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Monday, 24 July 2017

Extra ride this coming Saturday

We'll be having another of our Extra rides this coming Saturday (29th). As you know, these rides are longer than our usual runs, with a faster pace and fewer breaks - but still, we hope, with the same sociable atmosphere.

This time, Verity will be leading us to Haddington. The outward route will be via the East Lothian coast and the Longniddry cycle path. We'll be returning by way of East and West Saltoun and the Pencaitland cycle path. Most of the route will be a reasonable gradient, but we can expect a couple of short climbs in the afternoon. There is one short section on a busy main road.

For lunch, there will be several options. If it's a nice day, you can head to the river for a picnic (bring your own food or aim to pick up a sandwich in the town). There is also a choice of pubs and cafés for those who prefer to eat indoors.

Our departure point will be Fisherrow Harbour in Musselburgh. This is about six miles from central Edinburgh. The total length of the ride (Fisherrow - Haddington - Edinburgh) will be about 35 miles.

Please aim to get to the start point in time for a 10.30 departure. There is no advance booking for our rides; just turn up on the day.

Evening rides

We've still got a few Thursday evening rides coming up. On this coming Thursday (27th), we'll be heading north for a tour of the Edinburgh waterfront, taking in various harbours and beaches. The meeting point for these rides is outside the All Bar One, next to the Sheraton Hotel in Lothian Road. The ride starts at 18.45 and aims to finish around dark (be sure to bring lights).

That's all for now. I hope to see you on one or more of our rides. In the meantime, happy pedalling.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A summer meander to Dalkeith

Today's ride saw us meander our way to Dalkeith on what felt like a summer's day. Summer in Edinburgh so far could best be described as mixed. The preceding week had once again given us a day of wall-to-wall rain. Against this backdrop, we were blessed with a lovely summer's day. There was a slight breeze, sometimes it was a little cool. It wasn't continuously sunny; but it was pleasantly warm without being too hot - a perfect day for cycling. Obviously the weather played a large part in us having 35 starters. As ever, it was great to see a smattering of new faces in amongst the regulars. We split into two groups and rolled away from the start. Over the George Square cobbles, we twiddled through a mixture of back streets and main roads to find ourselves in Holyrood Park via Dumbiedykes Road. We crossed Queen's Drive to join the shared path which was busy with pedestrians on such a lovely day. From St Mary's Loch we began the climb up the road towards Dunsapie Loch. This was our first climb of the day, and was made less pleasant as this narrow road was busy with cars. Half way up the hill we left the road behind and joined the path that would take us through a gate into the back streets of Willowbrae. We waited for the second group to arrive as their leader was not totally sure where to leave the road. A quite indistinct path, it would be easy to miss. All sorted, the first group moved off. The quiet roads of Willowbrae were soon behind us and we made our way into Figgate Park. Through this delightful park and soon we were held up by temporary traffic lights and heavy traffic on Brighton place.
The cobbles on that road seem to get more bumpy every time we go down it. One rider was unfortunate enough to have the top part of their bell shake loose and fall in the road, where it was run over by a car. We then headed towards the beach and joined the Promenade beside the Portobello Swim Centre. Thanks to the weather, this section was very busy with pedestrians, dogs and cyclists. We took it carefully and emerged unscathed onto the road towards Musselburgh. A brief comfort stop at Fisherrow and we took quiet roads, crossed Olive Bank Road and made our way onto the lovely path beside the River Esk to Whitecraig. From there we took the busy A6094 to Dalkeith. Despite us splitting into smaller groups to make it easier for traffic to overtake, we still saw examples of reckless driving as drivers refused to be held up by troublesome cyclists. That road is probably one to avoid in future. Even the most experienced cyclists in the group didn't feel safe on it. Normally we would head into the back of Dalkeith country Park to avoid the road. But that wasn't an option due to the Dalkeith Country Show being held there. With a sigh of relief we left the road behind and twiddled through almost deserted back streets. As that bit of the route was quite tricky to follow, the leader went back to guide the second group through whilst the writer led the first group to the pub and picnic spot in King's Park.

After a nice lunch either sitting outside the pub or picnicing in the park, we were ready for our return journey.  Two riders that wanted to get back quicker tranferred from the second to the first group at this point. We headed out of Dalkeith on Lothian Road and turned into the new housing estate near the fire station. The leader must have got a sore arm as he got the group through the kissing gate. There is no record of how many kisses he received! Through Waterfall Park, across Newmills Road, through another park and we were back at the horrible A6094. Fortunately, we were not going back that way. Instead, cycle paths took us back to Whitecraig via Dalkeith High School. From Whitecraig we took the Grove back towards Musselburgh. But this time we turned off and headed towards the railway station. From there we took the familiar route back to the Meadows via the Innocent Railway. Thanks to Michael for leading us to a familiar place, but by an interesting and less common route. Was great to have something akin to proper summer weather; long may it continue. Was also good to see some new faces. Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves and we'll see them on future rides.

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

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

July ride this coming Saturday

Just a quick reminder of our ride this coming Saturday (8th July).

We will be heading out to Dalkeith, with Michael (Law) leading. The route will be mainly on well-surfaced paths and quiet roads, with just a couple of small hills - nothing too onerous. The total distance will be about 20 - 22 miles.

For lunch, there will be a choice between a picnic in the King's Park in the town centre, or a meal in a nearby pub. If you prefer the picnic option, there will be an opportunity to pick up some food in a the supermarket next to the park.

As always, you don't need to reply to this post. Just turn up if you are coming. We'll depart from our habitual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

A windy sojourn to Linlithgow

For the second 20 Milers Extra outing of the year we headed into West Lothian to the historic town of Linlithgow. It was a cool day with a much stronger wind than expected in late June. Battling into the wind heading out did mean that it helped blow us home. We may have been home in record time had it not been for some stiff climbs. One rider was glad he had opted to bring his electric bike; whilst another was delighted that he helped push her up the steeper parts! A good turnout of 22 riders, with a few new faces rolled away from the start point at Craigleith. It was lovely to see our leader for today, Julia, riding the late Logan Strang's bike. The very familiar route through Barnton, over the Cramond Bridge, the path beside the A90 and Dalmeney soon had us in South Queensferry despite the headwind. Following a comfort stop in the town, we were on our way again. One of our regulars suffered a puncture at this stage. What should have been a quick and easy fix was compounded by not one, but two faulty inner tubes. This was obviously going to take longer than expected. It was agreed that the victim and one other would fix the puncture and meet us in Linlithgow for lunch. It was not a day for standing around. Having got quite cool waiting, it was a relief for the main group to be moving again. We headed out through the Hopetoun Estate. To everyone's delight, the irritating gate that used to take ages to get anything other than a very small group through had finally been replaced by something much more user-friendly. This replacement was long overdue, but most welcome.
Leaving the estate behind, a mixture of paths, quiet roads and a path alongside a busy road led us to Philipstoun. Whilst crossing a busy road at a blind bend, someone shouted "car!" so loudly that a couple of rides fell over and landed in a heap in the middle of the road. Fortunately, the car stopped, the riders picked themselves up, brushed themselves down - the drama was over and we were on our way again. Across a lovely hump-back bridge, a right turn and we were on the towpath beside the Union Canal. This path led us to Linlithgow and our lunch stop. In the square at the bottom of the hill that led up to Linlithgow Palace, it felt quite cool and windy. As a result, most of the group headed off to various cafes. Only four brave souls made their way up the hill to the palace for a picnic lunch. Surprisingly, it was less windy and much warmer there. For a short time the sun came out and the picnicers enjoyed what would be the warmest part of the day.

