Distance: 47.5 miles (scroll down for the Strava map)
Less then 48 hours until the clocks spring forward for the start of Summer Time and I’m staring out the window, wondering if the snow is sufficiently heavy for my bike ride to be cancelled. I put the coffee machine on, decided to wait and see how the weather developed. Half an hour and two very strong coffees later, I’m on the road, the snow’s stopped, the sun’s out but the skies on the horizon are dark and doom-laden.
Nevermind, at least I’m out. That was probably the hardest part of this ride, breaking that imaginary barrier, overcoming my meteorological doubts and exiting the flat. (How much improved as a cyclist would I be had the hours of weather watching and dithering instead been spent on the bike and riding?) Anything can happen now that I’m actually out, on the road and pedaling — rain, snow, lightning, storm of locusts, zombie invasion — it would only help to embellish the tales I’d tell when safely back in the flat, returned to staring out the window at the weather.
I headed out through town, away from the canal, up through Bruntsfield, across the Meadows, into Holyrood Park and on toward Meadowbank. I was in a contemplative mood and so paid sufficient attention to realise just how pretty a city Edinburgh is. In five minutes I was treated to stunning scenes of the Georgian skyline presided over by the Castle, the imposing crags of Arthurs Seat, then down the hill passed Parliament and Palace. I’d have taken some photos but removing my gloves put me at risk of frostbite and I kept thinking: I see this every day; I’ll take some photos another time.
Portobello Prom
Portie Prom
Passed Meadowbank with its stadium and dilapidated Velodrome, I rolled on down toward Portobello (a separate seaside town that’s become subsumed by the city). Rather than battle the traffic through the town I chose to meander along the prom’, dodging joggers and excited dogs, struggling to resist the aromas of fried food and coffee that leaked from the many cafés.

The twin towers of Cockenzie power station (in the direction I was headed) looked minutely distant. I’ll be there in no time, I thought, still under the influence of my morning coffees.

Out through Joppa, I turned left and long the coast road, through Musselburgh (the poor man’s Portobello), passed the race course and left toward Prestonpans (named after its salt-panning origins). That stretch, which should have been a scenic warm-up, was proving a tougher task, the wind against me, keeping those twin towers distressingly distant.
Eventually out through the Pans (as the locals call it) and I stopped to snap a photo of the power station and its chimneys. (I also took the gloveless opportunity to fish an energy bar from my back pocket.) The ugly-yet-imposing place really is a local landmark. I wondered what would happen to it now that the facility had been decommissioned, taken off-grid. Would it be listed, turned into a residential and leisure development like London’s Battersea? Or left to rot, crumble and, eventually, tumble?
Cockenzie Power Station
Cockenzie Power Station
I battled on, through Cockenzie and Port Seton, the road still following the coast but ducking into tree-filled stretches that provided a little shelter from the wind. As that cover fell away my time came to turn inland, away from the coast and into Longniddry.
The road into the village passed the impressive arched gateway to the Wemyss Estate with it’s carved motto: je pense forward. I thought and rode straight ahead — then turned right, through the village, before a left, under the railway line and on into open countryside (headed toward Pentcaitland).
My views until then had been mostly blue sky and sea. The coastline behind me, I now had dark skies, barren fields and snow-covered hills for encouragement and entertainment. It looked daunting: I reached into my back pocket for another energy bar. Je pense forward.
When I got there, Pentcaitland was a pretty little place, a stone’s throw from Scotland’s capital city but looking and feeling thoroughly rural. I stayed on the narrow road through the village (resisting the urge to stop and investigate a sign that offered “hot drinks & hot food”), crossing the River Tyne (no, not the River Tyne) following the directions for Dalkeith.
The road was now undulating nicely and the wind wasn’t making much impression. It had, however, started to snow and the skies ahead were blacker than the tarmac along which I was rolling. I was in the mood for thinking backward, to the blue sea and sky I recently departed.
After a few miles I took the left turn to Pathhead, onto a less amenable road. Within a few minutes of the turn, the snow had stopped and the sun was out. I unzipped my jacket and swigged from my bidon, gone from stressing about being under-dressed to wondering if I might have worn a layer too many.
Mur de Ford
Mur de Ford
Through Pathhead I took the left turn to Ford, noticing a signpost that warned of a 12% gradient. Doesn’t bother me, I thought, as I freewheeled downhill, before reaching the bottom and remembering that what goes down must come up (unless of course you want to ditch the bike and start a new life at the bottom of the hill).

The Mur de Ford, as it shall henceforth be known, was the first real ascent of the day and my legs failed to show any signs of appreciation.

At the top of the Mur was a left turn to Gorebridge (once a mining village, now a former mining-village, like many outposts in this part of the world). Through Gorebridge and I followed the signs for Penicuik. The landscape had opened out again to reveal those snow-covered hills, now looking much more like snow-covered mountains. Time for another energy bar.
Either the energy bar was an extra special specimen or the wind was behind me, for I took the next few miles in my stride, turned left just before the village of Temple and on through the wooded valley to Carrington (the least Dynasty place on the planet). You can tell you’re short of fuel on a ride when a farm’s hand-painted sign selling free-range eggs makes your stomach rumble. 
Carrington Church
Carrington Church

That’s what happened, so I sat in the sun outside Carrington’s 18th century church (now a design studio) and munched another bar.

Up the wee rise and out of Carrington and I was back on more familiar roads, the sight of those not-so-distant snowy mountains (the Pentlands) no longer delivering dread. All I had to do was drop down the hill into Roslin Glen, climb up the other side and I’d be (almost) home. The 16% gradient of that climb took me down into third gear and forced out a rather tired sigh but was soon over and done with. I turned left (away from the village and the chapel made famous by The Da Vinci Code) and onto the main Edinburgh Road.
Roslin Glen
You’ve Been Warned

I kept it in the big ring all the way home from there — although, it took a few jelly babies from my emergency rations, and a good deal of Thomas Voeckler face-pulling on the last climb (up to Fairmilehead) to do so.
Downhill all the way from there. Back to the flat for a bacon butty, hot, sweet lapsang souchong and an even hotter bath. My last winter bike ride was behind me, if only I could have said the same for the winter weather.
There’s a full map of the route here on Strava.
Click here to view all the photos on Flickr.