Come with us and explore Edinburgh's cycle paths at an easy pace.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Extra ride this coming Sunday

Gosford Farm Shop and Café
We've got one of our Extra ride this coming Sunday (3rd August). As you know, these rides are longer than our usual runs: this one will be about 32 miles. We start earlier, finish later, and go at a slightly faster pace. If you find our normal "second Saturday" rides well within your capabilities, you should have no difficulties with this one. But those who sometimes find it hard to keep up on our normal rides might prefer to give this one a miss.

Route and destination

For this ride, Glenn will be leading us to the Gosford Estate, which is just this side of Aberlady.

Be warned that the route will involve several stretches on main roads which might be busy with traffic. But there will also be some nice quiet stretches along the East Lothian coast. We'll be riding on firm surfaces for much of the time, apart from a couple of miles on slightly rough paths. The route is not particularly hilly.

For lunch, you can bring a picnic, or get a bowl of soup or a sandwich from the café

Time and place

The ride will start at 10.00, from in front of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. We'll meet by the bike racks, which are just by the entrance to the Parliament, behind the bus stop.

The ride will probably end around 16.00 - 16.30. But don't hold me to that. The finish time will depend on the turnout, the weather, and general progress.

Things to remember

1. This ride is on Sunday, not Saturday.
2. It starts at 10.00, not 10.30.
3. It starts at Holyrood, not the Meadows.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Weekend ride: round the Forth to Stirling (19 - 20 July 2014)

On a warm but murky Saturday morning, fourteen of us met at the Roseburn marker for the first ever 20-Milers weekend away. Six us of planned to stay overnight in Stirling, whilst the remaining eight intended to accompany us for part or all of the way and return to Edinburgh by train.

We made our way to the Forth Road Bridge by a route used many times before. Once over the bridge, Ken and Logan peeled off to check a pub in North Queensferry for a lunch stop on a future ride (at least that's what they told us). The rest of us headed onto the less familiar NCN Route 76 through Limekilns and Crombie. A puncture split the group. Persistent rain and low cloud spoiled the views as we hugged the coast. A lunch stop in Culross was a welcome respite from the rain and allowed us to regroup.

After a good lunch we pushed on through Kincardine where a further puncture split the group again. The back group struggled to find their way out of Alloa before eventually making it to Stirling. Here there was a parting of the ways as six headed to the hotel for a welcome shower whilst the remainder made for the station and the train. A pleasant evening was spent in Stirling where we enjoyed an Italian meal and some liquid refreshment.

Following a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, the group of six set off in glorious sunshine for the Kelpies. Following further adventures, including split groups and route-finding troubles, we eventually met up with three riders who had travelled by train from Edinburgh.

Visiting the Kelpies had to be the highlight of the trip. They were absolutely amazing (see photo, right). We then set off for home past the Grangemouth petro-chemical works. A brief stop to buy food in Bo'ness and then off to Blackness Castle for a late picnic lunch. A familiar route through the Hopetoun estate, South Queensferry, Dalmeny estate, Cramond and Barnton saw us return to our starting point at the Roseburn marker.

Those that did the whole route clocked up about 85 miles over the two days. It must have been a successful trip as on parting, someone asked, "where are we going for our night away ride next year?"

Leader: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn and Mike
Maps: Alan (Stalker)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

July ride to the Harlaw Reservoir

After several hot and sunny days, this morning was cooler and more overcast - but still good weather for cycling. Around 30 of us turned up for a ride to the edge of the Pentland Hills. I led the first group, with Ken in charge of the second.

Our route took  us over Bruntsfield Links, and then to Whitehouse Loan, Hermitage Drive, Braidburn Valley Park, the Braid Burn path, and Redford Road. At Colinton, we had a brief comfort stop before continuing along Woodhall Road. This part of town has a distinctly suburban feel to it, but once we passed the City Bypass, we were in open countryside, with fields on both sides of the road, and good views all round.

Inevitably, given that we were heading for the Pentland Hills, we had some climbing to do. Most of this was concentrated on the Curry Kirkgate, a grindingly steep half mile of ascent that climbs from Blinkbonny to Harlaw Road. We all made it to the top without mishap - albeit with various degrees of exhaustion.

A mile or so later, we arrived at our planned lunch stop: the picnic tables by the Harlaw Reservoir. Here, there was a moment of slight embarrassment for yours truly. I had assiduously warned the group that there would be no café or pub anywhere near the reservoir, and that they must bring their own food or face starvation. What I didn't know was that some enterprising person recently set up a caravan, right outside the ranger station, from which they were serving hot drinks, sandwiches, soup, cakes and a tempting selection of crêpes: in short, everything you need for a decent lunch. I'm sorry I didn't know about this earlier - although several of our party were quite happy to buy a meal from the caravan and eat the sandwiches they had brought with them.

After lunch, we did a circuit of the Harlaw and Threipmure Reservoirs. And then it was downhill almost all the way home. We had an exhilarating freewheel down to Balerno, followed by a fairly fast run on the Water of Leith path to the point where it crosses the canal.

At this point, the two groups were re-united. Some riders then chose to continue along the Water of Leith to Roseburn. Others made a bee-line back to town along the towpath. For most of us, the timing was impeccable: we got home shortly before the arrival of a heavy burst of rain which lasted well into the evening.

Leaders: Mike and Ken, with Jim and Logan as backmarkers.
Report: Mike
Photo: Alison

Monday, 7 July 2014

Next Saturday's ride: A Harlaw picnic

Our next ride is this coming Saturday (12th July). We'll be taking a particularly scenic route: heading out to Colinton, and then climbing to the edge of the Pentland Hills. Our lunch stop will be a picnic at the Harlaw Reservoir.

