It was a fine dry, windless morning as cyclists began to assemble at Peters Yard for an excursion to Heriot Watt University campus on an ‘Easy Cycle’ or a ‘Cycle for Softies’, depending on how the ride was brought to their attention. The fact that the ride had been posted on Cycling for Softies was the very probable reason there were a more than healthy 26, ready to go at the advertised 10.30 start time. No problem, we’ll have two groups. Well, yes there was a problem, our illustrious leader, Jim, had a recurring puncture and was unable to come on the ride. 26 riders and only one leader – oh what fun we were going to have…. Hastily, the back marker was ‘volunteered’ and, as a back-up, a marshall was ‘appointed’ to oversee the ride – pressing buttons at crossings and alerting the leader of any problems etc..
So, after a quiet word about safety to the ‘newbies’, we set off at about 10.40, on the well worn path down Middle Meadow Walk, over Melville Drive, through Bruntsfield Links and down to the Leamington Lift Bridge. It was here we had a minor mechanical. The bumps on Leamington Terrace had loosened a mudguard bolt. Luckily, the nut hadn’t fallen off and a quick tighten, whilst pulling the mudguard away from the tyre, was all that was required. Onwards along the canal and over the Slateford Aqueduct to our exit from the canal at Kilncroft Side. Thence, over Lanark Road and on to the somewhat muddy path adjacent to the Water of Leith. Onwards again past various waterfalls, through the crescent which is Colinton Station Tunnel and under the City Bypass (A720) on a constantly elevating path, stopping for a cake bar and a breather, before continuing on up to Balerno. We then crossed the surprisingly busy Bridge Road onto Lanark Road, where we turned in along the almost concealed corridor through to Dalmahoy Crescent. We were now going to enjoy withdrawing the energy, we had earlier banked along the riverside path, on our descent on Ravelrig Road. The easy, slightly tailwind assisted, stretch along Old Dalmahoy Road and Curriehill Road saw us entering Heriott Watt University Campus at the rear gate. It was there that one of the team, a project Leader on gender equality at Heriot Watt, took over the lead, showing us the Fire Pond, Ice House and family graveyard which exist from when the Campus was a grand estate, We were also guided round the picturesque lake.
Lunchtime was upon us – but we eschewed the Student Union café (which we believe was shut in any case!) and headed to the Oriam café situated in the cloud like structure which contains the sports halls. This has only been open a matter of months and easily catered for our numerous group with no problems. A few, however, elected to dine outside as the weather was so favourable – although more outdoor seating would have been appreciated.
Some, who lived in the area, saw no reason to come back into town, so a reduced number of 21 set off on the return journey, over Calder Road and down Gogar Station Road, through the tunnel under the bypass, then past Krispy Kreme and on to the cycleway alongside the tram tracks towards the Jenners Depository. Then through Balgreen, Roseburn, Murrayfield, Dalry, up the bumps at Fountain Park and back up onto the canal. Over the Lift Bridge and along to the five ways junction at Middle Meadow Walk, where, at 15.05, the ride was declared over. The numbers had dwindled steadily on the return leg and the remaining three went for a tea/coffee at Victor Hugo’s, where we were re-joined by Jim. Although the beverage was very welcome, it didn’t feel quite as well earned as the leaders previous Easy Cycle. Good riders, good weather, negligible mechanicals, served up with a huge slice of luck, meant that the anticipated ‘fun’ was actually that.
Approximate Map-My-Ride trace:-