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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.

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Friday, 23 October 2020

22nd October 2020: Marbury (mod)

A small group of 5 riders met at Lewis’s in Farndon, to be joined by Ray and Dave M who were out for a short ride. The five, Neil, Eric, Keith, Dave H and myself decided on a meandering route to the Swan at Marbury, and we duly set off towards Churton. Turning south we followed the lanes down to Barton and Tilston before skirting the eastern edge of Bickerton Hill. Here we turned south for Cholmondley, crossing the A49 towards Wrenbury. After a few miles we turned right onto an interesting little lane, well up to Clive’s standard. In fact we were very pleased that the weather was dry or there might have been some ‘incidents’ in the inch deep soil covering the whole surface. However, we reached Marbury unscathed and soon arrived at the Swan, almost exactly 20 miles from Farndon. 

There was ample room on the patio but little sun to provide warmth, and we were left musing how much longer we could go on eating outside. Perhaps we need a change of plan fairly soon. The service was excellent and the food very welcome after only a short wait. It was a pleasure though to go inside to the Gents for a warm! Back in the saddle for a shorter return journey, we crossed the canal towards Bickley, then No Mans Heath, before skirting the edge of Malpas along Mates Lane. The long downhill back to Tilston was very welcome and we were soon on Wetreins Lane  heading for Crewe. Back in Farndon Eric and Neil continued on for home, Keith took some time to inspect a very interesting field of grass, and Dave and myself returned to the café.

Regular readers of this blog will know that most ride reports feature an incident where Dave loses his car keys, hat, gloves ,glasses or map. No such thing happened today. However, Dave did have a little trouble locating his credit card in the café and did a quick circumnavigation of the premises to try and track it down. Fortunately a kind member of the public had found it on the floor and handed it in at the till. Another problem solved then!

Not a long ride - a touch under 35 miles, but very pleasant, and at least we kept dry.

JD



Monday, 19 October 2020

15th October 2020: Bunbury (brisk)

I seemed to have landed the top job again, even though I turned up at Delamere station cafe just to say hello and do my own thing, due to a heavy ride the day before.
Only 5 of us turned up today, no doubt a lot couldn’t make it due to the latest ‘lock down restrictions’.
No complicated counting, this week. Dave was able to quickly come to a decision, of 2, including himself, in the moderate group and yours truly to lead the fast group or shall we say; they simply followed my less than brisk pace, because there wasn’t a better offer. I always had a plan of an easy 50 mile round trip, from home, so the 2 fast lads were simply tagging on (I did raise my pace a little bit, even though they probably didn’t know it)
Anyway, we set off, once I managed to get my Garmin rebooted again ( the on/off button has fallen out and after the cafe stop, it had shut down. That meant I had to find a suitable stick to switch it on because I had lost my Bic biro top - lol)
So, after a minor false start, we hit Norley and head for Sandiway and Little Budworth beyond. After that we head around Oulton Park race way, so we can take in my favourite series of smooth lanes, leading to Bunbury, via the lovely little lock at Tilstone Fearnell.
We arrive at Tillies, where we find we are not allowed in, because we 3 were not of the same family of course (pandemic controls had changed the day before)
We were offered a seat outside of course, which was fine for about 15 minutes and then it got chilly, as we cooled off. So, I threw down my Eggs royal, which was lovely and off we trot, through Spurstow, avoiding the heavily mudded lanes on the other side, of Bunbury, which I had ridden the day before hence, my specific route change. 
Didn’t take long for us to reach the turning for the ice cream farm, where my faster companions turned right to head back home to Chester & beyond.
I got home 5 minutes later after a lovely day to be fair-  no rain, a bit of sunshine, good company / conversation and 49 miles all in all, for me that is.
NT

Saturday, 17 October 2020

15th October 2020: Comberbach (mod)

With the ever increasing restrictions on CER members travelling, a small number of moderates and brisk riders gathered in the feeble sun outside the station café in Delamere. As I had not ridden with the group for some time I had already decided on a shortened version of Daves ride to Little Bollington, but as there was only myself and Dave H riding we both decided to head towards Comberbach and the oddly named Spinner and Bergamot. (must find out what that means sometime) We set off along Station Lane and as we turned the corner towards Norley Peter was waiting for us, which made us a threesome. We took the usual route down Norley Lane and through the farm lanes to Acton Bridge,up the hill and over the canal to Little Leigh. Cumberbach is only from here, but not the way we went! It was such a nice pleasant sunny day that we meandered through the lanes enjoying good riding on quiet lanes through Antrobus and the suburbs of Little Budworth. Eventually the speedo was creeping close to 19 miles so we set off for the pub. Dave had rung ahead and we were expected, but as it was warm enough (just) we opted to sit outside. Service was good, we had our temperatures taken and were passed suitable to serve. Food was good and wholesome, but the intermittent cloud meant we didn’t want to lounge around too long. We chose a more direct route back, mainly as I had another 10 miles to do from Delamere. From Acton Bridge we followed the track along the weaver and then up towards Norley. Back up Norley Lane to the crossroads at Hatchmere

Where we parted company. Dave back to the car while Peter and myself set off through the forest to Ashton and the Greenway. 

40 miles for me, 30 or so for Dave, but a memorable day at a leisurely pace in good weather. 

JD

Saturday, 10 October 2020

8th October 2020: Aston (mod)

Sadly, all our Welsh contingent were confined to their own council areas due to Covid restrictions. Nevertheless, it was a very reasonable turnout at Meadow Lea, our chosen alternative to Chirk. It was great to see Steve Futcher again, and he and Erik chose to ride with the Fast Lads. Clive had been delayed by a puncture, but Ivan and John appeared around 10.30 to collect Steve and Erik and rejoin Clive for their ride.

Mike Dodds was making a welcome return to the group after living in Germany for a while, and then quarantining. The moderate group consisted of Steve Tan, Trevor, Neil, Mike and myself. Dave Matthews rang to say that he had been delayed by a puncture, but he intended to join us, so we arranged to meet at Waverton. I had planned to have lunch at The Farmer's Arms at Ravensmoor, an old favourite of Mike Morley's. I discovered that although the bar was open, the kitchen was still closed, so, instead, I had pre-booked The Bhurtpore, a bit further on. There were a couple of groans about a so, so familiar destination, but Neil had never been, and it is a reliable venue in uncertain times.

My intended route had some quirks. Firstly, we went out past Ivan's house to Vicars Cross, and then crossed the canal and A41 to Rowton before  reaching Waverton by Moor Lane, which surprised Dave Matthews, who then met us at the primary school. We made good progress alongside the Shropshire Union Canal, before heading for Beeston via Huxley and Brassey Green. Dave Matthews had his second puncture of the day before we reached the A49, and as he had his car to pick up later, decided to sort it out and return home. Our route was then familiar, riding south-west of Bunbury. But we took an unusual excursion to Haughton Hall, and south of Brindley headed east before crossing the Llangollen Canal and turning right for Ravensmoor and Sound. We had clocked up a good few wind-assisted miles by this stage, so headed for Wrenbury and Aston, instead of trying to do the Hall o'Coole loop. Neil was interested in taking a left straight to the pub as we approached Woodcotthill Lane. I explained that you needed paddy-field waders and a big shovel to cross the River Weaver half way down. Clive enjoyed it in his Brown Period, but the last time I used it as a “short-cut” I was ten minutes behind the others at the end, and my machete was blunt.

We were a little late for our booked reservation at the Bhurtpore. Not that it mattered, as we were given the usual friendly reception, and the choice of where to sit. We chose two tables in the deserted back room. The food was fine, and the conversation ranged from the pub's connection with the British Empire in India, to the importance of circadian rhythms (Mike), and conjecture about who could possibly have managed the coronavirus epidemic worse than Boris? The young staff were very pleasant, but seemed inexperienced: I think something was nearly thrown over Neil, and we had to work out our own bills from the till slip. I finished up paying for two “1/2 Squashes” with my curry, and I don't think any of us ordered a Squash! Anyway, I did have a drink, and nobody appeared to feel “ripped-off”.

