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Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
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.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Friday, 14 February 2020

13th February 2020: Warrington (brisk)

Ivan had proposed a ride to Warrington and so it was that John W and I met Ivan at the top of the Greenway in the pouring rain for our ride out to Delamere Station Cafe. Around Manley Mere, John was having trouble changing the front and rear derailleurs on is Di system. So he reluctantly decided that riding all day on a fixie was not a good idea, and returned homewards.

The warmth of Delamere Station was welcome and it was very busy with lots of Easy Riders and walkers. Steve T was yet again dragooned into the Brisk Ride Formation Cycling Team as Ivan lad us out  setting off bound for Runcorn via Kingsley. The other side of Frodsham, Steve  offers to weave us through Runcorn in between the railways lines, main roads and canals, to get to the old Mersey Bridge which he did expertly. Up until this point, the roads were pretty familiar to me but this was all about to change. Steve tells me it is a bit rough around here. I see signs for Prescot where the owner of the Chester "Sticky Walnut" restaurant successfully opened a gourmet establishment!

On the Mersey Old Bridge
Ivan guides us through suburban Widnes to Upton Rocks then Cronton thence Rainhill Stoops - familiar to you all I suppose. Ivan tells us that it was around here in 1829 that Stephenson's Rocket won the competition for the first locomotive to pull trains on the nearly complete Liverpool to Manchester Railway line; and Yes it was more prompt on arrival times than Arriva North trains! Hereabouts as well was the first railway death - the "man with the red flag" was run over by the train and died.

We motor on passing Burtonwood Brewery and then into the metropolis that is Warrington, now with 209,000 population and a lot of warehouses! After 30 miles, we tie up our steeds outside the Spoons' "The Friar Penketh" where a couple of workers are jet-washing the outside smoking area - the jobsworth won't let us park our bikes away from the pavement here, neither offer to jet-wash our mud covered bikes.

We get a table at the window to stand watch over our bikes as our food comes, as always, promptly from the kitchens. The route back doesn't feature much in the way of railways, but we set off along the Mersey River crossing it over the swinging Howley Footbridge where an electric blue-haired lass kindly takes our photo. Cutting through Victoria Park  and more cycle-paths, we head for Hillcliffe where the clue is in the name. It's a long ride up at nearly 10% to Fox Covert Cemetery and thence down the unmade road passing upmarket houses to Appleton reservoir.

Howley Footbridge over the Mersey River
Out via Hatton, we arrive in Daresbury village passing the rectory where Charles Dodgson was born in 1832. Better known as Lewis Carroll, Charles was also a well-respected mathematician and inventor of a Scrabble-type board game when he was not writing the Alice In Wonderland books.

Crossing the M56 we end up at Preston-on-the-Hill where we elect to join the old Chester to Warrington road known as the A56. Steve peels off near Sutton Weaver as Ivan and I ride straight back to Chester. The planned route would have taken you back to Delamere with 51 miles via Acton Bridge however.

Safely back in Chester, it now getting colder as Ivan I finish up for around 70 miles round trip. A great day out with a good part along roads and areas that I had not been down, or up, before.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos ID

Thursday, 13 February 2020

13th February 2020: Goostrey (mod)

Heavy rain was falling as I cycled to the Station Cafe at Delamere. Several other drowned rats gradually appeared, while others had made the journey by car. It was good to see Dave H looking well, though in civvies recuperating from his recent operation. The plan was to ride out to The Crown at Goostrey, and the party comprised George, Andy B, Bob and myself.

Leaving the cafe the skies cleared and we even saw a spot of sunshine. The route largely covered familiar ground, taking the back way to Acton Bridge and then on to Great Budworth, Pickmere and Plumley. Around Lower Peover, I took a new lane for me - my old OS map showed it as just a track, though on line it appeared as a yellow lane.  It was OK except for the puddles and mud.

Entering The Crown, we were told that we had arrived before a large party of 50 were expected. Grateful not to be waiting for the kitchen to cook their orders first, we chose our food and drink, which arrived and were consumed quickly.

The return route was also familiar taking us through Lach Dennis (a reminder that Storm Dennis was expected at the weekend), Davenham and Hartford. Sandiway, Cuddington and Norley came next, before we reached our starting point. 

Despite the early rain, we stayed dry on the ride, and the weather was relatively pleasant for cycling with little wind. The total route length was 44 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 7 February 2020

6th February 2020: Melverley (mod)

There had been a heavy frost, though a sunny day was forecast, when CER members assembled at the Castle Bistro in Chirk. Ivan and Nick made up the brisk contingent, and we had six moderate riders: Bob, Steve T, Trevor, Mike G, Andy B and myself. Over coffee, Andy was sharing a few interesting facts about working in the nuclear industry: in order to test radioactive contamination, some staff had to provide 4 litres of their urine, in order that it could be reduced down to a concentration where alpha particles could be counted!