After lunch, we regrouped in the square and retraced our route to the canal. The two missing riders were now back with us. There were a few puzzled faces as we headed west! Not to worry - the leader knew exactly what she was doing. It was a great relief to have the wind behind us. Before long we were on the climb up to Ochiltree Castle. We had been warned to expect a stiff climb; but it still took many by surprise and the group was soon quite spread out. It was on this stretch that the rider on the electric bike was able to [quite literally] lend a helping hand and push another rider towards the top. Another rider had told us earlier that she had seen a fantastic T-shirt slogan that read, "It's a hill - get over it". So that's what the group did. There were a few moans when we thought we had reached the summit, only to find a further climb around the next corner. Eventually it was all behind us and a pleasant run on a high level road followed before heading gently downhill all the way to Niddry Castle and Kirkliston. A comfort stop was planned at Kirkliston Leisure Centre. Unfortunately, it was closed. So to any bystanders, a group of cyclists rode into the car park, did a circuit and left. We rode through Kirkliston and joined the cycle path for a pleasant ride through the trees before heading onto the road towards Burnshot Bridge. There we had to navigate through the roadworks, nip through the underpass and we were on our way back to Cramond Bridge and onwards to Craigleith. Thanks to Julia for leading us on an interesting (and at times challenging) ride out to Linlithgow.

Leader: Julia
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn

Monday, 19 June 2017

20-Milers Extra this weekend

Our second Extra of the year will take place this coming Saturday (24th).

Julia (Richardson) will be taking us to Linlithgow. For the outward run, we'll head out to South Queensferry, the Hopetoun Estate and the village of Philpstoun, ending with a stretch along the canal and into the town. After lunch, we'll have a stiff climb up to Ochiltree Castle, but this will be followed by a delightful high-level run on a quiet road heading gently downhill all the way to Niddry Castle and Kirkliston. Apart from one short stretch on a main road, the entire route looks very pleasant.

For lunch, we'll head for the grounds of Linlithgow Palace for a picnic (we'll pause in South Queensferry for anyone who wants to buy a sandwich on the way out). For those who prefer a hot lunch, there are several cafés around the main square. Toilets are available in the nearby Burgh Halls.

Distance and pace

The total distance will be about 35 miles. As always with our Extra rides, we'll be cycling somewhat faster than our usual 20-Milers pace and with fewer breaks. Please keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to join this ride.

Time and place

Our meeting point will be the Sustrans marker at the Craigleith path junction (see http://20milers.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/how-to-find-our-craigleith-meeting-point.html if you need directions). Please be ready to leave at 10.00.

There's no need to book in advance for this ride. As usual, just turn up on the day.

Other news

Our Thursday evening rides are continuing through the summer. As this coming Thursday (22nd) is very nearly the longest day of the year, we will be having our traditional summer solstice run, where we visit some unusual places of interest around the city centre and enjoy the panoramic view from Calton Hill. For more information, see http://20milers.pbworks.com/w/page/117130077/FrontPage.

Finally, one of our regular riders, Jenny Tizard, has just completed an impressive ride up the length of Scotland: 515 miles from Gretna Green to John o'Groats. She completed the run in ten days, mainly cycling alone. Jenny has now written an entertaining account of the ride, accompanied by some superb photos. You can see it at http://neverkissamaninacanoe.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/gretna-green-to-john-ogroats.html.

That's all for now. Enjoy your cycling.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Craigie Caper

When I woke up this morning the rain was pounding on the window panes. And the forecast promised more relentless rain throughout the morning. Pessimistically, I donned my waterproofs and set out for Middle Meadow Walk. But such are the uncertainties of Scottish weather. By the time I arrived, the downpour had turned into a light drizzle. An hour into the ride it had stopped, and by lunchtime we were sitting in the sun with the temperature in the twenties.

Despite the poor weather at the start, 22 people turned up for the ride – a very satisfactory number. There were several newcomers, including some graduates from Cycling for Softies and EasyCycle – all very welcome.

After the customary briefing, David, our leader for the day, took us down to the Leamington lift bridge and on to Roseburn Park and Murrayfield. We picked up Quiet Route 9 through Corstorphine and the Gyle, then took the lochside path through Edinburgh Park. After passing through a new underpass below the main Glasgow Road (see photo), we paused for our first break of the day at the gleaming new Edinburgh Gateway station. Our leader, who was fresh off the plane from a business trip to India, produced some interesting sweetmeats purchased in Bangalore. I'm not sure what they consisted of, but they were definitely edible.

The next section of the ride took us north along Cammo Way, into Cammo Country Park and across the delightful Grotto Bridge. This is a beautiful spot, with the fast-flowing Almond gushing through a deep tree-lined valley and not a building or road in sight.

By complete contrast, we then approached the busy Queensferry Road. This is the spot where, because of the closure of the Burnshot Bridge, cyclists (and pedestrians) are obliged to use a coned-off lane of the dual carriageway. On our last ride, despite a strict admonition from the leader to stay as close to the verge as possible, one of the party ventured onto the wrong side of the cones and, sheep-like, half the group followed, despite cars speeding past inches away and other cyclists coming towards them. Obviously, the authorities had taken note of this flagrant transgression. Today, the lane in question was guarded by a solid metal barrier keeping us cyclists well and truly where we belong.

Once safely off the dual carriageway, we quickly tackled the only serious climb of the day and were soon taking our ease on the sunny terrace of Craigie's Farm, where luncheon was served.

For the afternoon leg, we went down the far side of Craigie Hill and back across the Queensferry Road to join NCN 1. We pedalled about half a mile north, then through the Chapel Gate for a circuit of the Dalmeny Estate. We re-joined NCN 1 at Burnshot, then headed back to town via Cramond Brig and Barnton. By the time we passed Roseburn, people started to peel off, with the remnant of the group making it back to the Meadows with time to spare for a coffee. At 23 miles, it was a very satisfactory ride with some interesting new sections and plenty of variety – not to mention the satisfaction of confounding the weather forecast.

Leader and map trace: David
Report: Mike
Photos: Michael

Monday, 5 June 2017

Rides in June

We've got two rides planned for the month ahead.

On this coming Saturday (10th), David will be leading us on what promises to be a very interesting tour of bike paths to the west of the city, taking in the Dalmeny Estate, Cammo Park and the western reaches of the Gyle - including a chance to see the brand new Edinburgh Gateway station.

For lunch, we'll stop at one of our most popular venues: Craigie's Farm. This is a very nice café with a good choice of meals and snacks and plenty of space - including picnic tables outside for those who like to eat al fresco.

