20th Anniversary Year

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Monday 25 December 2017

At least there was no wind ...

There's no other way of describing it. As far as the weather was concerned, this year's Christmas morning ride was a washout. The 40 mph winds of recent days had gone. What we had instead was incessant rain, often heavy, which lasted well into the afternoon.

But the eleven riders who turned up at Middle Meadow Walk were all in good spirits, determined not to let a bit of dampness spoil the morning. Fortified along the way with mulled wine and other treats, the ride proved to be an enjoyable one – at least until the final couple of miles when the cold and wet started to take its toll.

Our first stop was the Castle, where we did a circuit of the esplanade and posed for photos next to William Wallace. The Pentland Hills were just about visible through the murk. We then headed down the Mound for our traditional traverse of Princes Street. Not surprisingly, the city centre was dead. A few buses and taxis were to be seen, as well as the usual forlorn tourists looking in vain for something to do. Apart from that, we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

The next stage took us to the summit of Calton Hill, where we toasted the season with the aforementioned mulled wine, which was much appreciated (thank you, Michael). We then headed down to Greenside and through empty streets to Easter Road. At the Easter Road / McDonald Road junction, we experienced the new bike-friendly traffic lights, where a special green light gives cyclists a momentary priority over other traffic.

Our route then took us to St. Mark's Park, then via Five Ways to Goldenacre, Inverleith Park, Stockbridge and along the Water of Leith, which was unusually fast-flowing because of the rain. At Dean Village, we crossed the river by the narrow footbridge, then headed up Belford Road. By now, we were thoroughly wet and cold. By the time we reached the West End, about half the party had either peeled off or were seriously considering doing so. So at about 12.30, and with just under eight miles on the clock, we declared the ride officially finished. We went our various ways, with most of us heading for a hot shower, a change of clothes and a good meal. What better way to spend Christmas?

Leader: Mike
Backmarkers: Jenny and Derek
Report and photos: Mike
Map: David

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Half-day ride planned for Christmas

We've got our usual half-day ride planned for Christmas morning (Monday 25th December). If you've nothing better to do, I hope you'll join us. Like all our rides, this one is completely free and open to all, with no advanced booking.

One of the nice things about cycling in Edinburgh at Christmas is the relative lack of traffic. We'll take advantage of that to visit parts of the city centre where we might not otherwise cycle. The pace will be slow to moderate, with plenty of stops. There will be a couple of steep climbs, but we'll take them gently, and happily wait for stragglers.

There won't be a café or pub stop, so you might want to bring some nibbles to keep the hunger pangs away.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10:30 departure. The ride will end at the Meadows at 13:00 at the latest. We will be within the city the whole time, so if you've got lunch plans, feel free to peel off early.

More rides

Our friends at EasyCycle have their usual monthly ride on 31st December. See https://easycycle.wordpress.com for details.

And we've got two rides planned for January. On the 6th, Jim will be leading a Back to Basics run. These are short half-day rides, aimed especially at the less fit amongst us. And the following week (13th), Alan Orr will be leading our standard second-Saturday run. Both these rides will start from Middle Meadow Walk at 10:30. I'll post more details of these in due course.

That's all for now. I hope to see you on one or more of the above rides.

Saturday 9 December 2017

A cold finale to Riccarton

For the final [second Saturday of the month] ride of the year, we headed out to the Heriot Watt University campus at Riccarton. Although it was a bitterly cold day, the fact it was dry meant ice was not a big problem. There was a bit on the paths around the campus, but nowhere else.

The day began bitterly cold, but dry and sunny. This meant the roads and paths used to get to the meeting point presented no problems for the 14 riders that made the start. A combination of the weather, and being one of those busy weekends in the run up to Christmas kept the numbers down. Unsurprisingly, there were no new riders on today's ride. No need to worry about two groups. Following a briefing from the leader (which included a bit about everyone being responsible for their own safety), we headed towards the quiet back streets of Marchmont via Bruntsfield Links. We then crossed Comiston Road and entered Braidburn Valley Park. From there, Colinton Mains Park and Redford Road led us to our comfort stop in Colinton. As the temperature never got above 2°C all day, we didn't hang around for long. Being well wrapped up and keeping moving was the secret to staying warm. Woodhall Road led us to a rough path that cuts through to join Blinkbonny Road. At this point, the group waited for a couple of minutes whilst the leader went ahead to check the path was clear of ice. It was, so we made our way along it. Joining the road we came to a T-junction with the Kirkgate. We usually turn left and head up the steep hill towards the Harlaw reservoirs. This time we turned right and headed downhill to Lanark Road West. Across the busy road, along some quiet residential roads in Currie and we were on Curriehall Road. This led us to the back entrance into the Riccarton Campus. Here we encountered our first ice of the day. Nothing too serious, but we took it easy. At least we could see the ice, unlike the lethal black variety. Safely past the icy stretch, we piled into the warmth of the spacious canteen for lunch. Several of the group commented on the fact they had never seen it so busy on a Saturday.

After a pleasant lunch, it was time to head back out into the cold. More icy paths around the campus (despite having been gritted) meant we took it easy and can happily report no incidents. We left the campus and the ice behind as we took the back way into Edinburgh Park. We headed towards the Gyle shopping centre, where we stopped and the leader and back marker swapped roles. As David knows the area like the back of his hand, he was able to lead us to South Gyle station avoiding the need to cycle through the shopping centre car park, which would have been heaving with Christmas shoppers. At the station, Mike took over again and led us through Broomhouse and on to Murrayfield. Around Murrayfield, it was great to see the new paths which have opened recently, and very impressive they are too. Our well-used route via the Telfer subway, Fountainpark and the canal took us back to the Leamington Bridge. Here, one of the group discovered their slow puncture was no longer "slow". They were almost home, so opted to leave the ride and head home. Our usual route would have taken us to Tollcross and the King's Theatre. But today, the leader took us back via Leamington Terrace and Bruntsfield Links. At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over. At 19 miles, it was one of our shorter rides. Given the low temperatures and small turnout, no one seemed to mind. Thanks to Mike for leading, and to David for leading us through the Gyle avoiding the main car park. Don't forget our final outing of 2017 - the Christmas day ride.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Sunday 3 December 2017

Three rides coming up

We've got no fewer than three rides planned for the coming weeks. Details below.

9th December

The first of these rides will be our standard monthly run this coming Saturday. Our route will depend on the conditions on the day, but it's likely that we will be heading out towards Colinton and Currie, returning by way of Edinburgh Park and the Gyle. Our lunch stop will be the spacious canteen at Heriot-Watt's Riccarton campus.

In deference to the short winter days, this will be a short ride and a fairly slow one. We'll aim to finish at around 3 pm. If anyone wants to get home earlier than that, there will be the option of a shortcut back to town via the canal towpath.

As always, we'll meet at 10.30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Sunset on that day is 15:40, so I strongly recommend that you bring lights in case of delay and to see you home.

25th December

This will be our traditional Christmas morning ride. This is a popular event which often attracts a large turnout. I don't have any details of the route yet, but the general idea is to take advantage of the lack of traffic in order to visit parts of the city centre that we might otherwise avoid.

We'll leave from our usual spot in Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30, returning to the Meadows by 1 pm at the latest. There will be no café or pub stop, so you might want to bring a little snack to keep your energy levels up.