Our return ride threatened to be mostly into a headwind. Mike had a sniper's shot puncture near Chorley, and too many cooks managed to sort it, but with some difficulty, and not enough distancing. Short of the beautifully bricked Old School House, we deviated left down the tiny lanes near Spurstow Lower Hall, and approached a deep flood. We all managed to plough through it and shortly after were applauded by two ladies. Not that Neil was too impressed with my sock soaking choice of route.  At Spurstow, Mike's tyre made a loud noise again, and was instantaneously flat. I found a large hole in the cover, and on proper examination the tyre had the strength of ancient papyrus. Steve magicked up two tyre patches, which were doubled up. Neil has nine discarded tyres on his garage floor, so he has had plenty of practice changing tyres, and gave a You Tube demonstration of how to do so, slickly. He just needed persuading, that perhaps less air pressure than normal may help avoid another high-pressure explosion. Mike was very apologetic, but most of us have been there, sadly, sometimes more than once, in overlooking a tyre that was too worn. Sure, sometimes it's old git meaness to get our moneysworth, but often it's just that bike tyres haven't been one of life's priorities recently. The remainder of the route went well via Peckforton, Beeston, Newton, Greenlooms, Waverton and Stamford Heath. Neil peeled off for home along the way. 56 miles covered, more for most. Quite a stretch for a moderate ride at this time of year, but it will have done us good.

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

Thursday, 8 October 2020

8th October 2020 : Knutsford (brisk)

The day didn't start off well - riding around the back of the zoo towards Meadow Lea cafe I had that rear end sinking feeling! The rear tubeless tyre was well down. So I try a CO2 cylinder and can see the cut spewing out a white mist like Etna. I tried a plug, but the tear was too big - so a £40 tyre needs replacing. A quick call to the AA (my wife's initials) and a spare rear wheel set is despatched by Tiguan. The brisk group wait patiently for me at the cafe, and I meet up with them after 30 minute delay.  Thanks for your patience boys!

There are six of us today - Ivan, John W, Nick, Erik and Steve F.  The route is to Knutsford and "somewhere" for lunch. The weather is supposed to be rainless but the dark clouds at the horizon might belie something else. So out the usual way to Oscroft and the long drag up to Willington. Ivan guesses where we are now heading and I offer a re-route but he says Chapel Lane hill is fine by him! We grind up it and along the ridge down to Cotebrook through wet lanes - a feature today. More familiar lanes take us to Whitegate and the off-road transfer to Davenham, thence to Lach Dennis.

We then head north for 4 miles up the delightful Back Lane and Pinfold Lane to emerge at the massive roadworks at the M6 Knutsford junction. Where to eat? - I suggest The Courtyard cafe introduced to me by John when the sun was shining and it was dry and warm. So we sit outside being reminded by the waitress that if it rains there is no room inside - I look heavenwards and see the black skies above and just hope! It is also the Pennyfarthing Museum - well at least you won't get a puncture with solid wheels!

Ivan can't resist trains - with his next bike in the window behind him!

It's time to go as we are all getting cold and lunch took a while to come. So we use the Tan Over Tabley transfer to get us over the roadworks and the M6, thence the Great Budworth bypass and pass through Comberbatch. Eschewing the Acton Bridge route back, we head for Sutton Weaver and the fast run down into Frodsham. A left into Fluin Lane perplexes a few riders who see the "flat" route back via Helsby to be in prospect - but No, we head for the hills again! Grinding up Manley Road it is a cruel option after 50 miles, but the fast route down to Mouldsworth is exciting  - for all the wrong reasons - that is, a very poor road surface hidden by puddles. 

In Mickle Trafford, it is only Erik and I who head for a coffee at the cafe as the other four riders head for home. Erik and I sit in the sunshine (it didn't rain today) reflecting on the 59 miles and 2800ft of climb at 15.5 mph average. So thank you one and all for your patience at the start of the ride, and at the top of the hills!


CA

Photo by CA

Saturday, 3 October 2020

1st October 2020: Wrenbury (mod ride 2)

 After numerous recounts by Dave (to be fair people kept coming and going), which did make it difficult, however, he cracked it, once he took his shoes and socks off.

One pair of cold feet later, Dave decides on 2 moderate groups, due to the pandemic restrictions :-( By this time, the fast boys were already leaving. I therefore offered to lead one group, as I had a route ready (to the Dusty Miller pub in Wrenbury)

So, off we pedal: - Fiona, Alan, Eric, Steve & a tearful Elwyn (surplus to requirement, from the fast boys)- he’ll gain some mates, one day -lol.

Photo by Alan

Photo by Alan

“Where are we heading to?” (from over my shoulder), to which I therefore enlightened my little ‘posse’ on our deliberate outward loop from Bunbury toward Oulton Park race circuit and back to Bunbury again, not repeating any lanes, which are some of my favourite bits of smooth tarmac.

I initially kept the pace down, as Fiona had informed me that she was still tired from her 100 miler on Sunday (well done by the way & Elwyn, who apparently took the wind, on the front, for 80% of the ride (that’s 80 miles for those still thinking) - Dave put those socks back on- lol

After a couple of minor overshoots, which, would you believe, were due to a Crane Fly! Landing on my Garmin screen. I had swatted it away, whilst maintaining my balance and not disrupting the rhythm of the ride-lol. That said and unbeknownst to me, a single leg got left behind on my screen, which looked just like a road on the map, as it would of course (could happen to anybody, I thought - not sure anybody bought that one)

Anyway, we arrive at the Dusty Miller pub. After a brief spell of musical bikes, involving 3 or 4 tiers of steps, we finally settle on an acceptable spot for the bikes and entered the pub. Somewhat disappointed, we discover they only had a ‘Pandemic sandwich menu’, of limited choice, but to be fair, they were good.

Lunch conversation was varied and understandably with a ‘pandemic’ slant, although the initial conversation was from Steve & Eric? Regarding the lengthy, slight incline, but directly into a wind. Suffice it to say, it took a bit of effort, despite Fiona calling Elwyn forward, in order for him to slice through the wind with those incredible legs (not really jealous of his power)

The most memorable conversation was the story about the annoying phone calls, during a recent visit to the ‘Lake District’. Apparently, somebody has a mother who is somewhat ’koo koo kachoo’ or words to that effect (something about, hearing voices in the laundry basket- sounds perfectly normal to me) So! no intellectual political conversations on this ride- lol.

After that sobering revelation, it was time to set off again, once the canal bridge was lowered of course, which gave the slow starters more time (no names-lol).

No sooner had we got started, when I realise I am ‘Billy no mates’, after only a mile. I turn back to find ‘the posse’ having a smoke break, while pretending to fix a puncture and basking in the sun. Elwyn proceeded to show us how not to use a gas pump (I believe I heard “bless him” from a concerned bystander guess who-lol))

To be fair he did have a crap gas pump, as was proven when Steve? eventually came to his aid, with a descent one, much to Fiona’s astonishment, although I had offered mine, but it seemed to go right over Elwyn’s head, much like his own gas pump - gasp! horror!-lol.

So! We finally get going for our 10 mile leg back to Alison's. I tap out a little bit of pace, as I was aware of the impending threat of rain, due at 3pm, which, unfortunately (I later find out), F&E caught in Holt, after leaving us at the top of Harthill. The rest of us went right to Burwardsley, just to provide a last little sting in the legs before the downhill run into Tattenhall-lol.

