EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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Saturday, 14 April 2018

Has spring finally sprung?


The route for today's ride started as an attempt to circumnavigate Edinburgh Airport by the shortest route. Whilst recceing the route, we made a few changes and tweaks such that it should perhaps best be described as a ride to Kirkliston.

We were blessed with spring-like weather. Being warm and dry on the bike was something we hadn't experienced in many a long month. A turnout of twenty riders was reasonable; a few of them just returning after a winter lay off. Following the customary leader's briefing, we headed off towards Bruntsfield Links and to Leamington Bridge where we joined the canal. We stayed beside the canal passing Polwarth, Slateford, Kingsknowe, Wester Hailes and crossed the City Bypass. We had just begun to walk across the Slateford Aqueduct when the leader stopped and told those behind him to back up off the aqueduct. A pram was heading towards us that was almost as wide as the path. There was no way the group and pram could have passed eachother. The group ventured onto the aqueduct again. Very shortly, we were squeezed up against the railings letting a suicide pilot cyclist ride past us. No idea how he avoided ending up in the canal. We had to stop several more times to let pedestrians pass. It was the busiest most of us had ever seen that stretch. We left the canal at Hermiston. This was our first sweetie stop of the day on the bridge over the canal. From there, quiet back roads took us to Ratho where we regrouped. Onwards to Ratho Station. Although there is no longer a station there; a delightful little cut-through for pedestrians and cyclists took us across the railway and down towards the busy A8. The footbridge with steps is far-from-ideal; but much better than the alternative of dashing across four lanes of fast moving traffic! The path beside the A8 took us to Newbridge, one of the busiest roundabouts in Scotland. We soon left the traffic noise behind as we headed onto the path that follows the route of the old railway, and found ourselves in the countryside. A lovely route, but better in summer. Today it was rather muddy in places. The leader missed the point where we should have left the path. But he quickly realised his mistake, meaning only a couple of riders had to turn round before heading up the slope to the road. Once on the road, it took but a couple of minutes to arrive at the Conifox Garden Centre for our lunch stop.

With the group fed and watered, we headed off on a quiet road past the airport radar installation. We then joined a busier road that took us to the Burnshot Bridge. Road closures and diversions remain in place; but there is a lovely new wide and well surfaced path for cyclists. Through the underpass, across the road and we were back on the familiar path beside the A90 heading for Cramond Brig, where we enjoyed our second sweetie stop of the day. We were now back on familiar paths heading back towards town via Barnton, Silverknowes, Craigleith and the Roseburn path. At Fountainpark, we took a minor detour to see the newly opened Boroughmuir High School. Riding down the quiet road beside Leamington Bridge, the lead rider was confronted by a pedestrian walking up the middle of the road looking at his phone and oblivious to all around him. "Watch where you're walking" called out the lead rider. "Watch where you're cycling!" snapped back the pedestrian. Some people really should not be allowed out on their own!

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. We visited places that were new to many; and of course, how nice it was to have some warm and dry weather. Please let this be the start of some decent weather. It really did feel as if winter would never come to an end.

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Monday, 9 April 2018

20-Milers ride this coming Saturday


We've got our April ride this Saturday (14th). I hope you'll be able to make it.

Glenn will be leading us on an interesting circuit to the west of the city. We'll start out on the canal towpath as far as Hermiston House, then take back roads and bike paths to Ratho Station and Kirkliston. After lunch, we'll head back to town by the Carlowrie Road and NCN 1.

The total distance will be about 23 miles. There will be one steep hill and a few gentle ones. Most of the route will be on firm surfaces except for about a mile on a narrow path which might be muddy.

Our lunch stop will be at a venue which we haven't visited before as a group: the Conifox Garden Centre near Kirkliston. They have a restaurant with an extensive menu, as well as a large picnic area for those who prefer to bring their own food.

The meeting time and place are the same as ever: 10:30 at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk.

