20th Anniversary Year

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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.