We arrived at Alisons, nice and dry, dead on 3pm, just in time for closing -lol.

Finally: well done all, as the average speed was unexpectedly quicker than normal moderate pace, at 15.5mph (Alison's, door to door at 45 miles)

Not sure the pace was my fault though, as I was simply trying to keep a safe distance from the bike behind- lol. Fiona must have been bluffing about being tired- lol.

Cheers everybody - Neil.

 

Friday, 2 October 2020

1st October 2020: Whitchurch (mod ride 1)

The turnout was surprisingly good at Alison's, and the service was friendly and efficient. Despite Wednesday's awful weather, and impending additional lockdown restrictions, riders appeared to have had faith in the much-improved weather forecast for Thursday. And they were not wrong! We sat in the open air with the sun on our faces supping our coffees. We had about four spaced tables, and were careful to maintain reasonable social distancing, but a couple of riders stayed on the outside of the fenced patio, and Ivan and John arrived later for a brisk ride, having decided some time ago, to give the group gathering a miss. Oh, for the carefree times of only a few months ago! It was good to meet up with Jim again, although he was not able to join us for the day. Anyway, thanks to the usual goodwill, we managed to organise ourselves into three groups with three leaders and three different planned destinations. 

My moderate group consisted of Steve Tan, Andy Barber, Dave Matthews and Mike Gilbert. It was great to have Mike back, and in good nick. Dave was trying to stuff jam teacakes down as it was time to go. We headed for Beeston Castle before turning south alongside the Peckforton Hills, and then left to Spurstow. Dave suggested a tiny lane route to Brindley, which initially required a short dash down the A49, but was then a quiet, delightful change. We were on familiar lanes to Larden Green, Chorley and Wrenbury, but it is unusual for us to ride them on the way out. At Wrenbury we turned right and headed south through Pinsley Green, then left under the railway, and stayed east in this hummocky topography. Dave Matthews caught a puncture, but Steve Rocket Robin Hood Tan and Barber The Beast had forged ahead, well beyond hailing distance by this time. This would never have happened in Ray Hardman's day! I rang the pre-booked Black Bear to tell them that we were five not four and were going to be a little late. Our split quintet managed to, eventually, make phone contact with each other, and I met Steve and Andy riding back from the edge of Whitchurch, with Dave and Mike behind, now on their way again.



    Photos by Steve T and Mike G

Lunch was great with The Black Bear being very well organised on the sanitiser, spacing and mask front. The food was really good, (my hake and mussels dish was mouth-watering), and our reserved table was large enough to enable comfortable social distancing.



The route home was planned to be a few miles shorter than our morning meandering. We headed out the usual route - the wrong way down a one way street! Past the hospital we wound our way up to Wirswall. Mike took a picture of the lovely views across the countryside from the top of the climb. We crossed the A49 to Bickley, then, unusually, took the small lane through Hetherson Green. Dave “I don’t need maps” Matthews and Mike, a former orienteering star, were invaluable in ensuring we went the correct way at strange junctions, whilst exploring. We swooped past Egerton Hall and battered up the bank to Hampton Post, before turning right and making the long climb to Broxton Old Hall. Dave had taken his leave by then to cut across for home. Earlier, Steve and Mike had joked that we should call our group Team Farmacia, because of the amount of medicines stored within our bodies (and because we liked pasta?). Actually, I was the only one of the five of us not having to manage a serious medical condition. It says a lot that Mike has not finished his course of treatment, but has for weeks been building up his mileage alone, in order to regain his fitness, and Steve was in hospital during the week, prescribed beta blockers, and still turned up to ride strongly a couple of days later. I really respect the positivity and determination of my four friends. We completed the ride via Brown Knoll and the climb to Bolesworth Castle, with the “patients” outpacing me. Plenty of sunshine, relaxing company and a downhill finish. A bonus, a bathe in the last light and warmth of a summer thought over.                                           

DH



Thursday, 1 October 2020

1st October 2020 : Hanmer (brisk)

A bright autumn day was in prospect, and so it was except for an occasional black cloud that thankfully did not rain on us Brisk Six. Ivan and John W arrived last at Alisons, and Nick, Ray and John M made up the sextet today.

After a 100 mile ride on Tuesday (see below) four of us were happy to address the 46 miler to Hanmer that I had proposed. So off via Huxley we head down through Peckforton and Bickerton on our way to Bickley Moss. Marbury comes up quickly and soon it is in and out of Whitchurch heading for Alkington to Hanmer via Fenn Bank.

Try as I might not to do so, I seemed to have picked the very best of the worst road surfaces today. At Bronington , the lanes get worse in that they are plastered with wet field run off. Nearing Hanmer, I deviate north to get onto the dry and smooth A roads to enter Hanmer.

The Hanmer Post Office is busy especially as only two are allowed in at any time. So it takes a while to get our lunch purchased - also there wasn't so much of a choice today. So we sit looking at the mere topping up the calories and fluid levels. 

Cheers!

The route back is going to be short at 16 miles as we have already ridden 30 miles. So we set off riding more badly surfaced roads towards Worthenbury. None of us want to actually go back to Tattenhall, so I suggest "Let's go to Cleopatra's as we probably will not be able to do this again for a while". So we plough along the familiar road to Shocklach where Nick heads home for Tilston.

We sit in the sun with our hot drinks outside Cleopatra's cafe and then John suggests we head home via Rossett, Dodleston and Saltney Ferry bridge. A good idea as this tops up the out-and-back mileage to a respectable 70 miles today.

So apologies to the Brisk group today for loading up their bikes with excess mud, but this is likely to be the norm going forward now as Autumn starts to turn to Winter.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photo by JW


Southport Ride

Ivan designed and led this ride which started via car assist in Stretton. After a cold and foggy foray through several suburban landscapes, we arrive in sunny Standish for a late breakfast. After a necessary detour via Rufford (a bridge was being removed over a river) we plough across the fenland and ride the whole length of Southport prom. We then grab cake and a drink at the MeCycle shop in Ainsdale.The route back is shorter, but we now have the going-home traffic to contend with in Warrington. A great day out for Nick, John W, Ivan and myself with 102 miles ridden at 16 mph average speed. Thanks Ivan!

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Sunday, 27 September 2020

24th September 2020 : New Brighton (brisk)

I have consciously decided that café meets and large groups are not for me until we are over this current plague. Therefore, I suggested to John W and in agreement with me, we decided to start later and ride straight to lunch at New Brighton. 

My route was to navigate along the coast from Parkgate to West Kirby and the ever-popular route along the cycleway to New Brighton. We met up with the Moderates only briefly riding from Ness café along the coast cycleway but the mod group stopped to chat with Doc Martin and Liz as they do!!

John and I pressed on but not flat out and enjoy the opposite views looking at the Halkyns instead of riding over them.  Only one hill to speak off and after photo stop on Davenport Road, the Pipes lane is next and the unmade road Oldfield Drive riding up to Irby.


Fame at last - for the road that is!

At New Brighton, we lunch at the fish and chip shop* but not impressed on this visit. As we were leaving Dave and George arrive and advise them to lunch at Wetherspoons, but not a good idea today after reading Clive’s blog.

As John and I set off we have a few spots of very cold rain and by the time we are passing Egremont the sky is blue above us but very dark over the water and Liverpool City. Missed that shower!

We continue riding the Wirral circular cycle route which in places needs some TLC. Leaving Eastham park, we are now inland and enjoying the quiet road at Rivacre Park although the traffic on the M53 could be heard. Ellesmere Port, Little Stanney, Stoak and we are back at Mickle Trafford.

John rides solo back home along the Greenway and I’m home

An average day around the Wirral  at 45 miles (if back to Ness), but an enjoyable day out with John again.

