20th Anniversary Year

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Thursday 25 December 2014

And Santa came too

The 20 Milers annual Christmas Day short ride continues to go from strength to strength. No doubt helped by favourable weather and no sign of the forecasted frost; 25 riders turned up at the start. Michael arrived dressed as Santa which was a great hit with children and adults alike along the route. Usually we would have split into two groups. But as leader Mike was the only one that really knew the route (and because he was making some of it up as he went along) we remained as one group with a leader, mid-marker and back marker. We set off and made our first stop to admire the view from the Castle Esplanade which was crowded with tourists. We made our way round the back of the Usher Hall, across Lothian Road, behind the Sheraton Hotel and beside the canal to Leamington Bridge.

We meandered around quiet backstreets and paths to make our first of two visits to Dean Village. From there we made our way to Princes Street where we had an unfortunate "rider down" incident on the wet and slippery tram tracks. Our mid-marker picked himself up with fortunately nothing more than bumps and bruises. As he sits writing this report in the evening, he feels a bit sore but doesn't expect any lasting damage. Damned tram tracks!

We carried on and climbed up Calton Hill to be met by bright sunshine, glorious views over Edinburgh and throngs of tourists. This was also our refreshment stop. As is now the norm on these Christmas Day rides; many riders had brought cake, sweets, hot drinks, mince pies and mulled wine to sustain us for the remainder of the ride.

As we walked down the steps off Calton Hill the first riders began to head home. Others peeled off as they got close to home. With the numbers depleting we headed back to Stockbridge via McDonald Road, St Marks Park and Dean Village again.

Another successful Christmas Day ride came to an end with us all heading home. Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting and enjoyable ride. Thanks to those that kept us sustained with Christmas food and drink. It was good to see so many new faces; many of whom we hope will join us on our monthly rides next year. Was also good to see a number of regular CTC riders join us.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn, Mike and Yaz

Friday 19 December 2014

Half-day ride planned for Christmas morning

We've got a ride planned for the morning of 25th December (Christmas day). This will be a short run, taken at our usual easy, sociable pace.

One of the nice things about Christmas day in Edinburgh is that the city is relatively free of traffic. We'll take advantage of that to visit parts of the city centre that we might prefer to avoid at other times.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10.30 start. The ride will finish no later than 13.00, in or near the West End. Note that there will be no café or lunch stop.

For those who can't make it on Thursday, our next normal monthly ride will be on 10th January.

Saturday 13 December 2014

Ice and easy does it

Following a week which gave us the worst weather so far this winter and the threat of icy conditions under-wheel, it wasn't surprising that only 13 riders turned up at the start of today's ride. Several of our regulars decided not to risk it. Maybe the memory of the ill-fated January ride that had to be curtailed due to lethal black ice was still fresh in their memories.

For the first time in a while there was no need to split into two groups as we headed towards the Innocent Railway via the path across the Meadows which was freshly gritted. We went through Craigmillar Castle Park where the mud wasn't too bad due to the frozen ground. On past the Royal Infirmary, through Moredun and into Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park. At this point we stopped for our customary sweetie stop. Upping the stakes from the usual passing round of Jelly Babies, Andy opened a flask and passed round a quaiche of mulled wine which was greatly appreciated on such a cold day. Our sweetie stops may have changed forever! The conditions under-wheel were now quite treacherous with sheet ice often stretching across the width of the path. The only consolation being that we could actually see the ice; therefore much better than the black variety. Crossing a particularly dodgy bit, one rider was heard to say, "I want my mum!" Brave souls these 20 Milers! We made it safely to our lunch stop where the group split between the Mortonhall Garden Centre cafe and the Stables Bar.
With everyone fed, watered and warmed up, disaster struck! One of our group had securely locked his bike only to realise that the key was still at home. As several members of the group set about breaking the lock, others stood around getting cold whilst some were less than helpful asking "does anyone have a hand grenade?" Just as it looked as if the rider and his bike may have to be abandoned, the skilful wielding of a large rock solved the problem. More trying to ride on treacherous ice covered paths / walking followed as we made our way to Braid Hills. From there we rode back into town via the Astley Ainsley Hospital, mainly on ice-free roads. Prior to finishing the ride, Andy gave us a brief history lesson about the Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women and Children which used to stand on Whitehouse Loan. We may have had a few hairy moments, but we did get back safely with no injuries or fallers.

Leader: Andy
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Map: Jim

Thursday 11 December 2014

December Rides

For our usual monthly ride this coming Saturday (13th), Andy will be leading us on what looks like an interesting tour of bike paths in the south of the city. In deference to the short days, this ride will be slightly less than our usual 20 miles, and should present no difficulties. Our lunch stop will be at Mortonhall.

We'll meet, as always, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure. Keep in mind that it gets dark around 4 pm, so you'll almost certainly need to bring lights. The weather forecast looks cold and damp or snowy, so bring warm layers and a spare set of gloves. If the ground is icy then we may need to shorten or call off the ride.

Extra Bonus Christmas Day ride!
Our second outing this month will be our traditional Christmas morning run. This will be a short ride, mainly around the city centre, finishing no later than 1 pm. More details nearer the time. 

Saturday 8 November 2014

Northern reaches of the city

When our leader, David planned the route for the November ride he expected bad weather. As a result of this and due to the earlier arrival of darkness at this time of year, he settled for a shorter and easier route of just 18 miles. A drier and milder day than anticipated resulted in 33 riders turning up - a record turnout for 2014.