In choosing a destination for today’s ride, I remembered that on other rides we had often passed an interesting-looking pub on the banks of the River Severn.  So it was that our destination became the Royal Hill Inn, midway between Melverley and Pentre. We set off on one of our regular routes from Chirk, through Hindford and Welsh Frankton. Caution was in order as we came across patches of ice which we passed gingerly, and sometimes dismounted and walked around.  We hoped these would disappear as the day progressed. We cycled on through West Felton and Knockin, past the radio telescope dishes and beneath the helicopters always hereabouts due to the local military base.  Before long we were seeing signs to our pub.

Photos by Mike G

I can’t explain why it’s called the Royal Hill Inn as the locality is fairly hill-less, but maybe it is connected to the Civil War battles in the Shrewsbury area. The pub itself has an ideal location looking south over the banks of the River Severn towards the Breedon Hills in the distance. The interior retains a collection of small rooms - a servery, a snug and an old parlour. We sat basking in the sun shining through the windows and chose our refreshments.  The main courses are all under £10 and quite adequate – we were told that more chips could be provided if we wished. My pint of Three Tuns was in very good condition. We were discussing rides we had done in the area, when someone turned over a beermat to reveal the fact that the River Severn is 72,355 canoe lengths long! This brought the discussion round to canoe trips.


Soon it was time to move on.  Mike G suggested that we should visit St Peter’s Church in nearby Melverley.  This is a delightful timber wattle and daub structure, built in the early 15th century after Owain Glyndwr burnt down the previous one. In the early 1990’s a major effort succeeded in protecting it from falling into the River Severn.  As a result Melverley was given a “most motivated village” award.





From here we headed north through Maesbrook and Maesbury to join the road through Whittington to Gobowen. Before entering the town, we headed west, past the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital, very familiar to Steve T, and then picked up the lanes to Western Rhyn and the Ceiriog valley.  From here we climbed up into Chirk and back to the Castle Bistro.


It had been an exceptionally good ride. The weather turned out to be excellent once the frost lifted. Apart from some muddy lanes around Chirk, the roads were generally clear and there was little wind. The route held plenty of interest, especially the church, and the pub was a notable find to which we will return. Total distance travelled was 42 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

6th February 2020: Nesscliffe (brisk)


It’s a train ride to Chirk for today's outing, travelling out with Trevor it is looking a very promising day with blue skies as far as the eyes can see. Arriving at the café in the town, the moderates have already taken over with a good turnout. The brisk group today is down to two – Nick and I. The mods are out of the door promptly leaving us to settle up and get ready.

We depart via Colliery Rd and crossing over the A5 to Pont y Blew. The sun is still bright but it is quite chilly as we descend Rhyln Lane. Nick stops to put a scull cap under his helmet and we set off. The roads are dry from Chirk to this point but, on going around a left-hand bend and continuing down hill, we hit ice across the road. No time for warnings but Nick crashes down onto the tarmac. After the shock he is able to get up, bike and clothing intact but his shoulder took the brunt of the fall and is bruised, so we decide to ride back to Chirk.

After loading his bike in to his car, Nick is off home for some pampering hopefully. I decide to ride my route so set off again taking extreme care when approaching the bend. It is probably 15 minutes since the accident and the ice has gone! For the rest of my ride I did not encounter any further icy patches. Unbelievable and unlucky. When Nick was gathering himself together a tractor, quad bike and two cars passed over the ice, so I can only assume busy traffic grated and dissolved the ice/slush.
Along Glyn Morlas Lane and through Ifton Meadow with the only category climb of 15%, its onwards to Ifton Heathand along Cross lanes towards Dudleston. Its now across country to Welsh Frankton and Hordley. The lanes are very quiet of traffic and it’s a pleasure for me to be riding alone and at my own pace enjoying the vistas as I cannot remember these lanes, but our leader has explored most lanes between Chirk and Shrewsbury so my memory is fading!

I pass through little villages of Lower Hardley and Bagley and approaching Lullingfields its similar to Newmarket as there is a grand stud stables and foal fields along with gallops. Dropping down to Myddle, I can remember a Clive route from Battlefield passing through this town but whenever you go down roads, there is always an up to challenge you.

The lunch stop today is at Nescliffe and a pub called The Old Three Pidgeon’s. I don’t think I’ve visited before but is a very old-world inn with a lot of history and a resident ghost that luckily was not behind the bar. Service was very friendly and my lunch was served very prompt and I was soon back on my bike again. My departure from my lunch stop took me along Nescliffe woods and the verge was covered with snow drops and crocus, I’m soon knocking on Knockin village and to Maesbury Marsh before skirting Oswestry.
The Pub
Another Solo Rider
I thought my route took me via the Fort, but I was passing the old works on the B5069 Gobowen Road and crossing over the A5 at Park Hall. At Gobowen, I wait at the station as the gates are down and the 1452 service from Chirk is arriving so I have an hour for my next service home. Between Gobowen and crossing the A5 again, at Whittington Road, I espy a group of riders, who I suspect were the Mods on their way back into Chirk via St Martins.

