Saturday, 15 September 2018
As is the norm when heading out west, our meeting point was the Craigleith path junction. Whilst waiting for the riders to arrive, a young boy turned up on his scooter and began chatting to us. A minute or two later, his dad arrived; but like the rest of us - couldn't get a word in. He must have talked non-stop for almost ten minutes. If ever talking became an Olympic sport, we had just met Scotland's future gold medallist! By now it was time for us to leave. A turn out of twelve was acceptable; but it would have been nice to have finished this year's Extra rides with a slightly higher number. The forecast said it would be a dry, mild but overcast day. It did stay dry, but we saw more sunshine than expected; and whilst it never got hot, it was pleasantly warm and ideal for a picnic. We headed off on the familiar route taking the cycle path through Silverknowes and Barnton to Cramond Brig. We paused there briefly wondering if this would be our first sweetie stop of the day. Alas, it was not to be. The leader sheepishly admitted he had committed the cardinal sin and forgotten to bring sweeties! We headed off, took the underpass beeath the A90 and headed out on the road past Craigiehall Army HQ. Verity kindly marked the junction where we turned off, for the benefit of following riders. Whilst there, an old lady stopped her car saying she had a puncture and would need to walk to a nearby house and phone the RAC. Without hesitation, Verity phoned the RAC on her mobile and was able to give the location. Speaking about it later, we had visions of the call handler looking out onto the horrendously busy M5/M6 junction near Birmingham whislt directing a mechanic to a quiet road near Kirkliston. Verity rejoined us and we made our way along the cycle path to Kirkliston. An unscheduled stop in the main street saw the leader disappear into a shop and emerge carrying a packet of sweets. He had redeemed himself. We made or way through the village, pausing for a comfort stop at the leisure centre where the sweeties were passed around. Quiet country roads near Niddry Castle led us onto the towpath beside the Union Canal for the run into Broxburn. Leaving the canal, a mixture of cycle paths and quiet residential streets allowed us to avaoid a section of the busy A899. Unfortunately, the path ended and a stretch on the busy road followed. We turned off and headed to Uphall station. Cycle paths took us around Pumpherston golf course before joining a path beside the River Almond. Some of the paths on this section were somewhat rough and bumpy; but they caused us no problems. We rode beneath the impressive Camps Viaduct. It made a change, as on previous rides we have always ridden across the viaduct. On the final run into Almondell Country Park, there were a couple of bridges that were far-from-easy to navigate as a rusult of steep lips of slippy steel - not what you would expect on a dedicated cycle path. We arrived at the visitor centre and bagged a couple of picnic tables in the garden for our picnic lunch.
Thanks to Peter for leading the final Extra ride of the year. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and it is always good to go somewhere familiar but have the route mixed up a little to keep it interesting. Courtesey of her good samaritan role, Verity gets a well-deserved mention in dispatches for the second week running. So here ends another successful series of Extra rides - role on next summer.
Map trace: Jim
Tuesday, 11 September 2018
We've just got time to squeeze one more Extra into our summer programme. It will take place this coming Saturday (15th), when we head out to Almondell Country Park.
As you know, our Extra rides are longer than our usual monthly runs. We start a little earlier, finish a little later, and aim for a slightly higher average speed. But we still try to keep the rides sociable and unpressured. Most of our riders find the pace comfortable, but if you are at all concerned about your fitness level, you might prefer to stick to our "second Saturday" outings instead.
This week's ride
For Saturday's run, Peter will be leading us into West Lothian, heading for Almondell Country Park via Kirkliston (comfort break), Niddry Castle and Broxburn. There will be a few moderate hills, none of them particularly onerous. Some of the paths might be rough in places, so given a choice, a hybrid would be more suitable than a road bike. The total distance will be about 35 miles.
Food and drink
There is no café or pub in the country park, so be sure to bring your own food and drink for a picnic lunch. The visitor centre sells a few confectionery items and they also have a vending machine for hot drinks. But the range is very limited, so it would be wise not to rely on it.
If the weather is bad, we will eat our picnic inside the visitor centre. If the weather is really bad, we will change the route to include a café.
Time and place
We'll set out at 10:15 from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions). I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but it's likely to be around 16:00, give or take.
Remember, we don't have a booking system for our rides. Just turn up on the day if you feel like it.
Saturday, 8 September 2018
For today's 20 Milers ride, the leader took us on a "themed" ride following a traditional, waymarked route: Robert Louis Stevenson's "Road to Swanston and the Pentlands". We followed the route he supposedly took between the New Town and the ancient village of Swanston, at the foot of the Pentland Hills. As the so-called "road" was more akin to a footpath, we had to contend with more off-road riding than usual. Despite being rough and bumpy in places, we managed it without serious mishaps; no doubt helped by the fact it was dry.
