After months without any recreational cycling we decided that spring must be here, after all haven’t I just seen two swallows flying past the kitchen window. So where to go? One of the great things about living in Edinburgh is that there are always plenty of options available. Given that there was a moderate westerly wind blowing (17mph gusting to 29mph at Gogarbank) and that Ulli hadn’t done any serious cycling since August, something sheltered and not too long was in order.

So it was that we decided to go out along the Union Canal then up the Water of Leith riverside path to Balerno. Trying to be clever, I decided to take my old GPS along, with the idea of tracking the ride and then being able to put up a Google Earth .kmz file on this blog. Before using a GPS that has been sitting on the shelf for some time, it is always advisable to check the batteries, first error of the day. The battery ran out before we reached the Canal. Still, nae bother, we knew where we were going, and could look up the route later. Being a pleasantly sunny day, the canal tow path was busy, with walkers, children and dogs. This is where having a wee bell helps to give a warning to walkers and children. Dogs and ducks on the other hand are another matter, and several came close to being run over, as they changed direction right in front of the bikes at the last second. All of this acted to slow progress, not that we were in a hurry, well Ulli wasn’t, but I am always tempted to go for a wee blast whenever I get the chance.

After crossing the Water of Leith on the Slateford Aqueduct, we carried on along the canal until we reached the turn off over the bridge across the canal and Lanark Road and onto the Water of Leith path which follows the old Slateford to Balerno Railway line. This path is wider and was far less busy, which made for pleasantly smooth progress for a while, until we reached the old mill below Juniper Green, here there was a sign saying that the path was closed and there was a diversion up round Juniper Green. We decided to carry on for a bit to find out what the cause of the closure was.

It was then that I heard the sound no cyclist wants to hear, pissst, pissst, pissst, pissst, yes an UDE (unplanned deflation event), a visit from the puncture fairies. Among some cyclists the using of the term puncture is considered to be unlucky as it invites a visit from the puncture fairies, generally at the most inconvenient time (humm is there ever a convenient time to get a puncture?), but as you will have now noticed I am not one of them. For some time I had been looking at the side wall damage to my tyres and thinking “really must get some new tyres soon”, so it wasn’t as great a surprise as it could have been. Fortunately I have long been in the habit of carrying a tool kit and spare inner-tube with me on rides. However, as I came to replace the tube I realised that it was about two years since I last had to do this and I couldn’t quite remember how. After a short while of faffing about, the wheel was finally back on the bike and a second stop after starting to ride again had been made to reconnect the brake.

Repair in progress

We saw the bridge over the Water of Leith was in the process of being replaced, hence the diversion. So we turned back and, rather than going up to Juniper Green and along Lanark Road, we back tracked to the next nearest bridge and crossed the Water a wee bit down stream, then headed up on to Woodhall Road. This road ends just past Woodhall House, but a rough path leads on until it reaches Blinkbonny Road. Now having skinny road tyres and having just suffered a UDE, I should have been taking it easy along this track but where would be the fun in that? Reaching the Blinkbonny Road without further incident we rode on through Blinkbonny itself, which is a rather charming wee hamlet.

At the end of the road we turned left down Kirkgate and past Currie Kirk, there is said to have been a church on this site least a 1000 years. We then rejoined the Water of Leith path and cycled on to where it ends at Bridge Road in Balerno, stopping for a rest and snack at the wee Memorial Garden, I am not sure just what it is a memorial too, but it has a Zen like appearance. Maybe someone from the Scottish Bonsai centre round the corner comes out and rakes it regularly.

Balerno achieved and snack finished it was time to return home, so back along the Water of Leith path. At Blinkbonny Bridge we were diverted off the path and up onto the road bridge due to the old railway bridge being replaced. This time we followed through on to Lanark Road and into Juniper Green, turning down back to the path and homeward. Stopping off at Argyle Place to pick up a couple new Conti GatorSkins at the Bicycle Works.

The stats for anyone who is interested were:

  • Total round trip distance – 31.1 Km
  • Time spent riding – 01:42:06
  • Max Speed – 44.9 Km/h
  • Ave Speed – 18.3 Km/h

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