For me it was Weston Rhyn and Chirk Bank arriving back into town too early for a quick train home so amused myself at Stanton House and a relaxing 50 minutes. Unfortunately, not accompanied on the ride today, and I hope Nick isn’t too bruised, but an enjoyable 52 miles covered, although the planned route was only 46 miles, on I’m sure some new lanes in spring-like sunshine all day. Its a route I would enjoy riding again with some brisk riders to join me.
ID

Saturday, 1 February 2020

30th January 2020 : Market Drayton (brisk)

Today's ride is from Alison’s cafe at Tattenhall. Another good turnout of CER riders, and for the brisk ride today we were a group of 5. A ride to Market Drayton and a visit to the Red Lion, Joules establishment was on offer. With the hope that the roads are not as muddy as last week, the first half hour of today's conversation was the bike and gear wash after lasts weeks ride.

John M, John W, Steve F, Ray and I set off via Burwardsley Road and onto Dark Lane then onto Bolesworth Road and over Bolesworth Hill, dropping down to Brown Knowl then along Bickerton Road. Heading out to Wrenbury and passing the Dusty Miller inn, the canal bridge was down so it was then onwards towards Aston.

Beeston Castle in the sunshine
John M and Ray make a detour shortly after the crossroads deciding on a shorter ride to Audlem. We three continued on our route. As previously wished for, the lanes today were drier and the weather although overcast was warm. After a further few miles along decent lanes we are entering Market Drayton and lunch.

The service  at the "Spoons pub, the Red Lion, was quick and food reasonable and we are back out in the saddle again. Heading East, we head out  and up to Norton in Hales then into Audlem. A quick check of the café there confirmed our two "slackers" had departed for home. Through the town and up the hill before the right-hand fork thence to take us to Nantwich. Passing through the town and exit via Welsh Row, we continue to Acton and Swanley Lane and the usual route to Bunbury and Beeston.

We head on back to Chester after 53 miles around and having enjoyed 80+ miles of good cycling. As we pass the Rugby club on Hare Lane, and after so many pot holes, I hear a "psssssssss" sound and ride the rest of the short way home on a flat tyre

Another good ride, weather very warm and miles covered at a 16.5mph average. Still got to wash the bikes and gear though!!

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photo ID

Friday, 31 January 2020

30th January 2020: Marbury (mod)

A ‘quiet’ weather day was forecast and about a dozen riders met at Alison’s in Tattenhall. Prospective new member Steve Hughes turned out. That means that with four Steves, the Steves have now overtaken the Daves and Johns as the most common first name in the club! It must have been a popular name 60+ years ago. There were seven riders in the mod group: Andy B, Andy W, George, Neil, Bob, new Steve and myself. A couple of weeks ago at Rose Farm we had considered riding to The Swan at Marbury, but a bad weather forecast made us change our plans.  Today, with better weather we chose this as our destination.

The route out was to cover 27 miles, with about 13 after lunch.  We headed towards Clutton and into Tilston. From here we shimmied into Threapwood and then south eastwards to Fenn’s Bank before picking up the Alkington Road into Whitchurch. I would normally describe the surfaces as very muddy in parts, but after last week’s experience I’ve redefined what ‘muddy’ means.  Our aim was to pass straight through Whitchurch, avoiding the one-way street by the Black Bear which we often take from the wrong side.  We explored the side roads and footpaths of Whitchurch, but still ended up travelling the wrong way up this road!

Marbury was reached by 1pm. I read from the Swan’s website that “Marbury has 11 National Heritage listed black and white Medieval/Tudor buildings, including the Swan’s own outbuildings. And a 16th-century church that overlooks the splendid Big Mere”.  As we settled down for our meal, we considered the more exotic items on the menu – eg thyme & sea salt beer bread, Delamere goats cheese salad, crispy bon bons, beetroot & candied walnuts – though the most common choice was the fish finger bap. Topics of conversation covered the worst weather conditions in which we’d been cycling, maybe for contrast with the benign conditions today.  Views were positive about The Swan, so we expect to return here in the future.

After lunch we settled into our route back. The morning had been quite mild, but the afternoon was almost warm and snatches of sunshine were to be seen. The wind that had been against us in our southward progress, now speeded us on our way. Lots of flying insects testified to the unseasonal temperatures. Our route took us to Bickley, Bickerton, Brown Knoll and Bolesworth, before returning to our start.  Around 40 miles covered in good conditions, a decent pub stop, and good company – not bad for Steve’s first ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Saturday, 25 January 2020

23rd January 2020 : Ellesmere (brisk)

I rode out from Chester with John W today for the meeting at Cleopatra's café at Holt. This was my first CER ride of 2020 and my focus was only riding a bike!! On arrival at the café, there was another good turnout of nearly 20 riders for today. The weather was predicted as grey but it was quite colourful in the café!