With the Festival over and most people [and Edinburgh] back to normal after the summer, a turnout of 21 was slightly lower than may have been expected; but perfectly acceptable and manageable - only one group required. The weather was dry, overcast and pleasant, rather than warm - obviously autumn is on its way. We left the Meadows and made our way to Braidburn Valley Park via the familiar route taking in Bruntsfield Links and the back streets of Morningside. A combination of cycle paths (some were rough, steep or both) and quiet residential streets took us through Oxgangs. On this section, the leader stopped beside an old building and gave us a short talk about its significance in the history of Edinburgh's public water supply. Leaving Oxgangs behind, we crossed a bridge over the City Bypass and headed past the golf club to the delightful village of Swanston that nestles at the foot of the Pentlands. We paused a while to admire the village and refuel with cake and sweets. It is hard to believe such a lovely little village is so close to the centre of Edinburgh, and even closer to the City Bypass. The gate that led into the Pentland Hills was not at all cycle-friendly. As a result, a few minutes followed where a combination of dancing with bikes and lifting them over a gate ensued. There then followed a section of rough and bumpy path which descended to emerge beside the very busy Biggar Road. Fortunately, we did not need to cross that. But we did need to carefully cross the on and off sliproads of the City Bypass. Across Biggar Road and we were meandering through quiet residential streets. A further stretch of rough, bumpy path took us to Broomhills and on to Frogston Road East. A short run along the road and we were at our lunch stop - Mortonhall Garden Centre. The rough, bumpy paths had claimed two victims. Punctures were fixed during the lunch stop.
The cafe at the garden centre is a vast improvement since we last used it and everyone enjoyed their lunch. Punctures repaired, we made our way back along Frogston Road East. Through the traffic lights and we turned right into the back streets of Burdiehouse. We went into Burdiehouse Valley Park and followed the Burdiehouse Burn as far as Ellen's Glen Loan. Ellen's Glen Road took us to Gilmerton road, which we took before turning onto Glenallan Drive to skirt the edge of The Inch Park. A short stretch on Old Dalkeith Road followed before we headed into Craigmillar Castle Park. Along Peffermill Road, across it and into the industrial estate. This cut-through brought us out at the Innocent Railway for a straight forward run back to the Meadows. We had a slightly surreal moment as we rode through the Innocent Tunnel. A pedestrian was listening to music on their phone, so the tunnel was filled with an Abba track. Interesting acoustics in the tunnel!
At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting and somewhat different ride that everyone seemed to enjoy. At 18 miles, it was shorter than usual; but had plenty of variety. There was even sufficient off-road riding involved to keep the wanna-be mountain bikers amused. Having avoided it for a number of years, the Mortonhall Garden Centre cafe is definitely somewhere we will be happy to use again. Rightly or wrongly, we don't usually mention the backmarker, despite it being a thankless but vital role. But today's incumberent, Verity certainly deserved thanks. Still recovering from the effects of a recent accident, she did a great job. We were all releived that her injuries were not worse.
Map trace: David
Monday, 3 September 2018
As you might know. RLS grew up in the New Town. But his family rented a holiday cottage in the ancient village of Swanston, at the foot of the Pentland Hills. Our ride on Saturday will follow the route that he supposedly took between the two houses. The route also has a strong connection with Edinburgh's water supply; more about that when we get there.
Unfortunately, Stevenson didn't have a bike. So his so-called "road" was more of a footpath than a cycle path - and still is today. We can therefore expect several sections of our route to be over rough tracks, with some possible muddy patches. It might be just about do-able on a skinny-tyred road bike, but it will be much more comfortable on a hybrid or mountain bike.
At 18 miles, the route will be shorter than most of our runs. There will be some moderate climbing in the first half of the morning, followed by some level and downhill stretches in the afternoon.
For our lunch break, we will be visiting a brand new restaurant that has recently opened within the Mortonhall Garden Centre. It is very spacious and comfortable, serving a range of salads, sandwiches and light meals. For those who prefer to bring their own food, there is now a large terrace with plenty of seating.
Time and place
As always, we will gather at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to leave at 10:30. The ride will probably end around 15:00, though this will depend on the weather, the turnout and other factors. If anyone wants to get home particularly early, there will be an option for a shorter return leg, albeit on busy roads.
Please remember that, although the meeting time and place are fixed, we reserve the right to vary the route according to the conditions on the day.
Our last Extra of the season
We have another ride lined up this month: our fifth and last Extra for 2018, which will take place on the 15th. I'll let you have more details nearer the time.