The total distance will be about 22 miles, mainly on good surfaces. There will be a steep climb just before lunch and a few other moderate hills, but no other particular difficulties.

We'll set out at 10.30 from our usual spot at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. As always, just turn up on the day; no need to tell anyone in advance that you are coming.

St Andrews ride on the 17th

Several members of our group will again be tackling the Edinburgh - St Andrews run this year. If you would like to join them, meet near the "6 - 7 Hours" flag in Inverleith Park. It's not too late to register for the ride; you can even do that on the day (but you will need to arrive about 20 minutes early to do so).

For more information about the event,see http://www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk/lepra-ride.htm.

20-Milers Extra on the 24th

For our second Extra of the season, Julia will be leading, with a route provisionally planned for Linlithgow. I'll post more information nearer the time.

A reminder

Finally I'll take this opportunity to remind you always to bring a spare inner tube on our rides if at all possible, as this makes life a lot easier if a puncture strikes. If you don't know what size or type of tube to bring, your favourite bike shop will advise. It's also helpful if you could bring whatever tools are needed to remove your wheel if it doesn't have a quick-release hub (most modern bikes do).

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Turned out nice again. Well, almost.

Following two days of glorious summer weather, today's opening 20 Milers Extra ride of the year looked set to continue the trend. The day dawned warm, bright and sunny. Alas, the forecast suggested something different later on. The promise of a heavy thundery downpour complete with hail around lunchtime did not bode well for the planned picnic lunch in Almondell & Calderwood Country Park. In the end we got to enjoy our picnic lunch in the dry. There was a bit of rain, but nothing like as bad as suggested. The weather of the previous two days and the lovely start to today resulted in a respectable 18 riders making the start. The leader had made it clear that the ride would begin at 1015 sharp, and it did. But riders finishing coffee and faffing about meant the ride was in disarray from the start. The one group that left the Craigleith start point was not back together as one unit until we reached the bridge at Cramond. A short distance up the A90 sliproad and we crossed to go through the subway. This detour was necessary due to the closure of the Burnshot Bridge. We found ourselves on the diverted route for cyclists and pedestrians. This consisted of a narrow track seperated from the fast moving traffic on the A90 by nothing more than cones and rope. It was a relief to ride up the slip road and follow the road to Kirkliston for a comfort stop at the leisure centre. We left the main road behind heading under a bridge carrying the M9 motorway. Beside a much older bridge, we were faced with a steep climb to join the railway path. A couple of hardy souls rode up it, whilst the rest of us got off and pushed. A short while later we joined the canal towpath to Broxburn before getting on the road to Uphall. Off road again and we were in lovely West Lothian countryside.
We paused atop the Camps Viaduct to admire the view and take photos. With the weather still on our side, we pressed on towards lunch. Probably the best kept secret in West Lothian, Almondell & Calderwood Country Park is tucked out of sight in the valley of the River Almond between Broxburn and East Calder. Behind the converted stable block house that is now the visitor centre lies a delightful garden complete with benches and picnic tables. That is where we enjoyed a picnic lunch. It remained warm but the sun was hidden by cloud.

Lunch over, the first spots of rain were felt. There then began that silly indecisive dance. Shall we or shall we not put on our waterproofs? Some said it would make them too warm, some put them on, others copied what the person beside them did. We climbed the hill we had earlier whizzed down back to the entrance and the main road. It soon began to rain heavily and riders stopped to don waterproofs. Then it stopped raining. Some removed them, whilst others kept them on. It looked set to be "one of those days". We pressed on accompanied by changeable weather. Although annoying, the rain was not that heavy and continued to come and go. At the Bridge Inn at Ratho we joined the canal towpath and headed towards Edinburgh. We passed the lovely little Ratho Marina and stayed on the canal as far as Gogar Station Road. Leaving the canal behind we cut through to Edinburgh Park and the Gyle. Onwards through Broomhouse, we rode past Murrayfield where a couple of cricket matches were in full swing. At the bottom of the zig zags leading onto the Roseburn Path, the leader declared the ride over and we headed off in different directions. Thanks to Mike for leading an interesting ride out into West Lothian. Thanks to the weather for failing to live up to expectations - intermittent light rain was as bad as it got.

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

20-Milers Extra this coming Saturday

The Camps Viaduct. On Saturday's ride we will be cycling
over the top of this imposing structure.
This coming Saturday (27th) sees the first of our Extra rides of the summer. We'll be heading west, passing through Kirkliston, Broxburn and Uphall, then crossing the magnificent Camps Viaduct (75 feet above the River Almond) before returning to town by way of Bonnington and Ratho. Most of the route will be on quiet back roads, but there will also be a couple of stretches on the canal towpath (reasonably good surfaces) and about a mile or so on a narrow path that might be rough in places. There will be a few hills, but nothing too demanding.

Distance and pace

Please keep in mind that our Extra rides are longer than our usual runs and go at a faster pace with fewer breaks. This one will be 35 - 38 miles. If you find our normal rides well within your comfort zone, you should have no difficulties with this one. But if that's not the case, you might prefer to give this one a miss. Try a few shorter rides first, then come back when your fitness level improves (we have several more Extras planned for the coming months).

Despite the faster pace, we will still try to keep the ride "sociable", with our customary friendly atmosphere.

Lunch venue

We will have our lunch break in the beautiful Almondell Country Park. Note that there is no catering of any kind in the park, apart from the visitor centre which sells vending-machine drinks and a limited range of confectionery, so be sure to bring food for a picnic lunch. There are toilets in the park (and we will have an additional comfort break mid morning.)

The ride and picnic lunch will go ahead as planned even if the weather is poor. A light drizzle or gusty wind won't put us off. But if conditions are really atrocious, we might choose a shorter route and a café for lunch.

Meeting time and place

Regardless of the weather, the ride will start from the Craigleith path junction (see here if you need directions).

Please gather at the meeting point from about 10.00, and be ready to leave at 10.15 sharp.

We will probably be back in town around 16.00. We won't necessarily return to Craigleith; we will probably pass Murrayfield, Roseburn Park and the southern end of the Roseburn Path on the return leg.

I hope to see you either this coming Saturday or one of our other rides.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Eight out, two back – a damp weekend to Perth

The fourth annual 20 Milers weekend away saw us head north to the fair city of Perth. What turned out to be a damp, and at times downright wet and blustery weekend saw eight set out on Saturday morning. But only two rolled back into Edinburgh in the early evening sunshine on Sunday. Whilst that may seem like a terrible rate of attrition, it wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds.

