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Saturday, 29 July 2017

The 20 Milers invade Haddington

Today's 20 Milers Extra ride saw us head through East Lothian to it's county town - Haddington. The forecast was for frequent heavy showers from lunchtime onwards. Fortunately, whilst there were a few showers, none were too heavy and they were all quite brief. So, what could have been a rather wet afternoon was not too bad after all. As is often the case when our Extra rides are a foray out east, the start point today was Fisherrow. It was a pleasant, dry morning as we assembled and watched as the riders just kept on coming. By the start time, there were 27 - a new record for an Extra ride. As ever, it was good to see some new faces amongst them. The leader gave the usual briefing. None of us could remember having heard the words "responsible" and "responsibility" having been used at one of our briefings before. This was the leader talking about riding in smaller groups and leaving large gaps when on sections of busy road; such as on the coast road. Suitably briefed, we rolled away [as one large group] towards Musselburgh racecourse on quiet roads and paths. Past the racecourse and on to Prestonpans where we joined the coast road. It was heartening to see that riders had taken heed of the briefing. This kept us safe and drivers were not frustrated. We turned off the coast road at Cockenzie and stopped outide a fishmonger as sweets were passed round. Yes, there were 27 cyclists outside his shop; two bikes were leaned against his premises, but we were not obstructing access to his shop. So it was quite a surprise when the shopkeeper came out complaining that we were obstructing his customers access. He then told us it was a private pavement that we did not have permission to be on; we doubted that to be true. So in one fell swoop, he had lost 27 potential customers. Sweetie stop over, we departed. We passed Port Seton Harbour and had a comfort stop just beyond. Along the seafront, we passed those picnic tables that jut out into the path in such a way that could be disastrous for any cyclist not paying attention. Whoever decided on their positioning was definitely not a cyclist. From there, a further stretch on the busy coast road took us to the turning for Longniddry. From there we joined the Longniddry railway path. This lovely path through the East Lothian countryside took us to the outskirts of Haddington. A short ride and we were in the centre of town. We split into three groups for lunch. Those having picnics headed down to the river. Others headed to the pub we have been to several times before, and the final group went to try out a newly discovered cafe.

Everyone enjoyed their lunch. Though those at the cafe reported that the service was rather slow. That meant we headed off slightly later than planned. We were just about to head off when the first spots of rain began to fall. Nearly everyone donned waterproofs and away we went. We had probably travelled less than a quarter of a mile before the rain stopped and everyone began to feel too hot. So off came the waterproofs. An unfamiliar route out of Haddington followed. Up a quiet backstreet, through a park, a short stretch of road and we were beside the river. A bridge across the river, along a lovely rural path and we emerged on the quiet B6368. This lovely quiet road took us to Samuelston. Further quiet roads through the delightful East Lothian countryside took us through East and West Saltoun to join the Pencaitland railway path. Near Ormiston we stopped by some picnic tables and the leader doled out homemade carrot cake.
Whilst the writer thoroughly enjoyed the carrot cake, he did worry that a new precedent had been set for Extra rides. Why worry? Because he will be leading the August Extra ride. We had just finished our cake and were preparing to depart when more rain began to fall. Out came the waterproofs again. This was the heaviest rain of the day; and whilst it lasted longer, it did soon clear up. We reached the end of the path at Crossgatehall, headed towards Dalkeith, turned down the minor road towards Smeaton, before joining the path that took us to Whitecraig. From there we headed towards Musselburgh via the River Esk path. Just before the bridge carrying the East Coast mainline, we stopped and the leader declared the ride over. Some headed back to Fisherrow whilst the rest turned off and headed towards Musselburgh station, Newcraighall and Edinburgh via the Innocent railway. Thanks to Verity for her leadership. A proper briefing with safety advice, a lovely and unfamiliar route and homemade cake. It looks as if the leaders bar has just been seriously raised.

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

Monday, 24 July 2017

Extra ride this coming Saturday

We'll be having another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (29th). As you know, these rides are longer than our usual runs, with a faster pace and fewer breaks - but still, we hope, with the same sociable atmosphere.

This time, Verity will be leading us to Haddington. The outward route will be via the East Lothian coast and the Longniddry cycle path. We'll be returning by way of East and West Saltoun and the Pencaitland cycle path. Most of the route will be a reasonable gradient, but we can expect a couple of short climbs in the afternoon. There is one short section on a busy main road.

For lunch, there will be several options. If it's a nice day, you can head to the river for a picnic (bring your own food or aim to pick up a sandwich in the town). There is also a choice of pubs and cafés for those who prefer to eat indoors.