For the Brisk group, Nick had come with a route and I had posted two routes on Ride with GPS; the route selected was a forty-six mile round trip to Ellesmere and the Red Lion. Ken joined us for coffee but not able to ride today and Clive was sailing in Conway Bay and Menai Strait. Our chosen selection of riders today were John W, John M, Nick, and Steve T and Steve F and Ray plus me!

Leaving the café, we head out to Tilston and along the lane’s via Ebnal crossing the A41 via the cycleway twice at No Mans Heath. It is straight lanes linking into one another to Hanmer before joining the A495. The fun started AS SOON as we turn into New Road heading towards Bettisfield; New Road in 1500 BC, but today it has more craters than the moon and more mud than Clive would have enjoyed.

We pass over the old Whitchurch/Ellesmere railway bridge and the Bettisfield café, I haven’t called here with CER but it is a lovely café to visit, it looks like more building work being carried out on the station. We ride on towards Lyneal and pass Colmere and to the A528. Instead of the usual run-down hill into the town today, we cross over and pass White Mere and arrive via Blackwater Marina arriving at our lunch destination The Red Lion.

Arriving at the roundabout at Ellesmere were Dave and Liz on their tandem, and we arrive at the Red Lion together and the Mod’s have also arrived in advance. With 20 additional lunches, our food was a little slow today in presentation. Making things more drawn out is the 3/2 course menu with some riders having starters delaying main course then we have to wait for the spotty dick sponge and custard deserts. Wow!!!!

Magnificent Seven minus One

Leaving Dave and Liz to finish their meal in peace, we eventually leave the pub following after the departure of the moderate group we head back to the roundabout and head up Swan Hill and Ellesmere Lane.

At Penley, we happen upon two moderate riders Keith and Peter (E-Biker) but they were okay and so we continued on. We are soon at Sarn and Nick leaves us to head home and we continue along the drag road from Shocklach to Farndon.

It was a brisk pace from Shocklach to Barton Road and Steve T did very well in maintaining the link. Steve F was the pacemaker, as Steve T left us at the junction to return to Cleopatra's, the remaining five riders continue to Chester via Churton and Aldford.

Anyone in this group hoping for a moderate ride on the return home must have been disappointed, both Ray and Steve kept up a fast pace to Huntington and into Chester. A 46-mile round trip from Holt to Ellesmere and 22 miles average to and from Chester, gave a 68 + ride on a mostly grey day and the worst mud lanes I’ve ridden this year! But throughout, we had no incidents and lots of chat and enjoyment for our effort.

Very glad to be out with the bunch.


ID

Photo ID

Thursday, 23 January 2020

23rd January 2020: Ellesmere (mod)


Another dull grey murky Thursday in January and yet still a large number of Easy Riders turned up at Cleopatra’s – one of the biggest turnouts I can remember and all but one was cycling.  We split into brisk riders, moderate riders and the tandem, and coincidentally we all decided to lunch at the Red Lion in Ellesmere. With this destination in mind I found a route from our archive and nine moderates set out: Neil, the two Andys, Peter, Bob, Daves H and M, Keith and myself.

We rode out along the minor lanes to the west of the River Dee and found plenty of evidence that these had recently been fully under water. We headed for the old cobblestone bridge into Bangor-on-Dee, although some enthusiastic members had to be called back from shooting past on the A-road. At some point the clouds cleared and we enjoyed sunshine, with little wind and mild temperatures, it felt like Spring. We headed towards Dudleston Heath, crossing the A539 between Overton and Penley, and then into Ellesmere.

We had arrived first and quickly placed our orders. A little later the brisk riders and the tandem arrived together. Service was quick and friendly and soon we were on our way.

Photo by SH

Our return route headed south by the marina and then by White Mere and Cole Mere, to pass through Welshampton. Heading northwards, we lost Keith and Peter, and after some backtracking and confusion, decided we had no alternative but to continue on our route.  After some attempts they broke radio silence and we found they were OK and making their own way back to Holt. A reminder that we should each try and keep sight of the rider behind us, and also to keep our phones on and have the list of contact numbers.

The return route, north of Welshampton, was also notable for having both the worst and longest section of bad surface I’d ever ridden over. The pervasive mud made the experience one to try and forget. Heading generally northwards we made for Worthenbury and then the usual route back through Fardon.  Surprisingly we met up with Keith and Peter as we waited at the lights to cross the Dee Bridge.

Back in Holt several of us popped into Cleopatra’s for coffee.  Despite the potholes and the mud, we agreed it had been a good 40 mile outing.


SH

Friday, 17 January 2020

17th January 2020: CER Blog Readership

Bryan Wade told me recently that our blog is read with great interest by members of the Chester and North Wales CTC. In fact, at their New Year’s Day outing, they were updating him with events from recent blog postings!

That prompted a discussion at lunch during the brisk ride last Thursday about how often the write ups are read and by whom. A quick scan of the blog viewing statistics suggests that most posts are read between 30 and 60 times, but at least one has been read over 200 times! This is the ‘mod’ ride on December 27th 2018 from Meadow Lea to The Nag’s Head at Bunbury, which has been viewed 210 times!

