Saturday, 29 June 2019
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.
Map trace: David
Wednesday, 26 June 2019
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
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
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
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.
Map trace: Jim
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
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.
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
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.
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.