20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 9 December 2023

A short wet cycle

For today's ride we departed from our usual format with a shorter than usual half-day ride finishing around lunch time. Given the weather, no one seemed bothered. The leader had devised an interesting and unusual route to Musselburgh involving some little-known back streets of Portobello, a newly surfaced path near the Honest Toun's station, and some quiet paths through the Gilbertstoun estate. Even our habitual riders found that there were parts of this route that they had never cycled before. It was a wet ride; but the rain wasn't heavy, there was hardly any wind and it was milder than it has been for a while. We did have a bizarre incident with a nimby in Portobello - more of which later.

Given that the day dawned wet from the start and the forecast was for heavy rain later, a turnout of 13 riders was quite good. Following the customary leader's briefing, we headed off to Holyrood Park and on to Duddingston village. Down Duddingston Road, across Milton Road, we waited at Hamilton Terrace to regroup. It was here that the bizarre nimby incident occurred. The leader/writer/photographer (one and the same) was taking photos of the riders on the segregated cycle lane when a local resident appeared telling him not to take photos of lots of riders on the cycle lane, as very few cyclists used it. He didn't want the photos to be used as part of a campaign suggesting the cycle lane was well used. A strange conversation followed where it was explained to him that the photos were being taken for a report on today's 20 Milers ride. The conversation became quite strange and the leader was rescued by Mike who told him politely that we were on a schedule and had to go. Fortunately he didn't run down the road after us trying to continue the conversation, but if he had, few of us would have been surprised. It was a relief to escape from the bizarre conversation. We continued down Brighton Place and onto Portobello prom. Just past the Portobello Swim Centre, we turned up Pittville Street Lane to begin our discovery of the delightful little lanes that exist so close to the prom. To avoid a deep puddle across the width of John Street Lane, we made a detour back to the prom and back up to James Street Lane. Here we found a second wide, deep puddle that stopped us in our tracks. This had not been there on the recce two weeks earlier. More backtracking to the prom followed, along Bedford Terrace and the narrow and cobbled Joppa Park to emerge on Joppa Road. Following that road to Musselburgh would have been the preferred choice; but our recce had flagged a hold up further along due to temporary traffic lights. So a steep little climb up Colliesdene Drive, a twiddle through more quiet back streets and we were on Milton Road. From there, it was an easy run to Fisherrow Harbour for a comfort stop. Ian kindly went round the group handing out lovely homemade mince pies. 

Suitably replenished, we pressed on to the river, ducked under Musselburgh's main road bridge and were soon crossing Olive Bank Road. From there, we joined the Grove to run alongside the River Esk, before crossing it on the footbridge. At Monktonhall, we nipped under the railway bridge on the path which had recently been resurfaced. So much better than the wet muddy mess it used to be, especially on a day like today. Up the lovely new cycle path to the station and back on the familiar territory that is the path to Newcraighall. At Gilbertstoun, we took the last less-familiar part of the route to twist through the estate and emerge at Brunstane station. The familiar Innocent Railway then took us back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride officially over. He thought a round of applause was beginning, until the rider explained that he was simply trying to warm his cold hands. Perhaps next time. Despite that and the weather, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride, and no one seemed upset to have had a shorter route and earlier finish.

Leader: Glenn

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 4 December 2023

Half-day ride this coming Saturday

As you might know, our rides take place right through the year, including during these winter months. However, for this month and next, we will be departing from our usual format. In December and January, our runs will be shorter than usual: just half-day rides, finishing around lunch time. This is partly in deference to the winter weather and the short daylight hours; and partly (in the case of December) because of the difficulty of finding lunch venues during the festive season.

With that in mind, here are the details of our next ride, which takes place this coming Saturday (9 December).

For this ride, Glenn has devised an interesting and unusual route, involving the back doubles of Portobello, the Musselburgh waterfront and a delightful stretch of the River Esk walkway. Even if you are one of our habitual riders, you might find that there are parts of this route that you have never cycled before.

The total distance will be about 16 miles. It should be a straightforward run, with no difficult hills and with generally good surfaces - apart from a couple of short cobbled stretches.

Time and place

The ride will start as usual at 10:30 form the north end of Middle Meadow Walk.

We will aim to get back to the Meadows by 13:00 at the latest. There will be no official lunch stop, but given the large number of pubs, sandwich shops and cafés near the finish, some of you may wish to get together for a meal or snack after the ride. But if you do, it won't be part of the official event.

Looking ahead

For various reasons, we have decided not to run our customary Christmas morning ride this year. It's possible that someone else will organise a ride for that day. If so, I will let you know.

Our January ride will follow the same half-day format as in December. From February, we will return to our usual full-day runs.

One more thing ...

As some of you will know, 2024 will be a momentous year in the history of the 20-Milers: our 20th anniversary. Our first ever ride took place on 11 September 2004. I would very much welcome any suggestions you might have for how we might mark this important milestone. Please get in touch if you have any ideas.

Saturday 11 November 2023

The wrong way to Mortonhall

Today's ride saw us take some interesting and unusual routes in the south of the city, taking in the Bioquarter, Burdiehouse Valley Park, Mortonhall and Swanston. Lunch was at the Mortonhall Garden Centre. We've been there quite a few times over the years, usually approaching from the west; today we arrived from the east. Crisp, bright winter sunshine and barely any wind was the order of the day, which was nice for November. Thirteen riders mustered for the start.

At the leader's briefing, he emphasised that there would be a few crossings of busy roads to contend with. Briefing over, we headed off towards the Innocent Railway. We whizzed through the tunnel and left the path at Bingham to head up Hay Avenue. This road had been in the national news a week earlier with rioters attacking police with fireworks and petrol bombs; but there was nothing to suggest that as we cycled up the quiet, almost deserted road. We continued through the backstreets of Niddrie to the Bioquarter and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. From there we rode through Moredun, took the cycle path beside Gilmerton Road, which we crossed and took the path beside Morrisons. Cycle paths took us through Gilmerton and Burdiehouse Valley Park to arrive at Lasswade Road. Having crossed the busy road, we regrouped at the entrance back into Burdiehouse Valley Park. As we waited, Ian handed out homemade baking to the group. The path beside Burdiehouse Burn, through quiet backstreets, Captain's Road, Frogston Road East and we were at Mortonhall Garden Centre for our lunch stop. It's a long time since we arrived for lunch before 1200. Most riders headed to the café, whilst a few hardy souls sat outside to eat their packed lunches.

We frequently leave Mortonhall and head towards the Braid Hills. Not today. We took Frogston Road West towards Fairmilehead, turning left and headed towards Morton House and cut through the housing estate just north of Lothianburn Junction. We crossed the busy Biggar Road, then the off and on slip roads for the City Bypass. Leaving the traffic behind, we began to climb the rough path that would take us to the delightful Swanston village where we paused to get our breath back and admire the village. We crossed the City Bypass again, but this time a bridge made life much easier. Across Oxgangs Road, quiet roads and paths through Oxgangs took us to Greenbank Crescent and the traffic lights at Comiston Road. Despite the road works, we were able to go straight across and cycle along Braidburn Terrace. The quiet backstreets of Morningside and Marchmont, along Leamington Walk, and we were back at the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over.

