EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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Monday, 9 December 2019

Two rides in December


We've got two rides coming up this month. I hope we'll see you on one or both of them.

December 20-Milers: Saturday 14th

Our main December run takes place this coming Saturday. The route is one that Jim pioneered last winter but which we had to curtail because of bad weather. We will be heading to the delightful Covenanters Wood in Dreghorn, where we will have another chance to see the giant sequoia trees: something more usually associated with the redwood forests of California than the south west of Edinburgh.

We will then head out along paths and quiet roads to our lunch stop, which will be at the Heriot-Watt campus at Riccarton. The cafeteria there serves a range of sandwiches and snacks, usually with at least one hot dish on offer. There is plenty of indoor seating there, so those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch won't have to huddle in the cold for once.

In deference to the short daylight hours, this won't be a long ride: about 19 miles in all. There will be a steep climb near the start and a couple of other moderate hills along the way, but the rest of the route should be reasonably flat. Most of the route will be on firm surfaces except for a few short sections that might be a little rough and possibly muddy.

The logistics are the same as always. We'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure. It will be dark at about 4 pm on Saturday, and although we should be back in town before that, you will almost certainly need lights to see you home after the ride.

Christmas morning ride: Wednesday 25th

For the ninth year running, we will be having what has become a traditional event for our group: a half-day ride in and around the city centre on Christmas morning. This will be a leisurely ride with several interesting stops, starting at 10.30 and ending at 13:00 at the latest. I'll post more details nearer the time.

Needless to say, both the above runs are free and open to all, so feel free to tell your pals. And, of course, there is no advance booking for any of our runs.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Dalkeith, this way - are you sure?


A frosty start gave way to chilly, but bright and sunny weather for today's ride to Dalkeith via a circuitous and unfamiliar route. The last few rides seem to have followed the pattern of a familiar destination being reached by a new and interesting route. Today's ride continued in that vein. The good weather linked with some lovely paths leading us through trees resplendent in their glorious autumn colours made for a great day to be out cycling. A great advert for keeping cycling despite the arrival of winter.

No doubt the weather played its part; but a turnout of 24 riders in November is quite impressive. Not quite enough to need two groups, which makes the logistics easier. It's always good to see some new faces mixed in amongst the long-standing regulars, and those that are becoming the new regulars. Following one of the shortest briefings in the history of the group, we headed off in the direction of the Innocent Tunnel. But on reaching the tunnel entrance, we swept past, squeezed past the barrier and found ourselves in the grounds of Edinburgh University's Pollock Halls. The ride had barely begun, but already many of us were somewhere we hadn't been before. Through the grounds and we emerged into the back streets of Prestonfield. Several twists and turns later and we were heading along Peffermill Road. We went into Craigmillar Castle Park, past the castle, across the road and along the new path in the area behind the Royal Infirmary. This brought us out on The Wisp. From there we made our way to Danderhall, crossed Old Dalkeith Road and through a door set into the wall, entered the Drum Estate. Through the lovely estate complete with trees wearing their autumn colours to emerge onto Gilmerton Road. We took to the path beside the road and headed towards Dobbies Garden Centre. We crossed several roundabouts to arrive at the one at Eskbank. We lost one rider and the backmarker at this stage. After a short while they reappeared having been delayed by a thrown chain. All together again, we continued and turned in to the grounds of Newbattle Abbey. After stopping to admire the big house, we continued through the grounds amongst more trees wearing their autumn colours. It was a bit muddy in places and the wet leaves were a little slippery, but it presented no real problems. We left the grounds through the kissing gate that always takes a while to negotiate with a large group. Through the housing estate and we were on the road that took us to the pub where we stopped for lunch. Three brave souls headed off to the park for a picnic whilst the remainder went into the warm pub. Except for a further three who had a mechanical issue to deal with first.

With lunch over and the three picnickers back with us, we should have been ready to roll. Unfortunately, fixing the issue with the chain had taken longer than expected and the three were just getting served their lunch as everyone else was ready to leave. It was decided that as the three could easily find their own way back, we would leave them to do so, thus avoiding delaying the whole group. So, with three less riders we made our way into Dalkeith Country Park. Past the grand Dalkeith Palace before pausing to admire the view from the bridge across the river. We retraced our steps and continued through the estate to emerge onto the busy A6094. A short spell on that road before we turned off to join the path down the Grove towards Musselburgh. Across the footbridge, along the path and road beside the golf course, across the main road out of Musselburgh and we were soon at the railway station. Here we were met by the three that we had left eating lunch in the pub. We took the path towards Newcraighall expecting to have trouble getting across the busy road there. Much to our delight, the road was so busy that the traffic was almost stationary and we got across easily. From there it was an easy and familiar route that took us back to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway.

Thanks to Graham for making this, his first ride as leader so successful. Everyone enjoyed the ride and it was good to reach a familiar destination by a new, interesting and unfamiliar route. Most of us could say we had been somewhere new today. Thanks also to Rob for fixing the problem with the rider's chain and allowing him to continue the ride. As the backmarker said, "it is good when someone has the right tools, and even better when they know how to use them".

Leader: Graham
Report: Glenn
Photos: Graham and Glenn

Monday, 4 November 2019

November ride this coming Saturday


For our ride this coming Saturday (9th), we will be heading to Dalkeith. This is a familiar destination for most of us, but our leader, Graham, has managed to devise an interesting and unusual way of getting there. The total distance will be about 22 miles (or a little shorter if the weather is bad), with no serious difficulties of any kind.

For lunch, we will make for our usual venue, the Blacksmith's Forge. This is a Wetherspoons pub, so expect basic food at reasonable prices rather than gourmet cuisine. Those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch will head to the nearby King's Park. There is also the option of picking up a snack from the supermarket opposite the park.

We'll gather as usual at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure. It should stay light until about 16:30. The ride will probably have ended by then, but it would be wise to bring lights in case of delay, especially if you have some distance to cycle to get home afterwards.

Winter cycling

I know winter is on its way, but please don't let that stop you from cycling in the months ahead. After all, the best way to face the dark months is to keep fit and active, and what better way to do that than to get out on the bike whenever possible.

If you prefer shorter rides in the winter, EasyCycle have half-day runs on the last Sundays of the month. The next one is on Sunday 24th November. It starts at 10:30 from in front of the Söderberg café (formerly Peter's Yard) in Middle Meadow Walk. As with our own rides, it is free with no advance bookings.

Christmas ride

We will also have our traditional half-day ride on Christmas morning. Look out for more details of that event nearer the time.

That's all for now. I hope to see you on Saturday, or whenver.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Same place, different route


Until we arrived at the start of today's ride, only the leader knew where we were heading. There were a few raised eybrows amongst the regulars when it was announced we would be heading to South Queensferry. We were last there in August; but on that ocassion we took a circuitous route with quite a few unfamiliar sections. All credit to today's leader for managing to do the same without any duplication of August's unfamiliar sections.