On a cool damp Saturday morning, a mere eight riders met at the Craigleith marker to begin our journey to Perth. No doubt the weather played a big part, but this was the lowest turnout since our weekend away rides began in 2014. With us all in waterproofs, we headed off along the familiar path towards South Queensferry and the Forth Bridge. One of the group fell courtesy of an uneven drop kerb at Dalmeny. Fortunately, no injury or damage occurred and we carried on through the new housing estate. As we got closer to the bridge we stopped to speak to an old lady walking her dog. She told us she thought the bridge was closed to cyclists as a result of kestrel damage! On arriving at the bridge, we discovered this was not the case. But it certainly made us smile and cropped up in the conversation a number of times over the weekend. Our concern at the bridge was the chaos caused by the roadworks. We are so used to quickly and smoothly making our way to the foot and cycleway on the eastside of the bridge. But not today. We had to negotiate our way to the westside before we could begin our crossing. Once across we were confronted with miles of cones, rope and strange door frames at crossing points. There was one benefit. The usually horribly busy road into Inverkeithing was as quiet as most of us had ever seen it. We left Inverkeithing behind us and headed towards Dalgety Bay. From there we found ourselves on the B901 Clocklunie Road – not Clock-the-loony as some on the group had christened it. This was a steep road that went down into the valley before climbing out at the far side.
Being a busy and narrow road meant we were delighted to see a lovely wide, well surfaced cycle path running alongside. Two brave souls wanted to whizz down the road and see how far up the other side their momentum would carry them. The rest of the group took the path not caring that a gateway at the bottom would scupper any chance of that. It was great zooming down; but it was very hard work going up the other side. We then pressed on through Crossgates, Cowdenbeath and on to Kinross. In Kinross it began to rain heavily. Fortunately, our lunchstop, the Muirs Inn emerged from the gloom and we rushed inside. The rain continued as we enjoyed a lovely lunch. We didn’t rush. One of the group had been checking train times and urged us to get a move on so he could make Perth in time for his train back to Edinburgh. Well, it was time to get moving and the rain had stopped. We made our way through Milnathort and turned left up a minor road towards Netherton. A sign told us this road was closed, but fortunately we were able to get through. On this road about ten horses decided to gallop up and down their field for a few minutes. Perhaps they didn’t get to see many cyclists. We passed through Colliston, Drunzie, Duncrevie and Glenfarg. Near Dron we found ourselves on a beautiful long descent. It may have been a minor road, but the curves were gentle and the surface smooth and free of the dreaded gravel. Some reported hitting 40 mph here. Then came the cloud burst. There was no shelter on this stretch. We had agreed to regroup beneath a bridge that carries the M90 motorway. There was plenty of room under the bridge. It looked as if the weather had set in for the day. We anticipated it being like that all the way to Perth. The rider who wanted to catch his train realised he would make better progress alone, so left us and headed out into the rain. Astonishingly, a few minutes later the rain stopped and the sun made its first appearance of the day, and that’s how it stayed as we made our way into Perth. One rider headed off to meet their lift home, whilst three piled into a strategically parked van for their return to Edinburgh. And then there were three. We made our way to our overnight accommodation, enjoyed the luxury of a hot shower and change of clothes before meeting up for dinner. Obviously, dinner was less lively than in previous years due to depleted numbers.

On Sunday morning, the three remaining riders met beside the main road bridge across the Tay to begin our journey back to Edinburgh. It was dry, bright but cloudy and a touch cool. We retraced our route from the previous day. With the beautiful steep descent near Dron now ahead of us as a most foreboding climb, the leader turned left on to a flat road. Phew! This quiet road led us to the A912. We headed south on this fast twisty road keeping in single file. There was some traffic, but being a Sunday morning it was not overly busy. This led us to our morning coffee stop at the delightful, friendly and welcoming Bein Inn. From there we went through Glenfarg, Duncreavie, Drunzie and Milnathort before arriving at Loch Leven Larder for lunch. The café there looked very nice. But the “you’ll have to wait at least 20 minutes for a table” did not appeal. We got some food from the deli and sat outside, but under cover as it was now raining. In a field closer to Loch Leven a cricket match continued despite the rain. At this point one of the group left us to head to Cowdenbeath for a train back to Edinburgh. And then there were two. We headed down to the loch. A lovely path and fine views should have made this part of the ride lovely. But there was a drawback – the swarms of flies and midges. It began to make sense why so many cyclists heading towards us had their faces covered as if they were on their way to rob a bank. On leaving the lochside and getting back on the road the wind got up. This annoying headwind did not seem to let up until we were back in Edinburgh. This headwind and some dull featureless roads made parts of our journey out of Fife something of a slog at times. At Dalgety Bay the leader suffered the first puncture of the weekend. He told the writer to go on. That wasn’t going to happen. The 20 Milers ethos has always been that we stick together. No one ever gets left on their own.  Puncture fixed and we were rolling again. Once more we threaded our way through the maze of roadworks to get onto the Forth Bridge. Thanks to the strong headwind, climbing to the highest point on the bridge felt like climbing a mountain. Eventually we got across. Not a kestrel in sight. From there familiar roads and paths took us back to the Cramond Brig Hotel for a well-deserved pint. We sat outside the pub in the early evening sunshine and shed our jackets for the first time all weekend. From there we returned to Craigleith where the ride was officially closed, and the final two headed home in opposite directions.

The weekend had been tough at times. Not Peebles tough, but no easy amble. There had been stretchs on some busy roads; but that was balanced by some lovely quiet lanes. Some of the climbs were tough, but going from Edinburgh to Perth – there are hills in between. Think of them as a challenge. Remember, there is no shame in walking up the steepest ones. Sometimes its quicker and easier than riding them! A big thanks must go to Jim for all the effort he put in to planning, recceing and leading the ride. Going out on his own recceing the route in the winter months deserves a mention in despatches, if not a medal.

Leader: Jim
Organiser: Glenn
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn and Graham
Map trace: Jim

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Burnshot Bridge closure: alternative route to Kirkliston and beyond

Updated: 21 May

The Burnshot Bridge is currently closed to all traffic – including cyclists and pedestrians. This is the bridge over the main A90 Queensferry Road near Cramond Brig. It lies on the main bike route between Edinburgh and Kirkliston, and its closure is a major nuisance to cyclists travelling between the capital and parts of West Lothian.

Since this article was posted on 17 May, Edinburgh Council have established an alternative route between NCN 1 near Cramond Brig and the Kirkliston Road. This route, which is described below, is easier and safer than the other options, and has the benefit of being signposted - at least in part.

To reach this alternative route, head north on NCN 1 from Cramond Brig (this is the route that goes alongside the dual carriageway, not the longer route through the Dalmeny Estate).

The closed bridge as seen from NCN 1
After a short distance, you will see a tunnel on your left that goes under the A90 (see photo below). This is next to the public weighbridge and opposite a bus stop. Go through the tunnel. At the other end, keep on the path as it veers to the left. This takes you onto the dual carriageway - but in a coned-off lane that is reserved for cyclists and pedestrians.

It is advisable to keep well to the left as you cycle in this lane, to keep some distance between yourself and the fast-moving traffic. Also, watch out for cyclists coming towards you. Although it is not obvious, this lane is in fact two-way for cyclists.

After about half a mile, leave the dual carriageway by a slip road. This joins the Kirkliston Road just to the west of the closed bridge. You can now continue on the original route.

Coming back

The tunnel under the dual carriageway
If you are cycling in the opposite direction, that is, from the Kirkliston area towards Edinburgh, just reverse the above directions. When you reach
the closed bridge, turn right down the slip road onto the dual carriageway, using the coned-off lane mentioned above. Leave the main road at the next exit and go through the tunnel to join NCN 1. Turn right by the bus stop for Cramond Brig and Edinburgh.

