20th Anniversary Year

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Tuesday 8 September 2020

Covid-19 update

This post is to explain why we feel that we are still not ready to resume our rides. I am posting this after discussing the matter with several of our regular riders.

The current government guidelines impose a maximum of 15 people from up to five households when meeting out of doors. Since almost all our riders join us as individuals (rather than as married couples or in family groups), in practice that means a limit of five people on a ride, which means four riders plus the leader.

Clearly it would not be feasible to organise anything like our usual 20-Milers outings on that basis.

The guidelines do permit organised "sports" to take place out of doors in groups of up to 30 people from an unlimited number of households. This applies to events organised as part of a "club activity", delivered by a "qualified coach or leader" and overseen by a Covid-19 coordinator.  There are requirements for collecting contact details and preparing a risk assessment.

We have considered running a ride on that basis, but decided against it, partly because of the time and effort involved in setting it all up, and partly because we felt it would go against the ethos of the 20-Milers, which is to meet up for friendly rides without any formalities.

Some of you have asked why we don't set up a booking system for our rides. The reason is that we have around 140 names on our mailing list. Even if half of these are inactive or have gone away, that still leaves around 70 people to be circulated each month, 70 emails to send out, potentially 70 replies to deal with, not to mention having to deal with waiting lists, last-minute changes or cancellations, and so on. That is simply too much effort for no clear benefit.

In view of all of the above, I'm afraid I can't hold out too much hope of our rides resuming in the near future. I know how much we all enjoy the rides, and I miss them as much as everyone else. I can only hope that you are still managing to get out on your bike, either on your own or in small groups of family or friends.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

August ride not taking place

I am sorry to have to tell you that we are still not ready to resume our rides. The ride that would normally have taken place this coming Saturday will not be going ahead.

The reason for this is simple: the current government guidelines still only permit people from five households at a time to meet out of doors. Since most of our runs attract between 20 and 30 riders, there is clearly no way we can work within that limit. And regardless of the guidelines, it would be impossible for us to manage social distancing with such a large group.

I'm still hoping that we will be able to resume our rides, albeit on a reduced scale, in the not-too-distant future. I'll let you know as soon as we feel ready to do that. In the meantime, I hope you manage to enjoy some cycling on your own or in a small group with your family or friends.

Monday 6 July 2020

No 20-Milers in July

I'm sorry to say that there will again be no 20-Milers ride this month. After careful consideration, we have decided that it is still too early to resume our rides. Although restrictions on extended groups meeting out of doors are due to be lifted this week, we felt that it is still not possible for a large group like ours to safely maintain physical distancing while cycling on busy bike routes.

We have now pencilled in 8th August for our first post-lockdown ride. This might be a shorter ride than usual, possibly with no cafe or pub stop. It might involve splitting up into two or more smaller groups. We'll work out the details nearer the time. I'll keep you informed.

I'm sorry that we won't be meeting this month, but I am sure you will understand the reasons.

Despite the absence of our official ride, I hope you manage to enjoy some cycling in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

IMPORTANT NOTICE: 20-Milers and Covid-19

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been obliged to cancel all 20-Milers bike rides until further notice. We are sorry that this has become necessary, but we are sure you will understand the reasons. 

We will of course resume the rides as soon as it is appropriate to do so. Please keep an eye on this blog for further news. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please use the email address shown on this page or the comment feature below this post.

Saturday 14 March 2020

Third time lucky

Crazy as it may seem, being March, today's ride was the first one of the year that went the full distance. This time the weather was on our side and we made it to Davidson's Mains and back as planned. Despite the familiar location, the leader came up with an imaginative itinerary that was entirely new to the group. The route was essentially a loop around the east, north and west of the city, taking in several parks, some pleasant bike paths and a stretch of the waterfront with very little climbing and only a few short stretches on main roads.

