EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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Saturday, 11 March 2017

A March meander to Riccarton


We had an excellent turnout for today's ride to Riccarton (I counted 28 but there might have been more), so leader Michael (Law) wisely decided to split us into two groups. Actually, it turned out to be three groups, but that was by accident rather than design; more about that in a moment.

Michael's group set out confidently and made it to the lunch venue without mishap. But before the second party was able to depart, that oh-so-familiar cry was heard: puncture! A couple of willing hands helped fix the problem, and before long the second group was on its way as well.

The unexpected closure of the canal towpath near Viewforth had forced us to make a hasty adjustment to our itinerary. Because of some uncertainty over the new route, the leadership of the second group was something of a joint effort involving Verity and myself. We were scarcely off the Meadows before we noticed that three members of the party were missing, including the backmarker and his deputy. (Was it not Oscar Wilde who said, "To lose one backmarker may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness." Well, maybe not.)

Rightly or wrongly, we made a decision to carry on without the three absentees. So we proceeded on our revised route down Whitehouse Loan, up Woodehouse Terrace and Braid Road to the Comiston Road traffic lights, and then into Braidburn Valley Park. There had been light drizzle at the start of the ride, but this was now giving way to clearer skies, giving us fine views of the Pentland Hills.

We followed the path beside the Braid Burn to Redford Road, then freewheeled down into Colinton, where we paused for a comfort break. Our route then took us up Woodhall Road, down West Mill Road and onto the Water of Leith path. A couple of miles later, we turned off the path and headed through Currie and into the back gate of the Heriot-Watt campus.

And so we reached our lunch venue, which was the spacious canteen in the university's main building. Considering the place is usually deserted on Saturdays, they offer a surprisingly good range of meals and snacks. As always the staff served us cheerfully and efficiently.

Michael's party had arrived about ten minutes before us, and left about ten minutes before our own departure. Just as we were getting ready to leave, who should arrive but the three riders that we had lost on the Meadows. It turned out that the person who had had the puncture at the start of the run had suffered the same fate again almost immediately afterwards. With no further inner tubes available, and with all attempts at patching the existing tube proving unsuccessful, the puncturee and the two helpers/backmarkers headed for the Edinburgh Bike Co-op for a new tube. The problem thus solved, the three made record time catching us up. But we had no desire to hang around while they gobbled their belated lunch, so we again set out without them.

For the return leg of the ride, we took a slightly devious route out of the campus (to avoid a running race which was taking place that afternoon). Then, after crossing the main Calder Road, we headed along Gogar Station Road and into Edinburgh Park, past the Gyle shopping centre and South Gyle station, and then along the familiar route through Corstorphine, Balgreen, Roseburn, and so back to the Meadows. The first group had made it back a few minutes before us. The three riders in the third group, having finished their hasty lunch at the campus, had made a bee-line back to town on the canal towpath, and arrived not long after the rest of us. Thus re-united, members of all three groups partook of refreshments while sitting in the warm sunshine outside Peter's Yard café.

Leaders and backmarkers: Jim, Glenn, Michael, Mike, Neil, Verity, in various combinations
Report and photo: Mike
Map (showing third group's route): Jim


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

March 20-Milers - plus more rides


Now that the worst of the winter is behind us (let's hope), this would be a good time to think about forthcoming bike rides. This post contains news of a few events you might be interested in. I hope you'll be able to make at least some of them.


March 20-Milers this coming Saturday


For this month's run (on 11th), Michael will be leading us out to the west of the city, mainly on quiet roads and sheltered paths. It won't be a long run, nor a particularly demanding one, apart from a couple of gentle hills. If you haven't cycled for a while, this would be a good way to ease yourself back into the saddle.

We'll meet as usual at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure. Our lunch stop will be in the canteen at Heriot-Watt in Riccarton. This is a very spacious eatery, serving a reasonable selection of sandwiches and hot snacks. For those of us who prefer to bring our own food, there is plenty of room to eat it, both inside and outside the building.

