EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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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


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