Saturday, 25 August 2018
Over the last few years, late August has become synonymous with one of the group's Extra rides deep into East Lothian, with lunch taken at the Merryhatton Garden Centre. Our great friend and one of the group's true characters, the late Logan Strang always led this delightful ride. Just like last year (the year we lost him), today's leader felt more like he was caretaker on a ride that will always belong to Logan, rather than being the true leader. As seems to be the norm for this ride, we were blessed with lovely weather. Not quite as warm as it might have been, but bright and sunny for most of the ride and a slight breeze - perfect cycling weather.
Whilst it was bright and sunny, it was slightly cooler as we waited for all the riders to arrive at the Fisherrow meeting point. The temperature had risen a few degrees by the time the nineteen riders were ready to depart. The leader's briefing contained a few words about Logan, before tips about riding safely on the couple of busy roads that lie ahead, and details of the route and lunch stop. Briefing over, we rolled away from Fisherrow and headed for the footbridge across the River Esk. Down Goose Green and we stopped at the blue arrow beside the Air Cadets hut. This was the first of two educational stops on today's ride. The leader said a few words explaining how Second World War bomber crews used the arrow for guidance whilst practicing hitting targets in the Firth of Forth, and how it had been restored in recent years by the Air Cadets. Leaving the arrow behind, we followed the path beside the race course and carried on to Prestonpans where we joined the road. Just past the empty space where the Cockenzie power station used to stand, we took the quiet back roads past Cockenzie and Port Seton harbours.
We often compliment Logan for discovering such a good lunch stop and building up a lovely ride around it. Once again it lived up to expectations and everyone seemed to enjoy their lunch. We began our return journey passing the East Fortune airfield runway and Scotland's National Museum of Flight. From there we made our way to the lovely village of Athelstaneford for our second educational stop of the day. The village is credited with being the home of the Scottish Saltire flag. We gathered round the information panel beside the church to read the story. One of the riders who had been there a number of times before, led a small group to go and view a two minute video on the subject in an outbuilding behind the church. Ten minutes later, the leader was dispatched to fetch them back so we could get moving again. Stragglers rounded up and we were on our way. Leaving the shelter of the village behind, we began to appreciate that we were heading into something of a headwind. It is not uncommon to encounter a headwind there that remains all the way back to Edinburgh, especially when returning along the coast road. Fortunately, that was not the case today. We passed the Hopetoun Monument before turning left on the A6137 towards Haddington. On a mainly flat route, this was our only real climb of the day. As the road flattened, we turned right on a quiet road that headed towards Longniddry. The group stretched out a little and an oversight by the leader meant a right turn was left without a rider marking it for those following. This resulted in several riders missing the turn and having to retrace their steps.
Lovely weather, a nice ride, good lunch stop and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. What more could anyone ask for? We were all left feeling we had done Logan proud.
Map trace: Jim
Tuesday, 21 August 2018
We've got another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (25th). Under Glenn's capable leadership, we'll be heading deep into East Lothian. The total distance will be 45 - 50 miles. There will be some short stretches that might be busy with traffic, but there should be no other difficulties. Most of the route will be on quiet roads or well-surfaced paths, with only a few gentle hills.
Please keep in mind that these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual "second Saturday" runs. We aim to maintain a slightly higher average speed - although not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation. Most of our riders find the pace comfortable, but if you haven't cycled for a while or are unsure of your abilities, you may prefer to give this ride a miss.
Our lunch stop will at the Merryhatton Garden Centre, where there is an above-average café serving a good range of light lunches (soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes, etc.) as well as more substantial meals. As always, you have the option of bringing food for a picnic lunch if you prefer.
Time and place
The ride will start from Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. Please aim to get there in time for a 10:30 departure. Fisherrow is about six miles from central Edinburgh. There are toilets available at the start point.
The ride is likely to finish between 4 and 5 pm.
Remember, you don't need to book in advance for this ride (or any of our rides). Just turn up and enjoy what promises to be another excellent day's cycling.
Saturday, 11 August 2018
something the group usually does. But March's ride was blighted by some of the worst weather we have endured for quite some time - windy, freezing cold, continual heavy rain and the occasional blast of sleet. Perhaps not too surprising as it was just over a week after the Beast from the East had battered the country. It resulted in a low (but could easily have been considerably lower) turnout of just eleven riders. The weather contributed to two falls and a couple of riders abandoning before the end. It was clearly an interesting route; so this was take two. What a contrast! It was warm and it stayed dry. More overcast-bright than sunny, but no one seemed to mind. A turn out of 27 riders was very good, and great to see quite a few new faces in the mix.
Map trace: Sorry. None for this ride.
