EDINBURGH 20-MILERS

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Saturday, 12 May 2018

Flying solo



Today's ride took us out to South Queensferry via the lovely Dalmeny Estate. Last year, today's leader led her first ever ride. On that occasion she set a precedent with there being two leaders. Today she was flying solo; thus proving to the group [and herself] that leading a ride is not as daunting as some would have you believe. Maybe that is why she received [an unheard of] round of applause following the pre-ride briefing.

It was great to be blessed with lovely weather. Warm, sunny, blue skies and little wind was the order of the day. A turnout of twenty four riders was good and meant we only needed one group. As ever, it was good to see some new faces. There is so much to be said for a group which has the philosophy of "no need to book, just turn up and enjoy the ride". The group walked away from the start point. Yes, walked! Half  the width of Middle Meadow Walk had been dug up at that point, forcing us to walk along pushing our bikes for the first 100 yards of the ride. We remounted and rode to the Leamington Bridge via Bruntsfield Links. A short stretch on the canal towpath, down past Fountain Park, through the Telfer subway, Russell Road and we were riding up the zig-zags to join the Roseburn Path. The Roseburn and Telford Paths took us onwards to Granton, past the gasometer which was gleaming in the sunshine. From there it was down to the waterfront and along Silverknowes Esplanade to Cramond for a comfort and sweetie stop. A sharp little climb up School Brae followed to join Whitehouse Road. A right turn down the delightful little Peggy's Mill Road and we were on the River Almond Walkway. We had the mandatory stop at Cramond Brig. What should have been a quick stop ended up being more lengthy due to a mechanical problem requiring attention. We followed route N76 through the delightful Dalmeny Estate, which was lovely at this time of year in the sunshine. We followed the path that skirts the coast to emerge beside the Forth Rail Bridge. We thought the paths through the estate were busy; but that was nothing compared to how busy South Queensferry was. Even on nice days there is often a cool breeze blowing off the Forth. For once, this was not the case. Perfect picnic weather.

As we were preparing to head off after our lunch stop, a few of us were reminiscing about something that happened a couple of years ago. Despite it sounding too good to be true, the leader told us he had discovered a way of avoiding the steep climb up the main road to the Co-Op where we would join the cycle path. Unfortunately, the alternative route involved carrying bikes up a couple of flights of steps! Needless to say, we have never used it since. The short, steep climb over and we were on the cycle path that took us to Dalmeny village. Back into Dalmeny Estate, this time on roads rather than the paths of the morning. There were a couple of hills to deal with in the warm sunshine; but payback came in the form of a glorious downhill section. Another stop at Cramond Brig - this time a brief one. We made our way back through Barnton, Davidson's Mains, Silverknowes and past Craigleith. From there, we took almost the same route back as we had taken out in the morning. The difference being that we returned to The Meadows via Tollcross rather than Bruntsfield Links.

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the ride. The weather certainly helped. Thanks to Dawn on her first time as sole leader; and I'm sure she will have appreciated David's assistance as backmarker-cum-wingman.

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


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

May 20-Milers this coming Saturday


Just a quick reminder of this Saturday's ride, in which Dawn will be leading us out to South Queensferry. There will be a few moderate hills and a couple of short stretches on paths that might be a little rough or muddy. But apart from that, it promises to be a pleasant route with no particular difficulties.

South Queensferry offers a choice of cafés for lunch. If you prefer to bring your own food, you can enjoy a picnic on the benches overlooking the Forth.

As always, we'll gather at the north end of Middle Meadow Walk in time for a 10.30 departure.

Looking further ahead, our next Extra of the summer will be on 2nd June, when we'll be crossing into Fife - more details of that one nearer the time.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

A cool picnic beside the Forth


The first 20 Milers Extra ride of 2018 saw us head out to Blackness Castle on the shores of the Firth of Forth. Great weather at the start had us expecting a warm and sunny picnic beside the castle. Alas, come lunchtime the cloud had rolled in and a cool breeze was blowing in off the Forth. But, overall the weather was reasonably kind to us - we did have long spells of sunshine, it was mostly warm and there wasn't any rain. Perhaps those that had continued to ride throughout the winter thought they were owed some magnificent weather. Fingers crossed that is on the horizon.


As usual when the Extra rides see us head out west, our start point today was Craigleith. In amongst the turnout of nineteen riders, it was good to see a few new faces along with some we had not seen for a while. We headed off in one group along NCN 1 via Silverknowes and Barnton to Cramond Brig. Following what has become a mandatory stop there, we headed up the path beside the road towards Dalmeny village. On this stretch, a confused-looking cyclist was trying to work out how to get to the other side of the A90 as the Burnshot Bridge was closed. The writer was able to point him in the right direction via the subway and corresponding diversion. From Dalmeny village, the cycle path took us to South Queenferry, onto the coast road and into the Hopetoun estate. We had made such good time that it was only twelve o'clock as we rolled up to our lunch venue  - Blackness Castle. Was it better to choose a picnic table closer to the visitor centre and further from the shore, or beside the shore? It made little difference; the cool stiff breeze seemed the same whatever the choice. Beneath a cloudy sky it wasn't perfect picnic weather, but it wasn't too bad. Once food had been consumed, no one wanted to hang around unnecessarily. The lure of the big climb of the day awaited.

We left the castle and rode the short distance to the newly-opened village shop, where several of the group grabbed a quick coffee to warm up. A short climb followed by a flat section, a left turn and the main climb of the day lie before us. Not ideal straight after lunch, but everyone got up without any problem. A right-left to cross the A904 and we headed to Philipstoun. Turning right into an housing estate, it never looks as if the canal will lie ahead. But meander through the estate to arrive at a row of garages, and just up the slope lies the canal towpath. A short distance along the towpath and the group ground to an halt. A very aggressive mute swan did not want us to pass. The reason why, soon became clear. His mate was on the nest just a few yards from the path. One by one, we gently made our way past, pushing our bikes which we kept between ourselves and the aggressive bird. All safely past, we remounted and rode away leaving the swans in peace. A lovely ride along the towpath, without further drama followed. Leaving the canal behind near Niddry Castle, we followed minor roads before emerging in Kirkliston. A planned comfort stop came to nothing when we realised the sports centre was closed. A little further along we joined a path that led us through the trees, then followed the road to Burnshot Bridge where we negotiated the roadworks. The lovely new cycle path led us to the subway and back onto the path to Cramond Brig. A brief stop there, and then back to Craigleith via the same route that had taken us out in the morning. Here the leader delared the ride over. Thanks to Mike for leading the first Extra ride of the year. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed it and the only drama had been with the swan. Yes, the lunch stop could have been a bit warmer, but all in all a very enjoyable ride. It always seems as if summer is beginning [or at least just around the corner] when the Extra rides begin. Here's hoping for a great summer of cycling.

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