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.
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