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Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Friday, 9 November 2018

8th November 2018: Llanymynech (mod)


Four moderate riders assembled in the now-named ‘Castle Bistro’ in Church Street, Chirk: Keith, Trevor, Bob and myself. The morning had started poorly with rain and low cloud on the hills. However by the time we were ready to leave, the rain was ceasing, although the day would remain murky and the lanes wet and muddy.  Our destination was the Bradford Arms in Llanymynech.

We took a common route out from Chirk, crossing the A5 roundabout and making for Hindford. Before we made it to Welsh Frankton, the long dormant curse of ‘Puncture Bob’ struck, and we stopped while he fixed his rear tyre.  While this was happening we watched several tractors pulling slurry tanks that were far too wide for the lanes pass by.  Next we saw a white builder's van speed towards us and stop.  “Have you seen a silver car?” they asked. Apparently the car had clipped their wing mirror and they were trying to chase it down. We couldn’t help them, though as we resumed our ride, we met them in their search again.  I think we were all grateful not to be the subject of their ire. We continued onwards through West Felton and Maesbrook, before joining the road into Llanymynech and cautiously driving through some fresh hedge cuttings.

Llanymynech is on the England Wales border. If the old Lion Pub had still been open we could have chosen between two bars in England and one in Wales. When many Welsh counties were “dry” on Sundays, you could always get served in the “wet” English bars.  We however were after a very much open pub.  We have visited the Bradford Arms several times before and were settled comfortably besides an open fire, while we all tucked into fish and chips. For some reason the conversation focussed on the energy industry – oil, nuclear and solar.

Soon it was time to leave and we tracked back through the hedge cuttings before heading north to Maesbury and approaching Oswestry through quiet lanes from the east.  For once we were ahead of school closing times and the traffic was light.  As we passed by the old hill fort, several riders remembered the altercation with the angry old man who tried to run us off the road on this year’s long ride. No such problems today, as we make our way towards Weston Rhyn.  A few miles out from the village, the curse strikes again, this time in the front tyre. Trevor leaves us to catch his train while repairs are made.  We exit Weston Rhyn via the High Street which takes us down to the Ceriog valley and a much more pleasant return to Chirk than the main road.

We head straight to the car park, where we meet the returning brisk riders. A good ride in reasonable conditions: 20 miles before lunch and 16 after.


SH

8th November 2018 : West Felton (brisk)

A showery damp day was  forecast by the Met Office and six riders turned up for the brisk ride, John W, John M, Ivan, Clive, Nick and myself. The ‘moderates’ planned a ride to the Bradford Arms at Llanymynech and, coincidently , the ‘brisk’ group, courtesy of Ivan, planned a ride to the Bradford Arms at Knockin, but  the day  became the day of the detours. 

The rain was falling as we left Chirk and headed up the Ceiriog valley and into Glyn Ceiriog. Turning left across the river, we climb to the high point of the day Graignant (350 metres) where we stopped to take a photo. Alas, the  autumn colours, although lovely,  just needed a little sunshine to make them spectacular. 

Yes, there is another hill over there
Onwards through Selattyn and before climbing the hill to the Old Racecourse, west of Oswestry, we came to a stop as our road was blocked due to  tree-felling operations .  We dismounted and carried the bikes past the obstruction before riding through various unpronounceable Welsh hamlets. On reaching the bridge over the canal and river about 1.5 km outside Llanymynech, we found the bridge closed for maintenance. The bridge repair operative made it very clear that no-one was going to pass. Even though, in our view, it looked as though we could dismount and walk across. A roadside discussion ensued to determine a diversion; this resulted in turning away from the bridge and heading into Four Crosses along the main road to rejoin our route in Llanymynech. This detour only added 4 km .

The road into Knockin was flat but John M was feeling a bit under the weather and struggling to keep up, so John W held back to keep him company while the rest of the group, totally unaware of John’s issue, carried on to the pub. On entering the Bradford Arms car park, it was evident that a large funeral wake was in progress and we were politely told that they could not accommodate us. After another discussion, we  decided to divert to the Queens Head at Queens Head although poor John did not relish the extra miles to the lunch stop.

Leaving Knockin we headed out through Woolston to West Felton where, at the crossroads,  the Punch Bowl inn came into view. We were relieved when the landlord confirmed that they were still serving food given it was 2pm and we had ridden 61 km. The Punch Bowl has a nice friendly atmosphere and everyone appeared to enjoy their lunch so it is venue well worth adding to the CER lunch list. 

We were back on the bikes by 3pm and heading to Rednall, here we  rejoined our original route. John M had recovered during lunch and we all cycled together for the remaining 22 km to Chirk. On arrival at Chirk, everyone went there separate ways; Clive and John M to their cars, Nick and myself opted for a coffee prior to our drive home, Ivan and John W chose to ride home rather than wait an hour for the train.

The original route is 86 km but because of all our detours we rode 84 km with 1199 meters of ascent, John and Ivan’s mileage was obviously a lot higher.

A lot happened today with plenty of disruption to our planned route.However, I subsequently took a closer look at the OS map which revealed the diversion we took at Llanymynech could have been shortened to just 400 mtrs by using a canal towpath and aqueduct to cross the River Vyrnwy!  

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo KP

Saturday, 3 November 2018

1st November 2018: Hanmer (mod)


All Saints Day began with steady rain, but by the time I’d ridden to the Ice Cream Farm, the clouds had cleared and the day promised to be dry with some sunshine and mild winds. Twelve Easy Riders turned up, the moderates comprising Jim, George, Mike G, David M, Neil (on his new bike), Steve T, Trevor and myself.  It was good to see Dave H also there, in civvies performing his club secretary duties, and also collecting choices and monies for the Christmas Lunch.  He needs to receive confirmation of attendance and at least the £5 deposit by 22nd November.

I had pulled a previous ride to Hanmer from the archive: a figure of eight with a return through Malpas and Brown Knowl. We started through Tattenhall, Barton and Threapwood, but were making good time and I therefore decided to divert eastwards and dip down through Lower Wych to avoid arriving too early at the pub.  As we travelled along some good surfaced lanes for a change, we split into two groups.  I remained in the slower group and we were surprised to arrive at the Hanmer Arms ahead of the others.  About 5 minutes later they arrived much muddied from their excursion through the lanes to Arowry, whilst we had taken the clean main road for the final mile or so.

The pub was quite busy but we were accommodated on a couple of tables and served relatively quickly.  As usual, there was a friendly welcome with good value food and drink. There appears to be a planning application for a large holiday home development behind the pub. These and caravan parks seem to be a way to keep many country pubs open when others are forced to close.

I modified our return plans to keep the overall route under 40 miles and to avoid what would have been a hillier return. We took the fairly direct route northwards through Tallarn Green, Shocklach and Clutton. At Sarn Bridge we find a mega-sized tractor going our way, confronting an even bigger one on the bridge.  We carefully keep well away from these monsters at they manoeuvre past each other. From Sarn Bridge we gradually shed riders, as they make their own ways home.  Eventually only Steve T, George, Jim and myself end up back at the Ice Cream Farm, to reflect on what had been a good autumn ride of 38 miles.