Our departure point will be Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. This is about six miles from central Edinburgh. The total length of the ride (Fisherrow - Haddington - Edinburgh) will be about 35 miles.

Please aim to get to the start point in time for a 10.30 departure. There is no advance booking for our rides; just turn up on the day.

Evening rides

We've still got a few Thursday evening rides coming up. On this coming Thursday (27th), we'll be heading north for a tour of the Edinburgh waterfront, taking in various harbours and beaches. The meeting point for these rides is outside the All Bar One, next to the Sheraton Hotel in Lothian Road. The ride starts at 18.45 and aims to finish around dark (be sure to bring lights).

That's all for now. I hope to see you on one or more of our rides. In the meantime, happy pedalling.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A summer meander to Dalkeith

Today's ride saw us meander our way to Dalkeith on what felt like a summer's day. Summer in Edinburgh so far could best be described as mixed. The preceding week had once again given us a day of wall-to-wall rain. Against this backdrop, we were blessed with a lovely summer's day. There was a slight breeze, sometimes it was a little cool. It wasn't continuously sunny; but it was pleasantly warm without being too hot - a perfect day for cycling. Obviously the weather played a large part in us having 35 starters. As ever, it was great to see a smattering of new faces in amongst the regulars. We split into two groups and rolled away from the start. Over the George Square cobbles, we twiddled through a mixture of back streets and main roads to find ourselves in Holyrood Park via Dumbiedykes Road. We crossed Queen's Drive to join the shared path which was busy with pedestrians on such a lovely day. From St Mary's Loch we began the climb up the road towards Dunsapie Loch. This was our first climb of the day, and was made less pleasant as this narrow road was busy with cars. Half way up the hill we left the road behind and joined the path that would take us through a gate into the back streets of Willowbrae. We waited for the second group to arrive as their leader was not totally sure where to leave the road. A quite indistinct path, it would be easy to miss. All sorted, the first group moved off. The quiet roads of Willowbrae were soon behind us and we made our way into Figgate Park. Through this delightful park and soon we were held up by temporary traffic lights and heavy traffic on Brighton place.
The cobbles on that road seem to get more bumpy every time we go down it. One rider was unfortunate enough to have the top part of their bell shake loose and fall in the road, where it was run over by a car. We then headed towards the beach and joined the Promenade beside the Portobello Swim Centre. Thanks to the weather, this section was very busy with pedestrians, dogs and cyclists. We took it carefully and emerged unscathed onto the road towards Musselburgh. A brief comfort stop at Fisherrow and we took quiet roads, crossed Olive Bank Road and made our way onto the lovely path beside the River Esk to Whitecraig. From there we took the busy A6094 to Dalkeith. Despite us splitting into smaller groups to make it easier for traffic to overtake, we still saw examples of reckless driving as drivers refused to be held up by troublesome cyclists. That road is probably one to avoid in future. Even the most experienced cyclists in the group didn't feel safe on it. Normally we would head into the back of Dalkeith country Park to avoid the road. But that wasn't an option due to the Dalkeith Country Show being held there. With a sigh of relief we left the road behind and twiddled through almost deserted back streets. As that bit of the route was quite tricky to follow, the leader went back to guide the second group through whilst the writer led the first group to the pub and picnic spot in King's Park.

After a nice lunch either sitting outside the pub or picnicing in the park, we were ready for our return journey.  Two riders that wanted to get back quicker tranferred from the second to the first group at this point. We headed out of Dalkeith on Lothian Road and turned into the new housing estate near the fire station. The leader must have got a sore arm as he got the group through the kissing gate. There is no record of how many kisses he received! Through Waterfall Park, across Newmills Road, through another park and we were back at the horrible A6094. Fortunately, we were not going back that way. Instead, cycle paths took us back to Whitecraig via Dalkeith High School. From Whitecraig we took the Grove back towards Musselburgh. But this time we turned off and headed towards the railway station. From there we took the familiar route back to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway. Thanks to Michael for leading us to a familiar place, but by an interesting and less common route. Was great to have something akin to proper summer weather; long may it continue. Was also good to see some new faces. Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves and we'll see them on future rides.

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

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

July ride this coming Saturday

Just a quick reminder of our ride this coming Saturday (8th July).

We will be heading out to Dalkeith, with Michael (Law) leading. The route will be mainly on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads, with just a couple of small hills - nothing too onerous. The total distance will be about 20 - 22 miles.

For lunch, there will be a choice between a picnic in the King's Park in the town centre, or a meal in a nearby pub. If you prefer the picnic option, there will be an opportunity to pick up some food in a the supermarket next to the park.

As always, you don't need to reply to this post. Just turn up if you are coming. We'll depart from our habitual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30.