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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Fourteen for Christmas (plus Conor)

Fourteen of us gathered for our Christmas morning ride this year – including our resident Santa Claus (see photo), who attracted delighted cheers and waves from the tourists we passed along the route – not to mention a couple of requests for selfies. A less welcome visitor was Storm Conor, bringing 50 mph winds to an otherwise serene morning.

Under Jim's leadership, we set off from the Meadows, heading first for the Lochrin Basin and Fountainbridge. We weaved though Conference Square, crossed the footbridge over the West Approach Road, then into Rutland Square and Shandwick Place. We paused in Coates Crescent to admire the Gladstone Monument (unveiled in 1917, in honour of William Ewart Gladstone, MP for Midlothian 1880–1895).

Next, Jim took us on a circuit of the West End crescents. One of his reasons for this was to show us the experimental on-street bike lockers which the council have installed in Douglas Crescent. These are part of a city-wide trial to find ways of providing secure bike parking for flats and tenements. The two lockers that we saw certainly looked up to the job, but I suspect you would need an awful lot of them to meet the demand.

The next part of the ride took us back to Shandwick Place, then along the entire length of Princes Street, west to east. Thankfully, there was very little traffic– just a few buses and taxis, no trams. We stopped at the foot of the Mound in the expectation of a comfort stop, but inconveniently the toilets there were closed. Instead, we found we were able to use the facilities in one of the nearby hotels, which was a relief.

Next came the hard work of the day (well, not all that hard): the ascent of Calton Hill. The morning was still bright and sunny, so we lingered on the summit to take in the excellent views of Arthur's Seat and the Firth of Forth. Santa Claus, true to form, produced a flask of mulled wine to share; various items of confectionary were also in evidence.

Our leader eventually got us moving again. The original plan had involved heading to Lochend Park at this point, but the morning was rapidly wearing on and we had promised that the ride would end by 1 pm. So we finished up by taking a quick look at the Stones of Scotland, then headed back towards the Meadows.

Several of the group had peeled off by now, but unfortunately not the afore-mentioned Conor, who gave us more than a little trouble as we pedalled down Regent Road and Waterloo Place. The remnants of the group eventually made it back to Middle Meadow Walk. At just over seven miles, it was definitely one of our shorter rides, but also one of the more interesting.

Leader: Jim
Report and photos: Mike
Map: Jim

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Half-day ride planned for Christmas morning

We've got our final ride of 2016 this coming Sunday (25th). Jim will be leading us on our usual Christmas morning jaunt. It will be good to see you if you are free.

The great thing about cycling on Christmas Day is that there is very little traffic. We'll take advantage of that to visit parts of the city where we might not otherwise venture. I don't know the exact route that Jim has in mind, but in the past it has included the Castle Esplanade, Princes Street and Calton Hill.

The total distance will be about ten miles, which we'll take at a very relaxed pace. Be warned that there might be a couple of short climbs to negotiate as well as some cobbled streets.

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. If you have a pressing lunch date, feel free to peel off earlier.

It's unlikely that we'll find anywhere open to pick up refreshments 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 2017 will be on 14th January.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas

For the final full 20 Milers ride of 2016 (don't forget the shorter half day ride on Christmas Day), we entered into the Christmas spirit with a ride out to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre at Leith. A busy shopping centre two weeks before the big day, mince pies and mulled wine in Victoria Park and bike parking taken over by christmas tree sales. All of these gave the ride a festive feel. Fortunately the weather was more like an October day being reasonably bright, dry and cool with a touch of wind. The weather helped drum up a respectable 26 riders. For those opting to go cycling rather than Christmas shopping, there was a touch of irony in the destination for today's ride. Despite suffering from a cold, the leader managed to croak her way through the briefing before we set off in one group. A tough bunch these 20 Milers ride leaders! We soon left town behind us and were on the Innocent railway. Several lights were out in the tunnel, resulting in limited visibility. One rider had to stop, remove her sunglasses and switch on her lights before continuing. Beside the Range (still referred to as "Big W" by many) we turned left through the subway beneath the A1, emerging for a short stretch on the busy Milton Road. We turned right and headed over the bridge that crosses the railway and Sir Harry Lauder Road. From there we joined the busier than usual Portobello High Street. After battling with the traffic there, it was a relief to head down Bath street to join Portobello Promenade. That was much quieter and more pleasant than the high street. That took us on to Seafield and the site of the old Eastern General Hospital. We joined the cycle path towards Restalrig, crossed Lochend Road, made our way through Quarryhole Park and crossed Easter Road. We were soon on West Bowling Green Street; took a cut through path and found ourselves on the Warriston Path. We stopped in Victoria Park where the leader passed round mince pies and mulled wine. It was now starting to look a lot like Christmas. Suitably replenished, the Hawthornvale Path led us to Ocean Terminal for our lunch stop. Half of the cycle racks were unavailable as that was where Christmas trees were being sold. But we utilised the free racks and all made our way into the centre for lunch. The group split up and everyone found somewhere suitable for lunch. Many of the riders returned to their bikes with books that had been handed out in the centre. Free Christmas presents, perhaps?

