at the impressive Blackness Castle. There was a minor diversion on the way to lunch when two of the group nipped into a deserted children's playpark to have a shot on a rocking horse they remembered from their childhoods.

We spread out across a number of picnic tables beside the castle. How nice to enjoy a picnic lunch in the warm sunshine for a change. Our departure was delayed whilst one of the rider's needed to have their brakes repaired. Some wag suggeted they wouldn't need their brakes for a while as the first section after lunch was uphill. This was certainly the case as two quite stiff climbs greeted us as we hit the road again. We made our way to Philipstoun where we climbed up to join the Union Canal. We followed the towpath for four miles, before leaving the canal at Niddrie Castle. Quiet roads, paths and a stretch of main road took us to Kirkliston from where we returned to the Old Toll Bridge at Cramond. A brief stop to admire the River Almond in the sunlight, before retracing our steps back to the start point at Criagleith.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Trace: Alan S

Monday, 18 May 2015

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday


We've got the first of this year's Extra rides on Saturday (23rd May). As you probably know, these rides are longer and faster than our usual runs - but the pace is still sociable and unpressured. If you find that our normal rides are well within your capabilities, you should have no trouble with this Extra. But if you are in doubt about your abilities or fitness level, you might prefer to give this one a miss.

Route and destination

For this week's ride, we will heading out along the John Muir Way. We'll take in South Queensferry, the Hopetoun Estate and Blackness. The return leg will consist of a longish stretch on the canal towpath, then back to town via Winchburgh and Kirkliston.

The total distance will be about 35 miles. A lot of the route will be on paths, and these may be rough and muddy in places. There will also be a couple of stretches on busy main roads. There will be one killer hill, just after lunch.

Lunch arrangements

For lunch, we will have a picnic at Blackness Castle. You can buy drinks and confectionery at the castle shop, but there are no cafés or pubs in the vicinity, so be sure to bring your own food.

If the day is slightly wet or showery, we'll go ahead as planned. But if the weather is really foul, we'll do a different, shorter run, with a café for lunch.

Meeting time and place

For this ride, we'll meet at our alternative meeting point: the junction of the Roseburn, Telford and Blackhall paths in Craigleith. If you're not sure where that is, see this blog post for detailed directions.

We'll start at 10 am, which is half an hour earlier than usual. The ride will probably end a little later than usual - about 4 pm or so, depending on progress.

So, to summarise the important points:
  • Meet at Craigleith, not the Meadows.
  • Meet at 10 am, not 10.30.
  • Bring a picnic.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

A windy weekend ride to Peebles


The second annual 20 Milers weekend away ride saw 13 riders gather on a cool, damp and breezy morning that felt more like March than May. Someone once said May is the best month of the year if you're after good weather in Scotland. There was a theory to test. The leader handed out encapsulated (oh ye of little faith) route cards, gave the customary briefing and we were off.

Taking the familiar route of the Innocent Railway, we soon left Edinburgh behind. At this stage, none of us questioned whether we would ever see it again - such thoughts would come later! We passed Musselburgh station on our way to Whitecraig and the cycle path to Dalkeith. We threaded through the streets of Dalkeith and made a comfort stop at the Tesco superstore. At this point Mike (who was never intending to do the whole ride) left us to return to Edinburgh. We made our way through the store car park to cross the bridge over the busy A7 and onto the cycle path towards Rosewell. There we left the path and rode down the high street before taking an unsurfaced track towards the small village of Carrington. Plans of a picnic lunch in the village were abandoned as it began to rain heavily. We pushed on down a deserted road towards the delightful village of Temple. After climbing the main street, just after the last house in the village we found a large open space with stacks of timber. The sun was now shining and it was pleasantly warm. So, here we had our picnic lunch slightly later than planned. But we still had many miles ahead of us.

