20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 18 June 2022

Return of the Extras

The last 20 Milers Extra ride was back in September 2019. After a gap of nearly three years, it was great to be back. Some riders that joined the group a few months prior to lockdown had never ridden an Extra before. Today saw us head out to the popular destination of Almondell Country Park near Livingston. 

It was pleasant, rather than warm and quite breezy as fourteen riders mustered at the Craigleith junction meeting point. Briefing over, we headed off towards Silverknowes. Our familiar heading-west-route took us through Barnton and onwards to Cramond Brig, where we took our customary pause for a few minutes. The cycle path beside the A90 took us to Burnshot Bridge and along the road to Kirkliston. As ever, we left this road and made our way onto the much nicer railway path to Kirkliston. Following a comfort stop at the sports centre, a quiet back road took us towards Niddry Castle where we joined the Union Canal towpath. After three miles on the towpath, at Broxburn we left the canal behind and took the road to Almondell Country Park where we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the garden behind the visitor centre.

After taking lunch sitting in the warm garden, what better to get the group moving again than a short, sharp climb to exit the park. The NCN75 path was closed due to building works. As a result, we had to take a detour onto a busy main road for a mile. Back on the planned route, and we arrived in Kirknewton which was full of visitors enjoying gala day. Via Dalmahoy we took the back exit into Heriot-Watt University. Through the campus, we were soon on a familiar route home via the Gyle, Broomhouse, Murrayfield, Dalry, the Telfer subway and Fountain Park. Thanks to the Edinburgh Canal Festival and Raft Race, we had to dismount and wheel our bikes through the crowds. At the Leamington bridge, the leader declared the ride officially over.

Everyone enjoyed the ride, the weather had been reasonably kind to us with it being less breezy in the afternoon, and it had been a trouble-free day. Thanks to Mike for leading and kicking off the first Extra ride of the year.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Extra ride this coming Saturday

 I am pleased to announce that our first 20-Milers Extra ride of the year - in fact, the first since September 2019 - will take place this coming Saturday, 18 June.

As you probably know, our Extra rides are somewhat longer and faster than our usual 20-mile runs, with an earlier start and a later finish. But we still aim for the same friendly atmosphere and unpressured pace. You won't need to be super fit to join these rides, but if you haven't cycled for a while, or if you feel that you are below your normal fitness, you may prefer to give this one a miss, and to stick with our usual "second Saturday" runs instead.

This week's route

For Saturday's ride, we will be heading out to one of our more popular destinations: Almondell Country Park. The total distance will be about 32 miles. Most of the route will be on quiet roads and bike paths, including about three miles on the canal towpath. But, because of the closure of the bike path in East Calder, we will need to divert onto a busy main road for a mile or so. There will be a fairly steep climb just after lunch, and a few other moderate hills during the day.

Lunch arrangements

There is no cafe or other food outlet in the country park (the former pop-up cafe is no longer in operation), so be sure to bring food for a picnic. There are vending machines serving hot and cold drinks in the visitor centre, but note that this is closed between 12:30 and 13:00. The toilets are open throughout the day. (We will also have a "comfort break" en route during the morning.)

Time and place

For this ride, we will meet at our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction. If you are not sure where that is, see here for directions. Please be there in time for a 10:15 departure.

Note that we will not be returning to Craigleith. The nearest point to it on the return leg will be Russell Road, which I expect we will reach around 16:00 (but don't hold me to that; it's just a rough estimate). The ride will officially end somewhere near the Meadows.

What if the weather is bad

A stiff breeze or light drizzle won't put us off. But if the weather is really atrocious, we might opt for a shorter route - and perhaps a cafe visit. We'll make that decision at the meeting point.

Other information

As always, we ask that you bring a spare inner tube in case you have a puncture. If your wheels don't have quick-release hubs, please also bring whatever tools you need to remove your wheel. If you are unsure what you need, your favourite bike shop will be pleased to advise.

Saturday 11 June 2022

A Dalkeith Debut

For today's ride, we followed a well-worn route to a familiar destination. But the day was not without incident. It was characterised by a fierce wind that always seemed to be blowing in the wrong direction, and a potentially dangerous situation involving drawing pins, of which more later.

As we assembled at our meeting point, we became aware that something big was happening on the Meadows. That "something" turned out to be a huge gathering for an Orange Order parade involving 35 marching bands. It was later to occupy the whole of Middle Meadow Walk, not to mention completely clogging up Forrest Road and George IV Bridge  (according to a later press report). Fortunately, it didn't really get started until later in the morning, so we weren't greatly affected by it.

Our leader today was Alison, making her debut as a ride leader. Seventeen riders turned up, including a couple of new faces and a few older ones that we hadn't seen for a while. At this point, the day was dry and reasonably sunny, but very windy and with heavy showers forecast for later.

After Alison briefed us on the route and the lunch arrangements, we set off towards the Innocent Tunnel and the familiar NCN route via Brunstane and Newcraighall. All was going well until we were approaching Musselburgh Station, at which point the cry "Puncture!" was heard. For reasons too technical to go into, and despite sterling efforts by Alan and others, the puncture turned out to be unusually difficult to deal with. It was a good 20 minutes before we could continue. But with tasty home-made cakes being distributed while we waited, the time went quickly.

It transpired that the puncture was caused by no fewer than three drawing pins that had become embedded in the victim's front tyre. We later heard that there had been reports of drawing pins being scattered on various bike paths around Edinburgh, including one particularly nasty case in the Barnton area. It's not clear whether this was the result of carelessness on someone's part or (more likely) a deliberate act of mindless vandalism by some idiot with a grudge against cyclists. Either way, it was clearly very dangerous. Fortunately for us, the punctured tyre was the only casualty, but it could have been worse.

Once the puncture was dealt with, we set out again, heading now for the River Esk path, Whitecraig and the railway path to Dalkeith. It was on that path that we hit the first of the day's heavy showers. This continued as we skirted Dalkeith town centre and reached our lunch stop in the King's Park. With the rain now easing off, most of the group opted for a picnic in the park, but a few headed for the comfort of the café in the nearby supermarket.

Lunch over, and with the sun shining again, Alison led us on a twisty route through the woods to the south of the King's Park, emerging just east of the town centre. We then doubled back along a main road before turning into Dalkeith Country Park. We continued northwards through the park – no problem with the locked gate that had caused some difficulty for us on a previous visit here – before reaching Whitecraig. The wind was much stronger and very much in our face as we now retraced our earlier route back to Edinburgh via NCN 1.

As we approached the scene of the morning's puncture, Graham volunteered to ride ahead in search of any remaining drawing pins. He managed to find around 20 of the offending objects, which he dutifully removed from the path. Good work.

On the last section of the Innocent Path, we were hit by another sudden shower. This was heavy but short, and had cleared up by the time we reached the Meadows a few minutes later. Despite the wind, the rain and the other incidents, it was a very pleasant ride, at a comfortable pace and with a good lunch stop – and a successful debut for our leader.

Leader: Alison

Report and photos: Mike

Monday 6 June 2022

Two rides for June

 We've got two rides coming up this month: our standard "second Saturday" run this coming weekend; and the first of this year's "Extra" rides the following Saturday. Here are the details:

Saturday 11 June

For this week's ride,
Alison will be making her debut as the leader. Our destination will be Dalkeith. It will be a reasonably straightforward route, with just a few moderate hills and no particular difficulties. The total distance will be about 22 miles.

For our lunch break, we will picnic in the King's Park, which is near the centre of Dalkeith. I suggest that you either bring a packed lunch or aim to pick up a sandwich in the Morrison's supermarket, which is just across the road from the park (there are also toilets there). If the weather is bad, or if you prefer to eat indoors, the cafe within the supermarket does a range of hot and cold snacks at reasonable prices.

We will meet at the usual place, that is, the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10:30 departure.

Saturday 18 June

The following Saturday will see our first Extra of the season. This is the ride that we had planned for last month but which we were obliged to postpone. As you probably know, our Extra rides are somewhat longer than our standard runs - usually 30-35 miles. We start earlier, finish later, and ride a little faster,
although we still aim for a "sociable" pace (not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation).

I'll post details of the arrangements for this ride a bit nearer the time, so for now just note the date. 

More rides

The summer cycling season is now well under way. CTC Lothian have resumed their Tuesday evening runs; our own Jim Cameron is organising an evening ride every Thursday; Mellow Velo have several multi-day rides in the pipeline; and there is a big Glasgow to Edinburgh charity run planned for September. Details of all these events, and other organised bike rides, can found here.

That's all for now. I hope to see you on one or more of our forthcoming rides. In the meantime, happy pedalling.