Tuesday, 11 September 2012


A bicycle I once hired to cycle round Cumbrae
There are many valid reasons to go cycling. For example from the top of my head:

1. It can be a good way to get from A to B
2. It can be good exercise
3. You could become the next Chris Hoy.
4. You might already be Chris Hoy

But I don't want to discuss cycling for those reasons. I want to discussing cycling for fun, or as "playtime". Cycling for fun is one example of an activity which I have enjoyed more as an adult than as a child.

As a child I lived near one of many old railway lines in Edinburgh that now make excellent cycle tracks. I went on outings with my dad and siblings, and strongly remember feeling a great sense of accomplishment on reaching Haymarket train station at the "end" of the cycle path. However there were limits -  I was never allowed to go too far on my own, and I was scared of the cars on the busy roads nearby anyway. Most of the time I spent as a child on my bicycle was spent going up two short streets. Now I can go further and have no parent telling me what to do (although my mother's voice saying 'be careful' is still ingrained in my psyche, and I am afraid of double decker buses)

These days I sometimes use my bicycle to get from A to B. I also feel a sense of self satisfaction after a bike ride for having done exercise. However the main reason I like cycling is the feeling of being outside, and freedom, especially when I can coast along without pedaling, admiring the scenery.

Some recommended cycle routes:

The Union Canal

  • From Haymarket along the Silverknowes Esplanade to Cramond and back through Barton and Blackhall.

The best part of this is cycling along the sea front. Be warned that you have to dismount and carry your bike up and down some steps along the path in Cramond.

  • Along the Water of Leith

This runs from Leith to Balerno. It is a bit muddy so less suitable for road bikes, but I find it extra fun when you have to splash through the mud.

  • Along the Union Canal

The Union Canal starts in Fountainbridge, and you can cycle along to Ratho and further to Falkirk, and eventually Glasgow if you keep going. It has the advantage of being flat. Watch out for oblivious children, dogs and cyclists going too fast through blind tunnels. Bicycle bell highly recommended.

For more information on cycling in Edinburgh please see the following links:

Spokes- The Lothian Cycle Campaign  - produce really good cycle maps (at a price)

Edinburgh City Council: Explore Edinburgh by Bike Leaflets - these are also useful maps that show cycle routes

The Bike Station Innertube Map - these people have made a tube map of Edinburgh.

CycleStreets Journey planner - you can type in your starting point and destination point and this will suggest the best cycling routes (although it is still in beta mode and I have noticed it doesn't know everything!)

CityCycling Edinburgh - this is a forum used by lots of  local people obsessed by cycling so a good place to ask questions

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