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

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Four seasons in one day in north Edinburgh

Any hopes of a record turnout for the first 20 Milers ride of 2015 seemed to have been dashed by the previous night's strong winds and heavy rain. The forecast for more strong winds and the possibility of snow was not appealing. After an unpromising start, we managed to muster a total of 20, including several new faces

Before we had reached the canal at Leamington Bridge, the group had been buffeted by several strong gusts of wind, one of which blew a rider clean off her bike, fortunately without injury. The weather settled down for a while. Having crossed the tram tracks at Haymarket without incident, we stopped to regroup. At this point the sky went very dark and we were battered by a heavy shower of stinging sleet as we made our way towards the Roseburn Path and on to Silverknowes.

By the time we reached Silverknowes Esplanade the sun was shining down from a cloudless blue sky. This had all the makings of a typical Edinburgh four seasons in one day type of day, except it never got warm. The group had gradually become more and more spread out.

There were now two groups. We had already decided to abandon plans to go along the Western Harbour Breakwater near Newhaven Harbour as it was very exposed and we didn't fancy getting blown into the Forth. The first group stuck quite rigidly to the agreed route. But they were forced to take a diversion due to a path closure. This led them across a wet and slippery wooden boardwalk which resulted in a faller; fortunately without injury. The second group were somewhat lax in sticking to the agreed route and managed to arrive at the lunch stop in Leith first. We split between two venues for lunch.

Suitably warmed and fed, the two groups became one again as we headed back towards town via Portobello, the Magdalenes and the Innocent Railway. The skies became very grey and we finished the ride through sleety snow. Our only respite from it being our ride through the Innocent Tunnel.

Thanks to Mike for leading us on an interesting first ride of 2015; one which could so easily have fallen victim to the weather. Although the weather was far from ideal, it was considerably better than the forecast had suggested.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Trace: Jim

Friday, 9 January 2015

Andy Hunter, 1954 - 2015

I am sorry to report that one of our long-standing members, Andy Hunter, has died at the age of 60.

Andy was a well-known member of the Edinburgh cycling community. He often led our 20-Milers rides, the most recent one being just last month, when he took us on a tour of south Edinburgh, serving mulled wine at the rest stops.

He was an active member of Spokes, and had recently started leading rides for Ageing Well. He organised an annual bike ride for his church, and feeder rides for Pedal on Parliament. As the founder of Storybikes, he combined his love of cycling with his role as a professional story teller, organising cycling tours of Scotland for visitors from around the world. His story-telling reached audiences on BBC radio, at the Edinburgh Book Festival, and at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

I don't have much information about the circumstances of Andy's death. According to a report in the Herald, Andy was in England at the time, cycling to a friend's funeral in Herefordshire. His body was found alongside his bike at the side of the road in the village of Michaelchurch Escley. I understand there were no other vehicles involved and no suspicious circumstances. A post-mortem was carried out, and this showed that he died of a heart attack.

There will be a funeral service for Andy on 23rd January at 11am in Polwarth Parish Church, then at Mortonhall Cemetery.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

First ride of 2015 this coming Saturday

For Saturday's ride, we'll be heading north to Silverknowes, then following the waterfront towards Portobello, visiting the harbours at Granton, Newhaven and Leith along the way. The total distance will be about 21 miles. Most of the route will be on tarmac, and it will include a couple of stretches on main roads that might be busy with traffic. There'll be a few moderate hills.

For lunch, we'll stop at the Shore in Leith, where there are several cafés to choose from, plus benches for those of us who prefer to bring a picnic.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to leave at 10.30. The ride is planned to finish at the Meadows between about 15.00 and 16.00. Sunset is at 16.05 that day, so you will probably need lights to see you home.

As always, the above route information should be regarded as provisional. On all our rides, we might change the route or destination (but not the meeting place or time) at the last minute, according to the weather or other factors.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

And Santa came too

The 20 Milers annual Christmas Day short ride continues to go from strength to strength. No doubt helped by favourable weather and no sign of the forecasted frost; 25 riders turned up at the start. Michael arrived dressed as Santa which was a great hit with children and adults alike along the route. Usually we would have split into two groups. But as leader Mike was the only one that really knew the route (and because he was making some of it up as he went along) we remained as one group with a leader, mid-marker and back marker. We set off and made our first stop to admire the view from the Castle Esplanade which was crowded with tourists. We made our way round the back of the Usher Hall, across Lothian Road, behind the Sheraton Hotel and beside the canal to Leamington Bridge.