On a wider note, our blog is viewed by an international readership. The tables below show a typical week’s readership and the total since the blog was started about 10 years ago. Only the top eleven countries are listed in each case.

One Week
Since the beginning
United Kingdom
244
United Kingdom
149212
United States
111
United States
112674
Switzerland
52
Russia
18653
Germany
46
Germany
14689
Netherlands
39
Ukraine
6943
France
29
France
6299
Ireland
29
Ireland
2987
Spain
20
Netherlands
2881
Austria
11
Vietnam
1420
Not identified
11
Poland
1167

The USA readership is understandable, as there is a huge population there with many places called Chester, but I’m at a loss to understand why we have readers in places like Russia and Vietnam!

ST

16th January 2020: Utkinton circular (mod)

A bad weather forecast hadn’t prevented a good number of Easy Riders turning up at Rose Farm Café, however many were not out for a ride.  A blustery morning was expected to turn into a very wet afternoon with southerly gusts of over 40mph. Ideas for a longer ride possibly to The Swan at Marbury, were rejected in favour of a morning circuit ending back at Rose Farm.

The moderate group consisted of four riders: new member Steve F, Peter, Dave H and myself. We set out through Cotebrook and on to Wettenhall before turning SE to Bunbury, Peckforton and Tattenhall. So far it had stayed dry, but the rain started as we left Tattenhall. Steve F headed for home as the rest of us turned towards Huxley.  Beside the Inn at Huxley, a lorry splashed a verge-full of muddy debris over us. More was to come as we took Wood Lane towards Utkinton – the surface was almost agricultural and we tried to avoid mud, potholes, hedge cuttings and carriageway wide flooding.

Rose Farm café was reached after 27 miles – not much for whole day, but not bad for a morning’s ride. The three of us all enjoyed lunch, and prepared to make our ways home.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

16th January 2020 : Wrinehill (brisk)

A dozen riders turned out today at Rose Farm, quite a surprise given the weather forecast was for very high winds and heavy rain from late morning onwards.My proposed route was a 45 mile (74km) ride to the Hand and Trumpet at Wrinehill, riding into the wind in the morning and hopefully with a tail wind on the return.
Clive was happy to tag along, and for the second week in a row, we press-ganged Steve into joining us. He’s a glutton for punishment but loves it really! As the three of us left Rose Farm, it was still unclear where the moderates were heading although a route out to Ravensmoor and a wander around the local lanes back to Rose Farm had both been mooted. After Steve confirmed with Dave H their return rendezvous arrangements, we headed off south to take on the challenge of Tarporley high street and its crazy on-street parking system. Emerging unscathed, we turned off left and head down Common Lane passing the flooded pit I used to fish in when I was a wee boy. 

Crossing over the A51 down and up through Tilston Fearnall, we weaved a route through Bunbury and Spurstow to arrive in Burland. Here we followed the main road into Acton then took Ravens Lane to the main A530 into Nantwich. The route from Acton to Nantwich was a deviation from the planned route as it reduced the amount time spent riding through the town traffic.

Passing over the Shropshire Union Canal, I forget to turn right, so Clive took control and we followed him through a housing estate to pick up the the cycleway running alongside the River Weaver. Finally we left Nantwich along Audlem Road, part of which is closed to traffic, with a small army of workers resurfacing the road. Here we were ordered to dismount and then walk past various pieces of heavy equipment.

Once remounted, we made our way through the lanes of Wybunbury and on to Wrinehill to our destination, "The Hand and Trumpet". This  hostelry is run by Brunning and Price and reflected the group's usual decor, food and drink. Lunch chat included our perplexity concerning the wide international readership of the blog and the regularity of which they are read. Steve concluded the discussion by indicating he was going to undertake further research, with that matter concluded for now we departed. 

Light rain had started to fall as we dined, but at least it fills the potholes making them easier to spot! Our return route initially headed north before zig-zagging its way on back lanes through Hough briefly touching Shavington before re-entering Wybunbury for the second time today. By which time the rain had  stopped. 

At this juncture, Steve received a call from Dave H to enquire his whereabouts and ETA back at Rose Farm. It appears the moderates had opted for a wander around the local lanes and they were now having lunch back at Rose Farm. Steve provided the revised ETA and we continued on along flooded lanes into Nantwich along London Road where we crossed the River Weaver once more to exit the town on Welsh Row. At the aqueduct on Chester Road, we shuffled off to the right skirting Rease Heath College and heading for Wettenhall, we stop again for Steve to advise Dave that he has enough time for another coffee and cake before we arrive.


Checking in with base control -still smiling despite the wind and rain!

A little further on with Clive in the lead and beyond shouting distance, he took the Kings Lane turning to return via Oulton Park instead of the planned route which followed Hickhurst Lane through to Eaton. No matter, so we followed as both routes are broadly similar in both mileage and ascent. After climbing up and over Utkinton Lane, Steve turned off at Rose Farm while we continue on towards Chester  and home.