SH

Friday, 2 November 2018

1st November 2018 : Calverhall (brisk)

Despite the early showers, there were plenty of riders at the Ice Cream Farm but only 3 briskers. I had proposed a ride to Market Drayton but readily agreed to Clive’s amendments so as to make the Olde Jack pub in Calverhall our lunch destination. With John W making up the party, we headed off in the direction of Beeston, Bunbury and Alpraham. Clive was setting a good pace and we were soon sprinting along the short stretch of the A51 before turning off at Barbridge. Then after looping around the lanes, we cross the A51 and begin our approach to Nantwich. The route takes us through the west side of the town and through the park near the River Weaver. It was all very pleasant as we meandered along the shared pathway but suddenly Clive parted company with his bike and was flat on his back. Thankfully, he was back to his feet very quickly saying that all was well with him and his bike. We think his wheel skidded on the metal grating that runs for several metres alongside the path as it passes close to the river and under a bridge. 

Relieved that no damage had  been done, we leave Nantwich via the A530 but soon turn on to Coole Lane to coast along pretty lanes towards Audlem and without further incident to Calverhall. We enjoyed a warm welcome at the Olde Jack and were soon served our selection of baguettes and sandwiches. Conversation included the various apps available for route mapping and also Brexit. Unsurprisingly we were unable to come up with a solution to the question of the Northern Ireland backstop! 

Returning to the simpler question of getting home, we jumped on our bikes heading in a northerly direction. Keeping up a good pace we passed through Aston, Wrenbury, Cholmondeley and Bickerton. It was a bit of a grind up Harthill and we paused at the top to admire the view which on such a clear day included Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in the distance. We then raced downhill and up again before sprinting on to Tattenhall. Foregoing afternoon coffee at the Ice Cream Farm, we made our way home. A good run out in decent weather for November. Long may it last! 

The route to and from the Ice Cream Farm is about 55 miles but the three of us completed about 80 miles each (averaging 16 mph) including the return trip from home.

See route map and/or gpx file download

JM

Friday, 26 October 2018

25th October 2018: Woodbank (leisure)

Being unable to go on the special ride, I decided to have an amble up to Ness to see if anyone else had gone for coffee. Bryan W and Dave and Liz had the same idea so we all met on the Greenway and made our way to the Neston Marshes and the climb up to Ness gardens. We were a little late arriving for an official start so were surprised to see Mike G and Andy W just finishing their coffees when we arrived. Despite the pressure all around us to support the American abomination of Halloween, I was glad to see that no-one had disguised their helmet as a pumpkin and we set off for a relatively short ride towards Burton. Mike and Andy left us here to follow their own routes, so we continued up into Willaston where we joined the Wirral Way. Although only for a short distance we really enjoyed the quiet ride through the array of colours from the autumn leaves, but were soon back onto the lanes and heading for Ledsham and Capenhurst. Here we turned east to the A540 at Woodbank and the Yacht Inn.  Recently re-furbished to a high standard, with a new management, the car park had seemed fairly busy on a recent drive past so it seemed worth a try.

The menu was huge-a sort of Italian tapas offering lots of choice and reasonably priced. We were recommended to choose two or three meals by our very pleasant waitress and were all very impressed by the choice and quality. Bryan was a little disappointed by the choice of beers so this might not be a suitable venue for some members. Probably one of the best meals I have had with the group for a long time. However the restaurant was filling rapidly and we needed to move so off we went to Saughall and back onto the Greenway. Bryan and the tandem left me by the canal junction to continue back in to Chester.

Only about 30 miles-a bit further for me, but very pleasant riding at a comfortable pace.

JD

25th October 2018: Hodnet Special Ride (mod)

I hadn’t led many rides this year, but I reckoned a Special Ride in late October would be a useful club contribution. So with my penchant for trying to visit historic sites or buildings, I settled on a ride start from supposed site of the important Lancastrian dynasty battle in 1403, at Battlefield, just north of Shrewsbury. It is really worth a read on Wiki about this important battle so click on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Shrewsbury

Luckily for us the Sparrow’s Cafe on the Albrighton Estate was an ideal starting point just off the A49 north of Shrewsbury. The Moderate group consisted of Trevor, Keith, Ian, George, Steve H and myself. We let the Brisk group zoom off first as we followed them on roads anew to Bowmore Heath and Myddle. Approaching Myddle, we pass by an impressive red sandstone ridge which Ian confidently states is the southerly extent of Cheshire Sandstone. Passing through the middle of Myddle, we head north before taking a familiar lane to Loppington skirting Sleap airfield.

Dave M had taken the train to Gobowen and was planning to meet us here and going with us onwards to Hodnet. He was a little behind schedule, so texted to say he would meet us at The Bear. We are now approaching familiar territory as we take the NCR445 wiggling its way towards Whixall, Prees and Faulsgreen. Missing out Marchamley ridge (and its hills), we run down through Wollerton to The Bear in Hodnet at just before 1300. The brisk group have already finished their lunch, with Dave M tucking into his. Dave had apparently taken a more direct southerly route via Wem hence overtaking us in doing so. He was then cycling back home.

We have been to The Bear before, and, as before, the welcome and food did not disappoint. Conversation was as varied as ever but included club ride reminiscences of successes and disasters alike. For the return route, I had modified the published route to miss out a large section of the A442 Wellington road. So new long lanes and countryside to appreciate. Crossing the A442, we now enter into the Roden River valley passing through Higher Ercall, and skirting Roden and Rodington. Too soon we arrive at the A49 Shrewsbury bypass and wiggle our way through a massive housing estate as the late afternoon traffic builds.

Arriving back at Sparrow’s cafe, the Brisk group are tucking into hot drinks and cake having motored around the 62 miles at 17.7 mph. Our average over the 47 miles was nearer a sedate 14 mph as we also tuck into coffee and cakes before the 40 mile drive back to Chester.

So “thank you” to all of you who came  out on both rides today. The weather was as forecasted - dry, very cloudy, light winds and 12C, but there was good visibility as we could see the Wrekin and Long Mountain in the far distance. There were at least 50% “new” lanes today joining with familiar lanes  south of Whitchurch. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA



25th October 2018 : Hodnet Special Ride (brisk)

Today we had a special ride organised by Clive. Car assist to Battlefield (Shrewsbury) and a combined route for both Mod’s and Brisk as far as The Bear inn at Hodnet. The brisk riders were John W, Ken, Ray and Ivan.

Leaving the Battlefield café  (I’ll leave Clive to complete the history of this location), we join the cycle way adjacent to the A5124 for a couple of miles before turning onto Huffley Lane taking us towards Bowmere Heath and Myddle. Clive had put in a little divert here to take us off the A528 following good CTC practice, as John advised us, which decreased our main road time by a minute!! But it was a good road lane and not a muddy track. Leaving the main road, we have the pleasure of new country lanes and enjoy the relative quiet and reasonably surfaced roads. 

We pass through Prees and are routed to the villages of Darliston and Fauls. As the route is mainly flat, we join the Drayton road into Hodnet and I’m a little concerned that we would arrive before 12:00!! So, we had a cool down for a couple of miles. As we enter the village, we have a manic red transit van driver who took a dislike to us riding two abreast and directed his battering ram/van at us before swerving to miss us by inches. He is in a minority on our roads (I hope). As we’re are having our lunch, Dave M arrives after cycling from Gobowen to join us, shortly followed by the moderate group.

