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

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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


Photo JW 

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


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


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


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.


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 Wilkie 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


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 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


*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.


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.


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 Wilkie 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


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.


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.


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!  


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


Friday, 7 August 2020

6th August 2020: Whitegate (mod)

 After all the weeks of lockdown, it was great to see the throng of East Riders who had gathered at Meadow Lea for the re-start of our regular club meetings. Admittedly, there were some restrictions arising from the Covid-19 protocols, but these did not interfere too much with the greetings and banter exchanged, although handshakes and kisses were definitely out!

After coffees, toast and teacakes Dave H tried to get the rides (plural) arranged. We had agreed to limit the number of people in any ride to no more than four, so Clive had planned a ride to Lach Dennis, Steve H one to Pant-yr-Ochain and yours truly one to Whitegate. Chaos ensued as, apart from the fast lads, people couldn’t decide which ride to join. Eventually, Steve H suggested that the three ride leaders should take to their bikes and see who would follow them.

So it was that Trevor and John (long time no see) Beavis followed me out of the café car park, heading for Whitegate on a route that I’d cobbled together at the last minute. The route took us out on the busy A56 as far as Morley Bridge, where we turned to pick up the road past Manley Mere where, for many years, we used to start our rides. Since we no longer start there, I’d forgotten how steep Cob Hall Lane is and arrived at the top breathless to wait for the others. Sugar Lane led us on to Manley Road and we were soon speeding down Dark Ark Lane and thence to Kelsall and Utkinton. Just past Rose Farm, we turned left and headed for Cotebrook , where we crossed the busy A49. Oulton Park was quiet as we passed by, not even a track day here yet.  We took a left into Park Road and crossed the A54 as we headed for The Plough Inn on Beauty Bank, arriving at about 12.15. 

Now, the pub looked very inviting, but since Trevor had brought sandwiches and John ‘Two coronastones’ doesn’t eat lunch, it was decided to forego lunch until we got back to Meadow Lea. So on we went past the posh houses and Vale Royal Golf Club until we crossed the A559 and found the sanctity of LIttledales Lane. Hodge Lane took us to the A49 where we battled some heavy traffic before reaching Bag Lane and headed for Norley and its stamina-sapping Norley Bank and Maddocks Hill. Who said that Cheshire is flat? 

Post Office Lane took us down to Hatchmere, where responsibilities for navigation were handed to Trevor on the basis that he knows the way home from there better than I do. Down the switchbacks and under the railway and on to Ashton Hayes where we turn right and followed Gongar Lane up the hill into Mouldsworth. Nortons Lane and Morley Lane lead us back to the A56 where we again diced with traffic until we reached Mickle Trafford. John B took his leave here so that he could return to grandpa duties for the afternoon, which seem to consist mostly of losing at Minecraft with his 6 year old grandson and answering endless questions from him. Trevor and I returned to Meadow Lea having completed 35 miles up and down the hills of West Cheshire. 

Thanks to Trevor and John for your excellent company. Maybe we’ll see John again later this year if he can get a pass out on a Thursday. Don’t leave it too long, John!

See route map and/or gpx file download


6th August 2020: Gresford (mod)

It felt strange after being locked down since March for CER to be meeting up again.  We gathered outside at the Meadow Lea café, with about 10 members assembling.  In discussion with Dave H beforehand, we had planned to form small groups of no more than four members for each ride. Clive, Steve T and myself each had planned destinations. Mine was to the Pant yr Ochain at Gresford, and I was accompanied by Dave H, David M and prospective new member Eric, who had only moved up to our area during lockdown.

We set off towards Tattenhall, passing through Waverton and Hargrave. Then it was out to Carden before swinging westwards through Stretton and Wetreins Lane to reach Farndon and Holt. Into Wales, and our destination was only a few miles away. Being COVID-cautious, we had intended to sit outside on such a fine day on the pub’s terrace looking out over the lake.  However even though we arrived at 1230, those outside tables were taken.  After a brief consultation we headed into a largely deserted indoors, following the pub’s strict COVID protocols. No gathering at the bar today – straight to our allotted table where our orders were taken by masked staff. As usual we discussed many topics, including the Welsh Government’s guidance on our visit which Dave had researched.  Were we in compliance given we came from more than two households, or were we covered by the permission for up to 30 people to engage in sporting activity?