As always, please treat the above information as provisional. The starting place and time may be regarded as definite, but we sometimes have to vary the route or choose a different lunch venue, depending on various factors.


Fancy-dress bike ride (2nd April)


Jenny Tizard is organising this fun event to raise funds for a local charity called Bikes for Refugees. Their aim is to provide refugees and asylum seekers with old or refurbished bikes. Personally, I think this is a very worthwhile cause, partly because it helps a vulnerable group of people at a time of crisis in their lives; and partly because it gets people cycling who might not otherwise be able to do so.

The plan is for us all to decorate our bikes and/or ourselves to make the ride as eye-catching as possible. The route will be quite short, and all are welcome. If you absolutely can't manage a fancy dress, just a couple of balloons will suffice. And if even that's not possible, come anyway to show your support.

For further information, see this page (which also has contact details):
https://www.facebook.com/events/585371101654809/


Pedal on Parliament (22nd April)

I don't have any more information yet about this event, but you might like to note the date.


20-Milers weekend  (20th - 21st May)


This will be our fourth cycling weekend. The destination hasn't been confirmed yet, but you can at least save the date. The formula will be the same as in past years: we will set out from Edinburgh on the Saturday morning, returning late Sunday afternoon. Riders will be responsible for booking their own accommodation, with the group meeting up for a restaurant or pub meal on the Saturday evening.

Look out for a circular from Glenn with full details later in the month.


St. Andrews ride (17th June)


The date has now been fixed for this popular event. And for the first time in several years, the organisers have managed to avoid a clash with our own monthly run. If you have never tried it, do give it a go. It's a challenging ride, but a very enjoyable one.

Full details can be found here: http://www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk/lepra-ride.htm


Mellow Velo, Spokes and CTC


Many of our members ride regularly with one or other of these Edinburgh-based groups. Between them, they have a ride almost every weekend. Spokes go out on the first Sunday of the month; their rides are usually faster and longer than ours, with a long pub or restaurant stop for lunch. CTC have rides of varying lengths at different times of the month.

Mellow Velo specialise in weekends away, but they also have a few day rides coming up. These include an East Lothian run on 18th March and a ride to the Vale of Leven on 8th April. Their first weekend ride of 2017 will be to Callander on 6th to 7th May.

Full details of all the above rides can be found on my own website: www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk.

That's all for now. As you can see, there are a lot of events to choose from. I hope I'll see you on some of them.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Fancy Dress Bike Ride - 2nd April


Jenny Tizard has sent us this message:

I am writing to let you know about a special bike ride that I am organising for Sunday 2nd April.

The event is a fancy-dress ride. We will be riding around the centre of Edinburgh, with bikes and/or riders decorated in the most eye-catching way possible - and with prizes for the best.

The ride is in aid of a local charity which I am involved with. It is called Bikes for Refugees. We accept donations of old or damaged bikes, which we refurbish and pass on to refugees and asylum seekers. In this way we are helping a very vulnerable group of people at a time of crisis in their lives - not to mention keeping old bikes out of landfills.

The ride is free but we will be collecting donations for the charity. Any money raised will be used to pay for the repair and storage of bikes, as well as for essential safety equipment such as helmets and lights. All contributions will be very welcome.

Time and place: Gather from 10.30 am, at the usual 20-Milers meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will set out at 11 am and last about 45 minutes.

Route: Grassmarket, Princes Street, St Andrews Square, Royal Mile, Chamber Street, and then back to the Meadows.

Afterwards: At the end of the ride there will be prize-giving and a chance to find out more about the Bikes for Refugees project. You can also talk to some Syrian refugees now living in Edinburgh who have got bikes through the project.

Booking: There's no need to book in advance. Just turn up on the day, with your bike and fancy dress. (If you haven't got a bike, come anyway as a spectator.)

More information: See the event's Facebook page or email me at jennytizard[AT]gmail.com (replace [AT] with the usual @-sign).

I hope to see you on the day.