 See route map and/or gpx file download


ID

Photo JW 

Ed:* Perch Fish Bar maybe? or Seaside Cafe where my F&C was excellent.

https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1294732 

Thursday, 24 September 2020

24th September 2020 : New Brighton (mod)

I hedged my bets on the weather forecast – BBC said it would rain, Met Office said unlikely, and XC had both features. Still, as long as it isn't raining when you set out, then it is better to travel hopefully than not at all. Thus I arrived at Ness Gardens cafe with full Covid conditions in place.

Dave H and Keith were already there, shortly to be joined by Erik, George, Alan and Ray. So we had a Cyclist's Half Dozen didn't we? I had offered a ride around the Wirral that Dave had gratefully accepted. So we set off down the hill towards the Nets Cafe. Here along the footpath, Ivan and Wilkie zoom up upon Ray, Erik and I to tell us that the rest had stopped to talk to Doc Martin and Liz! So we wait patiently for them at the Harp whilst Ivan and Wilkie zoom off.

Soon we are in Allan Meadow passing Brian Mac's house and weaving through the park and Neston little lanes to exit along Wood Lane. Well there is no wood really and no tarmac surface either for most of it. We are now off to Brimstage via Thornton Hough and pause in Storeton. Originally I had planned to take Landican Lane, but with the recent overnight rain it was bound to be agricultural. I spare them the early mud bath and aim for Prenton Hill and the long run down to the Woodchurch Asda where we take the tarmacked version of Landican Lane southwest towards Irby and the highest point of 260ft by the old mill.

A quick right here takes us down to Frankby and a loop around West Kirby and Hoylake suburbia to end up at Meols beach where the Viking landed from Ireland a long time ago. The tide was well out today, not like the last time in March 2020 when we were here with high winds and mountainous seas. We cycle the sea wall arriving at New Brighton. The weather had been good so far as we had missed the obvious lone rain clouds, but our luck was about to run out.

Our Cyclist's Half Dozen of 7 riders wasn't accepted at the Weatherspoon's - not even as a group of 3 and then another of 4. So with the rain coming down, we head for the old favourite of Seaside Cafe and espy Ivan and Wilkie just leaving for home. No such group problems at the cafe – only table service today and as usual everything comes very quickly at a reasonable price. 

Lunch stop!

The rain stops just as we are leaving for the return loop of the fat figure of eight. Along the prom and up into Wallasey, we are now heading for the Bidston Moss M53 transfer. It's not the most attractive route back to Asda, but it just works. So we are now at Landican Lane again and up and off to Irby yet again. This time we dive down to Thurstaston heading for the Wirral Way. The Wirral Way is quiet and a bit muddy though. I suggest to a coffee stop at Elephant Cafe at Parkgate Front, and once again no problem with a Cyclist Half Dozen. The route back is well known and 47 miles comes up and a surprising 2000ft a climbs.

Ray, Erik and I split for home via Burton, Ledsham, and Capenhurst. Unfortunately we catch the back end of a very wet shower. Still, the bikes needed a wash after the Wirral Way routing. George and Alan were heading over the border to Wales. So home in the dry with 60+ miles for Chester riders. Then comes the inevitable dilemma – do I clean the bike now or leave it for another day? I opted to do it then, and pleased I did so.

Finding “new” routes around the Wirral is difficult, especially since we have “lost” the expert aka Macca. Riding the Wirral during early lockdown was helpful in putting this route together, and I hope there were a few lanes that were unfamiliar to the group

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photo by Alan

Saturday, 19 September 2020

17th September 2020 : Ellesmere (mod)

It was a fine day and warm enough to sit outside Cleopatra's at Holt. I was in the position of planning to lead, but realising that the fit bunch in front of me would normally ride faster than myself. 

Dave Matthews was out for coffee, but not riding, and Nick was going to do his own brisk route.

Peter, Steve Hu, Clive, Alan and Andy B were happy to join me on a quiet lane meander into lush Shropshire. The Red Lion was updated on numbers for lunch, and we set off via Farndon to Tilston. I am not keen on the busier, rough and hilly roads in and out of Malpas, so I prefer to give it a miss. Instead we threaded our way south via Horton Green, Cuddington Heath and Oldcastle Heath (where excellent "Renaultsport" tuners are based in Peacock Farm).

From Bishop Bennet Way we swooped down to Lower Wych, climbed out, and then turned left to pass Strift House and head for Whitewell. I intended to show people the lovely little church here, but we lost Steve and Peter, and Peter again in a very small area! We crossed the A525 and the A495 not far west of Whitchurch, thankfully as a complete group. We were now into favourite cruising territory, sweeping down on largely smooth surfaces in the sun to Whixhall, and then west to Northwood. 

The lanes became narrower and the profile more hummocky, as we cut across to Lee via Lyneal, Colemere and Spunhill. The thatched cottage at the end of sun-sparkled White Mere has become the place I would most like to live! We passed the marina on the back road into Ellesmere, and the outstanding Beech House where Thomas Telford had an office next to the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal c.1806. We wound our way through through the town centre in order to reach The Red Lion. Thanks to Clive's help, and the groups forebearance, the intricate route had been, I think, worth the trouble. 

The welcome was friendly at The Red Lion, and we were able to space out over three tables outside at the back, with a choice of sun or shade. The food was fine, but soon we needed to get going. The planned route back was more straightforward . 

We took the quiet route out at the north-west end of The Mere, past the cemetery, and then left over the former railway line. We rode close to Spout Wood before heading directly for Penley via the steep bank. Through Penley we turned right opposite the interesting little Madras School, and headed directly north to Holly Bush. Clive favoured the Mulsford loop to Worthenbury. 

Somewhere around Glandeg Farm I noticed four riders had spurted ahead, as part of a tradition to start winding the pace up for a fast few miles to Farndon. I had missed the break! Like Egan Bernal my back wasn't great, but I think he had a better excuse than just being stiff from a couple of hours of work on the summerhouse. Unfortunately, Peter is not an elite domestique, so although I enjoyed an energised flog, my efforts didn't really qualify as a realistic chase. (By the way, I've just worked out that I am 82lb. heavier than Egan Bernal !) 

We just made Cleopatra's, and I had coffee and cake with Andy before he started his return ride to Mold. Alan popped up having picked up a puncture, not for the first time recently, I understand. It is pleasing that he has now officially joined the club. I really enjoyed the day, and I hope the quicker guys didn't find things too pedestrian, at least the seven mile sprint at the end should have stretched them. 

Nearly 48 mile of sunny cycle surfing in scenic countryside with friendly company. Great!

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

10th September 2020: Aston (mod)

It was good to see Trevor and Steve Tan, who had made the effort to cycle to Rose Farm, but had commitments that meant they were unable to join one of the two rides on offer. The Fast Lads had their route sorted, and I had booked The Bhurtpore for a moderate ride. Yes, I know, The Bhurtpore again, but it has two gazebos in a spacious, south-facing garden, and in these uncertain times, it is certain that we will receive friendly service, decent food and a wide choice of quality beers. I had pre-booked lunch with them.

To make the ride a bit more than the normal pleasant, but predictable plod, my route plan was to add in some extra quiet lanes before Nantwich, and to leave the option of riding a loop south and east of Audlem to add interest and miles if we fancied it. There were only three of us, myself, Keith and Peter, who has been self-isolating, but decided to follow us at a safe distance. We headed for Tarporley, climbing up before turning left to Heath Green, crossing the by-pass on foot. At Portal, we turned down Sapling Lane, passing the remains of a Roman villa just before the junction at Eaton. The weather was worse than expected, looking very grey, with some heavy drizzle, and cooler than of late. The route chosen took us in the Calveley area, meandering peacefully to Cholmondeston, south of Wettenhall and back on our standard route to the edge of Nantwich. We avoided Nantwich traffic by taking Chester Road to Acton, and then using the lovely little Ravens Lane, past Madam's Farm on the Dorfold Hall estate, and onto Tally-ho. We headed towards Audlem via Ravensmoor, Sound, Hall o'Coole and Brickwall Farm, before turning north-west to Aston. The weather had improved, but we chose the shorter option to the Bhurtpore, rather than looping as far south as Coxbank and Wilkesley, as we had already covered a reasonable mileage.