Everyone enjoyed the ride, the weather was kinder to us than we had dared hope in November and it was nice to visit a familiar destination using a far from familiar route. Thanks to Mike for leading, and Yaz for back marking.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 6 November 2023

November ride this coming Saturday

We've got our November ride coming up on Saturday (11th). I hope you'll be able to join us.

For this ride, we'll be exploring some interesting and unusual routes in the south of the city, taking in the Bioquarter, Burdiehouse Valley, Mortonhall and Swanston. Most of the ride will be on quiet roads, with just one short stretch that might be busy with traffic. There will also be a couple of rough and possibly muddy paths, but these will be quite short. We will face some moderate hills during the morning, compensated for with a nice a downhill run in the afternoon. It won't be a long ride: slightly less than the nominal twenty miles.

Lunch stop

We'll stop for lunch at the garden centre at Mortonhall. This has a spacious and comfortable self-service restaurant, albeit a little pricey (sandwiches start at £6.25, baked potatoes £8.95). As always, you have the option of bringing a packed lunch.


We'll set out at 10:30 from our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will go ahead whatever the weather, but if conditions are  particularly bad, we might shorten the route slightly. We'll decide that on the day.

Now that the clocks have gone back, this would be a good time to check that your bike lights are in good order with plenty of battery power. Saturday's ride should end well before dark (sunset is at 16:15 that day), but you might need to bring lights if you have a long way to ride home.

I hope to see you on Saturday, but if you can't make it, keep in mind that our rides continue right through the winter. I'll post details of our December run nearer the time.

Saturday 14 October 2023

How to get lost on the canal

There is a saying in the 20 Milers, "you can't get lost on the canal"; but today's ride to the climbing arena at Ratho saw us do just that. But, in all fairness, it was a matter of missing a turning to leave the canal that caused the problem.

After last Saturday's wall-to-wall heavy rain, it was a relief to see the sunshine today. There was a noticeable breeze and the temperature was below average for mid-October, but the sun stayed with us all day and there wasn't a drop of rain. Following a comprehensive route and safety briefing from the leader, 14 of us left the Meadows to head to the busy Morningside Road via Leamington Walk, Whitehouse Loan and Canaan Lane. The right turn into Balcarres Street at the lights could have been problematic, but we all got across relatively easily. At the end of Craighouse Gardens, we went through the gate in the wall to enter the delightful woods of Easter Craiglockhart Hill. For once, the ground was quite dry. We exited via several steep steps to emerge in Lockharton Crescent. From there we made our way to the busy Colinton Road. We quickly left that behind and were soon joining the Union Canal tow path, which we stayed on for a few miles. It became quieter and more rural as we left the city behind. The trees were beginnig to change colour. With the sunshine and reflections in the water, this was a lovely section of the ride. We left the canal near Ratho Park Golf Club and headed towards the Ratho village. At the back of the group, one unfortunate rider suffered a puncture. The backmarker headed after the group whilst others began to remove the wheel. The backmarker caught the group who were waiting in Ratho village. The group settled down to wait as Alan swapped his leader's hat for his chief mechanic one and headed back down the hill to help. It wasn't quite as straight forward as it might have been, but the puncture was fixed, the group were back together and we were rolling again. We climbed up through Ratho village to join the B7030 at Bonnington. From there, we had some lovely downhill to enjoy, and were soon at the climbing arena. We enjoyed an al fresco lunch at the picnic tables on the terrace, which was a great sun-trap.

Retracing our steps to the B7030, we turned right and just before the bridge carrying the M8, we turned left onto a steep rocky path up to the Union Canal. A couple of riders rode up, but the majority opted to push their bikes up. It was on this stretch that the ride began to unravel. After all, no one gets lost riding beside the canal, do they? The group got stretched out with the front section disappearing out of sight. So, when they left the canal at Ratho's Bridge Inn, those behind sailed past remaining beside the canal. After a while it began to dawn on some of us that the front group were not ahead. So we stopped chasing shadows and decided on our next move. A couple of phone calls later and we were heading back to the Bridge Inn. There we regrouped and began heading back towards the city. We followed quiet back roads, lanes and paths to emerge at Edinburgh Park. Through the Gyle shopping centre, past South Gyle station, through Broomhall and we were soon at Roseburn Park. From there, the familiar route took us back to the Meadows via Russell Road, the Telfer Subway, Fountainpark and the canal.

At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride officially over. There had been a couple of hic-cups along the way, but it had been an enjoyable ride with some lovely scenery and decent weather. Thanks to Alan for leading (and swapping over to become chief mechanic temporarily) and to Mike for back marking with a little help from Yaz.

Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 9 October 2023

October ride this coming Saturday

 We've got our October ride coming up next Saturday (14th).

Under Alan's leadership, we will be heading out to Ratho. The route will take us along some nice country lanes (with good views of the Pentland Hills), a couple of stretches on the canal towpath, and a short rough-ish path through some woods (which might be muddy). There will be more than a few hills especially in the morning, but no real killers. The total distance will be about 22 miles.

Our lunch stop will be at the climbing arena in Ratho. This has a café which serves hot and cold drinks and a limited selection of sandwiches and cakes. On past visits, the service there has been very slow, so you might prefer to bring a packed lunch. There are picnic tables on the terrace as well as some indoor seating (with views of the climbing wall). There are also vending machines selling hot and cold drinks.

As always, these details should be regarded as provisional. We sometimes need to vary the route and destination, depending on conditions on the day. But the meeting time and place are the same as ever: 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk.

There's no need for you to contact us in advance. If you fancy joining us, just turn up a the meeting point.

Saturday 23 September 2023

Westward to Almondell

The fifth 20-Milers Extra ride of the year saw us head into West Lothian by way of Almondell Country Park. Following a week of changeable weather and autumnal winds, we were hoping for favourable conditions for today's ride. Showers approaching from the west in the afternoon were expected, so there was a sense of urgency from the ride leader when his unusually concise briefing was given to the group at the Craigleith junction.

A respectable turnout of 18 riders headed off from Craigleith towards Silverknowes. The familiar route took us through Barnton and on to our obligatory pause at Cramond Brig. An earlier fall and an unrelated mechanical issue had meant that by the time we were at Cramond the group had shrunk to 16.

As we headed towards Kirkliston via Carlowrie Road, the leader turned left to join the disused railway track. A slightly over exuberant rider had gone ahead of the leader on the earlier downhill section and missed the call to turn left at the junction. A brief delay ensued whilst the person in question returned with the search party that had went after them.

Back on track we followed the old railway path towards Kirkliston. There was a brief comfort/refreshment stop at the leisure centre. Suitably refreshed we headed under the M90 and M9, followed the quiet Overton Farm road towards Niddry Castle. From there we joined the Union Canal, and followed that as far as the southern tip of Broxburn. Rejoining the tarmac, we headed along Drumshoreland Road and into Almondell Country Park. 

