20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 11 June 2022

A Dalkeith Debut

For today's ride, we followed a well-worn route to a familiar destination. But the day was not without incident. It was characterised by a fierce wind that always seemed to be blowing in the wrong direction, and a potentially dangerous situation involving drawing pins, of which more later.

As we assembled at our meeting point, we became aware that something big was happening on the Meadows. That "something" turned out to be a huge gathering for an Orange Order parade involving 35 marching bands. It was later to occupy the whole of Middle Meadow Walk, not to mention completely clogging up Forrest Road and George IV Bridge  (according to a later press report). Fortunately, it didn't really get started until later in the morning, so we weren't greatly affected by it.

Our leader today was Alison, making her debut as a ride leader. Seventeen riders turned up, including a couple of new faces and a few older ones that we hadn't seen for a while. At this point, the day was dry and reasonably sunny, but very windy and with heavy showers forecast for later.

After Alison briefed us on the route and the lunch arrangements, we set off towards the Innocent Tunnel and the familiar NCN route via Brunstane and Newcraighall. All was going well until we were approaching Musselburgh Station, at which point the cry "Puncture!" was heard. For reasons too technical to go into, and despite sterling efforts by Alan and others, the puncture turned out to be unusually difficult to deal with. It was a good 20 minutes before we could continue. But with tasty home-made cakes being distributed while we waited, the time went quickly.

It transpired that the puncture was caused by no fewer than three drawing pins that had become embedded in the victim's front tyre. We later heard that there had been reports of drawing pins being scattered on various bike paths around Edinburgh, including one particularly nasty case in the Barnton area. It's not clear whether this was the result of carelessness on someone's part or (more likely) a deliberate act of mindless vandalism by some idiot with a grudge against cyclists. Either way, it was clearly very dangerous. Fortunately for us, the punctured tyre was the only casualty, but it could have been worse.

Once the puncture was dealt with, we set out again, heading now for the River Esk path, Whitecraig and the railway path to Dalkeith. It was on that path that we hit the first of the day's heavy showers. This continued as we skirted Dalkeith town centre and reached our lunch stop in the King's Park. With the rain now easing off, most of the group opted for a picnic in the park, but a few headed for the comfort of the café in the nearby supermarket.

Lunch over, and with the sun shining again, Alison led us on a twisty route through the woods to the south of the King's Park, emerging just east of the town centre. We then doubled back along a main road before turning into Dalkeith Country Park. We continued northwards through the park – no problem with the locked gate that had caused some difficulty for us on a previous visit here – before reaching Whitecraig. The wind was much stronger and very much in our face as we now retraced our earlier route back to Edinburgh via NCN 1.

As we approached the scene of the morning's puncture, Graham volunteered to ride ahead in search of any remaining drawing pins. He managed to find around 20 of the offending objects, which he dutifully removed from the path. Good work.

On the last section of the Innocent Path, we were hit by another sudden shower. This was heavy but short, and had cleared up by the time we reached the Meadows a few minutes later. Despite the wind, the rain and the other incidents, it was a very pleasant ride, at a comfortable pace and with a good lunch stop – and a successful debut for our leader.

Leader: Alison

Report and photos: Mike

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