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

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Thursday, 15 August 2019

15th August 2019 : Pickmere (brisk)

It didn't rain and the afternoon was quite sunny but it was very windy and gusty. I turned up a little late for the last meet start at the Ice Cream Farm  - NB : It's Alison's Cafe in Tattenhall next time!

Neil was sitting there like Billy No Mates with a coffee wondering if anyone was going to show up today. I said I would be there, but he was starting to doubt that until I actually showed up. No one else turned up, so we two set off via Tarporley bound for Pickmere.

The route was unexceptional passing thorough Eaton, Rushton and Little Budworth on our way to Whitegate. Traffic was very light - unlike the strong NW wind. This was great if it was behind you as I can attest as I averaged 18mph on the route out to ICF over 16 miles.

In Whitegate, I take the forest footpath transfer to access Vale Royal Golf club to introduce Neil to the Dave Mathew's "Golf Club - Weaver"  transfer route. We hang right to cross the Weaver over the massive locks and ride along the pleasant footpath with bike unfriendly gates. Up the hill by the Blue Bridge, we are soon in and out of Davenham bound for Lach Dennis.

A left up Common Lane takes into the by-roads of Plumley and we are soon at The Smoker pub on the busy A556. I'd thought about having lunch here but opted to go on to Pickmere to the Red Lion (part of the same group of pubs as The Smoker). So we arrive around 1215 having left Wincham behind.

Service was very prompt and the fare reasonably priced and wholesome. Neil chatted about his 25 yrs experience of working in Saudi Arabia training the Saudi Air Force pilots and technicians. I reflected on the long weekend I spent in Riyadh and Jeddah in the 1990's and how I was addressed there as Mr Al-Bany ( obviously I'm now of Arabian extraction!)

We are soon back on the bike and heading mainly into the wind as we slide through Great Budworth on our way to Little Leigh and the big hill up to Acton Bridge. At Crowton, we take Norley Lane for the inexorable climb up into Norley and use the Dave Heath transfer via Town Farm Lane to journey on to Flaxmere and Delamere Forest.

There is "just one more climb" up and into Kelsall where Neil carries on via Willington to complete the 49 miles route on his way home. I slide off bound for Oscroft and permutate the best way to avoid the head-on wind back to Chester.

So thanks to Neil for his company today, and 70+ miles for both of us probably.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 10 August 2019

8th August 2019: Parkgate (leisure)

The four leisure riders, Trevor, Graeme, John B and myself chose a day at the seaside in preference to the moderates' choice of the flesh pots of Whitchurch, and accordingly set off in the opposite direction towards Hoole bank.

Swinging round to the east we skirted the zoo, over the canal and up to Backford. The route then followed the Sustrans track alongside the railway, still with all those gates, and on to Capenhurst. Rather than joining the Wirral way here we continued on to Willaston, past the old windmill and up to Thornton Hough. We then cut back west towards the coast to Parkgate and our lunch stop, The Boathouse, which we used for our Xmas dinner a few years ago.

Lunch was very pleasant sitting on the terrace overlooking the Dee and the Welsh hills in the sunshine, but there was a stickiness in the atmosphere preceding the forecast evening's storms.

However, the afternoon continued to be warm as we took to the Wirral Way briefly before cutting through the residential areas of Neston towards the Greenway. Coming in the opposite direction we passed a guy on one of those Boardman bikes - in fact it was Boardman. Clearly with no time to chat he sped off towards his mansion while we negotiated the industrial estate and gained the Greenway. No route finding now as we were blown eastward by a pleasant tailwind back to Meadow Lea. With time for a coffee and cake we watched in horror as the last two pieces of chocolate cake were snaffled up by two rather large ladies in front of us. Then to make matters worse a wasp took a bath in Graeme’s flat white which would certainly have added a little piquancy to the taste had he not noticed and removed it.

Overall a pleasant ride of 36 miles - I suppose we should have gone for a quick burn round Great Barrow to bring it up to 40 but we were greatly disinclined at that stage.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 9 August 2019

8th August 2019: Alkington, Whitchurch (mod)

Well where do I begin? Sorry if I have missed anyone out or upset anyone, but this is my first post. 

Ten mods set out, yes that’s right, 10 heading to Whitchurch via lots of little hamlets of Cheshire and Shropshire.  Well I was just meandering along in my own little bubble, like everyone else, even our leader Andy W, so when we went off course it was our fault for talking to him and he told a white lie saying we are missing Harthill and other little pimples, but guess what, we went via Harthill and any other pimples on route.  Anyway we got our lunch stop at the garden centre lake at Alkington, I didn’t pay attention as to where we were, takes me back to my school days ha ha teachers!!  We went here in sunny June, the time Clive went for a paddle with his bike through a very large puddle and Brian W would not go through it and Clive wouldn’t come back (electric bike). 

Photos by Mike G
The garden centre did us proud as it was very busy with people sunning themselves this time.  Well we got 3 benches easily outside for us to sit.  Later Andy B did say the reason was they were directly in the sun and had no parasols, not like everybody else's, bless us! This is where I knew some of the crew need carers to fetch cutlery, water, etc.  As I said the girls did us proud here, food came quickly, they got cutlery and water for some, obviously they have parents of the same ilk.  We then set off for home when our leader asked if we would like tea and cake at Hanmer lake, soft question really!  This is where I realise some of the older generation shouldn’t drive, those of us there know what I mean - old lady etc parking in the middle of a junction due to us being in her parking spot then detouring to swerve at us and shouting - she loves us I think!!!!!

Well we got going back to Meadow Lea and our separate ways, I know some peeled off for home earlier. Anyway it was a fantastic day, again good mileage 60 plus, then everyone had extra to home, So cheers to Andy W for superb route, Andy B from Mold, George, Dave M, Dave P, Neil, Mike G, Fiona O'Keefe plus her partner who’s name I can’t remember, sorry, it sounded Welsh.  I think North Wales police had an easy day, due to all our Welsh members meeting at the cafe first off.


Saturday, 3 August 2019

1st August 2019: Burlton (mod)

An absolute host of CER members turned up for the moderate ride, comprising of Clive, Jim, Graeme, Andy B, Fiona, Neil, Dave H, Trevor, Steve T, Keith and George. And we were joined by two guest riders, Jerry and Peter who I hope were made to feel welcome. Peter came equipped with an e-bike, so it seems this mode of cycling is gaining pace – literally!

After some discussion, it was agreed that we would follow a route to The Burlton Inn at Burlton, originally devised by Dave H and last ridden in August 2017, which I had uploaded onto my phone ‘just in case’. So it was with a degree of trepidation that I lead this phalanx of riders out of Holt to Tilston via Crewe-by-Farndon. From there we rode to Threapwood by way of Chorlton Lane, stopping occasionally to a) check the route and b) to make sure we hadn’t lost anyone. We had a longer stop at Tallarn Green so that Clive could put the route to Burlton onto his phone to make sure that, if the group got split up, then someone else would have the route. From Tallarn Green we cycled south-west to Drury Lane and across to Whitewell, an unusual, but quiet and scenic route. About 12 o’clock, Clive rang the pub to make sure that they could handle our large party, which they said they could, so it seemed that all would be well.