Monday, 6 August 2018
We've got our August ride this coming Saturday (11th). Jenny will be leading us on what promises to be an interesting tour of Edinburgh's waterfront, featuring such delights as the Royal Yacht Britannia, Newhaven Harbour and the Granton gasometer. The route will be similar to the one that a few of us undertook in atrocious weather back in March. I don't want to tempt fate, but whatever the weather this time round, it can't possibly be as bad as it was then.
We'll set out at 10:30 from our habitual starting point on Middle Meadow Walk. We'll have a steep climb early on, but only a couple of moderate hills after that. Almost the whole route will be on well-surfaced roads and paths, apart from a few cobbles in the Leith area. The total distance will be about 20 miles.
Our lunch stop will be the Cramond Falls café, where you can choose from a selection of soups, sandwiches and cakes. If you prefer to bring your own food, there is plenty of outside seating overlooking the River Almond. Please note: The café does not accept cards, so be sure to bring some real money if you plan to eat there.
Another ride this month
In addition to the above ride, we've got our fourth Extra of the season on the 25th. Glenn will be leading us on what has become a standard August fixture four our group: a 45 - 50 mile round trip to the Merryhatton Garden Centre near East Fortune. I'll post further details of that outing nearer the time.
Saturday, 21 July 2018
Thanks to Julia for leading us into familiar territory, but choosing less familiar roads and paths to keep it interesting and adding in that glorious descent. Also, a mention in despatches for Graham in saving the day by fixing the broken chain.
Map trace: Sorry. None for this ride.
Tuesday, 17 July 2018
We've got our second of this month's rides coming up on Saturday (21st). This will be one of our Extra rides, which, as you know, are a little longer and faster than our usual outings. These rides are aimed at riders who are comfortable with our normal runs and now want something slightly more challenging. But they are still sociable events; we don't ride so fast that you can't keep up a conversation.
For this week's ride, Julia will be leading us into West Lothian. The route is an interesting one. We'll head out towards Cramond Brig and Kirkliston, then, after a bit of climbing, we'll take the high road between Faucheldean and Ochiltree. This is a pleasant undulating road with fine views to the north. After dropping down to Kingscavil, there will be a short stretch along the canal. We'll then head back to town by way of Abercorn and the Hopetoun Estate. The total distance will be about 32 miles.
Our lunch stop will be at the New Hopetoun Garden Centre. This has some lovely picnic spots within its grounds, and also a nice café. Note that about two thirds of the total mileage will be in the morning, so lunch will be on the late side. Adjust your appetites accordingly.
Meeting time and place
The ride will start at 10:00 from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions).
Looking ahead, we've got our next "second Saturday" ride on 11th August, and another Extra on 25th August.
Saturday, 14 July 2018
A turnout of 25 riders was respectable; but given the weather, we might have expected more. At least it made life easier as we only needed one group. As ever, it was great to see new faces along with some we hadn't seen for a while. Standing in the warm sunshine, the leader gave the briefing which contained the wonderful line, "just because someone in front of you does something stupid, it doesn't mean you have to". Briefing over, we rode a few yards before everyone dismounted to walk past the roadworks which remain at the top of Middle Meadow Walk. we remounted and headed towards Bruntsfield Links. One rider who was clearly riding on autopilot went straight on at a crossing, rather than turning left onto Whitehouse Loan. Inevitably, those behind followed in the belief that he knew where he was going. Those at the back of the group were saved from making the same mistake. As they headed the right way, the backmarker raced off to round up the strays. With the strays successfully rounded up, we regrouped and continued. This is where we deviated from our usual route through this part of town. We went via Falcon Gardens, Falcon Road, Canaan Lane and Woodburn Terrace before re-joining our usual route through the back streets of Morningside and on into Braidburn Valley Park. We continued to follow the Braid Burn and on through Redford to our comfort stop in Colinton. From there we took Woodhall Road, turned down West Mill Road to join the Water of Leith walkway. Another deviation from the norm saw us leave walkway and head into a new housing estate. We climbed up to cross Lanark Road West with Muir Road taking us on through Riccarton. We passed the back entrance we usually take into the Heriot Watt University campus, instead turning right onto Boundary Road North. A path took us into the campus on roads that were very quiet on a Saturday. We crossed the busy Calder Road, from where Hermiston House Road took us onwards to join the canal. On this stretch, a fast cyclist appeared beside the writer and said, "I've passed four of you. how many more are there?" His face dropped as he was told he had another 21 to get past on the narrow towpath. But he looked relieved when told we would be stopping at the climbing centre shortly. We stopped at the bottom of the steps and he sped away. With a combination of wheeling and carrying, all the bikes and riders were soon up the steps, including the recumbent trike which two had to carry up.
