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Tuesday, 17 January 2017

"Basics" ride this coming Saturday

We've got an additional ride this coming Saturday (21st) - something of a new venture for the group.

If you haven't done much cycling this winter, or if you are feeling below your normal fitness level, this ride is for you. It will go a little slower than on our normal runs; take slightly longer breaks; and try especially hard to avoid nasty hills.

The route hasn't been finalised yet, but it's likely we'll be heading to Musselburgh. The distance will be approximately 18 miles.

The ride starts at 10.30, from our usual meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We should be back in town by early- to mid-afternoon. As always, the ride is free, with no need to book in advance: just turn up on the day.

Thanks to Jim for his initiative in organising this ride. Depending on your feedback, it might become a regular item on our calendar.

Final point: the ride is open to all. Even if you have been cycling all winter, and you are above your normal fitness level, you will still be welcome to join us - provided you are happy with the slower pace.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

A modern start to 2017

The 20 Milers opened their account for 2017 with today's ride to the Gallery of Modern Art. Despite the sunshine, it was cold and there were a few icy stretchs on some paths to watch out for. Despite a run there being a tried and tested one, Mike added to the interest by changing the route in places. The section between Holyrood Park and Lochend Park had a number of our regular riders unsure as to where they were. There were 19 riders at the start. A reasonable turnout given the cold and icy conditions. But we have had higher January turnouts in the past. Surely those "I'm going to get fit in 2017" new year resolutions couldn't have been abandoned less than half way through January? It's always good to have new riders turn up. This time there was only one. But we hope they enjoyed it enough to come back. The group rolled away from the Meadows and took the familiar route towards the Innocent tunnel. One of our regulars was so used to going through the tunnel, he headed that way and had to be called back. On this ocassion, we continued past the tunnel entrance and made our way into Holyrood Park and whizzed down Queen's Drive. We turned off the road at the car park and made our way towards London Road. Via paths and quiet roads we made our way to Clockmill Lane. A cut-through between flats and a few more quiet back streets left many in the group wondering where they were. It's always nice to discover new parts of what you consider to be familiar territory. Arriving on Lower London Road, the majority knew where they were once again. A left turn was followed by a short spell on the very busy London Road. A right turn, more unfamiliar back streets and we found ourselves on a path that took us through Lochend Park to emerge beind the Hibs football stadium. We crossed Easter Road, and via Brunswick Road and Macdonald Road joined the path that took us into St Mark's Park where we stopped in the sunshine. So many snacks appeared that it was reminiscent of the Christmas Day ride. Suitably replenished, we made our way onwards past the Royal Botanic Gardens and into Inverleith Park. We passed the impressive Fettes College and made our way through the backstreets of Craigleith to the retail park. From there we made our way through the grounds of Mary Erskine School, along Ravelston Dykes Road and Ravelston Park to arrive for our lunch stop at the Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road.

After a pleasant warm, and lunch in the cafe, we set off for what promised to be a relatively short run back into town. Before leaving the grounds of the gallery, there was some debate as to whether something there was a picnic table, fancy bike stand or a work of art! Cultural experience over; we retraced our steps to Ravelston Dykes Road. From there we made our way through the grounds of St George's School and on to the Roseburn Path. From the zig-zags via the Telfer subway, Fountainpark, the canal, Leamington Bridge and a twiddle through the backstreets of Bruntsfield, we returned to the Meadows. At barely 15 miles, this was one of the shortest rides for a while. The sunshine linked with the fact it wasn't quite as cold as earlier and it being quite early, had some riders feeling they should stay out longer. But it had been a good ride and finishing early after a shorter ride is more acceptable in January than July.

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

Sunday, 8 January 2017

January ride this coming Saturday

For our first ride of 2017 this coming Saturday (14th), we will be taking a tour of bike paths in the north of the city. Our route will include Holyrood, Lochend Park, Inverleith Park and Craigleith. The ride will be a little shorter than usual, and should end fairly early (probably between 2 pm and 3 pm - but don't hold me that). There will be one steep climb (just before lunch), and a couple of busy main roads to cross, but no other difficulties of any kind.

Our lunch stop will be at the cafe at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Belford Road. The food there is usually very good, but be warned that it can be crowded and we might not all get a seat straight away. For those who prefer to bring their own food, there are places suitable for a picnic.

We will leave from our habitual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk, at 10.30.

The ride is planned to end well before dark, but it would be prudent to bring lights in case we get delayed, and also to see you home if you live some distance from the end point.