Pressing on through Fenns Bank, we came to Dobson’s Bridge. As Clive and Neil came round the corner and down the hill towards the bridge, there were two horses in the road coming up the other way. One of the horses was startled by their sudden appearance and reared up, almost unseating its rider. The rest of us went past as gently as we could to avoid upsetting the horse (and rider) any further. This was now prime Shropshire easy riding, wafting along in midsummer on well-surfaced roads running through lush green countryside. We were soon through Loppington and arrived at Burtlon just after 1 pm.

Reading Dave’s report of the ride in 2017, he said ‘The staff at The Burlton Inn were friendly. The eating environment is attractive, and the food is consistently very good. It took a while to prepare, because we were such a large group, but this pub is certainly one of our favourites.’ And it all held true on this visit, so it was nearer 2.30 by the time we’d posed for the group photo and got on our bikes again.

Photo by CA
By now the sun was shining and it was quite warm as we made our way back to Penley through English Frankton, Lyneal, Welsh Hampton, Breadon Heath and Tarts Hill. Just before we reached Penley, the ‘advanced party’ consisting of Steve T, Fiona, Neil, Andy B and Jerry stopped at a junction to wait for the others, but after several minutes, they didn’t show up. So we concluded the return route that Clive had put into his phone using ‘Plot a route’ must have taken them on a slightly different route. So we pressed on, assuming that they were well behind us, only to find them ahead on the road at Little Green!

The rest of the route was a brisk, familiar ride north through Holly Bush, Worthenbury and Shocklach, where Graeme and Jim left us for Malpas, the former for home and the latter for cat sitting which, funnily enough, he was doing 2 years ago on this same ride!

As we got closer to home on the road from Shocklach, the faster riders (Neil, Andy B and Jerry) pulled away from the ‘advanced party’, spurred on by the fact they we had been overtaken by two ‘proper’ cyclists. Steve T and George vainly tried to keep up and Keith and Fiona following on behind them. The rest of the group rode at their own pace, so our original phalanx was now quite scattered. On reaching Farndon, Clive, Trevor, Keith and Peter all headed for home and the rest arrived back at Cleopatra’s having clocked about 54 miles.

My thanks go to Dave H and Keith for acting as ‘tail-end Charlies’ so that none of this large group got lost or left behind and especially to Clive to doing the same thing, but also for his help on the navigation front. I couldn’t have done it without you!

See route map and/or gpx file download


1st August 2019 : Llangollen (brisk)

There were going to be four us of starting out on this route, but Clive saw some significant climbs in my route so went with the mods. Turned out a good choice considering I had meant a much easier climb out of Ceiriog; I had plotted the wrong road up but hadn’t noticed! I was asked about the lunch stop, (the Mill at Llangollen), but John keenly recommended the Special Welsh Rarebit at the canal-side tea room.

So myself, Ken and John set off in improving weather towards Chirk via the familiar route of Bangor on Dee and Overton. Passing the A5, we skirted Chirk by going to Weston Rhyn and along a delightful lane taking us into the scenic valley of the Ceiriog. Taking turns at the front due to a headwind we soon arrived at Pontfadog. A sharp right turn took us straight into double digit gradients, with some sections between 20 and 25%. A mile later and 800ft higher, we topped out with an impressive view of Llangollen and the limestone escarpment leading to our next climb, at World’s End.

To John’s relief, after bigging-up the proposed lunch, the rarebit in Llangollen was indeed excellent and spot-on cycling fodder. Soon, in increasingly hot sunshine, we set off up to the Panorama road. At the ford at the base of the climb, we chatted to a cyclist who said he had walked across due to the slippy algae on the concrete, so of course we rode across. I crossed first but then heard a splash behind to see Ken lying in the river with his bike on top! Naturally, when you see an accident like that, the first thing you do is get your camera. Fortunately un-injured (bruises perhaps?), Ken managed to pick himself and bike up before I was ready. I requested that he go back in and lie, with bike, in the stream, purely for accurate photo-journalism and the benefit of you good readers. I missed what he said, but I think the gist was a No!

After the rigours of the earlier climb, the climb out of Worlds’ End didn’t seem too bad, and we were soon flying across the moors above Minera with Llandegla Forrest to our left. On descending, John split off and turned left to go to Chester to pick his car up, we turned right then 2 miles later left down a very rough track to yet another ford. This was quite a deep one, so an easy decision to walk. 

We then passed down a beautifully wooded valley following the River Clywedog and Nant Mill. Abruptly emerging at the bypass, Ken navigated us through Wrexham, himself then to Gresford, me to Tilston.

An excellent days cycling with good banter aplenty, my route (Tilston to Tilston) was 58.5 miles with 3,850ft climbing, averaging 14.4mph. This route is 53 miles.


Photos NH and JW

Sunday, 28 July 2019

25th July 2019 : Nantwich (brisk)

Over the previous 48 hrs ‘Whats App’ chats confirmed that the brisk group would be low on numbers for Thursday’s ride from Rose Farm. So a decision was made that the remaining trio (myself, Ivan and John W) would start from Meadow Lea. For several days the Met Office had forecast Thursday to be the hottest day of the year, in the region of 30c, so our discussion over coffee determined our best option would be a moderate paced ride towards Nantwich.

We left at 11:00hrs and headed out towards Guilden Sutton. Here, a buzzard swooped low over our heads, glided down to the road  directly in front of us and picked up a mouse that was hiding in the roadside grass. It was an impressive sight from one of our most common raptors but it was a shame that we couldn’t capture it on photo.

After crossing the busy A51, we rode at reasonably brisk rate through Brown Heath and Christleton. Riding past Eaton Golf Club, we saw Bryan Wade then a few minutes later Andy Barber both, presumably, returning early from Rose Farm. Heading on through Greenlooms, we  joined Cycle Route 70 and followed it to Tiverton  before passing the very empty and sad looking Wild Boar Hotel. We continued the brisk pace through Bunbury  to Burland where we  turned left along the main A534 into Nantwich.

The lunch venue was The Bowling Green pub, a venue not previously visited by the CER .We elected to eat inside to keep cool, the heat outside was now oppressive and around the 30 degrees. The Bowling Green is more of a drinker's pub with a limited choice of food, but they had two draught beers on tap and the  food was reasonably priced and  served promptly. Over lunch we deliberated over our return route, the options being via Wettenhall or  Wrenbury/Tattenhall. We chose the latter.

Unlocking our bikes, the soaring heat felt as though it was burning everything and we were keen to get going but John managed to become entangled in a climbing rose! I know the saying is a rose between two thorns but in this case he was ‘a thorn between two roses’ (Sorry John ,but the roses were really lovely!) which you can see in the  photo.