The day dawned bright and sunny with no more than a light breeze and stayed like that for the whole day. It wasn't hot, but was pleasantly comfortable for mid-October. The good weather obviously helped to swell the numbers. The leader gave the customary briefing to the 22 assembled riders. By the time the briefing was over and we were ready to roll away, there were 26 of us. We were soon at the Leamington Bridge. A very short stretch beside the canal, Fountain Park, The Telfer Subway, Russell Road and into Roseburn Park - all very familiar. Through Balgreen and on to the path that took us behind the Forestry Commission HQ on Corstorphine Road. From there the back streets of Carrick Knowe and Broomhouse took us to the Gyle Shopping Centre. It was good to leave the busy car park behind and head through the much quieter Edinburgh Park. We nipped through the subway beneath the City Bypass (often referred to as "the smelly bridge") to be faced with a slightly muddy climb to reach the road; that explains why we usually go down that way. Gogar Station Road then took us to the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ. Up and over the RBS bridge and we were riding alongside the busy A8 where we made better progress than the traffic on the road. Leaving the A8 at the Maybury juction, we rode past the casino and alongside Maybury Road before turning off down the much less busy Cammo Walk. A few twists and turns through back streets, across the busy Queensferry Road and a sweetie stop at Cramond Brig. Under the subway and the path took us to Burnshot Junction. Along the road, a right turn and we climbed up to Dalmeny village. Through some decidedly unfamiliar back streets of South Queensferry and we arrived in the centre of town for our lunch stop.

As the riders had spread themselves around various cafes and the picnic spot in the town, the decision was made to meet at the Co-Op. At the agreed departure time, the leader got a call from one of a group of five regulars to say they had taken a long time getting served and were still eating at the far side of town. It was decided the main group should set off and the others would either catch us or make their own way back. Unfortunately, one of the missing group was the back marker, so that mantle was passed to another rider. The new back marker committed the cardinal sin of mentioning the "p" word during a ride. Sure enough, as we entered the Dalmeny estate, up went the shout, "puncture!" There was no shortage of helping hands and equipment in the form of various pumps and gas canisters. The puncture was soon fixed. The delay had allowed the missing five to catch up; so we headed into the estate as a complete group again.
Through the estate which was looking beautiful in the sunshine, up a stiff little climb and down a lovely descent and we were back at Cramond Brig. A brief halt (as is the custom) on the bridge before heading back to town. There were no further delays and the route was the usual one back through Barnton to Craigleith, down the Roseburn Path to the Russell Road zig-zags. Here the leader declared the ride officially over.

Thanks to Bill for leading us on an interestingly different route to South Queensferry. It just goes to show that with a little forethought and planning, going to a familiar place can still be interesting. As the saying goes, "getting there is half the fun".

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








Tuesday, 8 October 2019

October ride this coming Saturday


 Our next ride will take place this coming Saturday (12th). I don't yet have any details of the route or destination; all will be revealed at the start. As always we'll meet at 10.30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride is free and open to all, with no advance booking.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The summer's final hurrah


The last 20 Milers Extra of the year signals the end of summer. Having a large turnout, lovely weather and a new route and destination enabled us to go out on a high. We headed out into a delightful, quiet and unexplored part of Midlothian with a lunch stop in Pathhead. Deserted country lanes, open countryside devoid of other people and the crossing of a shallow ford made for a great ride.

The weather forecast for today had been changing all week. At first it looked as if it would be dry, then light rain looked imminent. By last night, we were expecting a dry but cool day with overcast skies. That didn't sound too bad for late September. What we eventually got was a dry day with a light breeze, a comfortable temperature and sun shining down from a blue sky containing just a few fluffy white clouds. That doubtlessly helped muster the 26 riders that turned up to start from Fisherrow Harbour. The leader gave the cutomary briefing insisting that everyone would walk across the ford. Why? Because on the recce he had crashed heavily whilst crossing it and was very lucky to escape with nothing more than cuts and severe bruising. A good reason why we do recces and a good example of what a leader will do to ensure everyone's safety on the day. A willingness to "take one" for the group!. We're not sure if 26 is a record Extra turnout, but it's definitely close. The leader decided not to split into two groups, and that worked out OK. We made our way to the path for Whitecraig meadering through backstreets that were unfamiliar to most. From Whitecraig we joined the cycle path towards Dalkeith, turning off and climbing past the farm at Smeaton. More climbing followed as we headed towards Cousland and turned right on the A6124 towards the A68. With the climbing over [for now], we paused for a sweetie stop and to regroup. A glorious downhill followed to Fordel Dean before joining the A6093, which was far busier than usual. It was good to leave that road behind and follow a much quieter one to the sawmill at Windy Mains. Waiting to regroup, there was no doubt how the place had got its name. We were now on a lovely quiet lane heading towards the ford at Costerton, with a real sense of being out in the sticks.
Arriving at the beautiful little ford, the leader stopped and led the group over the footbridge alongside. A few opted to walk through and a couple of riders just had to ride across - fortunately without incident. The leader allowed himself a wry smile at the thought of those riding slowly and carefully across compared to when he had approached at a fair pace on the racing line, only to have his front wheel slide from under him on the slippery surface. As the others headed away from the ford, he paused for a couple of minutes alone to exorcise the associated demons before pedalling after them. We were soon at the busy A68. Fortunately, we only had to travel 200 yards along it before turning off onto the much quieter B6458. With the sun shining down from a clear blue sky, no sign of human habitation and fields full of sheep - this was idyllic. More quiet roads took us from Tynehead to Crichton and back to the busy A68 at Pathhead. Rather than try and turn right onto such a busy road, we wheeled our bikes up the pavement to "The Foresters" pub for lunch. The food was good and we were all impressed with how they dealt with such a large group of hungry cyclists arriving unannounced.

With everyone fed, we headed off leaving the busy A68 behind. Past the impressive gates leading to Preston Hall, we turned left and headed towards the A6093 that we had headed out on in the morning. This time, a quick left and right and we were on another of those delightful quiet lanes that characterised today's ride. Some more climbing and we were in the village of Cousland. We dropped down to join the A6124 which took us to Whitecraig and onto the River Esk Path. At the bridge across the river, the leader declared the ride over. Part of the group headed over the bridge and onwards to Edinburgh, whilst the remainder headed down to Luca's in Musselburgh for ice cream.

It's always good to hear people say how much they have enjoyed a ride, and plenty said that today. Somewhere new for most, lovely quiet roads, a real sense of being out in the sticks, wonderful scenery and great weather - a fitting finale to this year's series of Extra rides. They will start again in May next year. But of course, the usual 20 Milers rides will continue throughout the year - all welcome, free and no need to book.


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


Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Last Extra of 2019 this coming Saturday


We've got time to squeeze one more Extra ride into our programme before autumn sets in. This Saturday (28th), Glenn will be leading us on what promises to be an attractive circuit of the eastern fringes of Midlothian. Most of the route will be on quiet roads, taking in some pleasant villages. The route will be similar to one that Glenn led two years ago but with the direction reversed.

For this ride, we will meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh, in time for a 10:30 departure. As you know, our Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual runs. This one will be about 30 miles from Fisherrow back to Fisherrow (and Fisherrow is about six further miles from central Edinburgh). I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but it's likely to be around 4 pm.

The route will involve a bit of climbing, but no particularly nasty hills. One interesting feature will be the need to ford a river - more about that when we get there.

