Fourteen riders turned up for this, our eleventh Christmas morning ride. Unlike last year's run, when the bitterly cold wind forced people to scurry off early in search of warmth, today's conditions were decidedly pleasant: a balmy 8C with only a moderate breeze. We did see a bit of light rain towards the end of the morning, but not enough to dampen the spirits.
For today's event, we were joined by our friends from EasyCycle, this being the last Sunday of the month, which is the day fixed for their usual monthly run.
Leaving Middle Meadow Walk a little after 10.30, we headed up the Royal Mile for our first stop of the day, at the castle esplanade. We then swooped down Johnston Terrace and across Lothian Road. The Filmhouse was looking very sad, being all boarded up since it closed down in October. We continued through Festival Square, and then into Rutland Square and across Shandwick Place towards the West End.
What came next was something of a new experience for many of us: a chance to cycle on a small part of the east-west bike route which is currently being built through the city centre. This will eventually link Leith Walk with the Roseburn Path. Today we contented ourselves with riding just a fragment of the route, using a segregated bike path along Melville Street and the south side of St. Mary's Cathedral. From Palmerton Place, the official route will proceed westward along Landsdowne Crescent, but we headed north instead for a short distance, and then turned right into Chester Street.
We next weaved through Randolph Place and Charlotte Square (work on this part of the bike route is due to start next month). We then turned into George Street, the entrance to which is currently dominated by a temporary building housing the seasonal ice rink: an enormous structure and, in your scribe's humble opinion, not a particularly beautiful one - though no doubt the patineurs appreciate it.
For the next leg, we pedalled almost the entire length of Princes Street, this being something of a tradition for our Christmas rides. And then came the only real work of the day: the ascent of Calton Hill. We all reached the summit without too much difficulty, and lingered there a while, taking in the superb views.
At this point – and for reasons too boring to go into – we had a change of leadership, with Jim Cameron taking over from the undersigned. Jim led the remainder of the ride, which included a quick visit to the Stones of Scotland (excellent views of Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat), a circuit of Lochend Park and a final leg through Holyrood Park. Those who hadn't peeled off earlier regained the Meadows just after 12:30. It was by no means a long ride, but still an enjoyable one – and a good way to start Christmas Day.
Leaders: Mike and Jim
Report and photos: Mike