Come cycling with us. Explore Edinburgh's bike paths at an easy pace.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

A chilly, damp ride - and a change of plan

Today started very cold, with the temperature around zero and with icy patches on the roads. We had planned to go to Musselburgh, but a communiqué from our agent in that town told us that the paths there were particularly treacherous. After a hasty re-think we opted for a shorter ride within Edinburgh.

Under Alan Orr's leadership, 19 of us set out, cautiously pedalling through Polwarth and Dalry, and then to Ardmillan Terrace and Russell Road. We zig-zagged up to the Roseburn Path, and then headed north west on the familiar NCN 1. By the time we reached Cramond Brig, the thermometer had soared to 3C, and most of the ice had disappeared. So we pressed on, reaching Craigies Farm about 20 minutes later. The café at Craigies has been enlarged since our previous visit, so we had no difficulty finding tables for an early lunch.

 As we were finishing our soup and sandwiches, the rain started, so we headed straight back to town, arriving at Craigleith just before 2 pm. At that point, our leader declared the ride over.

Thanks to Alan for coming up with this route at short notice. As it happens, it was similar to the route we were planning for February. So we'll probably revert to Musselburgh next time - weather permitting, of course.

Leader: Alan
Report: Mike
Map: Jim
Photos: Michael and Mike

Monday, 4 January 2016

January ride this coming Saturday

We'll be having our first ride of 2016 this coming Saturday (9th). Glenn will be leading us on a tour of some of the lesser-known parts of Musselburgh, with a pub lunch in Whitecraig. It looks like an interesting route, with only a few moderate hills. But be prepared for one or two muddy paths, as well as a short stretch on a busy main road. The total distance will be 21 miles.

Our meeting time and place is the same as ever: 10.30, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride is planned to end at the Meadows well before dark, but you should bring lights anyway in case we get delayed.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas morning in the city

Nine and a half miles in a little over two hours is not exactly a reckless pace, even by 20-Milers standards. But our Christmas morning rides are meant to be sociable rather than speedy, with several sight-seeing and refreshment stops along the way. Today's event was no exception. Eleven riders turned up (including one Santa impersonator), on an overcast morning, with the Middle Meadow Walk thermometer-cum-bike-counter showing 6C.

Our first stop was the Castle esplanade, where we enjoyed fine views to the north and south (a dusting of snow was visible on the Pentland summits). We then had a rapid descent of Ramsay Lane (very steep) to Market Street and Waverley Bridge. Next came a double traverse of Princes Street – westward as far as Castle Street, then back the other way to Waterloo Place. There were a few buses and taxis around, as well as a couple of council cleansing vehicles, but almost no other traffic.

In Regent Road, we paused to look at the Stones of Scotland Monument (a circle of 32 stones, one from each of Scotland's local authorities, commemorating the rebirth of the Scottish Parliament). Then came the hard work of the day: the ascent of Calton Hill. At the summit, we lingered to take in the panoramic view. This was our main refreshment stop, with mulled wine, home-made mince pies and chocolate truffles all in evidence.

We left the hill by way of the path-cum-steps that goes down to Greenside Church. We then weaved through the back doubles to St Marks Park and the Water of Leith, then headed west via King George Park, Canonmills, Stockbridge and Dean Village. After the recent rains, the Water of Leith was unusually fast, and the path was muddier than usual.

At Roseburn, several members of the party went their separate ways. The remnants of the company headed back to town via Haymarket Terrace, West Maitland Street and Rutland Square. By the time we reached the Usher Hall, only three riders remained, so we declared the ride officially over. Judging by the feedback along the way, it was another successful event.

Leader, report, photos and map trace: Mike

Monday, 21 December 2015

Half-day ride this coming Friday

We've got our traditional Christmas morning ride this coming Friday (25th). You're very welcome to join us if you are free.

One of the advantages of cycling on Christmas Day is that the traffic is relatively light. We will take advantage of that to visit parts of the city centre where we might not otherwise cycle. I can't tell you our exact route just now, but it is likely to include the Castle, Princes Street, Calton Hill, and nearby districts. The total distance will be about ten miles.

Although we'll take the ride our usual relaxed pace, be warned that there will be a couple of steep climbs (including the aforementioned Calton Hill), a number of cobbled streets, and possibly one or two short flights of steps to negotiate.

Time and place

We'll leave at 10.30, from our usual meeting spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We'll return to the Meadows by 13.00 at the latest. Obviously, there will be no lunch stop, and nowhere to pick up a coffee en route, so you might want to bring a snack to keep the hunger pangs away.

Like all our runs, this one is "just turn up" - no need to book in advance. It's open to all, so feel free to bring your pals or family members.

For those who have better things to do on Christmas morning, our first ride in 2016 will be on 9th January.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

A meandering route to the Gallery of Modern Art

The final 20 Milers ride of 2015 saw us take a meandering route to the Gallery of Modern Art. This meant we had a longish morning ride, a later lunch and a short afternoon ride back to the finish. After some very wet weekends of late, the forecast suggested we were in for a rather chilly but mainly dry day. It was nice to welcome one new rider amongst the regulars as a total of 18 set off from the Meadows in one group. It was chilly and grey but dry as we made our way to the Innocent Railway via the new cycle track. From there the group made its way through the Magdalenes, across Milton Road and over the big bridge crossing Sir Harry Lauder Road. From the back streets of Portobello we made our way to the promenade. One rider commented on how lovely the view across to Fife was. Those of us not wearing tinted glasses wondered what she was talking about. It just looked dull and grey to us! We pressed on via Seafield to Restalrig. It was here that we were delayed by our only puncture of the day. Being delayed by a puncture is never much fun, especially on a cold grey day. The leader made the decision that the puncturee and two helpers would fix the problem whilst the rest of the group would make their way to Pilrig Park and wait there. Parking up in the deserted children's play park, the group enjoyed the cakes and mulled wine that magically appeared from rider's bags. The puncture repair party joined us. With everyone suitably replenished, we made our way to a comfort stop at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Through Inverleith Park, we went along Carrington Road and through Craigleith. At Craigleith Park we joined the Roseburn Path, climbed some steps and made our way to the Gallery of Modern Art for lunch. The cafe was surprisingly busy. But we split up and all managed to find a seat. Whilst enjoying our lunch, we glanced out of the window to see it raining heavily. We hoped it would be finished by the time we were ready to leave.

