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Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Thursday, 15 March 2018

15th March 2018: Peover Heath (mod)

The fast lads were absent. I believe they had been to Macclesfield on Tuesday. Dave Matthews had turned up for coffee and a chat, but had workmen in, so wasn't riding. He is riding in Majorca soon with Andy; sounds a great idea. Keith had been embroiled in decorating, but had managed to tear himself away. Clive and Macca were still in recovery mode, and it was good that they had made the effort to turn up for coffee. Macca sounds as if he has “been through the wars”, but now appears well on the mend. George had returned, and Mike arrived having hot-wheeled it from Shotton. Steve H was preparing for more peak-conquering in Scotland, so wasn't riding for once.  Conversation with Steve revealed the unlikely fact that our spouses would be inside Styal Prison on successive days. Only one of them for abusing their partner.

We set off late for The Dog, which I had booked the night before. I took the back route past the attractive Norley Hall. Mike punctured at Crowton: something to do with a repaired tyre split and pumping it up too hard. Sounded like the Dave Pipe School of How to Fettle Your Old Cycle Gear Like a Yorkshireman. We headed for Acton Bridge, then north to Frandley, passing Cogshall Hall by the way of the quiet Hall Lane. I had intended to meander around the pretty, narrow lanes of Arley, but we were running late, so took the most direct route to Knutsford, via Antrobus, Bate Heath and Tabley Hill. The weather was better than had seemed likely, and reasonably warm, despite heading into an easterly breeze. Tatton Park was picturesque as ever as we headed north in the direction of Rostherne. We were now in untried territory, as we used the quiet Marsh Lane to reach Ashley and then headed south east for Knolls Green, and on to Marthall. It had been a long first leg to The Dog, thirty-three miles, and as we had been running late, it was close to two o'clock. We were well ready for a rest, a drink and a plate of decent grub! True to form, despite the pub initially being very busy, we all received a plate of very decent grub in short order. One of our quartet fell for the waitress. Can you guess which one?

Photo by Mike G

I calculated, correctly, as it turned out, that our slightly wind assisted return would be ten miles shorter, and reassuringly quicker than our outward journey. As we cruised through 'Cheshire Set' prime real estate, Keith wondered why there were no polo clubs in Runcorn. We were soon flying down Plumley Moor Road, and reached the difficult to negotiate A556. Although I had anticipated this, one way or another we finished up like ducklings trying to cross a motorway, as we tried to reach Linnard's Lane for Higher Wincham and Pickmere. Jose Mourinho is not the only leader that needs to reflect, learn and change their ways! Lessons: if you have not had chance to reconnoitre a dangerous area of your route, at least be physically in the lead so that your instant decisions for safety can be followed, rather than shouting to those in front over the noise of traffic; if it’s really bad, take the lead onto the pavement, and cross at the lights as a pedestrian. We passed the lane down to Pick Mere where we used to take the kids on the fair. It had a big cafe, a lake 'steamer', dodgems, a ghost train, and even a helter-skelter back in the day. We continued to Great Budworth down Westage Lane which was closed to traffic because it was undermined by badgers or moles. We reached Acton Bridge by way of Little Leigh; Onston and Norley Bank followed.  Keith, my fellow not so quite heavyweight, can be glad he missed these final climbs, having headed for home earlier along his favourite Marsh Lane. There was a final twist in the tail, as Mike had a second puncture at Delamere. I had a long- promised package to deliver to George (1967-1969 copies of Penthouse), so having checked that Mike was managing, and didn't require an extra inner tube, drove to where George was parked on Delamere Lane. On returning, Mike was up and running for Chester Station. 56 miles is further than I've been for some time. Agreeable company and a relaxed atmosphere made the day.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Wednesday, 14 March 2018

13th March 2018 : Macclesfield (brisk)

As most of Brisk group would not be out on Thursday we decided we would have a ride out on Tuesday instead. Starting from Meadow Lea café, riders were John M, John W, Nick, Paul and myself. We enjoyed a coffee with Clive before the start, and he is making good progress and hopefully will be back in the saddle before too long.

Our ride today is to Macclesfield via Alderley Edge and we set off via the route to Manley and up Cobb Hill, then follow the Delamere "forest race" to Hatchmere. Such an undulating stretch and hard work. From the cross roads at Hatchmere, we head towards Norley and Sandiway. For CER rides this is the usual route and we are soon heading out via Lower Peover.

We were out this way recently when en-route to Knutsford but we are today continuing on to Ollerton and Lindow End. Here we are joining a little track heading to Alderley Edge and due to using the “little man on ride” with GPS app, I was confident it was a road and not a track. Thanks John M!!

We join the B5087 which is the road into Alderley Edge and it was very busy. Passing through the lovely town, we take a left and head up Wizard Hill; a good 12+ % hill. Not a race to the summit, but there were a couple in the group who thought it was, and they must have waited at the Wizard Inn and could have enjoyed a pint while waiting for me to catch them up!! From the pub, it is down hill to Macclesfield and the Wetherspoons pub where we are having lunch.

As usual it was excellent service and within 30 minutes we had enjoyed a good lunch and refreshments and ready for the return 45 miles back to Chester. We are on new lanes back from Macclesfield to Middlewich and, with the exception of the town area, roads were pretty good but there seem more potholes this Spring and more lanes blocked. We encountered three, but were able to pass through all.

At Middlewich, we decided to stop at the café “Stop Drinks at 35” which is run by Sally and Holly and was a good call. Drinks and cakes were the fuel we needed to complete the remaining 20 miles. Out via Warmingham and Church Minshull and Eaton to Huxley, we were motoring as a group. 

It is good now that dusk is getting later. We arrive back into Chester for 17:10 still in bright daylight. Paul has ridden 109 miles with John and John completing 90+ and Nick who peeled off at Huxley to return home to Tilston, will have completed 90+ miles too (a first for him and well done). A good day out with no incidents, no rain just happy pedal power.

Thanks to all the group for an enjoyable day out.


Friday, 9 March 2018

8th March 2018 : Wem (brisk)

Today's ride is meeting at The Tea Rooms Café in Chirk so for me it was train assist. Setting off from home it was heavy snow, although too wet to stick but the forecast was to be a fine dry day after rush hour traffic!! Nonetheless I had donned additional clothing!! Mistake.

Gathering at the café were an equal number of riders for the Mods and Brisk groups. I had circulated a route to Tilley and visit to The Raven Inn. Four brisk riders, John, Nick, Steve and myself set of down Chirk Bank taking the right turn over the canal and to Western Ryn. The road side along this stretch was covered in snow, so it is lucky we are here this week. Up and onwards towards Hengoed and then the top of the hill, before the downhill stretch into Oswestry.

We skirt the town via numerous streets to join B5069 passing through Morda and crossing the A483 and continuing along the B4396. The route along this narrow lane suffered heavy snow recently (see photo). Passing through Ruyton X1 Towns then towards Baschurch, we pass through the small but pretty village of Burlton where Nick has a click from the wheel and stops to inspect it; meanwhile we continue UP hill before realising we had a tailer! Back down the hill then to find Nick getting ready to call home. Up again and onwards to Loppington taking the route towards Tilley and Wem.

Arriving in Tilly and the Raven Inn, we are met with a closed pub!! Oh well, we continue to Wem where we are advised to try the Castle Inn, a Joules house. Seating in the best and softest pews in the house, we are soon served with drink and lunch. The Yorkshire pud and sausage was very tasty and reasonably priced at £7.00.