We meandered around quiet backstreets and paths to make our first of two visits to Dean Village. From there we made our way to Princes Street where we had an unfortunate "rider down" incident on the wet and slippery tram tracks. Our mid-marker picked himself up with fortunately nothing more than bumps and bruises. As he sits writing this report in the evening, he feels a bit sore but doesn't expect any lasting damage. Damned tram tracks!

We carried on and climbed up Calton Hill to be met by bright sunshine, glorious views over Edinburgh and throngs of tourists. This was also our refreshment stop. As is now the norm on these Christmas Day rides; many riders had brought cake, sweets, hot drinks, mince pies and mulled wine to sustain us for the remainder of the ride.

As we walked down the steps off Calton Hill the first riders began to head home. Others peeled off as they got close to home. With the numbers depleting we headed back to Stockbridge via McDonald Road, St Marks Park and Dean Village again.

Another successful Christmas Day ride came to an end with us all heading home. Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting and enjoyable ride. Thanks to those that kept us sustained with Christmas food and drink. It was good to see so many new faces; many of whom we hope will join us on our monthly rides next year. Was also good to see a number of regular CTC riders join us.

Leader: Mike
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn, Mike and Yaz

Friday, 19 December 2014

Half-day ride planned for Christmas morning

We've got a ride planned for the morning of 25th December (Christmas day). This will be a short run, taken at our usual easy, sociable pace.

One of the nice things about Christmas day in Edinburgh is that the city is relatively free of traffic. We'll take advantage of that to visit parts of the city centre that we might prefer to avoid at other times.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10.30 start. The ride will finish no later than 13.00, in or near the West End. Note that there will be no café or lunch stop.

For those who can't make it on Thursday, our next normal monthly ride will be on 10th January.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Ice and easy does it

Following a week which gave us the worst weather so far this winter and the threat of icy conditions under-wheel, it wasn't surprising that only 13 riders turned up at the start of today's ride. Several of our regulars decided not to risk it. Maybe the memory of the ill-fated January ride that had to be curtailed due to lethal black ice was still fresh in their memories.

For the first time in a while there was no need to split into two groups as we headed towards the Innocent Railway via the path across the Meadows which was freshly gritted. We went through Craigmillar Castle Park where the mud wasn't too bad due to the frozen ground. On past the Royal Infirmary, through Moredun and into Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park. At this point we stopped for our customary sweetie stop. Upping the stakes from the usual passing round of Jelly Babies, Andy opened a flask and passed round a quaiche of mulled wine which was greatly appreciated on such a cold day. Our sweetie stops may have changed forever! The conditions under-wheel were now quite treacherous with sheet ice often stretching across the width of the path. The only consolation being that we could actually see the ice; therefore much better than the black variety. Crossing a particularly dodgy bit, one rider was heard to say, "I want my mum!" Brave souls these 20 Milers! We made it safely to our lunch stop where the group split between the Mortonhall Garden Centre cafe and the Stables Bar.
With everyone fed, watered and warmed up, disaster struck! One of our group had securely locked his bike only to realise that the key was still at home. As several members of the group set about breaking the lock, others stood around getting cold whilst some were less than helpful asking "does anyone have a hand grenade?" Just as it looked as if the rider and his bike may have to be abandoned, the skilful wielding of a large rock solved the problem. More trying to ride on treacherous ice covered paths / walking followed as we made our way to Braid Hills. From there we rode back into town via the Astley Ainsley Hospital, mainly on ice-free roads. Prior to finishing the ride, Andy gave us a brief history lesson about the Edinburgh Hospital and Dispensary for Women and Children which used to stand on Whitehouse Loan. We may have had a few hairy moments, but we did get back safely with no injuries or fallers.

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

Thursday, 11 December 2014

December Rides

For our usual monthly ride this coming Saturday (13th), Andy will be leading us on what looks like an interesting tour of bike paths in the south of the city. In deference to the short days, this ride will be slightly less than our usual 20 miles, and should present no difficulties. Our lunch stop will be at Mortonhall.

We'll meet, as always, at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure. Keep in mind that it gets dark around 4 pm, so you'll almost certainly need to bring lights. The weather forecast looks cold and damp or snowy, so bring warm layers and a spare set of gloves. If the ground is icy then we may need to shorten or call off the ride.

Extra Bonus Christmas Day ride!
Our second outing this month will be our traditional Christmas morning run. This will be a short ride, mainly around the city centre, finishing no later than 1 pm. More details nearer the time.