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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

October ride this coming Saturday

For our ride this coming Saturday, Jim will be leading us on a tour of bike paths and quiet roads in the west of the city. We'll be taking in Dalmeny, South Queensferry, Kirkliston, Ratho Station, Gogar and Edinburgh Park. At 25 miles, the ride will be a little longer than usual, but there will be no particular difficulties: just a few hills, and some paths that might be rough in parts.

We'll take our lunch break in South Queensferry. There is no eating place there large enough to hold us all, so we'll spread out among the several cafés and pubs in the town. For those bringing their own food, there is a nice picnic spot overlooking the harbour.

We'll set out from our usual meeting place, at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, at 10.30.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

"Riders down!" in Linlithgow

The final 20 Milers Extra ride of the year saw us head to Linlithgow. Good weather, an interesting route taking in some delightful quiet country lanes and a picnic lunch beside Linlithgow Palace made for a lovely day. On the down side, two of the group were involved in a minor accident; which fortunately, involved nothing more than cuts and bruises. As usual when heading out west on one of our longer runs, we met at the Craigleith marker. It was slightly cooler and the skies a little greyer than the last few days as seventeen riders assembled. This made for a managable sized single group and we headed off towards Barnton and Cramond Bridge, where we had our customary pause. We then made our way to Kirkliston where we had a comfort stop at the leisure centre. From there a few short spells on busy roads mixed with some lovely quiet country lanes took us on to Philipstoun. The weather had now warmed up nicely and we had blue skies overhead. At times it felt more like summer than early October. We had a trouble-free run towards Linlithgow. The final run into the town saw us descend a fast steep hill. It was here that disaster struck. At the bottom, the road turned  a corner and the front riders were suddenly faced with a single track bridge crossing the canal with priority to oncoming traffic. With an oncoming car on the bridge, the lead rider braked sharply. The following rider could not stop in time, hit the lead rider a glancing blow and they both went down. The second rider was lucky not to end up under the car. Fortunately, nothing worse than two shaken riders, a shaken car driver and superficial cuts and bruises to one rider was the final outcome. It could easily have been much more serious. Bikes and riders were cleared from the road and the injured rider checked over and patched up. After a short break, the group carried on down a delightful little road that was closed to through traffic which brought us out beside the railway station. From there, a short ride along the busy high street took us to our lunch stop at Linlithgow Palace. Often the group will go into a cafe and rearrange the tables and chairs so we can sit together. Today, two large wooden picnic tables were carried across the grass and placed beside a third. Sitting in the warm sunshine beside the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, overlooking the loch, we enjoyed a delightful picnic lunch. Those that remember this year's Pedal for Scotland lunch stop, will be delighted to hear there was no cuss cuss salad in sight!

A pleasant ride alongside the canal and then we made our way through the lovely Hopetoun Estate. There was now more cloud and it was a little cooler, but still pleasant. On leaving the estate we passed the new Forth crossing which is progressing well. On through South Queensferry, we made our way onto familiar paths and roads through Dalmeny, Cramond Bridge and Barnton before arriving back at the Craigleith marker.

Thanks to Julia for devising a varied and interesting route to bring to a close the series of 20 Milers Extra rides for 2015. Roll on 2016. A great shame about the accident. But the fact that we were looking at nothing worse than minors cuts and bruises and a couple of shaken up riders, was a great relief.

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

Saturday, 12 September 2015

A damp ride to Roslin

Today's ride to Roslin was a little damp. We ran a police roadblock and had the first unicycle on one of our rides. The weather forecast suggested we would be in for a ride blighted by long spells of heavy rain. Whilst it was grey and damp with some heavy showers; it wasn't as bad as the forecast had suggested. But it had been a while since we had to endure a wet ride. This may have affected the numbers turning up today. Just 22 riders started. It was good to see a few new faces amongst them, including a unicycle rider which was a first for the group. Despite the lower than usual turnout, the leader took the right decision by splitting the ride into two groups to keep things manageable on the several sections of busy road. We left the Meadows and made our way to the new traffic signals and cycle path at Hope Park Crescent. Its nice to have the cycle path there, but they need to hurry up and get the traffic signals switched on. From there we followed a familiar route to join the Innocent Railway. Riding through the Innocent tunnel, one of our regular riders suggested that we use it so often on our rides that perhaps it should be renamed the 20 Milers tunnel. At Bingham, we cut through a tunnel which led us onto the busy Niddrie Mains Road for a short stretch before making our way through Niddrie and Greendykes to emerge beside the Royal Infirmary. From there, we made our way through Moredun and along Gilmerton Road before turning in to Burdiehouse Valley Park. This section was rough and bumpy with exposed tree roots to contend with. But it caused us no problems and we emerged on to Lasswade Road. A few cones and blown over barriers slowed us as we made our way down the soon-to-be-completed cycle path beside the road. We then joined the cycle path that skirts the edge of Loanhead and crosses the Bilston Glen viaduct for our run into Roslin for our lunch stop. The majority of riders went into the pub out of the rain for lunch, with a few hardy souls picnicing outside.