Leaving Nantwich we followed the cycleway alongside the river to join Cycle Route 74 through  to Ravensmoor and Wrenbury. The canal bridge by the Dusty Miller was up allowing time for another photo. Leaving the canal behind, we were all now taking a turns on the front enabling each of us to benefit from the draught  while maintaining the speed. Tattenhall arrived in quicktime and after a brief chat Ivan and John decided that they would accompany me through to Rossett before making their way back to Chester.

Of course, it would have been unforgiveable to pass Cleopatra's without stopping for drink and cake but as soon as our orders were placed the thunder and seriously heavy rain started. Unable to wait around any longer, we set off on the last leg along heavily flooded roads with zero visibility in pelting rain. 

Arriving home totally soaked but actually still quite warm I had completed 104km at an average of 26kmh. Ivan and John will have recorded similar figures. Thanks guys for a hot , wet, and  very good day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos ID

Friday, 26 July 2019

25th July 2019: Audlem (mod)

Ten of us turned up at Rose Farm for today’s meet. Jim and Bryan were out for a short ride, Andy B was in for a short fifty, Steve H in civvies was unfortunately still suffering from sciatic nerve issues (Get well soon). The remainers containing Andy W, Dave H, Steve T, Dave P, Bob, and myself set out for a hot, sweaty ride with thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon return.

Where are we going? What was the rallying cry. Ravensmoor and Norton in Hales were mentioned and I suggested Audlem. Audlem it is, you can lead, that means writing the report and logging the route.

Of we went going via Oulton Park following the sun at a pace so the ’Chatter Box Club’ could have a full discussion on the meaning of life, cycle equipment and other issues. Near Calveley, Andy W decided to return home. At Nantwich we had a tour of the water park before heading south via the A530 and Hack Green where a warm southerly head wind was experienced. Copious amounts of water were consumed.

Our arrival at The Lord Combermere coincided with a number of others all wishing to eat. A long wait was had for the food, and whilst enjoying a drink our discussions ventured onto the demise of the Royal Navy and as we were gentlemen of mature years ’Our Ailments’. The food arrived and was excellent as was the Shropshire Gold.

I planned the route back a few minutes before we departed. It was to head almost due north running parallel with the predicted thunderstorms (I hoped). As we passed through Sound a storm was ahead of us but farther west. The roads were wet and with the heat and evaporation, it became extremely humid. On through Brindley, at Bunbury, Bob departed from us whilst the remaining four returned via Tarporley, stopping for a coffee at the Fire Station café before returning to Rose Farm. Overall about 45 miles covered in dry weather, for those cycling from Chester area 60 miles plus.


Friday, 19 July 2019

18th July 2019: Kinnerton (leisure)

‘Unusual incident on cycle ride’

No it wasn’t Dave setting off without forgetting something, but more of that later!  The three of us, Dave H, Trevor and myself for various reasons were only up for a short ride on Thursday and decided to take the back lanes round Lower Mountain and Golley down to Rossett and then back to Chester, which would be about 30 miles from Guilden Sutton.

All appeared to be going well as we started dropping down past Shordley when we came across a chap in the middle of the road waving us down. He was carrying a petrol powered blower, and proceeded to ask us to carry our bikes as he hadn’t finished blowing the thorns off the road from the cutter up ahead. Naturally we were pleasantly surprised, even astonished at such consideration for ourselves, especially as we had had a couple of occasions to remonstrate with fellow road users earlier. A considerate farmer - now that is unusual. It was about this time that Dave realised that he had left his drink bottle in the café, which was now a considerable distance away, uphill. Fortunately drinks bottles are cheap so we agreed to continue downwards.

We took the old main road back towards town then swung back towards Kinnerton for lunch. Arriving at the pub, Dave realised that his car keys were also with the bottle, which we confirmed with a quick phone call. Plan B was put into action and after lunch, which was decidedly un-appealing, we set off up Kinnerton Old Road and back to Hawarden. Arriving back at the café we had reached our planned 30 miles, but at least the return was mainly downhill. With a pleasant tail wind we soon returned to Guilden Sutton having done 42 miles - we could have gone with the moderates but it wouldn’t have been as much fun!


18th July 2019: Caerwys (mod)

By 10:15, The Gallery coffee shop was packed out. In addition to the 15 (yes, 15!) Easy Riders, there was also another large group (walkers?), so you could barely hear yourself think, let alone hear what anyone was saying to you. We split into Brisk (5), Moderate (7) and Leisure (3) groups, the ‘Mods’ consisting of yours truly, Andy B, ‘the e-bikers’ (Bryan and Graeme) Dave Pipe and Neil, who had brought with him a guest rider, Fiona, who normally rides with Marford Gresford Velo Club.

After some discussion about possible destinations, steepness of hills and distances, it was agreed to ride out to The Piccadilly at Caerwys, one of our favourite pubs. So we set out by our usual route, climbing up through Buckley and Sychdyn, which got everyone nicely warmed up in the morning sunshine. On reaching the narrow lanes around Mynachlog, we deviated half way up the very steep climb, going left along the lane to reach the B5123 at Tyddyn-y-gwynt. This lane is less steep, but you still have to climb the same amount in the end! We paused to re-group near Rhosesmor (re-grouping was quite a thing today), only to find that Dave P was ahead of us and not behind as I had thought!

Climbing further through Rhes-y-cae and Pen-Ucha’r Plwyf we had finally gained enough altitude to give us a nice downhill run across the B5121 and then up the little short-cut lane to Babell, where we re-grouped once more. At Pant we go straight on to avoid the steep hill near Caerwys Hall and approach Caerwys from the north. Incidentally, Andy asks how steep that road really is; perhaps we’ll go that way next time.

For once it was warm enough for us to sit outside at The Piccadilly – see photo taken by a friendly waiter. As usual the food was good and the ‘light bites’ substantial. 
Photo Steve T

Suitably replenished, we head north-west from Caerwys, crossing the A55 at Pen-y-cefn by zig-zagging through several layers of Armco barrier as we do so. This has to be one of the most awkward road crossings that we use. Passing through Chwitfford and Gorsedd, we pressed on through Brynford to begin the climb up the Halkyn Mountain. Reaching Windmill, we pause to admire the views over the Dee estuary and the Cheshire Plain. We start our descent down Middle Mill Road, passing the now-famous location of my ‘off’ 16 months ago. Another minor diversion from the usual route takes us over Wat’s Dyke and on to the minor road leading into Northop.

From here we take the road past Northop Hall and down to Ewloe. In the process, we lose Fiona, as she gets stuck behind some traffic coming around a mini-roundabout. Re-grouping at a bus stop, Neil and Fiona head for home and the rest of us decide to go for a cuppa at The Hawarden Estate Farm Shop.