As always, please regard the above information as provisional. Depending on various factors, there is always the possibility that we might change the route at the last minute.

Remember, you don't need to tell us in advance that you will, or will not, be joining a ride. Just turn up on the day.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Fourteen for Christmas (plus Conor)

Fourteen of us gathered for our Christmas morning ride this year – including our resident Santa Claus (see photo), who attracted delighted cheers and waves from the tourists we passed along the route – not to mention a couple of requests for selfies. A less welcome visitor was Storm Conor, bringing 50 mph winds to an otherwise serene morning.

Under Jim's leadership, we set off from the Meadows, heading first for the Lochrin Basin and Fountainbridge. We weaved though Conference Square, crossed the footbridge over the West Approach Road, then into Rutland Square and Shandwick Place. We paused in Coates Crescent to admire the Gladstone Monument (unveiled in 1917, in honour of William Ewart Gladstone, MP for Midlothian 1880–1895).

Next, Jim took us on a circuit of the West End crescents. One of his reasons for this was to show us the experimental on-street bike lockers which the council have installed in Douglas Crescent. These are part of a city-wide trial to find ways of providing secure bike parking for flats and tenements. The two lockers that we saw certainly looked up to the job, but I suspect you would need an awful lot of them to meet the demand.

The next part of the ride took us back to Shandwick Place, then along the entire length of Princes Street, west to east. Thankfully, there was very little traffic– just a few buses and taxis, no trams. We stopped at the foot of the Mound in the expectation of a comfort stop, but inconveniently the toilets there were closed. Instead, we found we were able to use the facilities in one of the nearby hotels, which was a relief.

Next came the hard work of the day (well, not all that hard): the ascent of Calton Hill. The morning was still bright and sunny, so we lingered on the summit to take in the excellent views of Arthur's Seat and the Firth of Forth. Santa Claus, true to form, produced a flask of mulled wine to share; various items of confectionary were also in evidence.

Our leader eventually got us moving again. The original plan had involved heading to Lochend Park at this point, but the morning was rapidly wearing on and we had promised that the ride would end by 1 pm. So we finished up by taking a quick look at the Stones of Scotland, then headed back towards the Meadows.

Several of the group had peeled off by now, but unfortunately not the afore-mentioned Conor, who gave us more than a little trouble as we pedalled down Regent Road and Waterloo Place. The remnants of the group eventually made it back to Middle Meadow Walk. At just over seven miles, it was definitely one of our shorter rides, but also one of the more interesting.

Leader: Jim
Report and photos: Mike
Map: Jim

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Half-day ride planned for Christmas morning

We've got our final ride of 2016 this coming Sunday (25th). Jim will be leading us on our usual Christmas morning jaunt. It will be good to see you if you are free.

The great thing about cycling on Christmas Day is that there is very little traffic. We'll take advantage of that to visit parts of the city where we might not otherwise venture. I don't know the exact route that Jim has in mind, but in the past it has included the Castle Esplanade, Princes Street and Calton Hill.

The total distance will be about ten miles, which we'll take at a very relaxed pace. Be warned that there might be a couple of short climbs to negotiate as well as some cobbled streets.

Time and place

We'll leave at 10.30, from our usual meeting spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. We'll return to the Meadows by 13.00 at the latest. If you have a pressing lunch date, feel free to peel off earlier.

It's unlikely that we'll find anywhere open to pick up refreshments en route, so you might want to bring a snack to keep the hunger pangs away.

Like all our runs, this one is "just turn up" - no need to book in advance. It's open to all, so feel free to bring your pals or family members.

For those who have better things to do on Christmas morning, our first ride in 2017 will be on 14th January.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas

For the final full 20 Milers ride of 2016 (don't forget the shorter half day ride on Christmas Day), we entered into the Christmas spirit with a ride out to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre at Leith. A busy shopping centre two weeks before the big day, mince pies and mulled wine in Victoria Park and bike parking taken over by christmas tree sales. All of these gave the ride a festive feel. Fortunately the weather was more like an October day being reasonably bright, dry and cool with a touch of wind. The weather helped drum up a respectable 26 riders. For those opting to go cycling rather than Christmas shopping, there was a touch of irony in the destination for today's ride. Despite suffering from a cold, the leader managed to croak her way through the briefing before we set off in one group. A tough bunch these 20 Milers ride leaders! We soon left town behind us and were on the Innocent railway. Several lights were out in the tunnel, resulting in limited visibility. One rider had to stop, remove her sunglasses and switch on her lights before continuing. Beside the Range (still referred to as "Big W" by many) we turned left through the subway beneath the A1, emerging for a short stretch on the busy Milton Road. We turned right and headed over the bridge that crosses the railway and Sir Harry Lauder Road. From there we joined the busier than usual Portobello High Street. After battling with the traffic there, it was a relief to head down Bath street to join Portobello Promenade. That was much quieter and more pleasant than the high street. That took us on to Seafield and the site of the old Eastern General Hospital. We joined the cycle path towards Restalrig, crossed Lochend Road, made our way through Quarryhole Park and crossed Easter Road. We were soon on West Bowling Green Street; took a cut through path and found ourselves on the Warriston Path. We stopped in Victoria Park where the leader passed round mince pies and mulled wine. It was now starting to look a lot like Christmas. Suitably replenished, the Hawthornvale Path led us to Ocean Terminal for our lunch stop. Half of the cycle racks were unavailable as that was where Christmas trees were being sold. But we utilised the free racks and all made our way into the centre for lunch. The group split up and everyone found somewhere suitable for lunch. Many of the riders returned to their bikes with books that had been handed out in the centre. Free Christmas presents, perhaps?

We retraced our steps and left the busy Ocean Terminal behind. Instead of returning to Victoria Park, we took the Ferry Road Path and Telford Path to Craigleith. From there, the Roseburn Path led us down the zig-zags to join Russell Road. From there the regularly used route taking in the Telfer subway, Fountainhall, the canal and back streets saw us return to the Meadows. So there ended the 2016 series of 20 Milers rides. An interesting route, welcome stop for festive food and drink and we managed to get lunch ok despite the crowds of Christmas shoppers. Thanks to Verity for leading. Probably deserves a mention in dispatches for bravely battling on despite the cold and sore throat. Let's hope for a good turnout on Christmas Day, and here's looking forward to 2017.

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

Monday, 5 December 2016

Two rides for December

The Royal Yacht Britannia at its berth
at the Ocean Terminal (photo: Cool Places Ltd )
We've got two rides planned for December. Our normal monthly run will take place this coming Saturday. And we've got our traditional Christmas morning ride on the 25th.

Here are some details.

20-Milers Ride: 10th December

For this month's run, Verity will be leading us on a tour of bike routes in the north and east of the city. In deference to the short daylight hours, this ride will be a little shorter than usual; no particular difficulties are expected.

As usual, we'll meet at 10.30 at the top of Middle Meadow Walk. Our lunch stop will be at the Ocean Terminal, where there is a good choice of cafés and sandwich shops. For those who prefer to bring their own food, there are places to eat both inside and out.

It will be dark by about 16.00 on Saturday. The ride should finish well before then, but you will probably need to bring lights to see you home.

Christmas Morning Ride: 25th December

For the sixth year running, we will be having a short ride on Christmas morning. We'll meet at 10.30 at the top (north end) of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will be about ten miles, mainly in and around the city centre, and will finish by 13.00 at the latest.

I'll post a reminder of the Christmas run, and further details of the route, nearer the time.

EasyCycle Ride

In addition to our own runs this month, EasyCycle will be having a special ride on the 18th December to mark the winter solstice (after which the days start getting longer again). Meet at 10.30 outside Peter's Yard (which is just down the hill from our own usual meeting point). EasyCycle rides tend to be fairly short (12 - 15 miles) and go at a relaxed pace.

Yet more rides

If the above outings aren't enough for you, keep in mind that other Edinburgh cycling groups also have organised rides throughout the year. You can find details of these on my website: www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk

Any questions?

Do you ever have questions about cycling in Edinburgh but don't know who to ask? Or do your friends ever ask you questions on this subject that you can't answer?

If so, take a look at Cycling in Edinburgh - Your Questions Answered. This is an FAQ that I have prepared for anyone who needs specific information about riding a bike in the Scottish capital. I wrote it because I often get asked questions myself through my website, especially from people thinking of visiting from abroad. Typically, they want to know where to hire a bike, which roads are safe to cycle on, whether the hotels are bike-friendly, whether they can take their bikes on trains or trams, and quite  a lot more. I hope this information will also be useful to local cyclists like yourself.

That's all for now. Sorry this has been a longer post than usual. Remember, you don't need to contact anyone if you are planning to come on any of the above rides. Just turn up on the day.