EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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

Monday, 18 May 2015

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday


We've got the first of this year's Extra rides on Saturday (23rd May). As you probably know, these rides are longer and faster than our usual runs - but the pace is still sociable and unpressured. If you find that our normal rides are well within your capabilities, you should have no trouble with this Extra. But if you are in doubt about your abilities or fitness level, you might prefer to give this one a miss.

Route and destination

For this week's ride, we will heading out along the John Muir Way. We'll take in South Queensferry, the Hopetoun Estate and Blackness. The return leg will consist of a longish stretch on the canal towpath, then back to town via Winchburgh and Kirkliston.

The total distance will be about 35 miles. A lot of the route will be on paths, and these may be rough and muddy in places. There will also be a couple of stretches on busy main roads. There will be one killer hill, just after lunch.

Lunch arrangements

For lunch, we will have a picnic at Blackness Castle. You can buy drinks and confectionery at the castle shop, but there are no cafés or pubs in the vicinity, so be sure to bring your own food.

If the day is slightly wet or showery, we'll go ahead as planned. But if the weather is really foul, we'll do a different, shorter run, with a café for lunch.

Meeting time and place

For this ride, we'll meet at our alternative meeting point: the junction of the Roseburn, Telford and Blackhall paths in Craigleith. If you're not sure where that is, see this blog post for detailed directions.

We'll start at 10 am, which is half an hour earlier than usual. The ride will probably end a little later than usual - about 4 pm or so, depending on progress.

So, to summarise the important points:
  • Meet at Craigleith, not the Meadows.
  • Meet at 10 am, not 10.30.
  • Bring a picnic.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

A windy weekend ride to Peebles


The second annual 20 Milers weekend away ride saw 13 riders gather on a cool, damp and breezy morning that felt more like March than May. Someone once said May is the best month of the year if you're after good weather in Scotland. There was a theory to test. The leader handed out encapsulated (oh ye of little faith) route cards, gave the customary briefing and we were off.

Taking the familiar route of the Innocent Railway, we soon left Edinburgh behind. At this stage, none of us questioned whether we would ever see it again - such thoughts would come later! We passed Musselburgh station on our way to Whitecraig and the cycle path to Dalkeith. We threaded through the streets of Dalkeith and made a comfort stop at the Tesco superstore. At this point Mike (who was never intending to do the whole ride) left us to return to Edinburgh. We made our way through the store car park to cross the bridge over the busy A7 and onto the cycle path towards Rosewell. There we left the path and rode down the high street before taking an unsurfaced track towards the small village of Carrington. Plans of a picnic lunch in the village were abandoned as it began to rain heavily. We pushed on down a deserted road towards the delightful village of Temple. After climbing the main street, just after the last house in the village we found a large open space with stacks of timber. The sun was now shining and it was pleasantly warm. So, here we had our picnic lunch slightly later than planned. But we still had many miles ahead of us.

After waking Logan from his post-lunch nap we set off again. Very soon we were battling into a strong headwind and hoping it would soon ease. If anything it got stronger and just to add to the joy showers of rain and hail were mixed in! This part of the ride was seriously hard work as proved by the need to pedal to go downhill! On reaching the top edge of Gladhouse Reservoir, we paused to regroup as we were now very stretched out thanks to the battering winds. Where we had stopped, the wind dropped. As we recovered and passed around sweeties, we began to hope this may be the respite we hoped for. Within twenty yards of setting off, we realised that had been wishful thinking. The wind continued to batter us. This really was hard work. With few having much strength left, we turned off onto a track to be confronted by a locked gate. There was no alternative. All twelve bicycles had to be lifted over. As we made our way towards Portmore Loch, the wind finally eased. There were now smiles on faces that hadn't been there for miles. In addition to the easing of the wind, we had the bonus of riding through the beautiful Portmore Estate. Past the walled garden and the big house we came out in the village of Eddleston. The route through the estate meant we only had to ride 50 yards on the busy A703 before turning right to head down the Meldons. The wind returned to make this hard going. But the scenery was stunning and most of the group had never been there before. On a warm and calm day it would be breathtaking for a different reason.

On reaching the busy A72 into Peebles the leader gave the group a choice of two routes into town. After such attrition, it wasn't surprising that ten opted for the more direct route along the main road whilst only three agreed to stick to the planned route. A trouble free run saw the group of ten quickly get into town. The intrpid three now headed on the more scenic, but longer route. Only at this point did the leader admit he wasn't totally sure of the route! A promising start led through some lovely countryside. But it all went wrong when they arrived at the main road they had been trying to avoid. Damn! If it wasn't for tiredness, the fact that time was getting on and the allure of the pub there may have been some retracing of steps and serious studying of maps. Instead it was a case of, "stuff it! We'll take the main road." The group met up again in the pub for a well-deserved post-ride pint before heading off to find their accomodation. Was there ever a harder earned beer? Following the luxury of a shower and change of clothes, we all met up for a lovely pub meal to round off what many were claiming to be their toughest day on a bike ever! We had ridden 43 miles, but for most of us it felt like 20 more.