Jenny

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The dirty dozen ride to Roslin


Today's ride to Roslin was never likely to be cancelled due to the weather, despite a forecast promising heavy rain all day. But with that in mind, previous heavy rain and some muddy paths to contend with, anyone that had previously cleaned their bike must have wondered why they had bothered. It was also very cold, but fortunately not icy. The weather obviously had a big impact. Only 12 riders made the start, all of them hardened regulars. It's been a very long time since we had such a low turn out. No need to worry about two groups or any indepth briefing. We headed off towards the Innocent Tunnel. One rider was heard to say, "I'm wearing every item of clothing I possess". At Duddingston Road West, we cut through Kings Haugh to Peffermill Road. Once across, we took the path through Craigmillar Castle Park and encountered the first mud of the day before emerging beside the Royal Infirmary. We crossed the busy Old Dalkeith Road, pausing to allow an ambulance into the hospital and headed into Moredun. A road closure in the estate diverted us from our usual route. But we were soon back on course and heading for the cycle track that would take us all the way to Roslin. A mixture of mud and slushy snow made the path quite slippery. But a drama-free ride took us to our lunch stop in Roslin. It was lovely to be inside the warm pub eating hot food on such a cold day. Some even shed layers of clothing as they warmed up.

All nice and warm, that inevitable shock hit us on stepping back out into the cold. Despite a few grumbles and someone saying, "I'd rather have an afternoon nap", we were soon rolling again. As we set off, a small boy was heard to say to his mum, "look, an old man on a bike". Oh, from the mouths of babes! Consternation followed as the group tried to determine who he had been referring to! We headed back the way we had come. But we left the path and took the old route via Straiton pond. This stretch was the muddiest of the day and brought us out at Straiton Retail Park. Paths beside busy main roads took us to Burdiehouse, where we joined Burdiehouse Road. From there we headed back towards town via Howden Hall Road, Liberton Gardens, Liberton Road and Craigmillar Park. On Mayfield Gardens we were hit by a gust of wind so strong that it almost stopped us in our tracks. We recovered from that and made our way back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over. At just under 20 miles, this had been a shorter ride. But given the weather and mud, no one seemed to mind. Whilst the weather was far from pleasant, it was far from the worst we have endured and was not as bad as forecasted. Thanks to Jim for leading us on an interesting and less familiar route to and from Roslin. Thanks also to Verity on her maiden outing as backmarker. A role she seemed to relish. Something of a natural; we expect to see her bringing up the rear again soon.

Leader: Jim
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Map trace: Jim



Monday, 6 February 2017

20-Milers to Roslin this coming Saturday


This month's 20-Milers ride will take place this coming Saturday (11th). Jim will be leading us out to Roslin. The route is just about 20 miles, with no particular difficulties except for a couple of short stretches on main roads. As always, we'll meet at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10.30 departure.

For lunch, there is a choice between a pub and a café, both in the centre of the village. There is also a nice picnic spot a short distance away for those who prefer to bring their own food.

I hope you can make it. Remember, you don't need to let anyone know that you are coming. Just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Back to Basics in Musselburgh


Today's ride was something of a one-off. Referred to as a Back to Basics ride; it came about to address comments raised by a number of regular riders that some of our rides were becoming too long, too fast and too arduous. The ethos of the 20 Milers has always been, "most rides are around 20 miles, and are taken at a "sociable" pace (8 - 9 mph over the day, which is not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation). For whatever reasons, we were concerned that this ethos was coming under threat - hence the need for today's ride.