Our route back to Shrewsbury was extended by a few miles compared to the moderate route, so leaving our buddies to enjoy their lunches, we hit the saddle and ride out to Stoke on Tern, Eaton on Tern and Bolas where we join the A442 before turning onto the B5062 for another Tern, Longdon on Tern. We stop for a photo shoot looking at the Wrekin which we are riding the shoulder of before a downhill sprint where we meet a Freelander. John and I go one side while Ken skims the left side. Near miss and thankfully all ok. Not a red van driver, although we probably appeared as kamikaze riders to him although it had been a long quiet lane to this point.

Wrekin havoc!
Our next photo call was at the large Roman ruins at Wroxeter. A Roman City once the fourth largest town in Roman Britain during AD90s. Worth a visit. We ride along the walled gardens of Attingham Park for a mile + before hitting the outskirts of Shrewsbury where Clive has a housing estate tour in store for us. It proved a good short cut back to Battlefields and certainly a lot less car/lorry polluted. Shrewsbury has changed considerably since I lived there during the 80’s.


Three old relics at Wroxeter Roman city
Arriving back at the café we enjoy tea and cake while awaiting the arrival of the moderates who were not too far behind us. Thank you, Clive, for a great 63 miler route at 17.7 mph average speed. 


ID

Photos by JW and KP

Sunday, 21 October 2018

18th October 2018: Whitchurch (mod ride 2)

As it is true for caravans, it’s true for CER riders - the sun really does bring them out in droves! Jim was puzzling over an OS map wondering where to go and I offered to help him cobble together a ride. So we agreed somewhere south via Threapwood ending up in Whitchurch for lunch. We also agreed that, as there were a lot of us, we would eventually and inevitably split up into two groups, but we would both head for “The Wheatsheaf” in the centre of Whitchurch.

So off and out via Wetreins Lane, we had the Briskers flash by us bound for Shawbury. At the top of this lane we had already split into two groups. The “faster group” consisted of Ian, Neil  Bob, Steve T, Keith, Dave M and myself. In Tilston, we turn right for Horton. Here, in the chiaroscuro of a bright autumnal day, Neil unfortunately found a pothole and expertly landed on the grass verge instead of the road. Thankfully his bike was not damaged, and neither was he! By this time the rest of the Moderates had caught us up and this was to be the pattern over the next 10 miles or so.

So out via Chorlton, Sarn and Threapwood, we take the lanes to Whitwell. I knew that Jim would be taking the first left turn on the Fenn Bank road towards Alkington and thence Whitchurch, so I decided to add a few more miles in by going further south. We arrive in Tilstock down tiny lanes before crossing the A41 by The Raven pub - always a dangerous transit here.

Brown Moss nature reserve beckons as we meander through tranquillity with the A41 just a few fields away. We enter Whitchurch from the south, and no UXB activity is evident (see Brisk report). As we arrive at “The Wheatsheaf”, we see that Jim and company are already ensconced at our CER table. The landlady kindly reserved us a table after I had phoned her a little earlier.

I like “The Wheatsheaf” as it was introduced to me by “Watsons Wanderers” cycling group, sadly not led any more by the indomitable Harry Watson. He will be 90 on Nov 5th, and still cycling. The food comes quite quickly given that there are now over a dozen of us. I’ve been here three or four times now and the food is consistently good and fairly priced.

We all leave together bound for Marbury in continuing sunshine. At Bickley, I add a little variety by heading for No Mans Heath and then up to Hampton Post and onwards to the gently downhill lane in Edge. It is then a reversal of this morning’s outward route via Tilston and Wetreins Lane where the Brisk group whoosh passed us aiming to claim the best cakes at Cleopatra’s. Shortly after we are drinking our teas and coffee outside with the Brisk group, Jim and company arrive safely back.

So thanks to my group for their patience as I made up the 43 miler route on the fly and, talking about flying, I hung onto the Brisk group’s tails as they motored back to Chester. Classic autumnal weather and a classic CER day’s riding.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Friday, 19 October 2018

18th October 2018: Whitchurch (mod ride 1)

Quite a large group of members assembled at the café in Holt on a brisk but sunny morning. The brisk group set off for somewhere a long way away, leaving a dozen or so moderates heading for Whitchurch. Clive’s group began to pull away early on so we decided to split, leaving a small group of Steve H, George, and myself to pootle along the lanes heading for Threapwood. We were soon joined by David M and Andy who were waiting for us at one of Shropshire's famous unsigned crossroads and we progressed pleasantly through Higher Wych to Whitewell where we crossed the A525 heading south towards Fenn Bank. Here we crossed the canal and turned northwards through Alkington and up into Whitchurch.

We eventually found the pub, The Wheatsheaf, after some pedestrian assistance and parked our bikes in the newly refurbished beer garden which will be very nice on a warm day, but not this time. There seems to be a good choice of beers and the staff were very welcoming even when we told them that Clive was on his way. The food was very reasonably priced and a good choice. Service was excellent, despite having a large group to contend with, and we were soon on our way back home.

Through the main street and out on the Marbury Road saw us once again in two groups with Steve T joining us for the return. From Marbury we went north to Swanwick Green crossing the A49 to Bickley Moss, then up to Cholmondley, Hampton Heath and the lanes by-passing Malpas to Kidnal and Tilston, where we picked up our outward route back to the café.

Sitting outside in the sun, we had a well earned drink before setting off for home.
Almost 42 miles. A very pleasant day’s riding 

See route map and/or gpx file download

JD

18th October 2018 : Shawbury (brisk)

With today's fine weather forecast, there was a big turnout at Cleopatra's café and Steve T was in the saddle and Ray joining the Brisk ride. The proposed brisk route was to Shawbury via Moreton Corbett, which is regarded as Clive’s stately restoration project. We’ve been visiting it for a few years now and there hasn’t been much progress to date.

We set of from Holt passing over the new resurfaced bridge over the Dee and out to Tilston where we were joining up with Nick who probably had a relaxing morning. The Brisk riders today were John M, John W, Ray, Ivan and Ken who was joining us for a shorter ride as he had commitments in the afternoon. As duly organised we met Nick, and we continued through Tilston to Cuddington Heath.

The weather was a little fresh, but at 11:00ish it was removal of layers and full finger gloves. Riding in the sunshine and through good dry lanes, we are heading towards Wem and join the B5063 which takes us to Moreton Corbett where a photo call is required. It is then a ride into Shawbury and a lunch stop at the Fox and Hounds. My first time here but the food selection was good and reasonably priced.

Read all about it
More ancient relics!




















After lunch, it was cycling on the A53 for 4 miles before taking the lane heading towards a little village of Lee Brockurst. Approaching Wem again, we skirted around the town and heading towards Prees Green and Prees passing over the rail route between Crewe and Shrewsbury. 

Through Tilstock and passing over the A41, we are heading into Whitchurch. As we approach the Sainsbury's supermarket, we are stopped by police cars blocking our route. Advised no access on this road due to a suspect UXB, or something the moderates had left as their destination was Whitchurch!!

