20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 24 August 2019

A grand day out

Four weeks ago the recce for this ride was postponed due to heavy rain. What a difference a month makes! Today we were blessed with one of the best days of the year - bright sun shining down from a cloudless sky, lovely and warm with only the most gentle of breezes. A grand day to head out into East Lothian.

A turnout of nineteen riders was good, without there being so many as to need to split into two groups. Along with the diehards of the group, there were a few new faces and several riders that look set to become the new regulars. Today's ride out to the Merryhatton Garden Centre near East Fortune has become a regular fixture for late August in our Extra runs calendar. A stalwart of the group for a number of years, Logan Strang instigated the ride. He cheerfully admitted one thing he liked about it was there were hardly any hills on the route. In addition, it heads out through some beautiful East Lothian countryside and the lunch stop is very pleasant. This is the third time that this ride has run since Logan's passing, and has become something of an unofficial memorial ride to our sorely missed friend. Today's leader/writer/photographer has led all three and still feels more of a caretaker for Logan's ride rather than the true leader. Following the customary briefing, we left Fisherrow Harbour and made our way to the footbridge that would take us across the River Esk. At this stage it was pleasantly warm, but slightly overcast. Usually we would avoid the main road and take the track behind the racecourse. For a change, we took the main road down to the racecourse roundabout and joined the coast road. It is not the quietest road, but we would have had to join it further along anyway.

We used our newly developed plan for getting a group safely along main roads. Groups of five riders would be set off at 15 second intervals to make it safer for riders and other traffic. Thanks to Verity [who wasn't on today's ride} for coming up with the plan, and thanks to Alan for acting as main road monitor. We stayed on the main road as far as Cockenzie, where we turned off and quieter roads took us past Cockenzie and Port Seton harbours. A comfort and sweetie stop in Port Seton before joining the main road again. Beyond Gosford House the leader stopped and gave the riders two options; stay on the main road to Aberlady or take the unsurfaced path that ran alongside it. The split was probably half and half. We regrouped and left the main road at Aberlady. Quiet back roads allowed us to ride in one large group again. It was now warm and sunny and the East Lothian countryside looked beautiful. A short stretch of main road followed. We left that behind at Drem railway station. From there, minor roads took us on to our lunch stop at Merryhatton. We enjoyed a nice lunch in the conservatory, but it felt hotter in there than outside!

With everyone fed and watered, we headed off on the homeward leg. Past the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune and into the lovely village of Athalstaneford - which lays claim to being the birth place of Scotland's flag. We paused by the church where an interpretation panel tells the story of the flag. Education over, we headed out of the village towards the Haddington road. There always seems to be a headwind on that stretch of road. Today was no exception; but it was more of a gentle breeze and its slight cooling effect was most welcome. We crossed the road for Haddington and took the quiet minor road which skirts the Hopetoun monument. A short stretch on the A6137 followed. This was our only real climb of the day. Deserted minor roads would follow and soon we were speeding down a glorious steep hill. Coming so soon after a climb, smiles and comments confirmed how much it had been enjoyed. We continued until a barrier and red flashing lights brought us to a halt. Yes, we were at the level crossing near Longniddry. Once the train had passed and the barriers went up, we crossed the dual carriageway and took the path and road to Seton East, where another lovely hill took us down to the coast at Port Seton. The same back roads from the morning took us past the two harbours, before joining the main road back as far as Prestonpans. There we joined the coast path, which via the Lagoons and sea wall took us back to Goose Green in Musselburgh. Back across the footbridge and the leader declared the ride officially over.

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. Great weather, the lovely East Lothian countryside, not many hills and good company - cycling at its best. Thanks to Logan for leaving us this ride - a fitting legacy to our friend. As an additional link to Logan, the leader led today's ride on his road bike (first time on a group ride) which runs on a set of Logan's wheels.

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Monday 19 August 2019

Extra to Merryhatton this coming Saturday

We've got the third of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (24th). Glenn will once again be leading us into the East Lothian countryside. The total distance will be 45 - 50 miles, mainly on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths, but with a couple of short stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. There will be a few hills, but no killers.

Remember, these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual runs. We maintain a slightly higher average speed, but 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 concerned about your fitness level, 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, which is about six miles from central Edinburgh. Please aim to get there in time for a 10:30 departure. There are toilets available at the start point. I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but it is likely to be after 4 pm.

