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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Back to Basics in Musselburgh

Today's ride was something of a one-off. Referred to as a Back to Basics ride; it came about to address comments raised by a number of regular riders that some of our rides were becoming too long, too fast and too arduous. The ethos of the 20 Milers has always been, "most rides are around 20 miles, and are taken at a "sociable" pace (8 - 9 mph over the day, which is not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation). For whatever reasons, we were concerned that this ethos was coming under threat - hence the need for today's ride.

The temperature was just above freezing, but it was bright and sunny as the riders began to assemble. Despite the temperature, there were no icy patches on any of the roads or paths to catch anyone out. We ended up with a roll call of 18. In amongst the regular faces were several riders we hadn't seen for a while and two on their maiden outing with the group. Following the obligatory leader's briefing (where the reason for this additional ride was explained), we headed off towards Musselburgh in one group. We took the tried-and-tested route along the cycle path to the Innocent Tunnel. We whizzed through the tunnel which felt exceptionally cold today. Despite one of the group being convinced that Death eaters live in the tunnel, we didn't see any. Perhaps someone had watched too many Harry Potter films over Christmas! We followed the Innocent Railway path as far as the Range (formerly Big W), where we stopped in the car park as cakes and sweets were passed around by some of the group. Full of cake and sweets, we headed off. Major road woks on Milton Road meant the cycle path was narrower than usual. But the group negotiated it without any problem. At least it was open, unlike the main road to Musselburgh. Through the housing estate, which seemed very busy with traffic and back on the cycle path to Newcraighall. We faced further heavy traffic heading towards Fort Kinnaird. It was nice to turn off into a quiet back street and join the path to Musselburgh station. A path we had to ourselves. A brief stop beside the station to regroup before heading through another housing estate. On reaching the main road, a few of us were confused when a car already on the roundabout stopped to wave the 18 cyclists across. Whilst very kind of the driver, such actions often lead to confusion due to being so unexpected. From there we made our way onto the delightful path beside the River Esk, known locally as the Grove. This brought us out beside Tesco. A further short stretch of busy road, and we took to the path, ducked our heads and nipped under Musselburgh's main road bridge. A ride down the cobbles of Mill Hill, along Kerrs Wynd and we emerged at the bottom end of the High Street. We made use of the new bike racks and headed off for lunch. A few went elsewhere, but most of the group headed to the Cafe on the Corner. Both the service and food were exceptional. Having received such a warm welcome, that is somewhere we will definitely return to.

Lunch over; we reconvened at the bike racks. One rider had a problem with his lock. Fortunately it was soon resolved and we headed off. Except for two at the back. One rider suffered a mechanical issue and had to stop and fix it. As ever, the back marker stayed with the stricken rider. The tools came out, adjustments were made and the two were rolling again. The remainder of the group realised they were two short, so stopped and waited. After a few minutes, two riders were sent back to see what the problem was; arriving just as the two set off again. A very effective demonstration that no one ever gets left behind on our rides. If only all cycling groups took that attitude! All together again, we took the prom as far as Fisherrow Harbour. From there we took the main road to Joppa. The group streamed onto Portobello prom only to be confronted with a "Cyclists Dismount" sign and a severely restricted width of prom due to the laying of new gas mains. Muttering something about, "it wasn't like this when I recce'ed the route two weeks ago", the leader was forced to turn round and took us back to the main road. We weren't on it long before we turned left and made our way over the bridge crossing Sir Harry Lauder Road and the railway yards. Rather than take the road up to Milton Road, we were able to make use of the excellent new cycle path that now exists courtesy of the new Portobello High School. Across Milton Road, through the Magdalenes and we were back on the Innocent Railway. A trouble free run saw us return to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride officially over. Well done to Jim for doing a great job of leading the first Back to Basics ride. At just over 17 miles, it was shorter than usual. Feedback suggests it was a great success. The pace was right. It wasn't too hard and the distance was right. There is a possibility there will be another of these rides as spring approaches. Details will be on the website. The usual 20 Milers rides will continue on the second Saturday of each month as before, and there will be the usual series of 20 Milers Extra rides during the summer.

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

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