The Edinburgh ride




August 2011
110 km



A very much wanted tour this summer and one I set my sight on many years ago. But I decided on this tour quite late this year after playing around with the maps. Originally, I had planned to go from Bathgate. But after some research, I found this route. A bit fiddling around with Google Earth and I really fell for this. In particular when I found out that the train tickets were quite reasonable priced. A crash some days before put the plans on hold. But I was OK and so was my bike after extensive repairs. So I cracked on one early morning.


I thought the bike was OK though. But I started the morning with having to replace the tube on the back wheel with a new tube. The repair seemed to having worked so I cracked on down to the Paisley to Glasgow and then Edinburgh train. This journey was OK and without incidents.

I jumped of the train at Edinburgh Haymarket and set off up the Dalry Road and the A 70. My wheel was loosing a lot of air and I had to change over to a bigger tube halfway up the hills towards the Edinburgh bypass. I was in serious doubts if I should continue the journey. But I cracked on. The road from Haymarket railway station was unrelenting steep all the way up past the Edinburgh bypass and up to the end of the town at Balerno. I did not visit Balerno. The road bypassed this village. The road was also very steep before this village and bypass too. The climb relented a bit through the suburbia and through a forest before the road entered a small moor and farmfields. The road started to climb again past a small airfield.



Looking up towards the first top at around 335 meters above sea level




Looking back towards Edinburgh and the east coast

The scenery from Haymarket to the top is excellent and I really enjoyed myself. This 300 meters high climb from Haymarket to the top of this hill is really something special and one I want to do again. And I will ! The climb was vertical at the top though, but I felt fine. So did the bike too and I cracked on up the vertical hill to the top of it.


Looking towards south and the Harperrig Reservoir

The descent down from this small mountaintop was a bit scary because I did not entirely trust my backwheel and the new tube. But I cracked on after getting my confidence back again. This area is literary speaking in the middle of nowhere and on the top of a moor. A couple of farms and that's all there is of human activities. Those and the excellent A 70 road. The whole experience was both humbling and excilerating. I loved this road. A road which now started to climb up again to a new moor at 337 meters above sea level. First through a small forest and then up past some farmfields up to the moor. The climbs was pretty gentle and the road excellent. I reached the top after a good ride.



Looking towards north and Glasgow 50 km away




Looking towards west and the upper Clyde valley from 337 meters above sea level

The descent towards the upper Clyde valley was pretty gentle. I reached a big forest and the road was pretty flat here. The road descended again from this forest and turned towards the north. A small climb through a forest and past some farmfields took me over to a descent down to Carnwath. I had done the A 70, a road with a pretty fearsome reputation. I was very pleased with myself. Mostly because this was a brilliant bikeride and one I will never forget.



Approaching Carnwath on the A 70

This is actually my second ever visit to Carnwath on a bike. Unfortunate I cannot remember the first one from year 2000. This was the Borders tour I did and I was excausted. Back then, I cycled all the hills on A 721 to Motherwell where I jumped on a train. This time though, I continued on the A 70, shared with the A 721 for some kilometers and then took the far easier route down through Carstairs village to Ravenstruther where I left the A 70 (which ends up in Ayr 100 km to the west) and took the A 743 towards Lanark. This road is a bit undulating, but the scenery was excellent. The descent down to and through Lanark. I have started two bikerides from Lanark before, including the Muirkirk ride some weeks previously. It was very satisfying to arriving in Lanark by bike and not by train this time. The city centre is vertical though. I headed down the hill on A 72 towards the Clyde river.



The descent down to the river canyon from Lanark

This descent was twisty and close to a vertical drop. I crossed the bridge over to the other side. The next 15 km in this river canyon next to Clyde river is some of the most spectacular road in Scotland. The housing along this road was also very interesting. Very typical mining cottages. A couple of villages along this road was also very pretty. No wonder it is designated as a tourist road. The bikeriding was spectacular too. I spent a lot of this time in steep corners. The road was also very undulating with small vertical climbs and descents. This is excactly the type of experience you pay for in a tivoli. And this road very much felt like a tivoli too. The cycling was hilarious and difficult at the same time. It is a very special experience. I was both relieved and sad when I came to the end of this road. Relieved because the cycling was unrelenting hard. Sad because it was very funny bikeriding. This road from Lanark to Crossford is unmissable, in short.


Looking back down to the river canyon after the climbing up from it

The short climb up from it was a bit boring and both my head and my legs was tired after this canyon. The road over to Hamilton was pretty boring with a not particular steep climb first and then some undulations before reaching Hamilton. It is adviseable to jump on a train back to Glasgow from Hamilton due to the heavy traffic on the roads here. But I was interested in exploring this area so I continued on my bike through Hamilton and onto the very undulating A 724 to Cambuslang and onto the undulating B 768 road. These roads was no easy rides and demanded everything from me. I got to explore this area well and I am glad I did this ride. The traffic was heavy, but not too bad. I bought some food in Cambuslang and took a small break there. I continued over a small, steep hill past the Hampden Park and a vertical drop on the other side. I got lost. I had to ask for directions. I got lost again. But I managed to find the road again and ended up almost at Glasgow road before I hit on the Glasgow to Paisley cycle path. Instead of following the heavy traffic at Glasgow Road, I decided to take this cycle path instead. My pannier had also worked itself loose and my bike was in trouble. I have yet to understand where this cycle path took me. But after a lot of following some small river, tunnels under motorways and some smaller streets, I ended up in Barshaw Park again. A small bikeride and I was home again after a very eventful bikeride.


Conclusion



A brilliant ride, no less. The A 70 from Edinburgh over to Carnwath is spectacular with excellent bikeriding. The bikeride from Carnwath to Lanark is great. The bikeride in the river canyon very intense, but also spectacular. The final ride from Hamilton to whereever you want to go can by bypassed with the train. The final 20 km from Hamilton to Paisley not that interesting. In short; this is a brilliant bikeride which is highly recommended.

I took the bike back to the bikeshop the day after. It turned out that the wheel was faulty. I got it replaced and also got a new pannier installed as a replacement for the faulty one. Problem over.