At lunch, Keith and I had the usual hydrating cyclists' sort of soda plus drink, while, once again, Peter was enjoying a pint of beer, this time a 5% special. I was still ramming down extra chips, when it was time to go. I always feel so at home at the Bhurtpore, tempted to have another drink, and a sweet a la Dave and Liz, and then ordering a taxi back. We were a bit cool to start with on the way back, but made good progress on our normal route to Bunbury, via Wrenbury, Larden Green and Brindley. The sun was out, and all was well in our Easy Rider pleasure mode. Peter left us at Bunbury to head back to Chester. Keith and I attacked Tilstone Bank, and finished up at the Old Fire Station for cake and coffee. Keith has become a grumpy old man since lockdown, so it was no surprise that he claimed that his cake was stale. Like most grumpy old men he was probably totally correct in his judgement. Nearly 44 enjoyable miles in good company.

DH

Thursday, 10 September 2020

10th September 2020 : Alsager (brisk)

As the bard once said " Oh what a grey day!"

The weather forecast was indifferent – the only good point was almost no wind. As I left home for Utkinton it was just 12C, and throughout the day, it warmed up to 15C but no sunshine just threatening dark clouds and grey clouds everywhere.

I bumped into Ray near Pearl Lane so we rode out together passing Trevor in Duddon. Dave H and Keith were just getting the bikes out of the car when we arrived at Rose Farm Cafe. We chatted outside as it was before 1000, but the cafe had been open for an hour and we were invited in! 

Not too many riders out today. The Mods were off to their favourite pub in Aston. The surprise rider was Ivan, as I knew he was off to south of Whitchurch with John W for a fast ride. However John was needed for grandpa duties, so Ivan decided to ride with Ray and I as far as Middlewich. He was then off to Nantwich to see his sister and family members. The other rider on grandpa duties was Steve T.

As we left, the misty rain could be seen across the Cheshire plain. We took the usual way out to Oulton Park, nearly being run down by two enormous tractors that were not giving way at all. Soon we were on the back lane behind the Cheshire Police HQ in Winsford. Out of Winsford towards Middlewich, the countryside really didn't improve much as we circle around Middlewich. Here, Ivan headed north as we headed south towards Sandbach down the long Bradwall Road. If the sun had come out here, it would have lifted the grey pallor of the countryside.

At Sandbach, we forsake the usual Spoons pub and head out for Wheelock taking a new lane to us; aka Mill Hill Lane. Yes, there is a mill and, as we climb out the other side, the road becomes a farmer's lane replete with farm machinery and a farm. It worked today – but best avoided in the wet I suggest. Soon we are at Malkin's Bank and then twice under the M6 at Hassall Green. Here we take the Salt Way cyclepath. According to Ivan, who knows about these things, it was the line of a railway taking salt out of the local mines. It's a good surface but a bit dank and dark. So as soon as a parallel lane appears, we take it, this now being NCR 5 to Alsager.

It starts to rain – only lightly, but the temperature has dropped. We circle around to find the Asda, but decide given that the clouds are looking ominous now, to sprint down to The Plough on the western end of Alsager. This is a typical all-you-can-eat roast meal buffet pub but we opt for so-so sandwiches and a meagre bowl of chips. It was warm inside– that's the only good thing we could say about it!

With 27 of the 50 miles ridden, the route back is down the delightful lanes around Oakhanger and Winterley until Crewe environs appear. We slide around Coppenhall and onto Church Minshull. The bikes now know the way back to Tarporley via Eaton. If we had gone back to Utkinton, it would have been 50 miles.

Ray and I choose to head for home via Hargrave and Huxley. Back into Chester, it has warmed up to 15C and Ray will have had a 75+ mile day with mine at 80 miles – the second 80 miler of the week!

So, many thanks to Ray for sticking with me today and taking the front as my legs were tiring on the way back. This was a circular ride trying to avoid the industrial towns of central Cheshire. If the sun had shone, I would have written an entirely different blog! 

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA


Saturday, 5 September 2020

3rd September 2020 : Rhos on Sea (brisk)

Today’s start location is the Gallery Coffee shop with the promise of hills and God’s wonderful country. Sun and strong wind promised by the weathermen. The café was as friendly as ever and pleased to see us back and was nice to be back. 

The brisk riders out today are just John W and I with Ray on a promise at 15:00 and Clive taking it easy and Nick/John?. Ken is recovering after treatment but riding safely and with excellent performances. Not long before he’s back then!

John and I set off on a route to Rhos on Sea for a fish and chips lunch and we were not disappointed. Using the usual quick and easy route from Hawarden via Northop and skirting the A55, we were soon on the Halkyns. John had a mechanical, but fixed and were off. No support vehicles on our rides!

The long straight from the Monastery at Pantasaph was tough to the junction before the turn for Whitford. Although the head wind was making it a hard ride, we also have a few hills to navigate. The steepest and most challenging was leaving the Rhuddlan road riding along Primrose Hill road. I mentioned to John “why give such a road a pretty name” (Mike may comment) as the gradient is creeping upwards and getting harder. Passing through the little and very pretty village of St George we are now riding on a single track for approx. 2 miles at severe gradients between 15 and 20 %. We both got to the summit and Strava advised only one summit left to ride, bring it on!!

Passing through Dolwen, we spy a previous lunch stop, The Wheatsheaf, but continue on towards Colwyn Bay and Rhos. Our last summit was no where near as hard as expected and we are at the top of Old Colwyn and rolling down to the coast.

At the top




Arriving on the newish esplanade it is bathed in sunshine and even kids in the sea as we head for the chippy.The Galleon F&C shop is the location for lunch and they were enjoyed sitting on a bench looking out to sea they also tasted great.

We set off back towards Chester on NCR 5 and with a tail wind it was very welcome. We didn’t stop for tea and cake this afternoon passing through Flint and joining the Greenway home at Connah's Quay. 

John took leave at Blacon Station and I rode the last few miles home.  The circular route to and from Hawarden is around 80 miles. Our total was 20-mile greater riding out from Chester. My Garmin said 6000 feet of ascent but I think it nearer 5000* feet of climbing to enjoy or not, but at least you do the bumps first.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID


*plotaroute has 4200ft


Friday, 4 September 2020

3rd September 2020: Llandegla (mod)

 The Grand old Duke of York Ride!

 As this was my local ride, somehow Steve Tan had suggested I put together a route. In my defence I have only lived in the area and I knew if you don’t go down the coast or onto the Cheshire plain rides are either “Ard” or “Dead Ard”. So selecting an Ard ride I set off.

 This would be a good day as I was introducing a new member Alan Oates to the group. On arriving at the Gallery I was disappointed to see only two bikes outside and thought it’s only going to be a select few today. On walking through the door a wealth of CER folk were enjoying coffees and tea. Little did I know we park at the rear!

 Dave Heath completed the Elf and Safety information for Alan and we were split into a number of groups, Dave was off to Babell and he asked if I could lead a group. Initially we were Andy Barber, Steve Tan Alan and myself. Then Erik and Ray Stigter joined; Ray was on a time cut off so could only do part of the route. Just as we were leaving Clive arrived and now we were seven.

 The route out of Hawarden over the A55 was steady with Steve Tan showing why he wears the Ineos colours as our lead out man. A bimble through Sychdyn and through Mold had us on our first ascent of the day.

