20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 14 December 2019

Far from the madding [Christmas] crowds

For the final standard 20 Milers ride of the year, we headed out to the Heriot Watt University campus at Riccarton. We can usually guarantee a good lunch there and it isn't somewhere that becomes crazily busy in the run-up to Christmas. We have been there several times this year, but always via a different route. With the exception of the first section getting away from the Meadows, today's route followed that from February's ride taking us into Covenanters Wood beside Dreghorn Barracks. On that ocassion the ride had to be curtailed due to very strong winds and we didn't make it as far as Heriot Watt.

Today's weather forecast was for low single figure (degrees C) temperatures, showers and the possibility of strong gusty winds by the afternoon. Fortunately, the gusty winds held off until the ride was over. That and the fact that Christmas is just around the corner could have led to a very low turnout. So to get fifteen starters was quite impressive including two first-timers. Following the customary briefing from the leader, we headed away from the Meadows by a distinctly unfamiliar route through Marchmont, the Grange, the foot of Blackford Hill and Cluny Gardens. From there we climbed the hill of Midmar Avenue and Midmar Drive past the large impressive houses. Along Hermitage Drive and Braidburn Terrace saw us back to familiar territory heading through Braidburn Valley Park and the route past Colinton Mains Park to arrive at the entrance to the woodland known as Covenanters Wood or Dreghorn Woods. The plan had been to take the path that wound through the Giant sequoia trees, but a quick inspection by the leader suggested that path was waterlogged.
Instead we took the drier path that ran beside the razor wire fence seperating the woods from Dreghorn Barracks and past the remains of the First World War training trenches. Prior to exiting the woods, we stopped for a few minutes as cakes and sweets were passed around. Via the back streets of Bonaly and Colinton, we made our way onto the muddy Water of Leith path. It was on this path that we pulled to one side as a group of a dozen horses came past from the opposite direction. It must have been a Christmas-themed ride as most of the horses were wearing tinsel and antlers. Leaving the path, a short steep climb took us up to Lanark Road West. Across there and the back streets of Currie led us past Curriehall station and into the Heriot Watt campus for our lunch stop. The cafe there was busier than usual which meant they had run out of some choices, much to the dismay of some on the group. After all, the 20 Milers is renowned for cycling on its stomach.

Despite the slight hiccup, everyone got some lunch and we were ready to head off again. The showers continued and the wind speed was beginning to rise, but nothing too serious and we were now on the homeward leg. The route home was more familiar than the one out - Edinburgh Park, South Gyle station via The Gyle Park, through Broomhouse and Carrick Knowe to Murrayfield. From there we made our way back towards town via Roseburn Park, Russell Road, the Telfer subway, Fountain Park and the canal. At the Leamington Bridge, the leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting ride with a good mix of familiar and less familiar route sections. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride, we survived the minor hiccup at lunch and the weather had been better than expected. Finally, thanks to Yaz for doing a great job of back marking for the second time this year. If the phrase,  "final standard 20 Milers ride of the year" confused anyone, don't forget the final ride of 2019 will be the half day one on Christmas Day.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

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