For lunch, we will stop at a pub in Pathhead - or bring a packed lunch if you prefer. Most of the mileage will be in the morning, so lunch will be on the late side. You might want to bring an extra snack to keep the hunger pangs away.

Remember, all our rides are "just turn up". There is no advance booking, and no need to reply to this post.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Our [almost] forgotten 15th anniversary


Today's ride started out with nothing to set it apart from any other of our rides. But a chance comment led us to realise it was in effect the ride to mark the 15th anniversary of the 20 Milers. As the comment wasn't made until we were a few miles into the ride, no mention of the anniversary was made at the briefing. The leader took us on a somewhat meandering route to Heriot Watt University at Riccarton. It stayed dry all day, and whilst it was not particularly cold, it was quite windy. We made our way out into a noticeable headwind, but a tail wind meant we were almost blown back to town. Another notable thing from today's ride being a new backmarker stepped into the breech and did a splendid job.

A cool and windy morning saw 23 riders assemble at the start. That's always a good number as we can get away with one group, thus avoiding the logistics of having to split into two. After the customary briefing, we rolled away to join the canal at Leamington Bridge via Bruntsfield Links. We stayed on the canal as far as Ashley Terrace where the group got split and delayed by temporary traffic lights. We regrouped and made our way through the back streets of Merchiston and past the George Watson's College sports ground on our way to Greenbank. Along the quiet roads of the housing estate near Redford Barracks and we emerged onto the busy Redford Road. Mike was talking to the writer when it dawned on him that the group had begun in September 2004 (the exact date is lost in the mists of time), thus making it 15 years to the month since the first ride. So in effect, we were on the 15th anniversary ride. Onwards through the back streets of Colinton and we arrived in Bonaly where we stopped as the leader passed sweeties round. From there we took the Water of Leith walkway as far as Riccarton. We took the back way into the Heriot Watt campus off Curriehill Road and got a shock as we arrived in the large cafeteria. Usually there are about half a dozen other customers and we would get served quickly. Not today. The university was having an open day and the cafeteria was heaving.

Whilst lunch took slightly longer than usual, everyone got fed and soon it was time to begin our journey back to town. Within minutes of setting out we had lost the leader. He had made a right turn which the following rider had missed and everyone else had followed. We were soon back on the right track concluding that the confusion had been caused by the appearance of a brand new building that wasn't there last time. All back together, we left the campus behind and crossed the busy Calder Road. Via Hermiston House Road, Gogarbank, Gogar Station Road and the subway we arrived at Edinburgh Park. We followed the tram line through Broomhouse and Stenhouse, leaving it at the Jenners Depository to make our way to Murrayfield Stadium. From there we made our way back to Leamington Bridge via Roseburn Park, Russell Road, Dalry Road, the Telfer Subway and Fountainbridge. The familiar route took us back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over. As we rode through the Meadows a man came towards us on a mountain bike being pulled along by two Husky dogs. Needless to say, he barely needed to pedal. A number of us thought what a good idea for our next ride, especially for steep hills.

Thanks to Neil for leading us to a familiar location by an unfamiliar route. Sometimes a little fore thought and planning is all it takes to mix things up and make an old ride seem like a new one. We may do twelve rides a year and have been doing them for fifteen years, but we are far from running out of places to go or interesting ways of getting to them. Last but by no means least, thanks to Yaz for doing a great job of back marking on her first time in the role. Well done. Next step will see her leading a ride.

Leader: Neil
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn


Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Our next ride


Our September ride takes place this coming Saturday (14th). We'll be heading out to the south west of the city, taking in Colinton, Currie and Balerno. The total distance will be about 20 miles, with just a little moderate climbing - nothing too strenuous. Neil will be our leader.

We'll stop for lunch at the Heriot-Watt campus in Riccarton. This has a spacious cafeteria which offers a good selection of sandwiches and snacks, usually including at least one hot dish. There is also plenty of room there for those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch.

We'll set out at 10:30 from our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride should finish around mid-afternoon.


Please keep in mind that, as with all our rides, the above information should be regarded as provisional. The meeting time and place are fixed, but we always reserve the right to vary the route and destination, depending on conditions on the day.

Another ride

In addition to the above ride, Glenn will be leading our final Extra of the summer on the 28th of this month. I'll post more details of that event as they become available.

And finally ....

May I remind you to bring a spare inner tube on all our rides if at all possible. We can't guarantee that you won't get a puncture, but by carrying a spare tube you make it a lot easier to get back on the road if the unavoidable happens. Check with your favourite bike shop if you don't know what size or type of tube is right for your bike. And don't worry if you don't know how to change the tube; if a puncture strikes, there are usually willing hands available to help.

That's all for now. As I write this, the forecast for Saturday is for a warm and dry day, so we can look forward to another excellent day's cycling.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

To Humbie Hub without a scribe


Unfortunately, neither of the group's scribes were able to make today's ride to Humbie. Mike wasn't well and Glenn was recovering from a heavy crash on a recce ride the previous week. Apologies for no report. But by way of compensation, here are a few more photos than usual courtesy of Verity.

Apparently it was a great ride and everyone to enjoyed it.

Normal service should hopefully resume in time for next week's 20 Milers ride.









Leader: Peter
Photos: Verity
Map trace: Jim


Monday, 2 September 2019

Three rides for September


We've got three rides planned for the coming month. Here are some details:

Saturday 7th September

This coming Saturday, Peter (Bennett) will be leading our fourth Extra of the summer. We'll be heading to a spot we have never visited before as a group: the delightful village of Humbie in East Lothian.

As you know, these Extra rides are longer than our standard runs and go at a slightly faster pace. Please keep that in mind if you haven't cycled for a while or are concerned about your fitness level. But for those of you who find out normal pace well within your capabilities, this ride should present no difficulties.

The ride will start earlier than usual, at 10:00. And we'll start from Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh, not Middle Meadow Walk. The total distance from Fisherrow back to Fisherrow will be about 34 miles. If you are coming from central Edinburgh, you will need to add about six miles each way to that figure.

Most of the route will be on country roads with very little traffic. There will be some moderate climbing in the morning, followed by some nice downhill cruising on the return leg.

Our lunch stop will be at the Humbie Hub. This is a pleasant little café, serving soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes and the like. It also has a small garden for those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch.


Saturday 14th September

Our standard "second Saturday" run this month will be a gentle ride in and around Colinton and Currie and on the Water of Leith path, with a lunch stop at the Heriot-Watt campus in Riccarton. Neil will be in charge. I'll post full details here next week.

Saturday 28th September

For our final Extra of the summer. Glenn will be conducting us into Midlothian, with a lunch stop at Pathhead. There will be some moderate hills as well as a short stretch on a busy main road, but most of the route will be on quiet lanes threading through some delightful (and less familiar) countryside. Again, expect more details nearer the time.

As always, these rides are all free and open to everyone, with no advance booking needed.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

A grand day out


Four weeks ago the recce for this ride was postponed due to heavy rain. What a difference a month makes! Today we were blessed with one of the best days of the year - bright sun shining down from a cloudless sky, lovely and warm with only the most gentle of breezes. A grand day to head out into East Lothian.

