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Sunday, 17 September 2017

20-Milers Extra next Saturday

We've got one of our Extra rides coming up on Saturday (23rd).

Given that our group has been on the road for 13 years, it's inevitable that we often do the same rides many times. Today's run will be different: a completely new route that we have never before done as a group. What's more, it will take in some particularly attractive countryside with above-average scenery. It will essentially be a circuit of the eastern fringes of Midlothian, including Mayfield, the Tyne Water and Crichton Castle, with a pub lunch in Pathhead.

But be warned. The ride will be quite a bit longer and faster than most of our runs, and there will be a fair bit of climbing. Although we'll mainly be riding on quiet roads, there will be one short stretch on a busy main road, and another where we might have to walk along the pavement.

We'll meet at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh in time for a 10.30 start. The route is about 35 miles from Fisherrow back to Fisherrow, but if you are coming from central Edinburgh, you will need to add about 12 miles to the total. Depending on progress, you can expect to get back to Edinburgh between 4 and 5 pm.

As always, there's no need to let us know in advance whether or not you will make it for this ride. Just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

A few steps and lots of parks

Today's ride saw us head south-west to Colinton, followed by a big loop round to Leith and Craigentinny in the north-west. Our route took us through a number of Edinburgh's many parks, and saw us navigate several flights of steps.

A lower than expected 18 riders assembled at the start. Despite knowing a few of our regulars were
riding through to Glasgow for the following day's Pedal for Scotland; the weather was quite pleasant - so the relatively low turnout was a bit of a mystery. At least it meant we only needed one group and we did have a couple of new faces. We left the Meadows behind and threaded our way through the backstreets of Morningside and on through Braidburn Valley Park. On through Colinton Mains Park, Spylaw Park and bypassing Colinton village, we rode through the curved Colinton Tunnel. That tunnel so reminds the writer of a scene from the film "The Italian Job", that he now finds it impossible to ride through it without whistling, "We're all members of the self-preservation society". Each to their own! We followed NCN75 before joining the Union Canal towpath. A short run along the canal and we dismounted to walk across the Slateford Aqueduct. Once across, we negotiated the steep flight of steps down to the Water of Leith path. Past the cemetery and allotments, across Gorgie Road and into Saughton Park. Major works in the park resulted in a detour that brought us out on Stevenson Drive. A twiddle through the backstreets of Saughton took us past Murrayfield Stadium and into Roseburn Park. Across the busy Roseburn Terrace and another flight of steps got us back on the Water of Leith path. We left the path at the rear of the Britannia Hotel and climbed up to Belford Terrace. From there a short ride saw us arrive at the Gallery of Modern Art - our lunch stop. The cafe was the quietest many of us had ever seen it. We quickly got served and enjoyed lunch sitting in the garden making the most of the sunshine.

Lunch over, we made our way through Ravelston Dykes and the grounds of St George's School for Girls. Another flight of steps took us down to join the Blackhall Path. The Roseburn, Telford and Ferry Road Paths took us to The Shore at Leith via Victoria Park. From Leith Links we made our way through Lochend Park and through Restalrig to Craigentinny. Hidden away down Craigentinny Crescent, an unassuming suburban street is a most impressive mausoleum - the Craigentinny Marbles. Jim is the group's expert on its history. In his absence, David and Mike did a good job of telling the interesting story of the Craigentinny Marbles. From there, Fishwives Causeway, Mountcastle Drive North, Figgate Park and Durham Road took us back to the familiar Innocent Railway for our return to the Meadows. At lunchtime, one of the riders, new to both the group and Edinburgh had asked what the Innocent Tunnel was. So it was great for him to experience it first hand. Thanks to David for leading us on an interesting ride that despite never being too far from the city centre, showed the wide variety of what Edinburgh has to offer.

Leader: David
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: David

Monday, 4 September 2017

This month's ride this coming Saturday (9th September)

This month's ride will provide a chance to explore some interesting bike routes within the city. Under David's leadership, we will be heading first to Colinton in the south west, then taking a big loop all the way round to Lieth and Craigentinny in the north east.

The total distance will be approximately 20 miles. Much of the route will be on quiet roads and well-surfaced paths, although a few of the paths might be a little rough in places. There will be a couple of short sharp climbs, and also one or two short flights of steps to negotiate, but no other particular difficulties.

For lunch, we will be stopping at one of our more popular venues: the modern art gallery in Belford Road. The café there serves an excellent range of snacks and light meals. But be warned that it gets quite crowded at times. If you want to avoid a possibly long queue and a wait for a table, consider bringing a picnic instead. The gallery has plenty of picnic tables on its spacious terrace.

We'll meet at our usual place at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. Please get there in time for a 10.30 departure.