Given that there was a moderate breeze and some sunshine, a turnout of fifteen riders was slightly lower than expected. But it was good to see a couple of new faces in the mix. Following the customary route and safety briefing, we headed off towards the Innocent Railway. We could already see this was not the usual way to get to Davidson's Mains, so were expecting something less conventional. The leader took us through the back streets of Bingham, through Mountcastle and into Figgate Park. After a brief halt at Figgate Pond, we did a circuit of the park exiting on to Mountcastle Terrace. From there we took the bridge over the railway, joined Fishwives Causeway and were soon on Craigentinny Crescent for our first history lesson of the day courtesy of Mike. He told us the story of the Craigentinny Marbles - the impressive mausoleum that looks totally out of place in an Edinburgh suburb surrounded by 1930's bungalows. History lesson over, through the back streets of Restalrig and we were riding across Leith Links. As we made our way to The Shore, we stopped for our second history lesson of the day thanks to Mike. This time we were in front of Lamb's House, a fine merchant's house tucked away in Burgess Street. From The Shore, we took the cycle path into Victoria Park where we stopped and cakes were passed around. Through the tunnel on the Trinity Path and we were soon on the path with the Firth of Forth on our right and the busy Lower Granton Road on our left. It is great that the path has now been extended allowing us to stay on the path all the way to Granton Square. Through Granton, along the Telford Path, a cut through to the Blackhall path, along a slightly muddy path and we arrived in the car park at Tesco's in Davidson's Mains. The leader had all bases covered and arranged for the pub's beer garden gate to be opened so we could all wheel our bikes in. Believe it or not, we once went there and were told to wheel our bikes through the pub! Whilst a few of the group had lunch beside the fire inside; the majority sat outside. Whilst not that cold, they did endure a few spots of rain. Perhaps a little early in the year for alfresco dining?

Lunch over, we left the pub and made our way through Davidson's Mains Park, across the busy Queensferry Road and in to the back streets of Clermiston. For most of us this was new uncharted territory. We passed the Drumbrae Leisure Centre and weaved our way through Drumbrae and East Craigs. It was on this section that a few of us at the back of the group came across a couple of teenage cyclists; one of whom was having problems with his bike. His front brake had jammed on and the wheel wouldn't turn. A couple of minutes later and it was all fixed. We left a very grateful cyclist and headed off after the group. We crossed the busy Glasgow Road, passed the David Lloyd Club and made our way to Broomhouse. Down beside the tram track, past Jenner's Depository and onwards to Murrayfield and Roseburn Park. From there we returned to the Meadows by the well-worn route via Russell Road, Dalry Road, the Telfer Subway, Leamington Bridge and Toll Cross. At the Meadows the leader declared the ride officially over.

It was great to have our first ride of the year run its full course rather than be abandoned or curtailed, as happened with the previous two. One of the challenges facing our ride leaders is to come up with new and interesting routes which don't just repeat the same old rides that we do again and again. Today Graham succeeded in doing just that by linking together familiar routes in an unfamiliar way, resulting in a good ride enjoyed by all. Thanks also to Mike for the two history lessons. Good weather and lunch outside added to the feeling that 2020 is truly underway for the group following a couple of false starts.

Leader: Graham
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Iain

Monday 9 March 2020

March ride this coming Saturday

Our March ride will take place this coming Saturday (14th). I hope you will be able to join us

One of the challenges facing our ride leaders is to come up with new and interesting routes which don't just repeat the same old rides that we do again and again. Our leader this month, Graham, has succeeded in doing just that. By linking together familiar routes in an unfamiliar way, he has managed to come up with an imaginative itinerary that will be entirely new to the group.

The route will essentially be a loop around the east, north and west of the city, taking in several parks, some pleasant bike paths and a stretch of the waterfront.  The total distance will be about 23 miles, with very little climbing and only a few short stretches on main roads.

Our lunch stop will be at Davidson's Mains. The Olde Inn there does a range of hot main course dishes, with  prices start at £8.95. If you prefer a lighter lunch, the nearby Costa offers a choice of soups, toasties, panini and the like. Also nearby is Davidson's Mains Park, where those who wish to bring a packed lunch can enjoy their picnic.

The meeting time and place are the same as ever. We'll meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure.

Please keep in mind that, as with all our rides, the meeting time and place are fixed, but the route and lunch stop might change according to conditions on the day. In particular, we might shorten the ride if the weather is very bad.