A turnout of nineteen riders was good, without there being so many as to need to split into two groups. Along with the diehards of the group, there were a few new faces and several riders that look set to become the new regulars. Today's ride out to the Merryhatton Garden Centre near East Fortune has become a regular fixture for late August in our Extra runs calendar. A stalwart of the group for a number of years, Logan Strang instigated the ride. He cheerfully admitted one thing he liked about it was there were hardly any hills on the route. In addition, it heads out through some beautiful East Lothian countryside and the lunch stop is very pleasant. This is the third time that this ride has run since Logan's passing, and has become something of an unofficial memorial ride to our sorely missed friend. Today's leader/writer/photographer has led all three and still feels more of a caretaker for Logan's ride rather than the true leader. Following the customary briefing, we left Fisherrow Harbour and made our way to the footbridge that would take us across the River Esk. At this stage it was pleasantly warm, but slightly overcast. Usually we would avoid the main road and take the track behind the racecourse. For a change, we took the main road down to the racecourse roundabout and joined the coast road. It is not the quietest road, but we would have had to join it further along anyway.

We used our newly developed plan for getting a group safely along main roads. Groups of five riders would be set off at 15 second intervals to make it safer for riders and other traffic. Thanks to Verity [who wasn't on today's ride} for coming up with the plan, and thanks to Alan for acting as main road monitor. We stayed on the main road as far as Cockenzie, where we turned off and quieter roads took us past Cockenzie and Port Seton harbours. A comfort and sweetie stop in Port Seton before joining the main road again. Beyond Gosford House the leader stopped and gave the riders two options; stay on the main road to Aberlady or take the unsurfaced path that ran alongside it. The split was probably half and half. We regrouped and left the main road at Aberlady. Quiet back roads allowed us to ride in one large group again. It was now warm and sunny and the East Lothian countryside looked beautiful. A short stretch of main road followed. We left that behind at Drem railway station. From there, minor roads took us on to our lunch stop at Merryhatton. We enjoyed a nice lunch in the conservatory, but it felt hotter in there than outside!

With everyone fed and watered, we headed off on the homeward leg. Past the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune and into the lovely village of Athalstaneford - which lays claim to being the birth place of Scotland's flag. We paused by the church where an interpretation panel tells the story of the flag. Education over, we headed out of the village towards the Haddington road. There always seems to be a headwind on that stretch of road. Today was no exception; but it was more of a gentle breeze and its slight cooling effect was most welcome. We crossed the road for Haddington and took the quiet minor road which skirts the Hopetoun monument. A short stretch on the A6137 followed. This was our only real climb of the day. Deserted minor roads would follow and soon we were speeding down a glorious steep hill. Coming so soon after a climb, smiles and comments confirmed how much it had been enjoyed. We continued until a barrier and red flashing lights brought us to a halt. Yes, we were at the level crossing near Longniddry. Once the train had passed and the barriers went up, we crossed the dual carriageway and took the path and road to Seton East, where another lovely hill took us down to the coast at Port Seton. The same back roads from the morning took us past the two harbours, before joining the main road back as far as Prestonpans. There we joined the coast path, which via the Lagoons and sea wall took us back to Goose Green in Musselburgh. Back across the footbridge and the leader declared the ride officially over.

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. Great weather, the lovely East Lothian countryside, not many hills and good company - cycling at its best. Thanks to Logan for leaving us this ride - a fitting legacy to our friend. As an additional link to Logan, the leader led today's ride on his road bike (first time on a group ride) which runs on a set of Logan's wheels.


Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Monday, 19 August 2019

Extra to Merryhatton this coming Saturday


We've got the third of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (24th). Glenn will once again be leading us into the East Lothian countryside. The total distance will be 45 - 50 miles, mainly on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths, but with a couple of short stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. There will be a few hills, but no killers.

Remember, these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual runs. We maintain a slightly higher average speed, but 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 concerned about your fitness level, you may prefer to give this ride a miss.

Lunch venue

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, which is about six miles from central Edinburgh. Please aim to get there in time for a 10:30 departure. There are toilets available at the start point. I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but it is likely to be after 4 pm.

As with all our rides, this one is free and open to all, with no advance bookings.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Are you sure this is the right way?



Earlier in the week the forecast was promising a day of thundery showers. By this morning it sounded somewhat better - a mixture of showers and light rain with thundery showers arriving after five o'clock. In the end, our ride to South Queensferry was blessed with warm sunshine, not a drop of rain and everyone was safely home by the time the thundery downpour did eventually arrive. We have a ride to South Queensferry every year, so there is always the risk of it becoming rather familiar and lacking in interest. Not this time; the leader did us proud by picking a route that none of us had taken before. We even got tangled up with a parade.

Despite the forecast, a turnout of 18 riders was quite good, with the added bonus that we didn't need to split into two groups. Good to see some new faces in the mix. The first part of the route was familiar until we arrived at Bruntsfield Place where we turned left and joined the main road. Those not paying attention almost went over the crossing and down to the canal. Instead, we meandered through the less familiar back streets of Bruntsfield, Merchiston and Polworth before arriving in Roseburn Park. More quiet paths and we emerged at the busy Glasgow Road. There was a little confusion as the leader had told us we would be crossing the road beside the Jaguar garage - which is now a Volvo garage. We left the busy road behind and threaded through more quiet back streets before emerging at the busy Queensferry Road. Across that and a quick whizz down Whitehouse Road, where we turned off and headed down to Cramond Bridge for the obligatory stop whilst cake and sweets were passed round. It was now warm and sunny. Heading out in the morning everyone was so busy ensuring they had got their waterproofs that no one had given a second thought to sun cream. We then took the path beside the road towards Burnshot Bridge. On arriving at the cattle grid at the entrance to the Dalmeny estate, we surprisingly went in rather than riding past and heading towards Dalmeny village. A cyclist coming out warned us to look out for a large highland cow standing in the middle of the road. Pre-warned, we were able to slow down and give the cow a wide berth. We rode through the estate and came into South Queensferry beneath the majestic Forth Rail Bridge. As we headed into town we came to a barrier and a "road closed" sign. It turned out to be the day of the Ferry Fair Festival parade. One of the stewards said we could head along the road so long as we dismounted and hurried up so as not to get tangled up in the parade. We made it to the centre of town and riders headed off in various directions in search of lunch. We'd never seen the place so busy.

After lunch, we had a short walk wheeling our bikes to reach the end of the high street. From there it was up the hill, through the Co-op car park and we were on the path to Dalmeny village. We then took the familiar route back towards Cramond Bridge. Re-grouping at Burnshot Bridge, we were joined by a rather muddy French mountain biker who asked the best way back to Portobello. It appears he had got lost near Craigie's Farm and ended up riding across a potato field. We told him we were heading in the direction he needed to go, so he rode with us for a short while. He soon left us to go and seek out a jet wash for his bike and himself. We held with tradition and paused briefly on Cramond Bridge. From there it was onwards through Barnton with an easy crossing of Cramond Road South courtesy of temporary traffic lights. We had never before experienced such an easy crossing. Through Silverknowes and the Blackhall path took us to Craigleith. From there, the familiar route of the Roseburn path, Russell Road, Telfer subway and the canal took us back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Alan for leading an enjoyable ride. It just goes to show that with a little thought and imagination, what looks set to be a somewhat predictable and familiar ride can easily become something more interesting. Thanks also to the weather for being on our side. None of us expected to stay dry all day and be concerned about forgetting to apply sun cream.

