20th Anniversary Year

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Thursday 31 December 2009

2nd January ride cancelled

The half-day ride that was scheduled for 2nd January 2010 has been cancelled. This is because of recent snow and sub-zero temperatures which are causing hazardous conditions on the local bike network. Sorry about that. All being well, the ride fixed for following Saturday (9th January) will go ahead as planned.

Saturday 12 December 2009

How to plan a route

Other people who lead our rides may have other solutions to this challenge, but I thought I would explain what I do.
I start with an idea - e.g. "we've not been to Musselburgh for a while" or "I'd like to go to that new Climbing Arena at Ratho".
This website here: www.bikehike.co.uk is an excellent place to start planning the route. You can see Ordnance Survey maps and Google maps (satellite view and normal map view), and there is also an overlay which shows lots of cycle paths (and footpaths) around the city. Click on the OSM cycle button to see what I mean. With the map zoomed out to see the whole area, one gets an idea for the broad plan for the route.
After going out with the group for nearly 3 years, I would also say that I am quite familiar with the "main" routes around the city - e.g. the Innocent cycle path route to the East, or Route 1 out towards South Queensferry, or the Canal / Water of Leith to the South, or the Roseburn Park/Corstorphine route to the West. So if I want to get outside the bypass on the ride, it's probably best to take one of these routes, at least in one direction, as they are easy to navigate and generally quiet.
I then work out some details: as far as possible I do this on the map; try to work out difficult junctions, or spot busy roads. Sometimes the StreetView on google maps is a great help for actually seeing what a road looks like (jogging my memory). Street View doesn't apply on paths though, so it's only of limited use. When I'm travelling around town at other times I keep my eye out for paths I haven't seen before - a bit of park, a cycle sign or some new area that's opened up. It's also important to remember that the best bike routes are ones that one can't see from a car or a bus.
The final planning stage is to to a recce - preferably not too long before the day of the group ride, as otherwise problems like road works or path closures can happen, resulting in detours. On the recce I try to follow the map route I've worked out, but also see if there is anything interesting I've missed that we could do instead. Sometimes, what looks great on the map is absolutely horrible in the real world - a steep hill, a ploughed field, a quagmire of a path. There have been times when I've torn the whole route up at that point and started again. Or decided to run the route anti-clockwise instead of clockwise, to avoid a steep climb or steps. So it's important not to leave the recce to the Very last minute, as this would mean there was no time to re-recce the new route.
The distance is important to consider - anything from 16 miles or so in the winter (short days, bad weather) to 25-ish in the summer is acceptable, as long as the route is interesting and - most importantly - there is a nice place for lunch around 12.30 - 1pm, that can cope with the arrival of 15-35 hungry cyclists all at once, with somewhere safe to lock up bikes and somewhere that people can also have picnics should they wish.
It has been known to have two routes prepared - for example in October when the forecast was unpredictable (potential high winds) Andrew had an alternative route planned that would stay within the city limits for shelter (and also this gives people the opportunity to give up and go home much more safely than if we were 10 miles away at the airport if the weather became uncyclable-in). In the event we didn't need it, but it can always be used for a future ride, once it's ready!

Next 2 rides

Merry Christmas to all 20-milers and look forward to seeing you VERY early in the New Year - next (short) ride is on the 2nd January at 10.30am, Middle Meadow Walk. This will be to North West Edinburgh, and will be around 10 miles, aiming to finish by 1pm. There will be NO lunch stop on this ride.

The normal 20-mile distance will resume on Saturday 9th January, at 10.30am, Middle Meadow Walk, as always. Destination to be confirmed.

We meet on the second Saturday of every month throughout the year; even if the weather looks horrible there will be someone there - only a couple of times have we called the ride off (torrential rain) and, like this month, we may adapt our route on the day to suit the conditions.

A foggy December ride

View Dec09 to Musselburgh in a larger map

The original plan was to go to South Queensferry, however the day dawned reluctantly with a thick fog, and associated perils of unobservant drivers. Our leader for the day, Veronica, sensibly decided to go for a route with more paths than roads and a shorter route to match the dim daylight hours. We headed to Musselburgh - more ambitious than our original plan which was to turn left at Brunstane and go straight to Portobello and have an early lunch or late 11-ses there and head home.

