20th Anniversary Year

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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.