After waking Logan from his post-lunch nap we set off again. Very soon we were battling into a strong headwind and hoping it would soon ease. If anything it got stronger and just to add to the joy showers of rain and hail were mixed in! This part of the ride was seriously hard work as proved by the need to pedal to go downhill! On reaching the top edge of Gladhouse Reservoir, we paused to regroup as we were now very stretched out thanks to the battering winds. Where we had stopped, the wind dropped. As we recovered and passed around sweeties, we began to hope this may be the respite we hoped for. Within twenty yards of setting off, we realised that had been wishful thinking. The wind continued to batter us. This really was hard work. With few having much strength left, we turned off onto a track to be confronted by a locked gate. There was no alternative. All twelve bicycles had to be lifted over. As we made our way towards Portmore Loch, the wind finally eased. There were now smiles on faces that hadn't been there for miles. In addition to the easing of the wind, we had the bonus of riding through the beautiful Portmore Estate. Past the walled garden and the big house we came out in the village of Eddleston. The route through the estate meant we only had to ride 50 yards on the busy A703 before turning right to head down the Meldons. The wind returned to make this hard going. But the scenery was stunning and most of the group had never been there before. On a warm and calm day it would be breathtaking for a different reason.

On reaching the busy A72 into Peebles the leader gave the group a choice of two routes into town. After such attrition, it wasn't surprising that ten opted for the more direct route along the main road whilst only three agreed to stick to the planned route. A trouble free run saw the group of ten quickly get into town. The intrpid three now headed on the more scenic, but longer route. Only at this point did the leader admit he wasn't totally sure of the route! A promising start led through some lovely countryside. But it all went wrong when they arrived at the main road they had been trying to avoid. Damn! If it wasn't for tiredness, the fact that time was getting on and the allure of the pub there may have been some retracing of steps and serious studying of maps. Instead it was a case of, "stuff it! We'll take the main road." The group met up again in the pub for a well-deserved post-ride pint before heading off to find their accomodation. Was there ever a harder earned beer? Following the luxury of a shower and change of clothes, we all met up for a lovely pub meal to round off what many were claiming to be their toughest day on a bike ever! We had ridden 43 miles, but for most of us it felt like 20 more.

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast the remaining 9 riders (two had only ever intended doing the first day and two pulled out injured after such a punishing day) met outside Sainsburys on a cool and damp Sunday morning to start the ride back to Edinburgh. With food for a lunchtime picnic, we rolled out of town on the quiet backroad towards Traquair. It was quite wet along this stretch. Near Cardrona we met up with Richard, a good friend of the leader. Thanks to his local knowledge, he soon had us on the quite new and very nice Tweed Cycleway path which we took into Innerleithen. Although it remained cool and showery, some of the group had to stop for a Caldwells ice cream at the shop in the high street. Carry on along the high street, turn left, a flat section as far as the golf course and then the climbing of the Granites began. Waiting to regroup by the golf course and entrance to a montain bike route, we were asked with a grin if we fancied doing a couple of circuits! In the interests of self-preservation, we declined. We began the long slog up the Granites. A long hard slog is the best way to describe it with some steeper and less steep sections. Despite the dampness, we all began to feel warm. Just as anyone may have considered shedding a layer, a shower would come down and a cold wind blow to change their mind. The group stretched out as we climbed. We were passed by many road bike riders. For those of us used to riding in Edinburgh, it was quite a surprise to receive a cheery greeting from them. They may have been fast, but they didn't have luggage like we did. As we climbed towards the top, Richard, who had an appointment with a paint brush had to leave us and head back down. Not long after that, we found a corner on the road with a layby and some shelter where we had our lunch. We didn't loiter as it wasn't warm despite the shelter. We carried on to the top. After that the road began drop down. After so long spent climbing, a deserted sweeping downhill road was glorious. The leader stretched his legs and hit 38 mph on this stretch. For a few minutes he forgot he was leading a 20 Milers weekend ride to Peebles and was on his way to victory in the Isle of Man TT!

The wind returned with a vengence as we struggled into the village of Middleton. At least the snow gate there was open. A delightful rural underpass svaed us having to cross the busy A7. On towards Borthwick and Crichton we hit the toughest climbs of the weekend. Fortunately the wind didn't join in to make it even harder. On this section we crossed a bridge over the soon-to-be-open Borders Railway. We pressed on to Pathhead where we crossed the busy A68 quite easily. As we were about to start our final climb of the day up to Cousland, we realised we had lost Michael. He had stopped to take a photo and missed the turning. A phone call saved the day. But he had made rapid progress in the wrong direction. So we had to wait a while as he retraced his steps. The final climb over, we got back on the cycle path to Whitecraig and headed back to Musselburgh the same way we had left some 28 hours earlier. Riders began to head for home after this with the leader handing over the reins to those heading back into Edinburgh. Those returning to Edinburgh had clocked up 52 miles, some 6 more than those who finished in Musselburgh.