We leave Wem via the usual route the B5063 towards Northwood and Welshampton and Dudleston Heath. While approaching a right-hand fork, we have a peloton cock-up culminating with Steve hitting a pot hole, curb and finally landing on the deck. This results in a front wheel flat. All the tools are out, and we are soon performing a precision pit stop repair stripping the wheel and inner tube out only to find Steve’s replacement as holey as the original.

A new replacement was donated and tyre refitted. Due to John's meticulous fitting of the tyre to the wheel, the fit was exactly as it came off. Once the inner tube inflated, we noticed the tube popping out of the side wall!! Off again, and emergency boot patch fitted. Thank heavens for these easy fit solutions.

Ready to roll onwards again through St Martins, we then negotiate the very busy Lord Morton roundabout to head towards Chirk. Passing the Poacher inn, we take the canal route passing over the viaduct into Chirk. We are beaten back to the café as the Mods are all sitting in the window seat awaiting our return.

A distance of 49 miles round trip with a 2087 ft of ascent at an average of 15.2 mph. A very enjoyable route covering some new lanes and revisit of old territory with good companions to ride with; plus a new lunch stop at Wem.


Photographs by John M

8th March 2018: Nesscliffe (mod)

Waking this morning and looking out of the window revealed driving snow – not very encouraging for a ride.  Still the forecast promised improvement and as I drove down to Chirk the temperature gradually rose and on arrival the skies cleared. Seven riders gathered in the Tea Rooms, three opting for a moderate ride to a new destination - the Old Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe.

So it was that Andy B, Dave H and myself set off on familiar lanes through Hindford and Lower Frankton.  Though the lanes were muddy and the snowy remnants of last week’s ‘Beast from the East’ were banked up on the verges, our spirits were lifted by blue skies, sunshine and fresh snow glistening on the distant Welsh hills. Soon we headed into new territory and joined a lovely long clear quiet and well surfaced lane running from Hordley to Baschurch. We continued through Little Ness until we came to our destination.

Nesscliffe used to sit across the A5 but has now been by-passed.  You may know it for Nesscliffe Country Park with its sandstone caves and outcrops, or you may have seen the signs for the military base and ammunition dump.  My memory of it comes from escaping Birmingham to investigate climbing on the sheer walls of its sandstone quarries and on nearby Pontesbury Hill. The Old Three Pigeons Inn dates back to the 15th Century. Seats beside the open fire were taken, and we ended up sitting near to a group of fellow cyclists from Shrewsbury.  The pub offered us real ales and a range of food, though we chose the snack menu at £5.50 a portion.

Refreshed, but not looking forward to the return headwind, we left heading over more fresh territory towards West Felton and then into Oswestry. After passing Old Oswestry Hill Fort we made for Western Rhyn, which we left via the High Street and down a steep hill to the Ceiriog Valley, and then back to the start – a much better alternative than climbing Chirk Road hill.

We were relaxing after our 40 mile ride in the Tea Rooms as the brisk group arrived.  Overall a very good ride over some new territory through very pleasant countryside, interesting villages and buildings.  In spite of the early morning snow, there had been a clear promise of spring in the air.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 1 March 2018

1st March 2018: Tattenhall (mod/"mad")

The forecast was poor – snow showers and blustery cold winds. Some of the back lanes still had a covering of snow/ice as I made my way to the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall, but others were clear and dry. To ride or not to ride?  That was the question on my mind as I turned into the car park. This was empty, apart from Keith’s bright red Suzuki. Well, I thought it’s early yet (ten to ten); others may turn up. Keith was in two minds about riding as well, so we decided to go inside and see who arrived.  But how to get in? The cyclists entrance was locked and barred and the chairs inside were still stacked up. Fortunately, a young lady arriving at work allowed us to follow her through the side gate and into the (relative) warmth of the café.  The staff were amazed to see us; they were not expecting to see any customers for the café today and certainly not any cyclists.
"A CER ultra"
Photo by Steve T
Shortly afterwards, Steve H arrived in civvies, followed by Ivan, also in civvies. Both had to find their way in through the ‘kiddies’ entrance. Both thought that Keith and I were mad to be even considering a ride, given the biting cold wind outside and the promise of worse to come. After a warming coffee and a chat, Steve and Ivan made to leave (the latter to pick up his new car!) and Keith and I put on several more layers before going out to get our bikes from our cars. Ivan had suggested a ride to Tarporley and the Fire Station café, giving a round trip of about 10 miles as being a sensible objective.

So that’s what we set out to do. But as we rode towards Huxley, Keith was falling a long way behind me. He was having a problem with his bike ‘wobbling’, which was causing him concern and sapping his confidence. So we decided to turn round and head back. As we rode down the hill from the bridge over the Shropshire Union canal, he said that it was alright now and that the ‘wobble, must have been due to the strong cross-wind we had been experiencing. ‘Why don’t we go a bit further?’ he said. So we went straight past the turning to the ICF and on into Tattenhall village. There we turned left towards Beeston and then took the next two lefts to bring us back to the ICF. By now, Keith was feeling a lot more confident. ‘Why don’t we go round again?’ he said. So we did, but by the time we were approaching Tattenhall again, all feeling had left the toes of my left foot and my fingers no longer felt attached to my hands. So this time, as we entered the village, we turned right and headed for Alison’s Country Kitchen. Once more, they were astonished to see any cyclists, proclaiming that we ‘must be mad’.

A cup of tea and a bacon, mushroom and cheese omelette eventually put warmth back into our extremities and so we headed back outside.  As the photo shows, the roads were not too bad, it was just the intense cold wind which limited what we could do. So, this time, when we reached the ICF, we called it quits, having covered the massive distance of 10.6 miles.

But at least we had tried; it takes more than ‘the beast from the east’ to stop the ‘ultras’ of CER from riding out on what, meteorologically speaking, was the first day of Spring!


Friday, 23 February 2018

22nd February 2018 : Peover Heath (brisk)

I had created this route using http://cycle.travel/map as Ken had told me that it’s easy to use. Yes, it is easy to use, but as you will see, you need to check the route it generates, otherwise you can end up going down bumpy tracks or private roads.

From the throng of CERs (including Clive – good to see you if only for coffee) gathered at Meadow Lea on a bright but chilly morning, six offered themselves for the ‘brisk’ ride; Ivan, Paul, John M, Nick (on posh new bike) and Dave M, who said he’d come with us at least part of the way.

The first part of the route, along the A56, is pretty dull, but we were soon in the lanes, passing the entrance to the Windsurfing Centre at Manley, one of our erstwhile starting venues. The road along here is very rough and the vibrations caused my rear mudguard stays to come off the retaining lugs, a problem I’ve had before and one I thought I’d fixed. After a quick stop to put them back on, we continued, only for them to come off again soon after. So we stopped at the top of the hill on Sugar Lane, where Dave M delved in his saddlebag and provided some cable ties with which to make a lasting repair. Having fulfilled his role as ‘support crew’, Dave opted to do his own thing from here as his heart pacemaker doesn’t get on very well with hill climbing.

We pressed on through Mouldsworth and the undulating road through Delamere Forest to Norley, Cuddington and Sandiway, where we diverted from the route suggested by cycle.travel to avoid a long, bumpy run alongside the A556 Northwich by-pass. Instead, we headed towards Weaverham and then swung right through Hartford (and the first of many road works) to join the ‘cycle track’ (I use the term in the loosest possible way) next to the A556 at Hartford Bridge. We quickly left the main road ran through Davenham and out into the countryside on NC573. Crossing King Street (A530) there were more road works for the installation on new gas pipes. (I could bore you with the colour codes used for pipes to carry different services – gas, water, telecoms etc.,…. but I won’t!)