‘Only’ 40 miles, but with 3000 feet of climb and at an average (moving) speed of 12.5 mph, this was quite a strenuous ride for the ‘mods’.  The batteries of the e-bikes still had charge left in them, even if the legs of the rest of us did not. Thanks to Neil for introducing us to Fiona; we hope that she enjoyed the ride and that she’ll come along again soon for a ride with ‘the OAPs’!


Thursday, 18 July 2019

18th July 2019 :Trevor (brisk)

A usual ride from The Gallery tea rooms at Hawarden would be out towards North Wales but today Clive suggested a ride to Trevor with lunch at the Sun public house.

So, the brisk riders today loaded up their Garmins with the route and, led out by Clive with Ivan, John W, Nick and Ken in tow, we head out of Hawarden for the rough ascent to Bilberry Wood. Navigating the non-cycle friendly stile, we cross over the A55 and pass through Penymndd.

Hope and Caergwle are soon behind us before the continuous climbing through Bryneg and up to Rhosllanorchrugog. The route is still upwards heading for the Panorama walk. The lanes are good riding and not busy and when we pass the Prospect café, the scenery is breath-taking today looking over the Vale of Llangollen with Dinas Bran looking down over Llangollen.

Nearly at the top
We take an exit off the walk and head back down into town and join the very busy tow path with pedestrians and the barges and make our way to our lunch stop. The Sun Inn was as accommodating as usual. It was Ken’s birthday today (one off that well known Beatles track) so a celebratory round and a good lunch was had. Happy Birthday from the Brisk group Ken, and cheers.

Back on our bikes and onto the canal path, its towards Cefn-Mawr and the usual route for Ruabon and Bersham. Whisked through Wrexham by Clive with all his knowledge of tracks, we haul our bikes across the pedestrian crossing bridge over the A5156 and pass the Pant-yr-Ochain. This was a coincidence as it was in a conversation with our club leader at the start of today’s ride from Hawarden.

At Gresford, we stop for a coffee at Alf Jones cycles cafe. We say farewell to our birthday boy in Rossett as us four head on to Dodleston. Nick peels off to head back for his car at Hawarden. Clive, John and I continue to Ferrymans Lane where we go our own way home.

An excellent route and company. The route as a round trip would be 50 miles to and from the café but riding out from Chester an average of 60+ miles covered and 3317ft of ascent but it all equals out with the descents!! - as we’re so often told.

A good day out for the Brisk group.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photo by KP

Sunday, 14 July 2019

11th July 2019: Dunham Woodhouses (mod)

Secure, inexpensive parking remains a problem at this venue. Steve Tan and I found  a suitable position alongside Hatch Mere. It was good to meet Graeme face to face at last. Trevor and Graeme had other commitments on the day, so the moderate riders were Bob, Keith, Steve T, Neil and myself.

We decided to try one of Ivan's favourite, cheap beer haunts: The Vine at Dunham Woodhouses. The route towards Knutsford, via Great Budworth, was familiar, but Steve had discovered a route under the new road which avoided the usual dangerous crossing of the A556 at Holehouses. At Knutford we headed north through the Deer Park at Tatton. Another route now was possible, because of the new by-pass, and we were able to swoop through the pretty village of Rostherne and head straight for Little Bollington. We were tempted by The Swan with Two Nicks, a familiar and trustworthy venue, but continued in order to try The Vine, and perhaps catch Ivan and John.

Ivan and John were a little soggy, having arrived before opening time and catching a heavy shower. Then Clive arrived, having made a fast, late run from home. It was very pleasant to be together, and the service was indeed very friendly, as promised by Ivan. I can't vouch for the cheap ale, as I didn't think it would help my recent gallstone issues!

The return route was via the Trans Pennine Trail, and a path through long grass to Lymm centre, of which Ray Hardman would not have approved. From Lymm it was my original back route via Sworton Heath, and the lacework of tiny lanes north-west of Arley Hall. Somewhere near Cogshall Hall there was the magnificent sound of a bird that Steve identified as a Song Thrush. Keith peeled off for Runcorn near Crumleyheath Farm. We headed for Acton Bridge via Little Leigh. The double slog: up from the river, and then up to Norley, this time via Cookson Green, is not an end-of-ride challenge that Bob relishes, which I can totally empathise with. Nevertheless, we had enjoyed some lovely, quiet Cheshire lanes, pretty villages, Tatton Park, and a new lunch stop. All at an easy pace for 47 miles in good company.                                                     

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 13 July 2019

11th July 2019 : Dunham Woodhouses (brisk)

Today is a Delamere Café start and I meet John W at the Mickle Trafford end of the Greenway to ride out. Riding out via the A56 to Manley, it is a nice surprise to find Dark Ark Lane has been completely re-surfaced; a good start to our ride then along the undulations of Delamere road to Hatchmere and the station café.

The Brisk group had met up on Tuesday and enjoyed a Clive route to the Leopard pub at Nantwich, so today Nick had ridden out for a coffee before riding back home and Clive was expecting to meet up at our lunch destination The Vine at Dunham Woodhaouses. The Mod’s were also discussing this as their venue and route master and club secretary Mr Heath was map setting as John W and I set off.

From Hatchmere it was the usual route out via Crowton and Acton Bridge. Passing the Leigh Arms (once a lunch stop!!) we ride uphill to Little Leigh and Antrobus. After High Leigh we head over to Broomedge. We were passed by a breakaway sprinter on the road before the crossroads and after he had passed us, we stepped on the pedals and whizzed passed him before having to brake for the lights. He then enjoyed staying on the rear of our wheels before peeling off near Woodhouses.

We arrived at the Vine at 11:40 and the premises was shut so a couple of extra couple miles around the village ensued before arriving back for our lunch. As we were waiting for our apple crumble pudding the Mods arrived and also Clive.

In the Vine- waiting for lunch

It was good for both groups to meet up for lunch at the same venue. Clive was soon fed and watered and the three of us head back for home leaving the remainder to enjoy their first visit to this Robinsons hostelry. We head out towards passing under the canal bridge and the track which passes by another venue The Swan with Two Nicks. We follow Clive’s route out from Booth Bank and it’s a shorter ride via Sworth Heath, Appleton then to Hatton and Preston Brook.

We take the main A56 from Frodsham back to Mickle Trafford, where Clive and John head for home. A round trip distance of 64 miles was covered (Delamere route was 48miles as a circular) and the day’s weather was generally dry (arrived home dry) but we had suffered a couple of showers during our adventure today.

A good ride ride again and no incidents. Thanks to John and Clive for their company today.


Photo ID

Friday, 5 July 2019

4th July 2019: Harmer Hill

I’d found a route that Clive had led last August from Chirk to The Bridgewater Arms at Harmer Hill and had loaded it onto my phone ‘just in case’. This turned out to be a good thing, as the CER group gathered at The Castle Bistro consisted of me, George, Trevor, Andy B, Graham and Neil, with neither our usual moderate ride leaders nor any of the brisk lads present. Neil had ridden out the 27 miles from home and declared that he was worn out and would only be having a coffee and then riding back home. So that left the 5 if us asking ‘where are we going today’?

