20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 21 July 2018

The chain gang rides again

Today's Extra ride saw us head out into deepest West Lothian. We were not too far from Linlithgow, a place we have visited several times previously. But anyone expecting a familiar route was in for a pleasant surprise. The leader managed to make the route interesting and anything but familiar. We descended a glorious steep hill, found a new lunch venue (which was reached by a muddy and overgrown path) and got a rider rolling again following a [potentially ride-ending] snapped chain.

As is the norm when heading out west, today's start point was the Craigleith marker. It was a bit overcast and there was a cooling breeze as we gathered. It would get warmer and brighter as the day went on. Given the good weather, it wasn't surprising that we mustered 20 starters. It was good to see some unfamiliar faces in the mix along with a few that are looking set to become regulars. Following a briefing from the leader, we rolled away onto the familiar paths and quiet roads through Barnton to Cramond Brig, where we paused briefly before making for the underpass. We took the road past Craigiehall Army HQ before turning off and joining the path into Kirkliston. Following a comfort stop at the sports centre, there followed a short stretch on the B9080. We turned off to join a quiet road that took us past Niddry Castle and across a bridge over the canal. In Niddry we turned off and headed towards Faucheldean. It was on this road that an innocuous little climb saw the major drama of the day unfold. One unfortunate rider had his chain come off. He soon had it back on and was on his way again. But within a 100 yards disaster struck as his chain snapped. This could easily have been the end of his ride. Despite several of us walking up and down the road looking for the locking pin, it was nowhere to be seen. A rider was sent back from the main group (which had stopped further up the road) to see what the problem was. It was decided that the problem could be fixed. The decision was made that the main group would press on and the group of three and the unfortunate rider would catch them once the repair had been made. Hero of the hour Graham, produced a chain link tool from his backpack and he knew how to use it! As the main group headed off, Graham proceeded to remove a link from the chain and make the repair. Job done, the rider remounted and tentatively began to pedal. Bingo! The repair held and did so for the remainder of the ride. The lead group were not that far ahead and the four soon caught them. We crossed the B8046 and headed on through Little Ochiltree. At Wester Ochiltree we turned right to be greeted with the sight of a beautiful straight [and smooth surfaced] steep downhill. It was one of those beautiful hills that presents so many options - freewheel, pedal, brake, don't brake. It also meant that it was possible to get over half way up the other side without any effort. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the hill. The writer is sure he wasn't the fastest, but even he clocked 40 mph on the descent. Leaving the hill behind, we turned left onto the B9080 towards Linlithgow, before turning right and taking a quiet road towards Philipstoun. We took the road across the canal, looking down on the towpath we often follow when out that way. At Old Philipstoun, we went straight across the B8046 to join a minor road under the M9 motorway. We crossed the busy A904 to follow the cycle path running alongside it. We then took a muddy and overgrown path to emerge at our lunch stop - the garden centre, New Hopetoun Gardens .

Following a pleasant lunch, we retraced our steps along the muddy and overgrown path to join a quiet road. On this road, a car stopped and asked the two riders at the back of the group how to get to Hopetoun House as they had to be there for a wedding that was starting in six minutes! We were heading in the direction of Hopetoun House, but knew that our entry into the estate was not open to motor vehicles. We sent them back towards the main road, but were not really sure where was their best route from there. The only thing we were sure of - they had no chance of being there in six minutes! We were soon in the Hopetoun Estate and heading towards the fiddly gate we know so well. It's more user-friendly than it used to be, but remains a bottle-neck for anything other than a small group. We left the estate through the main entrance and headed towards South Queensferry. This stretch of road was the busiest that most of us had ever seen it. We made our way to the Co-op for a comfort stop before taking the path to Dalmeny village. From there we took the road to the Dalmeny Estate. Instead of heading into the estate, we took the cycle path alongside the B924 and A90 to Cramond Brig. Following a stop on the bridge, we retraced our outward route and returned to the Craigleith marker where the leader declared the ride over.

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.

Leader: Julia
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Sorry. None for this ride.

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