For the final [second Saturday of the month] ride of the year, we headed out to the Heriot Watt University campus at Riccarton. Although it was a bitterly cold day, the fact it was dry meant ice was not a big problem. There was a bit on the paths around the campus, but nowhere else.
The day began bitterly cold, but dry and sunny. This meant the roads and paths used to get to the meeting point presented no problems for the 14 riders that made the start. A combination of the weather, and being one of those busy weekends in the run up to Christmas kept the numbers down. Unsurprisingly, there were no new riders on today's ride. No need to worry about two groups. Following a briefing from the leader (which included a bit about everyone being responsible for their own safety), we headed towards the quiet back streets of Marchmont via Bruntsfield Links. We then crossed Comiston Road and entered Braidburn Valley Park. From there, Colinton Mains Park and Redford Road led us to our comfort stop in Colinton. As the temperature never got above 2°C all day, we didn't hang around for long. Being well wrapped up and keeping moving was the secret to staying warm. Woodhall Road led us to a rough path that cuts through to join Blinkbonny Road. At this point, the group waited for a couple of minutes whilst the leader went ahead to check the path was clear of ice. It was, so we made our way along it. Joining the road we came to a T-junction with the Kirkgate. We usually turn left and head up the steep hill towards the Harlaw reservoirs. This time we turned right and headed downhill to Lanark Road West. Across the busy road, along some quiet residential roads in Currie and we were on Curriehall Road. This led us to the back entrance into the Riccarton Campus. Here we encountered our first ice of the day. Nothing too serious, but we took it easy. At least we could see the ice, unlike the lethal black variety. Safely past the icy stretch, we piled into the warmth of the spacious canteen for lunch. Several of the group commented on the fact they had never seen it so busy on a Saturday.
After a pleasant lunch, it was time to head back out into the cold. More icy paths around the campus (despite having been gritted) meant we took it easy and can happily report no incidents. We left the campus and the ice behind as we took the back way into Edinburgh Park. We headed towards the Gyle shopping centre, where we stopped and the leader and back marker swapped roles. As David knows the area like the back of his hand, he was able to lead us to South Gyle station avoiding the need to cycle through the shopping centre car park, which would have been heaving with Christmas shoppers. At the station, Mike took over again and led us through Broomhouse and on to Murrayfield. Around Murrayfield, it was great to see the new paths which have opened recently, and very impressive they are too. Our well-used route via the Telfer subway, Fountainpark and the canal took us back to the Leamington Bridge. Here, one of the group discovered their slow puncture was no longer "slow". They were almost home, so opted to leave the ride and head home. Our usual route would have taken us to Tollcross and the King's Theatre. But today, the leader took us back via Leamington Terrace and Bruntsfield Links. At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over. At 19 miles, it was one of our shorter rides. Given the low temperatures and small turnout, no one seemed to mind. Thanks to Mike for leading, and to David for leading us through the Gyle avoiding the main car park. Don't forget our final outing of 2017 - the Christmas day ride.
Map trace: Jim
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