So, Harmer Hill it was. We set off via Weston Rhyn and down the B road to Oswestry. Entering Oswestry, I found some difficulty in seeing the thin blue line on my Viewranger map and so we were soon swept up in the one-way system around the town. Looking closely at Clive’s original route, it seems that there’s a very direct route through which puts you on the road out towards Morda, but we missed that and spent quite a while working out which way to go. I must ask Clive how he did it.

Eventually, we were on Weston Lane and heading across the A483 at Mile Oak and thence on to Maesbury and Maesbury Marsh. On reaching the busy A5 at Weirbrook the map showed us going straight on, but there was no road on the opposite side of the A5! Fortunately, Trevor remembered that you go through a gap in the hedge opposite (another Clive dodge?) which puts you on the old B- road out towards Wykey and the PGL  Holiday Camp at Stanwardine.  The route here has quite a few steepish climbs which allowed Graham’s e-bike to show its impressive paces. Taking the B5067 out of Baschurch, we turn off at Walford Heath and, after a short run along the A528, we soon find ourselves at The Bridgewater Arms.

The barmaid (landlady?) didn’t seem to take too kindly to 5 scruffy, sweaty cyclists appearing in her nice pub and ordering our drinks and food had the feeling about it of appearing in front of the headmistress. However, with the offer of two meals for £8.95 and food quickly served, we were not unhappy with the outcome.

We were soon on our way on what was now a very warm and sunny afternoon. Unlike Clive last year we did take the back way through Myddle to Burlton and what a beautiful little lane it is, under the sandstone cliffs.

Loppington and Cockshutt follow in quick succession. At Lee, Trevor decides to leave us in order to put in some the extra miles as training for the Bert Bailey Memorial ride that he and George are doing this Sunday – good luck. lads.  We soon reach Tetchill, after which there’s the long climb up to Frankton Hill. Then along the back lanes through New Marton to St. Martins, where the parish church bells are ringing as we passed through. Then we navigate the busy roundabout at the A5 and take the B road into Chirk with Chirk Bank offering us a final challenge for the day.

The run back took us less than 2 hours, possibly because I didn’t get us lost as much! 50 miles ridden on a grand day with excellent company. I hope my fellow riders will forgive my navigational mishaps – I’ll have to see if I can make the thin blue line a bit thicker next time so that it’s easier to see.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 28 June 2019

27th June 2019: Hodnet (mod)

We gathered at the Ice Cream Farm on a day forecast to be warm and sunny throughout – what a change from recent weeks. It was good to see a couple of faces who hadn’t been around for a while: Andy W and Bob.  Also, there were David M, Andy B, Trevor, Neil, myself and a new member Graeme. On such a lovely day it was surprising to see no brisk riders, and none of the usual suspects among the mods. David M and Andy W went their own ways, which left a riding group of six.

Given the weather, I had in mind a longish ride to The Bear at Hodnet. This met with approval from Bob and Trevor as preparation for their upcoming Bert Bailey ride, and Graeme, on his electric bike, was interested to see how his battery power would hold up. We set out for Tilston, and then to avoid the hill into Malpas (in honour of the absent Dave H), we used Cholton Lane to approach the town from the west. Continuing through Higher Wych, we arrived in Coton which was to have been an alternative destination in case of any difficulties.  All were happy to continue, and so we continued through Prees and up the hill to Marchamley. We sped downhill into Hodnet and The Bear, having covered 32 miles and most of the day’s hills.

The Bear calls itself “an unpretentious gastro pub”, and as usual we received a good welcome and decent food and drink. There were questions about the pub’s history, which we couldn’t answer at the time, but the following comes from the Bear’s website:
“The Bear at Hodnet is said to date back at least 500 years and is said to still contain the passages used to hide the monks as they came from the church. These tunnels, ending in what is now called the bear pit, may also have been used to transport ale underground in order to avoid tax levied on ale transported over land. Today’s modern bear pit was created by an enterprising publican in the 1970's and contained two young bears until common sense allowed their release. It is believed, however, that during the 16th century the Inn may have had its own bear pit in what is now the car park. The owner allegedly kept the bears in a pit below the bar. It is said that that regulars fed the bears food and drink and some of the bears are said to have died from alcohol poisoning.  Apparently bears are infamous for their love of beer but cannot process it to quite the same effect as some of our regulars. The modern bear pit is now contained in an area known as 'Jaspers' named after the ghost of Jasper Neilsen, a Scandinavian merchant, who died of hypothermia in around 1590 after becoming intoxicated and having an argument with the landlord.”

It was time to leave. Graeme had used 2 fifths of his battery so would probably be OK for the shorter and less hilly return. We headed towards Market Drayton and used pavements to avoid the busy Ternhill roundabout, before striking off through quiet lanes and the villages of Longford and Longslow. Then we headed northwards past the impressive gatehouses of Shavington Park, continuing through Aston and into Wrenbury. In the absence of any cafes on the return route, we paused at Wrenbury Village Stores, and enjoyed our drinks and food sitting on their forecourt. Here it became clear how hot the sun was.
Photo by Steve H

The way was now by Cholmondley Castle and Bickerton.  Graeme decided that it was time to head directly for home in Malpas with concerns that his battery would not take him back via the ICF, and Andy left to take the A534 and head towards Mold.  The rest of us took the route by Brown Knowl and Bolesworth Castle to avoid Harthill, and so returned to our start.

We’d covered a total of 61 miles on a beautiful summer’s day.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 21 June 2019

20th June 2019: Special long ride to Stone (brisk & mod)

Brisk Ride

The skies were ominously dark as we all set off from Waverton at 0800. There was a brisk ride led by yours truly, and a moderate ride led by Steve H. However, as there was no rush to get to Cafe Bon Sol in Whitchurch, we all set off together towards Tattenhall. It became clear at the back road to Bolesworth Castle that we should formally split up. The Brisk Group consisted of Ivan, Ray, Ken, Steve T, Nick, and myself. Mike G decided to joins us as well just as John W appeared (he had not turned up at the start due to bike issues). So up and over the various hills with very black skies, we duck and dive our way to Bon Sol just before the rain starts. The cafe had opened up a little early to accommodate us and bacon baps were very much in evidence. 

As we are ready to leave, the Mods arrive ready for their protein top up. Mike G decides to swap teams as we head out to Ightfield and on to Market Drayton. Nick gets a rear wheel puncture as it starts to rain, but tyre fixed, we seem to outrun the rain. There is then a long run down quiet lanes to Eccleshall. Out through pretty Eccleshall, it is now a long loop north passing HMP YOI Drake and Swynnerton Training camp (a WW2 former munition factory, now Army training camp) via Cold Meece and Yarnfield (where we have ridden to in April 2016). It’s really downhill now into the suburbs of Stone at 51 miles, 1230 and The Poste, a Wetherspoons pub. 