Leader: Alan
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: None available

Monday, 5 August 2019

August ride - and others


We've got our August ride this coming Saturday (10th). I don't have any details yet of the route, but I do know that we will be heading to South Queensferry. Alan will be in charge. There are several cafes in South Queensferry, as well as a good picnic spot overlooking the harbour and bridges.

As always, we'll set out at 10:30 from our usual meeting point in Middle Meadow Walk.

More rides

We've now fixed the dates for the remaining Extra rides of the summer. They are as follows:

24th August: Merryhatton Garden Centre in East Lothian. Glenn leading.

7th September: Peter leading. The date is fixed but the destination is not yet decided.

28th September: Glenn will be leading us into Midlothian.

I'll let you have more details of the above nearer the time.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Picnic in the Pentlands

 
Who can explain Scottish weather? All week, the forecasters had been promising us a fine, dry day for our July ride. And the day did indeed start dry and sunny. But within a minute of my setting out for our meeting point, the temperature dropped and the rain came down, sending me scurrying back indoors to pick up my helmet cover and a warm jacket.

Despite the change in the weather, 28 cyclists turned out for our ride to the Harlaw Reservoir at the edge of the Pentland Hills. Such a high number often sees us splitting into two groups in order to keep things manageable, but, after some discussion, we decided to keep together this time.

And so we set off on what is now a familiar route: Whitehouse Loan, Hermitage Drive, Braidburn Valley Park, the path along the Braid Burn, and down Redford Road to Colinton, where we paused for snacks and sweeties.

From Colinton, there are basically two routes up to Harlaw. The first climbs up to the Torduff and Clubbiedean reservoirs and then along a rough track to Easter Kinleith. The other follows Woodhall Road to Blinkbonny, then up the killer Currie Kirkgate. This time, we opted for the latter, partly to avoid the difficult paths by the reservoirs, and partly to get the climbing over in one go. Inevitably, we were very spread out on the Kirkgate ascent, but we all made it to the top without too much suffering.

By now, the rain, which had been hovering all morning, was clearly not going to return. By the time most of us were battling up the hill, the sky had brightened and the sun had come out. A few minutes after that, it was hot enough to encourage us to strip off our outer layers. It stayed warm and dry for the rest of the day.

After a long breather at the top of the hill, we set off for the last mile or so to our lunch spot. The Harlaw Reservoir was at its best in the sunshine. Unusually, we had the place almost to ourselves, the earlier rain having presumably discouraged other visitors. Most of  us squeezed around the picnic tables behind the visitor centre, while others installed themselves on seats near the reservoir wall. Everyone had brought a packed lunch, which was fortunate given that the mobile snack bar that used to be parked here is no longer in business.

After a leisurely lunch break, we set off for the run back to town. This started with a somewhat rough ride alongside the Threipmuir Reservoir and through Redford Wood, followed by an exhilarating freewheel down the well-surfaced road to Balerno. After negotiating some unexpected road closures (which weren't there on the recce), we managed to get on to the Water of Leith path, and then on to the canal towpath to the Leamington Bridge.

On Bruntsfield Links the ride was officially terminated. At just over 20 miles, it wasn't as long as some of our recent outings, but it was not exactly a doddle either. Well done to everyone for making it up the big hill.

Leader, report and photos: Mike
Map: Jim




Monday, 8 July 2019

July ride this coming Saturday


We've got our July ride on Saturday (13th). For this month's run, we'll be heading to the edge of the Pentlands for a picnic at the Harlaw Reservoir - a particularly nice spot for an al fresco lunch. I hope you can join us.

As usual, we'll leave from Middle Meadow Walk at 10:30. It won't be a particularly long ride, but there will be a reasonable amount of climbing, especially near the start and again just before lunch (these are the Pentland Hills after all). We'll be rewarded with some excellent views and some lovely freewheeling in the afternoon. Most of the route will be on quiet roads and paths with good surfaces, but there will be about half a mile on a fairly rough track.

Lunch

Keep in mind that we will be having a picnic lunch. There is no catering of any kind at the reservoir, so be sure to bring a packed lunch and something to drink. (The mobile snack bar that used to be parked at the reservoir has gone out of business. As far as I know, it has not been replaced.)

There is a single toilet at the reservoir. We will also stop for a comfort break in Colinton, about 40 minutes before lunch.

The ride will go ahead whatever the weather, but if the day is really bad, we might opt for a shorter low-level route, with a stop at a cafe or pub.

As you know, all our rides are free and open to all. There is no advance booking.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

An East Lothian drama


For this, the second 20 Milers Extra ride of the year, we were expecting a straight forward run through the delightful East Lothian countryside. What we got was one of the most dramatic rides for quite a while. No disrespect to the good folk of the town, but the words "Haddington" and "drama" seldom appear in the same sentence. On the outward leg we had a rider fall and cut his head. Fortunately, we had a first aider on the group who was able to deal with the situation. On the return leg, the backmarker had to relinquish the role when a serious mechanical issue stopped them in their tracks.

The weather forecast seemed to be constantly changing prior to the ride. A warm day was promised, but uncertainty remained as to whether or not we would have to endure showers, at what time and if they would be thundery. Never mind the forecast, we still mustered an impressive 17 starters at Fisherrow Harbour. As ever, it was great to see quite a few new faces in the mix. Following one of this leader's typically thorough and safety-orientated briefings, we rolled away onto the Musselburgh coast path. It was warm but overcast as we crossed the River Esk and made our way down Goose Green. The familiar route alongside the sea wall took us onwards to Prestonpans. At the end of the path, the leader gave a further safety briefing before we joined the main road through the town. We were split into groups of five and made to wait until the group in front was a good way ahead. The backmarker ensured that no group was larger than five or that they set off too soon after the one in front. The military precision paid off. Holding up of other traffic was minimal, and [most importantly] we all got along the main road safely. A rider was placed to indicate turns at junctions which worked perfectly. We were soon at the start of the Longniddry railway path; where we had a stop for sweeties. A reasonably smooth and wide path devoid of traffic should have presented no problems. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Back on tarmac and about to enter the underpass beneath the A1, disaster struck. A rider had hit an innocuous looking tree root and gone down, cutting their head in the process. Fortunately, our resident first aider, Ollie was on scene and knew exactly what to do. Some were further along the path, but the whole group stopped and waited. The leader made the decision that the majority would push on into Haddington and have lunch, whilst those who were actively involved would remain with the casualty. There was no need to call an ambulance and the casualty was able to walk the short distance into Haddington. They ended up being patched up in a pharmacy in the town. The decision was made to put the rider in a taxi with Barbara [and their bikes] to Longniddry station. From there they were able to return to Edinburgh.