More cycling news

* Border Buses are gradually introducing bike-carrying buses on more of their routes. As of now, bikes can be carried on some (not all) buses on routes X62 (Edinburgh to Melrose via Peebles), X95 (Edinburgh to Galashiels, Hawick and Carlisle) and 253 (Edinburgh to Haddington, Dunbar and Berwick on Tweed).

* Edinburgh Festival of Cycling
(EdFoC). It seems unlikely that this will go ahead this year, partly because of the lack of commercial sponsorship. The organisers say they hope to return in 2021. Some of the individual events, including bike rides, talks and workshops, might still take place this year. I will keep you informed if I get any more news.

* St Andrews (Lepra) ride. On a more positive note, this ride will definitely go ahead this year after a break in 2019. The date is fixed for Saturday 13th June. Full details can be found here.

That's all for now. I hope to see you all soon.

Saturday 8 February 2020

The road to Swanston took our breath away

One word would sum up today's ride - wind! With Storm Ciara waiting in the wings, we knew today would be windy. Although there were strong winds right from the start, blue skies and bright sunshine gave us hope things might not be as bad as forecasted. Alas, that was not the case and the ride had to be cut short in the interests of safety. The plan was for a "themed" ride following a traditional, waymarked route: Robert Louis Stevenson's "Road to Swanston and the Pentlands". We were to follow the route he supposedly took between the New Town and the ancient village of Swanston, at the foot of the Pentland Hills. Unfortunately, we didn't even make it to Swanston before turning back.
Given the forecast, a turnout of 22 was quite impressive; certainly better than the four that set out on the January ride in truly appalling weather conditions. As ever, it was good to see a number of new riders in the mix. Bright sunshine and strong winds were the order of the day as we rolled away from the Meadows. We took the familiar route via Bruntsfield Links and the back streets of Morningside to Braidburn Valley park. Pausing at the park entrance, the leader, writer and backmarker had a quick confab about whether or not we should continue. The wind appeared to be getting stronger as the forecast had suggested, and we would be heading into much less sheltered terrain. The backmarker suggested his input would be of limited use as he said, "you know I have a rather gung-oh approach to safety!" Between us we decided to press on and reassess the situation shortly. Another confab at the park exit and the leader told the group that we would press on to Hunters Tryst where we would stop for coffee before turning round and heading back to the Meadows. Up the steep and [in places] muddy paths until we eventually emerged on Oxgangs Road. Instead of heading towards Swanston and the foot of the Pentlands, we made our way to Morrisons at Hunters Tryst for our unscheduled coffee stop.
An unshortened ride and a stop for lunch rather than coffee would have been better. But in the interests of everyone's safety we had to make do with a coffee stop, which everyone seemed to enjoy. A quick whizz down Oxgangs Road North, through Oxgangs and we were back at Braidburn Valley park. From there we retraced our outward route back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over. It was a shame, but definitely the right call given the conditions.
Thanks to Mike for planning an interesting route that we were unable to complete, and thanks to him for making everyone's safety the priority and shortening the ride. A tough decision that perhaps wasn't appreciated by all, but clearly the right one. It's not easy being the leader. With a total of just under 10 miles covered, this was a  shortened ride; unlike the January one which was abandoned after a few miles. By way of consolation, at least there are two routes for us to complete later in the year. Fingers crossed that March offers us some better weather.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Monday 3 February 2020

February ride this coming Saturday

Our next ride takes place this coming Saturday (8th February). I hope you will be able to join us.

For this ride, we will be repeating a very successful run that we did about 18 months ago: Robert Louis Stevenson's "Road to the Pentlands". It won't be a particularly long ride - probably about 18 miles. But it will involve some steady climbing, mainly in the morning (and some nice downhills in the afternoon). There will also be a few rough stretches, some of which might be quite muddy.

Our route will follow the series of paths that Stevenson supposedly took when he visited his family's summer cottage in the old village of Swanston, at the foot of the Pentlands. After a look around the village, we will head east towards Lothianburn, the Winton Estate and Frogston. In the afternoon, we will return home via  Burdiehouse Valley, Craigmillar Castle Park and the Innocent Path.