After lunch we retraced our steps along the cycle path to Lasswade Road. But this time we headed towards Gilmerton and through the Drum Estate to come out on Old Dalkeith Road. Through Danderhall and a rough track allowed us to cut through to Millerhill Road. At Hilltown, we were confronted by a police car blocking the road and a "Police road closed" sign. The police car was empty. After weighing up the situation, it was decided to make our way along the closed road as we decided the worst that could happen would be us being sent back. A quarter of a mile later we came across two police officers and a recovery truck hauling a badly damaged minibus back onto its wheels. No one seemed to mind us being there so we had made the right decision and avoided a long detour. When the second group arrived, they took the "road closed" sign at face value and did take a detour. Once clear of the incident, we found ourselves in heavy traffic on the Wisp and Duddingston Park South. It was nice to turn off and get back onto the quiet Innocent Railway for the final stretch back to the start.

Leader: Alan Orr
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael
Map trace: David

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

September 20-Milers ride this coming Saturday

We've got our September ride this coming Saturday (12th). We'll be heading into Midlothian. The route will be a straightforward one, but be warned that there will be a couple of long-ish stretches on busy main roads, as well as a few rough paths which might be muddy.

Our lunch stop will be in Roslin. There is a pub and a café there, and also a pleasant spot for a picnic.

We'll meet as usual at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, in time to leave by 10.30. There's no need to contact us in advance; if you can make it, just turn up.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

I rode over 50 miles for a packet of crisps?

Making up one thousandth of the entry, an intrepid team of eight 20 Milers made the journey west to Glasgow to ride this year's Pedal for Scotland. An uneventful coach trip over, we found ourselves at Glasgow Green, reunited with our bikes, we crossed the start line and began our journey back towards Edinburgh. Riding through central Glasgow on closed roads and being waved through red lights by police officers was a joy. On reaching the suburbs we even found we had dual carriageways to ourselves. An opportunity to ride in the outside lane just added to the experience of the day. Even the weather was on our side. Lovely blue skies, warm with just enough of a cooling breeze to stop it getting too hot. Who said it always rains in Glasgow?

We left Glasgow behind and rode on through pleasant countryside to our first feeding station at Drumpellier Country Park where we stopped for refreshments. The group almost had a mutiny to deal with when it was discovered there were no Tunnocks caramel wafers left. Perhaps we should have chosen an earlier start time. At this stage of the ride the group stayed together quite easily and there were not too many other cyclists to get in our way. That would come later. We carried on, marvelling at how lovely the countryside between Glasgow and Edinburgh is. So different to dashing along the M8 motorway. We'd often turn to eachother and ask where we were. None of us knew the area well and we ended up reading the signposts before giving up and just enjoying being wherever we were. On through Longriggend and Limerigg we arrived at the second feeding station at Avonbridge. Here we found hundreds of cyclists queuing for the home baking on offer. After a brief rest and sharing the food we had brought with us, we hit the road again heading towards the lunch stop at Linlithgow Palace. It was on this stretch that it became clear that this year's route was much tougher than in previous years. There were some seriously steep climbs and plenty of them. The 20 Milers peleton began to split on the hills. With so many others getting off and walking, it was quite a challenge to thread our way through. Hill after hill led to tiredness setting in. One of the team made the fatal error of changing up three gears instead of down which resulted in them grinding to an halt. It was on this stretch that one of the funniest moments of the day occurred. A group of Glaswegian guys were struggling up an hill past a group of first aiders. One of them asked the lady if she had anything for a sore bum. Quick as a flash she replied, "I'll get big Jimmy to rub it better for you!" The guy fairly flew up the rest of the hill! On a more sombre note, we descended a very steep hill with a tricky bend at the bottom. Within a hundred yards there were two injured cyclists being patched up by first aiders. It was on this stretch that one of the team was riding along, heard a loud bang and wondered what it was, before realising he had just suffered a puncture. Three of them fixed it and made their way to the lunch stop some way behind the rest.

It was very busy at the Linlithgow Palace lunch stop. Were we ready for lunch? There were five packets of egg and cress sandwiches and a table groaning under the weight of cuss cuss salad. We may have been at the palace; but this was no feast fit for a king! Lunch was something of an anticlimax after 30 miles of hard riding. Back on the road again, we consoled ourselves by riding on the right hand side of the [closed] roads. One of the team said it was as close as he would get to a continental cycling holiday this year. The hills kept coming and more threading between weary walkers followed. One of the team was talking to a young woman who had never ridden a bike before doing this event. Talk about a baptism of fire! There would probably be others that would never ride a bike again! We swept past the Kirkliston Leisure Centre feeding station without stopping. We were now on familiar roads and on the home straight. An uneventful ride took us back to Murrayfield and the finish. A shame we didn't get to ride through the stadium this time. No one ever does these sort of rides for the goody bag. But this year's was particularly disappointing, and there was no medal. Quote of the day from Dawn summed it up, "you mean I rode over 50 miles for a packet of crisps?" But it had been a great day. It was about 54 miles and we had done it at an average speed a couple of miles per hour faster than a typical 20 Milers ride. The hills had made it more of a challenge. We had enjoyed it and finished with a well-deserved sense of achievement. It must have been seriously tough for the many occasional cyclists that did it. Those of us on the team now realise that going out most weekends in all weathers really does pay dividends.