As is now the norm, we split into two groups; the second giving the first a five minute start. We rode through the Meadows to join the canal at Leamington Bridge and on towards Harrison Park where we left the canal and headed through the back streets to join the Roseburn Path. From there we headed to Silverknowes and into the grounds of Lauriston Castle stopping to visit the Japanese Garden. After admiring the lovely autumn colours and partaking in toffees we headed to Muirhouse before looping back along Marine Drive to join the Silverknowes Esplanade.
At this point the ride became very technical and we all had to engage our brains. We tried to see how accurate our bicycle odometers were against a known 1 km marked course, in this case the 1-2 km of Edinburgh Park Run along the promenade at Silverknowes. This course has been measured accurately using a bicycle and Jones Counter that had been calibrated along the 1 km measured straight at Meadowbank. Starting at the 1 km mark we cycled 0.62 miles and then stopped. All of us were short of the kilometre marker not surprisingly with the rounding that we had to do, but the variation between us was almost 30 metres. All of the cycle computers are measuring as idealised circumference for the wheel, but the actual circumference will vary because of tyre pressures and our own centre of balance on the bike (do we lean forward a lot onto the handle bars or sit back on the seat more). The main factor though is that we do not cycle in a straight line, we weave about and never really take the shortest possible route cutting all of the corners and all of these things add up.
After so much concentration and thinking we were all ready for lunch. Following a stop to repair a puncture as we got to the end of the Esplanade, we pressed on through Granton and on to Stockbridge via the Trinity and Goldenacre paths. From there we made our way to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art for our lunch stop. We enjoyed a very nice and most welcome [late] lunch. Many of the group were brave enough to sit outside whilst a few opted for the warmth and comfort and sat inside. Suitably replenished we set off back to the start via the familiar Roseburn path route. Many riders peeled off and headed for home with a small group returning to the Meadows for a post-ride coffee.

The rain had stayed off for the ride; but it came later and made the ride home for the final few quite unpleasant. Thanks to David for leading us on an interesting ride with the technical bit in the middle. Unless we get an unbelievably high turnout for the December ride, he will have the kudos of leading the largest ride in this, the 20 Milers tenth anniversary year.

Leader: David
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Map: Mike

Monday 3 November 2014

November ride this coming Saturday

For Saturday's run (8th November), David will be leading us on an interesting tour of the northern reaches of the city, taking in Dean Village, the Kyoto Peace Garden at Lauriston Castle, and the Silverknowes Esplanade. A special attraction will be a chance for us to calibrate our bike computers against a measured kilometre. Lunch will be at the Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road, where there is a nice café and plenty of room for picnickers.

The route looks reasonably straightforward, apart from a couple of short stretches on busy main roads. For the most part, the paths are well-surfaced, and there will be no killer hills. The total distance will be about 19 miles.

Note that we'll be covering most of the route in the morning, which means that the lunch break will be later than usual. The afternoon leg back to the Meadows will be quite short.

Saturday 11 October 2014

The leading ladies ride to Cramond

On a lovely autumnal morning it looked as if we were going to have less riders on the actual ride than had been on the recce. Having gathered together late comers (including a few that joined after we had set off) we eventually had 24 riders. We split into the now obligitory two groups. Somehow the split went awry with one group of 7 and the other of 17.

Today the ladies were in charge (what's new there then? I hear you ask). Claire was the leader supported by second group leader Julia and backmarkers Verity and Yaz.

We headed to the canal at Leamington Bridge, down the bumps to the Telfer subway and through Roseburn Park and into the unfamiliar maze of back streets around Carrick Knowe. It was here that we had to stop whilst a puncture was fixed. Via Maybury junction, Turnhouse Road, Cammo Walk and Whitehouse Road we arrived at Cramond for lunch. Here the group split in three. Two groups went to cafes at Cramond waterfront and Silverknowes Esplanade, whilst the picnicers sat in the warm sunshine on the waterfront. There was a moment when the picnicers and their bikes almost got knocked into the river by a reversing car pulling a yacht on a trailer.

The sky turned grey and it looked like rain as we got back into our two groups ready to set off after lunch. Fortunately the rain never came and we headed back to the start via Silverknowes Esplanade, the Telford path, Dalry Road, Telfer subway and Leamington Bridge in pleasant sunshine.

Another successful ride enjoyed by all and expertly led by the ladies. The maze of back streets around Carrick Knowe were unfamiliar to many. Well done to Claire for leading us through them.

Leader: Claire
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Map: Jim

View 20-milers to Cammo 11 Oct 2014 in a larger map

Thursday 9 October 2014

Next ride - Sat 11th October

Just a quick reminder about our ride this coming Saturday (11th October). Claire will be leading us on a tour of bike paths and quiet roads in the north and west of the city. There will be a few hills, but nothing too onerous.

For lunch, we'll aim for the Cramond / Silverknowes waterfront area. Unfortunately, this area is not well served by cafés - at least, not for a group of 30 - 40 hungry cyclists. For that reason, I encourage you to bring a picnic lunch this time. It should be possible to buy a hot drink and perhaps a light take-away snack, but it would be better not to rely on getting anything more substantial.

As always, we'll gather at the top of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure. We should be back in town between about 3 and 4 pm.

Saturday 4 October 2014

Last Extra ride of the year to Aberdour

The last 20 Miler Extra of the year saw nine of our regulars show up in the pouring rain for a ride over the bridge to Aberdour, three of the riders even braved the weather in their shorts. The rain was short lived and was off by the time we had stopped at the bridge for an energy boosting toffee.

Our route to the bridge had taken us along NCN 1 by the A90, the wide smooth path. without tree roots. showed that the work done on this section of the path over the summer was worth it. We all managed to clean our bikes in a huge puddle just outside Dalmeny. Despite the amount of water in the puddle, it was gone by the time we returned.

Once over the bridge our leader, Julia, proved how useful a recce can be as she led us unerringly through Dalgety Bay including sections on unsignposted paths and along the shore of the Forth towards our lunch stop on the sea front in Aberdour. There, bathed in sunlight from a clear blue sky, with views over a very calm Firth of Forth towards Edinburgh, we all enjoyed a fantastic lunch at the "Sands, A Place by the Sea". The staff were very welcoming and the food was enjoyed by all. They will be open between 10 and 5, seven days a week all through the winter for anyone that could not make our ride today but fancies visiting the Kingdom of Fife.

We returned to Edinburgh by the same route as we went out, though it did seem a little slower, probably because of the large lunch we had all partaken.

Thanks to Julia for leading us on a lovely route.

Leader: Julia
Report: David and Glenn
Photos: Michael

Tuesday 30 September 2014

20milers Extra - 4 October

For this ride, we'll be meeting at our alternative start point: the Sustrans marker at the three-way junction of the Roseburn, Blackhall and Telford paths in Craigleith (near the Sainsbury's petrol station in S. Groathill Avenue). We'll set out at 10.00 (half an hour earlier than usual) and aim to get back by around 16.00.