We followed NC 533 to Goostrey, passing two more places where is said ‘road closed’, but which we could pass on bikes – even if John had to carry his at one point. From Goostrey we turned north through Withington Green and the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank which is impressive every time I see it. A short run down Basemill Lane to Peover Heath brought us to ‘The Dog’ and our lunch stop. The pub was nice and warm, but quite busy, as it still seems to be half term hereabouts. So, we had to wait a while for the food, but it was good and filling when it did come. There’s a portrait of ‘The Dog’ where we were sitting and John M found is disconcerting, as it seemed to be dressed in women’s clothing and staring him in the eye (see photo) so he didn’t know what to make of it.

Setting off after lunch, the temperature had dropped significantly, the sun being partly hidden behind clouds. We pressed on, but I now found the cost of not checking the proposed route more carefully as it wanted to take us up the driveway to Peover Hall, a Grade II* listed Elizabethan family house dating from 1585. During World War II the house was requisitioned as the HQ for General George Patton of the United States 3rd Army to train for the D-Day landings in 1944. It is open to the public, but probably not for passing cyclists, so a diversion was called for which took us through Goostrey and back along NC533 to the A50. After a short run towards Knutsford on this road we turned left for Lower Peover and got back ‘on route’. Going through Lower Peover we came across yet another ‘road closed’ section. Here, Nick had a contretemps with a lady in a 4X4 who, it seemed, could neither read the road signs nor execute a multi-point turn when she reached the closure point. At the far side of the roadworks, John had an altercation with a traffic bollard. He claimed he was looking at his Garmin, but Nick reckons that there’s something of the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ about this part of the world. In any event, no damage was done to man or bike and we were soon on our way again.

Crossing the M6 at Plumley Moor, we were reaching more familiar territory, but I was beginning to feel the pace, taking refuge behind John whenever I could. We negotiated the tricky crossing of the A556 at The Smoker and were soon in Wincham. Entering Neumann’s Flashes, Ivan stopped to answer a call of nature whilst we carried on. However, there is a right turn along the way and Paul suggested that Ivan might not see us take it, so he went back to look for him. A good job too, as Ivan wouldn’t have taken it without Paul’s guidance and he might have been lost forever in the flashes. The path emerged on Marbury Lane, once a through road owned by ICI between Anderton and Northwich, but now closed to cars. Exiting Marbury Park, the route took us through Comberbach, Dones Green and along bumpy Marsh Lane to Dutton and the A533. We took the lane through Aston village to reach the top of the hill at Sutton Weaver. Here, Ivan declared that he was not stopping for coffee in Frodsham; he needed to get home as he was going out that evening. As it was just after 4pm at this point, John M, Nick and Paul also decided to head straight back, which gave me the excuse to peel off half way down the hill and go straight home. I had ridden from home to Meadow Lea in the morning, so can justly claim to have done the full ride.

This was a total of 67 miles on a dry but cold day using some new and some familiar lanes. At least there was no need to jet wash the bikes this week!

Photo Steve T

22nd February 2018: Waverton (mod)

A large gathering of Easy Riders assembled at Meadow Lea Café and it was good to see Clive recuperating after his operation.  In the absence of any other suggestions, I put forward the idea of the Black Dog in Waverton. I feel that when we start our rides from a central location such as Mickle Trafford or the Little Roodee, as was, it is an opportunity to visit venues closer to Chester than we would from our outlier café starts.  Given that the Black Dog was only 5 or 6 miles away, it required a fairly circuitous route to make a day of it, and coincidentally one that passed close by the homes of Jim, Ivan, the Pipes and David M.  It was also a route that, in response to comments from last week, would be very flat.

Trevor set off, very briskly, leading Keith, Mike G, Andy, George, Bob and myself, towards the Old Dee Bridge in Chester. Pretty soon we had the first of our encounters with hedge cutting, and we carefully wheeled our bikes over the debris. We crossed the bridge and I took over. Past West Cheshire College towards Ecclestone, and then down the road towards Rossett.  We diverted up the Straight Mile and met a host of snowdrops.  Mike became quite poetic and took several photos.  Then it was along Darland Lane to approach Holt and onwards to Aldford, and through Bruera. Bob was getting carried away by our flat route and sped ahead, missing the right turn to our destination until Keith brought him back.

Photos by Mike G
The Black Dog was already hosting three parties and we had to suffer a one hour wait for food – one of the consequences of mid-week lightly staffed kitchens being hit unexpectedly by too many customers.  When they did arrive the portions were substantial and the prices reasonable.

From Waverton we passed through Hargrave and by the Inn at Huxley, still not open, four years late after a major re-build, but looking rather splendid. Then it was onto Tarporley, which we left by the Utkinton Road and the only hill of the day, before heading towards Duddon.  We then met two sets of tractors hedge-cutting and were forced again to gingerly wheel our bikes around the thorns.

We crossed the A51 at Duddon and shortly after things went awry. Mike had stopped to sort out a piece of glass in his tyre, and didn’t see four of us turn right towards Okell’s Garden Centre. Noticing something wrong we stopped and then saw, over the hedgerows in the distance, Mike, Andy and Keith following a different route, back towards Waverton. Having every confidence in their navigation skills, George, Trevor, Bob and myself continued along Platts Lane and then into Oscroft. Next we crossed the A556 and passed through Great Barrow, before meeting the A56.  We followed this back to our start, while at the same time passing Keith who was now heading homeward.  The missing three had made it back to Meadow Lea about 20 minutes before ourselves.

We had travelled about 46 miles on a dry, mostly sunless day with light but cold winds. According to the mapping app we had climbed less than 500 meters.  It was the first time in many weeks that the bikes came back as clean as when we left.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 16 February 2018

15th February 2018 : Ellesmere (brisk)

Today's ride weather prospect was one of blue skies but windy. I decided on fewer clothing layers and, as the roads should be dryish, a lighter bike but no mudguards! (Okay if your in front).

Meeting at Cleopatras in ‘Holt’ there was a good turnout for both groups of riders today.
Out with the Briskers were – Ivan (leader) Steve T, John M and Nick. I had a couple of routes planned but decided on Ellesmere and the Red Lion inn. The other was Llangollen and hilly.

On setting off, I immediately went the wrong way. The route was reversed in my brain and the planned route not switched on via the Garmin. We set off for Cross Lanes, Wrexham instead of Tilston and Malpas, so I decided on a mystery tour going in the general direction of the Red Lion.

Heading down the B5130 towards Cross Lanes, we take a left and head for Bangor on Dee. Over the bridge and head on to Holly Bush. Riding along the A525 passing Horseman's Green, we take a right skirting Hanmer but encounter the muddiest road this year. Bike wash needed again and a wash for Nick who hadn't realised I had no mudguards. Passing Bettisfield, the old railway station is a café and looks very nice with lots of railway memorabilia on display from the road and looks worthy of further investigation. Through the pretty village of Lyneal we take the left fork to pass the Meres.

The lanes we are now travelling were last explored with Clive. The three Meres are The Mere, White Mere and Cole Mere. There is a big construction site after passing Cole Mere going up the hill and it doesn’t seem much different from the last time we passed the site.

Joining the A495, it is a run down into the town of Ellesmere and our lunch stop. Due to my map skills reading we have knocked 7 miles of my scheduled route. This is a pleasant surprise for Steve as he is still recovering from the temperature drop between Antigua and Salop, some 25 degrees. It was colder in the pub than outside, but we were unable to bag the table near the open fire.

A reasonable lunch was provided but we can’t wait to get back in the saddle and the warmth provided by nature.We leave Ellesmere via the A539 along Hollybush lane taking the route towards Threapwood and the usual route back to Farndon via Shocklach.

