20th Anniversary Year

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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.