Fourteen of us set off from Middle Meadow Walk, foiled in our plan to leave on time for once by a puncture, and we still had 14 when we got to Musselburgh - good to see that no one got lost in the fog! Two of our number decided to go their own way after lunch, and set out to Prestonpans for a slightly longer ride. The rest of us headed back along the nearly-deserted Portobello Promenade (so we didn't feel too guilty about riding along the "no cycling" section - we self-justified it by deciding that what it really means is "no scaring pedestrians" - so we pootled along rather than trying to go faster.

December 2009 ride to Musselburgh
In all we had 3 punctures on the ride - sometimes one just has bad luck, and most people are now in the habit of bringing a spare inner tube (and hopefully are a bit better prepared than me in September - I brought an inner tube but it had the wrong size valve so was completely useless when I got a puncture! and in October I had the right kind of inner tube but when I inflated it the valve broke - completely useless and I had to borrow one instead. Lesson to self: don't get cheap tubes...)

Sunday 15 November 2009

December's ride

Our ride on December 12th will be a straightforward run out to South Queensferry, possibly returning via the Dalmeny Estate. As always, we'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 start. Like all our rides, this one is free and open to all.

November's Ride - A pleasant 22 miles to Balerno

Today's ride was a pleasant (but occasionally damp) run out to Balerno. Fourteen of us set out from the Meadows, taking the familiar Leamington Bridge / Fountainbridge route towards Roseburn, from where we followed the Water of Leith. At Gorgie Road, we took the path by Saughton Prison, then on via Hailes Park and Baberton Mains, rejoining the Water of Leith near Juniper Green.

Lunch for most of us was at the Grey Horse in Balerno, although a few preferred the hot soup and other fare on offer from the Farmers Market. The morning had been a mixture of light drizzle and weak sunshine, but on setting out after lunch we hit a heavy downpour -- fortunately only lasting ten minutes. After that, it was dry and sunny all the way.

The return route took us by Long Dalmahoy, Riccarton North Campus, Edinburgh Park and Corstorphine. We split up at Roseburn, 22 miles from the start point.

View Nov09 to Balerno in a larger map

Saturday 10 October 2009

November's ride

The next ride will be on Saturday 14th November.

This month's ride
For this month's jaunt, Jenny Meek will be taking us out to the Balerno area. The total distance will be about 22 miles, which we'll take at our usual easy pace. From what I can see of the route, there are no particularly difficult hills to worry about, and much of it will be away from traffic. Jenny has also promised us an excellent pub for our lunch stop; those of you who prefer al fresco dining are welcome to bring a picnic.
The details
We'll meet -- as always -- at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10.30 start. The ride is free, open to all, and does not require advance booking.
But do please make sure your bike is in good condition, and don't forget to bring front and back lights. Although the ride should finish well before dark, there's always a risk of delay. It would also be helpful if you could bring a spare inner tube of the right size for your bike. If a puncture strikes, having a spare tube could make the difference between a short delay and a long one.

October's ride to Craigie Farm - Cranes, Trains and Planes

Today we had 22 people on our ride. We were anticipating some not-particularly-nice weather (the forecast had been for rain) but after a chilly, damp, misty start it turned out very nice for most of the ride. The wind was gentle and we had plenty of sun. Perfect cycling weather.

View 20Milers Oct09 in a larger map
Our route today headed out through Roseburn Park, Balgreen and Corstorphine, then through South Gyle and a very quiet Edinburgh Park (I imagine that it must be very busy on a weekday - at the weekends it is dead!) with a pretty section beside the small burn that runs through the site. We then headed under the Bypass on an excellent secret path beside the burn and out beside a crane yard on the Gogar Station Road. From there we turned North and headed over the RBS bridge over the A8, then turned East briefly and then back out towards the Freight section of the airport (so we could watch planes land while we ate some jelly babies kindly provided by today's route leader Andrew). A more undulating section followed (that's code word for "hilly") as we made our way to our lunch stop at Craigie Farm where there is a deli and cafe and picnic benches.