The group reconvened after lunch to learn what had happened, and we began the homeward leg two riders down. Down to the river, over a bridge, along a path and we arrived at a quiet road. The leader told us it was a very quiet road, but we may encounter some light traffic so we should "be sensible". That comment inevitably led to smiles, laughter and wise cracks. It was pleasantly warm and sunny as we rode through the lovely East Lothian countryside to West Saltoun. Having survived the quiet roads and light traffic, we headed off-road onto the beginning of the Pencaitland railway path. Within 100 yards, disaster struck for the backmarker. They veered to one side and only just managed to stay on the path. Fortunately there was no injury. But close inspection of the bike revealed that the rear derailleur had sheared off. That could so easily have been a ride-ending issue. After a few moments of consideration, it was decided that shortening the chain and making the bike into a single speed would allow it to be limped home. The tools and know how were there, but some of the chain links didn't want to play. As is the case when the backmarker hits a problem, hardly anyone is there to help. Meanwhile, the main group had pressed on to their cake stop. The backmarker and the writer were left to try and sort matters. The chain links were being a real pain. Following a couple of phone calls, Jim was dispatched to help. It was good to see him, and even better that he had brought cake. The leader made the decision that the main group should press on and the other three make the repair and head home independently. The main group managed to outrun the rain and get to Fisherrow where the leader was relieved to be able to declare the ride officially over. The remaining three finally got the repair made and began the homeward trek. Unfortunately, several further stops were required to make adjustments to keep the wheels turning. These extra delays meant that the three got caught in a heavy shower. The backmarker finally threw in the towel and headed for Musselburgh station rather that limp back into town.

All in all, quite an eventful day's ride! The weather was kind to us - just, the route was a good one, lovely coutryside - but, it will be remembered for different reasons. Here's hoping the new riders don't expect all our rides to pack in so much drama. Thanks to everyone that helped keep the ride running smoothly. But mention in dispatches are undoubtly due to Verity, Ollie and Barbara. Verity for managing the logistics to ensure the ride ran smoothly despite everything. Ollie for putting her first aider skills to use when needed; and like Verity, wolfing down a hurriedly bought sandwich rather than enjoying a leisurely lunch. Barbara for volunteering to end her ride early and see that the fallen rider got home safely. She even managed to blag them a free ride on the train back to Edinburgh! Finally, here's wishing all the best from the group for a speedy recovery - hope to see you out again soon.

Leader: Verity
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: David


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Haddington Extra this coming Saturday


Our second Extra of the summer will take place this coming Saturday (29th). Verity will be leading us into East Lothian, with a lunch stop in the delightful town of Haddington where there is a good choice of cafés and picnic spots.

Much of the route will be on bike paths, in particular the Longniddry and Pencaitland paths, both of which are fairly flat and have reasonably firm surfaces (albeit not tarmac). Other parts of the route will involve a few hills, especially in the afternoon, but nothing too challenging. There will be one short stretch on a busy main road where we will split into small groups for safety.

For this ride, we will meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh, in time for a 10:30 start. The total distance (Fisherrow to Fisherrow) will be 33 miles. For those coming from central Edinburgh, add about eight miles each way.

The lunch stop will be relatively early, with most of the mileage in the afternoon. You may want to bring a biscuit or some fruit to sustain you on the return leg

Longer and faster

Please keep in mind that our Extra rides are longer than our usual "second Saturday" runs and go at a somewhat faster pace. Most of our regular riders find these rides are within their comfort zone, but it's something to take into account if you haven't cycled for a while or are unsure of your fitness level.

As I write, the forecast for Saturday is good, so this promises to be another enjoyable day.

Friday, 21 June 2019

A midsummer night's jaunt



In choosing a route for this year's summer solstice ride, I claim no points for originality. After looking for inspiration in various maps, I decided we could do no better than repeat the very pleasant run that we had this time last year. And why not? It was an attractive route, with a good mix of water, greenery and views – too good not to do again.

Eleven of us gathered at our usual spot in Middle Meadow Walk. It was a lovely bright evening. We set off at 7 pm, heading west down Lauriston Place, past the Usher Hall and across Lothian Road to Festival Square. A bit more weaving took us through the West End. We crossed the Water of Leith by way of the Belford Road bridge, pedalled past the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art to Ravelston Dykes, then down Garscube Terrace to join the Roseburn Path at Coltbridge.


We stayed on the path only as far as the Craigleith path junction (familiar to most of us as the starting point for some of our Extra rides). We then freewheeled down Craigleith Hill Avenue into Inverleith Park. After pausing to admire the particularly nice view of the Edinburgh skyline in the evening light, we continued round the sides of the Royal Botanic Garden to rejoin the bike path at Goldenacre. A few moments later we were at Five Ways, and then on the Hawthornvale Path to Lindsay Road. We had a long-ish stop by the cruise liner terminal, where we could just about glimpse the Royal Yacht Britannia in the middle distance. It's a pity that the public can't get a closer view of this magnificent vessel other than by buying a ticket. (We might have got closer, but unfortunately the Ocean Terminal was in the way.)

Waterfront and Shore

The next leg took us along a stretch of the Leith waterfront and the Shore (sorry about the cobbles). We soon reached the Water of Leith path, with the river looking particularly peaceful in the evening light. We left the path at St Mark's Park, passing the site of the recently-demolished Powderhall refuse depot. And what an improvement there is to the landscape now that that unlovely building has gone (happily, the Grade B listed office building and former stables have survived and are being refurbished).

We continued along McDonald Road, across Leith Walk and on to London Road. We then followed Royal Terrace (more cobbles) and Regent Road to one of our traditional stopping points: the Stones of Scotland Monument. In the late evening sunshine, the view from here over Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat was particularly striking. We took advantage of the stop to share some nibbles. We then moved on to tackle the only noticeable climb of the evening: Calton Hill.

Changes

If you haven't been to the summit of Calton Hill recently, you may be agreeably surprised by the changes. The area around the Playfair observatory has been landscaped and remodelled, and although it is has been somewhat commercialised with the arrival of an up-market restaurant, it now provides better access to the south west side of the summit, with much more room to enjoy the views over the city.

And so to the final leg of our ride: down the hill to Waterloo Places, then left at the Bridges, right into Chambers Street, arriving back at the Meadows shortly before 9.30 pm. The weather had stayed kind to us all evening, and nobody had complained about the repetition of the route. Maybe next year we will do somewhere different. Or maybe not.

Leader, report, photos: Mike

Monday, 17 June 2019

Summer solstice ride on Friday evening


This coming Friday (21st June) is the summer solstice: the longest day of the year. We will be celebrating the event with our traditional mid-summer evening bike ride. Like all our rides, this one is free and open to all. I hope you will be able to join us.

This will be a leisurely ride, taken at an easy pace and with a few interesting stops along the way. Our route will mainly follow bike paths, quiet roads and parks around the city, and will take in the Leith waterfront, the Royal Yacht, the Stones of Scotland monument and the summit of Calton Hill. That last bit will be the only noticeable hill of the evening, with the rest of the route being reasonably flat.

We will meet at 7 pm, at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will last about 2½ hours. There will be no café or pub stop during the ride, but if anyone wants to go for a drink afterwards, that can easily be arranged.

