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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