 I guess the clue is in the word Upper Bryn Coch road, which just seems to climb forever. Shortly we were in Maeshafn seven miles out and already tucking a thousand feet of climb in. We joined the Moel Famau road also known as Bwlch Penbarras, this was hard! At the top whilst the group waited for me I explained the next part of the ride was to drop into LLanbedr then climb to the Clwyd Gate. This resulted in a mutiny and the naming of the ride ‘Duke of York’ , as when we were up we were up and when we went down , we went straight back up.

 Local knowledge from Andy suggested a good route to maintain height and make a bee line for the lunch stop. The newly surfaced road around Llanarmon yn lal meant we descended like wraiths and Clive asked the question “why can’t all roads be like this”. At this point Ray broke off and headed back for Chester.

 As we were going to the mountain bike centre at Llandegla for lunch Clive suggested a bomb cratered small road as a route, which turned out to be a cracking route into the centre for lunch. Whilst only having covered 27 miles we had ascended nearly 3000 feet.

 Replete with cheese on toast, minted lamb wraps, Welsh burgers or super salad boxes we set off back. Clive took the lead and showed everyone a new route through Bwlchgwyn and back down into Caergwrle. The descents were sublime after all the climbing we had done.

 Andy left us to head for Mold and the remaining crew wound our way back to Hawarden.

 So a tough challenging ride completed with aplomb by everyone, thanks to Andy for the common sense and local knowledge and Clive for the route back. I recorded 40 miles and 3700 feet of climbing all done at a CER mod pace of 12mph.

 Steve Hughes

See route map and/or gpx download

3rd September 2020: Gwaenysgor (mod)

I arrived at Hawarden to find that a number of club members were already in attendance occupying our usual corner. I walked in with Keith and as all the chairs were taken we were directed by Spiros to a table on the other side of the room. Here I bored Keith with tales of my cycling the length of the Leeds - Liverpool canal while we drank our coffee. This is my excuse for not really taking much notice of who was around. So no list of members present from me I am afraid.

 Dave H joined us and asked if I could put together a route to the Eagle & Child at Gwaenysgor which would not involve steep climbs particularly early in the ride. Not an easy ask but I quickly, for me at least, came up with a plan. This moderate group consisted of Dave, Keith and myself. Not sure how this happened - I must pay more attention in future. We set off following the usual route into Wales through Ewloe, Northop Hall and Northop. To avoid the steep climb up to Rhosemor we braved the traffic for the 100 yard dash on the hard shoulder of the A55. Climbing steadily up to Pentre Halkyn I was telling the guys that June and I nearly bought a house here but were put off by the heavy trucks going to the quarry on the back of the mountain. Plenty were in evidence today. Clearing the quarry traffic we continued our steady climb up to Brynford. Crossing the golf course where the sheep considerably outnumbered the golfers we crossed over the A55 and bowled on down past the abbey to Gorsedd. In order to attempt to find some fairly level ground I decided that we would cycle along the A5151. This is a good route for cycling with a good surface and gentle up and down terrain. It was quiet during lockdown but busier today. Unscathed we got to the Gwaenysgor turnoff and enjoyed a tranquil amble to the village and the pub.

 The pub was busy. Dave had thoughtfully booked ahead and we were shown to our reserved table. Food and drink ordered and delivered in "cycling" time. 45 minutes later we were back on our bikes. During a planning meeting, over lunch, we agreed that we were ready for a few more hills on the return leg. Leaving the village we therefore ran down the delightful little valley to Llanasa where we took the long but not too steep climb heading for Trelawnyd. Short of Trelawnyd we dropped off to the left to the hamlet of Axton where we re-joined the A5151 to return to Gorsedd. To avoid covering any more of the outward leg here I decided to cycle on to Babell. Just short of the village we turned left and took the undulating lane to cross the B5121. The road kicks up now and we dig deep to breast the top of the hill only to find another hill in front of us going past the quarry. Fortunately no trucks around as we swing right behind the quarry to finish our climbing on the summit of Halkyn mountain. Although I cycle out this way regularly I never tire of the splendid views across the Wirral to Liverpool and beyond. We turn right onto the B5123 to cycle along to Rhosemor. Here we turn left and free wheel down narrow winding country lanes to Northop only disturbed by white van man, coming the other way, who nearly took Keith out as the big van was travelling far too fast on these narrow roads. This didn't detract from a thoroughly enjoyable ride in amiable company. I left my companions at Northop so I am afraid I don't know how many miles we cycled but not sure it really matters. 40 plus perhaps.

 GW

Sunday, 30 August 2020

27th August 2020: Little Bollington (mod)

Well my first ride for a while and I can honestly say I was thinking 'fool'.  Well anyway after a discussion with Ivan about his knee surgery I was even less assured I had made the correct choice.  So I just sat waiting to be told which group I was going with  thinking how much I’ve missed the Thursday gang, when George, Dave Mathews and Dave Heath informed me I will be in their bubble - you know life can throw a few pleasures at you now and again!  Dave H was once again spot-on with the weather forecast and route. George and I had mentioned the same as Steve - how Carol was not telling us the right info - she needs to up her game and speak to Dave as he got the rain practically down to the minute.

Anyway we set off from the café in our bubble heading out of the station onto the main road. This is a perfect road for Jim to get in touch with the local council to re-lay some smooth new tarmac.  We turned right at the Chinese restaurant heading down to Crowton, then over to Acton Bridge via some nice quiet roads with very little storm damage.  We then had a nice wheee moment down Acton Lane, but I also knew later in the day, when your arse is hanging out, that we would have to climb back up it again. We managed to get across the A49 the Dave way (people who know him), then up over the bridge, then heading up more inclines to Comberbach. Then heading to Budworth Heath where a line of polite drivers were waiting for us to turn, when a nice local driver came pass us all, beeping his horn etc  etc etc. What a hero!  


We then meandered past Arley, then on to lunch at Little Bollington at the Swan with Two Nicks. As usual covid set-up, eating alfresco, freezing your knads off, getting the drinks order wrong. Dave M ordered a half of Guinness and got a pint. This when I thought he should be hung drawn and quartered, then have his eyes pulled out, he left half as he didn’t want it. In my home town you would have to keep hold of it till empty otherwise it's gone, but that’s discipline only having what you want.  


After lunch we set off, just the 3 of us as Dave M went his own way. So after our farewells, this is where smart arse Dave H got the weather forecast spot on and due to his excellent paper map skills we headed back almost the same route, except if you know Dave he does like to make the odd detour thinking off-the-cuff, ie passing through the old air base at the back of Appleton Thorn then over to Frandley heading up to the fore-mentioned highest mountain. Well it felt like it, but it's known locally as Acton Lane off the A49 up to the station at Acton Bridge, where there was a group decision not to climb up through Onston but carry on through to the flat to Crowton ,then heading upwards to Norley in the rather heavy rain as our resident weather man said, then it's back to base at Delemere, where the 3 of us go our separate ways.  


It was good to be out with George again and Dave M for the run out to lunch as normal - good company and kept a good pace up, and last but not least the tour manager/organiser Dave H who once again did a good job of getting us back in good shape, as both me and George haven’t been on our bikes recently. I can say it was brill, especially as the company was ok, well good then, Keith the one walking like John Wayne.  Dave thought I could just help out with the blog - use it or get rid of it, not bothered it's your call, cheers for boss day. I have forgotten the exact route so add at your pleasure.


KB

Friday, 28 August 2020

27th August 2020: Holmes Chapel (brisk)

This is my first CER club ride since March and was looking forward to seeing other club members at Delamere station café. I met up with John W at the Mickle Trafford end of the greenway for a leisurely ride to the café. Passing a couple of club members along the route, we arrive at the station and there is a good group of moderate riders as well as Clive who advised us that today he is not with the Brisk group due "too much beer since his holidays". So it was John and I riding for the Briskers today and we set off along the very rough road surface to Hatchmere.

