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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