20th Anniversary Year

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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

Wednesday 6 June 2018

June 20-Milers this coming Saturday

We've got our June ride this coming Saturday (9th). David will be taking us along the classic Reservoir Route on the edge of the Pentlands. This is a very scenic route, away from busy roads and traffic, and with excellent views.

There will inevitably be a fair bit of climbing (this is the Pentland Hills, after all). But we'll take it at our usual steady pace and cheerfully wait for stragglers. Most of the uphill work will be in the morning, so we'll have some nice freewheeling in the afternoon. Apart from a mile or so on a rough track, we will be on good surfaces most of the time. The total distance will be 22 miles.

Our lunch stop will be at the Harlaw Reservoir. I suggest you bring a picnic. Although there is a snack bar at the reservoir, it serves only a limited range of food and there is usually a long queue. A toilet is available at the visitor centre.

As always, we'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure. If the weather is really bad, we might opt for a shorter route with a cafe stop; we'll make that decision on the spot.

Summer Solstice

We are also planning an additional ride for later in the month. This will be an evening run on Friday 22nd June to celebrate the (approximate) summer solstice. I'll post details as they get firmed up. (Note that this will be in addition to Jim's weekly evening ride, which will be the day before.)

We've got two rides planned for July: our standard run on the 14th and our third Extra of the year on the 21st. Again, more details as and when.

Saturday 2 June 2018

A Fab day out

For our second Extra ride of the year we headed across the Forth to Scotland's ancient capital - Dunfermline. We were blessed with gloriously warm, if slightly muggy weather. Not surprisingly, thunderstorms were forecast for around 3.00 pm. That would keep us on our toes. On our way back, the leader kindly treated us all to Fab ice lollies in Inverkeithing.

Maybe potential riders had taken more notice of the forecast for thunderstorms than appreciated how warm it was at the time leading up to departure; but a turn out of just twelve riders was a little disappointing. Those that stayed away ended up missing a great ride in lovely weather. Following a briefing from the leader, we headed off on the familiar route via Silverknowes and Barnton to Cramond Brig. To everyone's surprise, the leader swept across the bridge there without stopping - an almost unheard of occurence! We took the path beside the A90 and on into Dalmeny village. From there we made our way past the new houses and through the back streets of South Queensferry to the Forth Bridges Viewpoint, where we had a comfort stop. From there, we headed onto the Forth Road Bridge. It is so nice now it is almost free of traffic - so much quieter; although everything still vibrates as a bus goes past. It was warm and there was barely any wind, but the mist did somewhat spoil the views.

Such a contrast to an early recce for this ride back in March when the riders had almost been blown off the bridge by very strong winds. It had been so bad that the group caught the train home rather than risk crossing the bridge a second time. Across the bridge, we threaded our way through the paths and quiet roads in the area. It was great to cross the [once horrendously busy] road off the bridge without any trouble. There was a swirl of wind as we passed beneath a bridge; astonishingly [for Scotland] the wind was actually warm! We took the B981 and on through an industrial estate and past Rosyth Dockyard, before turning up and joining a road that took us past the MOD Caledonia camp. There followed a short stretch on the busy A985, before turning off onto Grange Road and making our way into Dunfermline. The delightful Pittencrieff Park was our lunch venue. Here we split into two groups, one made for the picnic tables whilst the other headed for the cafe and enjoyed lunch on the terrace. This was only the second Extra ride to Dunfermline, and on both ocassions we have enjoyed lunch sitting outside in Pittencrieff Park in lovely warm sunshine. 

As we reconvened after lunch, the leader was conscious of the 3.00 pm forecast for thunderstorms. Whilst the pace in the morning had not been slow, it was certainly cranked up a notch or two on the homeward leg as we aimed to outrun the storm. We exited the park and were soon negotiating a mixture of busy roads and shared use paths in the centre of Dunfermline. It was good to leave them behind and head towards Inverkeithing. On this stretch, a kind car driver let us all across the road despite the lights being in his favour. We were most thankful, unlike the irate driver behind him who sped off giving him hand signals that are certainly not in the Highway Code! The phrase, "calm down dear" sprang to mind. Despite trying to outrun the storm, the leader stopped in Inverkeithing and very kindly bought everyone a Fab ice lolly. We retired to a quiet little park just off the high street to enjoy them and reminisce about Fab lollies and childhood days. At the far end of the park, through the trees was a view of an expanse of water. One rider said, "what a lovely pond". It was pointed out to them that it was actually the Firth of Forth! Ice lolly stop over, we headed back across the bridge and had a comfort stop at the Forth Bridges viewpoint. One of the group checked his phone and told us of heavy rain south of the City Bypass - it wasn't far away. From here on in the pace definitely picked up - we were on a mission. We took the same route as we had taken out in the morning. But this time we did stop at Cramond Brig to regroup. We arrived at Craigleith and it was still dry as the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Verity for leading. A good route with some sections unfamiliar to most, lovely weather, great lunch venue and what a fab (groans all round) move buying us all an ice lolly. At the end of most rides, some of us finish off with a coffee. As we all felt the need to continue outrunning the storm, we gave that a miss today. In typical fashion, the storm never materialised. A little light rain hours later was as bad as it got.

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