Looking ahead

This year's Pedal on Parliament takes place on the 28th of this month (see www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk for details). I don't yet know if we will be organising a 20-Milers contingent to take part. If we do, I'll post details here.

And on 5th May, we've got our first Extra of the season. These are longer rides which go a little faster than our normal runs. For this first one, we'll be heading to Blackness Castle. I'll post more details here nearer the time.

Finally, Jim will be starting his season of summer evening rides quite soon. Again, I'll post more details as they become available.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

The falls ride


The key word for today's ride was "falls". Firstly, the rain never stopped falling. We had two riders
fall in the slippery conditions and lunch was taken at the appropriately named, "Cramond Falls Cafe".

Last Saturday, lying snow kept most riders off their bikes. Yesterday had been a lovely sunny day giving the impression that perhaps spring wasn't too far off. Unfortunately, this morning we awoke to heavy rain that was to continue all day. We had a new leader and she must have wondered if anyone was going to turn up. We eventually mustered eleven riders, which was quite good given the conditions. Following a detailed briefing where the group was made aware of the pre-arranged muster points, Jenny led us towards the Innocent Tunnel. But instead of going through the tunnel, we made our way into Holyrood Park and down Queen's Drive. At St Margaret's Loch, we climbed the steep hill up to Dunsapie Loch. On this stretch we had to pull to the side to let a paramedic vehicle on a "shout" pass. Having circled Arthur's Seat, we returned to the point at which we had entered the park and headed to Duddingston village. Duddingston Road west took us to the gate leading into Figgate Park. We paused at Figgate Pond where cakes and sweets were passed round. Everyone was so wet that even if we'd gone for a swim in the pond, it's doubtful we would have come out much wetter! We left the park and headed down Brighton Place. Just beyond the railway bridge, we turned right onto the Christian Path. This delightful little path was new to most of us, even those that thought they knew Portobello well. We crossed Portobello High Street and took quiet back roads to the Portobello Swim Centre. Using the side of the building to try and shelter from the rain, we had another sweetie stop.
We still had a fair way to go to lunch and it's more important than ever to keep up morale on such a soggy day. One of the few benefits of  the weather was there were very few walkers, children or dogs to contend with on the prom. An easy ride alongside the choppy Forth took us to Seafield and on to Leith Links. A combination of wet road, muddy gutter and hard to see kerb resulted in a nasty fall for one of the group. At first it looked serious enough to have to call an ambulance. Fortunately that was not the case. A sore arm and hip and one badly shaken rider was the outcome. Having regained their composure, they were able to continue and finish the ride. They will probably be feeling quite sore by the time you read this. Down to The Shore, we headed towards Ocean Terminal. Around Victoria Quay in an area used for car parking are some disused tram lines. It was one of these that caught out another rider who hit the deck. No injury this time. But wet cobbles, standing water and disused tram lines was never going to be a good mix. We continued past Newhaven Harbour, along Lower Granton Road and paused briefly beside the Granton Gasometer. From there we made our way to Silverknowes Esplanade, which we sped along to the Cramond Falls Cafe for lunch. It was lovely to be in the warmth and out of the rain eating hot food.

All too soon it was time to venture back out into the rain. There were the inevitable moans that come
when wet clothes and gloves have to be put back on. At least it wouldn't take long to get back to town; most of the mileage had been covered before lunch. As so often seems to be the case straight after lunch (even on nice days), we had a stiff little climb up School Brae to contend with. The climb over, we had a stretch on the flat followed by a downhill. We were then on familiar territory. Through Barnton, paths took us back to Craighleith and onto the Roseburn Path, down the zig-zags, through the Telfer subway and along the canal to Leamington Bridge. Here the leader declared the ride over. Thanks to Jenny for leading an interesting ride and managing to keep our spirits up on such a miserable day. Next time she leads, let's hope the weather is kinder to us.

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



Monday, 5 March 2018

March ride this coming Saturday


This month's ride will take place on Saturday (10th March). Jenny Tizard will be leading us on a tour of Edinburgh's waterfront, from east to west. I understand the route will include a few wiggles that might be unfamiliar to most of us, which should make for an interesting ride.