We turned around and rode through the town and re-joined the road at the main roundabout passed the supermarket. It was down to Grindley Brook and onto the Malpas road and eventually Tilston crossroad at the Carden Arms inn.

Nick left us to return his solo ride home while the remaining group continued on the usual route to take us back to Holt. As were between Stretton and Crewe-by-Farndon, we catch up with the intermediate CER group headed by Clive. So as to get first choice of cake, we continue onwards and arrive at Cleopatra's not that much earlier than the second group.

Our ride today was 65 miles and covered some good lanes in fantastic autumn sunshine. Our total distance returning to Chester was 85 miles. We were joined by Clive riding with us on our return home. Another good day out on the bike. 


ID

Monday, 15 October 2018

11th October 2018: (mod)

Awaiting ride report

4th October 2018: Holt (mod)


Jim and I had decided early in the week to give the moderate ride a miss but to ride up to the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden and then cycle home. This is exactly what we did but events conspired to turn it in to the moderate ride.

I arrived at Jim’s to find that Dave H had arrived with the same intention and was delighted to find that Steve T was with him, attempting his first CER ride since his accident. We were joined soon afterwards by Mike and the five of us set off for Hawarden. We followed the Greenway as far as Blacon then dropped down Western Avenue to Sealand Road and then into Ferry Lane. We followed this to the aptly named Ferry Lane Bridge where we crossed the River Dee. We turned right towards Queensferry and followed the twisting road past the back of the Airbus factory at Broughton. After turning right at the roundabout we turned left into Rake Lane and started the inevitable ascent up to Hawarden and what would normally have been the starting point for our ride.

There were a number of other Easy Riders present but most were heading off on the brisk ride and the only addition to our group was Dave P. So six of us set off down the Wrexham Road before turning left onto the small road that would take us up the back of Bilberry Wood to the footbridge across the A55. After crossing the A55 we turned right then left into Old Hope Road and continued into Lower Mountain Road by-passing the village of Pen-y-Mynydd. Then a left and right into Sandy Lane.
From there we turned into Shordley Road. I would have turned down Cobblers Lane here and headed for Rossett but Jim suggested carrying straight on along Dark Lane. We did so and crossed the Llay road into Gegin Lane and left at the end onto Gresford Road. At the bottom of the hill we crossed the dual carriageway and turned left into Springfield Road, emerging at the bottom of Marford Hill. As we climbed the hill I was behind Jim and noticed that his rear tyre was looking a bit flat. He stopped to investigate and discovered that he had picked up a thorn somewhere along the way. The rest of us had a short break while he changed his inner tube and then we carried on up the hill and turned left into Hoseley Road. At Borras we turned left again onto Holt road. As we approached Holt the topic of conversation turned to a suitable venue for lunch and the consensus was that we would stop at Cleopatra’s.

Cleopatra’s is normally one of our starting venues but this time we were able to sample their lunch menu. Despite now being October we were still able to sit outside for our lunch although I suspect this will probably have been the last time we will be able to do that before winter sets in.

After lunch we crossed back over the River Dee into England. The Farndon Bridge has been closed for several months for repairs and resurfacing (well, it is nearly 700 years old) but fortunately was still open for pedestrians and cyclists. At Churton Steve decided that he’d had enough for his first ride out and we opted for the most direct route back. Dave P left us and headed off to get some extra miles in around Tattenhall. The rest of us headed back to our starting point via Aldford, Saighton and Christleton. Only 38 miles completed but a milestone for Steve as he continues his recovery. Well done.

See route map and/or gpx file download


TC

Saturday, 13 October 2018

11th October 2018 : Mow Cop (brisk)

Todays ride was starting from Utkinton – Rose Farm Café and the Brisk riders were, Ken, Nick John W and myself. A proposal of Timbersbrook and Mow Cop was suggested. The weather forecast for today was windy and rain from 14:00'ish, but I’ll make the reference now that we had a fantastic wind-assist for a lot of the route both out and return, and no rain except a little drizzle on passing Waverton although a much overcast sky.

Before departing the café, there were a few moderate riders out today but we set off first heading towards Tarporley. We pass the Portal golf course and pass Eaton and the general route passing Darnhill to Church Minshull. We continue on the notorious A530 to Middlewich before turning off to visit all the humps on the housing estate’s before reaching the main A533. We go straight over passing the Salt works. The lanes skirting Middlewich to Breteton were splendid in the autumnal colours. Arriving at the cross roads with the Bears Head inn and, not calling in today, we continue along more quiet lanes although in need of pot-hole refurb before arriving at Brownlow Heath, then joining the A34 into Congleton. 

We ride through the town and continue on the A527. The route should have taken us out onto Biddulph Moor and Timbersbrook but too late I missed the turning. An executive decision made was to continue on into Biddulph and head up to Mow Cop The lane up this side of the cop is a steady 9% and we were soon looking out over the Cheshire landscape. Continuing upwards we approach the folly at the top and the ascent goes up to 15+%. Now we were over the climbs for the day lunch was discussed after covering 37 miles from Utkinton. It’s 12:30, so another executive decision made to continue on towards Winterley before stopping for lunch. 

We ride down Station Lane, a mere 20% descent, and, as the road was damp, a much slower speed was preferred. I stopped for a photo shoot and was following the others and half way down: "pssssss"and my front tyre deflated. Such is the state of this road that it was a pinch rather than a thorn or similar. John and Nick were in front but fortunately Ken also heard the escaping air and stopped as quickly as I did. We advised the others not to come back up and proceeded to change the tube.

We were soon onwards again and passing Scholar Green, Lawton and Winterley. We have ridden these lane’s many times over the years and our lunch stop is now Bradfield Green near Leighton Hospital. Arriving at the "Coach & Horses'" we have covered 49 miles since our coffee at Rose Farm and were soon tucking in to home-made pies complimented with fresh vegetables, mash and a good size gravy boat.
Our route from here is to Church Minshull, Wettenhall and Eaton. The intention was to stop at the Old Fire Station cafe in Tarporley  for cake, but John and I decided to continue on to Chester, while Ken and Nick rode on to Rose Farm to collect their cars.


We were passing Waverton and the weather started changing and a light drizzle was dropping on us.An eventful day with good cycling and a happy group. Thanks for making this a memorable ride, one of my favourites as it is over my old riding patch. The round trip to and from the café was 64 miles but for John and I we were approaching 80 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photo JW

Friday, 5 October 2018

4th October 2018 : Kinmel Bay (brisk)

There were quite a lot of riders at The Gallery when I arrived, including the welcome return of Steve T; out for the his first ride with us since "it" happened. Great to see him so enthusiastic as well.

I'd thought I better show willing, so I had prepared two routes. There was a short 40 miler with 4000ft of climb, and a longer 50 miler with 5000ft of climb. Addressing the Brisk Group of Andy B, John W and Nick H, I was somewhat surprised when John asked for a non-hilly route because he had an upcoming challenging weekend ride! So what to do; then I remembered a route we had ridden twice before towards Rhuddlan. So this was agreed and we set off at an alarming pace the usual way to Northop.
As we crest the rise before tackling the short section of the A55, there is a marvellous panorama of the Mersey Estuary to behold stretching out as far as the eye can see. Both Liverpool cathedrals were clearly identified as were the large container port cranes. Passing the Britannia pub, we now climb higher, but eschewing Pentre Halkyn, we dive down into Holywell.