6th January 2018

For the third of these three runs, Jim will again be organising a Back to Basics ride. If you haven't done much cycling lately, or if you are feeling below your normal fitness level, this ride is for you. It will go a little slower than our normal runs, take slightly longer breaks and try especially hard to avoid nasty hills. This is just a half-day run, finishing around 1 pm. I'll post more details of this event nearer the time.

Cost and booking

All of the above rides are of course completely free and open to all. There's no advance booking, and no need to reply to this message. Just turn up at the appointed time and place.

Saturday 11 November 2017

A rookie leader, and a large turnout

It's always good when someone that hasn't led a ride before steps up and volunteers. It often results in
a new approach, new ideas and a new route. It also bodes well for the future of the 20 Milers. Most of
today's route wasn't new, but we have usually done it in the opposite direction - so, different in that
way. The ride took us out to Musselburgh, then on to Dobbies Garden Centre via Dalkeith. We returned to town via Gilmerton and Craigmillar.

We had a fine, dry, sunny, if slightly chilly day. It was beginning to look as if a small turnout was on the cards. But, as the departure time grew closer, more and more riders arrived. Some cut it so fine that they arrived midway through the briefing. By the time we rolled away, there were thirty of us. Very impressive for a November ride. Two stalwarts of the group (who have only missed a handful of rides between them over a number of years) noted how often there has been the situation where a rookie leader has had to contend with a rather large group. Today was no exception. For a number of reasons, we also ended up riding as one group. From the Meadows we headed to the Innocent railway. Through the tunnel and  on familiar paths as far as Musselburgh station. We had a stop there in the sunshine for sweets and cake. All replenished, we headed off again. We crossed the main road into Musselburgh. It was easier than usual as the traffic was snarled up and going nowhere due to what looked like a nasty accident. From there the delightful path beside the River Esk took us to Whitecraig and on to Dalkeith. Some twiddling through back streets, through parkland and we found ourselves at a kissing gate that brought us out into a new housing estate. Not sure who thought it would be a good idea to put a kissing gate on a recognised cycle path. It certainly made getting thirty cyclists through quite a chore. After that we negotiated the horrible Eskbank roundabout, crossed the busy A7 and arrived at Dobbies for lunch. The leader told everyone we would be leaving at 1345. Despite how busy the resturant was, we all got served quite quickly. Thirty-five minutes earlier than expected, the leader told us all that we were ready to leave. Alas, one rider had just gone to get a second coffee and a cake. As their bike was locked to two others, that meant at least three of us would not be leaving early. What with that and others wandering round the garden centre, we eventually left at 1345.

We left Dobbies and took the shared use path beside the busy road back to Gilmerton. We cut through the lovely Drum estate. We were followed by an estate worker in a small truck. We couldn't help but wonder if he was making sure we didn't loiter and ensured we left the premises promptly. Across Old Dalkeith Road, through the quiet back streets of Danderhall and we emerged on The Wisp. A short run down there and we turned off to cut through towards the Royal Infirmary. A run through Craigmillar Castle Park, across Peffermill Road, through the industrial estate and we were back at the Innocent railway. From there it was an easy run back to the Meadows via the Innocent tunnel. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. We had no mishaps and the weather had been kind to us. Thanks to Julia for leading a good ride with such a display of Teutonic efficiency. We'll gloss over the glitch at lunchtime as this was her first time as leader.

Leader: Julia L
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Monday 6 November 2017

November ride this coming Saturday

We've got our November ride this coming Saturday (11th). This should be a particularly interesting ride because our leader, Julia (Loecherbach), has succeeded in finding a lunch venue which we never visited before as a group (as far as I know). It is the spacious self-service restaurant at Dobbies Garden Centre in Lasswade. They do a good range of soups, sandwiches and snacks, and the service is reasonably fast. There are also seats outside for those of us who want to brave the November temperatures for a picnic.

The route will be fairly straightforward: about 22 miles in total. There will be a couple of moderate hills, just before and after lunch, but nothing else to worry about. We'll head out via the Innocent path, the River Esk walkway and Dalkeith, returning by way of Danderhall and Gilmerton.

The meeting time and place are as constant as the Northern Star: 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. And as usual the ride is completely free and open, so there is no need to reply to this post.

Lighting up

Now that the clocks have gone back, this would be a good time for us all to check that our lights are in good order. Sunset on Saturday will be at 16:15. Although the ride should have finished by then, it might well be dark by the time you get home. So be sure to bring your lights on the ride, and check that they have plenty of juice.

Christmas ride

Some of you have asked me if our traditional Christmas morning ride will take place this year. Yes, we will definitely have a ride that morning. I don't have any further information just yet, but will post full details here in due course.

Saturday 14 October 2017

Edinburgh coast to coast

Today's ride was billed as an Edinburgh coast to coast. It saw us head to Cramond and follow the coast round as far as Portobello, before heading inland and back to the Meadows. We had another first for a 20 Milers ride today when a cargo bike turned up carrying a family of four. This explains how we managed to have 28 participants, but only 25 bikes.

It was a good turnout for an October ride; no doubt helped by the unseasonably mild and sunny weather. Good to see a smattering of new faces in amongst the regulars. The leader gave the customary briefing. As expected, with the leader being Verity, we were told to act responsibly and be considerate to other road and path users, for our safety and theirs. Briefing over, we split into two groups and headed off towards Bruntsfield Links and the canal at Leamington Bridge. A short stretch beside the canal before turning off and heading down the Telfer subway. Despite a couple of sharp turns, the cargo bike negotiated this stretch without any problems. Onwards to join the Roseburn path at the zig-zags. This time there was a slight delay getting the cargo bike up. This resulted in the second group catching and passing the first at that stage. A strange moment when the two group back markers found themselves riding alongside eachother. The two groups had now merged into one. We then had a faller. A rider in the second group had skidded on wet leaves whilst avoiding a child. No injury or damage. But a search of the undergrowth ensued for missing cycle glasses. The glasses were eventually found. The delay meant that the first group took the front once again. We carried on to Craigleith, where we turned off on the path to Cramond.
We made our way through Barnton arriving at the crossing on Whitehouse Road. Instead of heading down towards Cramond Brig, on this ocassion we turned right and headed up towards Cramond. A left turn saw us head down the steep School Brae, which took us to the River Almond. We stopped for a sweetie stop beside Cramond Island. Was it a coincidence that no sooner were the sweets opened than the second group arrived? A brisk run along Silverknowes Esplanade followed before joining the main road to Newhaven Harbour. We left the main road, passed the harbour and threaded through quiet streets to take the back entrance into Ocean terminal - our lunch stop. During the lunch stop, the writer realised the hazard of walking around a large shopping centre in hi-viz cycle clothing without a bike in sight. A member of the public came up to him to ask directions. His opening line being, "you look as if you work here."