 Picnic lunch

 With no significant catering facilities the group enjoyed a picnic lunch whilst taking in the flora and fauna within the gardens. As we congregated for the return journey, one of our regular riders requested permission from the leader to jump ahead to view the nearby viaduct before rejoining the group. Unfortunately another six riders followed without the leader's knowledge, resulting in a significantly reduced main group heading back.

As a consequence of the split group, the leader set off at a reduced average speed so as to allow the 'viaduct viewers' an opportunity to rejoin in a timely manner. They eventually caught up as the main group approached the level crossing at Kirknewton. The barriers closing at the crossing offered those who had taken the scenic detour a few extra moments to catch their breath.

From Kirknewton we enjoyed a slight tailwind as we followed the Long Dalmahoy Road. From there  we went through Gogarbank, under the bypass, and onwards towards Edinburgh Park. From there we cut through a bustling South Gyle shopping centre car park to join local cycle route 9 which took us past South Gyle station, through Carrick Knowe, and onwards towards Murrayfield. A quick meander around Roseburn Park brought us to Russell Road, up to where the zigzags join the Roseburn Path, at which point the ride was officially declared over. 

Many thanks to Alan for leading us to a popular destination via a scenic route. Thanks also to Yaz for back-marking what turned out to be quite  an eventful ride. 

Leader: Alan

Report: Neil

Photos: Neil and Alison

Monday 18 September 2023

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday

We've got the fifth of this year's Extra rides on Saturday (23rd). Alan will be leading us to Almondell Country Park, near East Calder in West Lothian. It won't be a particularly demanding ride, but, like all our Extras, it will be longer than our usual 20-mile outings, at a somewhat faster pace and with fewer stops. Please keep that in mind when deciding if the ride is right for your fitness level.

Almondell Country Park, with its setting in the deep wooded valley of the River Almond, is at its best at this time of the year. And the visitor centre has a delightful garden where we will aim to have our picnic lunch.

The route

The ride will start from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction (see here if you are not sure where that is.) We'll head out on a mixture of bike paths and mainly quiet roads as far as Niddry Castle, then pick up the canal towpath for about four miles before joining the road into the park. The return leg will be on quiet roads via Kirknewton and  Long Dalmahoy.

The total distance will be about 35 miles. We can expect a few short steep climbs in the early afternoon, but no other serious hills or other difficulties.

Lunch arrangements

Note that there is no café or pub in the park, so be sure to bring food for a picnic lunch. The visitor centre has vending machines for hot and cold drinks, but unfortunately it is closed between 12:30 and 13:00.

There are toilets in the park. We will also have a toilet stop on the outward leg, about half way through the morning.

Meeting time

You should plan to arrive at the meeting point (see above) in time for a 10:30 departure. The ride will end in the Bruntsfield / Leamington area mid- to late-afternoon.

Please be sure that your bike is in good mechanical order before you set out. And don't forget to bring a spare inner tube as well as any tools that might be needed to remove your wheel in the event of a puncture.

Looking ahead

Our next "second Saturday" run will be on 14 October. After that, I am hoping that we will fit in one more Extra this season - depending on the weather and other factors. I'll post details of both those events in due course. Meantime, enjoy your cycling.

Saturday 9 September 2023

Sunshine on Leith

 If today wasn't Edinburgh's warmest day of the year, it couldn't have been far off. A great day for exploring a most interesting new route around the north Edinburgh waterfront. A turnout of 19 riders was perhaps lower than expected, but seems to be a typical turn out these days. The heady days of when we mustered 43 riders looks like a record that will stand for a considerable time.

Following a comprehensive briefing from the leader, we left the Meadows and headed towards the Innocent Tunnel. But on this occasion, we swept past the turn for the tunnel and continued into Holyrood Park. We whizzed down the hill and were soon riding along the track behind the Palace of Holyrood House. Turning right, we followed the path past the Park Rangers Centre to exit the park on Royal Park Terrace. A cut through between some flats and we emerged onto an incredibly busy London Road. We wanted to go almost straight across and up Wishaw Terrace, but the volume of traffic made it into a time-consuming challenge. We regrouped on Marionville Road, rode along it for a short distance and headed into Lochend Park. We paused beside the pond where the leader handed out sweets. Leaving the park, we made our way to join the cycle path which took us to Leith Links. At Constitution Street we crossed the tram tracks without incident on our way to The Shore. From there, we took the cycle path through Victoria Park and on to the Five Ways junction. The Trinity Path took us to the busy road beside the waterfront, which we left at Newhaven Harbour. A lovely section followed as we went out, round and back on the spit of land by Western Harbour. We were soon cutting through a gap between blocks of flats to emerge on the recently opened platform at the Newhaven tram stop. A mixture of path and roads took us to Ocean Terminal for our lunch stop.

We had just crossed the road, and were riding away from Ocean Terminal when a rider realised their brakes were not working properly. The group waited patiently whilst Alan quickly fixed the problem. We took the Hawthornvale Path back to the Five Ways junction, and with a sense of déjà vu headed down the Trinity Path again. At the end, we turned in the opposite direction and headed towards Granton Square along McKelvie Parade. The cycle path took us up Waterfront Avenue, where residents were sitting outside their front doors enjoying the sunshine. We paused at Saltire Square to admire the sculpture, "going to the beach" as the leader again handed out sweets. Leaving the statue behind, we took the cycle path to the red bridge near Crewe Toll and onwards to Craigleith junction and the zig-zags at the end of the Roseburn Path. The familiar route via the Telfer Subway, Fountain Park and the canal took us to the Leamington Bridge. Back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride officially over, and received a round of applause from the group.

Thanks to Yaz for leading us to familiar places via an unfamiliar route. Everyone enjoyed the ride, and we could not have wished for better weather. Thanks to Neil for back marking.

Leader: Yaz

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 4 September 2023

Our September ride this coming Saturday

We've got our September ride coming up on Saturday (9th). I hope you'll be able to join us.

For this ride, Yaz has devised a most interesting route around the north Edinburgh waterfront, with several points of interest along the way. At just under the nominal twenty miles, it won't be a particularly demanding ride. We will mainly be riding on good surfaces - apart from one or two short sections on cobbles. There won't be any steep hills to worry about, but there will be a couple of short stretches on main roads.

Our lunch stop will be at the Ocean Terminal in Leith. This has a good choice of eating places as well as a terrace for those who wish to picnic.

As always, we'll set out from the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at 10:30. We'll aim to be back at the Meadows around the middle of the afternoon. And, as always, the event is free with no advance booking.

Looking ahead

We've fixed 23 September as the date for our next Extra ride. I'll post more details of that event nearer the time. For now, you may want to note the date.

Saturday 19 August 2023

'Twas a Strang wind

Of all our 20 Milers Extra rides, the one to Merryhatton Garden Centre remains a firm favourite and is the only one we are guaranteed to do every year without fail. As well as being a lovely ride through the glorious East Lothain countryside, it is a legacy left to us by the late Logan Strang. Logan was a stalwart of the group until he passed away on a ride in 2017. If ever a ride can be associated with one person, the one to Merryhatton is synonymous with Logan. It came about when Logan and his great friend Ken Roxburgh (another stalwart of the group) were out on one of their regular mid-week rides, and had that lightbulb moment that, "this could make a really good Extra ride". Logan always led this ride, and with a twinkle in his eye would say, "one of my favourite things about this ride is that it's mostly flat". 