Here I decide to add some variation from the "planned" route as we turn off for Whitford. We take the NCR5 lane upwards where have to stop twice for an enormous tractor and trailer which filled this tiny lane. I point out the Coed y Garreg tower on the hilltop, which was supposed to be the site of a Roman lighthouse nearly two millennia ago. We arrive at Maen Achwynfan Cross, and we dismount to visit it. It has been here for about a 1000 years and has an interesting history ( see photos).


Three Ancient Britons and a 1000yr old Celtic Cross

Read all about it


Veering left at the junction to Llanasa, we speed down a new lane (for me) to rejoin the "London Road" aka A5151, to hurtle down and through Dyserth towards Rhuddlan, where we touch 30mph on the level straight with no wind-assist at all! Kicking left into Rhuddlan, I can't resist a mini-diversion to the Edward I castle which is still standing tall after 700 years.

Rhuddlan Castle
I suggest the Morfa Table pub, which is just down the road. Andy counter-suggests the cafe by Rhyl Harbour. So Rhyl -or Kinmel Bay to be exact - is where we now head by going along the Clwyd river cycle path. The cafe is pretty busy but we get in, ordered and seated, before a mini-bus load arrive. Conversation is as varied as ever, and we discuss the excellent BBC program about the effect that plastic is having on global wildlife. It is really worth watching, so stoke up iPlayer to find "Drowning in Plastic" BBC1 Oct 1st at 2030.

We had noticed that the wind and dark clouds had been increasing during the morning, and, as we left the cafe, there was a gale force blast which nearly knocked us off our bikes. The ride now was a 20mph wind-assist all the way along the seafront, exiting at the Pontins Holiday camp. Through the golf club and static van holiday park, we arrive at the Point of Ayr. Taking the cycleways further, we circle the old colliery and hit the coast road at Ffynnongryow. It's now a long fast burn to the Chocolate Box cafe close by Flint's Sainsbury's.

After discussing wifi webcams and failing eyesight, we head off homewards towards Oakenholt, where Andy and Nick take Papermill Lane arriving back in Hawarden after 56 miles. John and I take the usual Greenway route back to Chester with nearly 70 miles ridden and still with 2500ft of ascent.

The weather had been dry and somewhat windy, and it threatened rain a few times, and the company was as convivial as ever.                                                                                                
See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos CA and JW

Sunday, 30 September 2018

27th September 2018: Peover Heath (mod)

The Station House Cafe at Delamere was closed, so we eventually cycled down to Delamere Cafe at The Visitor Centre.  Jim, Mike Evans, Trevor, George, Dave Matthews, Dave Pipe, Keith, Clive and myself  were soon ensconced outside in the sun supping tea. I made the mistake of talking chain lengths with Dave, who, of course, could write a PhD on the subject. To be fair, like Dave Pipe and Ray Hardman, Dave is very knowledgable when it comes to the technicalities of bikes. He also often uses his skills to sort out members' machines, Clive being the  latest beneficiary of help from Cheshire's version of Richard Hallett.  When Dave started linking gear tables and penny farthings, however, I began to wonder if he was auditioning for the BBC 'Would I Lie to You?' programme! As you might expect, after one thing or another, we started our ride late. I felt that Bryan would not have been impressed!  Those able to ride with us for the day went with my suggestion of The Dog as our destination. Clive agreed to lead out, and I would take over for a return route.

We eased our way to Norley, as so often, but then turned up the narrow, attractive Gallowsclough Lane. I remember riding along here with Jim, I think, when a breathtakingly beautiful woman on a lovely horse stopped and engaged us in a very pleasant, if short, chat. She was very posh, perhaps the Lady of the Manor trying to show kindness to a couple of poor, old commoners in their sad mix of cheap Muddy Fox and Aldi clothing? It remains my longest contact with a authentic member of the Cheshire Set. Perhaps I just imagined it? I must check with Jim! Then we passed Gary Barlow's former pad at Delamere Manor. Clive continued  through Cuddington and Whitegate. We were soon crossing the Weaver, and pedalling the perilous rocky path up to Moulton. Pretty Davenham was next, and just over the M6  and before Swan Green, Clive led us down Baker's Lane in a south westerly loop to Goostrey, and then north on small lanes to lunch.  The route had been attractive, and the blue sky cloudless. The food and service at The Dog was spot on, as usual.

Our way home took us past a polo club, reaching the A50 at Radbroke Hall. A young female driver then shouted at us and sounded her horn as we turned right. Yet another driver unreasonably aggravated by having to sometimes share tarmac with cyclists. I did have more adventurous options for the route home, but settled for the familiar Plumley Moor Road. Previous experience told me that it was essential to cross the dangerous A556 Roman road as pedestrians at the lights. We then rode to Linnards Lane on the footpath. From here onwards the roads would be quieter as we headed  west through Pickmere, Great Budworth, Comberbach and Little Leigh. At the A49 we cycled beside the glimmering Weaver to the picnic area at Dutton Lock. Here we took a break, chatting to an elderly couple, as we sat on rustic benches in the rays of the still warm, but slipping sun.


Photos by CA

There remained some steep banks ahead, as we headed for Cooksongreen. Just before Norley village we turned up a small  lane with lovely buildings including The Paddocks and Norley Hall. At Delamere Clive headed home, but George, Keith, Dave Pipe and myself enjoyed cake and coffee back at The Visitor Centre. I had the last big piece of proper cake with icing and a cherry. I offered half of it to the others for 70% of the price, but they all said they would rather have No Deal than a bad deal. So, they all munched lesser cakes in cellophane! Another thoroughly enjoyable day in the sunny Cheshire countryside with good friends. About 48 miles covered. Thanks to Clive for the morning route and the photographs.

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

20th September 2018: Lower Hordley (mod)

I rang Keith about travelling to Chirk despite the forecast of heavy rain for the day. He was determined to go, so I decided that I really ought to accompany him. He had not seen the forecast, but I thought that it was odds on that no moderate rider would be so immoderate as to chance it. And so it was, but a number of the fast guys had used their initiative, and had ridden out to Chirk with the idea of flying back to Chester in front of the inevitable deluge.  An excellent plan, punctuated by a Full English, which they were tucking into as Keith and I arrived.

My plan was to complete a circular route taking in Ellesmere and heading south, originally to Knockin for lunch, and then around Oswestry via Morda and Selattyn back up to Chirk. Some of the return route would be hilly and new to me, and as Nick was convinced heavy rain was already fast approaching, I decided that this was too ambitious, and could even be dangerous in this terrain. Plan B was to ride without a lunch break for about thirty miles and eat back at Chirk at the end.

We went out of Chirk the back way, past the Leisure Centre, and were soon on  the scenic lane to Pont y blew. We then had to climb out of the steeply wooded valley to reach St.Martin's. The damaging winds of Tuesday were thankfully absent, and tree debris wasn't as bad as anticipated. The lanes were dry and peaceful, and as there were only two of us, there was no pressure as we fettled an easy route via Crickett, crossing and recrossing the long disused railway line. We joined the B5068 into Ellesmere as the rain started. We wound our way through the town past the marina and stopped under a tree. Any lingering ambition of trying The Bradford Arms at Knockin was dismissed, but we were game to ride further south to Lee and Lower Hordley.