After our lunch we set off on our shorter return journey, down the main road through Marford, Rossett and Pulford, before turning onto the road to Ecclestone. Part way David M struck off to return home via Holt.  The rest of us entered Chester, crossing the Old Dee Bridge, then followed the river past the racecourse, before joining the Greenway and quickly back to our start. Back at Meadow Lea, we bumped into Glennis and enjoyed final drinks and cakes.  An unambitious 40+ mile ride on generally quiet roads in dry, warm and sometimes sunny conditions marked a welcome return to CER’s programme.  Let’s hope for another dry day next week.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 6 August 2020

6th August 2020 : Whatcroft (brisk)

So after 20 weeks of no club rides at all, three rides are offered – just like buses!

The Johns (W and M) decide to support me on a ride to Whatcroft – “where, you ask!” but Dave M knew where it was. We head out for the long fast ride through Helsby and Frodsham to Preston Brook and the short sharp hill up to Preston-on-the- Hill. Here, we start the eastward trek to Antrobus and Over Tabley. To get over the M6 and under the M56 link road, we use the Reverse Tan manoeuvre to achieve our entry into the outskirts of Knutsford. 

Here, we turn south on a run down tiny lanes to Lach Dennis. What we notice is that there are a lot of cars on the road these days – so much better over the past twenty weeks when we had the lanes to ourselves and just fellow cyclists. Crossing the A530 and on the way to Davenham, we arrive at Riverside Organics farm shop and cafe. This is near to the hamlet of Whatcroft. They had extensive Covid modifications in place and a lot of covered outside seating. We order up and the food takes only a short time to come as we were hungry after 34 miles.

We catch up on what has happened in our lives over the past 20 weeks, but now realise we need to get back. So out and through Davenham towards Hartford Bridge, the road takes us to the outskirts of Sandiway. To get to Cuddington we have to run down the hillside then back up it a bit further along. The route now takes us along my favourite Gallowsclough Lane. We can't find the burial tumulus indicated on the OS map as its under a field of maize – maybe in the winter I will find it. Out and through Norley, it is now a blast through Delamere Forest and back to Mickle Trafford.

So after 55 miles around, it's good to be out in an official Brisk Group today – other group members are either on holiday (Ivan), enjoying a dental treatment (Ray), recuperating at home (Ken), or in the Lakes (Nick). 


Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Cafes offering a take-out service

We are still unable to ride as a club, but many CER members are out regularly, riding solo or with another person as allowed under the current Covid rules. Several members have noted that there are a number of cafes who are offering a take-out service for coffee and, maybe, food. These are listed below.
If you arrive somewhere and find that there is already a great throng of cyclists there, it is probably a good idea to pass by and to find somewhere else, not only for your own safety, but to avoid criticism from locals.

BASCHURCH :             MOOR FARM SHOP, Ruyton Rd, SY4 2BA
BULKELEY :                 BICKERTON POACHER, Wrexham Rd, SY14 8BE
CHESTER CITY :          two or three cafes on the east side of Bridge Street, including
                                      THE JAUNTY GOAT at No.56.
HOYLAKE:                   THE PARADE COMMUNITY CENTRE.10 Hoyle Rd opposite                                          the new  lifeboat station.
NEW BRIGHTON:        three or four cafes on the promenade near the Pavilion
NESTON:                     THE REAL FOOD KITCHEN, 21 Parkgate Rd, CH64 9XF
PARKGATE:                 ELEPHANT COFFEE on prom (could be crowded if sunny)
HOLT:                           CLEOPATRAS, The Cross, Holt, LL13 9YG
FRODSHAM:               STONEHOUSE FARM, New Pale Rd, WA6 9ER.
                                     Phone order from the gate.
HAWARDEN:               GALLERY COFFEE SHOP 10 The Hwy, Hawarden,CH5 3DH. 
                                         Open 9-2, Wed - Sun. Go round the back to place your order.
TARPORLEY:               THE HOLLIES COFFEE SHOP, Tarporley Rd, CW6 9ES
WHITCHURCH:           ALDEFORD LAKE, Tilstock Rd, SY13 3JQ

Thursday, 19 March 2020

19th March 2020 : Whitchurch (unofficial social ride)

Given the advice emanating from Cycling UK, it was clear that the current virus situation would affect our official club rides. Dave H has now communicated this to us all recently. However, I realise that we are, as members, gregarious characters who like to know who has been riding where. So this is a short report of the social ride that a few of us did today.