We arrive back at Cleopatras having only covered 45 miles on such a lovely day, is it nearly spring? Anyway, we enjoy afternoon tea and cake in comfort and leave Steve to await arrival of the Mod’s who do arrive back just as we are leaving to head back to Chester.

Overall mileage was 43 miles around and 63 miles to and from Chester, so not too bad.

Enjoy cleaning your bikes and see you all next week.


Thursday, 15 February 2018

15th February 2018: Hanmer (mod)

A cold sunny but very windy day saw the Easy Riders descend in number on Cleo's in Holt.  It was good to see such a turnout and discussion covered the CER 10th Anniversary Special Ride on 26th April. But today, David M, Trevor and Bryan were doing their own thing; the mods decided on a trip to the Hanmer Arms; and our phalanx of brisk riders were heading for Ellesmere. (Is ‘phalanx’ the right term? Maybe it should be a ‘flight’ or a ‘tornado’? Suggestions on a postcard please.)

The mods were Andy B, Bob, Dave H, George and myself. The route out went through Shocklach, Threapwood and Penley, before skirting The Mere at Ellesmere, and then heading northeast to Hanmer. The wind came from the west and gusted strongly, but unlike the Winter Olympians at Pyeongchang, there were no complaints from the stoical mods. Though they were less sanguine about the steep climbs out of valley bottoms we kept finding.

With 25 miles covered, we arrived at the Hanmer Arms.  It was as good as always, and for those with big appetites and small pockets, the ham and eggs is to be recommended. We chatted about CER’s history and those with long memories tried to recall ‘the who’ and ‘the what’ of previous years, not always successfully.

The return route was only 14 or so miles and was mainly with a tailwind, so we needed to add another challenge. This came from the road surface, though many riders doubted we were actually on a road as we took the route from Arowry to Eglwys Cross and northwards. We had more potholes than road and Somme-like mud. Luckily Dave had packed his patent mudguard de-mudder: a special twig designed for such eventualities.  Soon we were back on tarmac, heading towards Malpas by special request from Dave. From there it was a quick ride to Stretton, down Wetreins Lane and back into Holt.

We arrived back at Cleo's, just as the brisk group were leaving, and settled in for hot drinks and cake, with nearly 39 miles covered. Special congratulations are in order for Bob, who completed an entire ride without a puncture!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 9 February 2018

8th February 2018: Aston (mod)

Ken came and went (pleasantly).  Some regulars were on holiday. Keith was on nights. The bad-back brigade were indisposed.  Not so incidentally, we wish Clive and Macca speedy recoveries from surgery. Dave and 'Liz sent me a text to say they were preparing to fly to Lanzarote; they were having trouble registering packed panniers as hand luggage with Ryanair!  The weather forecast would have made you pull the duvet over your head, if you hadn't been an indefatigable member of a special cycling club. So, the remnants were:  Bob, Ivan, Nick, Andy B., Mike, Steve H., Trevor and myself. Ivan was thinking of far east Cheshire, and Steve had a route to Goostrey, but in the end we all went out to The Bhurtpore together.

I had chosen the route, so that we would not be battling straight into the forecast wind and rain after lunch. A direct return from Aston would be quite quick if conditions became really unpleasant. We headed out towards Tarporley, gasped up Summerhouse Bank, and then turned left at Heath Green. After crossing the bypass we headed for 'Portal' and then cruised down Sapling Lane, passing the only remains of a Roman villa in Cheshire, as we reached Eaton. We diverted down The Hall Lane, a small lane off Hickhurst Lane on our way to Wettenhall. At Oultonlowe cottage Ivan pointed out an alternative quiet route, which I would like to try next time.  Bob had his obligatory puncture, despite his latest Continental Super Thorn Crusher rubber. The upside is that he is becoming as slick as a Sky mechanic at dealing with punctures, as long as he takes a few lungfuls of salbutamol before starting.
Puncture stop!        Photos by Mike G

After Reaseheath College we crossed the A51 into Welshman's Lane, eventually turning into Welsh Row with its rich variety of attractive architectural styles. We turned right, and headed through the park, and right again, down a link road to Baddington Lane (A530). We were soon ploughing through the wind down Coole Lane.  I would normally continue for over five miles south, towards Audlem, before cutting north-west to Aston. This time, we headed in the direction of The Secret Nuclear Bunker, and joined the main road at Broomhall Green for a short stretch before turning into the village at Aston.

The Bhurtpore had the usual scrummy ales and curries on offer, and with its friendly atmosphere has always been a favourite of ours.

Decisions, decisions.

Our return was via Wrenbury, Chorley and Burland Green. We made a small diversion to see Haughton Hall, and then carried on to Bunbury.  Trevor left us here. We made a group decision to head for The Old Fire Station for a coffee and cake, so I changed my original route from Alpraham and The Shire Horse Centre, to Tilstone Fearnhall and Tarporley. Ivan had been like a cocker spaniel searching for drugs all ride, turning off to join Nick heading for Marbury at one point, only for them to rejoin us shortly after. This time he led the front of the group up Brains Lane to Eaton, while those who already had brains took the usual direct, back route into Tarporley.  Anyway, we all finished together at The Old Fire Station, where we received the normal warm welcome, and a jug of water with a slice of lemon. The weather hadn't deteriorated too badly as yet, but some still had a few miles to go. Mike and Andy were heading for Chester, with Andy set to reach the high eighties before returning to Mold. The basic ride was just on forty miles, and, as so often, the weather had been better than forecast, and warmer than recent days. It was very pleasant having a combined ride, even if the faster guys had had to rein themselves in.                                   

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 2 February 2018

1st February 2018: Gwaenysgor (brisk)

The ride out to the Gallery Tea Shop was peppered with hailstone and headwinds, so not sure what ride we would be covering. A reasonable turnout of Mods and Brisk riders so my offer of riding towards Prestatyn to the Eagle and Child was good and I was joined by John and Nick.

We set off on the usual route through Harwarden. Ewloe and Northop Hall. Passing through Northop we turn left past the Boot Inn onto the B5126 heading up to Rhosesmor. With a headwind and another hailstone shower it wasn’t pleasant but we continued. By the time we were at Rhes-y-cae the sky was blue but we still had the wind. The roads were very wet, flooded and muddy. Clean bikes again!! Our next climb was Babell and after climbing out of the valley, I succumbed to my first puncture of the year. Soon fixed we were on our way again.

Crossing over the A55 it is now getting close to our lunch stop. Arriving at the inn we parked alongside Mike’s bike who had ridden out from Rhos to join us. Over a hot lunch and a beer, we discuss the merits of going down a 33% gradient. Mike was making a different way home but we three decided to stick with the route and head on down.

The sun was now shining and hopefully the wind on our backs. We stop at the viewing point for photo just in case!! Then enjoyed the ride down on an excellent road surface, getting a max speed of 37mph which was pretty hairy when hitting the hairpin bend.

Photo by ID

We don’t go all the way down but ride through the housing estate towards Gronnant which saves having to lose height, and the ride along Gronant road was helped with the strong tailwind. Keeping on the ridge of the hillside we passed Trelogan and Tre-Mostyn before making our decent onto the A548 opposite the floating wreck moored at Mostyn. We ride along the quiet! ‘A’ road into Flint where we stop for coffee and cake. We were the centre of attraction with some of the customers as they were surprised we all had slabs of cake!! We have just cycled 50 miles and deserved our calorie supplement.

We carry on to Shotton where Nick continues on to Hawarden to collect his car and John and I continue on the Greenway to Chester. Arriving back for 16:30 still daylight and not needing lights. A hilly morning ride covering 4035 feet of ascent at an average of 13mph. Distance ridden for the John and myself was 65 miles and for Nick riding back to the Gallery should be approximately 50 miles.