Although the ride should end before dark (sunset on Friday is at 10 pm), it would be advisable to bring lights in case we get delayed and also to see you home.

Remember, there is no advance booking for any of our rides. If you fancy joining us, just turn up at the appointed time and place.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

An early lunch


Today's ride could be summed up as, a low turnout; better weather than the forecast suggested; a relatively quick and trouble-free ride except for a puncture and arriving at our lunch stop very early. For the last few days the forecast had been telling us to expect a day of continual heavy rain. Perhaps that had frightened off a number of riders. Either that, or the lure of the Edinburgh World Naked Bike Ride had been too great! As it happened, the weather was nothing like as bad as expected. There was some rain at lunchtime and immediately after, but it could have been much worse. Even so, it was far from what we would expect in June.

A total of just eleven riders mustered at the start. It may well have been a record low for a June ride; more the sort of numbers we would associate with a winter's ride in bad weather. Once again, there was no need to consider splitting into two groups. After the obligatory leader's briefing, we left the Meadows and set off in the direction of Dalkeith. Taking the familiar route of the Innocent Railway, we soon left the Meadows behind. The pace was a little faster than some 20 Milers rides, but it presented no problem for those present and we made very good time. A smaller group meant we were all able to get across at traffic lights, so having to wait and regroup wasn't necessary. We were even able to cross the busy road through Newcraighall without delay, something that is almost unheard of. We then sped along the cycle path to Musselburgh station where we stopped as cakes and sweets were passed round. Perhaps we didn't really need them, but it's a long-held tradition of our rides. We pressed on and joined the River Esk path (known as the Grove to the locals) to Whitecraig. There followed a short stretch on the busy A6094 towards Dalkeith. Leaving that far-from-pleasant road behind, we were soon heading along a quiet road into Dalkeith Country Park. Past the impressive "big house" - Dalkeith Palace, and we left the country park to emerge on Dalkeith High Street. A short ride through the town and we arrived at our lunch stop at 1155. It has been a long time since we arrived so early to lunch. Three riders headed off for a picnic lunch, some went into the pub and the remainder decided to risk al fresco dining despite the sky looking rather grey. Lunch was eaten outside; but as the rain got heavier, everyone retreated inside.

Although not too heavy, the rain was the sort you wouldn't want to stand around in, as we headed away from lunch. A few minutes later we were standing around in the rain as one unfortunate rider had suffered a puncture. Typical! Following a damp delay, the puncture was fixed and we were rolling again. As we took the cycle path towards Whitecraig, the rain became lighter before stopping completely. From Whitecraig, our return route was almost identical to our way out in the morning. The one exception being that we wheeled our bikes up and over the bridge at Brunstane station, rather than riding round via the road and path. Back at the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over as the rain began again. It was just after 1430. Thanks to Jim for leading a ride that everyone seemed to enjoy. We had made good, smooth progress despite the puncture delay and the weather had been better than any of us had dared hope. Here's hoping for better weather and a better turnout for July's ride. Come on summer, we're still waiting for you!




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


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

June 20-Milers this coming Saturday


We've got our June ride this Saturday (8th). Jim will be leading us to Dalkeith. It should be a straightforward run of about 20 - 24 miles, with a few hills but no killers. For lunch, there is a choice between a picnic in the King's Park (bring a packed lunch or pick up a sandwich in the nearby Morrisons) or a pub lunch in the Blacksmiths Forge (Wetherspoons).

The details are the same as always. We'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure.

Looking ahead

We have two more rides planned for this month. On Friday 21st, we will have our traditional summer solstice ride. This will be an evening ride, starting from Middle Meadow Walk at 19:00. And on Saturday 29th, Verity will be leading us to Haddington for our second Extra of the season.

I'll post a reminder and more details of each of these events her nearer the time.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Full Steam Ahead to Bo'ness


Seventeen riders turned up at Craigleith for our first Extra of the summer. These Extra rides are aimed at the somewhat more active members of our group. We go a little faster and a little further than on our standard runs, and aim to visit places that would otherwise be beyond our range. Today's ride was no exception: a 38-mile round-trip to Bo'ness in West Lothian.

The first leg of the route was a familiar one: NCN1 to Cramond Brig, the underpass and the new cycle track to the Carlowrie Road, and the railway path to Kirkliston. We stopped for a comfort break at the Kirkliston Leisure Centre, then continued west on the quiet back road past Niddry Castle. After four miles on the canal towpath, we reached Philpstoun, where we took another break (with some delicious home-made chocolate brownies on offer).

The next stage of the ride involved a notorious killer hill – one that we have often struggled up on our rides to Blackness Castle. This time, we had the pleasure of going down, which was most exhilarating. In no time at all, we were in Blackness village, from where we set off on the last leg of the morning. This took us on a new stretch of path along the shore of the Forth. This path replaces a rough footpath which was always difficult for cyclists. Now, apart from one unpaved section, it is a well-surfaced track offering delightful views across the firth. The path led us into Bo'ness, where we made our way to the terminus of the preserved Bo'ness and Kinneil railway.

The railway turned out to be an ideal lunch stop: lots of picnic tables, a spacious café, and plenty of interesting things to see. About half-way through the break, the whistle of an approaching train could be heard. Several members of the group rushed to the platform, where they caught a glimpse of a steam–hauled train arriving in the station. Most of us, it must be said, preferred to stay put and catch a glimpse of our lunch.

For the return to Edinburgh, we retraced the outward route along the coast to Blackness. Staying near the coast, we then followed the path through pleasant woodland towards Abercorn, and then into the Hopetoun House deer park and on to South Queensferry. After a short pause outside the Co-op, we continued to Dalmeny, where we re-joined NCN1 for the final stretch back to Craigleith, arriving there a little after 4 pm.

The day had stayed dry and reasonably warm, and there were no problems of any kind. Nobody had any difficulty in keeping up, and the ride was free of punctures and other mechanical difficulties. In short, a good start to the Extra season.

Leader, report and photos: Mike
Sorry, no map this time.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Extra ride this coming Saturday


We've got our first Extra ride of the year this coming Saturday (1st June). These Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual runs, but we try to maintain the same friendly and unpressured atmosphere. If you are comfortable with our usual pace, you should enjoy these longer outings. But if you sometimes struggle to keep up, or haven't cycled for a while, you might prefer to give them a miss.

This week's ride

For our ride on Saturday, we will be heading to somewhere that we have never visited before as a group: the historic Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway. Apart from its historical interest, the station there promises to be a good place for our lunch stop. It has picnic tables for those who like to bring a packed lunch (or you can pick up a sandwich in the Tesco next door). There is also a large café that serves soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes and home-made cakes and scones.

The ride itself will be about 38 miles. We'll head out via Kirkliston, Niddry Castle and a short stretch on the canal, then drop down to Blackness and a new coastal path that will take us into Bo'ness. For the return, we'll keep to the coast, via the Hopetoun Estate and South Queensferry. Most of the route will be on well-surfaced tracks and roads, with just a few stretches that might be a bit rough. There will be a few hills, but no killers.

Note that most of the mileage will be in the morning, with a late lunch stop, so adjust your appetites accordingly.

