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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.


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.


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.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

How two became one

Every now and again something unexpected happens on one of our rides. Today was such a day. As would be expected, the first group set off first with today's leader at the helm. A few miles into the ride, the second group caught up when a puncture delayed them. The leader waved the group through and told them to carry on. As the day unfolded it became clear that this would be the order for the rest of the ride.

A light breeze and sunshine greeted the 37 riders that started today's ride. It was good to see quite a few new faces in amongst the familiar ones. It has been quite a while since we had such a large turn out. As a result, we split into two groups with the first group heading off ten minutes before the second. Via the familiar route taking in Bruntsfield Links, Leamington Bridge, the canal, Telfer subway and Gorgie Road, we arrived at the Russell Road zig-zags. Up them and we were on the Roseburn Path heading for Granton. The first group were delayed by a puncture near the Granton gasometer. The leader waved the others through and told them we would all meet up at lunch. From there we took Silverknowes prom to Cramond where we had a comfort and sweetie stop. On our way again, past Cramond Falls and up the stiff little climb that is School Brae to join Whitehouse Road. A right turn down Peggy's Mill Road before dropping down to join the River Almond Walkway. We made our customary stop at Cramond Brig before taking the off-road path beside the river. It was a bit rough and muddy in places, but everyone made it through without incident to Grotto Bridge. The run along Turnhouse Farm Road, beside the airport saw us battling into a strong headwind. The path beside Edinburgh Gateway station led us to the Gyle Shopping Centre car park. Once safely across that, we left the hustle and bustle of the Gyle behind to take Gogar Station Road to our lunch stop at Heriot Watt University. As ever, there was plenty of space for us in the cafeteria. The leader's group arrived some five riders short. They had missed a turning and had to retrace their steps. As a result, by the time they arrived, the first group were ready to leave.

Lunch over, we joined the canal and began heading back towards town. After a stretch beside the canal, we left it at Cutlins Road. Bankhead Drive, Broomhouse Drive and the path beside the tram line led us to the impressive old Jenner's Depository building. From there we took the Water of Leith path past Murrayfield and at the Russell Road zig zags the leader declared the ride officially over. Despite the mixing up of the groups, the puncture and the lost riders, the ride went well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Thanks to Jenny for leading us on an interesting [some may even say dramatic] ride. Was good the way she mixed up the route. Quite a few sections were familiar, but the way they were threaded together made things seem quite different. Also good to have a decent bit of off road in the mix.

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

Monday, 8 April 2019

Ride to Heriot-Watt on Saturday

This is to remind you of our ride this coming Saturday (13th April). We'll be heading to a familiar destination but by an unfamiliar - and interesting - route.

Jenny (Tizard) will be leading us on a tour of bike paths and quiet roads that involves the Granton waterfront, the River Almond walkway, the Cammo Estate and the road at the back of Edinburgh airport. We'll stop for lunch at the Heriot-Watt campus, then head back to town via the canal, Edinburgh Park and Murrayfield.

Our lunch stop will be in the university cafeteria. This is a very spacious eatery where we usually get served quickly and efficiently. There is usually at least one hot dish on offer, as well as soup, baked potatoes, sandwiches, etc. For those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch, there is no problem in eating this inside the cafeteria.

Note that most of the cycling will be in the morning, and the lunch stop will therefore be quite late. You might want to bring a bar of chocolate or piece of fruit to keep the hunger pangs at bay during the morning.

The total distance will be 24 miles. It will be reasonably flat, with just a few moderate hills. There will also be one or two stretches of rough paths that might be muddy.

As always, we'll gather at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

A new leader and a new route to Ratho

Today saw us head out to that old favourite, the Edinburgh International Climbing Centre at Ratho. Despite being a familiar location, today's rookie leader managed to weave in sections that were anything but familiar. The weather forecast suggested we were in for strong winds and frequent showers. Whilst it was windy, it was nothing like last month's ride which was severely curtailed as a result; and the showers came to nothing. The wind meant it was quite cool, but by way of compensation, the sun was shining for most of the ride. The Scotland v Wales rugby match at Murrayfield meant it was busy around there on the outward leg. But on the return leg, coming through just after kick off meant it was very quiet and we were able to enjoy the luxury of threading through roads closed to other traffic. Oh the joy of being on a bike when such things come together.

