EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

20th Anniversary Year

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Saturday 13 July 2024

Summer ride in the Pentlands



Those present on today's ride will recognise the irony of the blog post title. Drizzle, light rain, dry but damp and misty - we had the lot on our ride to Harelaw Reservoir. Everything except warmth or sunshine. Early in the ride, one rider said, "if it gets no worse than this, I can put up with it". Granted, it could have been a lot worse, but it is July. Given the weather, it was a pleasant surprise to see 21 riders gather at the start, including several new faces.

It was cool and drizzly as we left the Meadows and made our way to Roseburn Park. A sign at the top of Leamington Terrace told us the road was closed, but threading our way past the sign, we found it wasn't. What we did find was that the road surface was as shockingly bad as ever. We can only hope they are going to resurface it. By the time we reached Roseburn Park, we had encountered no less than three sets of temporary traffic lights. Delays were minimal, and the whole group managed to get through each set. Through the back streets of Balgreen, through Carrick Knowe and Broomhouse and we were negotiating our way through the Gyle centre car park. Via Edinburgh Park, the subway and Gogar Station Road we arrived at Heriot Watt University where we had a comfort stop. Ian passed round delicious homemade cake which would sustain us on the climbs that lie ahead. We left Heriot Watt by the back entrance, through Curriehill and the quiet back streets of Currie to cross Lanark Road West and join the Water of Leith path. In Balerno, we took a slightly different route from our usual one. This one involved the same overall ascent but was spread over a somewhat longer distance, so we  avoided the worst of the gradients. From the number 44 bus terminus, we took a quiet cut through to re-join our usual route at Malleny Mills, and onwards to Harelaw Reservoir. Thanks to the unseasonal weather, the verges on the road to the car park were devoid of cars, and the car park itself was far from full.

Although it was cool and the hills were shrouded in mist, we managed to eat our picnic lunches in the dry. But no sooner had we set off on the homeward leg, the heavy drizzle returned and it turned cooler still. The rough path down towards Clubbiedean was treacherous in places. In the interests of self-preservation, we walked a few short sections. There followed some most welcome surfaced tracks, then more rough stretches. At the bottom of one steep descent was a wooden bridge. It was soaking wet and riding on it was akin to soap on marble. Fortunately, everyone got safely across, but the writer did have a wee heart-in-the-mouth moment. Back on smooth tarmac, all was going well until we met a large SUV heading up towards us. As it took up most of the width of the road, one-by-one we had to squeeze past on the grass verge. All the times we've been down that track over the years, yet no one ever recalled having met a vehicle coming up. The remainder of the descent into Bonaly passed without incident. As did our ride back via Redford, Greenbank and Morningside. At the Meadows, the leader declared the ride officially over.

Thanks to Mike for leading and Alan for back marking. The trip to Harelaw is always enjoyable, but the weather didn't help today. Let's hope for some proper summer weather by the time of our next ride.


Leader: Mike

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 8 July 2024

July ride this coming Saturday

 

This is a reminder of our next ride, which will take place this coming Saturday. We'll be heading out to a familiar destination: the Harlaw Reservoir at the edge of the Pentlands. I can promise you a particularly scenic route with pleasant countryside and nice views.

The total distance will be about 24 miles. Inevitably, there will be a fair amount of climbing, especially in the morning (not for nothing are they called the Pentland Hills). However, we will be taking a slightly different route from the usual one. This will involve the same overall ascent but it will be spread over a somewhat longer distance, so we will be avoiding the worst of the gradients.

And we'll be rewarded with some nice downhills in the afternoon. But the afternoon will also see a couple of very rough paths. On previous visits some of us have had to dismount and push on these rough bits; fortunately, they are fairly short.

Lunch arrangements

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 on the outward leg.

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

This is the same as always. We'll set out at 10:30 from the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As you know, 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 lunch under cover if necessary.

Looking ahead

Our next Extra ride has been fixed for 27 July. I'll post the usual details here nearer the time. In the meantime, happy pedalling.

Saturday 22 June 2024

A Fife favourite


Today's second Extra ride of the year saw us cross the Forth and follow the Fife Coastal Path to Silversands Bay at Aberdour. The weather forecast suggested we could be in for wall-to-wall sunshine. In the end, we had a mixture of sunny spells and some bright, but overcast skies. There was a bit of a breeze, but that and a pleasant temperature made it ideal for cycling. The weather clearly helped us muster seventeen riders at the Craigleith starting point. With the briefing over we headed off on what for many in the group is their favourite ride. 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. From there we headed across the old Forth Road Bridge into Fife. No matter how many times we've cycled across the bridge, it remains a magical experience. Today, there was a bit of a breeze, it was pleasantly warm and the waters of the Forth were a lovely blue and quite calm. One rider had never ridden across the bridge before, so was able to experience that magic for the first time. Having crossed the bridge, we had to endure the least enjoyable part of the ride - an uphill slog along the main road to get into the centre of Inverkeithing. Leaving the town behind, 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 on the edge of Dalgety Bay. How the leader found his way through the maze of paths remains a mystery. But he did and we were soon passing the impressive ruins of St Brigget's Kirk. Just prior to St Colm House, the leader's view was obscured by a rider getting too close and he missed the turning for the underpass. As a result, we ended up at the oil terminal gates, and had to retrace our steps. Through the underpass, we were back on course. Turning slightly inland, we followed minor roads and tracks past fields and a golf course to emerge in the village of  Aberdour. Another mile, and we were at Silver Sands for our lunch stop at the lovely Sands Café.

