20th Anniversary Year

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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

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