20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 25 December 2021

A Santa-esque Saunter


This was our tenth Christmas morning ride. The first one was in 2011 and attracted just seven riders. Today, 15 cyclists turned up. So we are clearly moving in the right direction. In fact, 15 was a particularly satisfactory number considering today's conditions: a bright, sunny morning, but a bitterly cold one. The temperature was 3°C, but the freezing wind made it feel several degrees colder.

Our first stop was the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, where we took in the excellent views towards the Pentland Hills. We then zoomed down the Mound, then did a two-way stretch along Princes Street: first heading west as far as Castle Street, then doubling back to South St David Street. On passing the deserted Christmas Market, one rider asked if Edinburgh was the only city where the Christmas market closes for Christmas.

The next leg took us westward again, this time along George Street, passing the seasonal ice rink (also closed) and into Charlotte Square. Part of the rationale of these festive rides is that there is much less traffic in the city centre on Christmas day, allowing us to cycle in places where we wouldn't normally venture. At least, that's the theory. But today there seemed to be far more cars on the road than expected. It wasn't clear why.

After cutting through to Queensferry Street, we headed down Belford Road into Dean Village. This was busy with tourists, all looking in vain for something to do or somewhere to go to get out of the cold. I couldn't help feeling sorry for them. Our route then took us along the delightful path that runs by the Water of Leith to Stockbridge. This was also quite busy, but perhaps less so than on a normal Saturday.

We continued along Deanhaugh Street and into St Bernard's Row before cutting through to Inverleith Park. We stopped for a quick refreshment break on the hill above the pond, from where there was a clear view over the city towards the Castle. It would have been nice to linger for a bit at this pleasant spot, but the thermometer was against us. So onward we pedalled, along Inverleith Row and into Warriston Gardens, from where we gained access to Quiet Route 13, aka the Goldenacre Path.

Leaving the path a short distance later, we continued through St Mark's Park and along McDonald Road. From here, our route was to take us across Leith Walk and into Brunswick Place, but the current tram works made the crossing of Leith Walk rather challenging, so instead we dismounted and walked the short distance along the pavement to Brunswick Street. This gave us easy access to Hillside Crescent and London Road.

The last leg took us along the cobbles of Royal Terrace and Regent Terrace. The original plan had been to finish the outing with an ascent of Calton Hill. But by now the temperature was taking its toll. Several members of the group had already peeled off, no doubt in search of somewhere to thaw out. Those that remained were questioning the wisdom of climbing to the 100-metre summit where 15 mph winds were likely to waiting for us. So, without any dissenting voices, the ride was officially declared over. Two of us made it back to the Meadows, with the others going their separate ways.

Leader: Mike

Report and photos: Mike


Monday 20 December 2021

Christmas morning ride this coming Saturday

We've got our traditional half-day Christmas ride coming up on Saturday (25th). Like all our rides, this one is free and open to all. We'll meet at our usual time and place (10.30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk). There is no advance booking of any kind; just turn up on the day.

I realise that many of you will have plans for later in the day, so I'll make sure that we get back to the Meadows by 1 pm at the latest.

The route

The nice thing about cycling on Christmas day is that there is much less traffic than usual. To take advantage of that, our route will include parts of the city centre where we wouldn't normally venture. We'll also take in some bike paths, parks and quiet roads around the periphery.

The total distance will be 10 to 12 miles, which we'll take at a gentle pace with plenty of stops. But note that there will be a few hills, plus a couple of stretches on cobbled roads.

Food and drink

There will be no café stop on this ride (and no toilet stop either - take note). On our Christmas runs in past years, riders have brought all manner of seasonal treats to share: chocolate, mince pies, even mulled wine. By all means, bring similar goodies this year if you wish - but, please, only for your own consumption. Because of Covid, we are asking that you do not bring food or drink to share.

Talking of which ...

You don't need me to remind you that Covid is very much still with us. Even though we will be in the open air, please try to maintain social distancing on the ride. And of course, you shouldn't join the ride if you have Covid symptoms or have been told to isolate or quarantine.

I intend to take a lateral-flow test before setting out for the ride, and I would urge you to do the same. These tests are quick and easy to do at home, and the result is available within 15 minutes. If we all do a test on Christmas morning, we will greatly reduce the risk of spreading the virus on our ride or later in the day.

Looking ahead

Christmas apart, our normal monthly runs continue throughout the winter. The next one will be on Saturday 8 January. I'll post details of that ride nearer the time.