If anyone had taken any notice of today's weather forecast they would not have ventured far. Luckily for us we stayed mainly dry, although it was breezy in the morning with strengthening winds in the afternoon. So moderates take note, we had a good ride out today and actually managed to get back home in daylight. 77kms (47miles) was the total for today's route and I clocked up 106kms (66miles) plus more for Clive. Thanks to Clive and Steve for their company on a good day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo by KP

Thursday, 9 January 2020

9th January 2020: Rossett (leisure)


Despite forecasts of strong winds and possible snow over high land, a good sized group of riders met in Hawarden for another day of winter delights.

The moderate group planned to go uphill, into the wind, so a small leisure group of myself, Steve H and Andy W, led by Dave and Liz on the tandem, set off in the opposite direction towards Rossett.

The route was not all downhill, however, as we started with the steep climb up the ‘orrible ‘ill’ at the back of the castle. This brought us up through Bilberry Wood and on towards Mountain Road. Here we were able to assess Flintshire Council’s road repair strategy, which appears to consist of putting some ‘rough road ’signs up where necessary. I wonder how long it will be before they actually fix it.

The day was very pleasant, if a little chilly, as we progressed round the back of Penyfford. We crossed the B5102 onto Gegin Lane, past the quarries, where the road became progressively messy-in fact well down to Clive standard! It got worse before we reached the end with threatening puddles right across the lane. Andy was grumbling as he had set off with a pristine machine which was now anything but. By the time we reached the junction at Llay we decided that we were going to be too early for the pub, but Dave had spotted an interesting looking lane straight ahead that no-one remembered having been down so we went on an explore. Soon we were descending a rather steep slope, and as every downhill is followed by an uphill, were soon pushing up the other side. This took us into Llay suburbs and then into Alyn Waters Country Park. A pleasant tootle round the eastern section brought us out on another lane, similarly spread with mud and gravel - cue more grumbling from Andy, where we returned to Llay back through another park track. We were now heading down ‘Ivan’s Hill’ towards the A55 bridge and Gresford. Once on the B5445 we soon reached the Alyn Pub at Rosset. Encouragingly it was nice and warm inside, and the staff very welcoming, as we chose our meals from the well-priced menu. Having eaten and warmed up it was time to head  homewards. Andy and Steve turned off towards Farndon, with the tandem and myself heading for Chester via Doddleston. The afternoon was no warmer than the morning but at least the wind was almost behind us. We were soon battling the traffic on the Grosvenor island on the way to Handbridge.

A moderate distance of about 35 miles or so and dry too!

JD

9th January 2020: Caerwys (mod)

No ride report provided


See route map and/or gpx file download

9th January 2020 : Holywell (brisk)

It was a lot colder than advertised today. On the top of the Clwydian Range it was only just above freezing, and coupled with a stiff breeze, the 28 miles to lunch in Holywell was going to be hard going. So Nick and Ken, who had both ridden over from Rossett, and a dragooned in Steve T, relied on me to navigate them safely to The Market Cross 'Spoons pub in Holywell.

Eschewing the usual route to go through Buckley via Ewloe, we take the main road towards Wrexham then turning off to Drury; and this provides a useful leg-warming exercise for what was to come. After Llong, we head east down small lanes towards Gwernymynydd and ever upwards. The short 20% rise here along Swan Lane precedes  the next rise and fall towards Loggerheads. The lane to Cilcain is agricultural in places - which was becoming the theme for the rest of the pre-lunch ride.

Its now a long  ever-upwards run to Lixwm. More of the same takes us up to Babell and a brief flattish respite heading along familiar lanes. A right towards Lloc and then a left down a lane that Nick points out is a No Through Road. Luckily I know it isn’t, but its a very rough farm track over the A55, with two hedge cutting tractors to boot. Today, it was a slight improvement over the October 2011 ride though, where we had a few hundred yards of deep cow doo-doo to ride through! We get through safely and thence it is 6 miles of dry main roads with a long downhill stretch into the centre of Holywell.


The Market Cross is pretty busy but we don't care - we just want some hot food and warmth. We even eschew beer for hot coffee! We are all feeling it today but I offer a promise of only 13 miles to get back and mainly downhill to boot - except for the near two miles of uphill immediately after lunch. The food comes very quickly and it is soon time to get back on the bikes.


We travel back amongst the tiny lanes above Flint and then a suburban traverse, complete with footpath transfer, to exit onto  Chester Road towards Oakenholt. Just passed the papermill is Papermill Lane. Normally I would say Cheerio and make my way back via Connah’s Quay and the Greenway. Today I felt guilty as all three riders had to get back to Hawarden, so I decide to join them for the 2 miles uphill ride to Northop Hall.  From here it is a familiar ride back over a very rough road surface to Hawarden arriving back at around 1500. Ken and Nick head onwards to Rossett and Steve awaits his chauffeur’s return ( aka DH)

.
So only 41 cold miles today but over 3300 ft of climb according to Nick's Garmin; although PlotaRoute shows 2979 ft - but enough any way.