So there ended the second annual 20 Milers weekend away ride. A thoroughly enjoyable trip that had been made more challenging by the weather conditions. For those that completed the first day or [especially for those] that completed both, give yourself a big pat on the back for completing ninety-five challenging miles. Where to next year?

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos:Michael
Trace: Jim



Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How to find our Craigleith meeting point


Our regular monthly rides invariably start on Middle Meadow Walk. But we occasionally organise additional runs, and these sometimes start from an alternative meeting point in Craigleith. If you are not sure how to find that point, read on.

The Craigleith meeting point is at the junction of three bike paths: the Roseburn, Blackhall and Telford Paths (see photo). It is 1.8 km (just over a mile) north west of the start of the Roseburn Path in Russell Road. As you approach from that direction, you will pass under Queensferry Road. You will then see a Sainsbury petrol station through the trees on your right. There is a Sustrans marker at the path junction, as well as several signposts and information boards.

If you are still not sure where it is, look up South Groathill Avenue in any street map. This is a small road that runs alongside the Craigleith Retail Park. To reach the meeting point from there, look for the signposted access to the bike paths, next to a lights-controlled crossing.

The grid reference of the meeting point is NT 233 747. On the Spokes Edinburgh map, the reference is G9.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Fourteen parks and a touch of culture


Today's ride took us through fourteen Edinburgh parks and the touch of culture was provided by visits to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Craigentinny Marbles.

A chilly, damp start to the day resulted in a [relatively] low turnout of 22 riders. A very rare occurence for recent rides; this meant we only needed one group instead of two. We left the Meadows and threaded our way through the backstreets of Morningside and on through Braidburn Valley Park. We carried on through Colinton Mains Park, Spylaw Park and bypassed Colinton village. We rode through the curved Colinton Tunnel and onto the Water of Leith Path. Having crossed the busy Slateford Road, we paused briefly at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre before pressing on past Murrayfield Stadium and through Roseburn Park. The Water of Leith Path and Belford Road took us to our first culture stop and lunch at the Gallery of modern Art. Many of the group were more interested in lunch than the art. It was even suggested that one of the sculptures would be ideal for locking bikes to! You can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. We partook in a very pleasant lunch from the cafe. By now the weather had improved. Sitting outside, the sun came out and for a while it felt quite warm.

Sufficiently fed and watered, we made our way through Ravelston Dykes before taking the Roseburn, Telford and Ferry Road Paths to head towards The Shore at Leith. Just before we left the path, we stopped to admire a cormorant sitting on a log in the middle of the Water of Leith.

The paths across Leith Links, through Lochend and Lochend Park took us to Craigentinny. Tucked away down Craigentinny Crescent, an unassuming suburban street is a most impressive mausoleum - the Craigentinny Marbles. David, ably assisted by Jim gave us an interesting talk about it. It is well worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

We made our way via Mountcastle into Figgate Park where we rode round the pond. After donning waterproofs due to a heavy shower, we left the park and headed through Duddingston before returning to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway Path. This final stretch was where we had our only puncture of the day.

Leader: David
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Trace: Jim

Monday, 4 May 2015

May ride this coming Saturday


We've got our May ride this coming Saturday, when David will be our guide. He tells me that "parks, paths and rivers is the theme of the ride". In the morning, we'll head out to the Braidburn Valley, Colinton Dell, the Water of Leith and Roseburn Park. The afternoon leg will take in various bike paths in the north of the city, including a short stop at the Craigentinny Marbles. The total distance will about 24 miles.

Our lunch break will be at the Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road (see photo). If the weather is good, we'll sit outside, so bring food for a picnic lunch. Alternatively, you can get a snack at the café.

The arrangements are the same as ever. We'll meet at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, and set out at 10.30.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Isn't it supposed to be spring?


Following a week of weather that made us all think that spring had finally arrived; today we ended up with another day that suggested otherwise. A good turnout of 32 riders gathered at the start. It was good to see several new faces in amongst them. On her first ride as leader, Verity turned tradition on its head by letting the second group head off first. With Julia leading the second group with typical Teutonic efficiency; this reversal of roles was a good idea and avoided the potential embarassment that would have resulted had the second group caught up with the first.

