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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.