The rain had eased, but it was still a bit damp as we departed. Following the recent rain, the water was fast flowing and at quite a high level as we rode beside the Water of Leith. The familiar route through Roseburn, the Telfer subway, Fountainbridge and along the canal to Leamington Bridge took us back to our start point in the Meadows. After lunch various riders peeled off as they got close to home. So only six actually made it to the official finish.

Thanks to Mike for planning a ride that took such a long and meandering route to get us to our lunch stop. Yes, we could have got there much quicker in less miles - but that wasn't the point. A short run back to the finish was also appreciated on a cold and grey December afternoon.

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

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Heading towards winter via Mortonhall

Heading towards the end of another good year of cycling; the November 20 Milers ride saw us head to Mortonhall by a rather indirect route. On a day when heavy rain was forecast, a turnout of 19 was respectable. This meant we only needed one group. Fortunately the rain stayed off. Instead we had a grey, coolish and slightly windy day with a feeling that winter was on its way. The impressive new cycle track made getting away from the Meadows so much easier than it used to be. In next to no time we were heading down the Innocent Railway towards Niddrie, where we turned off and made our way through quiet residential streets. A new stretch of road allowed us to cut through and emerge on The Wisp. From there we made our way to Danderhall and through the lovely Drum Estate. The new cycle path that runs alongside the busy Lasswade Road was greatly appreciated. We continued through Burdiehouse Valley Park, along Captain's Road and Frogston Road East to the Mortonhall Garden Centre. This was our lunch stop. Half the group headed for the cafe in the garden centre, whilst the remainder made their way to the nearby Stables Bar.

Reconvening after lunch, we made our way on muddy tracks to Braid Hills Drive. Whilst not the quietest of roads, it caused us no problems and we were rewarded with views to Blackford Hill and beyond despite the gloom. As we arrived at Braid Hills Road, one of our regular riders suffered a puncture. Rather than hold up the group on a cold day, he left us to make his way home, which was nearby. Another member of the group also decided to head home at this point. The remaining riders made their way through Braidburn Valley Park, Colinton Mains Park and along Redford Road to Colinton. From there we joined NCN 75 and began heading back towards town. Through Colinton Tunnel and onwards to join the Union Canal Towpath, we made our way back to the Meadows on very familiar roads.

Thanks to Verity for leading us on an interesting ride. Cleverly mixed in with some very familiar sections were some less familiar and totally new ones.

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

Saturday, 10 October 2015

An Icelandic invasion of South Queensferry

The October 20 Milers ride saw the group head out to South Queensferry. The numbers being swelled by an Icelandic contingent. An impressive group of thirty riders gathered at the usual start point at the top of Middle Meadow Walk. One third of them were a group of riders from Iceland. Being in Edinburgh for a long weekend, they decided they wanted to explore the area by bicycle. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, they found our group, arranged bicycle hire and turned up raring to go. We split into two groups, with most of the Icelanders opting to go with the first group. Leaving the Meadows behind, we made our way on to the busy Bruntsfield Place for a short spell, before turning off and meandering through the quiet back streets of Merchiston. A loud bang that sounded like a gunshot turned out to be a puncture. Quickly fixed, the small group pressed on through Polwarth and caught the main group at the entrance to the Roseburn path. A familiar route for the regulars took us past Craigleith, through Barnton and on to a sweetie stop on Cramond Bridge. From there we rode through the beautiful Dalmeny Estate, which was lovely with the trees just beginning to turn to autumn colours. On past Dalmeny House, we came out of the estate to be greeted with a slightly misty view of the Forth Rail Bridge. It was impressive to those of us that have seen it many times. But to our Icelandic visitors it was breathtaking. From there a short run into the centre of South Queensferry brought us to our lunch stop. Our usual bike parking spot afforded us another wonderful view of the iconic bridge. Whilst some of the group made their way to various eateries; the remainder enjoyed the view as they tucked into their picnics. It was nice to still be picnicing in mid-October. But there may not be many more opportunities left this year.

By the time we headed off, it was beginning to feel somewhat cooler. Rather than take the short, sharp climb up the main road straight after lunch; the leader had us carry our bikes up a flight of steps and walk up an alley. The jury is still out on which is the best option. At the top, we cut through the Co-op car park to get onto the cycle path that would lead us back towards Edinburgh. We eventually emerged onto a cycle path running alongside the busy A8 near the airport. After a short distance, we wheeled our bikes up and over a footbridge across the A8. Whilst crossing the bridge, we were treated to the spectacle of the last flying Vulcan bomber in the world come towards us before banking steeply and roaring away into the distance. Amazing! We made our way past the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters and on into Edinburgh Park. A cycle path beside the tram track took us past the Jenners Depository building and on to Murrayfield. From there we made our way back to the Meadows via the Telfer subway, Fountainbridge, the canal and Bruntsfield.

Thanks to Jim for leading us on such a pleasant early autumn ride. The weather was typical of what could be expected at this time of year. Not overly warm, but still OK for picnicing. Our friends from Iceland seemed to have enjoyed the ride. Hopefully we showed them some areas that they would not have seen. The flypast by the Vulcan bomber was pure luck. But what a sight.

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