Map trace: Jim
Monday, 9 July 2018
We've got two rides coming up this month: our standard "second Saturday" run this coming Saturday (14th); and a longer Extra the following weekend.
For this Saturday's outing, we'll be heading to Ratho, with a lunch stop at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA). We've been to that venue several times before. So, this time, so that you don't get bored, we'll take a somewhat unusual route.
The route will be 22 miles. There won't be any very bad hills - just a few short climbs. There will also be a short flight of steps to negotiate - both up and down. Most of the route should be on reasonably good surfaces, although some of the paths might be a little rough in places.
The EICA has a sunny terrace with plenty of picnic tables. There is further seating inside, with dramatic views over the rock-climbing wall (the largest of its kind in the world). The snack bar sells sandwiches, baked potatoes and hot drinks.
We'll set out at 10:30 from our usual meeting spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Don't forget to bring a spare inner tube if possible as well as plenty of water.
This month's Extra will head out to the west of city and into West Lothian. I'll post more details next week. In the meantime, note that the meeting point will be the Craigleith path junction. We'll set out at 10:00.
If you fancy an after-work ride, Jim's evening rides are continuing throughout the summer. This coming Thursday (12th July), they'll be taking a "gentle meander round the highways and byways of Riccarton and Currie". Meet at 18:30 outside the Victor Hugo café (corner of Melville Terrace and Livingstone Place).
All the above rides are of course free and open to all, with no need to book.
Friday, 22 June 2018
In theory, it was a very warm evening. At 7pm the thermometer said 20C, but the thermometer had obviously not been told about the chilly wind that had been brewing up from the west. As it was, long-sleeved jackets and sweaters were in evidence, rather than t-shirts and shorts. But at least it stayed sunny and bright all evening, with clear blue skies all the way.
|A photo op by the Usher Hall|
After the usual briefing and safety announcement, we set off towards the Roseburn Path – but not by the usual route involving bumps and zigzags, Instead, we headed west along Lauriston Place, then weaved through to the Usher Hall and across the busy Lothian Road. After pausing for a brief photo opportunity in Festival Square, we continued through the West End, then up the hill (steep but thankfully short) by the Gallery of Modern Art, and into Ravelston Dykes. We freewheeled down Garscube Terrace, eventually joining the Roseburn Path by a short flight of steps leading down from Coltbridge.
We stayed on the path only as far as the Craigleith junction. From there, we took Craigleith Hill Avenue – aka Quiet Route 20 – down past the Police Scotland HQ and into Inverleith Park. There was a lovely view across the Edinburgh skyline from here, with the Castle standing out prominently in the evening light.
|Stopping to admire the Royal Yacht|
After a short stretch along the Leith waterfront, we headed back to town by way of the Water of Leith Path, St Mark's Park and McDonald Road. At the Leith Walk traffic lights, we waited expectantly for the bike priority light to kick in. Sure enough, the green bicycle light came on before the lights changed to green for the general traffic, but only about two and a half seconds before - better than nothing, I suppose.
A bit more weaving found us in Royal Terrace, on the northern flank of Calton Hill. I've always thought that this is a particularly attractive road, with fine houses on one side and an open outlook on the other. But some elements of our group seemed more concerned about the rough going on the cobbled surface (don't blame me; I didn't build the road). Fortunately the cobbled section was quite short, and we soon reached our next stopping point, the Stones of Scotland.
The Stones of Scotland is a circular monument, completed in 2002, which commemorates the rebirth of the Scottish parliament. There is one stone from each of Scotland's 32 local authority areas, and the whole thing is dramatically situated on high ground, looking over the parliament building and towards Arthur's Seat. If you are passing that way, it is worth a stop.
|The Nelson Monument on Calton Hill|
For the final leg, we headed back down to Regent Road and then via the Bridges and Chambers Street, arriving back at the Meadows a little before 9.30pm. With just under 15 miles on the clock, it wasn't exactly a long ride, but it was a very sociable one in good company and with some interesting sites along the way. What better way to spend a mid-summer evening?
Leader, report and photos: Mike
Monday, 18 June 2018
This week sees the summer solstice: the longest day of the year. To mark the occasion, we are organising a ride for Friday evening. We'll meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We'll set out at 19:00, aiming to finish about 21:30. Sunset is not until 22:03, so the entire ride should take place in daylight, but I advise you to bring lights anyway, in case of delay and to see you home.
This will be a leisurely ride, taken at our usual easy pace. We'll stay mainly near the city centre and on the North Edinburgh bike paths. There will be an optional ascent of Calton Hill towards the end, but no other serious hills or other difficulties. The total distance will be about 14 miles.