How long?

Nobody seems to know for how long the Burnshot Bridge will be closed. We'll post more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, feel free to post a comment if you have experience with the route described here.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

With the leading ladies to South Queensferry

Today's ride saw us head out to South Queensferry. After a long spell of dry weather, what a shame today saw the first rain in weeks. With a break from tradition, today we had two leaders. Both Dawn and Ollie were leading for the first time. Between them they did a good job and can expect be asked to lead again. In amongst the 25 starters it was good to see a couple of new riders. It was cool, damp and misty as we headed away from the Meadows in one group. So, how does it work with two leaders and one group? On this occasion, Dawn led the group and Ollie back marked. We took the tried and tested route to the Leamington Bridge where the continued closure of the canal towpath forced us on to the busy Dundee Street. Having safely negotiated that, we went down the Telfer subway and followed the path to Dalry Road. After a short spell on that busy road, quieter ones led us to the zig zags and up onto the Roseburn path. This took us to Granton where we passed that local landmark, the Granton gasometer. On along the Silverknowes Esplanade to Cramond where we stopped whilst sweets and cakes were passed round. Whilst it was nice to have a break, the cool misty weather meant we were glad to be moving again. It was not a day for standing around. We rode beside the River Almond, before warming up on the short but steep climb up School Brae. A short run along Whitehouse Road before turning right down Peggy's Mill Road. This narrow road was new to many of the group and led us back beside the River Almond and on to Cramond Bridge. From there we made our way on NCN 76 through the lovely Dalmeny Estate. The earlier rain had damped down the dust a little. But a lot more would be needed to make the tracks truly muddy. We encountered heavy drizzle on the last stretch into South Queensferry. On the narrow High Street a lorry and coach had met resulting in traffic being at a standstill. It was easy for us to dismount and walk along the pavement to where we parked our bikes. Whilst most of the group headed to various cafes for lunch; four hardy souls sat in the heavy drizzle to eat their sandwiches. At one point, one of the picnicers even produced an umbrella. Talk about coming prepared! It soon dried up, but remained cool and misty. The group has been to South Queensferry enough times to have seen weather ranging from pouring rain to beautiful warm sunshine. We would have hoped for better in mid-May.

As we were preparing to get under way, a puncture was discovered. This was soon repaired and we were off. This time Ollie was leading and Dawn back marking. A short steep hill immediately after the lunch stop is never popular. But that had to be dealt with to reach the Co-op car park where we joined the cycle path to Dalmeny. Through the village and onto the cyclepath beside the A90 and we were soon back at Cramond Bridge. Making our way through Barnton, those at the back were surprised to see the leader talking to a pedestrian whilst the group had stopped further up the road. It appeared that the lady had wanted to find out more about the group. A new recruit perhaps? From there we took the familiar route back to the Meadows via Craigleith, the Roseburn path, Telfer subway and Leamington Bridge. As the ride ended, the sun was trying to peep through; but it remained cool and the wind was beginning to get stronger. New leaders; a new way of leading - two rather than one and a trouble-free ride; what more could anyone ask for? Looks like two more leaders have been added to the list.

Leaders: Dawn and Ollie
Report: Glenn
Photos: Glenn
Map trace: Jim

Monday, 8 May 2017

Three rides for May

We've got three rides planned for this month. Here are some details - along with news of some other bike-related events:

Standard ride : 13 May

Our next standard ride will be this coming Saturday. Ollie and Dawn will be leading us to South Queensferry by a slightly unconventional route. With a total distance of about 25 miles, the ride will be a little longer than usual but there won't be any particularly steep hills to slow us down. There might be a couple of rough paths, although most of the route will be on reasonably good surfaces.

For lunch, we'll spread ourselves among the various cafés and pubs in South Queensferry. For those who prefer to bring their own food there is a nice picnic spot with good views over the Forth.

The ride will start at 10.30 from our usual meeting point in Middle Meadow Walk.

Weekend away: 20 - 21 May

For our fourth annual cycling weekend, we'll be heading to Perth. We'll leave Edinburgh on the Saturday morning, returning late Sunday afternoon. Jim will be leading us on what promises to be an attractive route through Fife and Kinross. There will be about 40 miles of cycling each day. This will include a certain amount of climbing but nothing too severe; but there will be one very steep descent on the Saturday afternoon, so I hope all our brakes are in good order.

There will be lunch stops at a café or pub on both days.

If you are planning to join this ride, you should book your own accommodation in Perth for the Saturday night. Those who want to do the Saturday ride but not stay overnight should make their own arrangements to return to Edinburgh by train. Those who are stopping in Perth will have the option of meeting up for a meal in the evening.

The meeting point for this ride will be the Craigleigh path junction (if you don't know where that it, see here). Get there in time for a 10.30 departure on the Saturday morning. You don't need to book for the ride itself, but if you haven't already done so it would be helpful if you could let Glenn know that you are coming, just in case of any last-minute change of plans. His email address is glenn.brearley[[AT]]forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

First Extra ride of 2017: 27 May

The following weekend will see our first Extra of the year. As you know, these rides are longer than our usual "second Saturday" outings (usually about 35 miles) and go at a somewhat faster pace. If you find our normal rides well within your capabilities, you should have no problem with our Extras. But if you are unsure of your fitness level, you might prefer to give this one a miss.

I'll post more information about this Extra once the details have been firmed up.

Evening rides

Don't forget that we have a ride every Thursday evening throughout the summer. For more information, see here.

More cycling events

With summer just round the corner, the local cycling scene is hotting up. We have the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling next month, as well as the Spokes Bike Breakfast and the annual Lepra run to St. Andrews - not to mention various rides organised by other local cycling groups such as EasyCycle and MellowVelo. Looking further ahead, the Edinburgh Book Festival in August often has talks on cycling-related themes.

I am posting details of as many of these events as possible on the Cycling Edinburgh site.

That's all for now. I hope we'll see you on one or more of the above events. In the meantime, happy pedalling.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Evening rides start this week

Starting this coming Thursday (27th April), we will be having an evening ride every week throughout the summer. These rides will be about 15 miles or so, and will be taken at a moderate "sociable" pace. That means about 10 mph, which is a little faster than our Saturday runs but not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation.

The details are as follows:

Meeting point: At the very end of the Union Canal in Fountainbridge. Look for us near the outside tables at the back of the Akva bar.

Start time: We'll gather from 18.30, in time for a 18.45 departure.

Finish time: Most rides will end around dusk, which is about 20.30 at present but nearer 22.00 in mid June. Be sure to bring lights (with plenty of spare battery power).

Cost and booking: Like all of our rides, these evening runs are completely free, with no need to book in advance.

Other details: In most cases, the ride will end at or near the start point. There might sometimes be an optional pub visit at the end of the ride, but note that there will be no official meal break.

We won't be posting individual reminders for these rides, so keep the above details handy. There is also a special blog page where you can find details of the routes that have been planned so far, as well as directions to the meeting point and other useful information. See http://20milers.pbworks.com.