After lunch, which was quite late today at 2/3 of the way round the route, we had a straightforward run back into town along Route 1, saying goodbye to people as they headed home until only about 5 of us were left at the Leamington Lift Bridge where the ride was declared officially Over.

Monday 21 September 2009

Pedal for Scotland

Several 20-milers were spotted outside their home territory last Sunday (13th) on the annual Pedal for Scotland bike ride. I counted 6 that I know of, but I'm sure that there were more.

If anyone is interested in attempting it next year then I'd say - give it a go! What impressed me most was not the whooshy roadies who were half way back while I was only half way there, but the number of leisure cyclists on cheap bikes, without any special kit or maybe even not much practice, who were out there having a good time. A lot of people got off when going up hills, and lots of people stopped for a breather and a chat. I would recommend an early start however, as from experience the cakes ran out before the tail-enders arrived! And there were big queues at Victoria Park to get buses over to Glasgow. Happy pedalling!

Saturday 12 September 2009

October's ride

The next ride will be on Saturday 10th October (we always meet on the 2nd Saturday of the month) and will be to the West of the city. The final route is still to be confirmed but we will probably be having lunch in a farm cafe, or bring a picnic.

Update: If the weather is not windy, we'll head out via Corstorphine and Edinburgh Park, to Gogarburn, the airport, Cammo and lunch at Craigie Farm, then back in through Barnton and Roseburn - about 22 miles.
However the weather forecast has been a bit pessimistic, so if it turns out to be really windy or wet then we'll do an alternative (shorter and more sheltered) route within the city limits - Grange / Craiglochart, Water of Leith, Roseburn, Inverleith, lunch around Canonmills, Leith, Lochend and Holyrood Park - about 18 miles.

Hope to see you on the day whatever the weather!

September's ride to Musselburgh

We had 22 people today and some gorgeous sunshine (is it churlish to wish that it wasn't quite so hot?!) and we headed out to Musselburgh.

View Musselburgh Sep09 in a larger map

We had only one puncture - mine, quite near the beginning - and one chain fell off. We lost someone for a couple of miles but they turned up at lunchtime. Several people had picnics beside the river which was a very good choice. On the way back to the centre we detoured off Route 1 and headed down to Fort Kinnaird. This was a new route for most people and we had a nice view over the city while we ate not-quite-homemade brownies. The spare ones at the end of the ride got donated to Edinburgh Bike Co-op staff who I always find to be very helpful. I am assured that they will be much appreciated.

Mike's photos of the ride in his Flickr album "20milers" here: LINK

Saturday 8 August 2009

September's ride

Next month's ride will be to Musselburgh, via Leith Links and Portobello, and back by Fort Kinnaird and Route 1. I will be leading the ride, with the intention of going quite gently so that I don't tire myself out for the Pedal for Scotland ride the next day!

Hope to see you there.

August's ride to South Queensferry

We have been reasonably lucky with the weather in recent months, and today turned out really nice, despite some early forecasts of rain in the afternoon.

20 20-milers turned out for the ride today - which given the holiday season and the warm weather was a very good show. We repeated the route (more or less) to South Queensferry from July 2008. This time the good weather meant that most people had a picnic on the steps looking down at the beach with a view to the Forth Bridge. We had a nice view of Edinburgh's entry into the round the world clipper race, "Edinburgh Inspiring Capital" which was making its way from Port Edgar to the Port of Leith for its naming ceremony.

View 20Milers August 09 in a larger map
No photos today as my camera battery died at the first stopping point!

Thursday 30 July 2009

August's ride

The next ride will be on Saturday 8th August. Mike Lewis will be leading us out to South Queensferry and Dalmeny, with a total distance of about 22 miles. The route includes a short stretch of rough track where it might be necessary to dismount and push. There will be a choice of a cafe or pub for lunch, or bring your own food if you prefer.
10.30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk (junction of Lauriston Place).
Cost and booking:
Free; just turn up.