As always, the above details should be regarded as provisional. The meeting point and start time are definite, but we reserve the right to change the route and lunch venue according to circumstances.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Logan's ride

Five months and one day after our great friend passed away, today's Extra ride to Merryhatton was very much his ride. For the last few years, Logan always led this ride in late August; and being led by him, we always knew it would be good fun. Today's ride seemed to follow that formula. We had a strange moment during the briefing, a short history lesson and the re-enactment of a classic Logan moment. As if that wasn't enough, we were also blessed with lovely weather.

A respectable turn out of 19 riders assembled at Fisherrow for the start. Looking back towards Edinburgh there were rather grey and threatening looking skies. Looking the other way into East Lothian (the way we were going) and we saw welcoming blue skies. Time to head off and hope we could leave the grey skies behind. The leader climbed up onto a convenient wall and began his briefing. He was in full flow when a random member of the public appeared beside him and asked if he could photograph the bemused looking cyclists. He took the photo, thanked us and wandered off. How very strange! I'm sure that would have had Logan giggling. The leader recomposed himself, finished the briefing and we headed off towards the blue skies of East Lothian. Heading towards the race course, we paused briefly beside the large blue painted arrow beside the Air Cadets hut at Goose Green. The leader explained its role in training bomber crews during the second world war by guiding them towards target ships out in the Firth of Forth. History lesson over, we pressed on past the race course. A little further on, that dreaded shout went up, "puncture!". It was now warming up and the sun was shining; so having to wait for the puncture to be fixed was no hardship. It's a different story when it's sleeting horizontally and the group has to hang around! Puncture fixed, the unfortunate rider opted to take the road rather than continue on the rougher track. We were rolling again and all met up where we re-joined the road in Prestonpans. We took the coast road to Cockenzie where we detoured past the lovely harbours of Cockenzie and Port Seton. A comfort and sweetie stop followed before we rejoined the coast road. We stayed on that road until just before Gosford farm shop. A few years ago, Logan invested in a road bike (one of the first in the group to do so) and the writer ribbed him about riding a "girly" bike. As ever, he took that ribbing in good stead; always capable of giving as good as he got. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, the leader said, "those on "girly" bikes may want to take the road. Those on "proper" bikes can follow me along this wooded path". We reconvened in Aberlady and took a quiet back road to avoid the busy high street. Leaving Aberlady, those in the know realised we should have turned left, but the leader turned right, headed down to the entrance to a caravan site, turned in and stopped. This was the re-enactment of a classic Logan moment. On this ride two years ago, that is exactly what he did. The difference then being that he didn't stop; he just headed back the way he had come hoping no one had noticed his wrong slot! Back on the right route, we headed down the beautiful East Lothian lane that passes Myreton Motor Museum. A short stretch on the busy main road into Drem, turn right by the station, another quiet road and we were at Merryhatton Garden Centre - our lunch stop.

Following a pleasant lunch we set off again. Two riders that needed to be home quicker left us at this point. One rider had phoned home during the lunch stop and told us it had been raining heavily in Edinburgh. Hard to believe as we headed off past the Museum of Flight in bright sunny conditions. Onwards through the lovely village of Athelstaneford, past the Hopetoun monument and more deserted country lanes brought us to the level crossing west of Longniddry. In such lovely weather, no one minded having to wait for two trains to pass. Across the A198 dual carriageway, along the cycle path and down the hill back to the coast road. To avoid the main road, we retraced our steps from the morning to Cockenzie harbour. From there we took a less familiar route behind the site formerly occupied by Cockenzie power station. It's a nice route. But there are a few steps to contend with. But much worse was the large amount of broken glass strewn across the path. We were fortunate not to have our second puncture of the day. We re-joined the main road beside the Lidl store. One of the group had been unfortunate enough to be stung by a wasp a few miles earlier and wanted to buy some anti-histamine tablets. Fortunately, another member had some - so no need to head to Lidl. Back along the main road to Prestonpans where we re-joined the John Muir Way path. The morning's puncture victim opted to take the road route and met us further along. As we got closer to Musselburgh, the skies turned greyer and the temperature dropped a little. But fortunately, it stayed dry. Along the prom and we were back at Fisherrow harbour. Here the leader declared the ride over. It can be put down as a successful ride. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Only one puncture. Lovely weather, despite the heavy rain just a few miles to the west. The fact there was fun, laughter and everyone enjoyed themselves made it just the sort of tribute Logan deserved. There were a few riders on today's ride that had never met Logan. Hopefully they went away with an insight into what a great character and friend he had been to those who had been lucky enough to know him.

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

Cycling volunteers wanted for research study

Napier University has asked us to post some information about a research study they are undertaking, and which they are looking for healthy male volunteers to take part in. If this is of interest, please reply using the contact details shown below.

Hannah Lithgow, a PhD researcher in Exercise and Health Sciences at Edinburgh Napier University, is currently undertaking a research study in healthy males aged 18-75 years. The aim of the study is to investigate the effects of exercise on vitamin D metabolism. Vitamin D is linked to numerous health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many more. Exercise and physical activity have been linked to vitamin D status, and so in this study they are investigating whether a single bout of exercise could be a means to reduce the development of health conditions through vitamin D metabolism.