Inevitably there'll be some hills, including a particularly steep one just before lunch. But we'll take them at our usual steady pace, and give stragglers plenty of time to catch up. And, as a reward, we'll have some nice long freewheels in the afternoon. The total distance will be 21 miles. Most of the route will be on quiet roads and firm paths, but there will be about two miles on rough tracks.

As always we'll meet at the top of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure. The ride will finish mid afternoon.

Lunch arrangements

Remember, the lunch stop on this ride will be a picnic. There will be no pub or café at the lunch stop, so if you don't want to go hungry, be sure to bring food. Depending on numbers and progress, we might stop for a coffee near the end of the run.

There is a toilet at the picnic place, but this sometimes attracts long queues, so we'll have an additional comfort stop about 45 minutes before lunch.

What if the weather's bad?

A light drizzle or a short shower won't put us off. But if the weather is really foul, we'll switch to Plan B: a shorter ride, with a café or pub lunch in Colinton. If the weather is borderline, we'll make a decision at the start point. There are several sandwich outlets at the Meadows, so if you're not sure whether to bring food, plan to arrive early so that you can pick up something if necessary.

Friday, 20 June 2014

An evening ride for the summer solstice

We had a special evening ride tonight to mark the (almost) longest day. And what a lovely evening it was: clear, dry, and warm (21 degrees at 8 p.m). About 20 of us, led by Jim, set out from the Meadows just after 6.30 pm.

Our route was an eclectic one. We started by heading south through the Grange, then on through Morningside and Craiglockhart to join the canal at Allan Park. At Harrison Park, Logan decided he would risk letting us invade his front room for a refreshment stop, which we duly did. We then rejoined the canal for a quick run into Fountainbridge, where the bunting had already been put in place for Saturday's Canal Festival.

Our route then took us past the Conference Centre, and down into the Grassmarket (see photo). We continued down the Cowgate to Holyrood, then along Abbeyhill to Regent Road, where we paused to look at the Stones of Scotland Monument. This circle of stones, one from each of Scotland's 32 local authority areas, was created in 2002 to mark the rebirth of the Scottish parliament.

Next came the highlight of the ride: the ascent of Calton Hill. We lingered at the summit for a while, gazing at the excellent view of the Firth of Forth and the Lomond Hills. But by now it was nearly 9.30 pm; the light was just beginning to fade, and a cooling breeze had sprung up. So we switched on our lights and donned our yellow jackets for the next leg of the ride.

This took us down Easter Road, where two impatient motorists did their best to spoil the pleasant ambience, but failed. At Thorntreeside, we took the Restalrig railway path through Seafield and on to Leith Links. The final leg was along Water of Leith, Goldenacre and Telford paths to the Craigleith path junction. Many of the group had peeled off by this point, and so, at 10.20 pm and after 18 miles, we declared the ride officially over. It was a very successful run -  and an excellent way of spending a summer's evening.

Leader: Jim
Report, photos and map: Mike

View 20-Milers Summer Solstice Ride in a larger map

Monday, 16 June 2014

Evening ride this coming Friday

A reminder of our evening ride this coming Friday (20th June). It will be about 15 miles, give or take a bit, and will last about three hours. Friday is very close to the summer solstice, so we should be in daylight the whole way, but I suggest you bring lights in case we get delayed.

We'll meet at our usual spot at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, ready to set off at 18.30. As with all our rides, this one is free, with no need to book in advance.

Note that we are not planning to stop for a meal during the ride. You might like to grab a bite to eat before we start, or bring a snack to keep you going until we finish. No doubt some of us will adjourn to a pub after the event.

Our next normal monthly ride will be on Saturday 12th July; I'll post more details of that nearer the time.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

20-Milers on the Lepra ride

About a dozen of our members decided to forsake yesterday's 20-Milers ride, and instead to devote our energies to the Lepra run: an annual 68-mile charity ride to St. Andrews via the Fife hills.

Although we all met up at the start point in Inverleith Park (along with several hundred other cyclists), we didn't try to ride together as a group. This was sensible. On a long ride like this, it's better to cycle at your own pace, rather than feeling pressured to keep up.

The route took us out of Edinburgh via Dalmeny and the Forth Road Bridge, and then to the west and north of Dunfermline. The scenery for these first 20-odd miles was not the most beautiful, but it improved noticeably after we turned off a main road and into the Cleish woods. After traversing the summit of Cleish Hill, we had a fast 3-mile downhill run to the lunch stop at Kinross. In the afternoon, we skirted Loch Leven and the Lomond Hills, and then into the delightful wooded Cults Hill. There was inevitably a lot of climbing, but once past the Chance Inn, we had a long gentle descent all the way to St. Andrews.

The weather was reasonably good to us, apart from a heavy burst of rain in the middle of the afternoon - nothing like as bad as the last time I did the ride, in 2012, when we endured solid rain and high winds the whole day. This time, it was mostly dry and warm, with some nice sunshine at the end.

As always, the catering arrangements were first class. The burghers of Kinross had laid on their usual extensive lunch for us (and I must say how nice it was to be personally welcomed and directed by marshals stationed along the road near the lunch point). And the much-appreciated tea stop at Freuchie was as superb as ever - see photo, right.

I finally arrived at St. Andrews at about half past four - earlier than my usual time. By this time I was a long way behind the faster members of our group, but ahead of several others. And, unusually for me, I wasn't totally exhausted. Those training runs over the last few weeks had clearly paid off.

Report and photos:  Mike