As with all our rides, this one is free and open to all, with no advance bookings.

Saturday 10 August 2019

Are you sure this is the right way?

Earlier in the week the forecast was promising a day of thundery showers. By this morning it sounded somewhat better - a mixture of showers and light rain with thundery showers arriving after five o'clock. In the end, our ride to South Queensferry was blessed with warm sunshine, not a drop of rain and everyone was safely home by the time the thundery downpour did eventually arrive. We have a ride to South Queensferry every year, so there is always the risk of it becoming rather familiar and lacking in interest. Not this time; the leader did us proud by picking a route that none of us had taken before. We even got tangled up with a parade.

Despite the forecast, a turnout of 18 riders was quite good, with the added bonus that we didn't need to split into two groups. Good to see some new faces in the mix. The first part of the route was familiar until we arrived at Bruntsfield Place where we turned left and joined the main road. Those not paying attention almost went over the crossing and down to the canal. Instead, we meandered through the less familiar back streets of Bruntsfield, Merchiston and Polworth before arriving in Roseburn Park. More quiet paths and we emerged at the busy Glasgow Road. There was a little confusion as the leader had told us we would be crossing the road beside the Jaguar garage - which is now a Volvo garage. We left the busy road behind and threaded through more quiet back streets before emerging at the busy Queensferry Road. Across that and a quick whizz down Whitehouse Road, where we turned off and headed down to Cramond Bridge for the obligatory stop whilst cake and sweets were passed round. It was now warm and sunny. Heading out in the morning everyone was so busy ensuring they had got their waterproofs that no one had given a second thought to sun cream. We then took the path beside the road towards Burnshot Bridge. On arriving at the cattle grid at the entrance to the Dalmeny estate, we surprisingly went in rather than riding past and heading towards Dalmeny village. A cyclist coming out warned us to look out for a large highland cow standing in the middle of the road. Pre-warned, we were able to slow down and give the cow a wide berth. We rode through the estate and came into South Queensferry beneath the majestic Forth Rail Bridge. As we headed into town we came to a barrier and a "road closed" sign. It turned out to be the day of the Ferry Fair Festival parade. One of the stewards said we could head along the road so long as we dismounted and hurried up so as not to get tangled up in the parade. We made it to the centre of town and riders headed off in various directions in search of lunch. We'd never seen the place so busy.

After lunch, we had a short walk wheeling our bikes to reach the end of the high street. From there it was up the hill, through the Co-op car park and we were on the path to Dalmeny village. We then took the familiar route back towards Cramond Bridge. Re-grouping at Burnshot Bridge, we were joined by a rather muddy French mountain biker who asked the best way back to Portobello. It appears he had got lost near Craigie's Farm and ended up riding across a potato field. We told him we were heading in the direction he needed to go, so he rode with us for a short while. He soon left us to go and seek out a jet wash for his bike and himself. We held with tradition and paused briefly on Cramond Bridge. From there it was onwards through Barnton with an easy crossing of Cramond Road South courtesy of temporary traffic lights. We had never before experienced such an easy crossing. Through Silverknowes and the Blackhall path took us to Craigleith. From there, the familiar route of the Roseburn path, Russell Road, Telfer subway and the canal took us back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Alan for leading an enjoyable ride. It just goes to show that with a little thought and imagination, what looks set to be a somewhat predictable and familiar ride can easily become something more interesting. Thanks also to the weather for being on our side. None of us expected to stay dry all day and be concerned about forgetting to apply sun cream.

Leader: Alan
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: None available

Monday 5 August 2019

August ride - and others

We've got our August ride this coming Saturday (10th). I don't have any details yet of the route, but I do know that we will be heading to South Queensferry. Alan will be in charge. There are several cafes in South Queensferry, as well as a good picnic spot overlooking the harbour and bridges.

As always, we'll set out at 10:30 from our usual meeting point in Middle Meadow Walk.

More rides

We've now fixed the dates for the remaining Extra rides of the summer. They are as follows:

24th August: Merryhatton Garden Centre in East Lothian. Glenn leading.

7th September: Peter leading. The date is fixed but the destination is not yet decided.

28th September: Glenn will be leading us into Midlothian.

I'll let you have more details of the above nearer the time.