A good ride on dirty roads, roll on spring and summer. Bike wash first on agenda.

See route map and/or gpx file download


1st February 2018: Maeshafn (mod)

Hawarden, 1st February – St Brigid’s Day, the start of the pagan Irish festival of spring: Imbolc. Nothing spring-like today: cold, hail, gusts to nearly 40mph. Mod riders - a few brave souls: Andy B, Tom, Keith, Dave H and me, Steve. Where to: Maeshafn.

Into the northwesterly: to Northrop, Rhosesmor and Moel-y-crio. Steep climbs bring advantages – shelter from the wind - but heading south brings greater relief. South to Cilcain and beyond, then west up the valley towards Bwych Penbarras. Before Moel Famau car park, we turn left and down the opposite side to meet the A494.

“Straight on” I say. “Are you insane!” says Andy, knowing mod rides don’t do the double chevrons lying ahead. The hill beckons us on, steepening gradually, then fatally: Tom steams ahead, Dave and Keith fall by the wayside; Steve makes heroic effort to fail 10 yards before the top; Andy, slow and steady, makes it.

18 miles and 1900 feet climbed, recovery is needed – nothing could be better than The Miners Arms - warm, satisfying food and drink and very friendly (landlord did the coast-to-coast).

Easy now. A long downhill to Nercwys, into Buckley, down to Ewloe, “Goodbye Tom”. Harwarden reappears. Overall only 29 miles, but good going. Thanks Andy & Tom for navigational assistance.  Maybe spring will happen next Thursday.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 26 January 2018

25th January 2018: Pickmere (mod)

Have you ever travelled past an interesting-looking or attractive place and thought “I wonder what that’s like”?  I’ve cycled many times past the destination of this ride. It’s often on our routes to the Peovers, Chelford or Wincham, but really too close to our ride starts to be an obvious choice.  So it was that I devised a route for a short winter’s day that involved a long outward ride leaving less than a third of the miles for our return.

Quite a large turnout at Delamere Station Café, resulted in only 4 members joining the moderate ride: Andy B, Dave H, Keith and myself. The forecast was for a dry often sunny morning, but a high risk of heavy rain in the afternoon.  With this in mind I thought it best to ride moderately briskly before lunch in hope of arriving dry.

We took the longer route out to Acton Bridge, passing three “No Through Road” signs to come close to the River Weaver and then ascend Cliff Lane.  We crossed, re-crossed and re-crossed again the A49, before travelling through Higher Whitley. From here it was north-westwards, passing over the old concrete perimeter of Royal Naval Air Station Stretton, south of Warrington. This facility, known as HMS Blackcap was operational from 1942 to 1958, flying Fairey Barracudas, Fireflies and Supermarine aircraft amongst others.

Next we crossed some more modern transport infrastructure, the M6/M62 junction, before starting to loop south beside Swineyard Hall, a moated partly 16th century country house. Continuing our wide circuit of Arley Hall, we entered the village of Pickmere, and swung into the carpark of the Red Lion, before a drop of rain had fallen.

The Red Lion is a Robinsons’ pub with an open fire, a friendly welcome and tasty food.  I settled down with an excellent pint of Unicorn, and three of us opted for baguette and chips at around £7.  A series of historical photos adorn the walls, many of Pickmere Lake in its Edwardian heyday, complete with landing stage, rowing boats and cruiser. Dave remembered this as well as the travelling fair, but it all later fell into decay.  I am told that the cruiser, the Princess Irene, can still be found underwater in the middle of the lake. Despite this and later housing developments, you can still enjoy a walk around the lake.

We left the pub as the rain started and before long it was heavy with a very blustery wind making progress difficult.  But we weren’t going to be under a deluge, because although a lot of water had fallen, we were not under it at the time.  The skies brightened and we then only faced intermittent rain. The route back was direct through Great Budworth, Little Leigh and Norley, the only interest being the indefinite closure to motors of Westage Lane into Great Budworth due to badger earths undermining the carriageway. Keith left us for Runcorn and the remaining three headed back towards Delamere: Dave to his car, myself slightly further on to Kelsall and Andy much further on to Mold.

Overall a very good ride of about 40 miles in generally reasonable weather with a new find in the Red Lion for lunch stops.

Route now loaded on plotaroute.com due to bikeroutetoaster.com remaining down:
See route map and/or gpx file download


25th January 2018 : Knutsford (brisk)

Ten club members gathered at Delamere Station Café on a dry and sunny, if chilly morning. Dave M and Ken were there only for coffee, as they had commitments later in the day, so that left eight riders. These split into two fours, the moderates heading for the Red Lion at Pickmere and the briskers (John M, Ivan, Nick and Steve T) for “The Angel@ King Street” in Knutsford (96 King St, Knutsford WA16 6HQ. Tel. 01565 651165).

Initially we all set off together, but our routes parted at Hatchmere. From there we took one of the normal routes to Norley , Crowton and Acton Bridge. The climb out of the Weaver Valley took us up to Little Leigh from where we headed for Knutsford via Frandley, Antrobus and Bates Heath. Crossing the A556 at Tabley we zoomed into Knutsford, helped in no small way by the following wind, arriving at the Angel at 11:45.

To our surprise, they were already open and serving both food and ale. It’s a Joseph Holts hostelry that has recently had a makeover and it’s now a comfortable, well-appointed place. Ivan and John tried their ‘Two Hoots’ ale and seemed satisfied with it. The food was also of a good quality and at a reasonable price. A place to think about revisiting? Over lunch we discussed knee and back surgery (a subject relevant to several of our members); hearing aids, their limitations and technical developments and, weirdly, tides and why it takes half the time for the tide to come in at Widnes as it does to go out. I still haven’t found out why, but it seems to be peculiar to Widnes (why am I not surprised?).

The sun was still shining as we retraced our route out of Knutsford, but there were some dark clouds to the west, suggesting that we might encounter inclement weather before the end of the day. At Tabley Brook Farm, we stayed on the B5391, passing the Red Lion at Pickmere (were the mods still lunching?) and on into Higher Wincham. Here we swung right to pick up the A559 through Higher Marston before turning left up the short, but steep incline that took us to Comberbach. Steve had a minor mechanical here (chain off), but this was soon fixed and we cycled along Cogshall Lane to Dones Green where we crossed the A49 into Marsh Lane. This has to be one of the worst lanes in Cheshire. The top coat has been worn away in a random manner, leaving a rough and surface which makes it difficult to find any kind of smooth surface. It’s also slightly uphill which adds to the difficulty.

Turning left at the top of Marsh Lane, the skies darkened even more and the first spots of rain started. At Dutton, we stopped so that John could put on his waterproof. Steve chose not to do likewise, a decision he’d regret later. At Whitehouse Industrial Estate, we took a left turn down Aston Lane. Part of this has now been re-surfaced, so many of the potholes have disappeared and it’s now a nice lane to ride on. By now, the rain was coming down in buckets, with little prospect of a let up. So, rather than going on down into Frodsham, Steve opted to head for home as we reached Sutton Weaver, leaving the others to take refuge in Costa Coffee. From there, Nick headed back to Delamere and his car, and Ivan and John headed for home. As it happened, the rain stopped as soon a Steve left, so the others completed the ride in the dry.

The round trip from Delamere to Knutsford and back was about 44 miles and our average speed was 15 mph. A good ride with excellent company.

See route map and/or gpx file download ( on "plotaroute" as Bikeroutetoaster unavailable at present)


Friday, 19 January 2018

18th January 2018 : Chester (brisk)

It's CER's January Sale - so two blogs for the price of one!