After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast the remaining 9 riders (two had only ever intended doing the first day and two pulled out injured after such a punishing day) met outside Sainsburys on a cool and damp Sunday morning to start the ride back to Edinburgh. With food for a lunchtime picnic, we rolled out of town on the quiet backroad towards Traquair. It was quite wet along this stretch. Near Cardrona we met up with Richard, a good friend of the leader. Thanks to his local knowledge, he soon had us on the quite new and very nice Tweed Cycleway path which we took into Innerleithen. Although it remained cool and showery, some of the group had to stop for a Caldwells ice cream at the shop in the high street. Carry on along the high street, turn left, a flat section as far as the golf course and then the climbing of the Granites began. Waiting to regroup by the golf course and entrance to a montain bike route, we were asked with a grin if we fancied doing a couple of circuits! In the interests of self-preservation, we declined. We began the long slog up the Granites. A long hard slog is the best way to describe it with some steeper and less steep sections. Despite the dampness, we all began to feel warm. Just as anyone may have considered shedding a layer, a shower would come down and a cold wind blow to change their mind. The group stretched out as we climbed. We were passed by many road bike riders. For those of us used to riding in Edinburgh, it was quite a surprise to receive a cheery greeting from them. They may have been fast, but they didn't have luggage like we did. As we climbed towards the top, Richard, who had an appointment with a paint brush had to leave us and head back down. Not long after that, we found a corner on the road with a layby and some shelter where we had our lunch. We didn't loiter as it wasn't warm despite the shelter. We carried on to the top. After that the road began drop down. After so long spent climbing, a deserted sweeping downhill road was glorious. The leader stretched his legs and hit 38 mph on this stretch. For a few minutes he forgot he was leading a 20 Milers weekend ride to Peebles and was on his way to victory in the Isle of Man TT!

The wind returned with a vengence as we struggled into the village of Middleton. At least the snow gate there was open. A delightful rural underpass svaed us having to cross the busy A7. On towards Borthwick and Crichton we hit the toughest climbs of the weekend. Fortunately the wind didn't join in to make it even harder. On this section we crossed a bridge over the soon-to-be-open Borders Railway. We pressed on to Pathhead where we crossed the busy A68 quite easily. As we were about to start our final climb of the day up to Cousland, we realised we had lost Michael. He had stopped to take a photo and missed the turning. A phone call saved the day. But he had made rapid progress in the wrong direction. So we had to wait a while as he retraced his steps. The final climb over, we got back on the cycle path to Whitecraig and headed back to Musselburgh the same way we had left some 28 hours earlier. Riders began to head for home after this with the leader handing over the reins to those heading back into Edinburgh. Those returning to Edinburgh had clocked up 52 miles, some 6 more than those who finished in Musselburgh.

So there ended the second annual 20 Milers weekend away ride. A thoroughly enjoyable trip that had been made more challenging by the weather conditions. For those that completed the first day or [especially for those] that completed both, give yourself a big pat on the back for completing ninety-five challenging miles. Where to next year?

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



Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How to find our Craigleith meeting point


Our regular monthly rides invariably start on Middle Meadow Walk. But we occasionally organise additional runs, and these sometimes start from an alternative meeting point in Craigleith. If you are not sure how to find that point, read on.

The Craigleith meeting point is at the junction of three bike paths: the Roseburn, Blackhall and Telford Paths (see photo). It is 1.8 km (just over a mile) north west of the start of the Roseburn Path in Russell Road. As you approach from that direction, you will see a Holiday Inn on your left, and a Sainsbury petrol station on your right. There is a Sustrans marker at the path junction, as well as several signposts and information boards.

If you are still not sure where it is, look up South Groathill Avenue in any street map. This is a small road that runs alongside the Craigleith Retail Park. To reach the meeting point from there, look for the signposted access to the bike paths, next to a lights-controlled crossing.

The grid reference of the meeting point is NT 233 747. On the Spokes Edinburgh map, the reference is G9.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Fourteen parks and a touch of culture


Today's ride took us through fourteen Edinburgh parks and the touch of culture was provided by visits to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Craigentinny Marbles.

