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

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