We i.e. Ray, John W, and myself, decided to meet up outside Alison's at 1000 to see who else might arrive. Steve H appeared, and was not going to join us, but rather wait to see if anyone else would turn up* ( see below)  I had cobbled together a 45 mile route out to Whitchurch and back. Thus we set off bound for Tilston via Harthill, Bickerton and Duckington. In Tilston, we had pre-arranged to meet up with Nick.

So the four of us wiggled our way via Shocklach and Worthenbury down mud-splattered lanes to the outskirts of Whitchurch. The feeding station was the tricky bit, and I had posited a stop at the service station on the Whitchurch bypass where there was a Starbucks. Nick mentioned there was also a McDonald's as well. So it was an easy choice - the toasted bun won the day.

Al fresco luncheon facilites ( c/o McDonalds website)
We had to sit outside as they were only taking "Take away" orders, but apart from the fact that the temperature seemed to have dropped, it was fine for us all.

The route back was out through Whitchurch, and then down muddy lanes via Marbury and Bickerton to round Bulkeley Hill on the  way back to Tattenhall. So a pleasant 45 mile route on near traffic-free yet muddy roads. At Beeston, Nick and John headed back to Tattenhall as Ray and I headed back to Chester for 65 mile plus of social cycling. The weather held up with even sunny intervals in the afternoon.

See route map and/or gpx file download


*Steve reports that no other rider turned up, and the cafe had only three customers in.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

12th March 2020: New Brighton (mod)

We were going to be in for some extraordinary weather today - sunshine all day and very strong winds along with a very high Spring tide in the Mersey estuary. Serendipitously I met up with Steve H at Dunkirk. He was just riding out and back today from Kelsall, so just a 45 mile round trip! At Ness Gardens, a crowd of ten riders would eventually arrive, although John W and Steve H were just out for coffee today. Dave H and Steve T were welcoming a potential new member, Denise, who had arrived in shorts! I had already prepared a Wirral Wander ride of 40 miles, which was gratefully accepted.

So the group, consisting of Steves T and H(NM), Peter, George, Trevor, Dave H, Denise and myself, set off down to the Dee shoreline along by Nets Cafe. Here was the first surprise of the day - a debris-strewn path - a result of a very high tide assisted by a fierce NW on-shore wind. There was a digger out by the Harp pub pushing the marsh debris back off the road. In and out of the Nestons, we wiggle through the big houses of Gayton to arrive near to Poll Hill in Heswall just off Telegraph Road.

In quick succession, as it is largely downhill, we are through Pensby, Irby and Frankby (former Viking villages) to arrive at West Kirby and the railway cut-through to Hoylake and Meols. Hitting the esplanade here, we are greeted with a seething seascape of enormous rollers as it is now about the height of the highest Spring tide. The wind was very strong N Westerly, probably storm force 8-9. It had been hindering us a bit, but not now as we were literally blown down the road towards the sea wall path to New Brighton.

As we get to the end of this road, it becomes clear that cycling the sea wall path will to be dangerous with the breaking waves and high winds. So what to do - find another way inland of course. This we do by wiggling down No-Thorough roads (which weren’t) and the housing estates of Moreton. We end up along Leasowe Road where Denise takes an unexpected tumble. Although shaken and slightly injured, her bike had sustained a brake/gear lever mounting bracket fracture, and it is wobbling around on the bars. A few cables ties later we are off again heading for the esplanade which has been closed to traffic. Sea water is splashing over the sea wall with somewhat mountainous waves just off-shore. Arriving at the boating lake by the fort, the sea is in a real turmoil as Steve H(NM)'s photo shows. Negotiating the temporary sea flood defences, it is now a few minutes to Weatherspoon’s “The Master Mariner” pub and a very quick and welcome hot repast.