Lunch over, the two groups reconvened at the bike racks. We took the road past the docks and headed up Constitution Street, before turning left into Queen Charlotte Street, which took us to Leith Links. From there we headed back to the coast and on to Portobello Prom via Seafield. Over lunch, the leader had briefed the two backmarkers of the afternoon's route. She told us at Portobello Swim Centre, we were to turn left. Alas, she meant right. Turning left would have taken us into the Firth of Forth. Fortunately, we all turned right; so no wet wheels or riders! We made our way across the busy Abercorn Terrace and took the bridge over the Craigentinny railway sidings. The cycle paths serving the new Portobello High School took us to Milton Road. From there we threaded through the back streets of the Magdalenes to join the Innocent railway for our run back to the Meadows. Having been caught and passed by the second group earlier in the day, those in the first group were surprised at how far behind us they were at the finish. It turned out that there had been two punctures in the afternoon. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. Despite the earlier sunshine having been replaced with grey skies, the weather had stayed reasonable for the time of year. All in all, another successful 20 Milers outing. Thanks to Verity for leading.

Leader: Verity
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Tuesday 10 October 2017

October ride this Saturday

We've got our October ride this coming Saturday (14th).

Verity will be leading us on a tour of Edinburgh's north coast, heading out first to Cramond and then working our way round to Leith and Portobello. We'll be on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths for most of the time, with just a couple of stretches on roads that might be busy with traffic.
The total distance will be about 23 miles, with no serious hills to worry about.

For lunch, we'll stop at the Ocean Terminal in Leith. There are several food outlets there, both to sit in or take away. For those of us who like to picnic, there is a particularly nice spot behind the building with good views of the harbour.

The meeting time and place for this ride are the same as ever: 10.30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Remember, all our rides are free and open to all, so feel free to bring your friends. There's no advance booking. Just turn up on the day.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Somewhere new, with a bit of luck

Today's ride saw us head into uncharted territory. The leader who was leading his second Extra ride in as many months, took us into the depths of Midlothian - to Pathhead and beyond. For most this was somewhere new and unexplored.

On a bright and sunny September morning, fourteen riders assembled at Fisherrow Harbour. Following the customary briefing, we headed away from the harbour towards the River Esk. We had only been under way a couple of minutes when a shout went up (that could be heard at the other side of Musselburgh), "oh no! A bird's just poo'ed on me!" We stopped and waited whilst the poor rider cleaned them self up. They were not placated by being told by several of the group, "it's lucky". Drama over, we set off again. The familiar path beside the river took us to Whitecraig where we joined the path towards Dalkeith. Leaving the path, we headed towards the road that we often take to Crossgatehall. At the junction, the leader surprised some [who thought they knew the way] by turning right instead of left. Then a left turn and we were heading towards Cousland. A sharp little climb into the village. It was now quite warm and we stopped to regroup with many shedding layers. It would remain "T-shirt weather" until lunchtime. Through Cousland, down a glorious hill, a hop across the A6093 and we were back on quiet roads heading towards Pathhead. The sun was shining, the roads were quiet and we were blessed with lovely scenery. Perfect day to be out on the bike. Just before Pathhead, we turned left onto an even quieter road.
Now we were out in the country. The occasional couple of houses and a few farms were the only signs of human habitation as we rode past fields with cows, sheep and crops. One field was even shared by cows and a family of ducks. We carried on until we arrived at a T-junction. In front of us was the fast and busy A68 trunk road. Fortunately we had a good view of the road in both directions. When it was clear as far as we could see, we turned right and made our way along it in single file. After a mere 200 yards we turned onto a minor road and left it behind. We were now on a lovely deserted road riding past more fields full of sheep. We turned right at Tynehead and the road fell gradually downhill to the tiny village of Crichton. A dead end road would have taken us to the historically important ruin of Crichton Castle. Instead we took the road towards Pathhead. Another stretch of delightful quiet country road and we were heading into Pathhead. To avoid trying to turn right onto the busy A68 that runs through the village, we took to the pavement, dismounted and wheeled our bikes up to the pub where we would have lunch. The service was not very fast. But the food was good and we were made to feel welcome.

On emerging from the pub, we realised it was a bit cooler and the clouds had rolled in. Many put on an extra layer. Fortunately, it stayed dry; so no need for waterproofs. Again, it made sense to wheel our bikes down the pavement rather than join the A68 through the village. Soon we were back on lovely quiet roads. We re-joined the road we had been on earlier and retraced our steps to Cousland. That steep hill from the morning was much nicer for going down than up. We took a different route out of the village and were soon on the path towards Whitecraig. From there, the Grove took us back towards Musselburgh. Several of the riders commented on how lovely that stretch of path beside the river is. Just before the bridge that carries the main East Coast railway line, we stopped and the leader declared the ride officially over. From there some headed across the river and back towards Edinburgh, whilst others headed back towards Fisherrow and onwards to Portobello. The weather had been kind to us (especially in the morning), the scenery had been lovely, we had enjoyed riding on deserted roads. Everyone had enjoyed themselves and most could say they had been somewhere they had never been before and the only drama had been the bird incident at the very start. A perfect way to round off this year's series of Extra rides.

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: David.

Sunday 17 September 2017

20-Milers Extra next Saturday

We've got one of our Extra rides coming up on Saturday (23rd).

Given that our group has been on the road for 13 years, it's inevitable that we often do the same rides many times. Today's run will be different: a completely new route that we have never before done as a group. What's more, it will take in some particularly attractive countryside with above-average scenery. It will essentially be a circuit of the eastern fringes of Midlothian, including Mayfield, the Tyne Water and Crichton Castle, with a pub lunch in Pathhead.

But be warned. The ride will be quite a bit longer and faster than most of our runs, and there will be a fair bit of climbing. Although we'll mainly be riding on quiet roads, there will be one short stretch on a busy main road, and another where we might have to walk along the pavement.

We'll meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh in time for a 10.30 start. The route is about 35 miles from Fisherrow back to Fisherrow, but if you are coming from central Edinburgh, you will need to add about 12 miles to the total. Depending on progress, you can expect to get back to Edinburgh between 4 and 5 pm.

As always, there's no need to let us know in advance whether or not you will make it for this ride. Just turn up on the day.

Saturday 9 September 2017

A few steps and lots of parks

Today's ride saw us head south-west to Colinton, followed by a big loop round to Leith and Craigentinny in the north-west. Our route took us through a number of Edinburgh's many parks, and saw us navigate several flights of steps.

A lower than expected 18 riders assembled at the start. Despite knowing a few of our regulars were
riding through to Glasgow for the following day's Pedal for Scotland; the weather was quite pleasant - so the relatively low turnout was a bit of a mystery. At least it meant we only needed one group and we did have a couple of new faces. We left the Meadows behind and threaded our way through the backstreets of Morningside and on through Braidburn Valley Park. On through Colinton Mains Park, Spylaw Park and bypassing Colinton village, we rode through the curved Colinton Tunnel. That tunnel so reminds the writer of a scene from the film "The Italian Job", that he now finds it impossible to ride through it without whistling, "We're all members of the self-preservation society". Each to their own! We followed NCN75 before joining the Union Canal towpath. A short run along the canal and we dismounted to walk across the Slateford Aqueduct. Once across, we negotiated the steep flight of steps down to the Water of Leith path. Past the cemetery and allotments, across Gorgie Road and into Saughton Park. Major works in the park resulted in a detour that brought us out on Stevenson Drive. A twiddle through the backstreets of Saughton took us past Murrayfield Stadium and into Roseburn Park. Across the busy Roseburn Terrace and another flight of steps got us back on the Water of Leith path. We left the path at the rear of the Britannia Hotel and climbed up to Belford Terrace. From there a short ride saw us arrive at the Gallery of Modern Art - our lunch stop. The cafe was the quietest many of us had ever seen it. We quickly got served and enjoyed lunch sitting in the garden making the most of the sunshine.