From Lower Hordley we started to head back north west to Lower Frankton, Welsh Frankton, New Marton and St.Martin's. On reaching the dangerous A5 we were nearly taken out by a Volvo undertaking us on the roundabout, just as we were about to signal and exit for Chirk. I yelled something at him, and he stopped and wound his window down to address us 200 yards on. I was still expecting him to follow and swerve at us, or something, as we climbed up to the church at Chirk. I was weighing up was it worth using my recently learnt boxing combinations on him, if it came to a showdown. However, just as when chatting to a nice young woman, you sometimes have to take a reality check when your my age! Realistically, I don't think that I have the pulling power of David Beckham or the punching power of Anthony Joshua! Blood, snot and rain wouldn't have been an attractive combination. Fortunately, it didn't come to that, and we were soon drying off and munching lunch in Castle Bistro. We agreed that we enjoyed the whole ride, even the wet bits. We had avoided the really heavy rain, which came on our careful drive home. We were glad that the fast lads turned up. Turning up (if you can) is a key ingredient in making our club work! I bet that most of us can't recall even a handful of times over the years, that we wished we hadn't bothered.                                                                         
DH

Friday, 28 September 2018

27th September 2018 : Marple (brisk)

The brisk riders, John W, Nick and myself, were out on Tuesday and theThursday ride was discussed during lunch. John suggested an Audax ride he wanted to do starting at Marple and was 60+ miles and 7500ft of ascent. Sounds easy 60 miles and the ascent should be ok, so it was decided a car assist would be required. Nick was unable to ride although expressed disappointment at not being available!! (I think he knew the route). So the Thursday ride would consist of John W, Ken and myself.

What hills?
We arrived at Marple at 09:15 and the journey from Chester outwards was reasonably good considering the morning commute for a lot of day workers. Tea and toast was first on the agenda and by 10:00 we were heading out of town on a glorious autumn morning. Judging your wardrobe at this time of year is not always straight forward as the first few miles is a 7-10% gradient just getting out of the town!! Warmed up jackets off, and it is a comfortable ride along the A626 passing through Marple Bridge and Chisworth where we stop for the first photo shoot of the day.


We continue this road until Glossop and join the A57 to wind up and with a good wind the Snake Pass. Up and up we ride and it is getting warmer, but traffic is light but there are couple of road works with traffic lights. Mr Green lights as we pass through both. Hitting the summit, it is then the hurtle down and, with a good wind, we are 40+ mph before John brakes to a stop as he's lost his audax card. Ken and I wait at the Snake Pass inn but unfortunately it is closed for refurbishment. John rejoins us and we again continue our descent down to the Lady Bower reservoir.The water levels are quite low but as winter approaches no doubt they'll soon raise.


We have ridden approx. 27 miles and lunch is looming at 34 miles at the Barrel Inn at Bretton. We pass through Hathersage before taking a right turning heading up hill. I stop to query the route, but John is correct and our Garmin routes are slightly out of date!! Up and up still, but we pull up as John has a front flat. New tube replaced and were off along very pleasant lanes and the scenery is well worth the effort of continually riding uphill on such a sunny day.

We arrive at our lunch stop and again the views are awesome at 1300ft. The Barrel is noted in the Doomsday book and a stop-over for transporters delivering Cheshire salt. The inn was very busy but we enjoy the opportunity to relax and chat.

A photo call outside and a diner asked to take a photo, she must have enjoyed the wine as on both photos taken her finger covered the screen. Ah well, off we go and enjoy a down hill free wheel to get the legs moving again. We are in the heart of the Peak District passing the known locations of Ashford in the Water, Sheldon Quarry and Peak Quarry where a couple of class 37's trains belonging to DRS from Cumbria, were loading stone and Dove Dale (stn).

We cycle into Moyash for John to get his audax card stamped in the local shop; an offer of ice cream was made but rejected as we still have 2000 ft of climbing to do. We're now on a single track lane called the Jarnett and the temperature has started to fall and it is getting quite chilly. Millers Dale and Worm Hill - a moan of oh no not another! as I am just about done in. We drop down to Whaley Bridge in time for the rush hour traffic and have to cycle along the pavement. Just a couple more bumps and we are back into Marple and back in the café where we started our ride.

A 68 mile round trip, unforgettable scenery but the best was the company. How John continues to do these audax rides is unfathomable. It was hard and high on the energy scales. A total of 7549 feet of ascent in a shortish ride. I'll take a rain check on his next idea.A good Brisk ride but at a pace of 13mph.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photo JW and KP

Thursday, 20 September 2018

20th September 2018: Chirk (brisk)

The weather forecast was dire - wall-to-wall rain from about 1100 in Chirk. What to do?  I messaged the brisk group to see if there was any interest in an early ride out and back from Chester to Chirk. So three of us met at the Old Dee Bridge at 0815 in the dry, to ride the shortest route directly to Chirk and a cooked breakfast!

Ivan led John W and myself out via Eccleston and through to Rossett, where we picked up Ken. We motored up Marford Hill and, at the A 483 roundabout, we shimmy around Wrexham heading for Sainsbury's and the Hospital. 

Out down the lanes, Ruabon arrives quite quickly and we are soon heading down the Cefn Mawr road.   The drag up and out was surprisingly fast and I put this down to the breakfast smells emanating from the Ruabon cafes giving extra impetus.

We arrive at the Castle tea rooms after 24 miles at 15.5 mph. There is a warm welcome from the waitress, and we generally opt for the smaller breakfast option except Ivan, who requires more fuel with the large breakfast. 

Nick appears as advertised, at just after 1000, having cycled cross-country from Tilston. We wonder if there will be any other CER riders today? Keith arrives announcing that Dave H is just behind him. So we all sit around discussing the weather and where the Moderate Duo will ride to today. The Brisk group is very clear on our route  - we are going straight back to ameliorate getting too wet.

We leave about 1045 and opt to go through Johnstown on the return loop, otherwise the route back is the route out. At the Cefn Mawr bridge, I have a chain disfunction as I change down for the hill out. The chain is stuck fast between the chain rings. The solution was to loosen the chain ring retaining bolts and all was then fine. 



Ken to the rescue as my chain is jammed.
Ken splits off with Nick on the outskirts of Gresford to help Nick negotiate suburban Wrexham. We remaining three pile it on as the rain starts to pick up. By the time we are nearing Chester it is a steady downpour.  

So we get back after 47 miles at 16.5 mph on the return journey making it a 16 mph average speed. We are glad we bothered to make the effort and wonder how Keith and Dave are doing in the heavy rain which is now inevitably engulfing them.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photo ID

Saturday, 15 September 2018

13th September 2018: Welshampton (mod)


The weather was typically autumnal - a mite chilly when leaving home for the Ice Cream Farm, and warming up just enough throughout the day. Bryan was out just for a local ride, and Steve H was in civvies. Surprisingly we had three guest riders. John V and Mike E were from Watson’s Wanderers and Howard G got to know of us via Dave H and Steve T. So whilst the Brisk Riders (Ivan, John W and Nick) set off for Barthomley, I offered to cobble together a ride for the three visitors plus Keith and Neil.