Keep in mind that these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual runs. The total distance this time will be 30 - 35 miles. Most of the route will be on quiet roads or well-surfaced paths, but there might also be a couple of stretches on rough tracks.

For lunch, we'll aim for the Silver Sands beach at Aberdour. Bring food for a picnic, or pick up a sandwich at the beach café.
Meeting point here:
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Saturday 20 September 2014


To celebrate our tenth birthday, many of our regular riders - including several who have been with us since our early days - met today for lunch at the Cramond Falls café.

Saturday 13 September 2014

September ride to the EICA

We've had some terrific weather for our rides this summer, and this one was no exception: a real T-shirt and shorts day. Not surprisingly, we had high turnout, with about 26 riders turning up at Middle Meadow Walk. Unfortunately, ten thousand or so other folk had a similar idea. Apparently, the Orange Order had chosen this same spot for the start of their big parade.

With the Meadows seething with humanity, we started discussing alternative routes for our departure. Then the police arrived and asked us to immediately vacate the little corner that we were occupying. We hastily split into two groups. Peter Bennet led the first contingent, who struck out along Lauriston Place, Lauriston Gardens and Bruntsfield Links. The second group, under the leadership of Alan Orr, was delayed slightly be a puncture, but then followed the same route.

Once clear of the Meadows, progress was much smoother. We headed down Whitehouse Loan, across Morningside Road, along Balcarres Street, and through the delightful Craiglockhart Wood. At Allan Park, we joined the canal towpath, which we followed for four miles to Hermiston House Road. This was followed by a few more miles on minor roads - including a few hills - around the edge of Ratho.

Our lunch stop was at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA). This huge structure - the largest of its type in the world - was built on the site of a former quarry, with one of the faces being converted to a 25-metre climbing wall. The café area is about half way up the vertical elevation of the wall, and offers a dramatic view of the rock-climbers at work.

The café serves the usual selection of snacks and light meals, but the service can be painfully slow at times (when we did a recce for the ride last week, eight of us had to wait 20 minutes just to have our order taken). Forewarned, many of us had brought our own food today, which we ate at the picnic tables on the sunny terrace.

For the afternoon leg, we took the canal path back to Ratho, and then headed across the Ratho Park Golf Course. We always try to avoid disturbing the golfers when taking this route, which is in any case a right of way for walkers and cyclists. But not all the golfers are happy with that situation, and a couple of them decided to throw some verbal abuse our way rather than concentrating on their game. Well, it's not the first time that's happened, and it won't be the last.

 The rest of the ride was uneventful. We continued through Gogar, Edinburgh Park, The Gyle, and Balgreen, finishing at Roseburn, where several of the group peeled off while the remainder headed back to the Meadows - now quiet again after the turmoil of the morning.

Leaders: Alan and Peter
Report, photos and map: Mike

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Wednesday 10 September 2014

20-Milers on Pedal for Scotland

A small group of redoubtable 20 Milers, including one of our colonial cousins from down under, headed for Glasgow Green on Sunday morning for the start of the 2014 Pedal for Scotland 47 mile Challenge Ride.

The ride was largely blessed with excellent cycling weather with only a slight drop in temperature and a few spots of rain at the Avonbridge service area where the hot soup on offer was gratefully received and kit removed at the previous service stop hastily put back on again.

The route was well marked with plenty of marshals stationed along the way to guide us through the tricky bits, and police stationed at busy junctions and roundabouts to hold back the traffic and provide us with free passage. All this and a following wind made for a hugely enjoyable ride, with some stunning scenery and cyclists of all ages readily joining in the fun.
At Linlithgow Palace we were treated royally to stacks of food that included soup and packs of sandwiches, pasta salads and an unlimited supply of Tunnocks Caramel Wafers, many of which found their way into our backpacks, back pockets and cycle panniers.

So well fed were we that the group decided to bypass the final service stop at Kirkliston to continue on down to Crammond Brig and hence along familiar cycle paths to Roseburn, and eventually to Murryfield Stadium, where we arrived at the finish line shortly before 4.30pm. Having left the starting point a little after 10am, that made a journey time of just over 6 hours with stops, not a bad time considering, and a tremendous day's cycling.

Report: Michael
Photos: Michael

Monday 8 September 2014

September ride

Our next ride is this coming Saturday (13th) - a little longer than normal at 26 miles, but without any particular challenges. Mainly on roads or surfaced paths, reasonably flat with just some moderate hills in the morning.

Lunch stop at the Ratho climbing centre - there is a nice cafe but queues can be long so bring your own picnic if you prefer. Excellent views of the largest indoor climbing wall in the world.

Normal start time (10.30am) from the normal place (Middle Meadow Walk).

PS note that EasyCycle rides are now on Sundays - next ride 28th September from Peter's Yard on Middle Meadow Walk
PPS our final 2014 "Extra" (longer) 20milers ride is on Saturday 4th October - heading across the bridge to Aberdour.

Saturday 23 August 2014

August's second Extra ride to Roslin

Despite dire warnings of a steep hill and unforecast showers, 21 riders assembled for the second Extra ride in what has been a busy month for the 20 Milers. Another late arriving rider managed to catch us en route at Whitecraig.

The group headed out along the Innocent Railway to start the day's ride to Roslin. All was going well until we had to stop and repair a puncture near Brunstane Station. With that fixed and brighter skies looming in East Lothian we kept heading out of town.

We looped round towards Dalkeith via Whitecraig, avoiding the High Street by cutting through the back streets to enter Ancrum Wood for our first stop of the day at Newbattle Abbey. There our leader provided chocolate and a short talk on the history of the Abbey before we continued on to “The Hill”. With the threat of no lunch for anyone failing to make it up the hill, everyone made it to the top before the short ride into Roslin. There the group dispersed between the hotel and tea room. The picnicers headed for the peace and quiet of the graveyard which went well with no complaints from the residents.