Team: Christina, Jim, Dawn, Peter, Jenny, Logan, Michael and Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael and Glenn
Trace: Jim

Saturday, 22 August 2015

An Extra ride into the depths of East Lothian

For the penultimate 20 Milers Extra ride of the year we headed deep into East Lothian to the Merryhatton Garden Centre. The weather was very kind to us, with the temperature perfect for cycling with a gentle breeze keeping it from getting too warm. A little more sunshine instead of grey skies would have been nice; but you can't have everything. Rain threatened a couple of times, but was considerate enough to only come when we were undercover at our lunch stop.

Uncharacteristically, there were two start points for today's ride. One at the Commonwealth Pool and one at Fisherrow Harbour. It was nice to see a couple of new faces amongst the 23 that rolled away from Fisherrow. This was an impressive turnout for an Extra ride. Usually the numbers are well down on those for regular 20 Milers rides; but not today. The leader decided to go with one group rather than two. A decision that worked admirably. After crossing the River Esk, we ground to a halt due to temporary traffic lights and roadworks on the main route out of the Honest Toun beside the racecourse. Leaving the roadworks behind, we made our way along the busy coast road. Beyond Gosford Bay, we left the main road to meander along the path between the trees that runs parallel to it. Its always nice to leave a busy main road behind, even if only for a short time. A short ride down Aberlady high street before turning off and heading inland. The group followed the leader as he confidently turned right on the road towards Haddington. This led to the exchange of a few quizzical glances between those that knew the area [and thought they knew the route]. Within a couple of hundred yards, the leader turned right into a campsite. Despite the suggestion that this was our overnight stop, the group turned round and headed back the way we had come, much to the confusion of those at the back. Wrong slot corrected, we headed down the quiet country lane past the Myreton Motor Museum which is well worth a visit if you're in the area. Another section of busy main road took us to Drem. Turning off and going past the railway station put us back on a much quieter road which took us to our lunch stop at the Merryhatton Garden Centre. We were all safely ensconced in the undercover dining area when a brief spell of heavy rain made its appearance.

The rain had passed and it was slightly cooler as we made our way past the Museum of Flight at East Fortune. We passed through the charming village of Athelstaneford, the home of the Scottish Saltire. A few comments from the group made it clear that quite a few were in new and unexplored territory; and how lovely it was too. We passed the Hopetoun Monument and headed in the direction of Haddington, up the only serious climb of the day. A right turn, and we were back enjoying more quiet country lanes. A surprisingly quiet main road took us to Macmerry, where we joined an unsurfaced cycle track. We meandered on a few more quiet country lanes before running down into Tranent. Here we joined another cycle track and quiet road into Prestonpans. A comfort stop and then back on the coast road towards Musselburgh. At Tesco, the ride was declared over and riders began to head off, with the majority following the leader back towards Edinburgh.

Leader: Logan
Report: Glenn
Photos: Michael

Monday, 17 August 2015

20-Milers Extra this Saturday

We've got the third of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (22nd August). Logan will be leading us on a foray into East Lothian. The lunch stop will be the Merryhatton Garden Centre near East Fortune. There is a spacious cafeteria there offering a good choice of snacks and light meals. As always, you can bring your own food for a picnic if you prefer.

For this ride, there will be a choice of meeting points:
  • Either: 09.45, at the side entrance to Scottish Widows in Holyrood Park Road. This is across the road from the Commonwealth Pool car park. Note that other cycling groups often meet at the front of the Commonwealth Pool, so don't join the wrong group by mistake.
  • Or: 10.30, in front of the Harbour Café, at Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh.
As we will have a lot of miles to cover, we will be leaving promptly at the times mentioned above.

Logan has worked out a very pleasant route for this outing. We'll be heading out along the coast, and returning by a more inland route. There will be a few moderate hills, but nothing too demanding. But there will also be several stretches along main roads, which might be busy with traffic.

The total distance will be about 36 miles for those starting from Musselburgh, or 50 miles for the Edinbugh contingent.

Remember, our Extra rides are faster than our usual second-Saturday runs, with fewer stops. Please bear that in mind when deciding if this ride will be suitable for you.

There's no need to let anyone know if you are planning to come. Just turn up at your preferred meeting point.