The temperature was just above freezing, but it was bright and sunny as the riders began to assemble. Despite the temperature, there were no icy patches on any of the roads or paths to catch anyone out. We ended up with a roll call of 18. In amongst the regular faces were several riders we hadn't seen for a while and two on their maiden outing with the group. Following the obligatory leader's briefing (where the reason for this additional ride was explained), we headed off towards Musselburgh in one group. We took the tried-and-tested route along the cycle path to the Innocent Tunnel. We whizzed through the tunnel which felt exceptionally cold today. Despite one of the group being convinced that Death eaters live in the tunnel, we didn't see any. Perhaps someone had watched too many Harry Potter films over Christmas! We followed the Innocent Railway path as far as the Range (formerly Big W), where we stopped in the car park as cakes and sweets were passed around by some of the group. Full of cake and sweets, we headed off. Major road woks on Milton Road meant the cycle path was narrower than usual. But the group negotiated it without any problem. At least it was open, unlike the main road to Musselburgh. Through the housing estate, which seemed very busy with traffic and back on the cycle path to Newcraighall. We faced further heavy traffic heading towards Fort Kinnaird. It was nice to turn off into a quiet back street and join the path to Musselburgh station. A path we had to ourselves. A brief stop beside the station to regroup before heading through another housing estate. On reaching the main road, a few of us were confused when a car already on the roundabout stopped to wave the 18 cyclists across. Whilst very kind of the driver, such actions often lead to confusion due to being so unexpected. From there we made our way onto the delightful path beside the River Esk, known locally as the Grove. This brought us out beside Tesco. A further short stretch of busy road, and we took to the path, ducked our heads and nipped under Musselburgh's main road bridge. A ride down the cobbles of Mill Hill, along Kerrs Wynd and we emerged at the bottom end of the High Street. We made use of the new bike racks and headed off for lunch. A few went elsewhere, but most of the group headed to the Cafe on the Corner. Both the service and food were exceptional. Having received such a warm welcome, that is somewhere we will definitely return to.

Lunch over; we reconvened at the bike racks. One rider had a problem with his lock. Fortunately it was soon resolved and we headed off. Except for two at the back. One rider suffered a mechanical issue and had to stop and fix it. As ever, the back marker stayed with the stricken rider. The tools came out, adjustments were made and the two were rolling again. The remainder of the group realised they were two short, so stopped and waited. After a few minutes, two riders were sent back to see what the problem was; arriving just as the two set off again. A very effective demonstration that no one ever gets left behind on our rides. If only all cycling groups took that attitude! All together again, we took the prom as far as Fisherrow Harbour. From there we took the main road to Joppa. The group streamed onto Portobello prom only to be confronted with a "Cyclists Dismount" sign and a severely restricted width of prom due to the laying of new gas mains. Muttering something about, "it wasn't like this when I recce'ed the route two weeks ago", the leader was forced to turn round and took us back to the main road. We weren't on it long before we turned left and made our way over the bridge crossing Sir Harry Lauder Road and the railway yards. Rather than take the road up to Milton Road, we were able to make use of the excellent new cycle path that now exists courtesy of the new Portobello High School. Across Milton Road, through the Magdalenes and we were back on the Innocent Railway. A trouble free run saw us return to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride officially over. Well done to Jim for doing a great job of leading the first Back to Basics ride. At just over 17 miles, it was shorter than usual. Feedback suggests it was a great success. The pace was right. It wasn't too hard and the distance was right. There is a possibility there will be another of these rides as spring approaches. Details will be on the website. The usual 20 Milers rides will continue on the second Saturday of each month as before, and there will be the usual series of 20 Milers Extra rides during the summer.

Leader: Jim
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim



Tuesday, 17 January 2017

"Basics" ride this coming Saturday


We've got an additional ride this coming Saturday (21st) - something of a new venture for the group.

If you haven't done much cycling this winter, or if you are feeling below your normal fitness level, this ride is for you. It will go a little slower than on our normal runs; take slightly longer breaks; and try especially hard to avoid nasty hills.

The route hasn't been finalised yet, but it's likely we'll be heading to Musselburgh. The distance will be approximately 18 miles.

The ride starts at 10.30, from our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We should be back in town by early- to mid-afternoon. As always, the ride is free, with no need to book in advance: just turn up on the day.

Thanks to Jim for his initiative in organising this ride. Depending on your feedback, it might become a regular item on our calendar.

Final point: the ride is open to all. Even if you have been cycling all winter, and you are above your normal fitness level, you will still be welcome to join us - provided you are happy with the slower pace.