Despite the weather forecast, a very impressive 28 riders [including a smattering of new faces] mustered in the windy, but bright and sunny conditions for the rookie leader's comprehensive briefing. All pre-ride briefings have become more detailed of late; most of them containing the line, "just because the rider in front of you does something stupid, does not mean you have to". Let's hope that message is getting through. We left the meadows in one group and made our way to the canal at Leamington Bridge via Bruntsfield Links. After a very short stretch on the canal, we headed to Dalry Road via the bumps and the Telfer subway. From there we took Russell Road and headed towards Murrayfield. Around there we encountered heavier traffic than usual, both vehicles and pedestrians. There were also noticeably more Welsh accents to be heard than usual. Leaving the bustle of Murrayfield behind, we made our way to Gogar Station Road via the Water of Leith, Stenhouse, Saughton, Bankhead and Edinburgh Park to re-join the canal. Whilst a familiar route many of us are used to, we usually find ourselves on it heading back into, rather than away from town. The combination of a stiff head wind and several busy roads to cross resulted in the group becoming very spread out over this stretch. A regroup at Ratho Marina saw the whole group back together. Shortly after leaving the marina, the group was already stretching out again. A few of the group's wise old hands riding at the back, decided it would make sense to press on via the canal rather than follow the official route which was considerably longer. As a result, the small group at the back made it to lunch first, despite having to push/carry their bikes up the steps to get from the canal.

With everyone fed and watered we set off on our return leg. We were led through the car park and onto an unsurfaced path. This was new to most of us. The path took us alongside the M8. We re-joined the road on the edge of Ratho to make our way through Freelands, Ratho Byres and on towards Roddinglaw. Just as we thought we knew where we were, a left turn took us once again into uncharted territory before emerging onto Gogar Station Road. From there we went onto the site of the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ, took the bridge over the A8, whizzed down the other side and were soon riding along the cycle path beside Glasgow Road. Past the Gogar roundabout and Edinburgh Gateway station and we were mixing it with the Saturday afternoon traffic in the Gyle car park. Leaving the traffic behind, the cycle path led us to South Gyle station and onwards through Broomhouse to Murrayfield. Skirting the stadium was easy as we were there a few minutes after kick off and most of the fans were inside; we could hear them singing. We enjoyed the luxury of riding on closed roads just before the police reopened them to traffic. At the Russell Road zig-zags, the leader declared the ride over and the group dispersed. Some headed home, whilst others headed off for the customary post-ride coffee.

Thanks to Bill for leading us somewhere we are used to, but by a less familiar route on his first outing as leader. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ride and the weather was kinder to us than expected. Another good day. Now that we have the March ride behind us, would it be too much to ask for the weather to turn a little more spring-like ?

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

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Ratho this coming Saturday

For our ride this coming Saturday (9th), Bill will be leading us on what promises to be a pleasant run out to Ratho. We'll be heading out via Murrayfield, Balgreen and Hermiston, returning by way of Gogar and the Corstorphine railway path. The total distance will be about 24 miles, mostly on well-surfaced roads and paths but with one section that might be rough in places.

For our lunch break, we'll stop at the International Climbing Arena. There's a useful cafe there, offering splendid views of the climbing wall, as well as a large terrace with picnic tables.

We'll meet as usual at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time to leave at 10:30. We should be back at the Meadows around mid afternoon.

