20th Anniversary Year

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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.