Our lunch stop will be in the spacious new restaurant at Mortonhall. This serves a good range of salads, sandwiches and light meals. As well as having plenty of indoor seating, it also has a pleasant terrace for those of us who like to dine al fresco.

The meeting time and place are the same as ever: 10.30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We will aim to get back to the Meadows around the middle of the afternoon - well before dark (sunset that day is not until 17:01).

A reminder

May I remind you that we encourage our riders to carry a spare inner tube on all our rides. If you are unfortunate enough to have a puncture, having a spare tube will make it much easier to get back on the road. And if you don't have quick-release wheels front and back, please also carry whatever tool is needed to remove your wheels. If you don't know what tools you need or what size tube is right for your bike, ask at your favourite bike shop.

As always, there is no need to let anyone know in advance if you plan to join us. The ride is free and open to all, and you can just turn up on the day.

Sunday 12 January 2020

Despite the atrocious weather …

… our January ride went ahead. And what atrocious weather it was. Heavy rain, getting steadily worse throughout the morning, and winds gusting to 40 mph and more. Four riders turned up for the run, our first of 2020. All things considered, that was a surprisingly good turnout.

The original plan had been to follow a circuitous route through the west of the city, taking in Hermiston, Gogar, Turnhouse and Cammo, with a lunch stop at Craigie's Farm. After some discussion, our leader, Alan, decided that we would go ahead with the ride, but we would take a more direct and less exposed route to Craigie's. This was a sensible decision, given the conditions.

But even that curtailed route proved too much for your scribe, who bailed out soon after passing the Craigleith path junction. The other three bravely continued for a while. By Cramond Brig the rain had turned into a deluge, forcing the riders to take shelter in the tunnel under the Queenferry Road. At that point, the leader decided to head for home.

With just two riders remaining, Graham takes up the story:

"Exiting the tunnel, the rain was still falling, but not as intensely as ten minutes earlier. Out along the Kirkliston road, there were streams of water criss-crossing the road and at one point, the whole width of the road was at bottom bracket depth. Up the hill, we reached the sanctuary of Craigie's Farm. After a nice lunch, we re-dressed in our dripping jackets, wrung out our gloves and headed for home, retracing our earlier route. We were now at a point where we couldn't possibly get any wetter, and with the weather slightly improving, we decided to extend the ride. We turned left at Whitehouse Road and headed for Cramond. A whiz down School Brae took us to the waterfall, whose normally sharp edge was radiused with the huge volume of water. We then cycled downstream to the estuary, took in vistas of Cramond Island and Fife before heading along the esplanade to Granton. Here we climbed up through Forth Quarter and back on to the cycle path to return to Craigleith, where we parted company."

We can now look forward to some good rides in the coming year. Surely the weather cannot be this bad again?

Leader: Alan
Report: Mike, with help from Graham
Photo: MIke

Monday 6 January 2020

January 20-Milers on Saturday

We've got our first ride of 2020 coming up on Saturday (11th). Alan will be leading us on a route that takes in bike paths and quiet roads in the west of the city, with a lunch stop at one of our more popular eating places, Craigie's Farm.

The route is likely to be little over 20 miles. It will include a few short stretches on rough paths that might be muddy in places. The only serious hill to worry about will be the climb up to Craigie's from the Kirkliston Road, which we'll reach just before lunch. Lunch will probably be on the late side, with a quick return to the Meadows in the afternoon. The ride should finish well before dark but it would be wise to bring lights in case we get delayed or if you want to go for a post-ride coffee (sunset on Saturday is just after 4 pm).

Craigie's Farm has both a cafe and a picnic area. The cafe does a good range of hot dishes, salads, sandwiches and the like.

We'll meet as always at 10:30 at our usual spot on Middle Meadow Walk. Remember, there is no advance booking for our rides. Just turn up on th day.

Please keep in mind that the above information is provisional. The meeting place and time are fixed, but, as with all our rides, we reserve the right to change the route or destination at short notice, depending on conditions on the day. This doesn't happen very often, but we might need to do it, for example if some of the paths are icy or if particularly bad weather is expected later in the day.