Following lunch we took the direct route back to town, going over Bilston Glen Viaduct and then tried out the new cycle path under the bypass to Lasswade Road. Hopefully the path will be continued eastward from its current finishing point sometime soon. The group headed back to town via the King’s Buildings and the Grange to return to the start point with several of us enjoying post-ride refreshments at Peter's Yard.

Thanks to David for leading us on an interesting and varied ride taking in the challenge of climbing Roslin Glen, leading us along the new stretch of cycle path, telling us about the history of Newbattle Abbey and most importantly, supplying the chocolates.

Leader: David
Report: David and Glenn
Photos: Michael
Map: Jim

View 20-milers Extra in a larger map

Saturday 9 August 2014

August ride to Dalkeith

Once again, the weather gods were kind to us. We had a dry, sunny day for this month's "second Saturday" ride, with only a chilly breeze to keep the weather short of perfection. About 22 riders turned up, so we decided to stay together in a single group. Michael (Law) was our leader, with Glenn riding backstop.

Our route took us out of town via Holyrood Park, Willowbrae, Mountcastle and Portobello. At Musselburgh, we took the River Esk path to Whitecraig, and then headed into Dalkeith Country Park at the Smeaton Farm gate. Most of the group had brought their own food for lunch, so we spent a pleasant hour at the picnic tables by the old bandstand (in the company of one of the estate's peacocks). Unfortunately, the friendly Stables Café is now closed because of the refurbishment work in the park, so those who hadn't brought food went in search of lunch in the town centre.

For the afternoon leg, we left Dalkeith by way of Salters Road and the Community Campus. We followed the railway path back to Whitecraig, where we picked up NCN 1. For the remainder of the ride, we followed the familiar route by Queen Margaret University, Newcraighall and Brunstane, finishing at East Parkside, where we went our separate ways.

Leader: Michael
Report: Mike

Sunday 3 August 2014

A sunny Sunday ride into East Lothian

We had our second Extra ride of the summer today. Glenn led a dozen of us on a nice fast run into East Lothian. The day started hot and sunny, and we had a good breeze behind us for most of the morning.

We started from the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. Our outward route took us out of Holyrood Park by Duke's Walk, after which we weaved through Willowbrae, Fishwives' Causeway and Portobello, and then on to Musselburgh. At the Prestongrange Mining Museum, we climbed a small hill to the main road, which we followed all the way to Longniddry.

We then joined the coast road for a short stretch. Just before Aberlady, we turned into the Gosford Estate for our lunch break, which was at the farm shop and café. The café has a pleasant balcony overlooking a stream. We spent a leisurely hour there in the warm sunshine.

Heading back to town, we now had the wind in our face, so our progress was a little slower. We took the coast road back through Port Seton and Cockenzie, with a couple of diversions along the waterfront to look at the views over the Firth of Forth.

Throughout the afternoon, a heavy shower seemed to be flirting with us, sometimes catching us up, sometimes drawing back. We stopped a couple of times to put waterproofs on, but would then stop again a few minutes later to reverse the process. In fact, the rain didn't really get underway until we were back in Edinburgh, and even then it wasn't too severe.

At Musselburgh, our leader (who is a resident of the Honest Toun) had to leave us, so I took over the reins for the last few miles into town. More people peeled off along the way, and at East Parkside I declared the ride over. At 32 miles, it was another successful day.

Leader: Glenn
Report: Mike
Map: Alan (Stalker)
Photos: Michael (Law)

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Extra ride this coming Sunday

Gosford Farm Shop and Café
We've got one of our Extra ride this coming Sunday (3rd August). As you know, these rides are longer than our usual runs: this one will be about 32 miles. We start earlier, finish later, and go at a slightly faster pace. If you find our normal "second Saturday" rides well within your capabilities, you should have no difficulties with this one. But those who sometimes find it hard to keep up on our normal rides might prefer to give this one a miss.

Route and destination

For this ride, Glenn will be leading us to the Gosford Estate, which is just this side of Aberlady.

Be warned that the route will involve several stretches on main roads which might be busy with traffic. But there will also be some nice quiet stretches along the East Lothian coast. We'll be riding on firm surfaces for much of the time, apart from a couple of miles on slightly rough paths. The route is not particularly hilly.

For lunch, you can bring a picnic, or get a bowl of soup or a sandwich from the café

Time and place

The ride will start at 10.00, from in front of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. We'll meet by the bike racks, which are just by the entrance to the Parliament, behind the bus stop.

The ride will probably end around 16.00 - 16.30. But don't hold me to that. The finish time will depend on the turnout, the weather, and general progress.

Things to remember

1. This ride is on Sunday, not Saturday.
2. It starts at 10.00, not 10.30.
3. It starts at Holyrood, not the Meadows.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Weekend ride: round the Forth to Stirling (19 - 20 July 2014)

On a warm but murky Saturday morning, fourteen of us met at the Roseburn marker for the first ever 20-Milers weekend away. Six us of planned to stay overnight in Stirling, whilst the remaining eight intended to accompany us for part or all of the way and return to Edinburgh by train.

We made our way to the Forth Road Bridge by a route used many times before. Once over the bridge, Ken and Logan peeled off to check a pub in North Queensferry for a lunch stop on a future ride (at least that's what they told us). The rest of us headed onto the less familiar NCN Route 76 through Limekilns and Crombie. A puncture split the group. Persistent rain and low cloud spoiled the views as we hugged the coast. A lunch stop in Culross was a welcome respite from the rain and allowed us to regroup.

After a good lunch we pushed on through Kincardine where a further puncture split the group again. The back group struggled to find their way out of Alloa before eventually making it to Stirling. Here there was a parting of the ways as six headed to the hotel for a welcome shower whilst the remainder made for the station and the train. A pleasant evening was spent in Stirling where we enjoyed an Italian meal and some liquid refreshment.

Following a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, the group of six set off in glorious sunshine for the Kelpies. Following further adventures, including split groups and route-finding troubles, we eventually met up with three riders who had travelled by train from Edinburgh.

