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.