There won't be a meal or refreshment stop during the ride, but we'll finish near a pub in case anyone wants to go for a drink afterwards. By all means bring some nibbles on the ride if you want to keep the hunger pangs away.
Like all our rides, this one is free and open to all, with no need to book in advance. Feel free to tell your pals about it.
Other evening rides
Ours isn't the only evening run this week. Both CTC and our own Jim Cameron have their usual evening outings, on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. And Laid Back Bikes have a special ride on Tuesday evening for those interested in recliners, trikes, cargo bikes, tandems and the like; this includes a behind-the-scenes visit to their shop in Viewforth. Full details of these rides (and many others) can be found as usual at www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk.
Our next daytime rides will be on 14th July (our usual monthly run) and 21st July (our third Extra of the season). I hope to see you at one or more of these events.
Saturday, 9 June 2018
A turnout of twenty-five riders was respectable; but given the lovely weather we might have expected
more. As ever, it was good to see some new faces in the mix. A few of our regulars were abscent; they were off on a challenge to ride 100 miles in a day. The days where we could muster numbers in the high thirties seem to be gone. At least it meant we only needed one group today. Followimg the leader's briefing; for the second time in a month, we set off on foot wheeling our bikes past the roadworks on Middle Meadow Walk. Once clear, we mounted up and rode off towards Bruntsfield Links. From there, the back streets of Morningside took us to Braidburn Valley Park. Through the park, we continued to follow the Braid Burn and made our way through back roads in the Redford area, emerging on Redford Road. A short spell on that road and we turned left into Redford Drive.
Road. The road was in a terrible state and we all had to be aware of the awful potholes that could so easily catch out the unwary; especially on a descent. We all made it safely down into Balerno. There was a long queue of traffic on the main road out of town due to temporary traffic lights. The group circumvented these, and soon we had left the busy road behind and were enjoying the Water of Leith path. Onwards through the Colinton Tunnel (which always reminds the writer of the "Italian Job") to the canal. Here, we would usually follow the canal back into town. But not this time. The leader took us away from the canal on an unfamiliar [to many] route through Redhall. We crossed Longstone Road and a [very easy to miss] cut-through beside the Longstone Inn took us onto a path that led to Stenhouse. From there we went through Saughton Park and on to Murrayfield where preparations were under way for the evening's Rolling Stones concert. Through Roseburn Park, and the familiar route via Russell Road, Dalry Road, the Telfer subway, Leamington Bridge and the King's Theatre saw us return to the Meadows.
Thanks to David for leading us on such a lovely route through the Pentlands on such a glorious day.
Interesting little twist near the end by taking us through Redhall and Longstone - somewhere very few of us had been before.
Map trace: David
Wednesday, 6 June 2018
We've got our June ride this coming Saturday (9th). David will be taking us along the classic Reservoir Route on the edge of the Pentlands. This is a very scenic route, away from busy roads and traffic, and with excellent views.
There will inevitably be a fair bit of climbing (this is the Pentland Hills, after all). But we'll take it at our usual steady pace and cheerfully wait for stragglers. Most of the uphill work will be in the morning, so we'll have some nice freewheeling in the afternoon. Apart from a mile or so on a rough track, we will be on good surfaces most of the time. The total distance will be 22 miles.
Our lunch stop will be at the Harlaw Reservoir. I suggest you bring a picnic. Although there is a snack bar at the reservoir, it serves only a limited range of food and there is usually a long queue. A toilet is available at the visitor centre.
As always, we'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure. If the weather is really bad, we might opt for a shorter route with a cafe stop; we'll make that decision on the spot.
We are also planning an additional ride for later in the month. This will be an evening run on Friday 22nd June to celebrate the (approximate) summer solstice. I'll post details as they get firmed up. (Note that this will be in addition to Jim's weekly evening ride, which will be the day before.)
We've got two rides planned for July: our standard run on the 14th and our third Extra of the year on the 21st. Again, more details as and when.
Saturday, 2 June 2018
Maybe potential riders had taken more notice of the forecast for thunderstorms than appreciated how warm it was at the time leading up to departure; but a turn out of just twelve riders was a little disappointing. Those that stayed away ended up missing a great ride in lovely weather. Following a briefing from the leader, we headed off on the familiar route via Silverknowes and Barnton to Cramond Brig. To everyone's surprise, the leader swept across the bridge there without stopping - an almost unheard of occurence! We took the path beside the A90 and on into Dalmeny village. From there we made our way past the new houses and through the back streets of South Queensferry to the Forth Bridges Viewpoint, where we had a comfort stop. From there, we headed onto the Forth Road Bridge. It is so nice now it is almost free of traffic - so much quieter; although everything still vibrates as a bus goes past. It was warm and there was barely any wind, but the mist did somewhat spoil the views.