Lunch over, we left Silversands Bay behind and began our journey home. We retraced the outward route from the morning, and were once again able to marvel at the views across the Forth. No missing of the underpass this time, and once again, the paths through the houses saw the leader seem like he was a local. Leaving the delightful coastal path behind, soon we were through Inverkeithing and heading back across the Forth Road Bridge. Another comfort stop at the visitor centre, and we were soon leaving South Queensferry behind. A pause at Cramond Brig, and a short while later we were at Craigleith where the leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Alan for leading us out to that old favourite, and to Neil for back marking. Everyone had enjoyed themselves, the cycling and scenery had been great and the weather had been kind to us.


Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 17 June 2024

Second Extra of 2024 this coming Saturday


We've got the second of this year's Extra rides coming up on Saturday (22nd).

For this ride, we'll be heading to one of our more popular destinations: the Silver Sands beach at Aberdour. This is a delightful spot, with a lovely beach and fine views over the Firth of Forth. The route promises to be a very pleasant one, particularly the section along the Fife Coastal Path. But be warned that this will include several fairly rough stretches which might be muddy. The total distance will be about 35 miles, including a few moderate hills.

As you will know by now, 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 would 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.

Lunch

For this ride, you can either bring a picnic lunch or visit the Sands café which is right on the beach. This offers a range of sandwiches and other snacks, but it can get very busy, especially on a nice day. If you want to avoid a long wait for lunch, I 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.)

Time and place

The ride will start at 10:30 from our alternative meeting point at the Craigleith path junction - see here if you need directions. The ride will finish back 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. Just turn up if you have a mind to.

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

Whether or not we see you on Saturday, our next 20-mile run will be on 13 July. And we've scheduled 27 July for this year's third Extra. I'll post details of both those rides in good time.

Saturday 8 June 2024

A bike swap on the way to Dalkeith

On today's ride to Dalkeith, one rider was unlucky to have a serious bike issue that looked set to end their ride almost before it had begun. But they managed to limp home, swap bikes and caught us up before we got to Musselburgh. It was cooler and windier than of late as the fifteen riders mustered for today's ride. Once again, Alan ensured that no one was in doubt that riders were in the right place, thanks to the 20 Milers 20th anniversary banner. The leader gave the customary briefing, adding a superb line to discourage anyone from overtaking the leader: "please don't overtake me as I'm likely to blindly follow you and we'll probably get lost". After that, we headed off towards Holyrood Park.

Just after we'd left St Leonard's Street, at the back of the pack, one of the stalwarts of the group had their bike skid to a halt when the back wheel locked up. Despite being able to dislodge the jammed chain, it was clear the ride was over for the rider - or so we thought. The group pushed on having agreed the back marker would catch us up, which they did further along the Innocent Railway. Pressing on towards Musselburgh station, the writer got a shock when the rider we thought had gone home, appeared beside him on a different bike. Having limped home on their first bike, they had swapped over to another bike and raced off to catch us up. The things folk will do to avoid missing a 20 Milers ride! With a full complement again, we headed down to the Grove. Today, this section of path was clear and dry. But two weeks ago [on the recce] those present had to endure mud, standing water and floods. The leader took us on a less familiar route through Whitecraig to join the path towards Dalkeith. After an easy run on the path, we found ourselves in quite heavy traffic in the centre of Dalkeith before arriving at King's Park. Here we enjoyed our picnic lunches in the sun.

We rode through the park and took an unfamiliar path to emerge on Abbey Road. Through the new houses and we were at the kissing gate. Without hesitation, Alan took on the duty of gatekeeper to ensure everyone got through the gate easily. He even stayed at his post to help through a couple of riders that weren't part of our group. Through delightful woodland and parks, we were soon back at the main road into Dalkeith where we had been in the morning. Following a short stretch on the main road, we entered Dalkeith Country Park. Through the park, a short stretch of busy road [made worse by temporary traffic lights], and we were back on the Grove. From Musselburgh station we retraced our outward route back to the Meadows. The only difference being that this time we went through the Innocent Tunnel. The leader declared the ride officially over, and received thanks from the group for an enjoyable ride.

Thanks to Alison for leading, Yaz for back marking, and Alan for his gate keeper duties.


Leader: Alison

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 3 June 2024

Two rides for June

We can look forward to two rides this month: our standard monthly run this coming Saturday, and the second Extra of the season two weeks later.

Saturday 8 June

For this week's ride, Alison will be leading us to Dalkeith. It will be a bit longer than our usual "second Saturday" outings - probably about 24 miles - but there should be no particular difficulties. We will be mainly on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads and there will be no killer hills. However, there will be a couple of short stretches  through the centre of Dalkeith that might be busy with traffic.

For our lunch stop, we'll head to the King's Park, which is an especially nice spot for picnicking. For those who prefer to eat indoors, there is a cafe in the Morrisons supermarket across the street (and also toilets). The cafe serves a range of snacks and light meals, or you can pick up a sandwich and take-away drink there to take to the park.

As always, the above information should be regarded as provisional. We will definitely meet at the usual time and place (10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk), but we might vary the route and destination according to conditions on the day (especially in the light of any damage to bike paths following the heavy rains last month).

Saturday 22 June

For our second Extra of 2024, Alan will be leading us over the Forth to Fife. This should be a particularly scenic run. I'll post full details, including the meeting point and the lunch arrangements, nearer the time. For now, note the date.

There's no need to reply to this post. If you plan to attend either or both of the above events, I'll look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Somewhere new beneath blue skies

For the opening Extra ride of the year, we headed deep into Midlothian to somewhere we had never visited before. Accompanied by blue skies, warm sunshine and a gentle breeze we made our way to Vogrie Country Park. A most impressive 20 riders mustered at the Fisherrow Harbour start point. That number for a normal 20 Milers would be good, but for an Extra it was very impressive. If not the highest ever turnout for an Extra, it must have been close. As ever, the weather must have played a part, but the lure of a new route and destination would have also swelled the ranks.

With the customary briefing over, we left the harbour and gathering mist behind to thread through an unfamiliar [to most] maze of Musselburgh residential streets to arrive at the town's railway station. A whizz down the new path, under a couple of bridges, over the roundabout and we were on the Grove heading towards Cowpits and Whitecraig. There we joined the path towards Dalkeith High School. We turned off the path and made our way up the hill past Smeaton Shaw Farm to the B6414. A number of the riders expected us to turn left; but no - it was right then next left to head towards Cousland. On this section, one rider began to have problems with slipping gears. Given the climbing that lie ahead, they made the decision to turn round and head home to get their bike fixed. It was a shame they would miss a delightful ride, but it was the right decision. Leaving that road, we climbed up the A6124 and took the bridge over the A68 trunk road. Over the bridge, a deft left followed by a quick right saw us on a lovely quiet country road with great views across the Midlothian countryside. The leader made it look easy, but that wasn't the case on the recce a couple of weeks earlier. Two wrong slots and a few minor detours had resulted. But that's why we do recces. On approaching the T-junction, the leader informed those around him that a left turn onto the main road would be followed by a stiff little climb. Hopefully the message got passed down the line. Onwards through Edgehead, down a lovely descent, a right turn onto the B6372 and we were on the final run towards Vogrie Country Park and our lunch stop. Into the park, a short ride down a narrow road and we were at Vogrie House. Riders split between the picnic tables and the Tree Top Café.

Lunch over, we regrouped and made our way back to the park entrance. A steady stream of traffic meant that we didn't all get out together. At the cross roads the first part of the group turned right and waited for the others to join us. It seemed like a longish wait before the others appeared. Apparently, they had been waiting for a gap in the traffic when two cars had a minor coming together. The damage was minimal, no one was hurt and none of our riders were involved; but it did result in a slight delay. With the group back together, we headed towards Pathhead. A glorious downhill run into the village of Ford was enjoyed by all. But the village lies at the bottom of a valley, and a substantial climb back up to Pathhead followed. At least we had time to get our breath back waiting to cross the busy A68 in the village. Lovely quiet country roads led us towards Cousland. A couple more steep hills, and we were in the village. The leader promised that it was now downhill all the way back to Musselburgh. Few believed him, but it was the case. We headed downhill away from Cousland, turned left at Crossgatehall and were soon whizzing down past Smeaton Shaw Farm. This time, we stayed on the road to enjoy our last glorious downhill blast of the ride. A short stretch on the busy A6094, a left as we entered Whitecraig, and we were back on the Grove. At the footbridge over the River Esk, the leader declared the ride officially over. It appeared that everyone had enjoyed the ride, the destination and the weather judging by the round of applause the leader received. Last, but by no means least, thanks to Neil for back marking.


Leader: Glenn

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Our first Extra of 2024 this coming Saturday

 We've got the first of this summer's Extra rides coming up on Saturday (18th).

One of the challenges of organising our 20-Milers runs is coming up with fresh ideas for interesting routes - not an easy task after twenty years. But for this week's ride, Glenn has done just that. He has devised a delightful route through the Midlothian countryside, mainly following a series of quiet rural roads.

Please keep in mind that our Extra rides are longer than our usual 20-mile runs, with a somewhat faster pace and fewer stops. You won't need to be super fit to join these rides, but if you haven't cycled for a while, or if you feel that you are below your normal fitness level, you may prefer to give this one a miss, and to stick with our usual "second Saturday" outings instead.

Saturday's ride will be about 28 to 30 miles. The route will be hilly, but at least we will be away from traffic and on firm surfaces most of the way.

Lunch stop

Our lunch stop will be somewhere that we have not visited before as a group: Vogrie Country Park. There is a friendly cafe there that serves a good selection of sandwiches, toasties, baked potatoes and an all-day breakfast. There are also plenty of picnic tables for those of us who prefer to bring a packed lunch.

Time and place

The ride will start at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. See here if you need directions. Please aim to get 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.

The ride will end back at Fisherrow mid- to late-afternoon.

What if the weather's bad?

The ride will go ahead whatever the weather. We won't let drizzly rain or a stiff breeze put us off. But if conditions are particularly bad, we reserve the right to alter the route and destination accordingly. But the meeting time and place will still be as stated above.

Finally, please remember to bring a spare inner tube plus whatever tools might be needed (if any) to remove your wheel in the event of a puncture.

I hope to see you on Saturday, or, failing that, on a future ride. Our next "second Saturday" run will be on 8 June. And we'll have another Extra in June, details of which will be posted here in due course.

Saturday 11 May 2024

Here comes the sun



We had a most popular addition to today's ride that had been absent for quite a few months - that old favourite, the sun. On the warmest and sunniest ride in ages, we headed to that dependable go-to place, South Queensferry. We usually find ourselves there at least once a year. It's a good route out and back, with several options to stop it being repetitive, and the town itself is lovely with all the amenities we need.

We had a reasonable turn out of eighteen riders. Given the weather, we might have expected more; but it was good to see several new faces. Later, one rider admitted they had never ridden through the Telfer subway before. That's difficult to comprehend for those of us who have ridden it dozens of times over the years. With the briefing over, the leader headed off with the group following. A familiar route took us to the Roseburn path via Bruntsfield Links, Leamington Bridge, the canal and the Telfer subway. Given the glorious warm weather, it was no surprise to find the Roseburn path busy with walkers, dogs and fellow cyclists. We even passed a cat tucking into its freshly caught kill. Via the Craigleith junction, Silverknowes and Barnton, we were soon rolling to a customary halt at Cramond Brig where Iain passed around his delicious homemade cake. Cake stop over, we followed the paths beside the A90 and the B924, before pausing at the Chapel Gate entrance to the Dalmeny estate. Up into Dalmeny village, through the housing estate and we arrived at the viewing platform for the three bridges. It's always an impressive view; but with the sun shining down from a clear blue sky, and the Firth of Forth glistening a beautiful shade of blue, it was stunning. One very satisfying thing about our rides is being able to take people to places they have never been before, and seeing the look on their faces. A quick whizz downhill, and we were soon at the top of the steps to the beach in South Queensferry's High Street for our lunch stop. Most of us ate our picnic lunches sitting on the steps with a great view of the Forth Rail Bridge, whilst a few headed off to buy food in the bustling High Street.

Lunch over, we made our way through the town to Hawes Pier. Just beyond there, a road on the left took us onto the path that would take us through the Dalmeny estate. The estate grounds are lovely at any time of the year, but with the great weather and new spring growth, they were exceptionally beautiful. The paths were rough and bumpy in places with a few climbs to stretch the legs, but at least they were dry. Soon we were back making our customary stop at Cramond Brig. From there, we retraced our outward route back to town. The area around Russell Road was busy with football fans on their way to the match. Back at the Meadows, the leader declared the ride over. Everyone had clearly enjoyed the ride as evidenced by the round of applause for the leader.

Thanks to Yaz for leading, Alison for back marking, and the weather for reminding us how great it is cycling in such conditions.


Leader: Yaz

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn



Monday 6 May 2024

Two rides for May - plus lots more

We are planning two rides this month: our standard "second Saturday" run this coming weekend, and the first of this year's Extra rides a week later. Here are the details.

Saturday 11 May

For this week's outing, we will be heading to South Queensferry, under Yaz's expert leadership. For the outward leg we will be following the familiar NCN1 route. This has a couple of moderate hills but no other difficulties. We will be returning via the scenic Dalmeny Estate, where some of the paths are fairly rough, but not too difficult. The total distance will be about 22 miles.

Unfortunately, two of the popular cafes in Queensferry have now closed. There are still a couple of places where we can get a snack or a light lunch, but the choice will be limited. So you might want to consider bringing a packed lunch, which can be eaten on the benches overlooking the harbour and bridges. Public toilets are available nearby.

The meeting time and place are the same as always: 10:30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride is free, and you don't need to tell us in advance whether or not you plan to attend.