Thanks to Jim for taking the initiative in planning and organising these events.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Pedal on Parliament this Saturday

20-Milers meeting for the 2016 PoP
As you probably know, the annual Pedal on Parliament takes place this coming Saturday (22nd April). This is a fun event, in which thousands of cyclists descend on the city centre, and ride from the Meadows to Holyrood on roads closed to motor vehicles.

As usual, a 20-Milers contingent will be taking part. We will meet outside the Bicycle Works in Argyle Place (which is just south of the Meadows, near the southern end of Middle Meadow Walk). We'll gather from 11.00, and aim to join to main crowd on the Meadows at 11.15.

If you miss us at the above meeting point, make your own way to the Meadows, and look out for us there.

The event includes a mass bell-ringing, so if you have a particularly loud bell or a hooter, please bring it. If you can decorate your bike with flags or balloons, so much the better.

I hope you'll be able to make it. If you want to know more about Pedal on Parliament, have a look at the event's website.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Our next cycling weekend: Perth in May

This year's 20-Milers cycling weekend will be to Perth on 20th – 21st May.

We'll leave Edinburgh on the Saturday morning and make our way to Perth. We'll  stay overnight (all meet up for dinner) in Perth and return to Edinburgh on the Sunday.

The pace will be similar to a usual 20-Milers rides. The distance each day will be about 40 miles.

You will need to book your own accommodation. It's very likely that we'll end up in several different hotels / guest houses / bed &  breakfasts.

If you are interested in joining this ride, please let Glenn know. This doesn't commit you to anything. It's just to give us an idea of numbers, and also so that we can keep you informed of any changes in plan.

Please reply direct to Glenn Brearley, glenn.brearleyATTforestry.gsi.gov.uk (replace ATT with the usual AT-sign).

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Carberry beneath blue skies

At the end of a week when the 20 Milers had said farewell to one of their own; today's ride was never going to be easy. A respectable turn out of 25 riders gathered at the start for the April ride to Carberry. Beneath blue skies with a slight chill in the air, the leader spent a couple of minutes paying tribute to Logan Strang who sadly passed away whilst riding with friends from the group on 25th March. There then followed the customary briefing before we headed off towards the Innocent tunnel in one group. It was good to see new faces and some we hadn't seen for a while mixed in with the regular ones. It was nice to see the road works had gone from Milton Road as we made our way towards Musselburgh station along familiar paths. At the station, we halted as various sweets and cakes were passed round. Just after leaving the station, we realised that the back marker and a couple of others were missing. The group waited a few minutes. With no sign of them, a rider was sent back to look for them. No joy. We set off hoping that they would wait by the River Esk and rejoin us there. That's what happened. After leaving the station, they had lost sight of the rest of the group and taken the second left rather than the third. We were now all back together; suspecting that Logan was laughing at us from on high. We crossed the river, made our way down the side of the race course and onto the John Muir Way as far as Prestonpans. Following a brief comfort stop, we made our way past Prestonpans station before turning onto a track that took us to the cyclepath and to the edge of Tranent. From there we climbed steadily to Elphinstone. It was now quite warm as the chill wind had dropped. Layers of clothing were shed. After re-grouping on the forecourt of a classic car dealership, we took the lovely quiet road that brought us to Crossgatehall. Just down from there, we entered the lovely Carberry estate. A ride along dirt tracks in the estate, back onto the road and we arrived at Craig House for our lunch stop. We were slightly later than planned. But no one minded as we spread ourselves around the beer garden tables in the warm sunshine. This was in contrast to the day of the recce, when four brave souls had endured dreadfully wet weather.

Lunch over, we got back on the road and began our journey towards Edinburgh. We made our way through the village of Inveresk to the church. After negotiating a gate, we sped downhill and onto the path beside the River Esk known as "The Grove". This took us to Tesco. Getting all the riders across the road took a few minutes. From there we made our way to Fisherrow Harbour. Crossing the busy road out of Musselburgh, quiet back roads took us to a gate in a wall. Through the gate, a short stretch on a busy road, through a hole in the wall and we were on the Brunstane path. We were making good progress until we came to a fence blocking the path. Fortunately, there was a diversion that took us to where we needed to be. From there, a familiar route took us back to the Meadows. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride, and the newcomers were made to feel welcome. We had lovely weather and for most of the group, they had discovered places they hadn't been before. On a ride the leader had dedicated to Logan, I think we did him proud. He was in our thoughts and conversations a lot today and we can be sure he would have enjoyed the ride. We will miss him, but never forget him. Logan, thank you for being our friend - it was a privilege.

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

Monday, 27 March 2017

Logan Strang 1938 - 2017

I am very sorry to report that one of our best-known and longest-standing members has died. George Strang - known to us all as Logan - suffered a heart attack while out cycling with three of our group in East Lothian on Saturday. He was 79.

Logan turned to cycling following the death of a daughter in 2004. Never one to sit at home or feel sorry for himself, he often said that cycling was what kept him sane. He had been a regular member of 20-Milers since 2007, and often led our rides. He also cycled with other local groups, and took part in several big charity rides including Pedal for Scotland and the Lepra St. Andrews run. A few years ago, he undertook a solo coast-to-coast bike ride from North Yorkshire to Iona.

Always keen to encourage new and less experienced cyclists, he was the driving force behind the setting up of EasyCycle in 2011, and ran the group almost single-handed until late 2015.

Logan was born in 1938, and attended Merchiston Castle school. After completing his National Service, part of which was spent in Cyprus, he became a science teacher, and taught for many years at George Watson's College. Always active and physically fit, he often took his pupils on sailing and skiing trips.

A few weeks ago, Logan was admitted to hospital for a minor operation. He was recovering well, and was soon back in the saddle. On Saturday, he joined three other members of our group for a ride to Humbie. Soon after the lunch stop, he collapsed by the side of the road. An ambulance was called and he was taken to the Infirmary, but was pronounced dead soon afterwards.

Despite some setbacks to his health in recent months, Logan repeatedly said that he would never give up cycling – and he never did. As one of our members put it, "If there can be any consolation at such a time, he passed away doing what he loved doing, with good friends, on a beautiful day. In typical fashion, he was cheerful to the end."

Funeral arrangements. A service will be held at St Peters Church, Falcon Avenue, Morningside at 1 pm on Wednesday 5th April. Family flowers only please, and no black. Retiring collection in aid of SCIAF.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

A March meander to Riccarton

We had an excellent turnout for today's ride to Riccarton (I counted 28 but there might have been more), so leader Michael (Law) wisely decided to split us into two groups. Actually, it turned out to be three groups, but that was by accident rather than design; more about that in a moment.

Michael's group set out confidently and made it to the lunch venue without mishap. But before the second party was able to depart, that oh-so-familiar cry was heard: puncture! A couple of willing hands helped fix the problem, and before long the second group was on its way as well.

The unexpected closure of the canal towpath near Viewforth had forced us to make a hasty adjustment to our itinerary. Because of some uncertainty over the new route, the leadership of the second group was something of a joint effort involving Verity and myself. We were scarcely off the Meadows before we noticed that three members of the party were missing, including the backmarker and his deputy. (Was it not Oscar Wilde who said, "To lose one backmarker may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness." Well, maybe not.)