Sunday 12 July 2009

28miles to Ratho

View 20-ish-milers to Ratho in a larger map

With just about our largest group ever (30+) we were led by Alan on a longer than normal ride to Ratho, via Balerno and back via Currie (see the map above). We had gorgeous summer weather - warm and sunny, without much wind, and even the power cut at the Bridge Inn (which meant that we diverted to the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena for lunch about half a mile away - apart from those with picnics who just went there for a cake) didn't cause any upsets. We had a couple of punctures but when one can stand around and chat and look at the view over the Forth Valley while it's being fixed, they weren't much of a hardship. Even with the longer route we still made it back into town before the shops shut (4pm), although some people took a shorter option and went home direct along the canal after lunch. When I was pedalling slowly up the long hill into Currie I half-wished that I'd taken that option too! We had some lovely long downhill stretches to balance the ups though - my top speed was 32.7mph at one point - luckily there were no speed cameras nearby.

July 2009 to EICA, Ratho

Monday 22 June 2009

July's ride

Today's route will explore some interesting bike paths in the Balerno, Ratho and Riccarton areas, with lunch at the Bridge Inn, Ratho, or a canal-side picnic spot. At 24 miles, this will be slightly longer than normal, but will be taken at the usual gentle pace.
Meet: 10.30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk (junction of Lauriston Place).
Cost and booking:
Free; just turn up.
Further information:
Mike Lewis (0131 343 2520) or Livia Dyckhoff (0131 554 0577), or email (See side panel)

Sunday 14 June 2009

West and South Edinburgh Tour: 13th June

One of the aims of the 20-Milers is to show you some of the lesser-known cycle routes throughout the city. This month's ride was no exception. Chris Pearson led us on a fascinating tour of west and south Edinburgh, using paths that were new to even our regular riders, and featuring four particular points of interest along the way.

Eighteen of us set off from the Meadows in bright sunshine, heading to the Leamington Bridge, Telfer Subway and Roseburn Park. We cycled westward along the Corstorphine railway path, where we had the only puncture of the day - speedily remedied, thank to Neil. In Dovecote Road, we paused to admire the 16th Century doocot, the first of the promised points of interest. The doocot is the only visible remnant of Corstorphine Caste, built in the 14th Century by the Forrester family.

Our next stop was Edinburgh Park, where we encountered "Einstein's feet", the second of the points of interest. This turned out to be the magnificent Paolozzi sculpture depicting two recumbent feet; the feet don't belong to Einstein, but the structure does sport a quotation by the great man: "Knowledge is wonderful, but imagination is even better ".

Edinburgh Park also offered us interest point no. 3: a series of herms. No, I didn't know what a herm was either, but I do now. It's a statue of a person's head (originally of the Greek god, Hermes) mounted on a square, tapering pillar, the overall shape suggesting that of the human body. We found several of these on Lochside Way, all commemorating Scots poets.

On leaving the park, we reached the canal towpath at Hermiston. After a pause to note the last of the four points of interest - a wooden sculpture of a pair of otters, one of several similar sculptures on the towpath - we cycled eastward, leaving the canal at the Lanark Road footbridge. In Colinton Dell, the rain arrived and we stopped to don waterproofs. We left the Dell at Redhall House Drive, then continued along an ingenious combination of roads and paths which eventually took us across Comiston Road and into Mortonhall.

For our lunch break, we sat at the tables outside the Stables Bar, this being carefully timed to coincide with another sunny spell. But as we were preparing to leave, the clouds were gathering again. Several riders from the Liberton and Gracemount areas wisely decided to go straight home. By now it was quite late, so the rest of decided to head straight back to the city. We shot down Liberton Brae and Mayfield Road, reaching the Meadows in about half an hour, in heavy rain. Total distance for the day was 19 miles.

View Mortonhall.kml in a larger map

Monday 1 June 2009

Ride on Saturday June 13

June's ride will offer a chance to explore some lesser-known bike routes in the south and west of the city, with a late-ish lunch stop at a cafe (or picnic spot for those who prefer to bring their own food).

