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

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