Visiting the Kelpies had to be the highlight of the trip. They were absolutely amazing (see photo, right). We then set off for home past the Grangemouth petro-chemical works. A brief stop to buy food in Bo'ness and then off to Blackness Castle for a late picnic lunch. A familiar route through the Hopetoun estate, South Queensferry, Dalmeny estate, Cramond and Barnton saw us return to our starting point at the Roseburn marker.

Those that did the whole route clocked up about 85 miles over the two days. It must have been a successful trip as on parting, someone asked, "where are we going for our night away ride next year?"

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn and Mike
Maps: Alan (Stalker)

Saturday 12 July 2014

July ride to the Harlaw Reservoir

After several hot and sunny days, this morning was cooler and more overcast - but still good weather for cycling. Around 30 of us turned up for a ride to the edge of the Pentland Hills. I led the first group, with Ken in charge of the second.

Our route took  us over Bruntsfield Links, and then to Whitehouse Loan, Hermitage Drive, Braidburn Valley Park, the Braid Burn path, and Redford Road. At Colinton, we had a brief comfort stop before continuing along Woodhall Road. This part of town has a distinctly suburban feel to it, but once we passed the City Bypass, we were in open countryside, with fields on both sides of the road, and good views all round.

Inevitably, given that we were heading for the Pentland Hills, we had some climbing to do. Most of this was concentrated on the Curry Kirkgate, a grindingly steep half mile of ascent that climbs from Blinkbonny to Harlaw Road. We all made it to the top without mishap - albeit with various degrees of exhaustion.

A mile or so later, we arrived at our planned lunch stop: the picnic tables by the Harlaw Reservoir. Here, there was a moment of slight embarrassment for yours truly. I had assiduously warned the group that there would be no café or pub anywhere near the reservoir, and that they must bring their own food or face starvation. What I didn't know was that some enterprising person recently set up a caravan, right outside the ranger station, from which they were serving hot drinks, sandwiches, soup, cakes and a tempting selection of crêpes: in short, everything you need for a decent lunch. I'm sorry I didn't know about this earlier - although several of our party were quite happy to buy a meal from the caravan and eat the sandwiches they had brought with them.

After lunch, we did a circuit of the Harlaw and Threipmure Reservoirs. And then it was downhill almost all the way home. We had an exhilarating freewheel down to Balerno, followed by a fairly fast run on the Water of Leith path to the point where it crosses the canal.

At this point, the two groups were re-united. Some riders then chose to continue along the Water of Leith to Roseburn. Others made a bee-line back to town along the towpath. For most of us, the timing was impeccable: we got home shortly before the arrival of a heavy burst of rain which lasted well into the evening.

Leaders: Mike and Ken, with Jim and Logan as backmarkers.
Report: Mike
Photo: Alison

Monday 7 July 2014

Next Saturday's ride: A Harlaw picnic

Our next ride is this coming Saturday (12th July). We'll be taking a particularly scenic route: heading out to Colinton, and then climbing to the edge of the Pentland Hills. Our lunch stop will be a picnic at the Harlaw Reservoir.

Inevitably there'll be some hills, including a particularly steep one just before lunch. But we'll take them at our usual steady pace, and give stragglers plenty of time to catch up. And, as a reward, we'll have some nice long freewheels in the afternoon. The total distance will be 21 miles. Most of the route will be on quiet roads and firm paths, but there will be about two miles on rough tracks.

As always we'll meet at the top of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure. The ride will finish mid afternoon.

Lunch arrangements

Remember, the lunch stop on this ride will be a picnic. There will be no pub or café at the lunch stop, so if you don't want to go hungry, be sure to bring food. Depending on numbers and progress, we might stop for a coffee near the end of the run.

There is a toilet at the picnic place, but this sometimes attracts long queues, so we'll have an additional comfort stop about 45 minutes before lunch.

What if the weather's bad?

A light drizzle or a short shower won't put us off. But if the weather is really foul, we'll switch to Plan B: a shorter ride, with a café or pub lunch in Colinton. If the weather is borderline, we'll make a decision at the start point. There are several sandwich outlets at the Meadows, so if you're not sure whether to bring food, plan to arrive early so that you can pick up something if necessary.

Friday 20 June 2014

An evening ride for the summer solstice

We had a special evening ride tonight to mark the (almost) longest day. And what a lovely evening it was: clear, dry, and warm (21 degrees at 8 p.m). About 20 of us, led by Jim, set out from the Meadows just after 6.30 pm.

Our route was an eclectic one. We started by heading south through the Grange, then on through Morningside and Craiglockhart to join the canal at Allan Park. At Harrison Park, Logan decided he would risk letting us invade his front room for a refreshment stop, which we duly did. We then rejoined the canal for a quick run into Fountainbridge, where the bunting had already been put in place for Saturday's Canal Festival.

Our route then took us past the Conference Centre, and down into the Grassmarket (see photo). We continued down the Cowgate to Holyrood, then along Abbeyhill to Regent Road, where we paused to look at the Stones of Scotland Monument. This circle of stones, one from each of Scotland's 32 local authority areas, was created in 2002 to mark the rebirth of the Scottish parliament.

Next came the highlight of the ride: the ascent of Calton Hill. We lingered at the summit for a while, gazing at the excellent view of the Firth of Forth and the Lomond Hills. But by now it was nearly 9.30 pm; the light was just beginning to fade, and a cooling breeze had sprung up. So we switched on our lights and donned our yellow jackets for the next leg of the ride.

This took us down Easter Road, where two impatient motorists did their best to spoil the pleasant ambience, but failed. At Thorntreeside, we took the Restalrig railway path through Seafield and on to Leith Links. The final leg was along Water of Leith, Goldenacre and Telford paths to the Craigleith path junction. Many of the group had peeled off by this point, and so, at 10.20 pm and after 18 miles, we declared the ride officially over. It was a very successful run -  and an excellent way of spending a summer's evening.

Leader: Jim
Report, photos and map: Mike

View 20-Milers Summer Solstice Ride in a larger map

Monday 16 June 2014

Evening ride this coming Friday

A reminder of our evening ride this coming Friday (20th June). It will be about 15 miles, give or take a bit, and will last about three hours. Friday is very close to the summer solstice, so we should be in daylight the whole way, but I suggest you bring lights in case we get delayed.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to set off at 18.30. As with all our rides, this one is free, with no need to book in advance.