Meet: 10.30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk (junction of Lauriston Place).
Cost and booking:
Free; just turn up.
Further information: Mike Lewis (0131 343 2520) or Livia Dyckhoff (0131 554 0577)

Saturday 9 May 2009

To Dalkeith on 9th May

View To Dalkeith May 09 in a larger map
22 people turned up today - a good show, considering that the forecast was for rain, and that there was a fair amount of wind.

Even with this largeish group, we kept up a brisk 20-milers pace of about 9 mph, because we were mostly on cycle paths, meaning that we don't have to pause to wait for people after junctions. Also the route was reasonably flat so we could maintain this pace for a while.

We headed out to the East, to Musselburgh along Route 1, then South along the Esk to Whitecraigs, and then along the old railway line to Dalkeith High School. There's a short section of fairly busy road heading into Dalkeith centre, and then we turned right into the Country Park. We avoided paying for entry as we weren't there to use the facilities or wander in the woodlands, we were just using it as a through-route and were going to buy lunch in the cafe (I don't think that they knew what hit them when 22 hungry cyclists turned up - the chef must have rolled his sleeves up and got down to it though as we had a swift service and everyone seemed to enjoy their lunch. We sat outside at the picnic tables. A bold strategy perhaps given the intermittent rain we'd been having, but we were mostly lucky and the rain held off for most of lunch time (and then we moved under an umbrella).

A few photos:
To Dalkeith May 2009

We had asked the ranger if we could get out of the back gate of the estate, which he kindly agreed to, and drove ahead of us to open it for us. From there it was a short ride back to Route 1 in Musselburgh, then back along the Innocent Railway (in a downpour). For once, most people opted for the tunnel route, as the wind was favourable. And also it was dry in there!

Next ride will be Saturday 13th June at 10.30am as usual. Chris will be leading us to the South of the city, with lunch in the Mortonhall area. More details nearer the time.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Saturday 9th May - to Dalkeith

Our destination this month will be Dalkeith Country Park. This is a very pleasant route, along the River Esk Walkway and the Dalkeith Railway Path. It'll be a straightforward 22-mile round trip, with no serious hills to challenge us, and mainly traffic-free. As usual, we'll go at a gentle pace, with plenty of time for stragglers to catch up.

Our lunch break will be at the Stables Cafe in the Country Park. They do a good range of sandwiches, soups and other snacks, with indoor seating if it's cold, and seats outside for those who prefer to bring their own food.

As always, we'll meet at the top (north end) of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10.30 start. We'll aim to get back to town mid afternoon. Remember, all our rides are free, and you're welcome to bring your pals.

If you can't make it on Saturday, there are plenty more rides coming up. The website (www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk) has a fully up-to-date list, currently showing around 20 events for the coming weeks.

Finally, look out for the current issue of Scottish Cyclist magazine, which is on sale in most bike shops. They have given our group a very good write-up (you might recognise some of the folk in the photo).


Saturday 11 April 2009

To the edge of the Pentlands

11th April. Another excellent ride: a delightful route, good weather - and no punctures.

Twenty-four of us set out along the classic Union Canal / Water of Leith route to Colinton. We left the riverside path at West Mill Road, and headed west along Woodhall Road and the footpath to Blinkbonny. This is a useful path that had been closed for a while because of a building project; it's good to see it open again.

At the west end of Blinkbonny Road, we faced the serious work of the day - the long haul up Kirkgate. Everyone made it to the top, although a few folk decided to push rather than pedal. After that, there was a delightful stretch to the Harlaw House Visitor Centre, the Harlaw and Threipmuir reservoirs, and the long downhill into Balerno, where we stared back along the Water of Leith.

By now it was well after our usual lunch time, so we left the WoL at Juniper Green and headed for Miss Bentley's Tearoom and the Kinleith Arms (nice garden). We returned to the city via Woodhall Road, Colinton, Redford Road, Oxgangs, Comiston and the Grange - a fascinating route through little-known roads and paths.

Thanks to Jenny Meek for leading this run. Our next ride is 9th May, provisionally fixed for Dalkeith Country Park.

Photos on Flickr

Saturday 14 March 2009

Welcome March with Wintry Wind...