The study involves four visits to the Sport and Exercise Science facilities at Edinburgh Napier University at Sighthill. You will benefit from a full cardiorespiratory fitness assessment (called a VO2max test) and feedback on your vitamin D status.

If you are interested in taking part, or have any questions regarding the study, then please contact Hannah Lithgow by telephone (0131 455 5716) or email (h.lithgow[ATT]napier.ac.uk). 

 (Replace [ATT] by the usual @ sign.)

Monday, 21 August 2017

20-Milers Extra this Saturday

We've got another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (26th). This is a rather special event, as it will be in honour of our much-missed friend, Logan Strang, who passed away earlier this year. The ride, which will be to Merryhatton, was on of Logan's favourites and one that he led for us several times. In fact, it was the very last ride that he led, exactly one year ago this week.

The route

Our route on Saturday will be 45 - 50 miles. There will be some short stretches that might be busy with traffic, but there should be no other difficulties. Most of the route will be on quiet roads or well-surfaced paths, with only a few gentle hills.

Please keep in mind that these Extra rides are longer and faster than our usual "second Saturday" runs. We aim to maintain a slightly higher average speed - although not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation. Most of our riders find the pace comfortable, but if you haven't cycled for a while or are unsure of your abilities, you may prefer to give this ride a miss.

Lunch venue

Our lunch stop will the Merryhatton Garden Centre, where there is an above-average café serving a good range of light lunches (soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes, etc.) as well as more substantial meals. As always, you have the option of bringing food for a picnic lunch if you prefer.

Time and place

The ride will start from Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. Please aim to get there in time for a 10.30 departure. Fisherrow is about six miles from central Edinburgh. There are toilets available at the start point.

The ride is likely to finish between 4 and 5 pm.

Remember, you don't need to book in advance for this ride. Just turn up and enjoy what promises to be an excellent day's cycling

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Our first non-electric ride

Today's leader, Jim wanted to claim this as the 20 Milers first non-electric ride. That has nothing to do with there being no electric bikes on today's ride. Rides without any electric bikes present are the norm. No, this was our first ride where a power cut at our lunch stop almost resulted in the group going unfed. In the couple of hours before the start there was heavy rain. As the riders assembled at the meeting point, this had turned to light drizzle and it was dry by the time we rolled away from the Meadows. Considering the weather, the Festival being in full swing and it being the holiday season, a turnout of 26 riders was quite reasonable. A few new faces and a few that have only been a couple of times before were a welcome addition to the regulars. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the Festival behind, we headed off to the Innocent Railway path. At Duddingston Road West we cut through the industrial estate, crossed Peffermill Road and took the path through Craigmillar Castle Park. We had a stop where cakes and sweets were passed round, despite it seeming as if we hadn't travelled very far and us not being far from lunch. We skirted the Royal Infirmary, passed the new houses that are being built and emerged onto The Wisp. Fortunately this busy road has a shared use pavement / cycle path beside it. Through the quiet back streets of Danderhall, across Old Dalkeith Road and we were in the lovely Drum Estate. A short run down Gilmerton road and we were at our lunch stop, the pub opposite Dobbies. We seldom get to our lunch stop by 1200. This time it was a good job we did. Fortunately, everyone had been served and had almost finished eating when the pub was plunged into darkness due to a power cut. Had it happened sooner there could have been a near-riot as the 20 Milers have something of a reputation of cycling on their stomachs!

Although it wasn't sunny, stepping out from the darkness of the pub was quite a shock. We spent a short while squinting before heading off. We took the busy road into Dalkeith. This involved negotiating the Eskbank roundabout. It is small with numerous exits, many of them with poor views of approaching traffic. In the writer's opinion this would be a front runner in the prize for the worst roundabout in Scotland. Fortunately, we all got across without incident. We cut through a housing estate and entered woods via a time-consuming kissing gate. Obviously, no one expected 26 cyclists to pass through. Through the woods, a park and across a busy road. Due to the power cut, the pedestrian crossing was out of action. So crossing the road took a little longer. But as we had arrived at lunch early and felt no need to linger with the pub in darkness, we expected to be early returning to town. Through another park, across another out of action crossing and we were sweeping past Dalkeith High School onwards to Whitecraig. From Whitecraig we took the path towards Musselburgh, cutting off to the railway station and on past Queen Margaret University to Newcraighall. From there we joined the path that took us back to the Innocent Railway for our run back into town. Middle Meadow Walk was heaving with pedestrians. There seemed to be as many walking on the cycle path as on the part reserved for them. Oh yes, it's Festival time! The next time a ride starts from Middle Meadow Walk (our Extra ride on 26th August starts from Fisherrow Harbour), the Festival will be over.
Thanks to Jim for leading us on a pleasant ride. Thanks to the weather for drying up after a wet start to the day, and thanks to the power cut coming after we had all got our lunch.

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