We retraced our steps and left the busy Ocean Terminal behind. Instead of returning to Victoria Park, we took the Ferry Road Path and Telford Path to Craigleith. From there, the Roseburn Path led us down the zig-zags to join Russell Road. From there the regularly used route taking in the Telfer subway, Fountainhall, the canal and back streets saw us return to the Meadows. So there ended the 2016 series of 20 Milers rides. An interesting route, welcome stop for festive food and drink and we managed to get lunch ok despite the crowds of Christmas shoppers. Thanks to Verity for leading. Probably deserves a mention in dispatches for bravely battling on despite the cold and sore throat. Let's hope for a good turnout on Christmas Day, and here's looking forward to 2017.

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

Monday, 5 December 2016

Two rides for December

The Royal Yacht Britannia at its berth
at the Ocean Terminal (photo: Cool Places Ltd )
We've got two rides planned for December. Our normal monthly run will take place this coming Saturday. And we've got our traditional Christmas morning ride on the 25th.

Here are some details.

20-Milers Ride: 10th December

For this month's run, Verity will be leading us on a tour of bike routes in the north and east of the city. In deference to the short daylight hours, this ride will be a little shorter than usual; no particular difficulties are expected.

As usual, we'll meet at 10.30 at the top of Middle Meadow Walk. Our lunch stop will be at the Ocean Terminal, where there is a good choice of cafés and sandwich shops. For those who prefer to bring their own food, there are places to eat both inside and out.

It will be dark by about 16.00 on Saturday. The ride should finish well before then, but you will probably need to bring lights to see you home.

Christmas Morning Ride: 25th December

For the sixth year running, we will be having a short ride on Christmas morning. We'll meet at 10.30 at the top (north end) of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will be about ten miles, mainly in and around the city centre, and will finish by 13.00 at the latest.

I'll post a reminder of the Christmas run, and further details of the route, nearer the time.

EasyCycle Ride

In addition to our own runs this month, EasyCycle will be having a special ride on the 18th December to mark the winter solstice (after which the days start getting longer again). Meet at 10.30 outside Peter's Yard (which is just down the hill from our own usual meeting point). EasyCycle rides tend to be fairly short (12 - 15 miles) and go at a relaxed pace.

Yet more rides

If the above outings aren't enough for you, keep in mind that other Edinburgh cycling groups also have organised rides throughout the year. You can find details of these on my website: www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk

Any questions?

Do you ever have questions about cycling in Edinburgh but don't know who to ask? Or do your friends ever ask you questions on this subject that you can't answer?

If so, take a look at Cycling in Edinburgh - Your Questions Answered. This is an FAQ that I have prepared for anyone who needs specific information about riding a bike in the Scottish capital. I wrote it because I often get asked questions myself through my website, especially from people thinking of visiting from abroad. Typically, they want to know where to hire a bike, which roads are safe to cycle on, whether the hotels are bike-friendly, whether they can take their bikes on trains or trams, and quite  a lot more. I hope this information will also be useful to local cyclists like yourself.

That's all for now. Sorry this has been a longer post than usual. Remember, you don't need to contact anyone if you are planning to come on any of the above rides. Just turn up on the day.