I hope to see you there.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Somewhere new to blow away the cobwebs

With the 20 Milers having been going for fifteen years, it is very easy  to think there is nowhere new left for us to visit. So it is always great when a leader manages to pull somewhere new out of the bag. That is exactly what Jim did today - leading us out to Covenanters Wood beside Dreghorn Barracks. It's a delightful little woodland with plenty of paths to explore and also has the remains of some historically significant First World War training trenches. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side. Strong winds forced a change to the planned route. The section from Covenanters Wood to Heriot Watt University (our intended lunch venue) would have been very open and exposed. In the interests of rider's safety, the decision was made to scrap that section and head to Colinton for lunch. This  resulted in a considerably shorter ride. But at least the ride went ahead safely.

Low turn outs are not uncommon in February, and  today's strong winds resulted in just eleven of us setting out from the Meadows. Via Bruntsfield Links and Whitehouse Loan we made our way to the back streets of Morningside. From there we rode through Braidburn Valley Park, skirted the edge of Colinton Mains Park and rode through the Redford estate to emerge on Redford Road. A short stretch on that busy road, which we carefully crossed and we entered Covenanters Wood. For the majority of the group, this was their first visit. The leader gave a brief talk introducing us to the wood and telling us a little about its history. Unsurfaced, but not too rough or muddy paths took us further into the woods. Another stop to look at the First World War training trenches. The old and the new were either side of the path; to our right were the training trenches, to the left a high fence topped with razor wire - beyond which lay Dreghorn Barracks. A pleasant off-road run saw us make a complete circuit of the woods. Back to the start and we set off on a second circuit. But this time we exited the woods part way round and made our way through a new housing estate. Dreghorn Loan led us to the traffic lights in Colinton village and to our lunch stop - the Colinton Inn. Another something new - a pub we had never visited before.

With the group fed and watered, we set off on our relatively short run back towards town. A ride along the busy Colinton Road, before turning off and meandering through the quiet back streets of Craiglockhart. We then joined the canal towpath which took us back to the Leamington Bridge. This stretch of the canal is so charming and delightful that it begs the question, "are we really in a city?" At the top of Leamington Terrace, the leader declared the ride officially over. Thanks to Jim for leading us to somewhere we hadn't been before, and finding a new lunch venue. It was definitely the right call to change the route to cut out that open and exposed section in the interests of safety. It did result in one of our shortest rides for quite some time. But a short, safer ride is still better than having to cancel.

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

Monday, 4 February 2019

Something different this Saturday

For our bike ride this Saturday (9th Feb), Jim has come up with something entirely new. We will be visiting the little-known Covenanters Wood in the south west of the city. I was surprised to learn that this ancient woodland is home to a rare group of giant redwood trees - something you associate more with California than Caledonia. There are also some archaeological excavations dating back to the two world wars and a couple of other sites of historical interest. Jim will no doubt be telling us the full story of these when we get there.

After that, we will continue westward on a more familiar route through Currie and Riccarton before heading back to town via Edinburgh Park and the Corstorphine railway path. The total distance will be about 21 miles. The route should be fairly easy apart from a few short climbs and a couple of rough stretches that might be a little muddy.

For lunch, we will stop at the Heriot-Watt campus. The café there serves a reasonable range of soup, baked potatoes, sandwiches and hot drinks. It also has plenty of indoor seating for those of us who prefer to bring our own food.

The meeting time and place are, as always, 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We should get back to the Meadows well before dark (sunset is at 17:00), but it might be wise to bring lights just in case, especially if you have some distance to travel after the ride. Needless to say, the ride is free and open to all, with no need to book.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

An ice-free season opener

Today's ride saw us head out to that old favourite, Craigie's Farm. It is usually a safe bet, even when there is a lot of  ice elsewhere. That's often an important factor, as for the last few years the first 20 Milers ride of the year seems to have been associated with cold and icy condition. Not so for the season opener of 2019. We were blessed with weather that was reasonably mild, if a touch breezy at times. There was some very light drizzle as we set off after lunch, but it was barely noticeable and came to nothing.