The route back is as per usual i.e. along the western side of the Mersey promenade. The tide height at Gladstone dock is around 33ft today with a tidal range of nearly 30ft of seawater!. The Black Pearl pirate “ship” is no where to be seen, but there was a great pile of driftwood just off the prom though. So we wiggle our way back towards New Ferry where we pause to consider how the SS Great Eastern was broken up here at the Sloyne (see Trevor's photo). The wind was still a problem for us as we cut across the Wirral via Eastham and Willaston arriving back at Ness Gardens around 1600. Peter and Denise stay for a hot drink as the rest of us disperse for home. A 42 mile Wirral circular ride today with plenty of wild weather producing a different aspect of this former Viking kingdom.

Photo by TC

Photo by SH
See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 7 March 2020

5th March 2020: Queen's Head (mod)

Arriving late at Cleopatra’s, having to spend my coffee and chat time sorting out my front derailleur. I was asked by the now formed Mod’s group of SteveT, Steve NM (New Member), George, Andy B, Electric Pete and Bob, whether I knew of a route to the Queen’s Head. Yes, I replied, I have one from about six years ago (2013) when I last took a tribe of CER’s to visit what was a popular watering hole. We bade our farewells to Dave & Liz P who were on their own ride, Neil who had other commitments and the Briskers.
Photos by Mike G
 Crossing the A534 we stopped to admire the flooding of the fields. Having to bypass Sutton Green as the lanes were flooded, we quickly made our way to Bangor on Dee then gentle climbs and dips with a tail wind taking in the lanes east of Overton via Cloy Hall. On to Dudleston Heath, when SteveT decided to try his falling off technique on one of the deeply rutted roads. Fortunately, he was going slowly and no damage done. Also, lots of ‘Muddy Puddles/Wheel Washes’ as highways were still flooded in parts from the recent storms. After a short left and right in Dudleston Heath we made our way onto towards Perthy and Welsh Frankton. Panoramic views of the distant hills were observed as the sun shone. Over the Llangollen and Montgomery canals and onto Rednal where we then followed relatively clean back lanes to the Queens’s Head.

On arrival, the car park was full and another cycling group were having lunch, their bikes were generally of the steel frame (Dawes) variety. Managed to find space for lunch, but because of its popularity food took a little time to serve. That said the quality was good as were the ales and we got away on time. Lunchtime discussions ranged from Cruises and of course Coronavirus.

Rested, well fed and watered we returned via Tetchill and Ellesmere with slight breeze against. Onto Penley and Threapwood, where Bob advised he was ‘Cream Crackered’. Took the direct route back, through Shocklach returning to Holt by 3:40pm for a relaxing afternoon tea, just having cycled 49 miles. Overall an undulating ride, with some appalling road surfaces, but an excellent days riding.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 6 March 2020

5th March 2020: Tattenhall (brisk)

It appeared that no-one was keen to write up the Brisk blog for the ride to Tattenhall from Holt this week. The brisk group consisted of Steve F, Ray and John W. So John bravely offered not only to put together a ride, but also sent me some notes of the ride itself. His notes are as follows:-

From Cleopatra's cafe, Steve F and Ray rode with me as I decided not to put together a formal route but just  chose to pick directions and go with that.  So I used  the compass on my Garmin to pick likely directions.

First choice was straight on towards a shortcut over A534 and down Francis Lane. Our  jaws dropped at the view of flooded fields which meant taking the main road around the industrial estate and straight on to pass Bangor on Dee. Chose again to alter ride and took first right after going ‘over’ Bangor on Dee onto quiet lanes to Lightwood Green and Penley. 

Here we then headed towards Whitchurch, on some A roads but soon to turn off for Malpas. Unfortunately there were road works plus the cafe there was judged to be too dear! So we diverted via No Mans Heath, then regular route past Cholmondeley and Bickerton. We took the "easy" way up Harthill and a nice fast blast down to Tattenhall to stop at Alison's cafe for lunch. 

We didn't ride back to Holt, but if you ride this route, it will be around 46 mls.

So, as none of us needed to go back to Holt, we took the long way round to Waverton as the less windy option. Before Christleton, we split with Steve at the Piper pub, and Ray & I rode on to the Millennium cycle path where Ray cut off for home. I press on home to get 66 miles under the tyres.

