20th Anniversary Year

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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.

Sunday 21 May 2017

Eight out, two back – a damp weekend to Perth

The fourth annual 20 Milers weekend away saw us head north to the fair city of Perth. What turned out to be a damp, and at times downright wet and blustery weekend saw eight set out on Saturday morning. But only two rolled back into Edinburgh in the early evening sunshine on Sunday. Whilst that may seem like a terrible rate of attrition, it wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds.

On a cool damp Saturday morning, a mere eight riders met at the Craigleith marker to begin our journey to Perth. No doubt the weather played a big part, but this was the lowest turnout since our weekend away rides began in 2014. With us all in waterproofs, we headed off along the familiar path towards South Queensferry and the Forth Bridge. One of the group fell courtesy of an uneven drop kerb at Dalmeny. Fortunately, no injury or damage occurred and we carried on through the new housing estate. As we got closer to the bridge we stopped to speak to an old lady walking her dog. She told us she thought the bridge was closed to cyclists as a result of kestrel damage! On arriving at the bridge, we discovered this was not the case. But it certainly made us smile and cropped up in the conversation a number of times over the weekend. Our concern at the bridge was the chaos caused by the roadworks. We are so used to quickly and smoothly making our way to the foot and cycleway on the eastside of the bridge. But not today. We had to negotiate our way to the westside before we could begin our crossing. Once across we were confronted with miles of cones, rope and strange door frames at crossing points. There was one benefit. The usually horribly busy road into Inverkeithing was as quiet as most of us had ever seen it. We left Inverkeithing behind us and headed towards Dalgety Bay. From there we found ourselves on the B901 Clocklunie Road – not Clock-the-loony as some on the group had christened it. This was a steep road that went down into the valley before climbing out at the far side.
Being a busy and narrow road meant we were delighted to see a lovely wide, well surfaced cycle path running alongside. Two brave souls wanted to whizz down the road and see how far up the other side their momentum would carry them. The rest of the group took the path not caring that a gateway at the bottom would scupper any chance of that. It was great zooming down; but it was very hard work going up the other side. We then pressed on through Crossgates, Cowdenbeath and on to Kinross. In Kinross it began to rain heavily. Fortunately, our lunchstop, the Muirs Inn emerged from the gloom and we rushed inside. The rain continued as we enjoyed a lovely lunch. We didn’t rush. One of the group had been checking train times and urged us to get a move on so he could make Perth in time for his train back to Edinburgh. Well, it was time to get moving and the rain had stopped. We made our way through Milnathort and turned left up a minor road towards Netherton. A sign told us this road was closed, but fortunately we were able to get through. On this road about ten horses decided to gallop up and down their field for a few minutes. Perhaps they didn’t get to see many cyclists. We passed through Colliston, Drunzie, Duncrevie and Glenfarg. Near Dron we found ourselves on a beautiful long descent. It may have been a minor road, but the curves were gentle and the surface smooth and free of the dreaded gravel. Some reported hitting 40 mph here. Then came the cloud burst. There was no shelter on this stretch. We had agreed to regroup beneath a bridge that carries the M90 motorway. There was plenty of room under the bridge. It looked as if the weather had set in for the day. We anticipated it being like that all the way to Perth. The rider who wanted to catch his train realised he would make better progress alone, so left us and headed out into the rain. Astonishingly, a few minutes later the rain stopped and the sun made its first appearance of the day, and that’s how it stayed as we made our way into Perth. One rider headed off to meet their lift home, whilst three piled into a strategically parked van for their return to Edinburgh. And then there were three. We made our way to our overnight accommodation, enjoyed the luxury of a hot shower and change of clothes before meeting up for dinner. Obviously, dinner was less lively than in previous years due to depleted numbers.

On Sunday morning, the three remaining riders met beside the main road bridge across the Tay to begin our journey back to Edinburgh. It was dry, bright but cloudy and a touch cool. We retraced our route from the previous day. With the beautiful steep descent near Dron now ahead of us as a most foreboding climb, the leader turned left on to a flat road. Phew! This quiet road led us to the A912. We headed south on this fast twisty road keeping in single file. There was some traffic, but being a Sunday morning it was not overly busy. This led us to our morning coffee stop at the delightful, friendly and welcoming Bein Inn. From there we went through Glenfarg, Duncreavie, Drunzie and Milnathort before arriving at Loch Leven Larder for lunch. The café there looked very nice. But the “you’ll have to wait at least 20 minutes for a table” did not appeal. We got some food from the deli and sat outside, but under cover as it was now raining. In a field closer to Loch Leven a cricket match continued despite the rain. At this point one of the group left us to head to Cowdenbeath for a train back to Edinburgh. And then there were two. We headed down to the loch. A lovely path and fine views should have made this part of the ride lovely. But there was a drawback – the swarms of flies and midges. It began to make sense why so many cyclists heading towards us had their faces covered as if they were on their way to rob a bank. On leaving the lochside and getting back on the road the wind got up. This annoying headwind did not seem to let up until we were back in Edinburgh. This headwind and some dull featureless roads made parts of our journey out of Fife something of a slog at times. At Dalgety Bay the leader suffered the first puncture of the weekend. He told the writer to go on. That wasn’t going to happen. The 20 Milers ethos has always been that we stick together. No one ever gets left on their own.  Puncture fixed and we were rolling again. Once more we threaded our way through the maze of roadworks to get onto the Forth Bridge. Thanks to the strong headwind, climbing to the highest point on the bridge felt like climbing a mountain. Eventually we got across. Not a kestrel in sight. From there familiar roads and paths took us back to the Cramond Brig Hotel for a well-deserved pint. We sat outside the pub in the early evening sunshine and shed our jackets for the first time all weekend. From there we returned to Craigleith where the ride was officially closed, and the final two headed home in opposite directions.

The weekend had been tough at times. Not Peebles tough, but no easy amble. There had been stretchs on some busy roads; but that was balanced by some lovely quiet lanes. Some of the climbs were tough, but going from Edinburgh to Perth – there are hills in between. Think of them as a challenge. Remember, there is no shame in walking up the steepest ones. Sometimes its quicker and easier than riding them! A big thanks must go to Jim for all the effort he put in to planning, recceing and leading the ride. Going out on his own recceing the route in the winter months deserves a mention in despatches, if not a medal.

Leader: Jim
Organiser: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn and Graham
Map trace: Jim

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Burnshot Bridge closure: alternative route to Kirkliston and beyond

Updated: 3 August 2020

A new bridge is now in place and open to all traffic. It includes a segregated eastbound cycle lane and a shared use path for those heading west. This reinstates the original route from Edinburgh to Kirkliston. The alternative route, via the tunnel under the A90, is still available.

The Burnshot Bridge is currently closed to all traffic – including cyclists and pedestrians. This is the bridge over the main A90 Queensferry Road near Cramond Brig. It lies on the main bike route between Edinburgh and Kirkliston, and its closure is a major nuisance to cyclists travelling between the capital and parts of West Lothian.

Since this article was posted on 17 May, Edinburgh Council have established an alternative route between NCN 1 near Cramond Brig and the Kirkliston Road. This route, which is described below, is easier and safer than the other options, and has the benefit of being signposted - at least in part.

To reach this alternative route, head north on NCN 1 from Cramond Brig (this is the route that goes alongside the dual carriageway, not the longer route through the Dalmeny Estate).

The closed bridge as seen from NCN 1
After a short distance, you will see a tunnel on your left that goes under the A90 (see photo below). This is next to the public weighbridge and opposite a bus stop. Go through the tunnel. At the other end, keep on the path as it veers to the left. This takes you onto the dual carriageway - but in a coned-off lane that is reserved for cyclists and pedestrians.

It is advisable to keep well to the left as you cycle in this lane, to keep some distance between yourself and the fast-moving traffic. Also, watch out for cyclists coming towards you. Although it is not obvious, this lane is in fact two-way for cyclists.

After about half a mile, leave the dual carriageway by a slip road. This joins the Kirkliston Road just to the west of the closed bridge. You can now continue on the original route.

Coming back

The tunnel under the dual carriageway
If you are cycling in the opposite direction, that is, from the Kirkliston area towards Edinburgh, just reverse the above directions. When you reach the closed bridge, turn right down the slip road onto the dual carriageway, using the coned-off lane mentioned above. Leave the main road at the next exit and go through the tunnel to join NCN 1. Turn right by the bus stop for Cramond Brig and Edinburgh.

How long?

Nobody seems to know for how long the Burnshot Bridge will be closed. We'll post more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, feel free to post a comment if you have experience with the route described here.

Update: 13/2/18

Edinburgh Council today announced that funding has been found to replace the bridge (which was demolished last November after it was found to be unsafe.) Work on the new bridge is expected to start later this year and will last approximately two years. Meanwhile the cycle route alongside the dual carriageway (mentioned above) is being widened, with better separation from the main traffic flow.

We'll post further information about the replacement bridge as it becomes available.

Saturday 13 May 2017

With the leading ladies to South Queensferry

Today's ride saw us head out to South Queensferry. After a long spell of dry weather, what a shame today saw the first rain in weeks. With a break from tradition, today we had two leaders. Both Dawn and Ollie were leading for the first time. Between them they did a good job and can expect be asked to lead again. In amongst the 25 starters it was good to see a couple of new riders. It was cool, damp and misty as we headed away from the Meadows in one group. So, how does it work with two leaders and one group? On this occasion, Dawn led the group and Ollie back marked. We took the tried and tested route to the Leamington Bridge where the continued closure of the canal towpath forced us on to the busy Dundee Street. Having safely negotiated that, we went down the Telfer subway and followed the path to Dalry Road. After a short spell on that busy road, quieter ones led us to the zig zags and up onto the Roseburn path. This took us to Granton where we passed that local landmark, the Granton gasometer. On along the Silverknowes Esplanade to Cramond where we stopped whilst sweets and cakes were passed round. Whilst it was nice to have a break, the cool misty weather meant we were glad to be moving again. It was not a day for standing around. We rode beside the River Almond, before warming up on the short but steep climb up School Brae. A short run along Whitehouse Road before turning right down Peggy's Mill Road. This narrow road was new to many of the group and led us back beside the River Almond and on to Cramond Bridge. From there we made our way on NCN 76 through the lovely Dalmeny Estate. The earlier rain had damped down the dust a little. But a lot more would be needed to make the tracks truly muddy. We encountered heavy drizzle on the last stretch into South Queensferry. On the narrow High Street a lorry and coach had met resulting in traffic being at a standstill. It was easy for us to dismount and walk along the pavement to where we parked our bikes. Whilst most of the group headed to various cafes for lunch; four hardy souls sat in the heavy drizzle to eat their sandwiches. At one point, one of the picnicers even produced an umbrella. Talk about coming prepared! It soon dried up, but remained cool and misty. The group has been to South Queensferry enough times to have seen weather ranging from pouring rain to beautiful warm sunshine. We would have hoped for better in mid-May.

As we were preparing to get under way, a puncture was discovered. This was soon repaired and we were off. This time Ollie was leading and Dawn back marking. A short steep hill immediately after the lunch stop is never popular. But that had to be dealt with to reach the Co-op car park where we joined the cycle path to Dalmeny. Through the village and onto the cyclepath beside the A90 and we were soon back at Cramond Bridge. Making our way through Barnton, those at the back were surprised to see the leader talking to a pedestrian whilst the group had stopped further up the road. It appeared that the lady had wanted to find out more about the group. A new recruit perhaps? From there we took the familiar route back to the Meadows via Craigleith, the Roseburn path, Telfer subway and Leamington Bridge. As the ride ended, the sun was trying to peep through; but it remained cool and the wind was beginning to get stronger. New leaders; a new way of leading - two rather than one and a trouble-free ride; what more could anyone ask for? Looks like two more leaders have been added to the list.

Leaders: Dawn and Ollie
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Monday 8 May 2017

Three rides for May

We've got three rides planned for this month. Here are some details - along with news of some other bike-related events:

Standard ride : 13 May

Our next standard ride will be this coming Saturday. Ollie and Dawn will be leading us to South Queensferry by a slightly unconventional route. With a total distance of about 25 miles, the ride will be a little longer than usual but there won't be any particularly steep hills to slow us down. There might be a couple of rough paths, although most of the route will be on reasonably good surfaces.

For lunch, we'll spread ourselves among the various cafés and pubs in South Queensferry. For those who prefer to bring their own food there is a nice picnic spot with good views over the Forth.

The ride will start at 10.30 from our usual meeting point in Middle Meadow Walk.

Weekend away: 20 - 21 May

For our fourth annual cycling weekend, we'll be heading to Perth. We'll leave Edinburgh on the Saturday morning, returning late Sunday afternoon. Jim will be leading us on what promises to be an attractive route through Fife and Kinross. There will be about 40 miles of cycling each day. This will include a certain amount of climbing but nothing too severe; but there will be one very steep descent on the Saturday afternoon, so I hope all our brakes are in good order.

There will be lunch stops at a café or pub on both days.

If you are planning to join this ride, you should book your own accommodation in Perth for the Saturday night. Those who want to do the Saturday ride but not stay overnight should make their own arrangements to return to Edinburgh by train. Those who are stopping in Perth will have the option of meeting up for a meal in the evening.

The meeting point for this ride will be the Craigleigh path junction (if you don't know where that it, see here). Get there in time for a 10.30 departure on the Saturday morning. You don't need to book for the ride itself, but if you haven't already done so it would be helpful if you could let Glenn know that you are coming, just in case of any last-minute change of plans. His email address is glenn.brearley[[AT]]forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

First Extra ride of 2017: 27 May

The following weekend will see our first Extra of the year. As you know, these rides are longer than our usual "second Saturday" outings (usually about 35 miles) and go at a somewhat faster pace. If you find our normal rides well within your capabilities, you should have no problem with our Extras. But if you are unsure of your fitness level, you might prefer to give this one a miss.

I'll post more information about this Extra once the details have been firmed up.

Evening rides

Don't forget that we have a ride every Thursday evening throughout the summer. For more information, see here.

More cycling events

With summer just round the corner, the local cycling scene is hotting up. We have the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling next month, as well as the Spokes Bike Breakfast and the annual Lepra run to St. Andrews - not to mention various rides organised by other local cycling groups such as EasyCycle and MellowVelo. Looking further ahead, the Edinburgh Book Festival in August often has talks on cycling-related themes.

I am posting details of as many of these events as possible on the Cycling Edinburgh site.

That's all for now. I hope we'll see you on one or more of the above events. In the meantime, happy pedalling.