View Larger Map

Today's ride to Ratho Climbing Arena was totally dominated by the wind - on the way out (West) we were pedalling into what felt like a fresh gale, (and of course the outward route was the one with hills and wiggles and some mud) - and on the way back with the wind behind us we had big grins on our faces that we weren't having to cycle home, tired, into the wind. And it was flat (we came back along the canal which is a totally flat route from Ratho all the way to Tollcross). We did have sun for most of the day, and no rain, which were both very welcome (today's forecast earlier in the week had the wind PLUS a lot of rain).

21 riders set out - and nearly everyone made it to Ratho (although there was a small shortcut for a few who opted to go the final half mile along the canal rather than going the "back way" (i.e. muddy, puddley, gravelly track that goes up behind the climbing centre - with great views though!). We only had one puncture which was expertly fixed by our own Dr Bike, Neil, at the Leamington Lift Bridge.

Next month Jenny is leading us up to the Reservoirs behind Balerno, with lunch in Juniper Green. Apart from one big hill (which I intend to push my bike up!) it should be a nice route with some super views. Hope to see you there.

Saturday 14 February 2009

March's ride

In four weeks from today - Saturday 14th March - I'll be leading the group out on a wiggly route through Roseburn, Corstorphine, Edinburgh Park and Suntrap and ending up at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena just beyond Ratho, where there is a great cafe with a view of the climbing walls, then back on a Totally flat route back into town along the canal.

Normal start time (10.30) and place (TOP end of Middle Meadow Walk) - hope to see you there!


A Valentine's Day Ride

View Larger Map

Veronica led 21 cyclists on a straightforward run out to South Queensferry. We went all the way out there on Route 1 - generally good quality cycle path or on quiet roads. The final stretch down into South Queensferry is not a route I've done before: it's an old railway line and is very smooth and fast. Downhill all the way from Dalmeny of course!

We had a leisurely lunch before re-mustering for the return trip. Originally we intended to go back along the same route, but with a spirit of adventure Neil led us back through the Dalmeny estate - which has recently had route marks for Route 76 installed, which was a reassurance to us as we got to miscellaneous crossroads around the estate. There were some muddy stretches and a hill (which claimed a bike chain!) but overall was a great way to avoid the Big Hill back to Dalmeny.

We were very lucky with the weather - after a couple of weeks of ice and snow, we didn't have a drop of rain all day, and the ice and snow on the (uncleared, grr) cycle paths around Edinburgh are finally turning to slush or gone completely.

Monday 26 January 2009

February's Ride

February's ride (14th) will be a 20-mile run to South Queensferry via bike paths and quiet roads, with lunch in a cafe or pub. The ride should end around 15.00.
10.30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk (junction of Lauriston Place).
Cost and booking:
Free; just turn up.
Further information:
Mike Lewis (0131 343 2520) or Livia Dyckhoff (0131 554 0577), or email 20milers@gmail.com;

Saturday 10 January 2009

January's ride to Cramond

We had 14 people on this ride - who had obviously ignored the windy weather forecast and decided to brave the cold by wrapping up warm for the day's outing.
January 2009 Ride to Cramond
Alan led us to the Cramond Brig, then along the River Almond, where we bravely tackled a large set of steps (up and then down) to get us to our lunch stop at the Cramond Mill cafe. The owner had kindly opened early for us (forewarned that a load of hungry cyclists would be coming through for lunch) and we had some excellent homemade soup and bread, and filled rolls, cakes and hot drinks.

After lunch we did a short detour to the old Roman Fort at Cramond - I never knew that it was there before: it's interesting to find out new things about Edinburgh on these bike rides! We then headed East along the Cramond foreshore to Granton and then up through the Trinity tunnel and back (*) along the excellent North Edinburgh cycle path network back to the centre.

View Larger Map
(*) That's "we" in a 3rd person sort of sense as I ducked out at the 5 ways intersection near Trinity and headed home to Leith through Victoria Park - home by 2.30pm which is probably a record for me on a 20milers ride! Several others did the same though so I didn't feel too bad...