As ever Wetherspoons doesn’t disappoint and we are soon fed and watered and preparing to leave as the Mods arrive. The weather hasn’t warmed up and rain threatens as Ivan leads us onto Barlaston and the start of 12 miles of canal side riding. Both Ivan and I notice that there has been a lot of housing and offices built where derelict factories once were. We had both been on the June 2011 Long Ride to Stone (with Mike G) and really noticed the difference. We pose for a few photos along the way, ending up at the Harecastle Tunnels - one now working, the other closed but both 1.5 miles long.

Photos by Nick and Ken

It's a long pull up to the busy A34 roundabout at Talke, at 669 ft the highest point of the ride surprisingly. Downhill into Alsager, we are soon out and crossing the railway at Oakhanger, eschewing the White Lion at Barthomley, on our way into Nantwich. An unconventional approach via St Mary’s churchyard finds us at Costa Coffee ready at 81 miles for a top up. We are all ready for the final familiar leg of 21 miles back to Waverton. Steve T, who threatened to jump ship at lunch, is still riding confidently as 101 miles comes up at nearly 1800. Surprisingly, there were 4500 ft of climbs! The Mods are 90 minutes behind us and just leaving Nantwich, and, as Steve has Dave H’s car keys, he joins Ken, Ivan and me for a pint in the Ring o Bells in Christleton. 

So a great day out, and my thanks to an enthusiastic riding group who took turns on the front right to the end. We managed to dodge heavy showers (as had been in Chester apparently) and only picked up a little rain - it could have been warmer, but hey almost the Summer solstice so why would we expect it to be sunny and warm!


Mod Ride

The mods rode the same ride as described above, so I add here only a few incidents that demonstrate the slick professionalism of our mod outings. Both groups were to cycle as one to the first stop at Whitchurch.  Unfortunately heading up to Brown Knowl, Dave H's front mech slipped sideways and necessitated a quick fix, but delayed 5 of us arriving at the cafe.

The rest of the morning was uneventful and we enjoyed the lanes to our lunch stop.  There was good value fare at Wetherspoons and after we took the long canalside ride, though I think we joined it a little earlier than the prescribed route. 

Photos by Mike G
Everything was uneventful until we left the cafe in Nantwich. But somewhere before Swanley bridge, Mike at the front and me as the last man lost touch with Keith, George and Dave. After waiting and some phone calls, Mike, Andy and I continued on the planned route, eventually arriving at our start point to find the rest of our group already there.  They had taken the more direct A41 for part of their return.

I think we all enjoyed the diversity of the route, the well-planned stops and our luck with the weather.  Many thanks to Clive for his planning and organisation.


Thursday, 13 June 2019

13th June 2019 : Whitchurch (mod)

There had been heavy rain and high winds the two days previously, so the Long Ride was postponed to the following week. Thursday's forecast was for yet more rain and all-day at that. I decided to ride out to Cleopatra's and see if anyone had decided to venture out; if not, I would have a Full English and ride home again. So I was somewhat surprised to see Bryan W, Keith and John W already there. Dave M soon turned up, but was out for coffee only.

The inevitable question arose, and “No”, no one had a prepared route. Did we want to ride?, “Yes”, but no too far. So I decided upon the Whitchurch area and used the new features of ViewRanger to plot a route straight over the OS map display. There were questions about how many flooded lanes we would find. I was reminded of a ride in Jan 2013 when Roy ended up riding calf deep in the lanes close to the River Dee at Holt.

So we set off up Wetreins Lane bound for Tilston and thence to Chorlton and Oldcastle Heath to emerge on the south side of Malpas. Brian explained that as his new electric Cannondale was “limited” to 15.5 mph under power, he would have to peddle hard just like the rest of us if we went much faster. The silent powertrain helped him up and down the vales of the Wyches as we peddled on to Iscoyd Park. A shimmy around Whitewell, found us on the way to Fenn Bank.

Up to now we had been through quite a few large puddles, but overall the roads and lanes weren't too bad. We turn left up a recently resurfaced narrow lane towards Alkington. Cresting the rise there is a large puddle. As leader, I venture through and proceed to have my “Roy” moment as the water comes up and over the front chain ring! The others are somewhat reluctant to follow and you can almost hear Bryan thinking about the water resistance of his power motor in the crank.

It's not me!
I shout instructions for a detour and head off myself to meet them about 2 miles away. We are soon into Whitchurch and now not going to the Wheatsheaf pub as I had earlier indicated. So we head out via the Tilston Road to Alderford Lake cafe. There are a surprising number of people here, and I find later on from Facebook that the lake had filled up alarmingly after all the heavy rain. You can wild water swim here and it was recently used for the swimming stage of a local Triathlon.

Lunch comes pretty quickly but I am denied a second time as the Full English is not available after 1130. The food however is good and for my three co-riders, it is their first time here. I spend time plotting a near direct route home. So out back through Whitchurch and onto the A41where we shimmy our way either side of it to No Mans Heath. Out via Ebnal Lane, we are soon back to Tilston and Wetreins Lane. The loop around would have been 42 miles

We all wanted to go directly home, so continued via Barton and the very long corkscrew lane out of Coddington to Churton. John W whizzes off home as Bryan suggest a coffee at the village cafe in Aldford. I'm up for it, but Keith decides to head back to Christleton and thence Runcorn bound.

Bryan leads me back into Chester where I discover we have all ridden 60% of the planned 100 miler. You may have noticed I haven't mentioned the forecasted rain. Well, we did have light rain on and off all day, but it didn't spoil the adventure at all.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

6th June 2019: Aston (mod)

A reasonable sized group of riders met in the morning sunshine at Rose Farm, including prospective new member Graham who had ridden up from Malpas. In view of a promised wet afternoon the moderates decided to follow the tried and tested route to the Bhurtpore Arms and hopefully get back fairly dry. Led by Dave P and Liz on the tandem, and myself, we were joined by David M, Keith, and Andy B, and set off towards Cotebrook, Oulton Park and Reaseheath College. A slight hitch appeared in the plans in the form of a road closure on the lane just after the college but in true cyclist manner we decided to ignore it and hope we could push through. No chance - just prior to the canal bridge we were met with a barrier manned by a “jobsworth” who resolutely refused to allow us to push our bikes across his nice new tarmac. We eventually took the alternative which was to push our bikes across the nearby field [I’m sure the corn will re-grow] up some steps, under a line of barbed wire and onto the canal tow path. From there we went to the marina and back on route. Down to Acton, Ravensmoor, Wrenbury and arrived at the pub at a reasonable time.

Suitably refreshed David M set off early, hoping to get home before the rain and we followed some time later. Back to Wrenbury, Chorley, Faddiley, Bunbury and Beeston. The group split after the hill up from the Shady Oak, still in the dry much to our surprise, with the tandem and Keith going back to Utkinton and Andy and myself heading up through Greenlooms back to Chester. The rain started just as I got through Christleton, sadly promising a wet end to the day for Andy and probably Keith too.
About 40 miles for the official ride - longer for others!