I searched through old Viewranger routes and used one from Oct 2017 to the Sun Inn at Welshampton. Setting off via Brown Knowle and No Man’s Heath, we wiggle across the A41. Sliding down the quiet lanes to Bradley, and via Higher Wych, we end up at Eglwys Cross. I worry about the lane to Arowry which normally is knee deep in mud from the farm traffic but today the mud is slight. Turning south towards Bettisfield, I succumb to a rear wheel puncture. It takes a while to find the glass shard then realise I only have a 25mm inner tube for a 28mm tyre, but Keith comes to the rescue.

Having wasted quite a bit of time, I elect to take the main road straight to the Sun Inn in Welshampton. As ever, the welcome here is warm and we are soon seated away from the roaring fire. The conversation is varied as ever. The food is wholesome and plentiful as well. Looking at the route home, I can’t bring it upon myself to take three visitors back through the narrow and probably muddy lanes of the planned route, so I have a radical re-think.

Agreeing with the sentiment of my re-routing, the group heads for Ellesmere where the mere is looking pretty in the sunshine. I take a wrong turn towards St Martins, so, hoping no-one will realise that we should be on the Overton road, I re-route again to get us back to Trench and thence Lion Lane to the delights of Sandy Lane hill. We slide through Threapwood and wiggle back to Chorlton and Tilston. Here, we have just passed Nick’s house when he is seen motoring towards it!

By the time we get to Tattenhall, Neil and Mike have split for their homes nearby, whilst Howard is heading Runcorn bound. So as Keith and I ride the High Street, there is a shout from two cyclists sitting on a bench eating ice creams. It is Ivan and John W! We stop and chat and by this time John V, who had decided to take it a little easier, arrives as well.

We hope that the visitors enjoyed our club ride today, and hope to see them in the future.




CA


13th September 2018: Barthomley (brisk)

The ride out from the ICF for brisk riders consisted of John W, Nick and myself.  The forecast was for a fine day with south westerly wind; so we decide to ride to Barthomley and the White Lion, a favourite lunch stop.

We set of out via Beeston and Bunbury. Over the past few weeks, cycle racing has figured greatly on our tv's and this style of riding taken on board today. The pace is pretty fast and heading towards Brindley it is a chain gang formation and probably around 20+mph average. Out to Ravensmoor, and continuing on to Broomhall Green, we have an altercation with a fraught car driver who waits for us to approach then pulls out from the right and cuts in front to turn left; what a plonker and a good job John couldn't catch him


We are cycling -very fast!
I make an error here and, instead of continuing to Audlem, I head towards Nantwich. Arriving in the town, we divert towards Wybunbury and Wrinehill, then pick up the route towards Betley. It's a nice uphill climb from Betley along Church Road and along Knowbank Road from where you get fantastic views of the Cheshire plain. You can almost touch Jodrell Bank it appears so close.

The riding pace hadn't slackened any, but as we are passing under tree-covered lanes, there is a call to halt. Nick had been stung on his eye brow. The sting still evident as a spear protruding the fleshy part of his eyelid. John was able to extricate the venomous spike but Nick's eye was already getting angry red and swollen. We're fortunately not too far from our lunch stop and on arrival at the inn the landlady provided an eye pack.


Avant-garde cycling helmet 

By the time we had enjoyed our lunch, the medicine provided and ice pack had worked sufficiently to continue our ride back. As a precaution a call home had been made, and assistance from Crewe can be made if needed. Due to high energy resources, we continue apace, and we are soon passing Crewe railway station and turning left to pass Gresty Road football ground and out to Shavington. A call home is made to confirm a stand down. We are heading towards Wrenbury and Cholmondeley and take a left and head for Old Coach Road Climb. After nearly 80miles from home, I wished I wasn't here!!

Over the top and rolling down we say farewell to Nick as he rides to home, and John and I continue to Tattenhall. We stop at the shop in the village to enjoy a Magnum ice cream and top up with water. 

Enjoying the sunshine, we are joined by the remains of the moderate group led by Clive. We all continue together to Hargrave and Christleton and back into Chester. An eventful day with 68 circular miles ridden and 18mph average, including 2565 ft of ascent, and, nearly 90 miles form home

Thanks to John and Nick for a hard day's riding, I'm out with the mods next week!.


see route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos ID and JW

Saturday, 8 September 2018

6th September 2018 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

After riding solo for the last 6 weeks, I was looking forward to having company today. Meeting at Meadow Lea cafe on a wet and drizzly morning, there were not many riders braving the elements. There were a few out for coffee, but the group today consisted of Nick, John W, Ray and myself. No one had a route planned, so we decided to ride and head towards the blue sky direction.

Heading out towards Frodsham the rain was now heavier. The forecast was showers! How long do these predictions last?

We pass through the town getting ready with the market stalls and over the blue bridge and turn right to go via Aston. Our ride is heading out towards Budworth and High Lea and round to Dunham Massey and the Vine inn. Here I enjoy my first beer for ages and at £2.50 just right. We all have hot comfort food as we are soaked. Socks and boots off and placed on or near the hot radiators, we chat about the good weather and rides we've enjoyed this year. Getting ready to leave it is still raining, no one holding us back so we have to go.

We ride out to Dunham Massey grounds and join the track to pass over the river and the inn, Swan with Two Nicks. The rain has now stopped and patches of blue sky evident. We follow the usual route towards Great Budworth but keep a left route in error and ride round the extremes of the village and, instead of going up the hill towards High Lea, we continue towards Northwich. This plan was to divert from Acton Bridge climb but we still had to climb up to Marbury Road bank and pass the Anderton boat lift. Left at the lights and on Winnington Road before taking the "Clive route" through the flashes. This detour made our bikes super dirty.


Once out on the main road again, we pass Weaverham and on the Crowton, Kingsley road and return into Frodsham and the welcome stop of Costa Coffee, soon to be Coca Cola!! After our snack, it is along the main road and back to Meadow Lea Cafe.


A circular ride of 64+ miles at an average 16mph so a great ride. Well done Nick and glad you joined us.


See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Thursday, 6 September 2018

6th September 2018: no mod ride

Quite a number of mod and brisk members turned up at Meadow Lea cafe, and it was especially good to see Steve T and his wife.  The weather was cool and wet. Most people were just out for coffee, and as I left it looked as though there would be no club ride.

SH

Monday, 3 September 2018

30th August 2018: no ride

I'm told that only three members turned up at Cleopatra's in Holt and there was no club ride.

SH

Saturday, 25 August 2018

23rd August 2018: Whitchurch (mod)

Leaving Utkinton, four moderates were joined by the return of the bionic Macca after an absence of 8 months - Clive, Dave H, Jim and Keith.  The usual mods route by committee with Clive’s Garmin, Dave’s OS maps and Macca’s Google maps saw us do a large circle to the east, in order to cove more than the 17 straight miles to lunch at Whitchurch.  Jim peeled off after 10 miles for other duties whilst the 4 of us meandered through flat, quiet country through Aston juxta Mondrum (there’s a mouthful for you), Rees Heath, Nantwich and Ightfield.

