Skyride from Edinburgh to Inverkeithing over the Forth Road Bridge
We started off from the carpark of the Ainslie Park Lesuire Centre.
It resembles a construction site at the moment because the Liesure centre is being refurbished. It was bizarre meeting other fellow cyclists in a car park area that had cherry pickers and lorry’s in the same car park and also had 10 pieces of brand new gym equipment still in their packaging sitting at the kerb side!!
Once we had gathered, we set off prompt at 10. Easy access across the carpark took us straight on to a dedicated cycle pathway (one of many in Edinburgh created from a network of old disused railway lines) heading west up through Easter Drylaw Park, round under Telford Road (twice) , round the back of Wester Drylaw to Silverknowes Drive. A short stint down this suburban road takes you to a small pathway between houses and out at a road crossing in Crammond.
Crossing the road takes you down Barnton Avenue and across the Bruntsfield Links Golf Course, and down to the Cramond Brig.
I had recognised a rider, Robert, from last weeks ride so I chatted with him and two other guys I had greeted at the start of the ride , Gary and Donald.
Donald is a regular commuter on a city bike with fat tyres. Gary is an experienced road cyclist who had cycled into Edinburgh in order to cycle back out again.
It didn’t seem to take too long before we were pushing up the hill to Dalmeny.
I got chatting with Kristin, for whom this was her first Skyride.
She had not cycled 25 miles before but seemed to be coping very well – in fact she was delighted to be on the cycle ride and was happily chatting with anybody and everybody on the ride. A positive bundle of positiveness she’s all smiles and great chat. Clearly her body has reacted well to cycling and is producing a load of grin inducing endorphins.
Thats what I love about cycling – you just can’t help but be happy and content when you get going…it’s like a progression of unpacking your mind – first the immediates come out – when did I say I’d meet my wife afterwards? will I have enough time at the end to zip into town?
Then come the bigger picture reflections – am I happy on the project I’m working on just now? How is my daughter doing in her studies just now, and is there anything I can do to help? etc.
Eventually all these concerns filter out of the back of your head, blown away by the carefree flow of clear cool air as you whistle along the road. All you are aware of is the whirr of your tyres on the road and the low back drop sound of your fellow cyclists chattering to one another.
It’s a very carefree moment where you have set everything else aside and arrive at the point where you are living for nothing more than the present moment of cycling along the road, aware of your own easy breathing, your steady but strong heartbeat, the strength of your own body already warmed by the rythmic and repetitive movements of cycling.
As we crossed the bridge I cycled alongside one of the ride leaders David. Chatting with him revealed that he’d be leading a ride I’d be assisting on in September.
We cycled on into Inverkeithing high street where we stopped for our various packed lunches. As I hadn’t packed anything, I popped into the Greggs the baker and got myself a large cup of tea and a sandwich.
I only barely managed to get out of the place without buying every single fudge custard donut they had just so I could share them out with all my fellow cyclists and get one to myself too!!!
The return trip was uneventful, with the exception that Mark, struggled once we’d re-crossed the Forth Road Bridge. It turns out that Mark hadn’t actually cycled much prior to taking on the Skyrides “Challenging” level of ride.
Unlike Kristin, who was still all smiles and chat, Mark was beginning to struggle. During a quieter moment, he revealed that the mountain bike that he was riding was his brothers (we’d stopped to adjust the seat to his height earlier in the ride, or his legs would have been really hurting) and that he’d not done too much in the way of cycling prior to this trip. He grinned at me ruefully “I think maybe my next few rides will maybe pitched at the “Steady” pace (Skyrides Intermediate level of ride)” he says quietly before slipping off his bike to lie in the grass at the end.
I counsel him to refuel quickly to help his recovery and to keep himself well hydrated for the next few hours….