For our lunch stop, we will aim for Cramond. Those of us who are foolish enough to bring a picnic will find a nice bench by the river. The rest of you can head for the comfort of the Cramond Falls cafe with its open fire.

After lunch, we'll head back to town via NCN 1, arriving back at the Meadows around mid-afternoon.

The total distance will be about 20 miles. There will be two steep-ish climbs, but there will be no other difficulties. The route will be almost entirely on well-surfaced roads and paths.

Time and place

We'll meet as usual at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, leaving at 10.30.

Please keep in mind that the above details are provisional. We always reserve the right to alter the route or the lunch arrangements at the last minute - especially if the weather is bad or if there is a risk of ice or snow on the paths. But the meeting time and place won't change.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Somewhere new "fore" lunch


Today's ride saw us explore some of the bike paths and quiet roads in the south of the city. We also
found a lunch venue we had never used before. As the 20 Milers enters its fourteenth year, it is
inevitable that we often find ourselves visiting places we have been many times before. So credit to
today's leader for devising a route that included some unfamiliar places weaved in amongst the sections we know so well.

The forecast had us expecting a rather wet day. In the end, we had not a drop of rain and some long spells of sunshine. Yes, it was a bit windy at times; but nothing like on the recce which had to be abandoned [in the interests of safety] when a rider was blown off their bike. Today was the first time in a while it wasn't bitterly cold or wet, or both. Given the forecast, a turnout of 25 riders was quite impressive. Following a comprehensive briefing, we headed off [in one group] towards the Innocent Railway. Onwards through the tunnel to Bingham, where we turned right under the bridge. From there we meandered through the backstreets of Niddrie and Greendykes to emerge on The Wisp. Up The Wisp on the shared use path beside the busy road, along the quiet roads of Danderhall and we came to the busy Old Dalkeith Road. Across that, through the green doors set in the wall and we found ourselves in the lovely Drum Estate - a perfect setting for a cake and sweetie stop. Leaving the estate behind, a stretch on the busy Gilmerton Station Road followed. It was here that the rider had been blown over on the recce. Fortunately, there was no drama on this ocassion. We took the path beside the road to climb the [deceptively steep] Lasswade Road. We made our way through Burdiehouse Park. From there, some unfamiliar back streets brought us out on Captain's Road. We pressed on along Frogston Road before turning into the Mortonhall Estate. We stopped to regroup outside the Stable Bar. For once, this was not our lunch venue. Some slightly muddy tracks led us to the Braid Hills Golf Centre at Liberton. This was our lunch venue; and a good one it turned out to be.

All suitably replenished, we headed out onto Liberton Drive. The leader had warned us that this, and Braid Hills Drive that followed, were very poor quality roads. She wasn't wrong! The state of the road could only be described as appalling! Past the Braid Hills Hotel, along Braid Road and Braidburn Terrace and we were in Braidburn Valley Park. We often use this route as we head towards Colinton. But it did seem strange being there in the afternoon rather than the morning. This was part of the loop out to Colinton. From there we began to head back towards the Meadows. Through the Colinton Tunnel, alongside the Water of Leith before joining the Union Canal towpath which took us back to Leamington Bridge. As we got closer in towards the city, a number of riders peeled off towards home. The remainder headed back to the finish at Middle Meadow Walk.

Thanks to Verity for leading an enjoyable ride. Good to visit less familiar places, and all credit for
finding a new lunch venue - one I'm sure we will be happy to use again.

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



Monday, 5 February 2018

February ride this Saturday


We've got our next ride on this coming Saturday (10th February). I hope you'll be able to join us.