Note that we are not planning to stop for a meal during the ride. You might like to grab a bite to eat before we start, or bring a snack to keep you going until we finish. No doubt some of us will adjourn to a pub after the event.

Our next normal monthly ride will be on Saturday 12th July; I'll post more details of that nearer the time.

Sunday 15 June 2014

20-Milers on the Lepra ride

About a dozen of our members decided to forsake yesterday's 20-Milers ride, and instead to devote our energies to the Lepra run: an annual 68-mile charity ride to St. Andrews via the Fife hills.

Although we all met up at the start point in Inverleith Park (along with several hundred other cyclists), we didn't try to ride together as a group. This was sensible. On a long ride like this, it's better to cycle at your own pace, rather than feeling pressured to keep up.

The route took us out of Edinburgh via Dalmeny and the Forth Road Bridge, and then to the west and north of Dunfermline. The scenery for these first 20-odd miles was not the most beautiful, but it improved noticeably after we turned off a main road and into the Cleish woods. After traversing the summit of Cleish Hill, we had a fast 3-mile downhill run to the lunch stop at Kinross. In the afternoon, we skirted Loch Leven and the Lomond Hills, and then into the delightful wooded Cults Hill. There was inevitably a lot of climbing, but once past the Chance Inn, we had a long gentle descent all the way to St. Andrews.

The weather was reasonably good to us, apart from a heavy burst of rain in the middle of the afternoon - nothing like as bad as the last time I did the ride, in 2012, when we endured solid rain and high winds the whole day. This time, it was mostly dry and warm, with some nice sunshine at the end.

As always, the catering arrangements were first class. The burghers of Kinross had laid on their usual extensive lunch for us (and I must say how nice it was to be personally welcomed and directed by marshals stationed along the road near the lunch point). And the much-appreciated tea stop at Freuchie was as superb as ever - see photo, right.

I finally arrived at St. Andrews at about half past four - earlier than my usual time. By this time I was a long way behind the faster members of our group, but ahead of several others. And, unusually for me, I wasn't totally exhausted. Those training runs over the last few weeks had clearly paid off.

Report and photos:  Mike

June ride to Dundas and Queensferry

A dozen or so of our regular riders were on the Lepra ride yesterday, but we still had fifteen - including some new faces - for Ken's run out to South Queensferry.

Starting as usual at 10.30 at Middle Meadow Walk, we headed across the Meadows and round the back of Tollcross to join the canal at the Leamington Lift Bridge. We were very careful on the short canal section (one of our more senior members having had an unexpected swim while out this way recently) and then under the Western Approach Road at Fountainbridge, through the wee park at the back of Dalry, a left and a right, and then onto the cycle path at Russell Road.

Unhurried, and now mindful that it was really quite warm, we took the NCN 1 path down to the junction at Craigleith and bore left out towards Davidsons Mains, Barnton, and our usual stop for sweeties (the ride leader having brought some excellent toffees) on Cramond Brig.
We then climbed the little hill up to the flyover over the main road, but we couldn’t continue along the cycle path as this is in the process of being upgraded (and, while it will take some time to do that, it looks like a good job is being done). So we took the Kirkliston Road past the Craigie Farm road end, and then joined the old railway path at Carlowrie. 

Rather than heading straight into South Queensferry at this point, we went a mile or so down to Kirkliston, then headed north for a short distance, and into the entrance to Dundas Castle. This often-overlooked estate (see photo) is really lovely, especially the pond and boathouse, and gives an interesting loop south and west of South Queensferry.  

After that, it was a very quick run into the town, with a lunch stop on the steps overlooking the shore. Some of  the group headed for the Picnic Café, which served us well - as usual. It was mild enough to sit outside, even though there was a touch of haar.  

After being fed, we took a steep - but very short - climb up The Loan to the Ferryglen path to Dalmeny village. Rather than retracing our outward route on the Kirkliston Road, we cut through the Dalmeny Estate to re-join NCN1 at Cramond Brig.  For the final leg, we headed back the way we’d come, for a coffee stop at the Meadows - a fitting end to our 25 or so  mainly sunny miles.

Map to follow

Leader: Ken
Report: Alan (Stalker)
Photo: Michael (Law)

Saturday 10 May 2014

Into the depths of East Lothian

Today's run was a very pleasant 27-mile excursion into East Lothian. It included a section of route which was completely new to me - and to most of the others in the group as well.

Twenty-one riders turned up at the start. That was a pretty good turnout, considering that the forecast had promised a day of solid rain. (In the event, we just had some light drizzle in the morning and one short heavy shower while we were in the pub.) Glenn Brearly led the first group, with Peter Bennet in charge of the second.

Heading out of town, we avoided the well-worn route along the Innocent Path. Instead, we wiggled through St Leonard's (with excellent views of Salisbury Crags from the little-known St. Leonard's Bank), Duddingston Village and Calvary Park. At Bingham, we picked up NCN 1, which took us through Newcraighall and Whitecraig, and on to the Pencaitland Railway Path.

This path offers excellent cycling. It is wide, well-surfaced and almost completely flat. But after a couple of miles, we made an abrupt left turn, leaving the main path and heading up a short flight of steps and onto a diminutive track. I had never noticed this un-signposted turn-off before, although I must have cycled past it a dozen times.

The next two miles or so were narrow and somewhat muddy. But we only had to dismount a couple of times. At one point, we passed a tiny cemetery, completely surrounded by fields, with no human habitation or road access in sight. We then crossed a main road, and continued along the path, eventually emerging onto tarmac close to a familiar site: Falside Castle.

This was a bit of a surprise. The castle (which is in fact a private house) is near the summit of Falside Hill. At 144 metres, this is the highest point in the area. Approaching it by road (which is what we have done in the past) involves a grindingly steep ascent. This time, we had somehow managed to get there without the difficult climb, which I thought was pretty good.

So, now we had a delightful mile or so of free-wheeling off the hill. This took us quickly to our lunch stop, which was the Premier Inn near Whitecraig. This hotel has a large eating area and bar, and was able to feed and water us without any problem.

For the homeward leg, we followed the River Esk Walkway (one of my favourite routes) right up to the waterfront path in Musselburgh. We then took the Brunstane Burn path to Brunstane Station, and so back to our starting point via the Innocent Tunnel and East Parkside.

By this time, the rain had completely cleared. Most of us went for a coffee in Peter's Yard, where we were able to sit at an outside table in bright sunshine: a pleasant end to another successful ride. Thanks to those who led and back-marked - and kudos to Glenn for devising such an interesting route.

Leaders: Glenn and Peter
Report and map: Mike

View East Lothian ride - 10 May 2014 in a larger map

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Advanced Notice: Weekend away in July

Alloa and the Ochil Hills
Photo: Peter Gordon

From Glenn Brearley:

I am organising a weekend away for the 20-Milers in July - the first time we have done this as a group. The plan is to cycle the Round the Forth route, starting and ending in Edinburgh, with an overnight stop in Stirling.

The details are as follows:

Dates: 19 - 20 July

Route: We will leave Edinburgh on the Saturday, to cycle over the Forth Road Bridge and along the Fife coast path, via Culross and Alloa. On the Sunday, the return route to Edinburgh will be along the south shore of the Forth, via Bo'ness. The distance will be about 40 miles each day, which we will take at our usual moderate, unpressured pace (but just a bit faster than our usual monthly runs).

Accommodation: I have reserved six twin-bedded hotel rooms in the Stirling city centre Premier Inn, at a cost of approximately £50 per person (including full breakfast). These will be available on a first-come-first-saved basis. If you would like to take advantage of this, I will ask you for a deposit at the time of your booking, with the full amount payable about two weeks before the ride. Of course, you may arrange your own accommodation if you prefer.

Meals: The plan is for us all to go out for dinner together on the Saturday evening.

Single-day alternative: If you prefer not to stay overnight, you are welcome to cycle with us for one or both days, using the train to travel to or from Stirling.

For further information or to make a booking, please email me at Glenn.BrearleyATTforestry.gsi.gov.uk (replace ATT by the usual at-sign).

Tuesday 6 May 2014

John Muir Way Inaugural Ride

About thirty one riders turned up for the John Muir Way inaugural ride on Saturday (3rd May). The weather forecast had promised it would warm up as the day went on, but it never did. But at least it stayed dry for the most part.

We split into two groups: the first led by Julia and the second by Glenn with help from Dave (which kept the number of wrong-slots in single figures). After a trouble-free start, the second group caught up with the first at the toilet stop at the Co-op at South Queensferry. The route then took us along the shores of the Forth, past the construction site of the third Forth bridge, and then through the Hopetoun Estate. A quick detour to look at the house resulted in someone from the estate informing us we would have to pay if we wanted to look at the house, even though we were about a quarter of a mile away. Needless to say, we declined.

We then followed the shoreline to our lunch stop in the grounds of Blackness Castle, where we were welcomed by the inquisitive castle cat. Many of the group found a spot out of the wind to enjoy their picnic. But a few bagged a picnic table which was in the coldest and draughtiest part of the grounds. Trying to offset the cold with ice cream didn't work,

Just as the second group were ready to leave, mechanical gremlins struck one of the rider's bikes. It took quite a while to fix (especially given that chief engineer Alan Orr was not present); this proved to be a further opportunity to get cold before starting the journey home. But after a couple of stiff climbs, we were soon warmed up.

Our return route to town took us along the canal from Philpstoun to Niddrie Castle. This was followed by some quiet roads and paths through Kirkliston. The first group had their first puncture of the day on the home stretch just before Cramond Brig, but we all eventually arrived safely home.

Leaders: Julia and Glenn, assisted by Alan (Stalker), Dave (Gilchrist) and Holly.

Report: Julia and Glenn

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Two rides coming up

We've got two rides planned for the first half of May. Here are some brief details:

3rd May : John Muir Way inaugural ride

This is a special ride to mark the opening of Scotland's newest long-distance footpath and cycling route. It will be a 34-mile circular ride from Edinburgh, with a lunch stop at Blackness Castle. Full details can be found here.

Note that there will be no café or pub at the lunch stop, so be sure to bring food and drink for a picnic.

10th May : Normal monthly ride

Our 'second Saturday' ride this month will be led by Glenn, who will be taking us out to East Lothian. Meet at the usual spot, at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10.30 departure.

If you need any further information about cycling with us, please see our FAQ, or contact us at the email address in the panel on the left.

Saturday 12 April 2014

A windy ride to South Queensferry

Today was sunny and dry, with lovely blue skies. But my goodness - what a breeze. We had winds of 25 mph in our face all morning, which did nothing to help us on our way.

About thirty-four riders turned up, so we once again split into two groups. Claire led the first party, with Ken's group following a few minutes behind.


We took the route that we habitually follow when heading out to the north west: the Roseburn Path, Davidson's Mains and Barnton. But although this a well-worn and familiar path, we did notice three innovations since our last trip this way.

First, there's a new cut-through from the canal to Dundee Street. Instead of going down Gilmore Park and turning left into the busy Fountainbridge, you can now go along the towpath to the first bridge, then cut through the new development of student flats, coming out opposite Cineworld. It only saves a few yards, but it is a decidedly pleasanter route.

At the Sustrans marker in Craigleith, the council are busy with a landscaping project. It's not yet clear how this will look when finished, but it should make the path junction a little less cluttered. Unfortunately, the useful directional signs have been removed in the process. Let's hope someone remembers to put them back.

And finally, the path between the golf courses in Barnton has now re-opened. This has been widened and given a nice new surface - a welcome improvement.


From Cramond Brig, we turned into the Dalmeny Estate. Some of the paths here are rough, and were muddier than usual after the recent rains. But for the most part the estate offers pleasant cycling, away from the traffic and with excellent views over the Firth of Forth.

Our two groups joined up for the lunch break in South Queensferry. Some of us found a sheltered picnic spot overlooking the harbour. For the others, Claire did a good job of dividing them between separate cafés, which meant that we didn't overwhelm any one establishment.

After lunch, we got the benefit of the morning's hard work. With the wind now behind us (well, for part of the time at least), we zipped along the Ferry Glen path (more good views), and then through Dalmeny village and down NCN 1 to Cramond Brig. The two groups met up again at Craigleith. From there, one contingent continued back towards the Meadows; another group headed to the Costa café in the shopping centre, while the remainder of the riders went their separate ways. Despite those 25 mph gusts, it was another excellent ride.

View April 20-Milers to South Queensferry in a larger map

Leaders: Claire and Ken
Report and map: Mike
Photo: Logan

Monday 7 April 2014

April ride this coming Saturday

For this month's outing, Claire will be leading us on a scenic route to one of our more popular destinations. We'll be heading to South Queensferry by way of the Dalmeny Estate. This is particularly nice cycling, being mainly on quiet roads and paths with good views over the Firth of Forth.

The total distance will be about 22 miles. I'm not aware of any particular difficulties on the route, apart perhaps from one or two short stretches on rough path and a couple of moderately steep hills.

South Queensferry is a nice spot for a picnic lunch, so consider bringing a sandwich if the weather is fine. If you prefer to eat indoors, there are several cafés and pubs to choose from.

The details

We'll muster as usual at the top (north end) of Middle Meadow Walk, aiming to set out promptly at 10.30. The ride will probably end between 3 and 4 pm, but don't hold me to that - the actual finish time will depend on who turns up, the weather, and other factors.

Remember, all our rides are organised on a "just turn up" basis, so you don't need to tell us in advance if you are coming.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Advanced Notice: John Muir Way Inaugural Ride

On Saturday 3rd May, we will be holding a special ride to mark the opening of the John Muir Way. This will be a 34-mile circular ride, starting and ending in Edinburgh. Like all our rides, it is free and open to all.

The John Muir Way (JMW) is a new 134-mile footpath and cycle route, running from Dunbar to Helensburgh. The ride we are planning is one of several events designed to mark the opening of the route. It is being organised in association with Scottish Natural Heritage. Information about the JMW and other inaugural events can be found here.

Our route

For our ride, we will follow part of the JMW out towards South Queensferry, and then through the Hopetoun Estate and along the banks of the Forth to Blackness. We will return to town by an inland route, taking the canal towpath from Philpstoun to Winchburgh, and then by roads and paths via Kirkliston.

Most of the route will be on quiet roads and bike paths, but there will be a couple of short stretches on a busy main road. Some of the paths might be rough in places, and possibly muddy. The route is a fairly level one, but there will be a few moderate hills and one particularly steep one.. The total distance will be about 34 miles.
Hopetoun House is one of the landmarks on the JMW

We will aim for a moderate "sociable" pace: a little faster than our normal monthly runs, but not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation.

Food and drink

Please bring your own food and drink for a picnic lunch, which will be at Blackness Castle. There is a small shop near the castle, where you can buy sweets, ice cream and hot drinks. There are also toilets there. But there is no café or pub, so be sure to bring at least a sandwich and some water. Depending on numbers and progress, we might stop at a café near the end of the ride.

Time and place

We will meet in time for a 10.00 start, at the Sustrans marker at the three-way junction of the Roseburn, Blackhall and Telford paths in Craigleith. If you are not sure where that is, make your way to South Groathill Avenue, then look for the sign-posted entrance to the bike paths by the lights-controlled crossing near the back of the Sainsbury's petrol station. Grid reference: NT 223747. Map.

We will aim to return to Edinburgh by about 16.00, although this will depend on the weather, the speed of the group, and other factors.

What to bring

Apart from the aforementioned food and drink, please bring a spare inner tube if at all possible. That way, if you are unfortunate enough to have a puncture, it can be dealt with relatively quickly. If you don't know how to replace an inner tube, don't worry: there are usually willing helpers available. If you're not sure what size or type of tube you need, just ask at your local bike shop.

You should also bring all the obvious things you will need for any bike ride, such as a lightweight waterproof jacket, and perhaps a scarf and/or gloves if the day is chilly. It's also a good idea to bring a bike lock, although this is not essential as you can always double up with someone else. Most of our riders choose to wear a helmet, but we don't insist on that.

Just turn up
Part of our return route will be via the canal towpath

There is no need to book in advance for the ride. Just turn up on the day.

Note that the ride will go ahead even if the weather is bad. A few showers or a cold breeze won't put us off. But if the weather is really bad, we might opt for a shorter route, with the possibility of a café stop around lunch time.

Any questions?

For general information about our rides, please see our FAQ. If you still have a question, feel free to email us at the address in the panel on the left of this page.

Saturday 8 March 2014

March ride to Currie, Riccarton and the Gyle

It would have been ideal cycling weather if it hadn't been for the bitter cold 25-mph winds. But that didn't stop around 32 of us gathering at the Meadows for today's run, which was a second attempt to do the ride that we abandoned in January because of ice.

Because of the high turnout, we decided to split into two groups. Alan Orr led the first party, which headed out to Balerno via Morningside, Craiglockhart, Colinton, and Woodhall, before doubling back along the road to Currie and Riccarton. The second group, under the leadership of Jim Cameron, followed the same route to a point just beyond Colinton. But our progress was slow - probably because of the strong headwinds - so we decided to cut a corner. At Woodhall Farm, we dropped down to the more sheltered Water of Leith path, then on to Currie Kirk, Curriehill Station and the Riccarton campus.

The two groups joined up at the Gyle shopping centre, where we had lunch in the spacious food court. This is not exactly gourmet dining, but it did enable everyone to get fed and watered reasonably quickly. There are around a dozen different food outlets there, so everyone managed to find something they liked.

For the afternoon leg, we followed the path to South Gyle Station, then on to Meadow Place Road and Broomhouse Drive, where we picked up the excellent new cycle path that runs alongside the tram line. This took us quickly to Murrayfield, at exactly the time that several thousand rugby fans were arriving for the Scotland vs. France match. But we were soon clear of that, and it was then just a short hop back to the Meadows, where the two groups re-united for coffee in Peter's Yard.

View March 2014 20-Milers in a larger map

Alan Orr, Jim Cameron
Report and map: Mike