A turnout of 27 riders was impressive given the time of year. Clearly the unseasonably good weather played a part. As ever,  it was good to see some new faces in amongst the regulars. The decision was made to have just one group. We rode away from the Meadows and via Bruntsfield Links, Whitehouse Loan and the quiet backstreets of Morningside arrived at the busy Morningside Road by the clock. It took a while to get the whole group safely across the juction and onto Belhaven Terrace. The group pulled over to let an ambulance pass on Balcarres Street. We left the road behind and made our way through the woods to Craiglockhart Pond. Up a few steps and we were on Lockharton Avenue. We then joined the busy Colinton Road before turning right into Craiglockhart Road North, helped by a considerate motorist that let the whole group across in front of them. A combination of quiet roads and paths and we were on the canal towpath. We had a tight squeeze when the group had to pass three cyclists going in the opposite direction on the Slateford Aqueduct. We stayed beside the canal for quite a distance and the group became quite stretched out. This was when the decision was made to split into two groups. Something must have gone awry as we ended up with one group of twenty and another of just seven. We finally left the canal at Gogar Station Road and made our way to the Royal Bank of Scotland HQ. Across the bridge over the A8 and we were soon speeding down the bridge onto the cycle path beside the busy road. Just before Maybury Junction, we turned left onto Turnhouse Road. We often go a reasonable way along that road before turning off on the right. This time we followed the road as far as we could to the air cargo depot for Edinburgh Airport. We headed up Lennie Muir, which gave us good views of planes coming in to land at the airport. We turned off Cammo Road and onto a muddy track through the woods to emerge at Grotto Bridge where cakes were passed round. Leaving the River Almond behind, we made our way through the Craigiehall army housing and onto the road towards our lunch stop at Craigie's Farm. Up the stiff little climb and we were there.

Following a pleasant lunch, the two groups headed down the steep hill towards the A90. The last three riders saw a car coming up the hill quite fast and decided to pull right off the road for safety. Despite the riders being well out of the way and causing no obstruction, there was a very expensive sounding "clang" as the approaching BMW made contact with the kerb. The car continued up the hill and the group continued down, along the road and joined the path beside the A90. We followed this familiar path back to Cramond Brig; for once, failing to stop on the bridge. Through Barnton and Davidson's Mains to join NCN 1 and on to Craigleith. From there, the Roseburn Path, Dalry, Fountainbridge and we were back at the Meadows and the ride was officially over.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the ride. There were no mishaps and the weather had been much kinder to us than we had the right to expect in mid-January. Thanks to Alan for leading such a good ride.

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

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

First 2019 ride this coming Saturday

We've got our first ride of the new year coming up on Saturday (12th). Alan will be leading us on a circuit of bike paths and quiet roads in the west of the city, with a lunch stop at one of our more popular eating places, Craigie's Farm.

The route will be about 24 miles and will include a few short stretches on rough paths that might be muddy in places. There won't be a great deal of climbing, but there will be one fairly steep hill just before lunch. Most of the cycling will be in the morning, with a quick return to the Meadows in the afternoon. The ride should finish well before dark (sunset is at 16:06), but it would be wise to bring lights in case we get delayed or if you want to go for a post-ride coffee.

Craigie's Farm has both a cafe and a picnic area. The cafe does a good range of hot dishes, salads, sandwiches and the like.

We'll meet as always at 10:30 at our usual spot on Middle Meadow Walk.

A couple of points ....

Please keep in mind that the above information is provisional. The meeting place and time are fixed, but with all our rides we reserve the right to change the route or destination at short notice, depending on conditions on the day. This doesn't happen very often, but we might need to do it, for example if some of the paths are icy or if particularly bad weather is expected later in the day.

Also, please remember to carry a spare inner tube if at all possible. We can't guarantee you won't get a puncture, but if you do, having a spare tube will make it much easier to get back on the road. If you're not sure what size or type of tube you need, ask at your local bike shop.

Remember, you don't need to reply to this post or let anyone know that you are coming. If you plan to join us, just turn up on the day.