Ivan's Tale

The long-range weather forecast for today's ride was pretty rubbish. Switching on the BBC news to listen to weather forecast this morning to view national and local conditions enabled  me to decide if I want to travel to Chirk and ride. It was not a good view with continual showers and wind all day. WhatsApp was used to consult brisk riders revealed all systems go and meet at Chirk.

I met Steve T at Chester station where there was no train service to Wrexham due line blocked - fallen tree or crossing failure. However, a good friendly coach driver was happy to put our bikes in the storage hold and we set off for Wrexham at normal train time 09:26 arriving Wrexham 10:00 with a train expected at 09:12. All went well and we arrived at Chirk ready to ride.Ken had ridden out to Chirk from home and was already finishing his coffee and ready to ride. A brief hello to the mod riders gathered we set off with a ride returning back to Holt and Chester.

The weather was blue skies and sunny so let's get cracking but unfortunately my Garmin had received an update and my route was direct over the fields! Never mind I had a reasonable idea which direction I was heading and we set off. Turning right onto Colliery Rd heading towards Ifton and the old coal mine. The roads were littered with debris ; we arrived at the only climb of the ride leaving Ifton Heath up to the Plough Inn at the Cross lane (B5068). I remembered this route as Clive led a ride several years back whilst en-route to the Plough and parts of it must be 25% gradients and were muddy and very slippy but we three got up to the top very grateful that the remainder of the ride is "all downhill"!!!

I was without Garmin route navigation and a couple of detours led us passed Dodleston Heath and Threapwood before arriving at Holt where Ken was leaving us to return home to Rossett. Steve and myself decided jointly that lunch at the White Horse might be preferable to Cleopatras.We were the only customers but the food was ok. Whilst getting ready to leave on looking out of the window to the side, it was now raining yet the front of the pub was very dry!! Is that localised weather?

We set off for Chester with blue skies passing Alford to Huntington then Guilden Sutton and joining the A56 for Frodsham and Runcorn to get Steve home. I carried on to the traffic lights near the Helsby Arms and said farewell to Steve. On arrival home with 29.5 miles recorded on Strava but an actual of 38 miles it had turned out to be a fine day to be out cycling although it will take the same amount of time cycling to clean the bikes. Very wet and dirty roads but a nice ride was achieved. Thanks to Ken and Steve who had more confidence in their own predictions than I had.


Steve's Tale

A WhatsApp check on Tuesday suggested that the only brisk riders likely to be out this week were Ken, Ivan and myself. Ken said he was just riding out for coffee. Ivan said he was going to catch the train there and ride back (with Ken) and he further suggested that I do the same.

So it was that I found myself riding down the A56 into Frodsham at some ungodly hour in half light and driving rain – not an ideal start to the day and the BBC forecast was pretty dire. Why do I do this? When my train arrived in Chester, I heard an announcement saying that the 09.26 to Shrewsbury had been cancelled due to a crossing problem between Chester and Wrexham and that there would be a ‘replacement bus service’. On checking with Customer Services, they told me that the driver ‘might’ allow bikes on the coach – things seem to be going from bad to worse! When Ivan arrived at the station we asked the driver who happily loaded the bikes into the luggage space beneath the coach. On reaching Wrexham, our luck was in. The train to Shrewsbury was also running late so we were soon on it and arrived at Chirk station only 30 minutes later than we would have done had our train from Chester not been cancelled

We arrived in bright sunshine just in time to see the ‘mods’ leaving the café. We found Ken inside the Tea Rooms waiting for us. He needed to be home by 12 to 12.30, so we set off straight away, heading east from Chirk towards Pon’t-y-Blew. Ivan’s Garmin was playing up, so we had a wrong turn here and there along the way, but eventually he took us down into the Dee valley at Ddôl and up the other side. The climb up must have been 20% (there are two chevrons showing on the OS map. The lane was littered with branches and twigs that had been blown off in the previous night’s high winds and was quite muddy, making the ascent even harder.

The wind had dropped by now and we continued to cycle in bright sunshine – really lovely conditions. After a brief spell on the B5068, we dropped down to Dudleston Heath from where we struck north-east to Holly Bush. Here, we crossed the A525 and pressed on to Worthenbury (via Mulsford). Then on to Shocklach and Farndon, where Ken left for home – I hope he made his deadline. This left Ivan and I to push on to Churton, where we stopped for lunch at The White Horse. 

This isn’t one of our usual lunch stops as it’s too close to Holt and not on the normal routes we take from other starting points. Whilst the food and service were OK, I don’t think we’ll be adding The White Horse to Steve Haywood’s list. 

The afternoon ride, still in dry, sunny conditions, was straightforward, taking us via Aldford, Boughton Heath and the delights of the cycle path next to the A41 to Piper’s Ash and Guilden Sutton. Passing the end of Ivan’s road he said he’d go a bit further to show me the premises of an upholsterer in Mickle Trafford that he knew about (we’d discussed re-upholstering a suite over lunch). So he came along and actually carried on with me until we reached The Hornsmill (a.k.a . The Brown Cow) at Helsby. This left me with the short, but boring leg along the A56 through Helsby and Frodsham to ‘the edge of’ Runcorn and home. I’d clocked 45 miles at an average of 15.7 mph on a day when the BBC weather forecast was again wrong…. until 10 minutes after I got in and then it p***ed it down!

Thanks to Ivan for the brilliant idea of the linear ride and for the route and to both Ken and Ivan for their excellent company.


Thursday, 18 January 2018

18th January 2018: Llanymynech (mod)

At just gone 10am, I was the only one sitting in the Chirk Tea Rooms, and contemplating a solitary ride.  A little later Bob arrived, and then Ken, who told us Steve T and Ivan were en route. However Ken, Steve and Ivan were going to be cycling back into Chester.  That just left me and Bob.  We saddled up and we had just mounted our bikes when Keith drove up, having been delayed in traffic. We returned to the Tea Rooms and shortly Keith appeared, and off the three of us headed – but not for long.  Keith’s front wheel didn’t feel stable, and after some investigation we discovered a broken component in his headset, which meant he had to abort the ride – a real shame especially after he had made it out all the way to Chirk.

So it was that six CER riders reduced to two – just me and Bob, heading south to Llanymynech. I had plotted a relatively short route to take account of a strong westerly and a forecast of heavy showers interrupted by heavier rain. We crossed the A5 and headed out through Hindford, Welsh Frankton and West Felton, appreciating some great views of the Welsh hills.  At first the lanes were muddy, full of debris and several times totally flooded, the longest stretch being about 20m of water. Gradually things improved as we headed south, though as we neared our destination an ominous black cloud appeared and the first drops of heavy rain began to fall.  Our speed increased with our determination to avoid a soaking before lunch.  We were lucky and just made it to the pub. 

As usual The Bradford Arms provided a friendly welcome, a warm bar and plentiful good value food and drink – we should visit more often.  While we had sheltered, there had been a real cloudburst.  It was dry again as we left, but as we initially rode back over the same route, the roads had become awash with large areas of surface water. We then passed through Maesbury and Oswestry feeling grateful and lucky to have so far stayed dry.  Then only three miles from journey’s end, Bob uttered the ominous word “puncture”.  Fate was conspiring to give us a drenching, because as soon as the puncture was fixed, it started to rain: heavily and with some hail.  We dropped down through Western Rhyn steadily feeling the dampness spreading through us.

