20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 28 September 2019

The summer's final hurrah

The last 20 Milers Extra of the year signals the end of summer. Having a large turnout, lovely weather and a new route and destination enabled us to go out on a high. We headed out into a delightful, quiet and unexplored part of Midlothian with a lunch stop in Pathhead. Deserted country lanes, open countryside devoid of other people and the crossing of a shallow ford made for a great ride.

The weather forecast for today had been changing all week. At first it looked as if it would be dry, then light rain looked imminent. By last night, we were expecting a dry but cool day with overcast skies. That didn't sound too bad for late September. What we eventually got was a dry day with a light breeze, a comfortable temperature and sun shining down from a blue sky containing just a few fluffy white clouds. That doubtlessly helped muster the 26 riders that turned up to start from Fisherrow Harbour. The leader gave the cutomary briefing insisting that everyone would walk across the ford. Why? Because on the recce he had crashed heavily whilst crossing it and was very lucky to escape with nothing more than cuts and severe bruising. A good reason why we do recces and a good example of what a leader will do to ensure everyone's safety on the day. A willingness to "take one" for the group!. We're not sure if 26 is a record Extra turnout, but it's definitely close. The leader decided not to split into two groups, and that worked out OK. We made our way to the path for Whitecraig meadering through backstreets that were unfamiliar to most. From Whitecraig we joined the cycle path towards Dalkeith, turning off and climbing past the farm at Smeaton. More climbing followed as we headed towards Cousland and turned right on the A6124 towards the A68. With the climbing over [for now], we paused for a sweetie stop and to regroup. A glorious downhill followed to Fordel Dean before joining the A6093, which was far busier than usual. It was good to leave that road behind and follow a much quieter one to the sawmill at Windy Mains. Waiting to regroup, there was no doubt how the place had got its name. We were now on a lovely quiet lane heading towards the ford at Costerton, with a real sense of being out in the sticks.
Arriving at the beautiful little ford, the leader stopped and led the group over the footbridge alongside. A few opted to walk through and a couple of riders just had to ride across - fortunately without incident. The leader allowed himself a wry smile at the thought of those riding slowly and carefully across compared to when he had approached at a fair pace on the racing line, only to have his front wheel slide from under him on the slippery surface. As the others headed away from the ford, he paused for a couple of minutes alone to exorcise the associated demons before pedalling after them. We were soon at the busy A68. Fortunately, we only had to travel 200 yards along it before turning off onto the much quieter B6458. With the sun shining down from a clear blue sky, no sign of human habitation and fields full of sheep - this was idyllic. More quiet roads took us from Tynehead to Crichton and back to the busy A68 at Pathhead. Rather than try and turn right onto such a busy road, we wheeled our bikes up the pavement to "The Foresters" pub for lunch. The food was good and we were all impressed with how they dealt with such a large group of hungry cyclists arriving unannounced.

With everyone fed, we headed off leaving the busy A68 behind. Past the impressive gates leading to Preston Hall, we turned left and headed towards the A6093 that we had headed out on in the morning. This time, a quick left and right and we were on another of those delightful quiet lanes that characterised today's ride. Some more climbing and we were in the village of Cousland. We dropped down to join the A6124 which took us to Whitecraig and onto the River Esk Path. At the bridge across the river, the leader declared the ride over. Part of the group headed over the bridge and onwards to Edinburgh, whilst the remainder headed down to Luca's in Musselburgh for ice cream.

It's always good to hear people say how much they have enjoyed a ride, and plenty said that today. Somewhere new for most, lovely quiet roads, a real sense of being out in the sticks, wonderful scenery and great weather - a fitting finale to this year's series of Extra rides. They will start again in May next year. But of course, the usual 20 Milers rides will continue throughout the year - all welcome, free and no need to book.

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

Tuesday 24 September 2019

Last Extra of 2019 this coming Saturday

We've got time to squeeze one more Extra ride into our programme before autumn sets in. This Saturday (28th), Glenn will be leading us on what promises to be an attractive circuit of the eastern fringes of Midlothian. Most of the route will be on quiet roads, taking in some pleasant villages. The route will be similar to one that Glenn led two years ago but with the direction reversed.

For this ride, we will meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh, in time for a 10:30 departure. As you know, our Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual runs. This one will be about 30 miles from Fisherrow back to Fisherrow (and Fisherrow is about six further miles from central Edinburgh). I can't say for sure what time the ride will finish, but it's likely to be around 4 pm.

The route will involve a bit of climbing, but no particularly nasty hills. One interesting feature will be the need to ford a river - more about that when we get there.

For lunch, we will stop at a pub in Pathhead - or bring a packed lunch if you prefer. Most of the mileage will be in the morning, so lunch will be on the late side. You might want to bring an extra snack to keep the hunger pangs away.

Remember, all our rides are "just turn up". There is no advance booking, and no need to reply to this post.

Saturday 14 September 2019

Our [almost] forgotten 15th anniversary

Today's ride started out with nothing to set it apart from any other of our rides. But a chance comment led us to realise it was in effect the ride to mark the 15th anniversary of the 20 Milers. As the comment wasn't made until we were a few miles into the ride, no mention of the anniversary was made at the briefing. The leader took us on a somewhat meandering route to Heriot Watt University at Riccarton. It stayed dry all day, and whilst it was not particularly cold, it was quite windy. We made our way out into a noticeable headwind, but a tail wind meant we were almost blown back to town. Another notable thing from today's ride being a new backmarker stepped into the breech and did a splendid job.