Verity will be leading us on a tour of bike paths and quiet roads in the south of the city. Our route will include Danderhall, the Drum, Gilmerton, Burdiehouse Valley Park, Mortonhall and Braidburn Valley Park, finishing with a loop to Colinton and back along the Water of Leith. As far as gradients are concerned, I'm told that we can expect undulations rather than killer hills. The total distance will be about 23 miles, mainly on good surfaces but with a few rough tracks and a couple of short sections on main roads.

For our lunch stop, Verity has managed to find a venue that we have not visited before as a group. This is the café at the Braid Hills Golf Centre in Liberton. Their menu includes a range of sandwiches, baked potatoes, burgers and the like. As always, you have the option of bringing your own lunch if you prefer.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10:30 departure. We should get back to the Meadows around 15:00 or so, which will be well before dark (sunset is at 17:08), but it might be wise to bring lights in case we get delayed, especially if you live some distance from the end point.

Remember, our rides are free and open to all, with no advanced booking.

Monday, 15 January 2018

A January jaunt



For our first 'second Saturday' run of the year, twenty so or riders gathered in Middle Meadow Walk on a somewhat dreary morning, albeit a little milder than of late. It was good to see a couple of newcomers, plus one or two others returning for their second outing with the group. All very welcome.

With Alan Orr leading, we set off towards the Union Canal. Usually when we take the canal towpath, we head straight down Leamington Terrace to join the path near the lift bridge. Today, just for a change, Alan took us through Morningside, along Balcarres Street and through the woods on the northern flank of Craiglockhart Hill, eventually reaching the canal at Allan Park. We stayed on the towpath for three miles of easy pedalling, keeping up a brisk average of around 14 mph.

Leaving the canal at Gogar Station Road, we headed north for a couple of miles before crossing the Glasgow Road by the RBS footbridge. After passing the tram depot and the new Edinburgh Exchange station, we turned up Turnhouse Road, aiming for Cammo Park.

Up to now, the route had been familiar to most of us. But then came an unexpected new section. Thanks to a slight navigation error, we missed the planned right turn, and didn't realise our mistake for at least another mile. Rather than turning back, we took the next turning on the right, which was Turnhouse Farm Road. This proved fortuitous. The road in question, which was very quiet, meandered through pleasant woodland before joining the Cammo Road to the north of the country park. We thus avoided the unpleasant path that runs parallel to Maybury Road (where we often have to face fast oncoming traffic), but at the expense of only very little extra pedalling.

Back in familiar territory, we paused at the delightful Grotto Bridge, where the fast-flowing River Almond gushes through a deep tree-lined valley. This made an ideal spot for a refreshment break. Various treats, including some very tasty home-made fudge cake, were duly produced and consumed.

For the next section, we had to negotiate the temporary bike lane along the hard shoulder of the busy Queensferry Road. This arrangement is the result of the closure of the Burnshot Bridge, which normally carries cyclists (and other traffic) across the dual carriageway to the Kirkliston Road. The bridge closed last May, hence the need to use the temporary path. But changes have taken place since our previous visit. The bridge has now been completely demolished, and what looks like a narrow footbridge has been erected in its place. However, this is currently fenced off. Meanwhile, it appears that the temporary route on the hard shoulder is being widened and turned into a proper bike (and pedestrian) path. Whether this arrangement is permanent, or whether the above-mentioned footbridge will be available for us to use, remains to be seen.

Fortunately, we were soon clear of this problematical stretch. The only remaining obstacle between us and lunch was the hill leading to Craigie's Farm, which we tackled if not with enthusiasm then at least with hunger. Craigie's is one of our more popular lunch venues, with plenty of room for us to spread out in the spacious café and a good range of snacks on the menu.

For the return leg, Alan took us down the far side of Craigie Hill, then across the Queensferry Road to join NCN 1. The last half-dozen miles proceeded without incident as we followed the familiar route across Cramond Brig, through Barnton and onto the Roseburn Path. A few of the group peeled off along the way, with most of the riders returning to the Meadows at just before 3 pm – plenty of time for a coffee before dark.

Leader: Alan
Report: Mike
Photos: Mike and Verity
Map: David