We head towards Hartford and Lach Dennis and continue heading for Goostrey and Holmes Chapel. We have ridden these lanes many times and were on form with legs spinning, passing Goostrey and the intended Mod’s lunch stop, before arriving at our intended lunch stop Holmes Chapel. Its only 12:00 so John pops into Aldi for a couple of Chicken sandwiches and we decide to ride off-piste abandoning my proposed route home*.

A few more lanes and we are at Breton Green passing the Bears Head where in the 1970 I was lucky enough to be in the same pub as Sir Matt Busby and got his signature. Just wish I had saved it! Our route takes us along Davenport Lane which we usually pass en-route towards the Mow Cop direction. It would have pleased Clive as it was both narrow and extremely muddy, oh dear – dirty bike. Heading towards Alsager it’s a detour via Smallwood, Malkins Bank and Winterly and then towards Crewe via Maw Green

Since departure from Holmes Chapel, we are making the route up as we go along and its towards the train station and Gresty Lane and passing MornFlake Oats (home of porridge oats) we’ve opted for. Through Nantwich and we decide not to stop, but would decide on a Tilly break if the café not too busy.

The usual route taken out from Nantwich and we are at Bunbury for 14:00 and Tilley’s and it’s also raining so decide to stop for a hot cup of tea and cake. The café does not feel the same – has it changed ownership during lockdown? When we exit the café, it has stopped raining.

We arrive Chester and I bid John farewell until next ride and head home with 82 miles covered. Not enough for John as he heads into Chester and joins the Dee cycle way as far as the Blue Bridge then joining the Greenway back to his home completing a 100-mile ride and 4000+ feet of ascent.

John and I have ridden together for most of this year and enjoyed our rides. Good to be part of the club and to see the other riders who were out today and hope they arrived back drier than we did.

 See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

NB: *Route therefore not completely as described in the text above!

27th August 2020: Goostrey (mod)

 There was a good crowd at the Delamere Station Café, meeting here for the first time since lockdown. It was especially good to see Keith, back after the surgery on his knee. Things had changed here with a new one-way system designed to confuse us and the only seating was outside. How will we manage when the bad weather comes?

As has become the norm, once coffees had been consumed, discussion turned to who was riding with who and to where. After a head count, it was decided to have two separate mod rides, with Ivan and John W scorching off on a brisk ride in the direction of Holmes Chapel.

I had mapped out a ride to The Crown at Goostrey and had booked a table for lunch with an ETA of about 12 to 12.15. Clive, Steve Hu and Erik made up the foursome and we left at about 10.20 heading initially in the direction of Hatchmere. Passing the crossroads, we turned into Forest Road and continued on down Beech Lane to join the B5153 through Crowton to Acton Bridge. At the bottom of Acton Lane, we had to wait for several minutes before there was a gap in the traffic so that we could cross the A49. How things have changed since the peace and quiet of lockdown!

The hill on Willow Green Lane which goes up and over the Trent and Mersey canal never gets any less steep, but we were soon crossing the A533 and heading along Ash House Lane and Cogshall Lane into Comberbach. As we did so, it started to rain a bit and I was mentally cursing Carole Kirkwood, as she said that the rain wouldn’t come until after lunch and I’d brought only my lightweight jacket. Fortunately, it eased off by the time we got to Great Budworth, where we stopped for a drink and for Steve Hu to fuel up a bit.

The route now took us in a loop passed Pickmere and Wincham where we took Linnards Lane down to the busy A556. As usual, we rode along the pavement until we reached the traffic lights at The Smoker. Steve Hu had to wait for a gap in the traffic to get back on the road and tucked in alongside a Jaguar. When the lights went green he set off and was hooted at by the Jag driver for his troubles. Steve later explained that the driver had switched into ‘chimp’ mode and recommended a book called The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters for more explanation. Bedtime reading, perhaps.

On reaching Lower Peover, we followed Free Green Lane. I’d memorized the fact that I should take the second right down Foxcovert Lane, but had to stop and consult the route on my phone before being confident enough to take this tiny lane, which looked pretty muddy. Fortunately, the muddy part was short and we were soon back on a hard surface. Heath Lane took us to Townfield Lane, where we crossed the A50 into Boothbed Lane and thence on to Main Road and The Crown, arriving there just after 12.

The waitress explained that they’d run out of several items due to demand on the ‘Eat out to help out’ offer, so only things on the Main Menu were available. The food came quickly and was of a good standard and reasonably priced; good enough reasons to leave The Crown on our list of favoured stops. Lunchtime conversation revolved around moving house (or not!), the vagaries of local authority planning and the cost of cutting down trees.

We left the pub at about 1.20, heading north-east out of Goostrey along New Platt Lane, crossing the A50 at Rudheath Woods and passing Shakerley Mere to reach Lach Dennis. At Davenham, it was ‘proper raining’, as John W would say, so we stopped to put on the necessary gear. Clive showed us a much safer way to cross the Northwich by-pass and reach Hartford. From here we took Hodge Lane to cross the A49 at Bryn and took Bag Lane heading towards Norley Bank, which provided only the second steep climb of the day. As we went up Maddocks Hill, Steve Hu said something about an average speed of 15 mph, but I find that hard to believe. My computer said fourteen point something. Reaching Hatchmere at 2.30, having covered a smidge under 40 miles, we said our farewells, with Clive and Erik heading in the rain for Chester, Steve Hu for his car and yours truly for Runcorn.

A good ride at a mod+ pace. Thanks to Clive, Steve Hu and Erik for your company.

ST      

See route map and/or gpx file download

Sunday, 23 August 2020

20th August 2020: Burlton (mod)

 I was pleased to see Ray in the Car Park at Chirk. We poked our heads around the front door at Castle Bistro just before 10a.m., and had the place to ourselves. We had just started our coffees when Dave Matthews made a welcome entrance, as promised. He had arrived by train, having rode in from Chester, and intended to ride back to Oscroft. Dave is a bit wary at the moment of pushing himself too hard in a group, as he has to be careful to safely manage his condition. And so it was: Ray and me, Little and  Large. It was like comparing a light and lithe Lotus Evora, with an older, well upholstered Jaguar XJ6.

 Fortunately for me, Ray was  prepared to “bimble” and enjoy it. We reached the dodgy A5 roundabout at the right moment, and managed to nip across quickly, before heading for Hindford. Last time we were down here a left turn was missed, which left us with a few miles of main roads in and out of Whittington in order to get back on track. So began a regular trace and check process, to ensure that there were no unplanned excursions. I traced the route I had highlighted on my map the day before, and Ray checked that his Garmin supported my choices of direction. We drifted down on these quiet lanes before a small climb to Welsh Frankton, then crossed the main road to Ellesmere, and continued surfing down to the Llangollen Canal. The steepness of the little humpback bridge here is remarkable, and if you can attain enough speed on the approach you could probably emulate Eddie the Eagle at the top. The stretch into the wind to Rednal had me dropping back from my fitter companion. I failed to convince myself that it was just down to my bigger frontal area. Around the exposed old airfield we noted the decommissioned yellow naval helicopter on the right. At Haughton, we turned right in a Clivesque exploratory diversion in order to take a dekko at the estate of Tedsmore Hall. On we went to pretty Wykey, followed by a sharp wooded drop to the River Perry and a slog up the other side past Boreatton Park. Ray was enjoying the leisurely change from his normal pace, and being able to look around at some of the beautiful villages and features, and smell the flowers. He said that it reminded him of what had attracted him to cycling in the first place. With the wind now behind us for the first time, we swept beyond Weston Lullingfields at a fair lick, with little effort. This was the essence of Chester easy riding: little lanes, few vehicles, lush scenery, relaxed progress and good company. Enjoying living in the moment. Just past Petton Hall we reached the A528 and were soon turning into the Burlton Inn, bang on the booked timeof 12.45 p.m.

