20th Anniversary Year

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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.