Ken obviously enjoyed the route sending me a WhatsApp as follows  "Thanks for today Clive, lovely flat ride😫on mud free roads...In perfect weather..” and Nick’s was "That about sums it up! Thanks Clive”  The cold must have addled their brains, or, they must have been on another ride! Nonetheless, thank you for keeping the grumbling about muddy road surfaces to minimum.


See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Saturday, 4 January 2020

2nd January 2020 : Aston (brisk)

A great turnout for the first ride of the 2020 with a ‘bakers dozen’ of riders and the brisk group being outnumbered 2:1. The weather was overcast with strengthening winds from the south as the day progressed hence the route, the only one on offer, entailed an easier return journey taking account of the wind direction.

So we, i.e Nick, Ray, John W and myself, left Delamere, crossing the A49 at Cotebrook, and passed  south of Oulton Park race circuit. The lanes, which for many weeks had been waterlogged, were drying up slowly but unfortunately the remaining debris continued to cause issues in many places. Along Wettenhall Long Lane and Winsford Road, we passed over the Shropshire Union canal into the outskirts of Nantwich and remembered to avoid the shortcut we cannot use through Rease Heath College.

From my perspective, the pace was a little too brisk for the first ride of the year, but clearly the rest of the group were carrying less Christmas stodge than yours truly. Luckily for me Ray called a halt to phone home and, after some pleading negotiations, confirmed he could continue to ride for the rest of the day.

We continued out of Nantwich crossing under the canal towards Acton where we turned left and left again passing through Ravensmoor. As we entered Wrenbury, Nick called a halt at the entrance to the Business Park to see if the bike lock he left here in November when attending to Elwyn’s tubeless tubed tyre issue was there. Not surprisingly it wasn’t. At this juncture, John decided it would be a good point for him to head home and resume Grandad duties. 

The lunch stop at The Bhurtpore Inn was literally around the corner. In five years of riding with CER I had never been here and I was impressed with both beer and food. The lunch chat revolved around the pro’s and con’s of tubed or tubeless tyres; the consensus 2 to 1 against tubeless. Sorry Ray.

Out-tubed! - 2:1 for tubes
Lunch over, we head out back to Delamere, initially heading towards Cholmondeley before turning east and crossing the A534 at Faddiley. With a favourable wind direction and drier roads, our progress became much easier as we rode through Bunbury then dropping down to cross the Shropshire union canal, for the third time today, at Tilston Fearnall.

Once over the A51 it was plain sailing all the way back to Cotebrook where Nick  headed  back to Delamere and Ray and myself to Chester. Unusually, the weather was dry all day, not something we have been used to of late and with a good tailwind the 75km (47 Miles) made for excellent first ride of 2020.



Happy New Year !

KP

Photo KP

Thursday, 2 January 2020

2nd January 2020: Pickmere (mod)

First ride of the New Year and the weather looked reasonable – mild and dry with the prospect of some rain only towards the end of the afternoon.  This produced a heathy turnout of Easy Riders at Delamere Station Café, perhaps members were hoping to work-off their unhealthy indulgences of the Christmas season.

Steve T and I had each come prepared with a moderate route.  Steve’s was 40 miles long with 25 miles before lunch.  My ride was 40 miles long with 25 miles before lunch.  Steve’s went to the Red Lion at Pickmere. Mine went to the Red Lion at Pickmere.  We had both selected the same ride from the club archive and so we jointly led for the day.

The moderates comprised the two of us, plus Dave H, Bob, Andy B, Trevor, Ian and Peter. We started by following David M out from the café towards Frodsham.  While he continued, we turned right to head towards the Weaver Navigation, taking the bumpy Cliff Lane into Acton Bridge, across the A49 for the first time, before crossing again, and crossing again to reach Higher Whitley. We were passing a good many horses and riders, including one who told us that flashing lights could alarm the animals. At some point there was confusion when the command “straight on” led half the group to follow the main lane to the right, while the other half turned off to continue literally straight on. No harm done, we crossed over the M6 by its junction with the M56, and began to head south into a blustery wind. It was only a little further before we reached our lunch stop. Here Andy decided to head straight back as it was a long way to Mold.

The Red Lion welcomed us with a fire and we ordered our food and drink. Service was quick leaving us limited time to talk about football, warm weather holidays and how members could access our routes from the blog.

The skies had darkened when we left the pub, encouraging a few more of us to switch our lights on. We took one of our familiar routes back, through Great Budworth, Comberbach, Little Leigh, Acton Bridge and Onston.  Before taking the rough tarmac to Delamere Station we said goodbye to some more riders, leaving only Ian and I to take tea and coffee at the café   Our route had been 40 miles long, and no rain materialised.  Not a bad outing for January and my first proper ride in six months.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Sunday, 29 December 2019

29th December 2019: Annual Ride Statistics

This time last year, I compiled some statistics about the number of rides and mileage since the club was started in April 2008. I have now updated it for the 2019 Club Year.