An uneventful ride with tail/side wind on way to Whitchurch then a headwind picked up on way home, so glad of team effort to take turns on the front. Good average speed and a decent  66 miles all round distance and route, with two good riders with me tagging along.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 27 February 2020

27th February 2020: Aston (mod)

This write up will have to be brief, as we have been invited out, despite flying to the Canaries in the morning! There was a good turnout at the 'upvamped' Rose Farm cafe despite the continued unsettled weather and drowning countryside . It was good to meet Steve Hughes who is now a fully paid up club member, and is very welcome. Rapid riders Ray and Clive decided to join the moderates at a more relaxed pace than is their norm. The group consisted of Andy B, Mike G, George, Keith, Steves Hughes, Tan and Haywood, myself and the two fast lads.

We set off for Cotebrook, meeting a large cattle lorry on the way up. I caught a glimpse of a fine looking beef animal, and wandered if it was shortly to be slaughtered at Rose Farm. Life and death is played out pretty starkly in the pretty Cheshire countryside, as further evidenced by a fox laid out at the front of a farm ten minutes later. I embroidered the route to Nantwich by meandering on less familiar little lanes to Wettenhall. Our route was via the lovely old church at Acton, and down the quiet lane bordering Dorfold Hall. We continued to Ravensmore and Sound, and completed a loop south-east of Aston, finally arriving at the Bhurtpore with twenty -eight miles under our belt.

A few curries were consumed in a very convivial atmosphere, before we headed back. The route back was intended to be shorter, heading for Larden Green, Brindley and Bunbury. We exchanged a wave with Clive and Ray, who had gone ahead to keep warm, and were sitting in the window at Tilly's. We approached Tarporley by way of Beeston Castle. It had been a battle against the wind on our return, but we had managed the odd flooded section, and completed an enjoyable forty-seven miles in excellent company. Some of us stayed for a well-earned coffee and cake at The Old Fire Station. My sympathy was for Mike and Andy, who still had a blustery ride remaining as they forged on to north Wales.

Photo by Mike G
See route map and/or gpx file download 


Sunday, 23 February 2020

20th February 2020: Minera (mod)

This would be our last visit to The Gallery café at Hawarden before Spiros retires at the end of March. Eight Easy Riders had gathered to wish him well. Jim and Trevor had come in civvies, John W was doing his own thing and Ken had to be home for lunch, but he joined Dave H, Keith, Andy B and Steve T for the ride. We decided that, since Dave was recovering from his gall bladder op and Keith hadn’t been out for a while due to a bad shoulder and the weather was awful, we’d make it a short one today. I’d found a ride on the blog to the Tyn-y-Capel pub at Minera which Steve H had led a year or so ago. At only 30 miles, it seemed to fit the bill for our ride today.

So, off we set out through Ewloe and Buckley (where Ken helped us to navigate the housing estate streets) to reach the A5118 near Llong. Ken peeled off here to head for home, whilst we struggled along the main road into the strong westerly wind before taking the long, steep hill to Pentre, skirting Treuddyn to reach Rhydtalog and Four Crosses. From here it was steeply downhill to reach Minera and Tyd-y-lan opposite the church.

It didn’t look open, but a quick look inside told us that all was well and we were soon settled in the warm pub, drying off gloves and other wet things on any radiators we could find. As well as the normal menu, there was a 2 course lunch on offer for only £7.95. Andy, Keith and I chose this option, whereas Dave went for a Moroccan surprise. He was more than a little worried when the waitress brought him a plate of salad, chips and wraps, but the sizzling sound of a dish of Moroccan chicken soon brought a smile to his face.

As we were eating, the sun came out so that when we set off for home the world looked a much brighter place. However, the wind was still very strong and we did get shot-blasted by a few snow showers as we took the B-road round Coedpoeth and zig-zagged through Pentre Broughton to Gwersyllt, where we joined the busy road to Llay. From there we found the quieter lanes to Penymynydd, where we crossed the A5104.  Andy left us here to take that road back to Mold, leaving Dave, Keith and I to navigate the footbridge over the A55 and then follow the track through Bilberry Wood back to Hawarden.

Yet again we’d started from the café in very unpromising conditions, only to finish the day in fine and dry weather. A short ride today, but good company and the drying weather made it all worthwhile.

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 his 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 leads us out  setting off bound for Runcorn via Kingsley. The other side of Frodsham, Steve  offers to weave us through Runcorn in between the railway 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 promptly as always from the kitchens. The route back doesn't feature much in the way of railways, but we set off along the Mersey River cyclepath 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. Ivan's 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


Photos ID