Saturday 18 May

This will be our first Extra of the summer. I'll post full details here a bit nearer the time. For now, note the date.

As you probably know, our Extra rides are longer than our standard 20-mile runs. They are typically 30 to 35 miles, and go at a somewhat faster pace with fewer stops. You might want to keep that in mind when deciding whether to join this ride

Lots more activities for cyclists

20-Milers apart, other local cycling groups are planning rides for the coming weeks and months, ranging from family-friendly half-day events to serious rides for the super-fit - not to mention a 100-mile overnight run to coincide with the summer solstice. Most of these rides are free and open to all.

On top of all that, the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling gets under way at the end of the month. This has a crowded programme of talks, exhibitions, films, workshops and training sessions, all related to various aspects of cycling.

To find out more, keep an eye on my website (http://www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk/). I've already posted details of many of the above rides and events, and will add more information as it becomes available. 

Saturday 13 April 2024

New banner's first outing


Today saw us head to the Heriot Watt University campus at Riccarton. Despite it being a familiar destination, the leader added a couple of interesting wiggles that were new to many. The sixteen riders that turned up were met with a large banner leaving them in no doubt that this was the 20 Milers group. Thanks to Alan for organising that in our 20th anniversary year, and carrying it for the duration of the ride in a tube strapped to the back of his bike. It was good to see a few new faces added to the mix. We had typical April weather: blue skies, gusty winds, sunshine and a couple of heavy showers. Fortunately, we were on our way back to town when the day's heaviest shower hit us.

With the leader's briefing over, we were off. Via Bruntsfield  Links, Whitehouse Loan, Cannan Lane, Woodburn Terrace and the new cycle route along Braidburn Terrace, we arrived at Braidburn Valley Park. In the park, what appeared to be a pony was paddling in the burn, much to our surprise. We'd seen it from the rear, but as we drew alongside we could see it was actually a large St Bernard dog. Through Colinton Mains Park, cycle paths led us to the housing estate beside Redford Barracks before emerging onto Redford Drive. A short downhill stretch and we turned into Redford Drive. The quiet back streets of Bonaly, Woodfield, Woodhall Road and we were negotiating a rather muddy path to join Blinkbonny Road. We crossed the busy Lanark Road West and threaded our way through the estate at Riccarton. Busy traffic on a steep climb resulted in many of the group missing a turn and having to retrace their steps. Back together, the group rode along Curriehill Road and entered the Heriot Watt campus via the back entrance. Whilst the majority opted to go into the main building for an indoor picnic lunch, a few went and sat beside the pond.

With lunch over, our shorter run back to town began. Having crossed Calder Road, we weaved through quiet country roads and along an unsurfaced path to emerge at Edinburgh Park. Alongside the tram tracks at Sighthill, before crossing them and heading past Murrayfield to Roseburn Park. From there, we took the well-known route back to Leamington Bridge where the leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Neil for leading us on an interesting ride that was enjoyed by all. He even received a round of applause at the end. Thanks to Alan for back marking, arranging the banner, putting it up, taking it down and carrying it for the duration of the ride.


Leader: Neil

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 8 April 2024

20-Milers April ride on Saturday

 We've got our April ride this coming Saturday (13th). I hope you'll be able to join us.

Under Neil's leadership, we'll be heading west, with a lunch stop at the Heriot Watt campus in Riccarton. We'll take a fairly familiar route, albeit with a couple of interesting wiggles that will be new to many of us. We'll head out via Braidburn Valley (using the new bike route along Braidburn Terrace), Bonaly and Curriehill, returning by way of Gogarbank and Edinburgh Park.

Inevitably there will be a few hills along the way, as well as a couple of rough stretches that will probably be muddy. But there should be no other serious difficulties. The total distance will be twenty miles, give or take.

Lunch arrangements

Please note that there is no catering of any kind at the campus, so be sure to bring a packed lunch. There is a nice loch-side spot where we can picnic, as well as space to eat indoors if the weather turns bad.

As always, we'll set out at 10:30 from our usual spot at the top of Middle Meadow Walk.

And as always, the above details should be regarded as provisional. The meeting time and place are fixed, but we always reserve the right to vary the itinerary if circumstances demand. That doesn't happen very often, but it's always a possibility.

Looking ahead

I hope to be able to post details of our first Extra of 2024 before long. (Any suggestions you may have for new routes or destinations will be gratefully received.)

Saturday 23 March 2024

Across the windy city



Today's additional March ride had overtones of the Christmas day rides as it was shorter than usual, and was concentrated in the city centre. The new city centre cycle route, "City Centre West to East Link" (CCWEL) was officially opened earlier this week. It links the Water of Leith and Roseburn path in the west with Leith Walk in the east. To publicise it, we decided to put an additional ride in the calendar.

After some heavy rain in the previous week, we were hoping it would stay dry. The forecast suggested it would, and it did. But the forecast also warned of strong, gusty winds, and we certainly had those. A turn out of fourteen riders was quite reasonable, and it was good to see a few new faces and some we hadn't seen for some time.

Following a briefing from the leader, we headed towards Roseburn Park via the familiar route of Bruntsfield Links, Leamington Bridge and Fountain Park. We joined the path at Roseburn Terrace following it east along West Coates, past the former Donaldson's School, which looked very impressive in the sunshine. Along Haymarket Terrace, then the quiet Roseberry Crescent before skirting the south side of St Mary's Cathedral. Manor Place and Melville Street followed, before crossing Queensferry Street onto Randolph Place with a cut-through taking us to Charlotte Square. Between there and St Andrew Square, the section along George Street has yet to be completed. The completed path continued on North St David Street, the corner of St Andrew Square and along York Place. Rather than continue to Leith Walk via the Playhouse, we crossed York Place and headed down Broughton Street to join the bike path at King George Park following a comfort stop at Tesco. Via the Goldenacre path to Five Ways, the Ferry Road, Telford and Roseburn paths we arrived at the Russell Road zig-zags. Here the leader declared the ride officially over.

Thanks to Mike for leading and showing us the new path that is definitely a worthwhile addition to Edinburgh's cycle network. Everyone enjoyed the ride, and it was great to be cycling in the city centre on a normal Saturday without having to worry about the traffic. Thanks to Alison for back marking. If just some of today's riders make regular use of the new path, the ride will have been worthwhile.


Leader: Alison

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Sunday 17 March 2024

Special ride on 23 March

I'm pleased to tell you that we've managed to organise a special half-day ride for this coming Saturday (23 March) to celebrate the long-awaited opening of the City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL).

As you probably know, the CCWEL is a new bike route through Edinburgh city centre. It links the Water of Leith and the Roseburn Path in the west with Leith Walk in the east. Most (not all) of it runs alongside main roads but on completely segregated paths.

Time, place, route

For this ride, we'll meet as usual at 10:30, at our normal spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We'll head first to Roseburn Park, where we'll pick up the new path as it runs alongside West Coates and Haymarket Terrace and through the West End to Charlotte Square. The route then follows George Street, but this section is not yet segregated so we will be riding in traffic for a short distance. After another segregated section around St Andrew Square, we'll head down to Canonmills and George V Park. The return leg will be via the north Edinburgh bike paths.

The total distance will be about 14 miles. We'll be riding on good surfaces most of the time, with only a few gentle hills.

We'll plan to finish the ride at around 13:00. We won't organise a lunch stop, but there are plenty of cafes, sandwich shops and pubs near the finish for those who want to go for a meal or snack after the ride.

As with all our rides, this one is free and open to all, so feel free to tell your friends. We don't have any kind advance booking system, so just turn up on the day if you fancy joining us.

Official opening ceremony

I understand that there will also be an event to mark the official opening of the CCWEL this coming Wednesday (20 March). I don't have any further information except that it will take place in front of the Four Points hotel in Haymarket Terrace from 11:30 to 14:30

Looking ahead, our next "second Saturday" run will be on 13 April. 

Saturday 9 March 2024

Is this really the way to Roslin?

Our March ride saw us head out to Roslin in weather that would not have been out-of-place in January. The leader had devised an interesting route that took us through areas that few of us had visited before. We also had a journalist join the ride. He is writing an article about cycling in Edinburgh and decided that joining our ride would give him a good insight. He went away better informed, had enjoyed the ride and complimented the group for making him welcome. He also appreciated the informality and friendliness of the group. We're looking forward to reading the article in the "Financial Times" when published.

Despite it being a chilly, damp and overcast day, we managed to muster seventeen riders at the start. Quite impressive given the weather, and a forecast that promised no improvement.

Briefing over, the group headed off via Bruntsfield Links and Whitehouse Loan. We got split up at Streathearn Road where the traffic lights looked as if they would never change in our favour. On the brink of us all walking across at the green man, the lights finally changed. Just along the road, we regrouped and set off again. Through the quiet backstreets of Morningside and we were on Braid Road where we took the path through Hermitage of Braid. As ever, the path was busy with walkers and dogs. It was a bit muddy, but not as bad as it sometimes is. Through the traffic lights at Blackford Glen Road, a short sharp climb up Kirkbrae and we were on Double Hedges Road. We then cut through the back streets of Mount Vernon, before coming to a halt due to the dreaded shout of "puncture!" Alan helped the stricken rider as the rest of us hung around and waited. The delay was longer than expected due to the first tube getting nicked whilst refitting the tyre. Not a day for standing around in the cold, we were pleased to be on our way again. On entering Moredun Woods, the leader stopped and went round the group offering out his home baking. With everyone replenished, it was time to press on towards Roslin and lunch. Through Gilmerton and we were soon on the cycle track that would take us to lunch. In Roslin most of the group headed for the café, one or two made for the pub whilst three hardy souls headed to that popular picnic spot near Rosslyn Chapel - the grave yard.

Lunch over, we headed back to the cycle path to begin our homeward leg. This time we rode the full length of the path back to Danderhall. A mix of roads and paths saw us cross the Wisp and wiggle our way behind the Jack Kane Centre. On leaving the road and heading onto an indistinct grassy path, one rider was unlucky to fall. Fortunately, they were soon on their feet and able to continue. Emerging near to the Bingham bus terminus, we rode straight across the Innocent railway, which led to some puzzled looks on rider's faces. The less familiar route approach was going to continue, even as we neared the end of the ride. The route back to the Meadows took us behind Duddingston House, through Duddingston village and on the road through Holyrood Park. Before leaving the park, we had our final incident of the day. A rider's chain came off. Quick as a flash, the group's chain refitting guru - Yaz was on the case. Within a few minutes, we were on our way back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride officially over.

Thanks to Iain for leading us on an interesting and unfamiliar route which was enjoyed by all. Thanks to Alan for backmarking and helping fix the morning's puncture. And begrudgingly, we need to thank the weather. Despite being very dull, damp and quite chilly - at least it didn't rain.


Leader: Iain

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 4 March 2024

March ride this coming Saturday

 

We've got our March ride this coming Saturday (9th), when Iain will be leading us to Roslin. I hope you'll be able to join us.

Iain has led us to that particular destination several times before, and each time he has managed to find a different route. This month's ride will be no exception. We'll be using a mixture of quiet roads and off-road paths, with just a few not-too-difficult hills. But there will also be at least one rough stretch that is likely to be muddy. The total distance will between 20 and 22 miles.

As always with our rides, please regard the above details as provisional. The meeting time and place are always the same (see below), but we occasionally need to vary the route or destination, depending on circumstances on the day. This doesn't happen very often, but it is something to keep in mind.

Lunch choices

At Roslin, there is a nice quiet spot near the chapel and castle where we can eat our picnics. For those who prefer to have lunch indoors, Dolly's Tea Room offers a range of soup, sandwiches, toasties and panini at reasonable prices. A third option is the Original Rosslyn Inn, although this is somewhat more up-market (and more expensive) than the tea room.

Time and place

We'll set out from our standard meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at the usual time of 10:30.

As you know by now, you don't need to tell us in advance if you plan to join us. Just turn up on the day.

Saturday 10 February 2024

Drizzly visit to an old favourite



Today's ride saw us head through the drizzle to that winter favourite of the group, Craigie's Farm. The drizzle had stopped by the time we headed back after lunch, but it had turned cooler. On the homeward stretch, two riders were unfortunate to suffer punctures.

Given the heavy drizzle at the start, a turnout of fourteen riders was good for February. The leader's briefing was very thorough. After mentioning that there would be three busy roads to cross, he then proceeded to [seemingly] reel off the names of every road we would be on. If nothing else, it gave the group confidence that the leader knew exactly where he was going. This was borne out later with an unexpected detour to avoid the rugby crowds at Murrayfield on the way back to town.

Leaving the Meadows behind, familiar paths and roads led us to Roseburn Park via Bruntsfield Links, Leamington Bridge and Telfer subway. Crowds were building up in the area prior to the Scotland v France rugby match. The writer couldn't help but smile as we passed one of those stands at the roadside selling Scotland merchandise; the seller having a distinctly English accent. Past Murrayfield Stadium, across Balgreen Road and we were soon skirting Carrick Knowe golf course. Through the quiet backstreets of Carrick Knowe, the obligatory pause at the dovecot in Dovecot Road, through Gyle Park and we were beside the busy Glasgow Road. With everyone safely across, we passed Craigmount School and went down Craigs Road to cross the busy Maybury Road. We were now on the continuation of Craigs Road. With all the new houses that have sprung up there, the place is unrecognisable to those remembering it as open fields. On better, but busier roads we made our way to Cammo Park via West Craigs. Leaving the road behind, a very muddy path led downhill to the Grotto Bridge, where we paused as Ian handed out lovely homemade cake that was greatly appreciated. Through the eerily deserted Craigiehall army housing estate, the path beside the A90 and we were on the road to Kirkliston. Up the hill to Craigie's Farm, which always helps to build up an appetite and we were at our lunch stop. Some of the group headed to the café, whilst the remainder headed to the undercover picnic tables. It's usually busy as the pick-your-own area, but is not used at this time of year so was a great picnic area.

With everyone suitably replenished, we sped down Craigie Hill, and were soon on the path beside the A90 on our way to Cramond Brig. Following the obligatory pause on the bridge, we headed through Barnton and Silverknowes. On Silverknowes Drive a rider at the back of the group suffered a puncture. Although the group never leaves a rider in difficulty, they were insistent that they were happy to walk home - so the backmarker and writer headed off to Craigleith to re-join the group. We expected to take the familiar route back to town, but the leader had other ideas. To avoid the rugby crowds, he led us on a detour missing out Murrayfield. We left the Roseburn Path and took West Coates to Haymarket Terrace. There we had to contend with heavy traffic and crossing of tram tracks. All safely across, along Dalry Road, up Dalry Place, across the West Approach Road and we were soon back at Leamington Bridge. Having declared the ride officially over, we realised that one of the riders had a puncture. With the drizzle returning and watched over by a swan on the canal, many hands made light work to fix the puncture and get the rider back on the road.


Thanks to Alan for leading us on an interesting route and to Yaz for back marking. Everyone seemed to enjoy the ride, despite the weather. 


Leader: Alan

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn 

Monday 5 February 2024

February ride this coming Saturday

Now that the shortest winter days are behind us, we will be resuming our full-day rides this month, the next one being this coming Saturday, 10 February.

For this month's ride, Alan will be our leader. Our route will take in Gyle Park, West Craigs and Cammo Park, before reaching our lunch stop at Craigie's Farm. We'll then return to town via Cramond Brig and Craigleith.

We will be on quiet roads and bike paths most of the time, including a couple of short stretches that will probably be muddy. There will be a steep climb just before lunch, as well as a few more moderate hills during the morning. The total distance will be about 22 miles. 
More than half of that will be in the morning, so the lunch stop might be on the late side. The afternoon leg will be relatively short with some nice downhills.

Lunch stop

The cafe at Craigie's Farm offers a choice of sandwiches, salads and a soup of the day.
For those who prefer to bring a packed lunch, there are picnic tables, including some that are under cover.

Time and place

As always, we will meet at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure. We will aim to finish the ride around the middle of the afternoon. There is no need to let anyone know in advance whether you plan to join us.

Before setting out ...

... please give your bike a quick look-over to ensure that it is in good condition, especially if you haven't ridden for a while. Check that the tyres are properly inflated, that the brakes are working well and that the chain is well oiled. And please remember to bring a spare inner tube, plus whatever tools are needed to remove a wheel (if you don't have quick-release hubs). If you are in doubt about any of this, your favourite bike shop will be pleased to advise.

Saturday 13 January 2024

Five parks and back in time for lunch




For the second month in a row, today saw us take a shorter than usual half-day ride, finishing in time for lunch. The leader led us on a ride that took in some interesting bike routes in the south of the city, including no fewer than five parks. The five parks were Holyrood Park, Cavalry Park, Craigmillar Castle Park, Inch Park and Hermitage of Braid. Whilst it wasn't a warm day, it was milder than of late and it remained dry and sunny for the duration.

It's no doubt that the weather helped, but a turnout of eighteen riders in January was quite impressive. Following the leader's briefing, we headed off to Duddingston village through Holyrood Park. From there, Cavalry Park Drive and the path beside Duddingston golf course took us to Milton Road, down to the bus terminus at Bingham and onto the Innocent Railway heading back towards the city centre. Having crossed Duddingston Road West, we cut through Peffermill Industrial Estate and headed through Craigmillar Castle Park. Across the busy Old Dalkeith Road, and we were on the quiet road that skirts Inch Park. Across Gilmerton Road, down Double Hedges Road and we were waiting for the lights to change at the junction of Kirkbrae and Liberton Brae. After navigating past walkers, dog walkers and cars, Blackford Glen Road soon came to an end and we were on the Hermitage of Braid path beside the Braid Burn. The first section was busy with more walkers and dog walkers. It was also quite muddy, so we slowed right down, took it easy and the path widened which led to easier progress. Following a comfort stop near the visitor centre, we left the path behind and made our way back to the Meadows via the quiet back streets of Morningside.

At the Meadows the leader declared the ride officially over. A well deserved round of applause followed. Thanks to Alison for leading an interesting ride around five parks on a bright sunny day, and thanks to Yaz for back marking. For February, the plan is to be back to our normal length of ride to include a lunch stop.


Leader: Alison

Report: Glenn

Photos: Glenn

Monday 8 January 2024

January ride this coming Saturday

We've got our first ride of 2024 coming up on Saturday (13th). This will again be a half-day run, starting at 10:30 from our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, and finishing at or near the Meadows around 13:00.

Under Alison's leadership, the ride will take in some interesting bike routes in the south of the city, including no fewer than five parks. The total distance will be about 12 miles, with most of the route being traffic-free. There will be a few hills, none of them particularly difficult. There will also be a couple of short stretches which will be rough and possibly muddy, where we might need to dismount.

Because this is just a half-day ride, there will be no official lunch stop. There are plenty of cafés, coffee shops and pubs near the finish for those of you who would like to go for a post-ride snack or meal, but that won't be part of the official ride.

Looking ahead, we will be reverting to our usual full-day format from February. I'll post the details of the February run nearer the time.

Remember, there is no need to book in advance for any of our rides.