This year featured 84 rides and their blogs covering 3947 miles over 52 Moderate/Leisure rides along with 32 Brisk rides. 

There appeared to be only one week when No Ride was reported and this was in early March.


YearMileageBlogsAv Miles/Ride
20081,1372447
20092,8945355
20102,6405350
20113,4956157
20123,6157648
20133,0255753
20143,7087252
20154,2168152
20164,3258352
20173,8327452
20184,4728950
20193,9478447








Totals41,30680751


In addition, I have analysed the blogs to find out who were the authors and their frequency (highest number first). CA, SH and DH  wrote up half of the total  blogs.

And  ID, ST, KP, JD,TC, KB, JM, BM, MG, DP, GW, NT, NH  all led and wrote up at least one ride.

It is great to see more members offering to lead rides and write up the blogs.

We also welcomed some new members this year and look forward to them adding to the blog write-ups for 2020.

Should any member want to have any of the route gpx files, then they are stored via Dropbox and can be downloaded via a link upon request (email me). We have "saved" rides from August 2017 right up to end 2019. In addition, there are 180 odd rides covering the period Jan 2009 to Nov 2013. After that date through to July 2017, we lost all the gpx files when "bikeroutetoaster" website suddenly stopped working and we were unable to access the site and retrieve them.

Today, all the current routes are stored on PlotaRoute and are backed up on a shared Dropbox account (SH, ST and CA have access to this)

So, if you fancy leading a ride from a particular start point, you could select from over 350 gpx files and lead a route that we may have done before but probably will have forgotten - or ride the route in reverse which makes it a "new" route - after all, I have often heard "we haven't been down here before" when we patently have!

Have a great New Year's Eve and Best Wishes for 2020

CA

Thursday, 26 December 2019

26th December 2019: Shocklach (mod)

It wasn't a great forecast, and many CER riders were tied up by family commitments at this festive time. I wasn't sure that any other riders would be turning up as I approached Cleopatra's in Holt. Thankfully, the strange sight of a bikeless frontage was changed by Steve Haywood's timely appearance. Helen provided a warm welcome, and informed us that Boxing Day was usually one of their busiest days, but the weather.....! Steve had read my e-mail, so knew that he would not be alone if he turned up. Actually, the weather forecast was not too bad, and it was likely to become drier as the day wore on. Over ten years, I can only recall three other rides with only one other rider turning up. One was when Colin Watson was a club member, and I turned up at Ness Gardens with about three gears working. We finished up having lunch at the atmospheric cafe upstairs at the Woodside Ferry terminal. Another time was last winter with George, when it was pretty icy, and we finished up at Overton, without going near treacherous looking untreated side lanes. The third occasion was when Clive had recently joined the club, and we braved an unpromising forecast to ride to Great Budworth for lunch. On our return Clive, who was just getting into cycling, struggled slightly up the steep rise past The Goshawk. I was never to witness such a sight again, as Clive went from strength to strength.

Steve, as ever had three planned routes. We needed to miss some likely flooded lanes close to The Dee. I had checked  the Hanmer Arms the night before, which was open, but probably needed booking, and pubs in Whitchurch were a mixed bag, with one of our favourites closed. We didn't want to get back late, with families keening behind the back door anxious for our return at this family time. Or perhaps they were too inebriated from their continuing Christmas celebrations to be able to drive to the supermarket for a bottle of milk and a packet of Rennies. So, a modest ride to Overton was decide upon, via the B5130 to Cross Lanes and the A525 to Bangor on Dee.

The roads were delightfully quiet. We were early at the White Horse, and it was closed. Just as we were planning our next move, a bloke came out and said he had just lit the fire for the hotel, but there would be no food. He suggested The Buck House, but that was back at Bangor on Dee. We knew that we could get lunch at Cleopatra's if all else failed, so we fettled a quiet route north west to Shocklach via Worthenbury.

To avoid running into a big group booked in at Cleopatra's, Steve suggested The Bull at Shocklach. The last time I was here was with George and Steve, at least, near the end of a  long summer ride. It was like being on the set for an episode of Midsomer Murders. Someone eventually took our drink order on that occasion, and we never saw him again!  Although we did see two ears sticking out of the bin at the back when we returned to our bikes. This time it was quite busy, with some customers believed to be involved with a Boxing Day Hunt. We had passed vehicles apparently engaged in hunting activity on the way. I have to say at this point, that I have no evidence of foxhunting taking place, as it is illegal. The dogs are now allowed to chase a lure, but the evidence appears to indicate that foxes are sometimes killed “ unintentionally”. The food was fine, and it was good to be able to catch up properly with Steve, and discuss a range of issues.

When we finally returned to Cleopatra's, we didn't stop again, but returned to our doting families as soon as possible. It hadn't rained properly all ride, and it was a nicely paced, relaxed outing. Another day that had appeared unpromising, but turned out well worth the effort. Short and sweet. Many thanks to Steve for his faultless leading.

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH