20th Anniversary Year

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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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