Lunch over, we made our way through Ravelston Dykes and the grounds of St George's School for Girls. Another flight of steps took us down to join the Blackhall Path. The Roseburn, Telford and Ferry Road Paths took us to The Shore at Leith via Victoria Park. From Leith Links we made our way through Lochend Park and through Restalrig to Craigentinny. Hidden away down Craigentinny Crescent, an unassuming suburban street is a most impressive mausoleum - the Craigentinny Marbles. Jim is the group's expert on its history. In his absence, David and Mike did a good job of telling the interesting story of the Craigentinny Marbles. From there, Fishwives Causeway, Mountcastle Drive North, Figgate Park and Durham Road took us back to the familiar Innocent Railway for our return to the Meadows. At lunchtime, one of the riders, new to both the group and Edinburgh had asked what the Innocent Tunnel was. So it was great for him to experience it first hand. Thanks to David for leading us on an interesting ride that despite never being too far from the city centre, showed the wide variety of what Edinburgh has to offer.

Leader: David
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: David

Monday 4 September 2017

This month's ride this coming Saturday (9th September)

This month's ride will provide a chance to explore some interesting bike routes within the city. Under David's leadership, we will be heading first to Colinton in the south west, then taking a big loop all the way round to Lieth and Craigentinny in the north east.

The total distance will be approximately 20 miles. Much of the route will be on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths, although a few of the paths might be a little rough in places. There will be a couple of short sharp climbs, and also one or two short flights of steps to negotiate, but no other particular difficulties.

For lunch, we will be stopping at one of our more popular venues: the modern art gallery in Belford Road. The café there serves an excellent range of snacks and light meals. But be warned that it gets quite crowded at times. If you want to avoid a possibly long queue and a wait for a table, consider bringing a picnic instead. The gallery has plenty of picnic tables on its spacious terrace.

We'll meet at our usual place at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Please get there in time for a 10.30 departure.

As always, the above details should be regarded as provisional. The meeting point and start time are definite, but we reserve the right to change the route and lunch venue according to circumstances.

Saturday 26 August 2017

Logan's ride

Five months and one day after our great friend passed away, today's Extra ride to Merryhatton was very much his ride. For the last few years, Logan always led this ride in late August; and being led by him, we always knew it would be good fun. Today's ride seemed to follow that formula. We had a strange moment during the briefing, a short history lesson and the re-enactment of a classic Logan moment. As if that wasn't enough, we were also blessed with lovely weather.

A respectable turn out of 19 riders assembled at Fisherrow for the start. Looking back towards Edinburgh there were rather grey and threatening looking skies. Looking the other way into East Lothian (the way we were going) and we saw welcoming blue skies. Time to head off and hope we could leave the grey skies behind. The leader climbed up onto a convenient wall and began his briefing. He was in full flow when a random member of the public appeared beside him and asked if he could photograph the bemused looking cyclists. He took the photo, thanked us and wandered off. How very strange! I'm sure that would have had Logan giggling. The leader recomposed himself, finished the briefing and we headed off towards the blue skies of East Lothian. Heading towards the race course, we paused briefly beside the large blue painted arrow beside the Air Cadets hut at Goose Green. The leader explained its role in training bomber crews during the second world war by guiding them towards target ships out in the Firth of Forth. History lesson over, we pressed on past the race course. A little further on, that dreaded shout went up, "puncture!". It was now warming up and the sun was shining; so having to wait for the puncture to be fixed was no hardship. It's a different story when it's sleeting horizontally and the group has to hang around! Puncture fixed, the unfortunate rider opted to take the road rather than continue on the rougher track. We were rolling again and all met up where we re-joined the road in Prestonpans. We took the coast road to Cockenzie where we detoured past the lovely harbours of Cockenzie and Port Seton. A comfort and sweetie stop followed before we rejoined the coast road. We stayed on that road until just before Gosford farm shop. A few years ago, Logan invested in a road bike (one of the first in the group to do so) and the writer ribbed him about riding a "girly" bike. As ever, he took that ribbing in good stead; always capable of giving as good as he got. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, the leader said, "those on "girly" bikes may want to take the road. Those on "proper" bikes can follow me along this wooded path". We reconvened in Aberlady and took a quiet back road to avoid the busy high street. Leaving Aberlady, those in the know realised we should have turned left, but the leader turned right, headed down to the entrance to a caravan site, turned in and stopped. This was the re-enactment of a classic Logan moment. On this ride two years ago, that is exactly what he did. The difference then being that he didn't stop; he just headed back the way he had come hoping no one had noticed his wrong slot! Back on the right route, we headed down the beautiful East Lothian lane that passes Myreton Motor Museum. A short stretch on the busy main road into Drem, turn right by the station, another quiet road and we were at Merryhatton Garden Centre - our lunch stop.

Following a pleasant lunch we set off again. Two riders that needed to be home quicker left us at this point. One rider had phoned home during the lunch stop and told us it had been raining heavily in Edinburgh. Hard to believe as we headed off past the Museum of Flight in bright sunny conditions. Onwards through the lovely village of Athelstaneford, past the Hopetoun monument and more deserted country lanes brought us to the level crossing west of Longniddry. In such lovely weather, no one minded having to wait for two trains to pass. Across the A198 dual carriageway, along the cycle path and down the hill back to the coast road. To avoid the main road, we retraced our steps from the morning to Cockenzie harbour. From there we took a less familiar route behind the site formerly occupied by Cockenzie power station. It's a nice route. But there are a few steps to contend with. But much worse was the large amount of broken glass strewn across the path. We were fortunate not to have our second puncture of the day. We re-joined the main road beside the Lidl store. One of the group had been unfortunate enough to be stung by a wasp a few miles earlier and wanted to buy some anti-histamine tablets. Fortunately, another member had some - so no need to head to Lidl. Back along the main road to Prestonpans where we re-joined the John Muir Way path. The morning's puncture victim opted to take the road route and met us further along. As we got closer to Musselburgh, the skies turned greyer and the temperature dropped a little. But fortunately, it stayed dry. Along the prom and we were back at Fisherrow harbour. Here the leader declared the ride over. It can be put down as a successful ride. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Only one puncture. Lovely weather, despite the heavy rain just a few miles to the west. The fact there was fun, laughter and everyone enjoyed themselves made it just the sort of tribute Logan deserved. There were a few riders on today's ride that had never met Logan. Hopefully they went away with an insight into what a great character and friend he had been to those who had been lucky enough to know him.

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

Cycling volunteers wanted for research study

Napier University has asked us to post some information about a research study they are undertaking, and which they are looking for healthy male volunteers to take part in. If this is of interest, please reply using the contact details shown below.

Hannah Lithgow, a PhD researcher in Exercise and Health Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University, is currently undertaking a research study in healthy males aged 18-75 years. The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of exercise on vitamin D metabolism. Vitamin D is linked to numerous health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many more. Exercise and physical activity have been linked to vitamin D status, and so in this study they are investigating whether a single bout of exercise could be a means to reduce the development of health conditions through vitamin D metabolism.

The study involves four visits to the Sport and Exercise Science facilities at Edinburgh Napier University at Sighthill. You will benefit from a full cardiorespiratory fitness assessment (called a VO2max test) and feedback on your vitamin D status.

If you are interested in taking part, or have any questions regarding the study, then please contact Hannah Lithgow by telephone (0131 455 5716) or email (h.lithgow[ATT]napier.ac.uk). 

 (Replace [ATT] by the usual @ sign.)

Monday 21 August 2017

20-Milers Extra this Saturday

We've got another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (26th). This is a rather special event, as it will be in honour of our much-missed friend, Logan Strang, who passed away earlier this year. The ride, which will be to Merryhatton, was on of Logan's favourites and one that he led for us several times. In fact, it was the very last ride that he led, exactly one year ago this week.

The route

Our route on Saturday will be 45 - 50 miles. There will be some short stretches that might be busy with traffic, but there should be no other difficulties. Most of the route will be on quiet roads or well-surfaced paths, with only a few gentle hills.

Please keep in mind that these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual "second Saturday" runs. We aim to maintain a slightly higher average speed - although not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation. Most of our riders find the pace comfortable, but if you haven't cycled for a while or are unsure of your abilities, you may prefer to give this ride a miss.

Lunch venue

Our lunch stop will the Merryhatton Garden Centre, where there is an above-average café serving a good range of light lunches (soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes, etc.) as well as more substantial meals. As always, you have the option of bringing food for a picnic lunch if you prefer.

Time and place

The ride will start from Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. Please aim to get there in time for a 10.30 departure. Fisherrow is about six miles from central Edinburgh. There are toilets available at the start point.

The ride is likely to finish between 4 and 5 pm.

Remember, you don't need to book in advance for this ride. Just turn up and enjoy what promises to be an excellent day's cycling

Saturday 12 August 2017

Our first non-electric ride

Today's leader, Jim wanted to claim this as the 20 Milers first non-electric ride. That has nothing to do with there being no electric bikes on today's ride. Rides without any electric bikes present are the norm. No, this was our first ride where a power cut at our lunch stop almost resulted in the group going unfed. In the couple of hours before the start there was heavy rain. As the riders assembled at the meeting point, this had turned to light drizzle and it was dry by the time we rolled away from the Meadows. Considering the weather, the Festival being in full swing and it being the holiday season, a turnout of 26 riders was quite reasonable. A few new faces and a few that have only been a couple of times before were a welcome addition to the regulars. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the Festival behind, we headed off to the Innocent Railway path. At Duddingston Road West we cut through the industrial estate, crossed Peffermill Road and took the path through Craigmillar Castle Park. We had a stop where cakes and sweets were passed round, despite it seeming as if we hadn't travelled very far and us not being far from lunch. We skirted the Royal Infirmary, passed the new houses that are being built and emerged onto The Wisp. Fortunately this busy road has a shared use pavement / cycle path beside it. Through the quiet back streets of Danderhall, across Old Dalkeith Road and we were in the lovely Drum Estate. A short run down Gilmerton road and we were at our lunch stop, the pub opposite Dobbies. We seldom get to our lunch stop by 1200. This time it was a good job we did. Fortunately, everyone had been served and had almost finished eating when the pub was plunged into darkness due to a power cut. Had it happened sooner there could have been a near-riot as the 20 Milers have something of a reputation of cycling on their stomachs!

Although it wasn't sunny, stepping out from the darkness of the pub was quite a shock. We spent a short while squinting before heading off. We took the busy road into Dalkeith. This involved negotiating the Eskbank roundabout. It is small with numerous exits, many of them with poor views of approaching traffic. In the writer's opinion this would be a front runner in the prize for the worst roundabout in Scotland. Fortunately, we all got across without incident. We cut through a housing estate and entered woods via a time-consuming kissing gate. Obviously, no one expected 26 cyclists to pass through. Through the woods, a park and across a busy road. Due to the power cut, the pedestrian crossing was out of action. So crossing the road took a little longer. But as we had arrived at lunch early and felt no need to linger with the pub in darkness, we expected to be early returning to town. Through another park, across another out of action crossing and we were sweeping past Dalkeith High School onwards to Whitecraig. From Whitecraig we took the path towards Musselburgh, cutting off to the railway station and on past Queen Margaret University to Newcraighall. From there we joined the path that took us back to the Innocent Railway for our run back into town. Middle Meadow Walk was heaving with pedestrians. There seemed to be as many walking on the cycle path as on the part reserved for them. Oh yes, it's Festival time! The next time a ride starts from Middle Meadow Walk (our Extra ride on 26th August starts from Fisherrow Harbour), the Festival will be over.
Thanks to Jim for leading us on a pleasant ride. Thanks to the weather for drying up after a wet start to the day, and thanks to the power cut coming after we had all got our lunch.

Leader: Jim
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Monday 7 August 2017

Two rides this month

This is just a quick reminder that we have two rides planned for August.

Our normal monthly run takes place this coming Saturday (12th). As usual, we'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10.30 departure. I can't give you any details of the exact route just yet, but the plan is to head south, with a lunch stop in the Gilmerton area. More information will be announced on the spot.

On Saturday 26th, we'll have another of our Extra rides. This one will head into East Lothian. I'll post more details of that ride nearer the time.

Saturday 29 July 2017

The 20 Milers invade Haddington

Today's 20 Milers Extra ride saw us head through East Lothian to it's county town - Haddington. The forecast was for frequent heavy showers from lunchtime onwards. Fortunately, whilst there were a few showers, none were too heavy and they were all quite brief. So, what could have been a rather wet afternoon was not too bad after all. As is often the case when our Extra rides are a foray out east, the start point today was Fisherrow. It was a pleasant, dry morning as we assembled and watched as the riders just kept on coming. By the start time, there were 27 - a new record for an Extra ride. As ever, it was good to see some new faces amongst them. The leader gave the usual briefing. None of us could remember having heard the words "responsible" and "responsibility" having been used at one of our briefings before. This was the leader talking about riding in smaller groups and leaving large gaps when on sections of busy road; such as on the coast road. Suitably briefed, we rolled away [as one large group] towards Musselburgh racecourse on quiet roads and paths. Past the racecourse and on to Prestonpans where we joined the coast road. It was heartening to see that riders had taken heed of the briefing. This kept us safe and drivers were not frustrated. We turned off the coast road at Cockenzie and stopped outide a fishmonger as sweets were passed round. Yes, there were 27 cyclists outside his shop; two bikes were leaned against his premises, but we were not obstructing access to his shop. So it was quite a surprise when the shopkeeper came out complaining that we were obstructing his customers access. He then told us it was a private pavement that we did not have permission to be on; we doubted that to be true. So in one fell swoop, he had lost 27 potential customers. Sweetie stop over, we departed. We passed Port Seton Harbour and had a comfort stop just beyond. Along the seafront, we passed those picnic tables that jut out into the path in such a way that could be disastrous for any cyclist not paying attention. Whoever decided on their positioning was definitely not a cyclist. From there, a further stretch on the busy coast road took us to the turning for Longniddry. From there we joined the Longniddry railway path. This lovely path through the East Lothian countryside took us to the outskirts of Haddington. A short ride and we were in the centre of town. We split into three groups for lunch. Those having picnics headed down to the river. Others headed to the pub we have been to several times before, and the final group went to try out a newly discovered cafe.

Everyone enjoyed their lunch. Though those at the cafe reported that the service was rather slow. That meant we headed off slightly later than planned. We were just about to head off when the first spots of rain began to fall. Nearly everyone donned waterproofs and away we went. We had probably travelled less than a quarter of a mile before the rain stopped and everyone began to feel too hot. So off came the waterproofs. An unfamiliar route out of Haddington followed. Up a quiet backstreet, through a park, a short stretch of road and we were beside the river. A bridge across the river, along a lovely rural path and we emerged on the quiet B6368. This lovely quiet road took us to Samuelston. Further quiet roads through the delightful East Lothian countryside took us through East and West Saltoun to join the Pencaitland railway path. Near Ormiston we stopped by some picnic tables and the leader doled out homemade carrot cake.
Whilst the writer thoroughly enjoyed the carrot cake, he did worry that a new precedent had been set for Extra rides. Why worry? Because he will be leading the August Extra ride. We had just finished our cake and were preparing to depart when more rain began to fall. Out came the waterproofs again. This was the heaviest rain of the day; and whilst it lasted longer, it did soon clear up. We reached the end of the path at Crossgatehall, headed towards Dalkeith, turned down the minor road towards Smeaton, before joining the path that took us to Whitecraig. From there we headed towards Musselburgh via the River Esk path. Just before the bridge carrying the East Coast mainline, we stopped and the leader declared the ride over. Some headed back to Fisherrow whilst the rest turned off and headed towards Musselburgh station, Newcraighall and Edinburgh via the Innocent railway. Thanks to Verity for her leadership. A proper briefing with safety advice, a lovely and unfamiliar route and homemade cake. It looks as if the leaders bar has just been seriously raised.

Leader: Verity
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn and Michael
Map trace: Jim

Monday 24 July 2017

Extra ride this coming Saturday

We'll be having another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (29th). As you know, these rides are longer than our usual runs, with a faster pace and fewer breaks - but still, we hope, with the same sociable atmosphere.

This time, Verity will be leading us to Haddington. The outward route will be via the East Lothian coast and the Longniddry cycle path. We'll be returning by way of East and West Saltoun and the Pencaitland cycle path. Most of the route will be a reasonable gradient, but we can expect a couple of short climbs in the afternoon. There is one short section on a busy main road.

For lunch, there will be several options. If it's a nice day, you can head to the river for a picnic (bring your own food or aim to pick up a sandwich in the town). There is also a choice of pubs and cafés for those who prefer to eat indoors.

Our departure point will be Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. This is about six miles from central Edinburgh. The total length of the ride (Fisherrow - Haddington - Edinburgh) will be about 35 miles.

Please aim to get to the start point in time for a 10.30 departure. There is no advance booking for our rides; just turn up on the day.

Evening rides

We've still got a few Thursday evening rides coming up. On this coming Thursday (27th), we'll be heading north for a tour of the Edinburgh waterfront, taking in various harbours and beaches. The meeting point for these rides is outside the All Bar One, next to the Sheraton Hotel in Lothian Road. The ride starts at 18.45 and aims to finish around dark (be sure to bring lights).

That's all for now. I hope to see you on one or more of our rides. In the meantime, happy pedalling.

Saturday 8 July 2017

A summer meander to Dalkeith

Today's ride saw us meander our way to Dalkeith on what felt like a summer's day. Summer in Edinburgh so far could best be described as mixed. The preceding week had once again given us a day of wall-to-wall rain. Against this backdrop, we were blessed with a lovely summer's day. There was a slight breeze, sometimes it was a little cool. It wasn't continuously sunny; but it was pleasantly warm without being too hot - a perfect day for cycling. Obviously the weather played a large part in us having 35 starters. As ever, it was great to see a smattering of new faces in amongst the regulars. We split into two groups and rolled away from the start. Over the George Square cobbles, we twiddled through a mixture of back streets and main roads to find ourselves in Holyrood Park via Dumbiedykes Road. We crossed Queen's Drive to join the shared path which was busy with pedestrians on such a lovely day. From St Mary's Loch we began the climb up the road towards Dunsapie Loch. This was our first climb of the day, and was made less pleasant as this narrow road was busy with cars. Half way up the hill we left the road behind and joined the path that would take us through a gate into the back streets of Willowbrae. We waited for the second group to arrive as their leader was not totally sure where to leave the road. A quite indistinct path, it would be easy to miss. All sorted, the first group moved off. The quiet roads of Willowbrae were soon behind us and we made our way into Figgate Park. Through this delightful park and soon we were held up by temporary traffic lights and heavy traffic on Brighton place.
The cobbles on that road seem to get more bumpy every time we go down it. One rider was unfortunate enough to have the top part of their bell shake loose and fall in the road, where it was run over by a car. We then headed towards the beach and joined the Promenade beside the Portobello Swim Centre. Thanks to the weather, this section was very busy with pedestrians, dogs and cyclists. We took it carefully and emerged unscathed onto the road towards Musselburgh. A brief comfort stop at Fisherrow and we took quiet roads, crossed Olive Bank Road and made our way onto the lovely path beside the River Esk to Whitecraig. From there we took the busy A6094 to Dalkeith. Despite us splitting into smaller groups to make it easier for traffic to overtake, we still saw examples of reckless driving as drivers refused to be held up by troublesome cyclists. That road is probably one to avoid in future. Even the most experienced cyclists in the group didn't feel safe on it. Normally we would head into the back of Dalkeith country Park to avoid the road. But that wasn't an option due to the Dalkeith Country Show being held there. With a sigh of relief we left the road behind and twiddled through almost deserted back streets. As that bit of the route was quite tricky to follow, the leader went back to guide the second group through whilst the writer led the first group to the pub and picnic spot in King's Park.

After a nice lunch either sitting outside the pub or picnicing in the park, we were ready for our return journey.  Two riders that wanted to get back quicker tranferred from the second to the first group at this point. We headed out of Dalkeith on Lothian Road and turned into the new housing estate near the fire station. The leader must have got a sore arm as he got the group through the kissing gate. There is no record of how many kisses he received! Through Waterfall Park, across Newmills Road, through another park and we were back at the horrible A6094. Fortunately, we were not going back that way. Instead, cycle paths took us back to Whitecraig via Dalkeith High School. From Whitecraig we took the Grove back towards Musselburgh. But this time we turned off and headed towards the railway station. From there we took the familiar route back to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway. Thanks to Michael for leading us to a familiar place, but by an interesting and less common route. Was great to have something akin to proper summer weather; long may it continue. Was also good to see some new faces. Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves and we'll see them on future rides.

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

Tuesday 4 July 2017

July ride this coming Saturday

Just a quick reminder of our ride this coming Saturday (8th July).

We will be heading out to Dalkeith, with Michael (Law) leading. The route will be mainly on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads, with just a couple of small hills - nothing too onerous. The total distance will be about 20 - 22 miles.

For lunch, there will be a choice between a picnic in the King's Park in the town centre, or a meal in a nearby pub. If you prefer the picnic option, there will be an opportunity to pick up some food in a the supermarket next to the park.

As always, you don't need to reply to this post. Just turn up if you are coming. We'll depart from our habitual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30.

Saturday 24 June 2017

A windy sojourn to Linlithgow

For the second 20 Milers Extra outing of the year we headed into West Lothian to the historic town of Linlithgow. It was a cool day with a much stronger wind than expected in late June. Battling into the wind heading out did mean that it helped blow us home. We may have been home in record time had it not been for some stiff climbs. One rider was glad he had opted to bring his electric bike; whilst another was delighted that he helped push her up the steeper parts! A good turnout of 22 riders, with a few new faces rolled away from the start point at Craigleith. It was lovely to see our leader for today, Julia, riding the late Logan Strang's bike. The very familiar route through Barnton, over the Cramond Bridge, the path beside the A90 and Dalmeney soon had us in South Queensferry despite the headwind. Following a comfort stop in the town, we were on our way again. One of our regulars suffered a puncture at this stage. What should have been a quick and easy fix was compounded by not one, but two faulty inner tubes. This was obviously going to take longer than expected. It was agreed that the victim and one other would fix the puncture and meet us in Linlithgow for lunch. It was not a day for standing around. Having got quite cool waiting, it was a relief for the main group to be moving again. We headed out through the Hopetoun Estate. To everyone's delight, the irritating gate that used to take ages to get anything other than a very small group through had finally been replaced by something much more user-friendly. This replacement was long overdue, but most welcome.
Leaving the estate behind, a mixture of paths, quiet roads and a path alongside a busy road led us to Philipstoun. Whilst crossing a busy road at a blind bend, someone shouted "car!" so loudly that a couple of rides fell over and landed in a heap in the middle of the road. Fortunately, the car stopped, the riders picked themselves up, brushed themselves down - the drama was over and we were on our way again. Across a lovely hump-back bridge, a right turn and we were on the towpath beside the Union Canal. This path led us to Linlithgow and our lunch stop. In the square at the bottom of the hill that led up to Linlithgow Palace, it felt quite cool and windy. As a result, most of the group headed off to various cafes. Only four brave souls made their way up the hill to the palace for a picnic lunch. Surprisingly, it was less windy and much warmer there. For a short time the sun came out and the picnicers enjoyed what would be the warmest part of the day.

After lunch, we regrouped in the square and retraced our route to the canal. The two missing riders were now back with us. There were a few puzzled faces as we headed west! Not to worry - the leader knew exactly what she was doing. It was a great relief to have the wind behind us. Before long we were on the climb up to Ochiltree Castle. We had been warned to expect a stiff climb; but it still took many by surprise and the group was soon quite spread out. It was on this stretch that the rider on the electric bike was able to [quite literally] lend a helping hand and push another rider towards the top. Another rider had told us earlier that she had seen a fantastic T-shirt slogan that read, "It's a hill - get over it". So that's what the group did. There were a few moans when we thought we had reached the summit, only to find a further climb around the next corner. Eventually it was all behind us and a pleasant run on a high level road followed before heading gently downhill all the way to Niddry Castle and Kirkliston. A comfort stop was planned at Kirkliston Leisure Centre. Unfortunately, it was closed. So to any bystanders, a group of cyclists rode into the car park, did a circuit and left. We rode through Kirkliston and joined the cycle path for a pleasant ride through the trees before heading onto the road towards Burnshot Bridge. There we had to navigate through the roadworks, nip through the underpass and we were on our way back to Cramond Bridge and onwards to Craigleith. Thanks to Julia for leading us on an interesting (and at times challenging) ride out to Linlithgow.

Leader: Julia
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Monday 19 June 2017

20-Milers Extra this weekend

Our second Extra of the year will take place this coming Saturday (24th).

Julia (Richardson) will be taking us to Linlithgow. For the outward run, we'll head out to South Queensferry, the Hopetoun Estate and the village of Philpstoun, ending with a stretch along the canal and into the town. After lunch, we'll have a stiff climb up to Ochiltree Castle, but this will be followed by a delightful high-level run on a quiet road heading gently downhill all the way to Niddry Castle and Kirkliston. Apart from one short stretch on a main road, the entire route looks very pleasant.

For lunch, we'll head for the grounds of Linlithgow Palace for a picnic (we'll pause in South Queensferry for anyone who wants to buy a sandwich on the way out). For those who prefer a hot lunch, there are several cafés around the main square. Toilets are available in the nearby Burgh Halls.

Distance and pace

The total distance will be about 35 miles. As always with our Extra rides, we'll be cycling somewhat faster than our usual 20-Milers pace and with fewer breaks. Please keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to join this ride.

Time and place

Our meeting point will be the Sustrans marker at the Craigleith path junction (see http://20milers.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/how-to-find-our-craigleith-meeting-point.html if you need directions). Please be ready to leave at 10.00.

There's no need to book in advance for this ride. As usual, just turn up on the day.

Other news

Our Thursday evening rides are continuing through the summer. As this coming Thursday (22nd) is very nearly the longest day of the year, we will be having our traditional summer solstice run, where we visit some unusual places of interest around the city centre and enjoy the panoramic view from Calton Hill. For more information, see http://20milers.pbworks.com/w/page/117130077/FrontPage.

Finally, one of our regular riders, Jenny Tizard, has just completed an impressive ride up the length of Scotland: 515 miles from Gretna Green to John o'Groats. She completed the run in ten days, mainly cycling alone. Jenny has now written an entertaining account of the ride, accompanied by some superb photos. You can see it at http://neverkissamaninacanoe.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/gretna-green-to-john-ogroats.html.

That's all for now. Enjoy your cycling.

Saturday 10 June 2017

A Craigie Caper

When I woke up this morning the rain was pounding on the window panes. And the forecast promised more relentless rain throughout the morning. Pessimistically, I donned my waterproofs and set out for Middle Meadow Walk. But such are the uncertainties of Scottish weather. By the time I arrived, the downpour had turned into a light drizzle. An hour into the ride it had stopped, and by lunchtime we were sitting in the sun with the temperature in the twenties.

Despite the poor weather at the start, 22 people turned up for the ride – a very satisfactory number. There were several newcomers, including some graduates from Cycling for Softies and EasyCycle – all very welcome.

After the customary briefing, David, our leader for the day, took us down to the Leamington lift bridge and on to Roseburn Park and Murrayfield. We picked up Quiet Route 9 through Corstorphine and the Gyle, then took the lochside path through Edinburgh Park. After passing through a new underpass below the main Glasgow Road (see photo), we paused for our first break of the day at the gleaming new Edinburgh Gateway station. Our leader, who was fresh off the plane from a business trip to India, produced some interesting sweetmeats purchased in Bangalore. I'm not sure what they consisted of, but they were definitely edible.

The next section of the ride took us north along Cammo Way, into Cammo Country Park and across the delightful Grotto Bridge. This is a beautiful spot, with the fast-flowing Almond gushing through a deep tree-lined valley and not a building or road in sight.

By complete contrast, we then approached the busy Queensferry Road. This is the spot where, because of the closure of the Burnshot Bridge, cyclists (and pedestrians) are obliged to use a coned-off lane of the dual carriageway. On our last ride, despite a strict admonition from the leader to stay as close to the verge as possible, one of the party ventured onto the wrong side of the cones and, sheep-like, half the group followed, despite cars speeding past inches away and other cyclists coming towards them. Obviously, the authorities had taken note of this flagrant transgression. Today, the lane in question was guarded by a solid metal barrier keeping us cyclists well and truly where we belong.

Once safely off the dual carriageway, we quickly tackled the only serious climb of the day and were soon taking our ease on the sunny terrace of Craigie's Farm, where luncheon was served.

For the afternoon leg, we went down the far side of Craigie Hill and back across the Queensferry Road to join NCN 1. We pedalled about half a mile north, then through the Chapel Gate for a circuit of the Dalmeny Estate. We re-joined NCN 1 at Burnshot, then headed back to town via Cramond Brig and Barnton. By the time we passed Roseburn, people started to peel off, with the remnant of the group making it back to the Meadows with time to spare for a coffee. At 23 miles, it was a very satisfactory ride with some interesting new sections and plenty of variety – not to mention the satisfaction of confounding the weather forecast.

Leader and map trace: David
Report: Mike
Photos: Michael

Monday 5 June 2017

Rides in June

We've got two rides planned for the month ahead.

On this coming Saturday (10th), David will be leading us on what promises to be a very interesting tour of bike paths to the west of the city, taking in the Dalmeny Estate, Cammo Park and the western reaches of the Gyle - including a chance to see the brand new Edinburgh Gateway station.

For lunch, we'll stop at one of our most popular venues: Craigie's Farm. This is a very nice café with a good choice of meals and snacks and plenty of space - including picnic tables outside for those who like to eat al fresco.

The total distance will be about 22 miles, mainly on good surfaces. There will be a steep climb just before lunch and a few other moderate hills, but no other particular difficulties.

We'll set out at 10.30 from our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As always, just turn up on the day; no need to tell anyone in advance that you are coming.

St Andrews ride on the 17th

Several members of our group will again be tackling the Edinburgh - St Andrews run this year. If you would like to join them, meet near the "6 - 7 Hours" flag in Inverleith Park. It's not too late to register for the ride; you can even do that on the day (but you will need to arrive about 20 minutes early to do so).

For more information about the event,see http://www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk/lepra-ride.htm.

20-Milers Extra on the 24th

For our second Extra of the season, Julia will be leading, with a route provisionally planned for Linlithgow. I'll post more information nearer the time.

A reminder

Finally I'll take this opportunity to remind you always to bring a spare inner tube on our rides if at all possible, as this makes life a lot easier if a puncture strikes. If you don't know what size or type of tube to bring, your favourite bike shop will advise. It's also helpful if you could bring whatever tools are needed to remove your wheel if it doesn't have a quick-release hub (most modern bikes do).

Saturday 27 May 2017

Turned out nice again. Well, almost.

Following two days of glorious summer weather, today's opening 20 Milers Extra ride of the year looked set to continue the trend. The day dawned warm, bright and sunny. Alas, the forecast suggested something different later on. The promise of a heavy thundery downpour complete with hail around lunchtime did not bode well for the planned picnic lunch in Almondell & Calderwood Country Park. In the end we got to enjoy our picnic lunch in the dry. There was a bit of rain, but nothing like as bad as suggested. The weather of the previous two days and the lovely start to today resulted in a respectable 18 riders making the start. The leader had made it clear that the ride would begin at 1015 sharp, and it did. But riders finishing coffee and faffing about meant the ride was in disarray from the start. The one group that left the Craigleith start point was not back together as one unit until we reached the bridge at Cramond. A short distance up the A90 sliproad and we crossed to go through the subway. This detour was necessary due to the closure of the Burnshot Bridge. We found ourselves on the diverted route for cyclists and pedestrians. This consisted of a narrow track seperated from the fast moving traffic on the A90 by nothing more than cones and rope. It was a relief to ride up the slip road and follow the road to Kirkliston for a comfort stop at the leisure centre. We left the main road behind heading under a bridge carrying the M9 motorway. Beside a much older bridge, we were faced with a steep climb to join the railway path. A couple of hardy souls rode up it, whilst the rest of us got off and pushed. A short while later we joined the canal towpath to Broxburn before getting on the road to Uphall. Off road again and we were in lovely West Lothian countryside.
We paused atop the Camps Viaduct to admire the view and take photos. With the weather still on our side, we pressed on towards lunch. Probably the best kept secret in West Lothian, Almondell & Calderwood Country Park is tucked out of sight in the valley of the River Almond between Broxburn and East Calder. Behind the converted stable block house that is now the visitor centre lies a delightful garden complete with benches and picnic tables. That is where we enjoyed a picnic lunch. It remained warm but the sun was hidden by cloud.

Lunch over, the first spots of rain were felt. There then began that silly indecisive dance. Shall we or shall we not put on our waterproofs? Some said it would make them too warm, some put them on, others copied what the person beside them did. We climbed the hill we had earlier whizzed down back to the entrance and the main road. It soon began to rain heavily and riders stopped to don waterproofs. Then it stopped raining. Some removed them, whilst others kept them on. It looked set to be "one of those days". We pressed on accompanied by changeable weather. Although annoying, the rain was not that heavy and continued to come and go. At the Bridge Inn at Ratho we joined the canal towpath and headed towards Edinburgh. We passed the lovely little Ratho Marina and stayed on the canal as far as Gogar Station Road. Leaving the canal behind we cut through to Edinburgh Park and the Gyle. Onwards through Broomhouse, we rode past Murrayfield where a couple of cricket matches were in full swing. At the bottom of the zig zags leading onto the Roseburn Path, the leader declared the ride over and we headed off in different directions. Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting ride out into West Lothian. Thanks to the weather for failing to live up to expectations - intermittent light rain was as bad as it got.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Monday 22 May 2017

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday

The Camps Viaduct. On Saturday's ride we will be cycling
over the top of this imposing structure.
This coming Saturday (27th) sees the first of our Extra rides of the summer. We'll be heading west, passing through Kirkliston, Broxburn and Uphall, then crossing the magnificent Camps Viaduct (75 feet above the River Almond) before returning to town by way of Bonnington and Ratho. Most of the route will be on quiet back roads, but there will also be a couple of stretches on the canal towpath (reasonably good surfaces) and about a mile or so on a narrow path that might be rough in places. There will be a few hills, but nothing too demanding.

Distance and pace

Please keep in mind that our Extra rides are longer than our usual runs and go at a faster pace with fewer breaks. This one will be 35 - 38 miles. If you find our normal rides well within your comfort zone, you should have no difficulties with this one. But if that's not the case, you might prefer to give this one a miss. Try a few shorter rides first, then come back when your fitness level improves (we have several more Extras planned for the coming months).

Despite the faster pace, we will still try to keep the ride "sociable", with our customary friendly atmosphere.

Lunch venue

We will have our lunch break in the beautiful Almondell Country Park. Note that there is no catering of any kind in the park, apart from the visitor centre which sells vending-machine drinks and a limited range of confectionery, so be sure to bring food for a picnic lunch. There are toilets in the park (and we will have an additional comfort break mid morning.)

The ride and picnic lunch will go ahead as planned even if the weather is poor. A light drizzle or gusty wind won't put us off. But if conditions are really atrocious, we might choose a shorter route and a café for lunch.

Meeting time and place

Regardless of the weather, the ride will start from the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions).

Please gather at the meeting point from about 10.00, and be ready to leave at 10.15 sharp.

We will probably be back in town around 16.00. We won't necessarily return to Craigleith; we will probably pass Murrayfield, Roseburn Park and the southern end of the Roseburn Path on the return leg.

I hope to see you either this coming Saturday or one of our other rides.