A cool and windy morning saw 23 riders assemble at the start. That's always a good number as we can get away with one group, thus avoiding the logistics of having to split into two. After the customary briefing, we rolled away to join the canal at Leamington Bridge via Bruntsfield Links. We stayed on the canal as far as Ashley Terrace where the group got split and delayed by temporary traffic lights. We regrouped and made our way through the back streets of Merchiston and past the George Watson's College sports ground on our way to Greenbank. Along the quiet roads of the housing estate near Redford Barracks and we emerged onto the busy Redford Road. Mike was talking to the writer when it dawned on him that the group had begun in September 2004 (the exact date is lost in the mists of time), thus making it 15 years to the month since the first ride. So in effect, we were on the 15th anniversary ride. Onwards through the back streets of Colinton and we arrived in Bonaly where we stopped as the leader passed sweeties round. From there we took the Water of Leith walkway as far as Riccarton. We took the back way into the Heriot Watt campus off Curriehill Road and got a shock as we arrived in the large cafeteria. Usually there are about half a dozen other customers and we would get served quickly. Not today. The university was having an open day and the cafeteria was heaving.

Whilst lunch took slightly longer than usual, everyone got fed and soon it was time to begin our journey back to town. Within minutes of setting out we had lost the leader. He had made a right turn which the following rider had missed and everyone else had followed. We were soon back on the right track concluding that the confusion had been caused by the appearance of a brand new building that wasn't there last time. All back together, we left the campus behind and crossed the busy Calder Road. Via Hermiston House Road, Gogarbank, Gogar Station Road and the subway we arrived at Edinburgh Park. We followed the tram line through Broomhouse and Stenhouse, leaving it at the Jenners Depository to make our way to Murrayfield Stadium. From there we made our way back to Leamington Bridge via Roseburn Park, Russell Road, Dalry Road, the Telfer Subway and Fountainbridge. The familiar route took us back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over. As we rode through the Meadows a man came towards us on a mountain bike being pulled along by two Husky dogs. Needless to say, he barely needed to pedal. A number of us thought what a good idea for our next ride, especially for steep hills.

Thanks to Neil for leading us to a familiar location by an unfamiliar route. Sometimes a little fore thought and planning is all it takes to mix things up and make an old ride seem like a new one. We may do twelve rides a year and have been doing them for fifteen years, but we are far from running out of places to go or interesting ways of getting to them. Last but by no means least, thanks to Yaz for doing a great job of back marking on her first time in the role. Well done. Next step will see her leading a ride.

Leader: Neil
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Our next ride

Our September ride takes place this coming Saturday (14th). We'll be heading out to the south west of the city, taking in Colinton, Currie and Balerno. The total distance will be about 20 miles, with just a little moderate climbing - nothing too strenuous. Neil will be our leader.

We'll stop for lunch at the Heriot-Watt campus in Riccarton. This has a spacious cafeteria which offers a good selection of sandwiches and snacks, usually including at least one hot dish. There is also plenty of room there for those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch.

We'll set out at 10:30 from our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride should finish around mid-afternoon.

Please keep in mind that, as with all our rides, the above information should be regarded as provisional. The meeting time and place are fixed, but we always reserve the right to vary the route and destination, depending on conditions on the day.

Another ride

In addition to the above ride, Glenn will be leading our final Extra of the summer on the 28th of this month. I'll post more details of that event as they become available.

And finally ....

May I remind you to bring a spare inner tube on all our rides if at all possible. We can't guarantee that you won't get a puncture, but by carrying a spare tube you make it a lot easier to get back on the road if the unavoidable happens. Check with your favourite bike shop if you don't know what size or type of tube is right for your bike. And don't worry if you don't know how to change the tube; if a puncture strikes, there are usually willing hands available to help.

That's all for now. As I write this, the forecast for Saturday is for a warm and dry day, so we can look forward to another excellent day's cycling.

Saturday 7 September 2019

To Humbie Hub without a scribe

Unfortunately, neither of the group's scribes were able to make today's ride to Humbie. Mike wasn't well and Glenn was recovering from a heavy crash on a recce ride the previous week. Apologies for no report. But by way of compensation, here are a few more photos than usual courtesy of Verity.

Apparently it was a great ride and everyone to enjoyed it.

Normal service should hopefully resume in time for next week's 20 Milers ride.

Leader: Peter
Photos: Verity
Map trace: Jim

Monday 2 September 2019

Three rides for September

We've got three rides planned for the coming month. Here are some details:

Saturday 7th September

This coming Saturday, Peter (Bennett) will be leading our fourth Extra of the summer. We'll be heading to a spot we have never visited before as a group: the delightful village of Humbie in East Lothian.

As you know, these Extra rides are longer than our standard runs and go at a slightly faster pace. Please keep that in mind if you haven't cycled for a while or are concerned about your fitness level. But for those of you who find out normal pace well within your capabilities, this ride should present no difficulties.

The ride will start earlier than usual, at 10:00. And we'll start from Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh, not Middle Meadow Walk. The total distance from Fisherrow back to Fisherrow will be about 34 miles. If you are coming from central Edinburgh, you will need to add about six miles each way to that figure.

Most of the route will be on country roads with very little traffic. There will be some moderate climbing in the morning, followed by some nice downhill cruising on the return leg.

Our lunch stop will be at the Humbie Hub. This is a pleasant little café, serving soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes and the like. It also has a small garden for those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch.

Saturday 14th September

Our standard "second Saturday" run this month will be a gentle ride in and around Colinton and Currie and on the Water of Leith path, with a lunch stop at the Heriot-Watt campus in Riccarton. Neil will be in charge. I'll post full details here next week.

Saturday 28th September

For our final Extra of the summer. Glenn will be conducting us into Midlothian, with a lunch stop at Pathhead. There will be some moderate hills as well as a short stretch on a busy main road, but most of the route will be on quiet lanes threading through some delightful (and less familiar) countryside. Again, expect more details nearer the time.

As always, these rides are all free and open to everyone, with no advance booking needed.