Map trace: Jim
Monday, 28 May 2018
We've got the second of our Extra rides planned for this coming Saturday. Verity will be leading us on a sortie over the Forth Road Bridge and into Fife with a lunch stop in Dunfermline. The whole route will be on roads and well-surfaced paths, but that includes a couple of stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. Verity points out that Dunfermline was built on high ground, which means that there will be a long-ish climb just before lunch (but a nice freewheel just after). The total distance will be about 35 miles.
Please keep in mind that these Extras go at a somewhat faster pace than our normal rides, with fewer stops. They are suitable for those of our riders who find our usual runs well within their capabilities, less so for those who are less fit or who haven't cycled for a while.
By the way, if you haven't ridden over the Forth Road Bridge recently, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the change. Since the opening of the new Queensferry Crossing last autumn, most of the traffic has disappeared from the old bridge, so crossing it is a much more agreeable experience.
Our lunch stop on Saturday will be the delightful Pittencrieff Park in the centre of Dunfermline. This is an ideal spot for a picnic, so either bring some lunch with you or aim to pick up a sandwich at the nearby Tesco. There's also a cafe in the park that serves a good range of snacks and hot drinks.
Meeting time and place
For this ride, we'll meet at the Sustrans marker at the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions). Please aim to get there in time for a 10:15 departure.
Lots more rides
With summer now more-or-less under way, there are a lot more rides coming up. We've got our normal "second Saturday" runs on 9th June and 14th July, and another Extra on 21st July.
Jim is continuing his weekly Thursday evening rides; these start at 18:30 from the Victor Hugo café (corner of Melville Terrace and Livingstone Place). Other local cycling groups, such as Spokes, Mellow Velo and EasyCycle, also have rides that you are welcome to join. These vary from short easy rides to longer full-day runs and weekends away. And with the annual Edinburgh Festival of Cycling due to start soon, there will be the usual programme of cycling-related talks, workshops and entertainment.
You'll find details of all these events on the Cycling Edinburgh website: www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk.
Saturday, 12 May 2018
Today's ride took us out to South Queensferry via the lovely Dalmeny Estate. Last year, today's leader led her first ever ride. On that occasion she set a precedent with there being two leaders. Today she was flying solo; thus proving to the group [and herself] that leading a ride is not as daunting as some would have you believe. Maybe that is why she received [an unheard of] round of applause following the pre-ride briefing.
It was great to be blessed with lovely weather. Warm, sunny, blue skies and little wind was the order of the day. A turnout of twenty four riders was good and meant we only needed one group. As ever, it was good to see some new faces. There is so much to be said for a group which has the philosophy of "no need to book, just turn up and enjoy the ride". The group walked away from the start point. Yes, walked! Half the width of Middle Meadow Walk had been dug up at that point, forcing us to walk along pushing our bikes for the first 100 yards of the ride. We remounted and rode to the Leamington Bridge via Bruntsfield Links. A short stretch on the canal towpath, down past Fountain Park, through the Telfer subway, Russell Road and we were riding up the zig-zags to join the Roseburn Path. The Roseburn and Telford Paths took us onwards to Granton, past the gasometer which was gleaming in the sunshine. From there it was down to the waterfront and along Silverknowes Esplanade to Cramond for a comfort and sweetie stop. A sharp little climb up School Brae followed to join Whitehouse Road. A right turn down the delightful little Peggy's Mill Road and we were on the River Almond Walkway. We had the mandatory stop at Cramond Brig. What should have been a quick stop ended up being more lengthy due to a mechanical problem requiring attention. We followed route N76 through the delightful Dalmeny Estate, which was lovely at this time of year in the sunshine. We followed the path that skirts the coast to emerge beside the Forth Rail Bridge. We thought the paths through the estate were busy; but that was nothing compared to how busy South Queensferry was. Even on nice days there is often a cool breeze blowing off the Forth. For once, this was not the case. Perfect picnic weather.
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. The weather certainly helped. Thanks to Dawn on her first time as sole leader; and I'm sure she will have appreciated David's assistance as backmarker-cum-wingman.
Map trace: Jim
Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Just a quick reminder of this Saturday's ride, in which Dawn will be leading us out to South Queensferry. There will be a few moderate hills and a couple of short stretches on paths that might be a little rough or muddy. But apart from that, it promises to be a pleasant route with no particular difficulties.
South Queensferry offers a choice of cafés for lunch. If you prefer to bring your own food, you can enjoy a picnic on the benches overlooking the Forth.
As always, we'll gather at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure.
Looking further ahead, our next Extra of the summer will be on 2nd June, when we'll be crossing into Fife - more details of that one nearer the time.
