With the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling upon us, and a whole host of two-wheeled talent set to descend upon Scotland next month, Andy Revill takes a look at the best places to ride, shop, and recharge in Scotland’s capital.
Suggested cycle routes
If you’re tired of the hum of the traffic, toots of the horns and ding-dings of the trams, then you might fancy turning off the beaten track and traversing the Union Canal towpath. Start your journey near the Edinburgh Quay Complex and soak in the quiet scenery of the tree-lined canal side. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can press on to Ratho, Linlithgow and finally Falkirk and finish your journey at the famous Falkirk Wheel. More information about the route can be found here.
Around Arthur’s Seat
Again easily accessible from the city centre, it’s just an easy pootle around the iconic Arthur’s Seat. Follow Queens Drive around for some nice, relaxing views of the extinct volcano, Salisbury Crags, St. Margarets Loch and Dunsapie Loch. The road is closed to vehicles every Sunday, so choose that day if you don’t want to worry about the traffic.
Edinburgh to St Andrews
If you are keen for a long stretch and some cracking views over the Forth, then you could follow the Forth Bridge and the coastal road all the way to St Andrews. It’ll be roughly 50 miles out, and obviously 50 miles back, but worth it if you’re looking for a long run. More information on this route can be found here.
Roseburn Path and Blackhall Path
Accessible at plenty of places along the route, but if you are coming from the centre of town you can get on to it at one end from Balbirnie Place, near Haymarket Station. This route follows the path of an old railway line, so there’s not too much up, not too much down, and it follows a narrow strip of green North through the city and over the Water of Leith. Take the right fork in the path through Easter Drylaw Park and on to Granton Harbor for views of the Forth.
There is a whole maze of official cycle routes throughout the city, available through the Sustrans website, so you can plan your journey ahead of time.
Biketrax is a lovely little shop down a quiet street in Tollcross. Friendly and knowledgeable staff and a busy mechanics workshop through the back make it an ideal place for all abilities to go for advice and kit. Biketrax is the main supplier of Brompton folding bicycles in Scotland, and is also hosting this year’s Brompton Folding Competition as part of the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling, so if you go soon you might get the chance to compete in this most prestigious event!
Biketrax, 11-13 Lochrin Place, opens 9.30am until 6pm; www.biketrax.co.uk
Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative
Now a national proposition, this well-stocked bike shop started life in Edinburgh, as the name suggests. As it’s a co-op venture, every member of staff serves a one-year apprenticeship before becoming a member with an equal share in the business, so expect knowledgeable, informative service. As well as bikes, you can get all manner of equipment and clothing, so it’s a bit of a one-stop shop.
Bruntsfield: 8 Alvanley Terrace, Whitehouse Loan, 0131 228 3565
Canonmills: 30 Rodney Street, 0131 557 2801
Sandy Wallace Cycles
Okay, you caught me, Inverkeithing is entirely the wrong side of the Forth to be called Edinburgh, but the fact that Sandy Wallace Cycles can boast its own race team means that you can trust them to know their onions. SWC also offer a range of custom fitting services to make sure you get the most comfortable ride.
Sandy Wallace Cycles, 15 Hope Street, Inverkeithing, opens 9am until 5.30pm, (9.30 until 4.45 on Wednesdays); www.swc.co.uk
Other bike shops:
Ronde Bicycle Outfitters, 66-68 Hamiton Place, www.rondebike.com (see below)
Leith Cycle Co, 276 Leith Walk, 0131 467 7775, www.leithcycleco.com
Evans Cycles Edinburgh, 1A Exchange Pl, Fountainbridge, 0131 255 0500, evanscycles.com
Alpine Bikes, 48 Hamilton Pl, 0131 225 3286, alpinebikes.com
Cycle clubs and organisations
Founded in 2004, the 20-milers are celebrating ten years young in 2014. They meet on the second Saturday of the month at the top of Middle Meadow Walk at 10.30am. The club takes easy routes, shallow gradients and avoids the heavy traffic, so it’s ideal for the occasional and less experienced rider.
Hervélo Cycling is a women-only cycling club based in Edinburgh. They have their own club kit, so you know they mean business. Don’t let that put you off, though: there is still plenty on offer for riders of all abilities. Their terminology alone is enough to warrant another look. They offer Mudhoney, Skinny, Trihoney and Rusty rides and a whole load of options for beginners right up to people in training for events of their own. Despite being a women’s club, they have a men’s section called Herrvélo (geddit), so there’s options all around.
— Gamma Trans-Division (@TransDivision) March 27, 2014
Coffee and Cycles at Ronde Bicycle Outfitters
A quirky and unique shop, Ronde is the place to go if you want to take a load off and recharge, stock up on bike supplies, or both. Offering some classic continental cycling charm in the quaint hustle and bustle of Stockbridge, Ronde is renowned in the cycling community for its relaxed atmosphere and knowledgeable, helpful staff. So if you’re in the neighbourhood, why not stop in and enjoy a hot drink and the cool array of cycling jerseys on the walls?
Ronde Bicycle Outfitters, 66-68 Hamiton Place, opens 9am until 6pm; Facebook page
Gamma Transport Division
The recently opened Gamma Transport Division (GTD) must surely be a first in Edinburgh: a mix of bicycle shop, coffee shop and art gallery all rolled into one. A look at the pictures on their Facebook page tells you that they take an almost artistic approach to building bikes. Another one to check out if you’re in Stockbridge.
GTD, 6 Dean Park Street, opens 8.30am until 5.30pm
Named after the most famous climb in the Tour de France, this neighbourhood pub just off Leith Walk has a personality of its own. Screening plenty of Le Tour and other races on TV, and with walls covered in cycling memorabilia, it also has up to 40 types of German bottled beer available, so you can rest your weary calf muscles with a well deserved cold one.
25 Buchanan Street, 0131 555 4387
Local cycling websites
Edinburgh Cycling Forum
Edinburgh Cycling Forum is a positive goldmine of information about cycling in Edinburgh. Updated by plenty of users every minute of every day, with anything from the lowdown on traffic congestion to their “Today’s rubbish driving…” section, you’re guaranteed to find something useful to help your commute. Standard forum rules apply, so no swearing, nothing personal, and you’re good to go.
Other useful links:
Visit Scotland Cycling – For information about cycling across the country, bike hire etc.
Edinburgh bike maps – Downloadable maps by Edinburgh City Council
clairecycles.wordpress – A local lass with some helpful tips about routes and some stunning pictures of her own excursions.
Spokes – Spokes is the Lothian Cycle Campaign which calls for better conditions for cyclists in the region
Got your own cycling tips and links for Edinburgh?
More Edinburgh guides:
• 10 of the best bars in Edinburgh
• Edinburgh Restaurants Guide – read the reviews and book tables
• A beer lover’s guide to Edinburgh
• A fashion lover’s guide to Edinburgh
• 5 of the best places for brunch in Edinburgh
• Coffee stops: 5 of the best places to refuel in Edinburgh