Friday, 7 June 2019

6th June 2019 : Alsager (brisk)

Would it rain – that was the question – answer later!

Ivan had finally put his paint brush down and rode out with John W and myself to Rose Farm for a “gentle ride”. Well most of the pace was at 20mph so this was going to be the order of the day!

There were quite a few assembled today, so I led a brisk ride out to Alsager with Nick, John W and Ivan accompanying me. We got off on time, or would have done if my rear wheel hadn't deflated during coffee time. It was quickly sorted by John W – no doubt plenty of experience care of those massive Audax rides. Thanks John !

So out we go down the usual dry lanes to Wettenhall and Church Minshull and onwards to Bradfield Green. We motor through Coppenhall and thence into a few new lanes around Maw Green. Ivan's local knowledge was invaluable here. We are soon out of Haslington and riding Holmshaw Lane to Oakhanger.

We head north on Nursery Road to run right by the M6 then crossing over to arrive near The Plough pub in Alsager. Again Ivan's local knowledge confirms that the Wilbraham Arms is a better choice. So a mile or so later we are in the pub ordering up.

The food here was fine but the service longer than expected. However we were out of the shower that wetted the roads. Lunchtime banter was as varied as ever, but it was time to go as a menacing large black cloud seemed to be heading for us. We exit via Bechton Lane on our way to Wheelock Heath. Then there is a 6 mile long run down small lanes to Wimboldsley.

We can't avoid Winsford, so I navigate through various housing estates to finally leave the town behind by going down bumpy Blakeden Lane; this runs behind the Cheshire Police HQ. It is now an easy run back to Utkinton via Oulton Mere. Here Nick peels off homewards as we three head up the hill towards Utkinton.

I decide to have a coffee at Rose Farm as it is only 1500. Dave M had kindly offered to sort out my rear mech so I meet up with him for what turns out to be a transmission transplant. As I leave there is that big menacing black cloud again. So I head off bound for the other side of Chester. At Christleton the roads are awash and so it was so all on my route home via the A41 but thankfully no actual rain.

So only 45 miles around today but at over 16mph, and mid 70's mileage for me when I'm back home. How we missed a downpour I don't really know! A very useful workout for next week's 101 miler to Stone.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 31 May 2019

30th May 2019: Gwaenysgor (mod)

There were eight of us gathered at Hawarden. Spiros was as friendly as ever, and told us of meeting Harry the Bike and his wife in York! Some had battled against a strong wind in order to arrive in time. Jim was off to Malpas, and John was preparing for a mega ride, so he was doing a little loop of his own, probably taking in Merthyr Tydfil! It was going to be one group, comprising the two Steves, Clive, Ken, Andy and myself. Steve Haywood was good enough to lead. Heavy showers were likely, and it was certain to be really windy on the tops, so our destination was open to adjustment en route.

On reaching Northop we spurned the challenging climb left, and headed past the horticulture college before climbing up the escarpment and reaching Halkyn Helygain. Through Whitford we turned left for further Welsh steep hill pain in order to reach the pretty village of Llanasa. This area is very attractive, and the weather was quite warm and brightening up.

The service and food were of the usual reliable high standard set by the Eagle and Child at Gwaenysgor. After lunch we went up the road to take in the panoramic views high above Prestatyn. As a child, I remember having happy family holidays at Prestatyn Holiday Camp, which was very Hi-de-Hi! Until fairly recent times the old air control tower was prominent from this vantage point (the camp had been an R.A.F. base originally). I remember putting a threepenny piece in the turnstile in order to climb the steps to the top of the tower. Even in those days I enjoyed riding around the camp on a four wheeled social bike with a bench seat for three. My dad was usually the fall guy to help with the pedalling.

Photos by Steve T

Back to the present, we didn't fancy the 33% descent ahead, so turned around to make for Trelawynd at the far side of Gop Hill. Our return took us over the A55, and alongside the field which is often flooded with the yellow of blooming daffodils. Our route continued through Babell, but after  crossing the B5121 we turned south, dropped down to Rhes-y-Cae and had a hard, longish climb up to Rhosesmor (at least that is where I think we where!) We continued above Northop, across to Alltami, through Buckley  and finished with a fast run down the wooded curves of the A550 to the Hawarden car park. A very hilly day, but in finer weather than we  had expected. Thanks to everyone for their patience with my relative lack of pace. I am now three days into a diet!
See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 24 May 2019

23rd May 2019: Alderley Edge (mod)

The sunshine brought out quite a few members to Delamere Station.  Dave H, Steve T, Andy, Neil, George and myself were all intending to ride. Ken and Dave M had just ridden out for coffee. No brisk group today, and there hasn’t been a brisk ride since the start of the month – where are they all?

Dave H had inspired today’s destination by talking about The Wizard at Alderley Edge on previous rides: its full name is The Wizard of Edge.  So it was that we set off via Acton Bridge and Great Budworth before heading NE to skirt High Legh and aim for Bucklow Hill.  There followed a moment of navigational uncertainty when the plotted route didn’t match the roads around the new A556 and we appeared on the GPS to be riding through fields. We skirted around Tatton Park and then, around Mobberley, we lost a pair of riders!  The “follow my leader protocol” had broken down with Dave and George missing a left turn. We noticed their absence and after a wait, guessed where they must have gone. We retraced out ‘steps’ and chased after them. Re-united, we approach the start of the long hill up to The Wizard which we tackled in our own different ways. All assembled outside the pub except for Dave.  Steve T went to investigate and eventually, both appeared, Dave having suffered a jammed chain.

I think this might be our first club visit to The Wizard, and we were all very pleased with it. Although the sandwich menu was within our usual price range, many chose main menu items costing £13-£14.  Regardless the food was plentiful and of very good quality. Many people were out in today’s sunshine, including many cyclists, although the pub itself was relatively quiet.
Photos by Steve T
 Refreshed and replete, we started our return which followed our outward route for the first few miles. We descended the hill with care given a very bad surface hidden by shadows from the trees. At the base, Neil remembered he had left his Garmin back in the pub.  He re-ascended, while the rest of us sat in the sun and Steve took more photos.

Re-united we took the lanes south of Knutsford, through Ollerton, Lower Peover and Lach Dennis. Our usual route onward was closed, which we disregarded and had a very quiet ride without any other traffic, but also without any sign of roadworks. When we reached the cross roads with the A530, there were 3-way traffic lights.  We could only assume that our lane had been closed to avoid the need for 4-way traffic lights.

A little further on we stopped at Shipbrookhill Farm café for ice cream, cakes and drinks. We continued through Davenham, alongside the dual carriageway and into Hartford.  We looped north to get to Sandiway and Cuddington, passing the Forest View Inn and taking Gallowsclough Lane.  This takes a sharp right turn, but Dave suggested that, as it was dry, we try out the track through the forest rather than continuing. This took us over a mix of sandy and moderately steep short rises, before bringing us to the car park off Station Road, just a few hundred meters north of our start. This saved at least a couple if road miles, and I didn’t find it too bad, but others might prefer to take the more usual route.