We were thankful to get back to the Tea Rooms and have warm drinks and some food.  We were also grateful for what we both felt had been a really good ride: fine lanes once we were clear of the initial mud, some excellent views, good luck with the weather in spite of the last few miles and Bob’s new jacket had proved to be properly waterproof!  About 35 miles in total.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Sunday, 14 January 2018

11th January 2018 : Church Minshull (brisk)

A very decent turnout today at the ICF with 11 riders turning up plus the tandem. Dave H had a ride planned that headed out towards Whitchurch which seemed to suit almost everybody. As the number of people were on the high side for a single group, I proposed a ride towards Nantwich.  Tom seemed interested so after coffee we turned right heading off in the direction of Beeston whilst the ‘moderates’ turned left.

We soon warmed ourselves up in the weak sunshine and with no cooling wind it felt quite pleasant for early January. Weaving our way through Beeston and Peckforton, we joined the A49 at Spurstow for a brief spell before turning off down Badcock Lane, a big mistake! Flooded potholes and mud made this road feel more like a bridleway than a  modern sealed road. At the end of this road we  crossed the main road at Faddiley and headed towards Ravensmoor and thankfully the roads here were a lot cleaner. 

My initial idea was to stop in Nantwich for lunch, but we arrived far too early as it was still only 11:30. So with a quick look at the map, a new venue, The Badger Inn at Church Minshull, was chosen. The journey from Nantwich was via Reaseheath and Worleston and we were soon sitting in front of the open fire waiting for our food to arrive.

This venue is not new to us and although prices are higher than other venues, it seems to remain good with tasty food, prompt service, and appears to have  regular clientele. With lunch over and our chat over bikes and Christmas concluded, we were back on the road by 13.15hrs.

For the  return journey, we followed a well-cycled route back through Wettenhall to Eaton, climbing Sapling Lane to drop down into Utkinton, onward to Duddon and then crossing the A51. Here we stayed on Rycroft Lane rather than returning to ICF and made our way back home via Chester.

The weather today was quite warm and benign for January on mainly dry roads with both of us commenting on how good it was to be out enjoying the quite lanes of Cheshire. Today's route returning back to ICF was 41 miles, but both Tom and myself probably cycled  another 40 to get back home. A very good ride for Tom who is still struggling with a back problem, hopefully today's ride wasn’t detrimental to his recovery. Thanks for your company Tom.


Friday, 12 January 2018

11th January 2018: Whitchurch (mod)

Despite forecasts of widespread fog, there was a strong turnout by the intrepid Chester Easy Riders membership. It was good to see Tom back on board for a second week. Jim was on a recovery ride, and the tandem was also with us, so a proper pressure-less moderate ride appeared to be the inclusive option. Ken had a separate plan for the fast lads. Dave Matthews, George, Bob, Trevor, Jim, Steve Haywood, Mike Gilbert, Andy Barber, Dave and Liz, and myself constituted the moderate group.

We headed for Whitchurch via Tattenhall, Clutton and Tilston. Crossing the A41 before Chowley was a bit messy with a large group, a car behind us, and two lorries temporarily parked either side of us at the busy junction. At Lower Carden, Dave M. suggested that he could lead those riders who would like to go a little quicker, with the benefit of making two smaller, more manageable groups. So it became one of those rare occasions when we had three groups out simultaneously. I'm not keen on Malpas, or a fan of the climbs up to it, so I intended to explore a new (to me, anyway!) route to avoid it. We were now five: the tandem, Jim, George and myself. Coming out of Tilston we turned left and climbed to Edge Grange on a quiet lane. Before reaching Hampton Post, Jim decided that it was time to turn for home on his recovery ride. We re-crossed the A41 at No Mans Heath. The tandem prudently decide to have lunch here, so the ride leader was left with a group of George! Anyway, George and I had an interesting chat, as we semi-circled down to Whitchurch through Bickley Town, Gauntons Bank, Marbury and past Fox Hall.

Shortly after arriving at the Black Bear, and whilst trying to find out where they were, the others arrived. They had cycled a more westerly route encompassing Tallarn Green and Hanmer. The Black Bear is a consistent favourite with its warm welcome, good service and nice food.
Photo by Steve H

We returned by way of Wirswall, Hadley Hall, Steer Bridge, Swanwick Green, Bickley and Cholmondeley Castle. The climb to Wirswall was more challenging than I remember, particularly on a full stomach! Just after Egerton Green, Dave Matthews headed north up his “secret lane,” (which we all know about!). I wanted to avoid the predictable grind of Harthill, so tried the agreeable little lane at the end of Bickerton Hill leading to Brown Knoll, and then headed north, past Bolesworth Castle. We were soon passing Owler Hall and some of us had a last coffee at the Ice Cream Farm.

The lady running the cafe made sure, once again, that we knew that we were welcome. She stated that she would not be here now only for the custom of cyclists in the early days. We still get a cyclist's discount of course. We thought that Steve and Andy had gone their own ways near the end, but in fact Andy had had a puncture, which Steve had messaged me about, but which I had missed. Just before lunch, I had tried to contact the other group to find their whereabouts, but I didn't get a response. It reminded me of the day, when two of us stopped  to help with a puncture on the way to Whitchurch, and then the three of us failed to find the main group for the rest of the day, despite visiting three pubs that we had previously frequented in the town. In fact, I think it was the first time the group, led by Jim, had used the Black Bear. We probably need to consider sharpening up our mobile communication procedures! Anyway, the weather was great; bright with no wind, with some of us riding over 41 miles, and others about 38. Trevor must have covered a useful 60+ miles, and Mike and Andy more. It was a real pleasure to be out with such pleasant company on such quiet, sunlit lanes, even in mid-January, when so many can only contemplate a shuffle to Costa as the height of their winter outdoor exertions.

For the route of the sub-group led by Mike G & Dave M:
See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 5 January 2018

4th January 2018: Rock Ferry (mod)

Our first CER ride of the New Year saw 8 members meeting at Ness Gardens with Clive, Bob and Steve H coming just for coffee and N Y-well wishing.  Macca had promised a Wirral ride covering some previously un-ridden “roads” by CER and in anticipation, Ivan, Mike G, Steve T, Tom and Macca set off north to Parkgate.  This ride should have been billed as “Edwardians at leisure” as we soon arrived at the site of the outdoor swim baths; today it was packed, not with human “bird watchers” but with RSPB members all staring out onto the Estuary, hoping to see for raptors hunting vermin escaping the very high tide. (see photo)

Photos by Macca

Onwards and eastwards brought us flying past Raby Mere, the site of Edwardian pleasure gardens, boating lake and tea-rooms up until the late 1960s, if my childhood memory serves me correctly.  Continuing through Mill Park, followed by Carlett Park, we arrived on the banks of the very high Mersey at our 3rd Edwardian playground – the long gone zoo, bear-pit and pleasure gardens at Eastham Ferry.  In bright winter sun, we headed north to the 21st century equivalent at Port Sunlight River Park, built on a 15 year old landfill dump and opened in 2014 (see photo 2).

Hearing stomachs rumbling I called 15 minutes to the pub, at which the speed increased noticeably.  We cycled for the first time ever along the old Edwardian sandstone promenade at Rock Ferry, which usually has a 6 foot drop to the “beach”, where thousands came from Liverpool to sunbathe and swim.  Today, as you see from photo 3, we nearly had to swim ourselves.

The Refreshment Rooms looked after us as well as ever.  Only open 5 years, it has gained from early-on a deserved reputation for serving excellent food as well as local beer, both locally sourced.  Its “Mission Statement” posted in the Gents, even declares that staff are locally sourced.
Though I had previously promised by e-mail a ride of 70 odd kms, the accurate BBC weather app I always use showed we were due 80 kms westerlies from 2pm.  After a hurried lunch, I elected for the shortest route back to Ness as we set off straight into that headwind. Bebington Station, Sunlight village, Clatterbridge, Brimstage, Raby, Willaston, then up and over Mill Lane took us back to Ness; we still covered an enjoyable 58 kms. (Well I still think of myself as European) at an average 18 kph.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 28 December 2017

28th December 2017: Overton (mod)

Deep midwinter: sleet had fallen on frozen ground overnight. It was freezing and the roads were icy.  So it was in hope rather than expectation of a ride that I strapped my bike to the car and drove out to Cleopatra’s in Holt. Steve T, Dave H, Keith and Ken had all driven out with the same feeling. David M was also there but in civvies, ostensibly to lend moral support, but really to flog the new Chester and North Wales  CTC vests (discounted to a great value of £20 for a limited period only!).