Saturday, 5 May 2018
Map trace: Jim
Monday, 30 April 2018
This coming Saturday (5th May) sees the first of our summer season of Extra rides. These rides are a little longer than our usual "second Saturday" outings, and go at a somewhat faster pace - but always with the same sociable and friendly atmosphere. If you find our normal rides well within your capabilities, you should enjoy this Extra. But anyone who hasn't done much cycling during the winter, or has doubts about their fitness level, might prefer to give this one a miss.
Meeting place and route
For Saturday's run, we will meet at the Sustrans marker at the Craigleith path junction. See here if you are not sure where that is. We will aim to leave promptly at 10.15.
We will head out along NCN1 to South Queensferry, then follow the John Muir Way through the Hopetoun Estate and along the coastal path to Blackness. This part of the route is particularly pleasant, with reasonably good path surfaces, excellent views and no bad hills.
But that will change after our lunch stop, with a killer hill to start the afternoon, followed by a short stretch on a busy road. But things will soon improve, with quiet roads and only few gentle hills as we head inland. We'll take the canal towpath from Philpstoun to Niddry Castle, then return to our start point via Kirkliston and the Carlowrie Road.
The total distance will be about 32 miles. I expect the ride will finish around 4 pm, depending on various factors.
Our lunch stop will be a picnic in the grounds of Blackness Castle. There is no café or pub at the castle, so please bring your own lunch. There is, however, a gift shop where you can buy hot drinks (from a vending machine) and a limited range of confectionery and ice cream. There are toilets there as well.
Since our last visit to Blackness, a small shop has opened in the village (about half a mile from the castle). They sell filled rolls, but the choice might be limited, so it might be wise not to rely on it.
What if the weather is bad?
A slight drizzle or chilly breeze won't put us off. But if the weather is really atrocious, we might do a shorter ride, possibly with a café stop either for coffee or lunch. We will make that decision at the start point.
Remember, all our rides are free and open to all. There is no booking system, and no need to let anyone know in advance whether or not you will be coming..
And whether or not you can make it on Saturday, we have our normal monthly ride the following weekend. I'll post a reminder of that one here nearer the time.
Saturday, 14 April 2018
The route for today's ride started as an attempt to circumnavigate Edinburgh Airport by the shortest route. Whilst recceing the route, we made a few changes and tweaks such that it should perhaps best be described as a ride to Kirkliston.
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. We visited places that were new to many; and of course, how nice it was to have some warm and dry weather. Please let this be the start of some decent weather. It really did feel as if winter would never come to an end.
Monday, 9 April 2018
We've got our April ride this Saturday (14th). I hope you'll be able to make it.
Glenn will be leading us on an interesting circuit to the west of the city. We'll start out on the canal towpath as far as Hermiston House, then take back roads and bike paths to Ratho Station and Kirkliston. After lunch, we'll head back to town by the Carlowrie Road and NCN 1.
The total distance will be about 23 miles. There will be one steep hill and a few gentle ones. Most of the route will be on firm surfaces except for about a mile on a narrow path which might be muddy.
Our lunch stop will be at a venue which we haven't visited before as a group: the Conifox Garden Centre near Kirkliston. They have a restaurant with an extensive menu, as well as a large picnic area for those who prefer to bring their own food.
The meeting time and place are the same as ever: 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk.
This year's Pedal on Parliament takes place on the 28th of this month (see www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk for details). I don't yet know if we will be organising a 20-Milers contingent to take part. If we do, I'll post details here.
And on 5th May, we've got our first Extra of the season. These are longer rides which go a little faster than our normal runs. For this first one, we'll be heading to Blackness Castle. I'll post more details here nearer the time.
Finally, Jim will be starting his season of summer evening rides quite soon. Again, I'll post more details as they become available.
Saturday, 10 March 2018
The key word for today's ride was "falls". Firstly, the rain never stopped falling. We had two riders
fall in the slippery conditions and lunch was taken at the appropriately named, "Cramond Falls Cafe".
All too soon it was time to venture back out into the rain. There were the inevitable moans that come
when wet clothes and gloves have to be put back on. At least it wouldn't take long to get back to town; most of the mileage had been covered before lunch. As so often seems to be the case straight after lunch (even on nice days), we had a stiff little climb up School Brae to contend with. The climb over, we had a stretch on the flat followed by a downhill. We were then on familiar territory. Through Barnton, paths took us back to Craighleith and onto the Roseburn Path, down the zig-zags, through the Telfer subway and along the canal to Leamington Bridge. Here the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Jenny for leading an interesting ride and managing to keep our spirits up on such a miserable day. Next time she leads, let's hope the weather is kinder to us.
Map trace: Jim