A chilly, damp start to the day resulted in a [relatively] low turnout of 22 riders. A very rare occurence for recent rides; this meant we only needed one group instead of two. We left the Meadows and threaded our way through the backstreets of Morningside and on through Braidburn Valley Park. We carried on through Colinton Mains Park, Spylaw Park and bypassed Colinton village. We rode through the curved Colinton Tunnel and onto the Water of Leith Path. Having crossed the busy Slateford Road, we paused briefly at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre before pressing on past Murrayfield Stadium and through Roseburn Park. The Water of Leith Path and Belford Road took us to our first culture stop and lunch at the Gallery of modern Art. Many of the group were more interested in lunch than the art. It was even suggested that one of the sculptures would be ideal for locking bikes to! You can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. We partook in a very pleasant lunch from the cafe. By now the weather had improved. Sitting outside, the sun came out and for a while it felt quite warm.

Sufficiently fed and watered, we made our way through Ravelston Dykes before taking the Roseburn, Telford and Ferry Road Paths to head towards The Shore at Leith. Just before we left the path, we stopped to admire a cormorant sitting on a log in the middle of the Water of Leith.

The paths across Leith Links, through Lochend and Lochend Park took us to Craigentinny. Tucked away down Craigentinny Crescent, an unassuming suburban street is a most impressive mausoleum - the Craigentinny Marbles. David, ably assisted by Jim gave us an interesting talk about it. It is well worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

We made our way via Mountcastle into Figgate Park where we rode round the pond. After donning waterproofs due to a heavy shower, we left the park and headed through Duddingston before returning to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway Path. This final stretch was where we had our only puncture of the day.

Leader: David
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Trace: Jim

Monday, 4 May 2015

May ride this coming Saturday


We've got our May ride this coming Saturday, when David will be our guide. He tells me that "parks, paths and rivers is the theme of the ride". In the morning, we'll head out to the Braidburn Valley, Colinton Dell, the Water of Leith and Roseburn Park. The afternoon leg will take in various bike paths in the north of the city, including a short stop at the Craigentinny Marbles. The total distance will about 24 miles.

Our lunch break will be at the Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road (see photo). If the weather is good, we'll sit outside, so bring food for a picnic lunch. Alternatively, you can get a snack at the café.

The arrangements are the same as ever. We'll meet at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, and set out at 10.30.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Isn't it supposed to be spring?


Following a week of weather that made us all think that spring had finally arrived; today we ended up with another day that suggested otherwise. A good turnout of 32 riders gathered at the start. It was good to see several new faces in amongst them. On her first ride as leader, Verity turned tradition on its head by letting the second group head off first. With Julia leading the second group with typical Teutonic efficiency; this reversal of roles was a good idea and avoided the potential embarassment that would have resulted had the second group caught up with the first.

With the strong wind behind us, we zoomed out of town via the Innocent Railway towards Brunstane. A short stretch on the very busy Milton Road was followed by a more relaxed ride to the edge of Portobello via the cycle path and bridge over Sir Harry Lauder Road. Following a ride along the busy Portobello High Street, we made our way onto the promenade where the wind whipped up a sand storm. It now began to rain and the colour of the sky [in the direction we were heading] looked as if it would be more substantial than a passing shower. With waterproofs on we pressed on along the prom towards Leith. We took the cycle path through Restalrig, snaked around the back streets of Bonnington and came out on the Warriston Path. We went up the Goldenacre Path to Five Ways where we turned back and headed in the direction we had come from. This led to a little confusion in the group with questions of, "isn't this the direction we just came from?" To add to the confusion, the two groups met at one point travelling in opposite directions. We cut through and crossed the very busy Commercial Street and made our way to Ocean Terminal for lunch. Given the cold, wind and hail shower it was little surprise that no one wanted to picnic outside.

Suitably refreshed we headed off in the cold but dry weather onto the familiar cycle paths of north Edinburgh. As is now customary, we stopped briefly on the red bridge near Crewe Toll before carrying on down the Telford and Roseburn Paths. The familiar route down the zig-zags, along Dalry Road, through the Telfer subway, along the canal to Leamington Bridge and along Gilmore Place delivered us back to the Meadows.

 We had a couple of mechanical issues, one puncture and a bag that needed extracting from a rear wheel. We also endured cold, wind, rain, hail showers and a sand storm. One of the group blamed the weather on the geostrophic wind. No idea what it means, but it sounds impressive. Let's hope May's ride is blessed with better weather.

Leader: Verity
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael and Glenn
Trace: Jim

Monday, 6 April 2015

April ride this coming Saturday


For this month's ride, Verity and Julia will be taking us on a circuit of bike paths in the Portobello / Leith area. Our lunch stop will be the Ocean Terminal, where there are some nice picnic tables overlooking the harbour. For those who prefer not to bring their own food, there are several cafés and sandwich shops in the shopping centre where you can pick up a snack.

We'll meet at our habitual starting point, at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to leave by 10.30.

The ride will end mid-afternoon - perhaps between 3 and 4 pm.