A good ride to a new destination, with some interesting diversions in good weather.  We cycled 58 miles, except for Neil who added another 2 miles and 300 feet of climbing by his return to the pub.


Friday, 17 May 2019

16th May 2019: Llanymynech (mod)

Assembled at the Castle Bistro in the middle of Chirk were six Easy Riders: Dave H, Keith, Steve T, Clive, Dave M and myself.  Then for the first time in many meets, Dave P made a welcome return to our number.  Dave M was going to cycle back home, whilst the rest of us looked at something more challenging than our recent Chirk rides.  During the winter months, the mods had avoided the hills west of Chirk because of the weather.  Today, after a few warm sunny days, we were forecast a continuation, before the weather broke for the Friday.  The plan was to head to a familiar destination, the Bradford Arms at Llanymynech, but to approach it by a circuit through the hills and return over more level ground.

We set off up the Ceiriog valley, admiring the sunny green countryside and newly born lambs.  At Llanarmon DC, we paused to re-group before hitting the hills properly. We climbed steeply, before a cautious descent on narrow pot-holed lanes scattered with plenty of gravel.  Bypassing Llanrhaeadr, we followed the Tanat valley for several miles, before heading upwards again and then dropping to the Cain/Vyrnwy valley.

We entered Llanymynech and settled into the Bradford Arms.  The walls are decorated with some RAF memorabilia, and the landlord retired from the service, I think he told us, thirteen years ago to buy this residential pub. After posing for a photo we took again to the lanes.

Photo by Steve T

We headed east towards Ruyton XI Towns, avoiding the main road by meandering through several quiet lanes and villages to its south. We then cycled north towards Hordley on more peaceful decently surfaced lanes. Next it was up through the Franktons and Hindford to meet the St Martin’s road.  Descending the short hill, we crossed the major A5/A483 roundabout and headed up to Weston Rhyn.  This was followed by a short descent into the Ceiriog valley, before a final climb back to Chirk and our starting point.

Dave H, Steve T, Dave P and myself chose to refresh with drinks and food in the café, reflecting on the ride and enjoying being outside in the patio area.  We had completed 58 miles on an interesting and varied circuit through Wales and Shropshire. We had climbed over 1,000m and Steve T tells me our average speed was 12.8mph.


Friday, 10 May 2019

9th May 2019: Norton in Hales (mod)

Our start today was from the Ice Cream Farm, though the turnout was limited by a forecast of continuous, steady, persistent, interminable, endless rain. Dave M was out but not riding with us, which left Ken, Clive, Steve T, Bryan, George, Dave H and myself. Bryan was using today to try out his new very fine looking Canondale Synapse(?) e-bike.

I suggested a route towards Market Drayton.  If conditions improved, we could go all the way, if they worsened, we could stop at Audlem, and if they stayed the same, we would stop at Norton in Hales.  We headed out past Beeston Castle and through Bunbury and Haughton, before crossing the A534 at Brindley.  Here I shed the heavy burden of leadership, and Ken led us on through Ravensmoor and Sound to the outskirts of Audlem.   We’d been speeding along at a distinctly brisk pace and here we paused to consider our condition.  Ken, unsurprisingly not dressed for winter conditions was feeling the cold, and the battery assistance on Bryan’s new bike was cutting out (as the law requires it to do) whenever our speed went above 15.5mph. Believe it or not, brisk riders, these speeds were reached quite often in the absence of any real inclines and any adverse winds. I took the lead towards Norton in Hales and remedied both these problems by finding a series of long hills as we climbed towards Norton Wood Farm. Then we had a short speedy downhill to our destination.

The Hind’s Head has been visited by us several times before. We shed our damp clothes and settled down to some well-earned food and drink. As usual many topics were discussed, but we also ventured into the forbidden territory of Brexit. Be assured, no punches were thrown and no voices raised.

Soon it was time to move on. We headed past Shavington Park and northwards by the Bhurtpore. Then it was on past the Cotton Arms and the Dusty Miller, before crossing the main road by The Cholmondeley Arms. At Bickerton Ken left us, and we then climbed up to Harthill. The rain had become noticeably heavier as we approached the later stages of our ride. A fast descent followed by that annoyingly short but steep second climb brought Dave H to a halt as his chain came off. He and I caught the rest up by the entrance to Bolesworth Castle, except for Steve T who had sped ahead.  We turned right and made for the Ice Cream Farm.  No Steve T, but we didn’t have to worry as he soon arrived having taken the long way round via Tattenhall centre.  Despite the heavy rain at the end of the ride, the rest had been quite pleasant – you have to accept that cycling in the rain can be pleasant.  We had completed a round trip of 50 miles.


Sunday, 5 May 2019

2nd May 2019: Wrenbury (mod)

It was a wet start to the day but with the promise of better to come but how many would turn up for the ride? Eight riders braved the early weather although I must admit that because I live close to today's starting point I left my decision till late and by the time I left home the rain had stopped. Neil and George hadn't fared as well and Neil had come off worse having been caught in heavy rain on his ride from home and was deciding whether or not to head straight back there. Two of the riders were of the brisk variety and they set to do what brisk riders do while I suggested a ride of about 50 miles with lunch at the Cotton Arms at Wrenbury.

After our morning coffee six of us (Brian Mac, Neil, George, Dave H, Steve T and myself) set off down through Guilden Sutton to the A51 and across towards Waverton. Neil had decided to join us but Brian was only coming a short distance, having not done much cycling recently. We took the Martins Lane route towards Hargrave. Halfway down Brian's phone rang and rather than hold us he decided that would be as good a place as any to turn back and the rest of us carried on. With the wind behind us we made good progress through Huxley past Beeston Castle and onto Bunbury. Too early for a stop at Tilly’s, we pressed on through Brindley and Ravensmoor where we turned south to criss-cross the Llangollen Canal for the final stretch to Wrenbury.

The Cotton Arms was our chosen hostelry. The wide choice of real ales was wasted on us as most of us opted for the traditional lime (or blackcurrent) and soda. Neil was tempted by the ciders, however, and was impressed by his choice. The sun came out while we were dining but as we prepared for the ride home it was raining again. Fortunately, it had stopped by the time we were climbing back on to our bikes but as we turned out of the car park we were head on into a cold wind. A feature that would be with us for the rest of the ride.

Our return trip took us along the lanes past Cholmondeley Castle, over Harthill and thence to Tattenhall where Neil left us to make his way home.  With the wind against us progress had been a little slower than on the way out. Beyond Tattenhall we joined our outward route and followed it back, hoping that the twisting turns of the Martins Lane route would afford us some shelter from the wind. A forlorn hope as it turned out.

We arrived back at Meadow Lea having done about 48 miles. Not the best of weather but at least we had been lucky enough to miss the worst of the rain.