Rightly or wrongly, we made a decision to carry on without the three absentees. So we proceeded on our revised route down Whitehouse Loan, up Woodehouse Terrace and Braid Road to the Comiston Road traffic lights, and then into Braidburn Valley Park. There had been light drizzle at the start of the ride, but this was now giving way to clearer skies, giving us fine views of the Pentland Hills.

We followed the path beside the Braid Burn to Redford Road, then freewheeled down into Colinton, where we paused for a comfort break. Our route then took us up Woodhall Road, down West Mill Road and onto the Water of Leith path. A couple of miles later, we turned off the path and headed through Currie and into the back gate of the Heriot-Watt campus.

And so we reached our lunch venue, which was the spacious canteen in the university's main building. Considering the place is usually deserted on Saturdays, they offer a surprisingly good range of meals and snacks. As always the staff served us cheerfully and efficiently.

Michael's party had arrived about ten minutes before us, and left about ten minutes before our own departure. Just as we were getting ready to leave, who should arrive but the three riders that we had lost on the Meadows. It turned out that the person who had had the puncture at the start of the run had suffered the same fate again almost immediately afterwards. With no further inner tubes available, and with all attempts at patching the existing tube proving unsuccessful, the puncturee and the two helpers/backmarkers headed for the Edinburgh Bike Co-op for a new tube. The problem thus solved, the three made record time catching us up. But we had no desire to hang around while they gobbled their belated lunch, so we again set out without them.

For the return leg of the ride, we took a slightly devious route out of the campus (to avoid a running race which was taking place that afternoon). Then, after crossing the main Calder Road, we headed along Gogar Station Road and into Edinburgh Park, past the Gyle shopping centre and South Gyle station, and then along the familiar route through Corstorphine, Balgreen, Roseburn, and so back to the Meadows. The first group had made it back a few minutes before us. The three riders in the third group, having finished their hasty lunch at the campus, had made a bee-line back to town on the canal towpath, and arrived not long after the rest of us. Thus re-united, members of all three groups partook of refreshments while sitting in the warm sunshine outside Peter's Yard café.

Leaders and backmarkers: Jim, Glenn, Michael, Mike, Neil, Verity, in various combinations
Report and photo: Mike
Map (showing third group's route): Jim

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

March 20-Milers - plus more rides

Now that the worst of the winter is behind us (let's hope), this would be a good time to think about forthcoming bike rides. This post contains news of a few events you might be interested in. I hope you'll be able to make at least some of them.

March 20-Milers this coming Saturday

For this month's run (on 11th), Michael will be leading us out to the west of the city, mainly on quiet roads and sheltered paths. It won't be a long run, nor a particularly demanding one, apart from a couple of gentle hills. If you haven't cycled for a while, this would be a good way to ease yourself back into the saddle.

We'll meet as usual at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure. Our lunch stop will be in the canteen at Heriot-Watt in Riccarton. This is a very spacious eatery, serving a reasonable selection of sandwiches and hot snacks. For those of us who prefer to bring our own food, there is plenty of room to eat it, both inside and outside the building.

As always, please treat the above information as provisional. The starting place and time may be regarded as definite, but we sometimes have to vary the route or choose a different lunch venue, depending on various factors.

Fancy-dress bike ride (2nd April)

Jenny Tizard is organising this fun event to raise funds for a local charity called Bikes for Refugees. Their aim is to provide refugees and asylum seekers with old or refurbished bikes. Personally, I think this is a very worthwhile cause, partly because it helps a vulnerable group of people at a time of crisis in their lives; and partly because it gets people cycling who might not otherwise be able to do so.

The plan is for us all to decorate our bikes and/or ourselves to make the ride as eye-catching as possible. The route will be quite short, and all are welcome. If you absolutely can't manage a fancy dress, just a couple of balloons will suffice. And if even that's not possible, come anyway to show your support.

For further information, see this page (which also has contact details):

Pedal on Parliament (22nd April)

I don't have any more information yet about this event, but you might like to note the date.

20-Milers weekend  (20th - 21st May)

This will be our fourth cycling weekend. The destination hasn't been confirmed yet, but you can at least save the date. The formula will be the same as in past years: we will set out from Edinburgh on the Saturday morning, returning late Sunday afternoon. Riders will be responsible for booking their own accommodation, with the group meeting up for a restaurant or pub meal on the Saturday evening.

Look out for a circular from Glenn with full details later in the month.

St. Andrews ride (17th June)

The date has now been fixed for this popular event. And for the first time in several years, the organisers have managed to avoid a clash with our own monthly run. If you have never tried it, do give it a go. It's a challenging ride, but a very enjoyable one.

Full details can be found here: http://www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk/lepra-ride.htm

Mellow Velo, Spokes and CTC

Many of our members ride regularly with one or other of these Edinburgh-based groups. Between them, they have a ride almost every weekend. Spokes go out on the first Sunday of the month; their rides are usually faster and longer than ours, with a long pub or restaurant stop for lunch. CTC have rides of varying lengths at different times of the month.

Mellow Velo specialise in weekends away, but they also have a few day rides coming up. These include an East Lothian run on 18th March and a ride to the Vale of Leven on 8th April. Their first weekend ride of 2017 will be to Callander on 6th to 7th May.

Full details of all the above rides can be found on my own website: www.cycling-edinburgh.org.uk.

That's all for now. As you can see, there are a lot of events to choose from. I hope I'll see you on some of them.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Fancy Dress Bike Ride - 2nd April

Jenny Tizard has sent us this message:

I am writing to let you know about a special bike ride that I am organising for Sunday 2nd April.

The event is a fancy-dress ride. We will be riding around the centre of Edinburgh, with bikes and/or riders decorated in the most eye-catching way possible - and with prizes for the best.

The ride is in aid of a local charity which I am involved with. It is called Bikes for Refugees. We accept donations of old or damaged bikes, which we refurbish and pass on to refugees and asylum seekers. In this way we are helping a very vulnerable group of people at a time of crisis in their lives - not to mention keeping old bikes out of landfills.

The ride is free but we will be collecting donations for the charity. Any money raised will be used to pay for the repair and storage of bikes, as well as for essential safety equipment such as helmets and lights. All contributions will be very welcome.

Time and place: Gather from 10.30 am, at the usual 20-Milers meeting point at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk. The ride will set out at 11 am and last about 45 minutes.

Route: Grassmarket, Princes Street, St Andrews Square, Royal Mile, Chamber Street, and then back to the Meadows.

Afterwards: At the end of the ride there will be prize-giving and a chance to find out more about the Bikes for Refugees project. You can also talk to some Syrian refugees now living in Edinburgh who have got bikes through the project.

Booking: There's no need to book in advance. Just turn up on the day, with your bike and fancy dress. (If you haven't got a bike, come anyway as a spectator.)

More information: See the event's Facebook page or email me at jennytizard[AT]gmail.com (replace [AT] with the usual @-sign).

I hope to see you on the day.