The welcome was warm and the food is very good at the Burlton Inn, although the absence of light bites on the menu was, surprise, surprise, more problematic for Ray than myself. Then! Out of the Blue! Who turned up? It was Peter, who is virtually self-isolating for family reasons, but had covered well over forty miles already from Chester on his own route, with the hope of making a distanced greeting to our group at lunch. Obviously, our group was just us two. We were outside and it was sunny with a breeze, so Peter joined us two metres away for a pleasant chat and even enjoyed a pint of beer. It was great to see him. 

We headed back via Loppington, and Lyneal mainly on well surfaced, quiet, narrow lanes, although before Loppington we could hear a very loud horn somewhere behind us, and it turned out to be an outsize, lumbering lorry which had to sound its horn before every bend. Eventually, it thankfully passed us. At Colemere there was a surprising amount of activity, with people driving out, often to walk their dogs. We crossed the main road before Ellesmere at Spunhill, and mused about how lovely it would be to live in one of the attractive cottages where you wake up every morning with White Mere at the bottom of your garden. The remainder of the route was by way of Tetchill, Perthy, New Marton and St.Martins. The route wasn't too wet and dirty, but from before Colemere all the way back to Chirk there were plenty of ups and downs. Approaching Chirk from the south-west the obvious options for the last two or three miles are not great. As a more stimulating alternative, for the first time, some years ago I led a group down to Ponty-y-blew, deep in the valley, knowing it would be a steep climb out to Chirk, but picturesque and out of the traffic. I think most of you have experienced this route now, but it had been a while since I had been down there. For once I followed my instinct rather than check the map. That was a mistake! Like a City or United defender playing in Europe, my lack of discipline and focus near the end blew it. Ray used his Garmin to bail us out, and we eventually crossed the river and  conquered the two stiff little climbs to enter Chirk by the back door. Ray had no problems, but was patient enough to wait for me as I chugged uphill in a very low gear. It was just after four o'clock, and we had covered about Forty- two miles. I really enjoyed riding with Ray, and Peter evidently enjoyed his trip, and arrived home safely.

DH

Thursday, 13 August 2020

13th August 2020: Aston (mod)

Steve Tan and I shared the Berlingo to Tattenhall, and Steve had to point out that I had missed the A41 turnoff and we were heading for Rhyl! I had hoped to lead a ride this week, but I couldn't even navigate my way to the start! The sun was shining at Alison's, and we were able to have a sociable twenty minutes before deciding who was riding where. Trevor had ridden out for coffee, but was not riding with us. Neil, and Dave “I don't need maps” Matthews had two tempting offers to Meadow Farm and Ellesmere respectively. We rather arbitrarily rationalized as we had more ride offers than required. In the end Neil went with the fast lads John Wilkie and Nick, and Dave joined Steve Tan on Steve Haywood's ride to Marbury. Only the most recent club recruits were naive enough to choose to follow me to Aston: Steve Hughes and Erik. Steve Hughes must have been very forgiving, as I had inexcusably failed to recognise him initially at Alison's behind his Wilko's GT dark sunglasses. It was also good to have Erik on board again.

We headed out uphill past Bolesworth Castle and on to Brown Knoll. Shortly after turning left at Broxton Old Hall we ran into an impassable flood with an abandoned car in the middle. A 4x4 coming the other way took a chance, and nearly swamped us with its bow wave. I wryly recalled Dave Matthew's reassurance at coffee that we were very unlikely to have problems as everything was drying up nicely after a wet and stormy evening the night before! Never mind Dave, even Pep Guardiola gets it wrong sometimes. 




Photos by Steve Hu

We turned around and worked our way around Bickerton Hill to join my original route at Ashton Cross. We turned left here and found the road blocked by a fallen tree. We looked in vain for a way around in an adjacent field, but we had to divert again in order to come out at Hampton Post on the other side of the tree. Steve's navigational advice was very helpful during these diversions. No Mans Heath and Bickley were next in our sights, but Erik picked up a puncture before we reached Swanwick Green. The tube replacement was not straightforward, but we sorted it between us. Perhaps we shouldn't have! These are the times when the precaution of distancing can easily be forgotten. We headed on to Gaunton's Bank, and stopped just short of Wrenbury, as the bridge over the Llangollen Canal was lifted, in order for narrow boats to pass through. Steve phoned the Bhurtpore to let them know that we were running late.

It had been an eventful morning, but we had plenty of space and fresh air under the gazebo in the back garden. I had booked for a nominal six riders and they had two reserved tables for us (which we didn't need). I had forgotten how good the selection of different brews is here. I had a Timmermans Belgian strawberry beer in a proper Timmermans glass, and Erik was offered a large selection of non-alcoholic drinks. It was a hot day, and I could have happily downed another pint to help swill down my goat curry. The Bhurtpore has always been a favourite for Chester Easy Riders, and the selection of fine ales have always been appreciated by Bryan Wade. It also reminds me of summer afternoons past with Dave and Liz, and Jim. These may be uncertain times, but sitting in the shade outside the Bhurtpore on a warm August day in good company, with a refreshing drink in my hand, all was well again.  This was normal at its best.

Our return was via Ravensmoor, Bunbury and Beeston, and we turned up the wick a bit. It was good to see Tilly's still in business, but it was too soon after lunch for a break. Also, because of our morning diversions and puncture, I expected Steve Tan would be back at Alison's, sitting on a wall twiddling his thumbs (and he was).  Unfortunately, Alison's closes early, so we all headed for home. Steve and Erik still had some cycling to do, and I arrived back in time to get my wife's car out of a Widnes tuning shop with its emissions sorted. We covered a modest thirty-eight enjoyable miles, and it was good to get to know Erik better. I also know more about Steve, and should be able to recognise him if he turns up next week!  

DH              


13th August 2020: Marbury (mod)

Another good turnout for our second official meet since lockdown, this time at Alison’s Country Kitchen in Tattenhall. We all sat outside in the sun and contemplated various possible routes. Among the mods at one point it looked as though there might be as many routes as riders, until Steve T organised us. I had prepared a ride to The Swan at Marbury and Steve T and David M came with me.

The previous night had seen an epic thunder storm with several hours of torrential rain in the Tarporley area, so I was expecting some flooding, gravel and sand debris on the roads. This caused us some minor challenges as we made our way through Tilston and Threapwood, before heading SE across the two A-roads to Fenn’s Bank.  In answer to David’s on route query, the large industrial plant here is BEFESA Salt Slags, a company engaged in recycling of steel dust, salt slags and aluminium residues! We rode onward to meet the Alkington Road into Whitchurch. We passed through the town centre and began to turn northwards using the Mercian Way cycle route. Here Steve T noticed the milepost, an unmissable photo op for these times.

Photo by Steve T

We arrived at The Swan with about 26 miles covered. The pub offered a number of well-spaced outside tables and we chose one of them with a sun shading umbrella. Service was quick and friendly. Steve and I enjoyed the fish finger sandwich, the first time I’ve sampled this delicacy, while David had a prawn sandwich and a pint of shandy which was very heavy on the beer.  The combined bill arrived and we tested our rusty mental arithmetic working out what we each owed.

Payment made, our route back took us through Bickley and Bickerton. Here David left to make his own way home, and Steve and I continued by Bolesworth Castle into Tattenhall and back to Alison’s.  We chatted about the ride while I fought off several wasps to eat my slice of cake.  Another good ride with 39 miles covered.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH