20th Anniversary Year

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Tuesday 25 December 2018

A seasonal saunter

Photo op on the esplanade

For the first time in several years, the gods of Christmas weather were good to us for today's ride. There was none of last year's torrential rain, nor anything resembling the ferocious Storm Conor of 2016. Christmas morning this year was mild, dry and almost free of wind. True, the skies were decidedly overcast, but when it comes to cycling, a grey Christmas is better than a white one.

Fourteen riders turned up for this, our eighth Christmas morning run. About half the group were 20-Milers regulars; the rest were mainly folk we tend to see once a year. We were also joined by a couple of visitors from Thailand. All very welcome.

Under David's leadership, we started out along George IV Bridge and up the Royal Mile to the castle. We did a circuit of the esplanade, taking in some of the monuments and statues, and pausing for a photo opportunity in front of the Scottish Horse Monument (commemorating the men of the Scottish Horse Regiment who fell in the Boer War). The Pentland Hills were just about visible through the murky cloud but the Fife coast had gone AWOL.

After leaving the castle, we freewheeled down Johnston Terrace, then round the back of the Usher Hall into Lothian Road. We crossed Festival Square and took the footbridge into Rutland Square. Next came a bit of weaving through the West End, across Queensferry Street and into Charlotte Square. Passing the First Minister's residence (no coffee invitation was forthcoming), we headed into the Street of Light.

The Street of Light is a section of George Street which, in recent weeks, has been lit up with a spectacular light display, synchronised with music played through silent disco headphones. But this morning the lights were out and the place was even more silent than usual. For no good reason, we did an extra lap or two under the extinguished lights before turning into Castle Street and out onto Princes Street.

The Street of Light
Cycling along an almost traffic-free Princes Street is a traditional part of our Christmas morning rides. This year there seemed to be a few more buses and taxis than previously, but not enough to spoil the run. After crossing the Leith Street / North Bridge junction, we tackled our only serious climb of the day – to the summit of Calton Hill. Although steep, the road up the hill is reasonably short, and we all made it to the top without difficulty. The last time we were here was on our summer solstice ride, when our visit had been marred somewhat by the extensive building work. Fortunately, this has now finished.

We left Calton Hill by the same road that we had used for the ascent, and then headed along Regent Road to another of our traditional stopping places: the Stones of Scotland Monument. Breaking with tradition, we then continued east to Abbeyhill, and then down to Horse Wynd and into Holyrood Park. We were pleased to see that the road through the park was closed to cars for the day, so we took advantage of that to occupy the full width of the road rather than keeping to the narrow shared-use pavement.

Calton Hill
After leaving the park by the Commonwealth Pool exit, we cut along the track that leads into St Leonard's Bank. This little-known back street provides an excellent view of Salisbury Crags. We have occasionally used it when heading out of town, but this was the first time I recall taking it in the other direction. We finished the ride by crossing St. Leonard's Street and taking the familiar bike route back to the Meadows, arriving there at 12:30. Our total distance was a mere six and half miles, but it was a most interesting route, in good company and in tolerable weather. In other words, an excellent start to Christmas Day.

Leader: David
Report and photos: Mike
Map: David

Thursday 20 December 2018

Short ride planned for Christmas Day

This is to remind you that we have our traditional Christmas morning ride coming up next week (Tuesday 25th). Like all our rides, this one will be free and open to all, so feel free to tell your pals.

In no way will the ride be strenuous. Just the opposite, it will be a leisurely saunter around town with plenty of stops. There will be a couple of moderate climbs but no other difficulties. One advantage of cycling on Christmas day is that the roads will be relatively quiet. We'll take advantage of that to take in parts of the city where we might not otherwise ride.

We'll set out at 10:30 from our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will end back at the Meadows at 13:00 at the very latest (possibly a bit earlier). Of course, you can always peel off earlier if you need to be somewhere else for lunch.

Note that there will be no cafe or pub stop of any kind. If anyone wishes to bring a snack, we'll stop somewhere nice for you to enjoy it.

There's no need to reply to this post. If you are planning to join us, just turn up on the day.

Saturday 8 December 2018

Turned out dry again - just

For those in the know, there are four routes to the top of Fa'side Hill near Wallyford. There's the hard way, second hardest way, third hardest way and the easy (off-road) way. Today saw us go up by the second hardest way, and come down what would have been the hard way; which made for a glorious descent. By declaring the ride officially over before we had returned to the Meadows (and five minutes before the rain started), the rookie leader was able to claim a dry ride.

For once, the last 20 Milers ride of the year saw us avoid the Christmas crowds that we have had to mix with in previous years. This time, the Christmas tree in the pub where we had lunch was the only clue to what time of year it was. We didn't even have typical December weather. In the morning it was cool and dry with sunny intervals. After lunch, it was  overcast and cooler without the sun. For the final stretch back to the Meadows there was some very light rain - but of course, the ride was officially over by then. A turnout of twenty was good for the time of year. The noticable wind that blew us out to Prestonpans had dropped as we turned to head back west. In one group, we headed off towards the Innocent Railway. A trouble-free ride with the wind behind us meant we were in Niddrie in next to no time. Unfortunately, a wrecked pickup truck had been dumped in the middle of the cycle path. To avoid the broken glass and other debris, we had to take to the soft, wet grass. We also had a very brief delay whilst a minor chain-related mechanical issue was deftly sorted. On reaching Milton Road, we deviated from our usual route to Musselburgh and headed down Brunstane Road. The road was unbelievably busy with traffic. Eventually we got down it and made our way to Portobello prom. At Joppa, the leader had us get into groups of five so as to cause minimal hold ups to the traffic on the busy road towards Musselburgh. It felt like a team time trial, only considerably slower with the aim being NOT to catch the group in front! With that stretch of busy road behind us, we stopped at Fisherrow for a comfort break and cakes and sweets were passed round.
Quiet back roads, the footbridge over the river, past the racecourse and we were once again into groups of five and back on the busy road. At the racecourse roundabout we took the coast road as far as Prestonpans. We now headed inland towards Prestonpans railway station. Past the station and we crossed a bridge over the A1. A short, sharp little climb took us to the busy A199. It took a few minutes to get everyone safely across. Once across we began the steady climb up to Fa'side Hill. Inevitably, the group became quite spread out on this section, so we waited and re-grouped beside the mast. A few undulations, past Fa'side Castle and the steep descent began in earnest. Going down the other side of a steep hill climbed always gives a sense of fair payback. From the bottom of the hill, a short run along the busy road and we arrived at the pub which would be our lunch stop. Given the time of year, it didn't come as much of a surprise that no one opted for the picnic lunch option.

With everyone fed and watered, we stepped outside and prepared for the off. With clouds now obscuring the sun, it felt considerably cooler. Within yards of setting off, we were delayed by temporary traffic lights. Through those and we followed the road to re-join The Grove - the cycle path back towards Musselburgh. We followed it as far as the footbridge over the River Esk. Across the river and [unbelievably] we rode through a couple of swarms of midges! Didn't they know it was December? Clear of the midges, a combination of quiet residential streets and cycle paths took us to Musselburgh railway station. From there we made our way to Newcraighall; where we luckily hit upon a break in the traffic to cross the road unhindered. Through the new housing development and we were soon on the familiar route back towards the Innocent Railway. In Niddrie we avoided the wrecked truck by taking an alternative path. Once through the Innocent Tunnel, the leader declared the ride officially over. One or two riders left us there, but the majority followed the leader back to the Meadows through the light rain that was now falling.

Thanks to Neil for taking the reins for the first time to lead an interesting and enjoyable ride. Taking the decision to declare the ride over five minutes prior to the rain beginning was a stroke of genius. Also worthy of mention was the fact that Neil was out recceing the route at 0500 to check that the wind was not going to be a major problem. It wasn't. That must count as a level of dedication that few other leaders can match.

So, with the exception of the short Christmas Day ride, here endeth the 2018 rides. Thanks to everyone that has made them a success - leaders, backmarkers, helpers and attendees. Wishing all our riders seasons greetings and looking forward to seeing you again in 2019.

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

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Two rides for December

We've got two rides coming up this month. Here are the details.

December 20-Milers (8th December)

For this month's run, Neil will be leading us into East Lothian. The route will take us to Musselburgh, Prestonpans, Falside Castle, Whitecraig and then back to Edinburgh via the River Esk path and NCN1. At about 24 miles, this ride will be a little longer than usual, and will include one steep climb but no other major problems.

Our lunch stop will be the Craig House pub, just outside Whitecraig. This offers basic grub at reasonable prices. The pub is not suitable for those of us who prefer to bring our own food, so we will make a small detour to Wedderburn Terrace, where there is a nice picnic spot overlooking the river.

As always, we will set out at 10:30 from the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The run should end a little before dark, so be sure to bring lights in case we get delayed and to see you home.

Christmas morning ride (25th December)

Once again, we will be organising our traditional (and very popular) half-day ride for Christmas morning. This will be a short ride, taken at a very leisurely pace. It will finish at 13:00 at the latest. I'll post more details nearer the time.

Both of these rides are, of course, free of charge and open to all, with no advance booking.

I hope to see you on one or both of the above events.

Saturday 10 November 2018

Thirty follow the sun to Dalkeith

Today's ride saw us head to Dalkeith by a mainly familiar route with a couple of twists thrown in for good measure. For a large part of the outward route, we were squinting into a low winter sun; but we wouldn't dream of complaining about its welcome presence. There were a couple of delays - two minor mechanical issues and a rider fell whilst trying to avoid a dog that was not being kept under control. We also got caught up in a running event in Holyrood Park; which, as the leader pointed out, had not been there on the recce!

After a very low turn out for October's rain-lashed ride to Roslin, we were hoping for a considerably better turn out this time. A mild, sunny November day would surely lead to a respectable number? Yes. But no one was really expecting 30 starters at this time of the year. It is very unlikely we have had such a large turn out in November. Following some discussion, it was decided to risk running as one large group. Following the leader's [characteristically] in depth briefing, the large group of riders rolled away in the direction of the Innocent Tunnel. After crossing St Leonard's Street, some of the group sailed past the entrance to St Leonard's Lane and had to be shouted to stop and turn round. Despite some being on auto pilot heading for the Innocent Tunnel, the group were soon back on the right road. We headed down St Leonards Hill, past the mountain bike track and on into Holyrood Park. As we emerged onto Queen's Drive, something didn't seem quite right. For that time on a Saturday morning.....where was all the traffic? There wasn't any! At that point no one realised some of the roads in the park were closed due to a running event. Some riders took to the path as normal, whilst others took advantage of the road devoid of traffic. Taking care to avoid runners on the road, we made our way to St Margaret's Loch. Usually the climb on the road towards Dunsapie Loch involves mixing it with cars. Today it was runners we had to contend with. Leaving the runners behind, we made our way through a gate in the wall onto the quiet back streets of Willowbrae. Across the busy Willowbrae Road, through Northfield and Mountcastle before emerging onto Fishwives Causeway. From there we made our way onto Portobello Prom to Joppa. At the end of the prom, before taking to the road, the leader ensured we were in groups of six and spaced out sufficiently to travel safely along the main road to Musselburgh. Waiting to be flagged off, it felt as if we were in a team time trial - the difference being that being slow, not fast was the order of the day. We regrouped and had a comfort break/sweetie stop at Fiherrow Harbour. It was decided that such a large group was becoming unwieldy. So the decision to split into two groups was taken. We made our way to the Grove which would take us to Whitecraig. It was on this stretch, where we rode along squinting into the low sun that a rider fell whilst trying to avoid a dog that should have been kept under control. The unfortunate rider was rather shaken. But their cut knee was attended to, they took time to recompose themselves and were under way once again. It was on this section that the second group were delayed briefly whilst a gear cable-related mechanical issue was dealt with. Leaving Whitecraig, a short stretch on an unpleasant busy road followed. But we were soon riding through the quiet lanes of Dalkeith Country Park. Out into Dalkeith and we were soon at the pub that would be our lunch stop. A few brave souls headed to the nearby park for a picnic lunch. They reported it had been a pleasant experience sitting in the warm sunshine enjoying their sandwiches.

With everyone fed and watered, we began our journey back. Past Newbattle golf club, we turned into the new housing estate. A slight delay as everyone negotiated the kissing gate, and we were heading  through the woods. Another brief delay as we waited whilst a minor mechanical malady was fixed.  Through Waterfall Park and on to Dalkeith High School. From there we took the path towards Whitecraig, turned off through the housing estate and park to emerge in the village. From there, a brief ride down the high street, a right turn at the roundabout and we were back on the road to Cowpits where we joined the Grove to head back towards Musselburgh. Just before the railway bridge, we crossed the footbridge over the river and carried on to Musselburgh station. From there, we took the path to Newcraighall where we found the road awash with water which led to serious traffic delays. It didn't worry us as we cut through the new housing estate to join the familiar path which would lead us back onto the Innocent Railway for our run back into town.

A good day had been had by all, no doubt helped by weather that was far from what we would expect in November. Thanks to Verity for leading us on a familiar route with just enough interesting twists to keep us all on our toes.

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

Monday 5 November 2018

November ride to Dalkeith - and others

As I write this, it's obvious that our long hot summer is over and the colder weather has arrived. But that's no reason to put away you cycle clips. The best way to face the winter is to keep fit and healthy. And the best way to do that is to get out on your bike and enjoy some fresh air and exercise.

With that in mind, here is news of three rides for the month ahead:

Saturday 10th November: 20-Milers to Dalkeith

Verity will be leading our November ride. We'll head out towards Portobello and Musselburgh, then turn inland towards Dalkeith via the country park. The total distance will be 24 miles. There will be a short, steep climb near the start, but no other serious hills and no particular difficulties.

We'll have lunch in the Blacksmith's Forge in Dalkeith. This is a Wetherspoon pub (and it really is on the site of an old forge), so while not exactly gourmet fare, they do offer a good range of burgers, baked potatoes, sandwiches and salads at very reasonable prices. Those who prefer to bring their own food can enjoy an al fresco lunch in the nearby park.

We'll set out from our usual meeting place at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at 10:30. Sunset on the day is scheduled for 16:15. We should be back at the Meadows well before that, but you should bring lights anyway in case we get delayed and to see you home.

Thrusday 22nd November: Jim's moonlight ride

Something new for the coming months. Starting this month, Jim Cameron will be leading a monthly mid-week evening run to (approximately) coincide with the full moon. These runs will go at a moderate pace, aiming to do about 15 - 20 miles during the evening. Obviously it will be dark (even with the moon), so you will need good strong lights with plenty of juice.

The rides will set out at 19:00 from Lister Square, which is behind the Starbucks in Middle Meadow Walk. They will finish around 21:00. For more information, see this web page.

Sunday 25th November: EasyCycle half-day ride

If you prefer a shorter, slower ride, you might like to know that EasyCycle have now moved to their winter format. Between now and February, their rides will be just two and half hours, starting at 10:30 and ending at 13:00, with a total distance of about 12 miles. There will be no official lunch break, but the ride will end near a city centre pub. Last winter, whenever the weather was reasonable, some of the riders were in the habit of grabbing a bite to eat and then clocking up a few more miles on an informal basis in the afternoon, but of course it's up to you whether or not you wish to do that.

If that appeals to you, meet at 10:30 in front of  Söderberg café (formerly Peter's Yard) in Middle Meadow Walk. There is further information on the EasyCycle website.

Just turn up

Remember, there is no advance booking for any of the above runs, so just turn up on the day. They are all free and open to all.

For those who favour a longer ride, cycling groups such as Spokes and CTC will be continuing their usual programme of runs during the winter months. Check www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk for details of all local bike rides.

Saturday 13 October 2018

A wet ride to Roslin

Heavy rain was the order of the day for today's ride to c. Fortunately, the heaviest rain came down when we having lunch in the pub. After lunch, the rain wasn't as heavy; but there wasn't a dry spell on the whole ride. We were able to ride on some new paths, like the one that took us all the way from Danderhall to Roslin.

A turn out of nine riders was better than expected given the heavy rain and the forecast promising more of the same. The only places where we didn't get wet on the ride were in a tunnel, under bridges and at the lunchtime pub stop. We left the Meadows and made our way to the Innocent Railway, where a brief respite from the rain was had in the Innocent Tunnel. Out the other side and the rain hit us again. Clutching at straws for positives on such a day, at least it wasn't particularly cold. We left the Innocent Railway and cut through the industrial estate and crossed Peffermill Road before heading into Craigmillar Castle Park. As we ventured off the surfaced paths, even the lightest of braking resulted in squeals of protest from mud-caked rims and discs. We passed Craigmillar Castle, which we could just about make out through the rain and gloom. Close to the Royal Infirmary, through the new housing estate, before emerging onto The Wisp. Across the road and the shared path kept us off the busy road. Leaving The Wisp behind, quiet suburban roads around Danderhall led us to new houses forming part of the huge Shawfair development. Following a few twists and turns, we were on the new path that would take us all the way to Roslin for our lunch stop. On this path we stopped under a bridge which carried Gilmerton Road. Sweets were passed round, and for a few brief minutes we stopped getting wet. At the next bridge, a couple of graffiti artists were at work decorating the walls. It was interesting to see they were wearing face masks to protect them from the fumes. Good to see them taking health & safety seriously. From there it was a short ride to the pub in Roslin for lunch. Our group of bedraggled cyclists were ushered into the conservatory. Once we had spread around our wet kit to dry, it looked like a refugee camp. It was lovely to be out of the rain and tucking into much needed hot food. This was when the heaviest rain of the day came; we could hear it bouncing off the conservatory roof.

Lunch over, we endured that inevitable pulling on of wet clothing before venturing back out into the rain. It was not raining as heavily as before but felt cooler as we retraced our inward route back to Danderhall along the new path. At The Wisp, we took another new path into Little France Park which then joined up with the path that took us back to Craigmillar Castle. A slight variation on our outward route added a little variety before arriving at Peffermill Road. By now riders were beginning to peel off and head home. Frequently the post-ride coffee stop is a great attraction; today a hot bath or shower usurped that option. So it was a very depleted field that joined the Innocent Railway for the run back into town.

Thanks to Jim for leading an interesting ride and showing us some new paths. Everyone enjoyed the ride; but how much nicer had the weather been better. Next time perhaps?

Leader: Jim
Report: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Our next ride will be to Roslin

Just a quick reminder of our ride this coming Saturday (13th). Jim will be leading us on an interesting route into Midlothian, taking in Craigmillar Castle, Danderhall, the new cycle path to Shawfair, and then on to Roslin. There will be a mix of roads and paths, mostly well-surfaced but with a few rough stretches. We'll have a bit of climbing, but no killer hills. The total distance will be about 23 miles.

At Roslin, there will either be a pub lunch or you can bring a picnic if you prefer.

As always, we'll set out from the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at 10:30.

Saturday 15 September 2018

An Extra swansong into West Lothian

For our final Extra ride of the year, we headed into West Lothian for a picnic lunch in Almondell Country Park. Before the start we encountered a wee boy on a scooter that could have talked for Scotland; the weather was kinder to us than the forecast had suggested and once again, we had to contend with a few rough and bumpy stretches of path. There was also a brief delay whilst one of the group played good samaritan to a stranded motorist.

As is the norm when heading out west, our meeting point was the Craigleith path junction. Whilst waiting for the riders to arrive, a young boy turned up on his scooter and began chatting to us. A minute or two later, his dad arrived; but like the rest of us - couldn't get a word in. He must have talked non-stop for almost ten minutes. If ever talking became an Olympic sport, we had just met Scotland's future gold medallist! By now it was time for us to leave. A turn out of twelve was acceptable; but it would have been nice to have finished this year's Extra rides with a slightly higher number. The forecast said it would be a dry, mild but overcast day. It did stay dry, but we saw more sunshine than expected; and whilst it never got hot, it was pleasantly warm and ideal for a picnic. We headed off on the familiar route taking the cycle path through Silverknowes and Barnton to Cramond Brig. We paused there briefly wondering if this would be our first sweetie stop of the day. Alas, it was not to be. The leader sheepishly admitted he had committed the cardinal sin and forgotten to bring sweeties! We headed off, took the underpass beeath the A90 and headed out on the road past Craigiehall Army HQ. Verity kindly marked the junction where we turned off, for the benefit of following riders. Whilst there, an old lady stopped her car saying she had a puncture and would need to walk to a nearby house and phone the RAC. Without hesitation, Verity phoned the RAC on her mobile and was able to give the location. Speaking about it later, we had visions of the call handler looking out onto the horrendously busy M5/M6 junction near Birmingham whislt directing a mechanic to a quiet road near Kirkliston. Verity rejoined us and we made our way along the cycle path to Kirkliston. An unscheduled stop in the main street saw the leader disappear into a shop and emerge carrying a packet of sweets. He had redeemed himself. We made or way through the village, pausing for a comfort stop at the leisure centre where the sweeties were passed around. Quiet country roads near Niddry Castle led us onto the towpath beside the Union Canal for the run into Broxburn. Leaving the canal, a mixture of cycle paths and quiet residential streets allowed us to avaoid a section of the busy A899. Unfortunately, the path ended and a stretch on the busy road followed. We turned off and headed to Uphall station. Cycle paths took us around Pumpherston golf course before joining a path beside the River Almond. Some of the paths on this section were somewhat rough and bumpy; but they caused us no problems. We rode beneath the impressive Camps Viaduct. It made a change, as on previous rides we have always ridden across the viaduct. On the final run into Almondell Country Park, there were a couple of bridges that were far-from-easy to navigate as a rusult of steep lips of slippy steel - not what you would expect on a dedicated cycle path. We arrived at the visitor centre and bagged a couple of picnic tables in the garden for our picnic lunch.

Lunch over, we made our way up a stiff little climb to exit the country park. A rough path followed by a minor road brought us out at a busy junction on the A71. We crossed carefully to join a much quieter road that took us to Kirknewton. On the stretch of road around Long Dalmahoy, the leader confidently led us past a "road closed" sign. Three cars were behind us as we arrived at another "road closed" sign and the road was blocked by a lorry and workmen filling in a trench. As the cars were forced to turn around, the workmen stopped and allowed us to squeeze through the gap between the lorry and the ditch. That explained why the sign had also said, "except for pedestrians and cyclists". We carried on and took the back way into the Heriot Watt University campus. Due to building work, there were several cycle paths closed within the campus; but fortunately, diversions were in place to help us get through. From there we followed a route we have used many times to enter the back of Edinburgh Park. From there on, the familiar route took us through Sighthill, Broomhouse and Stenhouse before following the tram line as far as Murrayfield. From there it was a short run to the Russell Road zig-zags, where the leader declared the ride over.
Thanks to Peter for leading the final Extra ride of the year. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and it is always good to go somewhere familiar but have the route mixed up a little to keep it interesting. Courtesey of her good samaritan role, Verity gets a well-deserved mention in dispatches for the second week running. So here ends another successful series of Extra rides - role on next summer.

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

Tuesday 11 September 2018

September Extra this coming Saturday

We've just got time to squeeze one more Extra into our summer programme. It will take place this coming Saturday (15th), when we head out to Almondell Country Park.

As you know, our Extra rides are longer than our usual monthly runs. We start a little earlier, finish a little later, and aim for a slightly higher average speed. But we still try to keep the rides sociable and unpressured. Most of our riders find the pace comfortable, but if you are at all concerned about your fitness level, you might prefer to stick to our "second Saturday" outings instead.

This week's ride

For Saturday's run, Peter will be leading us into West Lothian, heading for Almondell Country Park via Kirkliston (comfort break), Niddry Castle and Broxburn. There will be a few moderate hills, none of them particularly onerous. Some of the paths might be rough in places, so given a choice, a hybrid would be more suitable than a road bike. The total distance will be about 35 miles.

Food and drink

There is no café or pub in the country park, so be sure to bring your own food and drink for a picnic lunch. The visitor centre sells a few confectionery items and they also have a vending machine for hot drinks. But the range is very limited, so it would be wise not to rely on it.

If the weather is bad, we will eat our picnic inside the visitor centre. If the weather is really bad, we will change the route to include a café.

Time and place

We'll set out at 10:15 from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions). I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but it's likely to be around 16:00, give or take.

Remember, we don't have a booking system for our rides. Just turn up on the day if you feel like it.

Saturday 8 September 2018

In the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson

For today's 20 Milers ride, the leader took us on a "themed" ride following a traditional, waymarked route: Robert Louis Stevenson's "Road to Swanston and the Pentlands". We followed the route he supposedly took between the New Town and the ancient village of Swanston, at the foot of the Pentland Hills. As the so-called "road" was more akin to a footpath, we had to contend with more off-road riding than usual. Despite being rough and bumpy in places, we managed it without serious mishaps; no doubt helped by the fact it was dry.

With the Festival over and most people [and Edinburgh] back to normal after the summer, a turnout of 21 was slightly lower than may have been expected; but perfectly acceptable and manageable - only one group required. The weather was dry, overcast and pleasant, rather than warm - obviously autumn is on its way. We left the Meadows and made our way to Braidburn Valley Park via the familiar route taking in Bruntsfield Links and the back streets of Morningside. A combination of cycle paths (some were rough, steep or both) and quiet residential streets took us through Oxgangs. On this section, the leader stopped beside an old building and gave us a short talk about its significance in the history of Edinburgh's public water supply. Leaving Oxgangs behind, we crossed a bridge over the City Bypass and headed past the golf club to the delightful village of Swanston that nestles at the foot of the Pentlands. We paused a while to admire the village and refuel with cake and sweets. It is hard to believe such a lovely little village is so close to the centre of Edinburgh, and even closer to the City Bypass. The gate that led into the Pentland Hills was not at all cycle-friendly. As a result, a few minutes followed where a combination of dancing with bikes and lifting them over a gate ensued. There then followed a section of rough and bumpy path which descended to emerge beside the very busy Biggar Road. Fortunately, we did not need to cross that. But we did need  to carefully cross the on and off sliproads of the City Bypass. Across Biggar Road and we were meandering through quiet residential streets. A further stretch of rough, bumpy path took us to Broomhills and on to Frogston Road East. A short run along the  road and we were at our lunch stop - Mortonhall Garden Centre. The rough, bumpy paths had claimed two victims. Punctures were fixed during the lunch stop.

The cafe at the garden centre is a vast improvement since we last used it and everyone enjoyed their lunch. Punctures repaired, we made our way back along Frogston Road East. Through the traffic lights and we turned right into the back streets of Burdiehouse. We went into Burdiehouse Valley Park and followed the Burdiehouse Burn as far as Ellen's Glen Loan. Ellen's Glen Road took us to Gilmerton road, which we took before turning onto Glenallan Drive to skirt the edge of The Inch Park. A short stretch on Old Dalkeith Road followed before we headed into Craigmillar Castle Park. Along Peffermill Road, across it and into the industrial estate. This cut-through brought us out at the Innocent Railway for a straight forward run back to the Meadows. We had a slightly surreal moment as we rode through the Innocent Tunnel. A pedestrian was listening to music on their phone, so the tunnel was filled with an Abba track. Interesting acoustics in the tunnel!

At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting and somewhat different ride that everyone seemed to enjoy. At 18 miles, it was shorter than usual; but had plenty of variety. There was even sufficient off-road riding involved to keep the wanna-be mountain bikers amused. Having avoided it for a number of years, the Mortonhall Garden Centre cafe is definitely somewhere we will be happy to use again. Rightly or wrongly, we don't usually mention the backmarker, despite it being a thankless but vital role. But today's incumberent, Verity certainly deserved thanks. Still recovering from the effects of a recent accident, she did a great job. We were all releived that her injuries were not worse.

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

Monday 3 September 2018

September ride this coming Saturday

For our ride on Saturday, we are going to do something slightly different. It will be a "themed" ride, following a traditional, waymarked, route: Robert Louise Stevenson's "Road to Swanston and the Pentlands".

As you might know. RLS grew up in the New Town. But his family rented a holiday cottage in the ancient village of Swanston, at the foot of the Pentland Hills. Our ride on Saturday will follow the route that he supposedly took between the two houses. The route also has a strong connection with Edinburgh's water supply; more about that when we get there.

Unfortunately, Stevenson didn't have a bike. So his so-called "road" was more of a footpath than a cycle path - and still is today. We can therefore expect several sections of our route to be over rough tracks, with some possible muddy patches. It might be just about do-able on a skinny-tyred road bike, but it will be much more comfortable on a hybrid or mountain bike.

At 18 miles, the route will be shorter than most of our runs. There will be some moderate climbing in the first half of the morning, followed by some level and downhill stretches in the afternoon.

Lunch stop

For our lunch break, we will be visiting a brand new restaurant that has recently opened within the Mortonhall Garden Centre. It is very spacious and comfortable, serving a range of salads, sandwiches and light meals. For those who prefer to bring their own food, there is now a large terrace with plenty of seating.

Time and place

As always, we will gather at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to leave at 10:30. The ride will probably end around 15:00, though this will depend on the weather, the turnout and other factors. If anyone wants to get home particularly early, there will be an option for a shorter return leg, albeit on busy roads.

Please remember that, although the meeting time and place are fixed, we reserve the right to vary the route according to the conditions on the day.

Our last Extra of the season

We have another ride lined up this month: our fifth and last Extra for 2018, which will take place on the 15th. I'll let you have more details nearer the time.

Saturday 25 August 2018

Logan's run

Over the last few years, late August has become synonymous with one of the group's Extra rides deep into East Lothian, with lunch taken at the Merryhatton Garden Centre. Our great friend and one of the group's true characters, the late Logan Strang always led this delightful ride. Just like last year (the year we lost him), today's leader felt more like he was caretaker on a ride that will always belong to Logan, rather than being the true leader. As seems to be the norm for this ride, we were blessed with lovely weather. Not quite as warm as it might have been, but bright and sunny for most of the ride and a slight breeze - perfect cycling weather.

Whilst it was bright and sunny, it was slightly cooler as we waited for all the riders to arrive at the Fisherrow meeting point. The temperature had risen a few degrees by the time the nineteen riders were ready to depart. The leader's briefing contained a few words about Logan, before tips about riding safely on the couple of busy roads that lie ahead, and details of the route and lunch stop. Briefing over, we rolled away from Fisherrow and headed for the footbridge across the River Esk. Down Goose Green and we stopped at the blue arrow beside the Air Cadets hut. This was the first of two educational stops on today's ride. The leader said a few words explaining how Second World War bomber crews used the arrow for guidance whilst practicing hitting targets in the Firth of Forth, and how it had been restored in recent years by the Air Cadets. Leaving the arrow behind, we followed the path beside the race course and carried on to Prestonpans where we joined the road. Just past the empty space where the Cockenzie power station used to stand, we took the quiet back roads past Cockenzie and Port Seton harbours.
After following seafront cycle paths, we re-joined the road near the entrance to Port Seton caravan site. We took the quite busy coast road and as it swung inland after Gosford Bay, we pulled off the road for a sweetie and cake stop. A delightful little track through the woods took us to Aberlady; although some of the group opted to remain on the busy road. At Aberlady, we left the main road behind as a quiet residential road took us inland and away from the village. We emerged onto a quiet country road before turning off onto an even quieter country lane past Myreton Motor Museum. There followed a stretch on the busy B1377, before turning off onto a much more pleasant road at Drem railway station. A short time later saw us turning off into the Merryhatton Garden Centre - our lunch stop.

We often compliment Logan for discovering such a good lunch stop and building up a lovely ride around it. Once again it lived up to expectations and everyone seemed to enjoy their lunch. We began our return journey passing the East Fortune airfield runway and Scotland's National Museum of Flight. From there we made our way to the lovely village of Athelstaneford for our second educational stop of the day. The village is credited with being the home of the Scottish Saltire flag. We gathered round the information panel beside the church to read the story. One of the riders who had been there a number of times before, led a small group to go and view a two minute video on the subject in an outbuilding behind the church. Ten minutes later, the leader was dispatched to fetch them back so we could get moving again. Stragglers rounded up and we were on our way. Leaving the shelter of the village behind, we began to appreciate that we were heading into something of a headwind. It is not uncommon to encounter a headwind there that remains all the way back to Edinburgh, especially when returning along the coast road. Fortunately, that was not the case today. We passed the Hopetoun Monument before turning left on the A6137 towards Haddington. On a mainly flat route, this was our only real climb of the day. As the road flattened, we turned right on a quiet road that headed towards Longniddry. The group stretched out a little and an oversight by the leader meant a right turn was left without a rider marking it for those following. This resulted in several riders missing the turn and having to retrace their steps.
But once they made the turn, they were rewarded with a beautiful sweeping descent. Those waiting at the bottom could see how much those following had enjoyed it by the width of their grins! Regrouping, we headed off only to be accosted by a playful puppy who bounded out of a garden. It's doubtful he had seen so many bicycles before and obviously thought they were there to play with him. Eventually his owner managed to get a hand on his collar and we carried on our way. Taking the quiet lanes that ran paraellel with the railway, we bypassed Longniddry and arrived at a level crossing, We were delayed for several minutes as two trains went by. Once the barrier went up, we carefully crossed the A198 dual carriageway and joined the cycle path heading west. A lovely downhill stretch and we were in Port Seton. Taking the back roads past the two harbours, we retraced our outward route from the morning. As we approached Musselburgh, instead of following the path beside the race course, we rode through Levenhall Links Leisure Park and followed the path and sea wall back to the blue arrow at Goose Green. At the footbridge across the Esk, the leader declared the ride officially over. Some headed home whilst the remainder headed for post-ride coffee and ice cream at Luca's.

Lovely weather, a nice ride, good lunch stop and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves. What more could anyone ask for? We were all left feeling we had done Logan proud.

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

Tuesday 21 August 2018

20-Milers Extra to Merryhatton this coming Saturday

We've got another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (25th). Under Glenn's capable leadership, we'll be heading deep into East Lothian. The total distance 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 at 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 (or any of our rides). Just turn up and enjoy what promises to be another excellent day's cycling.

Saturday 11 August 2018

A March re-enactment; but without the freezing rain!

For today's 20 Milers outing the leader chose to do the same ride she led back in March. This is not
something the group usually does. But March's ride was blighted by some of the worst weather we have endured for quite some time - windy, freezing cold, continual heavy rain and the occasional blast of sleet. Perhaps not too surprising as it was just over a week after the Beast from the East had battered the country. It resulted in a low (but could easily have been considerably lower) turnout of just eleven riders. The weather contributed to two falls and a couple of riders abandoning before the end. It was clearly an interesting route; so this was take two. What a contrast! It was warm and it stayed dry. More overcast-bright than sunny, but no one seemed to mind. A turn out of 27 riders was very good, and great to see quite a few new faces in the mix.

Following a detailed briefing where the group was made aware of the pre-arranged muster points, Jenny led us through the Festival crowds towards the Innocent Tunnel. But instead of going through the tunnel, we made our way into Holyrood Park and whizzed down Queen's Drive. Turning right at St Margaret's Loch, we climbed the steep hill up to Dunsapie Loch. On this section the group became quite stretched out and we had to contend with quite a few cars on the narrow road. We regrouped and were able to enjoy views of the loch and down to the Forth. Back in March we could barely see as far as the loch! Having circled Arthur's Seat, we returned to the point at which we had entered the park and headed to Duddingston village. We followed Duddingston Road West to the traffic lights at Milton Road. Road works to lay new gas mains meant we couldn't simply wait for the traffic lights to turn green and head across the junction. Instead we had to dismount, walk along the pavement and cross Milton road as pedestrians. We regrouped at the gate leading into Figgate Park. We paused briefly at Figgate Pond, before leaving the park and heading down Brighton Place. Just beyond the railway bridge, we turned right onto the Christian Path. This delightful little path was new to many of us, even those that thought they knew Portobello well. We crossed Portobello High Street and took quiet back roads to the Portobello Swim Centre, where we had a cake and sweetie stop. We made our way carefully through the crowds on Portobello prom and headed towards Seafield, where Peter gave us a brief history lesson on Portobello, telling us about the open air pool, zoo and the time an elephant was paraded through the town's streets. We pressed on alongside the Forth before heading on to Leith Links. A few twists and turns through the back streets of Leith and we found ourselves at The Shore. Past Victoria Quay, behind the converted warehouses and we emerged near Ocean Terminal. From there past Asda and Newhaven Harbour, along Lower Granton Road and onto Silverknowes Esplanade which we sped along to the Cramond Falls Cafe for lunch.

Following a pleasant lunch sitting in the cafe garden, we set off to make our way back to town; knowing it wouldn't take long as most of the mileage had been covered before lunch. Before anyone had got warmed up and back into the groove, we had the stiff little climb that is School Brae to contend with. The climb over, there followed a short stretch on Whitehouse Road before turning right down Peggy's Mill Road. This lovely little road took us down to join the River Almond Walkway. Many on the group hadn't been down there before and found it to be a real treat. The briefest of detours found us on The Old Toll Bridge at Cramond Brig, where we paused for a few minutes. Up Braepark Road, across Whitehouse Road and we were back on familiar territory. Through Barnton, paths took us back to Craighleith and onto the Roseburn Path, down the zig-zags, through the Telfer subway and along the canal to Leamington Bridge. Here the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Jenny for leading an interesting ride. Despite visiting familiar locations, she kept it interesting with several unexpected twists and turns along the way. Also, a graphic illustration of what a difference the weather makes to the enjoyment of a ride. The only advantage to the March ride was hardly any pedestrians, children or dogs to steer round on the likes of Portobello or Silverknowes proms.

Leader: Jenny
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Sorry. None for this ride.

Monday 6 August 2018

August ride this coming Saturday

We've got our August ride this coming Saturday (11th). Jenny will be leading us on what promises to be an interesting tour of Edinburgh's waterfront, featuring such delights as the Royal Yacht Britannia, Newhaven Harbour and the Granton gasometer. The route will be similar to the one that a few of us undertook in atrocious weather back in March. I don't want to tempt fate, but whatever the weather this time round, it can't possibly be as bad as it was then.

We'll set out at 10:30 from our habitual starting point on Middle Meadow Walk. We'll have a steep climb early on, but only a couple of moderate hills after that. Almost the whole route will be on well-surfaced roads and paths, apart from a few cobbles in the Leith area. The total distance will be about 20 miles.

Our lunch stop will be the Cramond Falls café, where you can choose from a selection of soups, sandwiches and cakes. If you prefer to bring your own food, there is plenty of outside seating overlooking the River Almond. Please note: The café  does not accept cards, so be sure to bring some real money if you plan to eat there.

Another ride this month

In addition to the above ride, we've got our fourth Extra of the season on the 25th. Glenn will be leading us on what has become a standard August fixture four our group: a 45 - 50 mile round trip to the Merryhatton Garden Centre near East Fortune. I'll post further details of that outing nearer the time.

Saturday 21 July 2018

The chain gang rides again

Today's Extra ride saw us head out into deepest West Lothian. We were not too far from Linlithgow, a place we have visited several times previously. But anyone expecting a familiar route was in for a pleasant surprise. The leader managed to make the route interesting and anything but familiar. We descended a glorious steep hill, found a new lunch venue (which was reached by a muddy and overgrown path) and got a rider rolling again following a [potentially ride-ending] snapped chain.

As is the norm when heading out west, today's start point was the Craigleith marker. It was a bit overcast and there was a cooling breeze as we gathered. It would get warmer and brighter as the day went on. Given the good weather, it wasn't surprising that we mustered 20 starters. It was good to see some unfamiliar faces in the mix along with a few that are looking set to become regulars. Following a briefing from the leader, we rolled away onto the familiar paths and quiet roads through Barnton to Cramond Brig, where we paused briefly before making for the underpass. We took the road past Craigiehall Army HQ before turning off and joining the path into Kirkliston. Following a comfort stop at the sports centre, there followed a short stretch on the B9080. We turned off to join a quiet road that took us past Niddry Castle and across a bridge over the canal. In Niddry we turned off and headed towards Faucheldean. It was on this road that an innocuous little climb saw the major drama of the day unfold. One unfortunate rider had his chain come off. He soon had it back on and was on his way again. But within a 100 yards disaster struck as his chain snapped. This could easily have been the end of his ride. Despite several of us walking up and down the road looking for the locking pin, it was nowhere to be seen. A rider was sent back from the main group (which had stopped further up the road) to see what the problem was. It was decided that the problem could be fixed. The decision was made that the main group would press on and the group of three and the unfortunate rider would catch them once the repair had been made. Hero of the hour Graham, produced a chain link tool from his backpack and he knew how to use it! As the main group headed off, Graham proceeded to remove a link from the chain and make the repair. Job done, the rider remounted and tentatively began to pedal. Bingo! The repair held and did so for the remainder of the ride. The lead group were not that far ahead and the four soon caught them. We crossed the B8046 and headed on through Little Ochiltree. At Wester Ochiltree we turned right to be greeted with the sight of a beautiful straight [and smooth surfaced] steep downhill. It was one of those beautiful hills that presents so many options - freewheel, pedal, brake, don't brake. It also meant that it was possible to get over half way up the other side without any effort. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the hill. The writer is sure he wasn't the fastest, but even he clocked 40 mph on the descent. Leaving the hill behind, we turned left onto the B9080 towards Linlithgow, before turning right and taking a quiet road towards Philipstoun. We took the road across the canal, looking down on the towpath we often follow when out that way. At Old Philipstoun, we went straight across the B8046 to join a minor road under the M9 motorway. We crossed the busy A904 to follow the cycle path running alongside it. We then took a muddy and overgrown path to emerge at our lunch stop - the garden centre, New Hopetoun Gardens .

Following a pleasant lunch, we retraced our steps along the muddy and overgrown path to join a quiet road. On this road, a car stopped and asked the two riders at the back of the group how to get to Hopetoun House as they had to be there for a wedding that was starting in six minutes! We were heading in the direction of Hopetoun House, but knew that our entry into the estate was not open to motor vehicles. We sent them back towards the main road, but were not really sure where was their best route from there. The only thing we were sure of - they had no chance of being there in six minutes! We were soon in the Hopetoun Estate and heading towards the fiddly gate we know so well. It's more user-friendly than it used to be, but remains a bottle-neck for anything other than a small group. We left the estate through the main entrance and headed towards South Queensferry. This stretch of road was the busiest that most of us had ever seen it. We made our way to the Co-op for a comfort stop before taking the path to Dalmeny village. From there we took the road to the Dalmeny Estate. Instead of heading into the estate, we took the cycle path alongside the B924 and A90 to Cramond Brig. Following a stop on the bridge, we retraced our outward route and returned to the Craigleith marker where the leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Julia for leading us into familiar territory, but choosing less familiar roads and paths to keep it interesting and adding in that glorious descent. Also, a mention in despatches for Graham in saving the day by fixing the broken chain.

Leader: Julia
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Sorry. None for this ride.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

July Extra this coming Saturday

We've got our second of this month's rides coming up on Saturday (21st). This will be one of our Extra rides, which, as you know, are a little longer and faster than our usual outings. These rides are aimed at riders who are comfortable with our normal runs and now want something slightly more challenging. But they are still sociable events; we don't ride so fast that you can't keep up a conversation.

For this week's ride, Julia will be leading us into West Lothian. The route is an interesting one. We'll head out towards Cramond Brig and Kirkliston, then, after a bit of climbing, we'll take the high road between Faucheldean and Ochiltree. This is a pleasant undulating road with fine views to the north. After dropping down to Kingscavil, there will be a short stretch along the canal. We'll then head back to town by way of Abercorn and the Hopetoun Estate. The total distance will be about 32 miles.


Our lunch stop will be at the New Hopetoun Garden Centre. This has some lovely picnic spots within its grounds, and also a nice café. Note that about two thirds of the total mileage will be in the morning, so lunch will be on the late side. Adjust your appetites accordingly.

Meeting time and place

The ride will start at 10:00 from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions).

Looking ahead, we've got our next "second Saturday" ride on 11th August, and another Extra on 25th August.

Saturday 14 July 2018

Stepping up to Ratho

Blessed with yet another lovely summer's day we headed out to the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho. We've been there a number of times; but today the leader managed to mix the route up a bit and we found ourselves on a few unfamiliar stretches. But the one downside to the lunch venue didn't change - we still had to get our bikes up and down a steep flight of steps.

A turnout of 25 riders was respectable; but given the weather, we might have expected more. At least it made life easier as we only needed one group. As ever, it was great to see new faces along with some we hadn't seen for a while. Standing in the warm sunshine, the leader gave the briefing which contained the wonderful line, "just because someone in front of you does something stupid, it doesn't mean you have to". Briefing over, we rode a few yards before everyone dismounted to walk past the roadworks which remain at the top of Middle Meadow Walk. we remounted and headed towards Bruntsfield Links. One rider who was clearly riding on autopilot went straight on at a crossing, rather than turning left onto Whitehouse Loan. Inevitably, those behind followed in the belief that he knew where he was going. Those at the back of the group were saved from making the same mistake. As they headed the right way, the backmarker raced off to round up the strays. With the strays successfully rounded up, we regrouped and continued. This is where we deviated from our usual route through this part of town. We went via Falcon Gardens, Falcon Road, Canaan Lane and Woodburn Terrace before re-joining our usual route through the back streets of Morningside and on into Braidburn Valley Park. We continued to follow the Braid Burn and on through Redford to our comfort stop in Colinton. From there we took Woodhall Road, turned down West Mill Road to join the Water of Leith walkway. Another deviation from the norm saw us leave walkway and head into a new housing estate. We climbed up to cross Lanark Road West with Muir Road taking us on through Riccarton. We passed the back entrance we usually take into the Heriot Watt University campus, instead turning right onto Boundary Road North. A path took us into the campus on roads that were very quiet on a Saturday. We crossed the busy Calder Road, from where Hermiston House Road took us onwards to join the canal. On this stretch, a fast cyclist appeared beside the writer and said, "I've passed four of you. how many more are there?" His face dropped as he was told he had another 21 to get past on the narrow towpath. But he looked relieved when told we would be stopping at the climbing centre shortly. We stopped at the bottom of the steps and he sped away. With a combination of wheeling and  carrying, all the bikes and riders were soon up the steps, including the recumbent trike which two had to carry up.

After a pleasant lunch sitting outside at the picnic tables, we once again tackled the steps before heading along the canal back towards town. On such a lovely day there was as much activity on the canal itself as on the towpath in the form of canoes, paddle boards and narrow boats. We followed the canal as far as Cutlins Road. The cycle path beside busy roads took us through Sighthill, Saughton and Stenhouse before we turned off to take the path beside the tram tracks. Onwards past Murrayfield Stadium and Roseburn Park, we took the familiar route to Leamington Bridge via Russell Road, the Telfer subway and Fountain Park. From there we returned to the Meadows via Leamington Terrace and Bruntsfield Links rather than the King's Theatre. At the Meadows, against a backdrop of the Anti-Trump rally, the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Mike for leading us to a familiar destination, but keeping it interesting by deviating from the expected route.

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

Monday 9 July 2018

Rides planned for July

We've got two rides coming up this month: our standard "second Saturday" run this coming Saturday (14th); and a longer Extra the following weekend.

14th July

For this Saturday's outing, we'll be heading to Ratho, with a lunch stop at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA). We've been to that venue several times before. So, this time, so that you don't get bored, we'll take a somewhat unusual route.

The route will be 22 miles. There won't be any very bad hills - just a few short climbs. There will also be a short flight of steps to negotiate - both up and down. Most of the route should be on reasonably good surfaces, although some of the paths might be a little rough in places.

The EICA has a sunny terrace with plenty of picnic tables. There is further seating inside, with dramatic views over the rock-climbing wall (the largest of its kind in the world). The snack bar sells sandwiches, baked potatoes and hot drinks.

We'll set out at 10:30 from our usual meeting spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Don't forget to bring a spare inner tube if possible as well as plenty of water.

21st July

This month's Extra will head out to the west of city and into West Lothian. I'll post more details next week. In the meantime, note that the meeting point will be the Craigleith path junction. We'll set out at 10:00.

Evening rides

If you fancy an after-work ride, Jim's evening rides are continuing throughout the summer. This coming Thursday (12th July), they'll be taking a "gentle meander round the highways and byways of Riccarton and Currie". Meet at 18:30 outside the Victor Hugo café (corner of Melville Terrace and Livingstone Place).

All the above rides are of course free and open to all, with no need to book.

Friday 22 June 2018

A lovely way to spend an evening

In theory, it was a very warm evening. At 7pm the thermometer said 20C, but the thermometer had obviously not been told about the chilly wind that had been brewing up from the west. As it was, long-sleeved jackets and sweaters were in evidence, rather than t-shirts and shorts. But at least it stayed sunny and bright all evening, with clear blue skies all the way.

A photo op by the Usher Hall
Ten riders turned up for our summer solstice ride. It's true that the actual solstice was the day before. But Friday seemed like a better option for an evening outing, especially given that at least one other evening run had been organised for the Thursday.

After the usual briefing and safety announcement, we set off towards the Roseburn Path – but not by the usual route involving bumps and zigzags, Instead, we headed west along Lauriston Place, then weaved through to the Usher Hall and across the busy Lothian Road. After pausing for a brief photo opportunity in Festival Square, we continued through the West End, then up the hill (steep but thankfully short) by the Gallery of Modern Art, and into Ravelston Dykes. We freewheeled down Garscube Terrace, eventually joining the Roseburn Path by a short flight of steps leading down from Coltbridge.

We stayed on the path only as far as the Craigleith junction. From there, we took Craigleith Hill Avenue – aka Quiet Route 20 – down past the Police Scotland HQ and into Inverleith Park. There was a lovely view across the Edinburgh skyline from here, with the Castle standing out prominently in the evening light.

Stopping to admire the Royal Yacht
Our next leg took us round the sides of the Royal Botanic Garden and back onto the bike path at Warriston. We continued to Five Ways and then on to Lindsay Road and past the cruise liner terminal. We stopped for nibbles in Ocean Drive, from where we had a fine view of the Royal Yacht Britannia.

After a short stretch along the Leith waterfront, we headed back to town by way of the Water of Leith Path, St Mark's Park and McDonald Road. At the Leith Walk traffic lights, we waited expectantly for the bike priority light to kick in. Sure enough, the green bicycle light came on before the lights changed to green for the general traffic, but only about two and a half seconds before - better than nothing, I suppose.

A bit more weaving found us in Royal Terrace, on the northern flank of Calton Hill. I've always thought that this is a particularly attractive road, with fine houses on one side and an open outlook on the other. But some elements of our group seemed more concerned about the rough going on the cobbled surface (don't blame me; I didn't build the road). Fortunately the cobbled section was quite short, and we soon reached our next stopping point, the Stones of Scotland.

The Stones of Scotland is a circular monument, completed in 2002, which commemorates the rebirth of the Scottish parliament. There is one stone from each of Scotland's 32 local authority areas, and the whole thing is dramatically situated on high ground, looking over the parliament building and towards Arthur's Seat. If you are passing that way, it is worth a stop.

The Nelson Monument on Calton Hill
And so to the climax of the evening: the climb to the summit of Calton Hill. Actually, it's not that hard a climb. We took the relatively easy (and well-surfaced) route from Regent Road, and we all made it to the top without difficulty. We regrouped at the Nelson Monument, from where we could enjoy the superb outlook across the Firth of Forth and the Fife hills. The summit was teeming with people, including many tourists – not surprising, given the splendid weather.

For the final leg, we headed back down to Regent Road and then via the Bridges and Chambers Street, arriving back at the Meadows a little before 9.30pm. With just under 15 miles on the clock, it wasn't exactly a long ride, but it was a very sociable one in good company and with some interesting sites along the way. What better way to spend a mid-summer evening?

Leader, report and photos: Mike 
Map: Jim

Monday 18 June 2018

Summer solstice evening ride this coming Friday

This week sees the summer solstice: the longest day of the year. To mark the occasion, we are organising a ride for Friday evening. We'll meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We'll set out at 19:00, aiming to finish about 21:30. Sunset is not until 22:03, so the entire ride should take place in daylight, but I advise you to bring lights anyway, in case of delay and to see you home.

This will be a leisurely ride, taken at our usual easy pace. We'll stay mainly near the city centre and on the North Edinburgh bike paths. There will be an optional ascent of Calton Hill towards the end, but no other serious hills or other difficulties. The total distance will be about 14 miles.

There won't be a meal or refreshment stop during the ride, but we'll finish near a pub in case anyone wants to go for a drink afterwards. By all means bring some nibbles on the ride if you want to keep the hunger pangs away.

Like all our rides, this one is free and open to all, with no need to book in advance. Feel free to tell your pals about it.

Other evening rides

Ours isn't the only evening run this week. Both CTC and our own Jim Cameron have their usual evening outings, on Tuesday and Thursday respectively. And Laid Back Bikes have a special ride on Tuesday evening for those interested in recliners, trikes, cargo bikes, tandems and the like; this includes a behind-the-scenes visit to their shop in Viewforth. Full details of these rides (and many others) can be found as usual at www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk.

Our next daytime rides will be on 14th July (our usual monthly run) and 21st July (our third Extra of the season). I hope to see you at one or more of these events.

Saturday 9 June 2018

A picnic high in the Pentlands

On a lovely warm summer's day we headed up into the Pentland Hills for a picnic lunch beside Harlaw Reservoir. There was a bit of climbing up past the lower reservoirs and some tracks were quite rough and stony, but the lovely weather and stunning views made it all worthwhile. Last month's leader, Dawn was on backmarker duty today. Following her pre-ride briefing last month, she received [an unheard of] round of applause. The same happened today when the leader announced she would be back marking.

A turnout of twenty-five riders was respectable; but given the lovely weather we might have expected
more. As ever, it was good to see some new faces in the mix. A few of our regulars were abscent;  they were off on a challenge to ride 100 miles in a day. The days where we could muster numbers in the high thirties seem to be gone. At least it meant we only needed one group today. Followimg the leader's briefing; for the second time in a month, we set off on foot wheeling our bikes past the roadworks on Middle Meadow Walk. Once clear, we mounted up and rode off towards Bruntsfield Links. From there, the back streets of Morningside took us to Braidburn Valley Park. Through the park, we continued to follow the Braid Burn and made our way through back roads in the Redford area, emerging on Redford Road. A short spell on that road and we turned left into Redford Drive.
More quiet back roads around Bonaly followed before making our way up Bonaly Road, past the primary school, over the City Bypass and along Torduff  Road to Torduff Reservoir. As we were now in the Pentland Hills, the climbing began. On past Clubbiedean Reservoir and we were on rough rocky tracks that didn't make for easy going, especially given the very dry conditions under wheel. At least the climbing was now behind us. unsurprisingly given the lovely summer weather, it was very busy at Harlaw Visitor Centre. All the picnic tables were taken, so lunch was taken on the banks of Harlaw Reservoir. A picnic lunch on a fine sunny day sitting in the Pentlands beside a reservoir in good company - what more could anyone want? Oh, and the satisfaction of having gotten there under one's own steam.

Lunch over; we rode off along the track past Threipmuir Reservoir to begin the descent of Mansfield
Road. The road was in a terrible state and we all had to be aware of the awful potholes that could so easily catch out the unwary; especially on a descent. We all made it safely down into Balerno. There was a long queue of traffic on the main road out of town due to temporary traffic lights. The group circumvented these, and soon we had left the busy road behind and were enjoying the Water of Leith path. Onwards through the Colinton Tunnel (which always reminds the writer of the "Italian Job") to the canal. Here, we would usually follow the canal back into town. But not this time. The leader took us away from the canal on an unfamiliar [to many] route through Redhall. We crossed Longstone Road and a [very easy to miss] cut-through beside the Longstone Inn took us onto a path that led to Stenhouse. From there we went through Saughton Park and on to Murrayfield where preparations were under way for the evening's Rolling Stones concert. Through Roseburn Park, and the familiar route via Russell Road, Dalry Road, the Telfer subway, Leamington Bridge and the King's Theatre saw us return to the Meadows.

Thanks to David for leading us on such a lovely route through the Pentlands on such a glorious day.
Interesting little twist near the end by taking us through Redhall and Longstone - somewhere very few of us had been before.

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