We considered the options for the day: anything between just riding over the bridge to the café in Farndon and returning, to one of our more usual routes to Hanmer or Whitchurch. As the sun rose we determined to ride out towards Shocklach and decide then based on the condition of the surfaces.  We found that although some sections had been melted by the sun, others remained covered with crunchy frozen sleet.  We reasoned that the smaller less-used lanes would be unsafe, but that we could follow more major roads through Worthenbury, Bangor-on-Dee and into Overton. Cycling gingerly we made slow yet safe progress and eventually arrived outside The White Horse just before opening time having covered only 12 ½ miles.

We were grateful when the doors were unlocked and we met Stuart from Orkney, the temporary landlord. We received a cantankerously friendly welcome.  Five steak pie and chips were ordered and we settled down to wait, having been told that Stuart was on his own and it would take a while. Our conversation was a typical mix of the idiosyncratic. Dave proudly brought a twig out of his bag and claimed it was a specialist twig used to remove mud from under mudguards; Steve told us that his name was shortened to “Ste” by Scousers; and Dave, Steve and Keith revealed yet more insights into the strange world of Runcorn. We were just becoming absorbed in the finer details of 1:50k and 1:25k downloadable maps, when thankfully, five plates of substantial food arrived, the talking ended and the eating began.  Some time later we said our farewells to Stuart and hit the road again.

Photo by Ken P

We hoped that sunshine and the slight rise in temperatures would allow us to take a different route back. And so it seemed after repeating our outward route to Worthenbury, we gained the confidence to head into Malpas, then Tilston.  At Stretton we stopped outside Stretton Hall for a photo and decided to return via Wetreins Lane.  This turned out to the iciest ride of our day, but without mishap we made it back to Cleos having covered just over 30 miles. Except for the road surfaces, it had been a beautiful day and we all were grateful to have made the effort: a suitable finale as the last CER ride of the year.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 21 December 2017

21st December 2017: Ravensmoor (mod)

The shortest day of the year required a relatively short ride. From Rose Farm we have favourite nearby destinations such as the Bhurtpore at Aston or the Crown at Goostrey, but I felt in need of a change.  I’d often cycled past The Farmers Arms at Ravensmoor without stopping, although I was told this had been popular with Easy Riders some years ago. The prospect of 35 or so miles seemed popular, and so six of us set off: Dave H, Keith, Jim, Trevor, Ken and myself.

We didn’t get very far, in fact we didn’t make it out of the car park, before someone from the shop asked us to move our cars out of the main car park to make room for shoppers.  Dave and Trevor duly obliged before we could hit the open road.  Then it was out on familiar lanes through Cotebrook, Wettenhall and Nantwich, to then make a loop around our destination so as not to arrive too early. The morning had been pleasant with generally no wind, mild temperatures, even a little sunshine, though with some filthy lanes.

So it was that with 20 miles covered, we arrived at The Farmers. In spite of a large Christmas lunch party being booked, we received a friendly welcome and before long were tucking into substantial meals.

The return was along similarly familiar lanes, though we diverted to avoid the usually messy lanes north of Brindley, and passed through the village of Haughton and an appealing looking pub, The Nag’s Head, which Dave identified as part of the Ribble pub chain (though a long way from the Ribble Valley). This really is a better alternative lane to the one we usually take, and for the sake of a few hundred meters of main road is worth it. We then passed on through Bunbury, by Beeston Castle and over the steep humpback canal bridge beside the Shady Oak.  Here Ken revealed that he had learnt to swim in that canal. Corkscrew Lane took us into Clotton and so back to our start.  Overall we covered almost 38 miles for the day, and enjoyed a pleasant ride as our last outing before Christmas.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 15 December 2017

14th December 2017: Christmas Special Ride to Christleton (mod)

A pleasant enough day for December saw 8 riders heading off from The Gallery at Hawarden bound for the CER Christmas lunch.  While Dave H had ably organised again all the arrangements for the meal.... and thank you for doing that so well......Trevor had a circular route avoiding entirely the city of Chester.  Dave H, Trevor, Chris, Mike, Jim, Keith, Steve T and me initially went SW to give us a good 2+ hour ride to the lunch; our route was Burton, Rossett, Holt, Aldford and then NE up the only incline of note on the day at Saighton College and thence to Waverton and Christleton.

Photos by Macca

We were joined by 10 other members at The Ring o Bells for an excellent lunch but only 3 seasonal hats and one Christmas jumper were in evidence – more effort needed next year says Santa.  A couple of hours later, well replenished, it saw us departing before more snow and ice came in.  Back at Hawarden I had 63 kms on the clock in the dark.

A very special thanks must surely go here to Bryan Wade for all he has done for chestereasyriders, not only over the last 12 months but for the last 9 years since he founded the club.  We all hope the next 12 months bring him and Erla good health and happiness, wherever they are. 


Sunday, 10 December 2017

7th December 2017 : Bickerton (brisk)

Eight riders  assembled at Delamere Station cafe and were joined by Bryan, Dave and Liz, for coffee. Dave M also arrived on his bike and was buying a Christmas Tree - good luck getting that home in one piece Dave!

Three of the eight riders were keen for a brisk ride despite the threat of Storm Caroline heading our way. So taking account of the prospect of strong north westerly winds I decided on a route that would take us west as far as Alford and then south to Tilston before turning north east after lunch.

From the cafe Steve T ,Paul and myself headed out to Hatchmere then left through Ashton before crossing A54 into Oscroft- no sign of Dave and his Christmas tree.

Our good pace on familiar roads meant the journey from Oscroft through Waverton and Alford was soon covered , it was surprisingly pleasant given  the wind and cold forecast had not yet materialised. In Churton we turned left down Pump Lane into Coddington , at the junction of Mill Lane and Broxton Road, we decided to see if there was route through Carden Park Golf Resort as this would provide a nice shortcut into Tilston. The  Hotel and golf course all appeared very quiet and the way through the estate was easy to navigate providing the  short cut we had hoped for. Still enjoying fine weather and dry roads we made easy work of the lanes through Duckington and Bickerton before  arriving at our lunch venue.

The Bickerton Poacher has had a facelift since I was last here and seemed all the better for it. The staff were very welcoming, we were quickly seated with both drink and food orders taken at the table, the food arrived promptly and was excellent. Lunch topics included Christmas travel plans and Paul’s new Tifosi  cycling glasses bought from Evans cycles for £16:00, including three interchangeable lens -bargain!

Back on the road our route through Peckforton and Bunbury passed quickly but it was here that a brief senior moment meant I missed the turning to Bunbury common so we had a small detour through Alpraham and Long Lane. Fortunately it went unnoticed by both Paul and Steve and only added  a little more mileage. 

With a little help from ‘Caroline’ the ride back through Eaton to Delamere passed without incident. Here we all parted company, Paul and Steve both cycling home while I had an easy drive home. 

Although today’s route was on roads familiar to CER riders we had a pleasant 44 mile ride, in part due to the absence of the threatened weather. However, in our haste to beat ‘Caroline’ we didn’t stop for a photoshoot.