We started at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. There was some confusion as three separate rides were starting from the same point; we had to ensure the right riders went with the correct group. Following the customary briefing, our group of 14 riders headed off towards the Electric Bridge and the racecourse. The section from the Scout hut to the track near the boating pond is much nicer now it tarmacked. Such a shame the next bit heading towards the main road remains as rough as ever. The coast road took us through Prestonpans and onto the new shared use path to where Cockenzie power station used to be. We cut through to the small harbour and the quiet road behind Cockenzie House to the considerably larger Port Seton Harbour. Beside the sea wall and past Seton Sands caravan site to re-join the coast road. Beyond Gosford Bay, we pulled off the road and stopped. The leader giving the riders the choice of continuing on the road or taking the path through the trees that ran parallel to it. Most opted for the path for some respite from the road. With just a few hundred yards to go until the path finished on the edge of Aberlady, the writer was thinking, "I've never ridden along this path and not seen another person". Between there and the end we encountered four walkers and a dog walker. Perhaps next time. We turned right down a quiet residential road avoiding the busy high street. It was now beginning to feel as if we were in the proper East Lothian countryside. At Lufness Mains farm we joined one of the county's delightful quiet roads that led us to the considerably busier B1377. The weather had been dry with sunny intervals, comfortably warm, but with a strong wind behind us. That was the way it stayed for the rest of the day. The tail wind meant we had made good time, but we knew it would be in our face on the homeward leg. From Drem station, more quiet country roads took us to Merryhatton and our lunch stop. Half the riders headed for the café whilst the others made their way to Athelstaneford cemetery for a picnic lunch. That final stretch of road saw us battle into a strong headwind - a foretaste of what the afternoon would have to offer.

Everyone enjoyed their lunch, whichever option they had chosen. It was now time to battle into the headwind. It was a blustery ride to Athelstaneford where we stopped to look at the information panel beside the church about the history of the Scottish flag. The stretch of road out of Athelstaneford frequently sees us struggling into a headwind. Surprisingly, today the wind was blowing from the side, rather than in our faces. Whilst it was strong and gusty, it was probably better than had it been in our faces. But it was on this stretch that one rider was blown off course and was lucky to remain upright. We skirted the Hopetoun Monument and arrived at the A6137 for the major climb of the day. Now the wind was properly in our faces. Head down, select the appropriate gear and just keep pedalling was the order of the day. We crested the hill and turned right onto the road towards Longniddry. We stopped to catch our breath and regroup. With a wonderful downhill not far away, one rider discovered they had no front brake. Not ideal with a fast downhill ahead. Yet again Alan saved the day with a quick repair. We were soon whizzing down the steep hill with beaming smiles on our faces. The rider who had the brake problem minutes earlier reported all was working fine and there had been no scary moments on the descent. More delightful country lanes led us to the level crossing near Longniddry. We chatted to a lone cyclist as we waited for a train to pass and the barriers to rise. He headed off along the dual carriageway whist we joined the path alongside, which seemed like a much better option. Another downhill and we took a comfort stop at Port Seton. From there we retraced our outward route. The headwind was particularly strong on the run back into Prestonpans. Near the ash lagoons it was great to see newly surfaced tracks all the way back to Goose Green. They were most welcome given the strong headwind.

At Musselburgh's Electric Bridge, the leader declared the ride officially over. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride and thanked the leader. There was even a round of applause. Of course, the real thanks have to go to the late Logan for leaving us with such a great ride as his lasting legacy. Thanks also go to Alan for back marking and fixing the issue with the brakes.

Leader: Glenn

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Tuesday 15 August 2023

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday

 We've got the fourth of this summer's Extra rides coming up on Saturday (19th).

For the last few years, these August Extras have been something of a tradition in our group. They are known as "Logan's run" in memory of Logan Strang, who many of you will remember as one of the stalwarts of the 20-Milers. Logan died while out cycling with some of our group in 2017. Saturday's route will be one that he often took us on and which was a particular favourite of his.

Route and destination

The ride will start in Musselburgh. Under Glenn's leadership, we'll head east along the coast road, which is an A-road and therefore possibly busy with traffic. But it has the advantage of being reasonably flat - not to mention having excellent views over the Firth of Forth. We'll turn inland at Aberlady, after which we'll take mainly quiet roads to Drem and then on to our lunch stop at Merryhatton.

The return leg will take us through Athelstaneford ("birthplace of Scotland's flag") and past the Hopetoun Monument. This will also be on quiet roads, through very pleasant countryside. There will be a few hills on this part of the route, but only one fairly steep one. We'll eventually rejoin the coast road near Seton Sands before returning to Musselburgh.

The total distance will be about 36 miles. Musselburgh is about seven miles from central Edinburgh, so, depending on where you are starting from, your total mileage might be nearer 50. Please keep that in mind if you are more accustomed to our usual 20-mile runs. Inevitably, Saturday's ride will go at a faster pace and with fewer stops.

Lunch arrangements

Our lunch stop will be at the garden centre at Merryhatton. The restaurant there offers a range of sandwiches, baked potatoes, a soup of the day and other snacks. The eating area is entirely under cover: there is no terrace or other open-air eating space.

Those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch will head to a quiet picnic spot about half a mile from the garden centre. Note that there is limited seating there, so be prepared to sit on the grass if necessary. Picnickers will be able to use the toilets at Merryhatton. There are also toilets at the meeting point, and we will have an additional comfort stop on the way home.

Time and place

Our meeting point will be Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh (see here if you need directions). Please be there in time for a 10:30 departure.

Before you set out

On a long ride like this, it is particularly important for our bikes to be in good road-worthy condition.  So before you set out, please check that the tyres are properly inflated and free of stones or other fragments that might cause punctures, and that the gears and brakes are working smoothly. I know I don't need to remind you to bring a spare inner tube and whatever tools, if any, are required for removing your wheels in the event of a puncture.

Remember, there is no need to let us know in advance whether you intend to join us. If you plan to attend, just turn up at the appointed time and place.

Saturday 12 August 2023

A case of deja vu


As many of you will know, we recce our rides to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible on the day. Today's ride to Craigie Farm saw a case of deja vu. On the recce a couple of weeks ago, we had just finished our picnic lunch when a heavy shower sent us scurrying for cover. The exact same thing happened today. For several years Craigie Farm was our destination in January; but in recent years it has become a summer ride. The forecast suggested we were in for a day of showers. Following the customary leader's briefing, thirteen of us left the Meadows in drizzly conditions and headed towards Roseburn Park via the familiar route of Leamington Bridge, canal, Telfer subway and Russell Road. We left the park and crossed Balgreen Road opposite the Jenner's Depository and made our way onto the shared path beside the tram track, taking it in the opposite direction to usual. We crossed the tram tracks and took the path through Broomhouse and Sighthill to Edinburgh Park station. Through the subway under the City Bypass and we were soon on quiet back roads around Gogarburn, passing the golf club that had been the destination for our 20 Milers ride back in May. This took us to Ratho where we paused to enjoy the cake that Iain kindly handed out. Suitably replenished, we pressed on to Ratho Station where a little path cut off the corner and we emerged beside the A8. We wheeled our bikes up and over the footbridge to the path on the other side. A short distance along this path beside the busy road [with its incessant noise] was quite enough. There were sighs of relief as we turned right down a quiet road leaving the noise behind. Beside the sewage works, we joined a lovely path through the woods towards Kirkliston. Skirting the town, we left the path near Carlowrie cottages. The leader was the only one who opted to ride down the rough, steep slope to the road; but he was on his balloon-tyred bike. From there, we stayed on that road until we turned off for Craigie Farm. Up the stiff little climb and we were at our lunch stop. Half the group headed to the picnic tables, whilst the other half went to the café. The service in the café was so slow that they gave up, bought food in the shop and joined us outside. We'd just finished lunch when a heavy shower sent us scurrying for cover. It lasted a couple of minutes before turning to light rain.

With waterproofs donned, we whizzed back down the hill and turned left at the bottom to head towards Edinburgh. From Burnshot Bridge, we took the subway, crossed the road and were soon back at Cramond Brig. It was still raining lightly. After our obligatory pause, we continued on our way,  regrouping at the post box on Barnton Avenue. The rain had stopped and it felt quite warm, so off came the waterproofs for what would be a dry run back to the Meadows by the familiar route we have taken so many times before. Having successfully dodged the tourists on the bike path, we were back at the Meadows and the leader declared the ride officially over.

Everyone enjoyed the ride. Whilst the rain probably played its part in a lower turnout, we didn't get soaked which was good. Thanks to Neil for leading us to a familiar place by a interestingly different route. Thanks to Alan for back marking.

Leader: Neil

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Thursday 10 August 2023

Professor Chris Oliver (1960 - 2023)

Some of the longer-standing members of our group will remember Professor Chris Oliver, who rode with us from about 2007 to 2008. I'm sorry to have to report that Chris died on 29 July at the age of 63.

Chris joined our group after being diagnosed as morbidly obese. This was a life-threatening condition. He weighed 171kg and was barely able to walk upstairs. The solution was a drastic one: a surgical procedure to have a laparoscopic band fitted around his stomach. He was also forced to make some far-reaching changes to his lifestyle, including strict dieting and a serious exercise regime. Cycling was part of that effort. He started riding with TryCycling (the predecessor of EasyCyle), then progressed to Edinburgh 20-Milers and the Spokes Sunday rides. He was eventually able to get his weight down to 77kg.

He told me at the time that our bike rides contributed to saving his life. But not content with weekend runs around Edinburgh, in 2013 he undertook a 3,415-mile bike ride across the United States with his 22-year old daughter.

Chris Oliver had a distinguished career as an orthopaedic surgeon and as the UK’s first Professor of Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh. He had a string of academic achievements and honours, and he contributed to over 400 publications, including a notable 2018 paper on cycling crashes involving tram lines. He was also a vigorous campaigner for active travel in general and cycling in particular, serving for several years as press officer for Spokes and as chair of Cycling UK in Scotland.

There's no doubt that Chris's personal and professional achievements greatly contributed to our understanding of the health and other benefits of cycling. They can serve as an inspiration to us all. It is heartening to know that our own small cycling group played a role - albeit a very minor one - in his story.

Mike Lewis

Monday 7 August 2023

August 20-Milers ride on Saturday

 We've got our August ride this coming Saturday (12th). I hope you'll be able to join us.

For this ride, Neil has planned an interesting route on bike paths and quiet roads to the west of the city. The total distance will be about 25 miles. There will be two or three fairly steep hills as well as one point where we will have to push our bikes up a flight of steps. But apart from that, I don't expect any serious difficulties. Most of the route will be on good surfaces, and there will be some nice downhills as well.

For our lunch stop, we'll head to Craigie's Farm. This has a spacious café which serves a range of sandwiches and salads as well as a soup of the day. There are also picnic tables for those who prefer to bring a packed lunch. Note that about two thirds of the mileage will be in the morning, so the lunch break will be fairly late, with a quick return to town in the afternoon.

Meeting time and place

These are the same as always: 10:30 from the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. And as always, there is no need to reply to this message or to let us know if you plan to attend.

Looking ahead

Our next Extra ride will take place a week from Saturday, that is 19 August. And our standard monthly run for September will on the 9th of that month. After that, we will try to squeeze in at least one more Extra before the autumn weather arrives. I'll post information about all these events as and when it becomes available.

Saturday 22 July 2023

To the Scottish Riviera

Today's third Extra ride saw us head across the water into Fife for the first time this year. Silver Sands at Aberdour (known as the Scottish Riviera) was our destination. A number of riders consider this their favourite of all our routes. With riding across the Forth Road Bridge, along the lovely Fife Coastal Path and lunch at the delightful Silver Sands, it's easy to see why. The weather forecast, that seemed to change by the hour, suggested we were in for either a full day or afternoon of light rain. Perhaps that goes some way to explaining why we only mustered nine riders at the Craigleith starting point. As it turned out, we had no more than a couple of spots of rain all the time we were out. It was overcast, the sun never got through the clouds, it was cooler than of late and it turned more windy from lunchtime onwards; but it was a good ride that was enjoyed by all. We took the familiar route to Cramond Brig where we had the obligatory pause. The path alongside the A90, through Dalmeny village, quiet residential streets of South Queensferry, past the new houses and we were at the Forth Bridge Visitor Centre for a comfort stop. Then it was across the bridge and into Fife. We can probably blame it on the weather forecast, but there were few pedestrians or other cyclists on the bridge for a Saturday in July. As it was, it was a bit breezy, the Forth looked grey and choppy down below, the views were less spectacular than on a sunny day; but there was a flotilla of sailing dinghies out, and there is always something magical about cycling across the bridge. At the other side, the path network is far better than it used to be, but there remains a section of slogging along the main road to get into the centre of Inverkeithing. Down Commercial Road, and we left the traffic behind as we headed for the Fife Coastal Path. A mixture of tracks with stunning views across the Forth, and paths through fancy housing estates took us past St David's Harbour, Downing Point and Donibristle Bay. All credit to the leader for finding the way through the maze of paths. The rest of us just followed blindly, confident that he knew the way - and he did. After passing the ruins of the 12th century St Bridget's Kirk, we turned slightly inland to follow minor roads and tracks past fields and a golf course to emerge in Aberdour. Another mile, and we were at Silver Sands for our lunch stop at the lovely Sands Cafe.

The wind was stronger and it was cooler as we headed back the way we came. Some people would have you believe that taking the same route home as taken out is boring. Whilst we try to avoid this as much as possible, sometimes it's inevitable. But everything takes on a different perspective once you've flipped through 180 degrees, especially when it is something as lovely as the views from the coastal path and the bridge. Once again we marvelled at the way the leader took us through the twists and turns past the big houses. Soon we were through Inverkeithing and heading back onto the Forth Road Bridge. Whilst it was windier than on the outward leg, there was still that magical feeling of crossing the bridge. Another comfort stop at the visitor centre, and we were soon leaving South Queensferry behind. A pause at Cramond Brig, and before we knew it we were at Craigleith where the leader declared the ride over. 

Thanks to Alan for leading us out to that old favourite for the first time since 2016, and to Alison for back marking. Everyone had enjoyed themselves, the cycling and scenery had been great and the weather had been better than we had dared hope. Those that stayed away missed a great day. It seems very likely that we will be heading there again next year.

Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn 

Monday 17 July 2023

20-Milers Extra to Aberdour this coming Saturday

 Hello all.

We've got our third Extra of the season coming up on Saturday (22nd). We'll be heading to one of our more popular destinations, albeit one that we haven't visited since before the pandemic.

As I'm sure you know, these Extra rides are longer than our usual runs, with a faster pace and fewer stops, although we still aim for a sociable atmosphere. If you find that you can easily manage our usual 20-mile runs, Saturday's ride might be a good choice. But if you sometimes struggle to keep up on our usual runs, you might prefer to give this one a miss.

Route and destination

For this ride, Alan will be leading us over the Forth Road Bridge and along the Fife coast to Aberdour. This is a very nice route with fine views of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth. The total distance is about 34 miles. There are a few moderate-to-steep hills, but these are all fairly short and easily manageable. On past rides, we've had to put up with some rough paths on this route, but I'm pleased to say that most of these have now been tarmac'd, so the going should be reasonably smooth.

Lunch stop

For our lunch stop, we'll head to the Silver Sands beach. This is officially known as "Scotland's Riviera", and while that is undoubtedly an exaggeration, there's no doubt that it is a very attractive spot.

For this ride, you can either bring a picnic lunch or visit the Sands café which is right on the beach. This offers a good range of sandwiches and other snacks, but it can get very busy on a nice day. If you want to avoid a long wait for lunch, we suggest you go for the picnic option. There are plenty of places to sit on the beach, and there are also toilets there. (And we'll have comfort stops on both the outward and return legs.)

Meeting time and place

The ride will start at 10.30 from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction - see here for directions and a map. The ride will finish at Craigleith mid- to late-afternoon.

As always, there is no need to let us know in advance whether or not you plan to come along.

And, as always, please remember to bring a spare inner tube plus whatever tools (if any) would be needed to remove your wheels in the event of a puncture.

Whether or not we see you on Saturday, our next 20-mile run will be on 12 August. I'll post details of that ride nearer the time.


Saturday 8 July 2023

Staying dry in the Pentlands

Today's ride saw us head out to that old July favourite - Harlaw Reservoir in the Pentland Hills. Looking back at reports from previous years, we have had a variety of weather for this ride. The forecast for today suggested it would be dry and sunny until early afternoon; then thundery showers would arrive. Given the forecast, the fact that light rain began to fall before we had set off did not bode well. As it turned out, we had a warm day with a couple of brief, light showers that petered out within a minute or two. There was no thunder, not even in the far distance. The forecast may have put some off, or perhaps it's because we're into holiday season, but a turnout of 17 was OK rather than good.

Following the customary leader's route and safety briefing, we took the familiar route to Murrayfield via Bruntsfield Links, the Leamington Bridge, Fountain Park, the Telfer subway and Russell Road. On this section, the sky turned dark and a few drops of rain began to fall. The leader stopped and donned waterproofs, as did some of the others. Some chose to take a chance and wait to see if the rain came to anything. It didn't, and we soon stopped again as waterproofs were removed. The group repeated the waterproofs on-off dance a couple more times throughout the day. From Murrayfield, we joined the cycle path and arrived at the South Gyle shopping centre via Carrick Knowe and Broomhouse. Leaving the shopping centre behind, we were soon on the quiet roads of Edinburgh Park. Under the subway, up Gogar Station Road and we were at Heriot Watt University where we had a comfort stop and Iain's homemade cake. We left via the back entrance, making our way to Curriehill. Through the new housing development in Currie, a short stretch on Lanark Road West and we were in Balerno. Our toughest climb of the day took us up Harlaw Road and up to the reservoir. Despite many cars in the car park, we had the picnic area behind the visitor centre to ourselves. The rest of the group opted to picnic on the slope beside the reservoir.

Lunch over, we returned to the road, turned right and headed to Middle Kinleith. At the farm, we took a sharp right leaving the tarmac behind and heading onto a dirt track. A rider said to the writer, it was if we were heading into a different world at that point. They were right. The track got rougher, and ahead was proper open country. We were glad that the forecasted thundery showers did not arrive then. For a while we were on a very rough and stony track which slowed us down, especially those on bikes with skinny road tyres. But the rider on the balloon-tyred bike raced past everyone whilst grinning from ear-to-ear. Fortunately, the track became smoother and the riding became easier. We paused to regroup beside the Clubbiedean Coffee Stop. A horse was being led out of the café by its rider. She stopped and gave it a jam and cream scone. The things you see when out on a cycle ride! We sped down the hill [now on a tarmac road] leaving Clubbiedean and Torduff reservoirs behind. It had been a lovely descent with glorious views. Were we really just beyond Edinburgh's city limits? The backstreets of Bonaly and Colinton confirmed we were back in the city outskirts. From there we returned to the Meadows via Colinton Mains Park, Greenbank Crescent, the quiet backstreets of Morningside and Bruntsfield Links. Leaning up his bike and removing his helmet, the leader declared the ride officially over.

Another successful ride enjoyed by all. At least that has to be the conclusion based on the round of applause the leader received at the end. Thanks to Mike for leading, and Alison for back marking. We were all glad that we didn't have to contend with thundery showers on the homeward stretch.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Sunday 2 July 2023

July ride to the reservoirs

This is a reminder of our next ride, which takes place this coming Saturday (8 July). I hope you'll be able to join us.

On some of our recent runs we've managed to find some interesting new routes and destinations. This one, by contrast, will head to more familiar territory: the reservoirs at the edge of the Pentland Hills. It will be a particularly scenic route through pleasant countryside.

The total distance will be about 24 miles. Be warned that there will be a fair bit of climbing in the morning, but we'll take it at our usual sociable pace and cheerfully wait for stragglers. And we'll be rewarded with some nice downhills in the afternoon. But the afternoon will also see a couple of very rough paths that might also be slippery. On previous visits some of us had to dismount and push on these paths; fortunately, they are fairly short.

Lunch arrangements

Our lunch stop will be at the Harlaw Reservoir. There are no shops, cafés or other catering outlets anywhere near the reservoir, so it is essential for everyone to bring food and drink for their lunch. Happily the reservoir provides several nice spots for picnics.

Since more than half our mileage will be in the morning, lunch will be a little on the late side. You may wish to bring an extra snack to ward of the hunger pangs.

There are portable (chemical) toilets at the reservoir. We will also stop for a toilet break about half way through the morning.

Time and place

I'm sure you can recite this next bit in your sleep. We'll set out at 10.30 from the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. There is no advance booking for our rides, so just turn up if you decide to join us.

Please be sure to bring a picnic even if the weather is bad, as we have an alternative spot in mind where we can eat our lunches under cover if necessary.

Looking ahead

Our next Extra ride has been fixed for 22 July. I don't yet have any details of that ride to give you, so for now just note the date.

Finally, keep an eye on www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk as that has information about rides organised by other local cycling groups as well as news of an "ageing well" cycling course, this summer's UCI Cycling World Championship in and around Glasgow and several bike-related events at the Fringe and the Book Festival.

Saturday 24 June 2023

In the heat of Midlothian


In all these years, the group has never been to Penicuik. On what must have been one of the warmest days of the year, our second Extra ride of 2023 saw us head to the Midlothian town. The skies were overcast with the occasional spell of bright sunshine, but boy was it warm. There was a noticeable breeze, but even that was warm. We mustered just thirteen riders at the Fisherrow Harbour starting point, which was a little surprising given the weather and the promise of a new destination. The leader had a good idea of how to get from there to the Grove until he spoke to the writer, who told him of a better way to avoid busy roads. As a result, the writer doubled up as temporary leader to guide the group on a twisty route through the quiet backstreets of Musselburgh. Once at the Grove, the reigns were handed back to the leader. At Whitecraig the leader surprised the writer by taking a new route to join the usual cycle path towards Dalkeith. We whizzed through Dalkeith's parks in the opposite direction to usual, over the Maiden Bridge and through the familiar kissing gate. Past the police station and Eskbank station before a comfort stop at Tesco. At this point, Iain kindly went round with homemade cakes. Leaving Tesco behind, we joined the cycle path which took us to Rosewell. There we joined NCN 73 for a delightful ride through the lovely Midlothian countryside to Penicuik, where most of us headed to Montgomery Park for a picnic, whilst a few opted to find somewhere to eat in town.

The group came back together and we left Penicuik on the A701 - the main road to Edinburgh. A combination of inconsiderate and near-psychopathic drivers, heavy traffic, poor road surface and laughable excuses for cycle lanes made that by far the least enjoyable part of the ride. Just before the Gowkley Moss Roundabout, with great relief, we left the road and joined a shared use cycle and foot path to negotiate our way onto the road for Roslin, where we joined the cycle path towards Shawfair. Leaving the path at Lasswade Road, a number of twists and turns on cycle paths and quiet roads took us to a comfort stop at Morrisons on Gilmerton Road. Through the backstreets of Moredun, along Old Dalkeith Road, through Craigmillar Castle Park and Peffermill and we were at the Innocent Railway. The coolness in the Innocent Tunnel was very welcome on the way back to town.

At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride officially over. Despite the heat and the very unpleasant road out of Penicuik, everyone enjoyed the ride. Thanks to Mike for leading and Alan for backmarker duties. It is very likely that we'll head to Penicuik again for an Extra ride; but we'll need to find a better route out of the town.

Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 19 June 2023

20-Milers Extra ride to Penicuik this coming Saturday

 We've got the second of this year's Extra rides fixed for this coming Saturday (24th). This time we will be heading into the depths of Midlothian with a lunch stop in Penicuik. This is a route which we have not done before as a group. Details below.

As you know, these Extra rides are longer than our usual runs, and go at a somewhat faster pace with fewer stops. Please keep that in mind when deciding whether this ride will be appropriate for your fitness level.

Saturday's route

For this ride, we'll start from Musselburgh, picking up the Dalkeith to Penicuik railway path just beyond Whitecraig. This is a delightful path through a deep wooded valley, often with dramatic views over the River Esk. On the return leg, the first mile or so will be on a busy main road, but we'll soon branch off onto a quieter route into Roslin and then via the bike path to Gilmerton. The last few miles will take us through quiet back streets in the south of the city, to finish at or near the top of the Innocent tunnel.

There will be some gentle hills throughout the day plus one fairly steep climb just before lunch. The total distance (Musselburgh - Penicuik - Edinburgh) will be about 32 miles.
Lunch arrangements

Those of us who like to bring a picnic will head to Montgomery Park in Penicuik. This is next to a leisure centre where there are toilets and vending machines selling hot and cold drinks. There is also some indoor seating in the centre where we can eat our sandwiches if the weather turns bad.

For those who prefer a café lunch, the Storehouse is a friendly community café which serves soup, filled rolls and  home-made cakes at very reasonable prices.

Time and place

For this ride, we'll meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. Please aim to be there in time for a punctual 10:30 departure. Note that Fisherrow is about seven miles from central Edinburgh, so depending on where you set out from, your total mileage could be nearer 40 than 30. Obviously there is no way of knowing for sure what time the ride will finish, but my guess is that we will back in town by about 4 pm or soon afterwards.

There are toilets at Fisherrow, and we will have an additional toilet stop about half way through the morning.

As with all our rides, the above information should be regarded as provisional. The meeting time and place are fixed, but we reserve the right to vary the route or the lunch venue according to conditions on the day. In particular, if the weather is really bad, we might opt for a shorter ride and perhaps more time in a café.

Whether or not we see you on Saturday, our next 20-mile run will be on 8 July. In the meantime, enjoy your cycling.

Saturday 10 June 2023

Carberry by a route less travelled

For today's ride, the leader promised us that whilst we would probably know the places we passed through, the route we would take would be unfamiliar to most. Following that rationale, we headed to Carberry via Musselburgh before returning to town. We were blessed with lovely weather. The sun shone down from a blue sky for the whole ride. If only the easterly breeze hadn't had a slight coolness to it, the day would have been a scorcher. It's early June, so perhaps even warmer days lie ahead. Given the weather and the promise of an unfamiliar route, we were expecting a particularly good turnout. With a couple of minutes to go we had a quite disappointing 13 riders. A last minute surge resulted in 20 starters. It was good to see new faces and returnees mixed in with the regulars There followed the customary briefing when the leader explained that just before lunch, we would split into two groups with one lot going to the pub, and the others to the chosen picnic site.

We headed away from the Meadows towards the Innocent Tunnel; but this time we swept past and into Holyrood Park. We zoomed down Queen's Drive (or is that now King's Drive?), past the Parliament, out of the park, along Meadowbank Crescent and up the stiff little climb that is Lilyhill Terrace. After a pause to catch our breath, a few left-right-left turns and we arrived at Willowbrae Road. Arriving at just the right time, we crossed it quickly and easily as we did with Northfield Broadway. We took quiet roads through Mountcastle, down Duddingston Road, past Portobello Golf Course and over the Baileyfield Bridge. More twists and turns through the backstreets of Joppa and we emerged on Milton Road. Right and left turns took us to Brunstane station. Instead of heading down the Brunstane Burn path, we took paths through the estate to emerge in Newcraighall. Across the road and we were on the path towards Musselburgh. This path has recently been upgraded and the temporary one has gone. A lovely ride followed to Musselburgh station, where we paused as Iain kindly passed round homemade cake. Suitably refuelled, we headed to The Grove and took the path to Inveresk. From there we made our way to the site of the Battle of Pinkie. Turning right on the A6094 seemed to take forever. The leader who has ridden that road numerous times, had never seen it so busy. Eventually, we all made the right turn before stopping at the left turn towards the dreaded Fa'side Hill. This is where the lunchtime split occurred. The leader took a group of seven to the Craig House pub for lunch, whilst Mike led the larger group on an extra loop taking in St Clement's Wells and the new housing development on the edge of Wallyford, before pressing on to the picnic stop in the churchyard at Inveresk. Both groups made the most of the weather to dine al fresco.

Mike and the leader had agreed to regroup at the end of the road leading up to Inveresk Church at 1330. With pinpoint accuracy, the leader and group of pub-goers arrived exactly as the clock struck 1330. A quick downhill stretch and we were at Tesco Musselburgh for a comfort break for those that had been picnicking. Over the main road bridge through the town, behind the Brunton Theatre and we were soon at Fisherrow Harbour. Another little twiddle took us Along Newhailes Avenue and Crescent to emerge on the road towards Portobello. At the bottom of Milton Road, we joined the Brunstane Burn path which via Daiches Brae took us to Brunstane station. From there, it was the familiar route back to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway with no more surprises. Once there, the leader declared the ride officially over. Everyone said how much they had enjoyed the ride. There was even a ripple of applause, much to the surprise and embarassment of the leader. A number of riders had said throughout the day that whist they knew the places they had been to, they had never been to them via today's route. They also admitted how hard they would find it to retrace the route due to the number of turns in quick succession.

Another successful ride which everyone seemed to enjoy and with lovely weather - what more can anyone wish for? Thanks to Mike for back marking and taking on the role of second leader just before lunch for the extra loop.

Leader: Glenn

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 5 June 2023

Two 20-Milers rides for June

 We've got two 20-Milers runs planned for the coming weeks: our standard monthly ride this coming Saturday (10th), and one of our longer Extra rides two weeks later (24th). Here are the details.

10th June

For the first of this month's rides, Glenn will be leading us on an interesting route through the east of the city and into East Lothian. We will be using a mixture of bike paths and quiet roads, mostly with good surfaces. There will be a few hills, including a particularly steep one near the start, but we will take them at our usual steady pace and cheerfully wait for stragglers. The total distance will be a little over 20 miles.

For lunch, we will divide into two groups. Those who prefer to eat indoors will head to the Craig House Hotel in Whitecraig. This has a standard Brewer's Fayre restaurant which serves burgers, baked potatoes and the like. It's not gourmet cuisine, but should prove adequate.

Understandably, the folk at the hotel don't like people consuming their own food on the premises, so those of  us who prefer to bring a packed lunch will head to a nice picnic spot at nearby Inveresk. The two groups will meet up again after lunch. Note that there are no toilets at Inveresk, so we will have a comfort break about 15 minutes after leaving the lunch spot.

The meeting time and place are, I hope, ingrained in your brains: 10.30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Remember, there are no formalities for any of our rides: you just turn if you want to join us, or stay away if you don't.

24th June

The second ride this month will be an Extra. As you know, these Extra rides are longer than our usual 20-mile runs with a somewhat faster pace and fewer breaks. I'll post details of the meeting place, route and lunch arrangements for this ride nearer the time. For now, just note the date.

I hope you'll be able to join us for one or other of these rides. In the meantime, happy cycling.

Saturday 27 May 2023

On the high road to Hopetoun

 Today saw the first of our Extra rides of the summer season. And what a lovely day it was, with clear skies and temperatures eventually reaching the high teens. Unfortunately, the wind speed in mph was also in the high teens. Not that that put off the 22 riders – including a couple of newcomers – who gathered at our Craigleith meeting point.

Under Alan's leadership, we set off along a familiar route, following the Blackhall Path towards Davidson's Mains, and then through Barnton to Cramond Brig. We crossed the main Queensferry road  by the Burnshot Bridge, then continued west along the Carlowrie Road. At the point where the road swings round to the left, we joined the cycle path that runs along the old South Queensferry - Ratho railway line. Access to this path is via a steep, narrow ramp. A couple of the members of the group managed to cycle up it, but most of us found it necessary to get off and push.

Once on the path, we enjoyed an agreeable mile or so before re-joining the road just east of Kirkliston. After passing through the village, we stopped for our customary toilet break at the leisure centre, then continued west a little further before turning off on to the quiet back road that runs past Overton Farm to Niddry Castle. We often join the canal towpath at this point, heading either towards Broxburn for Almondell Country Park or to Philpstoun for Blackness or Bo'ness. Today, however, we stayed on the road, continuing westward for a short distance before turning right towards Winchburgh and then left to Faucheldean. 

Climbing steadily

For the next couple of miles the road climbed steadily, soon  giving us lovely views to the right and left, including to the Ochil Hills way over to the north. Although there were more hills to come, these were not particularly steep and we would normally have taken them in our stride. But combined with the strong headwind, they were proving more of a struggle than might otherwise have been the case. Fortunately, that didn't last long. On reaching the B8046, we turned to the north, and were soon freewheeling down to Threemiletown, and then, still downhill, over the canal and the main railway line to the hamlet of Old Philpstoun.

If we had continued a little further on the road, we would have hit the very busy A904 at a point where there is no pavement or bike lane. Happily, our leader had planned for that difficulty. Passing a "No through road" sign, he led us along a farm track, taking us past East Philpstoun Farm and then through a short tunnel under the motorway. We then joined the aforementioned A-road, but at a point where there was a shared-use pavement that took us for the next half mile or so. After leaving that path, we had to make our way through a very rough patch where we were forced to dismount and lift our bikes over fallen branches, overgrown vegetation and other obstacles. But we were soon back on a firm surface, this being a driveway that took us to our lunch stop at the New Hopetoun Garden Centre.

With 20-odd hungry and thirsty cyclists all arriving at the same time, there was inevitably a long queue at the centre's café. Despite that, the staff served us cheerfully and efficiently, and we all managed to get fed and watered within the hour that had been allocated. Lunch over, we were quickly on our way again, initially retracing our steps though the overgrown vegetation before turning north for a nice downhill stretch towards Abercorn Church.

We then entered the grounds of Hopetoun House. This is a particularly scenic area with delightful countryside and fine views. It is familiar ground for many of us as it forms part of our usual homeward route from the Blackness / Bo'ness area. With the wind now behind us, the going was very easy. And we had an additional treat, as the ride coincided with the annual Hopetoun Horse Driving Trials. We were able to watch a series of decorated horse-drawn carriages, most of them driven by individuals in colourful costumes. 

Good progress

We continued to make good progress through the Hopetoun grounds and then along the road towards South Queensferry. We had a short pause on the observation platform at the Forth Road Bridge, then headed back to town along NCN 1 via  Dalmeny, Burnshot and Cramond Brig, reaching Craigleith a little before 4 pm. At that point, the ride was officially declared over.

Thanks to Alan for resurrecting this splendid route which we had not done since 2018. At 32 miles, and with pleasant scenery, a good lunch stop and (apart from the wind) excellent weather, it was a promising start to the 2023 Extra season.

Leader: Alan

Report and photos: Mike