Saturday, 11 February 2017

The dirty dozen ride to Roslin

Today's ride to Roslin was never likely to be cancelled due to the weather, despite a forecast promising heavy rain all day. But with that in mind, previous heavy rain and some muddy paths to contend with, anyone that had previously cleaned their bike must have wondered why they had bothered. It was also very cold, but fortunately not icy. The weather obviously had a big impact. Only 12 riders made the start, all of them hardened regulars. It's been a very long time since we had such a low turn out. No need to worry about two groups or any indepth briefing. We headed off towards the Innocent Tunnel. One rider was heard to say, "I'm wearing every item of clothing I possess". At Duddingston Road West, we cut through Kings Haugh to Peffermill Road. Once across, we took the path through Craigmillar Castle Park and encountered the first mud of the day before emerging beside the Royal Infirmary. We crossed the busy Old Dalkeith Road, pausing to allow an ambulance into the hospital and headed into Moredun. A road closure in the estate diverted us from our usual route. But we were soon back on course and heading for the cycle track that would take us all the way to Roslin. A mixture of mud and slushy snow made the path quite slippery. But a drama-free ride took us to our lunch stop in Roslin. It was lovely to be inside the warm pub eating hot food on such a cold day. Some even shed layers of clothing as they warmed up.

All nice and warm, that inevitable shock hit us on stepping back out into the cold. Despite a few grumbles and someone saying, "I'd rather have an afternoon nap", we were soon rolling again. As we set off, a small boy was heard to say to his mum, "look, an old man on a bike". Oh, from the mouths of babes! Consternation followed as the group tried to determine who he had been referring to! We headed back the way we had come. But we left the path and took the old route via Straiton pond. This stretch was the muddiest of the day and brought us out at Straiton Retail Park. Paths beside busy main roads took us to Burdiehouse, where we joined Burdiehouse Road. From there we headed back towards town via Howden Hall Road, Liberton Gardens, Liberton Road and Craigmillar Park. On Mayfield Gardens we were hit by a gust of wind so strong that it almost stopped us in our tracks. We recovered from that and made our way back to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride over. At just under 20 miles, this had been a shorter ride. But given the weather and mud, no one seemed to mind. Whilst the weather was far from pleasant, it was far from the worst we have endured and was not as bad as forecasted. Thanks to Jim for leading us on an interesting and less familiar route to and from Roslin. Thanks also to Verity on her maiden outing as backmarker. A role she seemed to relish. Something of a natural; we expect to see her bringing up the rear again soon.

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

Monday, 6 February 2017

20-Milers to Roslin this coming Saturday

This month's 20-Milers ride will take place this coming Saturday (11th). Jim will be leading us out to Roslin. The route is just about 20 miles, with no particular difficulties except for a couple of short stretches on main roads. As always, we'll meet at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, in time for a 10.30 departure.

For lunch, there is a choice between a pub and a café, both in the centre of the village. There is also a nice picnic spot a short distance away for those who prefer to bring their own food.

I hope you can make it. Remember, you don't need to let anyone know that you are coming. Just turn up on the day.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Back to Basics in Musselburgh

Today's ride was something of a one-off. Referred to as a Back to Basics ride; it came about to address comments raised by a number of regular riders that some of our rides were becoming too long, too fast and too arduous. The ethos of the 20 Milers has always been, "most rides are around 20 miles, and are taken at a "sociable" pace (8 - 9 mph over the day, which is not so fast that you can't keep up a conversation). For whatever reasons, we were concerned that this ethos was coming under threat - hence the need for today's ride.

The temperature was just above freezing, but it was bright and sunny as the riders began to assemble. Despite the temperature, there were no icy patches on any of the roads or paths to catch anyone out. We ended up with a roll call of 18. In amongst the regular faces were several riders we hadn't seen for a while and two on their maiden outing with the group. Following the obligatory leader's briefing (where the reason for this additional ride was explained), we headed off towards Musselburgh in one group. We took the tried-and-tested route along the cycle path to the Innocent Tunnel. We whizzed through the tunnel which felt exceptionally cold today. Despite one of the group being convinced that Death eaters live in the tunnel, we didn't see any. Perhaps someone had watched too many Harry Potter films over Christmas! We followed the Innocent Railway path as far as the Range (formerly Big W), where we stopped in the car park as cakes and sweets were passed around by some of the group. Full of cake and sweets, we headed off. Major road woks on Milton Road meant the cycle path was narrower than usual. But the group negotiated it without any problem. At least it was open, unlike the main road to Musselburgh. Through the housing estate, which seemed very busy with traffic and back on the cycle path to Newcraighall. We faced further heavy traffic heading towards Fort Kinnaird. It was nice to turn off into a quiet back street and join the path to Musselburgh station. A path we had to ourselves. A brief stop beside the station to regroup before heading through another housing estate. On reaching the main road, a few of us were confused when a car already on the roundabout stopped to wave the 18 cyclists across. Whilst very kind of the driver, such actions often lead to confusion due to being so unexpected. From there we made our way onto the delightful path beside the River Esk, known locally as the Grove. This brought us out beside Tesco. A further short stretch of busy road, and we took to the path, ducked our heads and nipped under Musselburgh's main road bridge. A ride down the cobbles of Mill Hill, along Kerrs Wynd and we emerged at the bottom end of the High Street. We made use of the new bike racks and headed off for lunch. A few went elsewhere, but most of the group headed to the Cafe on the Corner. Both the service and food were exceptional. Having received such a warm welcome, that is somewhere we will definitely return to.

Lunch over; we reconvened at the bike racks. One rider had a problem with his lock. Fortunately it was soon resolved and we headed off. Except for two at the back. One rider suffered a mechanical issue and had to stop and fix it. As ever, the back marker stayed with the stricken rider. The tools came out, adjustments were made and the two were rolling again. The remainder of the group realised they were two short, so stopped and waited. After a few minutes, two riders were sent back to see what the problem was; arriving just as the two set off again. A very effective demonstration that no one ever gets left behind on our rides. If only all cycling groups took that attitude! All together again, we took the prom as far as Fisherrow Harbour. From there we took the main road to Joppa. The group streamed onto Portobello prom only to be confronted with a "Cyclists Dismount" sign and a severely restricted width of prom due to the laying of new gas mains. Muttering something about, "it wasn't like this when I recce'ed the route two weeks ago", the leader was forced to turn round and took us back to the main road. We weren't on it long before we turned left and made our way over the bridge crossing Sir Harry Lauder Road and the railway yards. Rather than take the road up to Milton Road, we were able to make use of the excellent new cycle path that now exists courtesy of the new Portobello High School. Across Milton Road, through the Magdalenes and we were back on the Innocent Railway. A trouble free run saw us return to the Meadows where the leader declared the ride officially over. Well done to Jim for doing a great job of leading the first Back to Basics ride. At just over 17 miles, it was shorter than usual. Feedback suggests it was a great success. The pace was right. It wasn't too hard and the distance was right. There is a possibility there will be another of these rides as spring approaches. Details will be on the website. The usual 20 Milers rides will continue on the second Saturday of each month as before, and there will be the usual series of 20 Milers Extra rides during the summer.

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

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.