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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

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.