Meeting time and place

For this ride, we'll meet at our alternative meeting point at the Craigleigh path junction (see here if you need directions). We'll set out at the earlier time of 10:15. As this is quite a long ride, we'll aim to leave punctually. It's difficult to know exactly when the ride will finish, but I think we should be back at the start point some time between 4 and 5 pm.

What if the weather is bad?

An occasional shower or a light drizzle won't put us off. But if the weather is particularly bad, we might opt for a shorter ride (but the meeting time and place will remain the same).

As with all our rides, this one is free and open to all. Just turn up if you would like to join us.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Advance notice of rides in June


Here is an overview of the rides planned for June 2019. I'll post more information about each of these nearer the time.

Saturday 1st June. Our first Extra of the summer. These rides are longer and faster than our usual runs. We start a little earlier, finish a little later, and go at a slightly faster pace - but always with the same sociable atmosphere. For this first ride, we'll be heading west, starting at 10:15 from the Craigleith path junction.

Saturday 8th June. Our normal "second Saturday" run, starting as usual at 10:30 from Middle Meadow Walk. We'll be heading to Dalkeith.

Friday 21st June. An evening ride to celebrate the summer solstice. Meet at 19:00 at Middle Meadow Walk.

Saturday 29th June. Our second Extra of the season, heading east. We'll let you know the meeting time and place nearer the time.

In addition, the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling takes place in June. This consists of around 40 cycling-related events, including talks, workshops, cultural events, film shows and several rides. I've posted details of a few of these on www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk. You can pick up a copy of the full printed programme from local bike shops, leisure centres and public libraries.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Where is everyone?


The question, "where is everyone?" summed up today's ride. It's late enough in the year for riders and bikes to have come out of winter hibernation; the sun was shining - we even got to eat lunch sitting outside in the pub beer garden and an interestingly different route was on the cards. But we still had a low turnout for a ride in May. Perhaps the fact that a couple of climbs and a reasonable amount of off-road riding lie ahead had kept some riders away. One rider was unfortunate to have a chain snap and one fell after hitting an hidden grate cover. The chain was repaired and the faller was shaken up, but uninjured.

We only managed to muster eighteen riders. A few regulars were missing. But amongst those that did make the start, it was good to see some new faces, some we hadn't seen for a while and a couple of riders on electric bikes. At least we only needed one group; something that always makes the logistics easier. The familiar route via the Innocent Railway led us to Musselburgh station. We stopped a couple of times to regroup as we became spread out courtesy of road crossing points. Leaving the station we threaded through the Stoneybank estate. This was unfamiliar to most, but presented no problem for the leader, it being a stone's throw from home for him. The group emerged intact beside the more familiar River Esk. A duck beneath the low bridge that carries the main road into Musselburgh, along the road, across the River Esk on the footbridge and we were heading down Goose Green. A pause for a local history lesson about the blue arrow beside the Air Cadets hut and we were on the path towards the race course. On this occasion, we turned left before the BMX track and made our way up to the ash lagoons. As they are no longer used (since the demise of Port Seton power station), vegetation is reclaiming them and they look much more attractive than the other-worldly moonscape they used to be. A bit more easily manageable off-road riding and we were on the smooth path that runs parallel to the sea wall. Heading inland, disaster struck one unfortunate rider when their chain snapped. Such an occurrence can often be a ride-ender. Following a lengthy halt, the chain was repaired and we were rolling again thanks to the mechanical skills of Alan S. Onwards to Prestonpans for a welcome sweetie stop and comfort break. Up the hill and just before Prestonpans station, Mike gave us another local history lesson about Sir John Cope and the Battle of Prestonpans. We took the road bridge across the A1, before turning left onto a grassy track. The leader was looking for a small grate cover hidden by a clump of grass in the centre of the track that had nearly brought him down on the recce a couple of weeks earlier. As soon as he spotted it, he pointed it out, but the rider behind him clattered into it. Fortunately, the rider remained upright; but another was less fortunate and went down. Badly shaken, but uninjured they opted to abandon the ride. Having ensured they were OK to get back, and were not alone, the rest of the group carried on. We took the cycle path to the edge of Tranent and joined the road for the climb towards Elphinstone. It's not a steep climb, but it does drag on for a bit. Leaving the road behind, we headed onto a dirt track for the most substantial off-road section of the day. It was a bit rough and bumpy in parts, but it was dry and presented no real problems for the group. We were now at the top of Fa'side Hill. We had climbed a bit to get there; but that was very gentle compared to the hard way up - the route that we were about to take down. After a quick safety briefing from the leader, we were on our way down. As ever, the descent was glorious; more so since the recent resurfacing - no more potholes and loose slippery gravel to contend with. Big smiles all round suggested that everyone had enjoyed that. A short run along the main road and we were at our lunch stop. It was warm and sunny, so lunch was taken in the beer garden.

With everyone suitably replenished, we headed off towards Inveresk. A stretch of fast smooth off-road track and we were back beside the River Esk and the bridge carrying the East Coast main line. A footbridge got us across the Esk, through some housing estates on quiet roads and paths, and we were back at Musselburgh station. From there we headed back towards Edinburgh, retracing our route from earlier. But, by the Jewel, the leader led the group off in a different direction. Just to keep it interesting, we threaded through more back streets and headed towards Duddingston House. One final short off-road section, a run down the road and we re-joined the Innocent Railway to take us back to the Meadows. There the leader declared the ride officially over. Whilst it would have been good to have had an higher turnout, everyone seemed to enjoy their day. Most of the group had been to new places they hadn't been before, the weather had been kind to us, there had been a bit of drama - but nothing too serious. Overall - a good day's cycling. Everyone is welcome; there's no need to book - just turn up and have what should be an enjoyable day's cycling in good company. That's what the 20 Milers is all about. Finally, thanks to Alec for back marking for the first time.

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Sorry, none this time

Monday, 6 May 2019

Next ride this coming Saturday


Glenn will be leading our ride this coming Saturday (11th). We'll be heading east, taking in Musselburgh, Prestonpans, Tranent and Falside.

Please note that this ride will be a little longer and more difficult than our usual "second Saturday" outings. It will be about 26 miles, including a couple of steep hills and a few stretches on rough tracks. It should be perfectly do-able for most of us, but please keep this warning in mind.

Our lunch stop will be the Craig House hotel in Whitecraig. This is a Brewers Fayre pub, offering a basic menu of hot and cold dishes. The pub has a large garden, and there are also one or two places nearby suitable for those of us who prefer to bring our own food. Note that most of our mileage will be in the morning, with the lunch stop on the late side.

The meeting time and place are the same as always: 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but, given its length, it is likely to be a little later than usual.

More rides

We've now fixed the dates of our first two Extras of the summer. These will take place on 1st June and 29th June. I'll send you details of each of these events nearer the time.

The evening rides season has now started. CTC have a ride every Tuesday evening, while our own Jim Cameron has one every Thursday evening. See www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk for details. We have also pencilled in a ride for the evening of 21st June to coincide with the summer solstice.

Finally, please note that Lepra's annual Edinburgh to St Andrews ride will not take place this year. I don't have an further information about this. Lepra says that the event will return in 2020.