20th Anniversary Year

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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.