Lunch was at The Wheatsheaf in the High St of Whitchurch where we were pleasantly served from the light menu.  Discussion varied from emigrating to N Z and how to navigate from Wales to Dublin.

On the shorter return journey, we stopped at the newly re-opened Swan pub in Marbury which Clive checked out; it turns out to be a Brunning pub, a breakaway from the well known Brunning & Price group.  On it’s website it says, ‘The pub is an institution unique to England, and there is nothing more English. It is not an American bar, darkened still by the long shadow or Prohibition; not a French cafe, where people sunnily drink aperitifs on the pavement; not a Bavarian beer-hall, full of swaying and noise” ..........Michael Jackson (the famous beer writer not the slightly well-known singer).

We rode back through Chorley, Bunbury and Tilston hoping to beat the rain forecast for 3pm ish.  Sheltering in The Old Fire Station at Tarporley with cake, we missed one shower before returning to Rose Farm.  Macca was glad to report no ill effects on his new knee (not sure about the rear end) having covered 53 miles at 12.6 average

Macca

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


23rd August 2018 : Norton-in-Hales (brisk)

Despite the unusual cooler weather conditions, there was good turnout at Utkinton with representatives of both moderate and brisk riders.  Clive was back from his travels in France and decided he had not recovered sufficiently to do the 65 miles to Norton in Hales; he joined the moderate riders on their trip to Whitchurch.  John W was on grandad duty and was having to make to do with coffee and  ride home. 

The net result being the brisk group comprised of John M, Nick,  myself and Dave Pipe - who was wavering due to  his uncertainty of being able to maintain a higher pace  but wanting to test his level of fitness. Having sorted a number of contingency plans with Dave, the group headed off towards Tarporley. 

The journey there was was uneventful but Tarporley was besieged by road maintenance engineers, 2 sets of traffic lights and a lot of ‘Chelsea tractors’. This slowed our progress but eventually we sped up passing through Beeston, Bunbury and Faddiley,  on route towards Audlem. The plan was to miss Audlem, but lack of concentration and a missed turning meant a short detour - anyway, Audlem is a nice village to visit. 


We arrived at the Hinds Head pub having completed 2 hours of riding. Lunch was chosen off the light bites menu although the portions were more substantial than light. The lunch chatter  covered football managers, crowd free stadiums and, of course, Brexit. Once lunch was over and photoshoot completed we set off towards home. 


Fuelled up and ready to go

The wind had increased throughout the morning  and became  a head wind which remained throughout the return journey. Fortunately Nick and John led the charge on the flat roads through to Wrenbury occasionally pulling away from Dave and myself. It appeared that Nick was using this as a bit of training for his upcoming triathlon event either that or his lunch was super-powered.

Once we reached  Bickerton, we decided to take more direct routes home so John continued on to Chester and the remainder of us headed for Tilston and Farndon. The original GPX route for the day is 57m with 634 meters of ascent but I think all of us probably rode closer to 80m .


Thanks to everybody for another good day out and very well done to Dave for testing your fitness and not having to revert to any of the contingencies.
See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo by NH

Sunday, 19 August 2018

16th August 2018: Special Ride - Bowland & Wyre District

There were some frantic last minute arrangements with regard to transport, but on the day it worked out just dandy! Ken gave Ian a lift, Mike and Dave Pipe met on my drive, Keith came in my Berlingo, and Nick was staying in Clapham, so he was arriving solo. Everybody arrived at Longridge early or on time, including Dave Pipe, who collected witness statements to prove that he had, indeed, achieved his punctuality goal after ten years of striving. We started at The Potting Shed cafe where the staff kindly opened early for us. The entrance is easily missed, so I had tied two yellow dusters on an iron rod at the entrance to catch the eye!

We were soon climbing up the south west ridge of Longridge Fell with excellent views all around, and then diving down Jeffrey Hill heading for the lovely village of Chipping. We left the village on a designated “Quiet Lane” wondering what this actually meant. Did we have to talk more quietly? Could one of those giant tractors still roar round the next corner with impunity? Our route took us on the side of the fell above the Hodder Valley, with some steep banks passing the Wild Boar Farm, an isolated old red phone box and Knot End. Before the plunge down to Burholme Bridge the view is spectacular, particularly ahead to the peaks of the Yorkshire Dales.





At Dunsop Bridge we headed north-west for the challenging climb through the Trough of Bowland. It turned just a little wet at this stage, and I apologised to Ian for my unguarded back wheel spray. If I had been on CTC ride I would have certainly failed their mudguard and long mudflap protocol, and probably been confined to the car park at the start! My only bike with guards didn't have the gear ratios to get me up this climb to the Lancashire/Yorkshire border stone (see photo).



The weather improved as predicted on our next leg to lunch at Scorton Barn which had some faster downhill stretches, but also a lot of strong headwind miles. We could clearly see Heysham nuclear power station, and across Morecambe Bay to the southern Lake District. Riding on these largely unpopulated fellside roads encapsulated that feeling of real freedom when cycling in wild country. We swooped into Scorton like a Skytrain, and dead on schedule. Mike had originally suggested Scorton Barn for lunch and we had recced this the week before. It was an excellent lunch stop, and we had a very convivial break.

Mike tried to begin the afternoon session with his helmet back-to-front. I suppose this was preferable to last week, when he didn't realise that he had left it at Dutton Locks! I wasn't too enamoured with hearing the M6 for a number of miles when heading back south last week on our recce.  I had asked Mike if we could ride a loop in the northern Fylde area instead, and he came up with an ideal rural route, initially heading out west past Winmarleigh Hall towards the coast. It was quite hard work, as this flat plain gave limited protection from the strong westerly wind. We came across a stationary huddle of ducks and ducklings on the road close to the hedge. There was a buzzard overhead, and they may have been hiding from it (see photo).


Photos by Mike G
We eventually headed south at Moss Edge to Ratten Row, and then, thankfully, with a strong tailwind toward St.Michael's on Wyre, and Bilsborrow. We were soon crossing the A6 and M6 and heading in the direction of Longridge. We stopped at Inglewhite, where there was a possibility of a picturesque route extension around Beacon Fell, but as one of those who doesn't do enough miles to be a contender, I had done enough, and fancied the cafe and a reasonably timed start for the drive home. As it happened, everyone was in agreement, although we still had a few miles to cover. I have absolute confidence in Mike's local knowledge and navigational abilities, so I'll swear he did some deliberate Clivesque extra miles before we got back to The Potting Shed!

The cafe gave us a warm and friendly welcome once again, and we had a selection of two blackboards of cakes with our coffees. Keith thanked the guy with the tree service at the front of the site, who had agreed to only lock the gate when the last car had gone if we had returned late. We had ridden nearly 54 varied miles, with one big challenge and some lovely scenery.  It was, as ever, a pleasure to share the company of both faster and moderate riders as one sociable club, as we still make the effort to do from time to time. I was grateful for the support, with many being unavailable in this holiday season - it made it all worthwhile. I am particularly grateful to Mike for co-leading and planning the day.
                                                                                                                         
See route map and/or gpx file download

DH