Saturday 11 December 2021

Riccarton by a route less travelled

Whilst most of today's ride to the Heriot Watt Campus at Riccarton was on familiar roads and paths, the leader did promise us an interesting new stretch we had never ridden before as a group. It may have been due to the lure of Christmas shopping or the dreich weather, but a total of just ten riders was a very low turn out, even for December. Following the leader's briefing about the route, safety and lunch arrangements, we left the Meadows and headed to Whitehouse Loan via Bruntsfield Links. From there we took the quiet backstreets of Marchmont and Morningside. It's a bonus that a number of the roads are blocked off for through traffic to all except cycles. Through Braidburn Valley Park, Colinton Mains Park and more quiet backstreets, this time behind Redford Barracks. Onwards through Colinton and Bonaly before arriving at Woodhall Road, where we turned right and continued as the road petered out to become a rough downhill path to the Water of Leith. Across the narrow bridge and we were on the Water of Leith Walkway. Along this muddy stretch we encountered walkers, dogs and horses before emerging in Balerno. Right along Bridge Road and right at the lights to join Lanark Road West for a short distance. Leaving the busy road behind, we made our way through the new housing estate before taking the path down to Curriehill station. Here we had to wheel our bikes up and over the footbridge across the railway. Leaving the interesting new stretch behind us, Curriehill Road and the familiar back entrance into the Heriot Watt campus took us to our lunch stop. As the leader had explained earlier, the cafeteria we normally use is currently closed at weekends because of Covid. As a result everyone had brought a packed lunch. Three brave souls opted to eat outdoors - at least the rain had stopped. The rest of us went inside and sat at the tables in the cafeteria. We perhaps should not have been there, but no one else was about and we ate our lunch in peace and in the warm.

Lunch over, it was drizzling as we made our way through the campus and emerged at Calder Road. Across the road, down Gogar Station Road, a right turn and we were on the rough path near the chicken farm before emerging at Edinburgh Park. From there, we meandered through the almost deserted roads of South Gyle Park Business Estate to arrive at South Gyle station. We cut through Broomhall and Carrick Knowe, past Murrayfield, through Roseburn Park and onwards to the Russell Road zig-zags. That is where the leader declared the ride officially over. Thanks to Mike for leading us to a familiar destination whilst managing to thread in a totally new and interesting section. Not withstanding the half day ride on Christmas day, this was the last full 20 Milers ride of the year. This year may have only started for us in August, but at least it was better than 2020. Here's hoping that 2022 will be better still.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 6 December 2021

Two 20-Milers rides in December

We've got two rides coming up this month: our normal "second Saturday" run this coming weekend; and our traditional Christmas morning ride on the 25th. Details below.

This week's ride

For our ride this coming Saturday, we'll be heading out to the Heriot-Watt campus at Riccarton. Most of the ride will be on a familiar route via the Braidburn Valley and the Water of Leith. But I can also promise you an interesting new stretch that we have never done before as a group.

There will be a couple of steep climbs in the first half of the morning, and a few gentle hills after that. There will also be a point where we will have to haul our bikes up a flight of steps. Most of the route will be on quiet roads or bike paths with reasonably firm surfaces. The total distance will be a shade over twenty miles.

Lunch arrangements

For this ride, you are strongly advised to bring a packed lunch. But don't worry. You won't have to eat it out of doors, drenched by the rain or shivering in the cold.

When visiting Heriot-Watt, we normally use the cafeteria there for our lunch. Unfortunately, this is currently closed on weekends because of Covid. But there is still plenty of room for us to eat indoors. Toilets are also available. There is a small shop on the campus that sells crisps, chocolate, etc. as well as vending-machine coffee. They sometimes have a limited range of sandwiches on offer, but as these are just whatever is left over from the day before, it would be unwise to rely on them. Hence the advice to bring a packed lunch.

For those of you who prefer to eat in the open (weather permitting), there is a nice loch-side picnic spot close to the main campus building.

Time and place

Our meeting time and place are as constant as the North Star: 10:30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride should finish before dark (sunset is around 15:30 that day), but you should bring lights in case we get delayed and to see you home.

Christmas ride

I'll post more details of our Christmas morning ride nearer the time. For now, just note that we will meet at our usual spot in Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10:30 departure. As many of you will have lunch plans, we'll make sure we finish by 13:00 at the latest.

Remember, all our rides are free, and we don't have a booking system. Just turn up if you wish to join us.

And finally ...

Please keep in mind that Covid is still with us. So we'll take care to spread out at the lunch stop on Saturday. And you should, of course, stay away if you have symptoms or have been told to self-isolate.