With the strong wind behind us, we zoomed out of town via the Innocent Railway towards Brunstane. A short stretch on the very busy Milton Road was followed by a more relaxed ride to the edge of Portobello via the cycle path and bridge over Sir Harry Lauder Road. Following a ride along the busy Portobello High Street, we made our way onto the promenade where the wind whipped up a sand storm. It now began to rain and the colour of the sky [in the direction we were heading] looked as if it would be more substantial than a passing shower. With waterproofs on we pressed on along the prom towards Leith. We took the cycle path through Restalrig, snaked around the back streets of Bonnington and came out on the Warriston Path. We went up the Goldenacre Path to Five Ways where we turned back and headed in the direction we had come from. This led to a little confusion in the group with questions of, "isn't this the direction we just came from?" To add to the confusion, the two groups met at one point travelling in opposite directions. We cut through and crossed the very busy Commercial Street and made our way to Ocean Terminal for lunch. Given the cold, wind and hail shower it was little surprise that no one wanted to picnic outside.

Suitably refreshed we headed off in the cold but dry weather onto the familiar cycle paths of north Edinburgh. As is now customary, we stopped briefly on the red bridge near Crewe Toll before carrying on down the Telford and Roseburn Paths. The familiar route down the zig-zags, along Dalry Road, through the Telfer subway, along the canal to Leamington Bridge and along Gilmore Place delivered us back to the Meadows.

 We had a couple of mechanical issues, one puncture and a bag that needed extracting from a rear wheel. We also endured cold, wind, rain, hail showers and a sand storm. One of the group blamed the weather on the geostrophic wind. No idea what it means, but it sounds impressive. Let's hope May's ride is blessed with better weather.

Leader: Verity
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael and Glenn
Trace: Jim

Monday, 6 April 2015

April ride this coming Saturday


For this month's ride, Verity and Julia will be taking us on a circuit of bike paths in the Portobello / Leith area. Our lunch stop will be the Ocean Terminal, where there are some nice picnic tables overlooking the harbour. For those who prefer not to bring their own food, there are several cafés and sandwich shops in the shopping centre where you can pick up a snack.

We'll meet at our habitual starting point, at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to leave by 10.30.

The ride will end mid-afternoon - perhaps between 3 and 4 pm.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

A record turnout


Who would have thought that a dry but chilly and overcast March day would have resulted in an all-time record turnout for a 20 Milers ride? The previous record turnout of 38 in June 2013 was beaten as 43 turned up for today's ride. Other Edinburgh cycle groups must be wondering how we do it. There's no secret formula. We simply arrange interesting rides with good company and make sure everyone feels welcome. The unsung heros of the group are those that put in the effort behind the scenes planning and recce-ing the routes and deciding on suitable lunch stops to ensure everything runs smoothly on the day.

You could see the leader, Michael's jaw drop as more and more riders arrived. We split into the customary two groups and headed down to cross the canal at the Leamington bridge, before carrying on down through the Telfer subway. Russell Road was closed to traffic for bridge repairs; but fortunately not to cyclists. We pressed on through Roseburn Park and past Murrayfield Stadium to join the Water of Leith path which we stayed on until Curriehill. The leading five of the second group missed the turning and ended up in Balerno, whilst the remainder of the group were paying attention and took the correct turning. A minor detour via the busy Lanark Road West got them back on the right route and we all headed into the back entrance of the Heriot Watt Riccarton campus for our lunch stop.


The large canteen was ideal for accomodating such a large group. In addition to getting lunch, the group met up with 20 Milers regular Livia and 3 month old baby Matthew who was presented with a teddy bear (almost as big as him) wearing a 20 Milers tee shirt. The 20 Milers main man, Mike Lewis was also presented with a card from the group in recognition of his 70th birthday. Happy birthday Mike. Suitably refreshed, the group said "goodbye" to Livia and Matthew and set off towards Edinburgh Park. We went past the lochs and busts of poets and onwards towards the Gyle shopping centre. As we made our way through the busy car park, we were relieved to be cycling rather than shopping on a Saturday afternoon. We carried on past South Gyle station, through Broomhouse, past the back of the Forestry Commission headquarters and onto the cycle path skirting Carrick Knowe golf course. This took us back to Murrayfield and we returned to the start by the same route we had headed out on earlier.

Considering the record turnout, the ride went smoothly. The only mechanical issue of the day was a thrown chain which was quickly fixed. Leading a large group is quite a challenge. So all credit to Michael on a job well done. I wonder how long until this record is broken?

Leader: Michael Law
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael and Glenn
Trace: Jim