Thursday, 16 September 2021
A good turnout at Meadow Lea this morning generated at least three separate rides. The main mod contingent comprised myself, Dave H, George, Peter and Mike, just back from several weeks in Germany. We were also joined for the start by David M and Dave & Liz P. I had in mind a trip to the Bhurtpore at Aston. I know the club regularly visits this establishment, but I hadn’t been there for some time, and as usual Dave H was keen on the destination.
We took the route out via Waverton, then Hargrave and Huxley. We descended past the Shady Oak, up to Beeston Castle and into Bunbury, where Mike was nearly “van-doored” by a negligent driver. From here the core contingent of 5 continued and took a suspension testing ride past Haughton Hall. Next it was Swanley Bridge and through Ravensmoor as we followed two cyclists with heavily laden paniers, before turning right before Sound to enter Wrenbury (which according to The Sunday Times is one of the 50 best villages in the country). We were back on bad surfaces as we rode past Wrenbury Station, but then were soon at our destination.
We chose the outdoor seating and ordered a mix of curries and other food. The pub has restricted opening hours due to the widespread lack of staff – something we also heard about last week at Cleopatra’s and would hear again later today. Another customer kindly took our photo. We were quickly served and, refreshed, we took to the road again.
|Photo by SH|
The return route took us over the Shropshire Union canal via the lift bridge, and then on to Chorley. Crossing the Nantwich Road at Brindley, we carried on to Spurstow and then Peckforton. Touching our outward route at Beeston, we headed for Tattenhall Marina. We made for the Marina Café, but their usual cakes were not available – staff shortages meant there was no-one to bake the cakes. We made do with hot drinks with the odd chocolate bar and ice cream, but enjoyed the view across the Marina. We tried to exit via the gate next to the railway bridge but it had just been locked. Dave applied his charm(!) and persuaded the gate guardian to unlock it.
The rest of the route was straightforward – along Long Lane to the hump back canal bridge, into Waverton and back onto our outward route. You could say it had been a ‘Goldilocks ride’: not too warm and not too cold, not too windly, not too hilly. In fact, a 'just right' 55 miles,
Friday, 10 September 2021
Undeterred, John and I set off leaving the moderate riders and head towards Bowling Bank and Cross Lanes. Across to Eyton and there the start of 5 miles of steady climbing. There are no algorithms to the ride today except ride easy, so it’s steady onwards and upwards chasing zero KOM points. It was my intention today for a different route to Ellesmere and John was convinced we were heading Llangollen way.
From Pen-y-cae we are enjoying a long descent to Trevor before the uphill to Pontcysyllte. Crossing the Dee we stop for photo opportunity of the aqueduct and a rider visiting from Norfolk offers to take photos of us and the views. Advised him we only wanted a scenic shot but had a good chat with him. Clive wouldn't have departed as quickly!
A suggestion to stop at Stan’s for lunch was discounted as, passing the petrol station, it is very busy with police activity. Later we found out that a serious incident had taken place. Turning right, we head along Church Lane and the impressive St Martins church, and then ride 6 miles of lanes to Ellesmere.
We decide to ride on to Chester. I enjoyed a overall ride of 66 miles in mainly very sunny 18/20C and 98% humid conditions and slight southerly wind speed of 4mph. This route round was 45 miles however.
Only a few rain spots fall when we were at our lunch stop but we are under the garage canopy. A good day out, and glad we were not put off by the weather forecast.
It was good to catch up with John and Ivan before they set off on their own trajectory. It was also a pleasure to have the company of super-slim Dave and Liz for a while. There was a lower turnout than of late for various reasons. Undoubtedly, the likelihood of being struck by lightning and suffering torrential downpours, had led some to lily-liveredly buttering another round of toast and hunkering down at home. The moderates consisted of Steve Haywood, Alan, Peter and myself. Loppington was the chosen destination. Peter was accompanying us only part of the way, as he too was running frit of forecast deluges. It was difficult to know what to wear, as it was likely to remain warm even if we were soaked through. We drooled over John's neat GoreWear black jacket from their Rich City Slickers collection. Evidently, it remains totally waterproof in a tsunami, yet retains the ventilation comparable to travelling in an open Ferrari Portofino at a steady199m.p.h. Some would rather have the fluorescent yellow safety of a Decathlon waterproof jacket on a dark, wet day in winter, and put the hundreds of pounds saved in the tin marked, “Winter Holiday in Barbados.” To be fair, John covers more miles than most, and being soggy and sweaty for many hours is not pleasant.
We were a little late setting off as we inspected the Pipe's electrified tandem, which I thought smelt of burning. My route was through Tilston, Malpas and Higher Wyche. The sun had appeared and was pretty hot. I had left my helmet behind at home after the distraction of my daughter's dog escaping as I went to the car. Alan kindly lent me a cloth cap to spare my burning bonce, and we made good progress toward Whixall. Alan had hopes that if we could just make lunch before getting wet......Then, the heavy rain started, and we sheltered under some trees as it really began to pour down. It was time to forget further meandering on intricate lanes toward Wem. We cut across to the B5476 and rode south and straight to Wem and out the other side to Tilley. We passed the Tilley Raven where we once arrived late, but the chef left a good helping of chips for us as he left for home. We sped down the back lane to Nonely, as the rain eased off, and reached The Dickin Arms shortly after. We could have sat outside under canvas, but Steve preferred a wasp free lunch, and we agreed to eat inside. The food was very good and excellent value. The standard of the cooking, and the class of the clientele is definitely up a notch on most pub stops. We were the only plebs, and the only ones looking like drowned rats.
|Photo by AO|
The narrow, well-surfaced lane to Lyneal was a scenic delight on the way back. Alan kindly took the photograph, and the sun was out again. The dirty little lanes towards Tart Hill were given a miss, and we headed for Hanmer via Northwood and Bettisfield. We continued to push on through Threapwood, conscious that a lot more wild rainfall was looming. Steve persuaded me that the direct route to Shocklach was a bit rough, and that he had a nicer little detour! So it was that we cycled down Chapel Lane to “The Holy Land” and then ploughed on north for Farndon and Holt. Thanks to Steve's cute diversion we failed to beat the next heavy rainfall, which hit us at Crewe-by-Farndon, minutes before reaching Cleopatra's! Steve may well have led us to the Holy Land, but, for me, he now still needs to find the Road to Redemption. Perhaps, I am being a bit harsh, perhaps, I am being that “typical Scouser” from home that usually blames others if things go wrong! At Holt, Alan headed for his car, and Steve and I had a last coffee and a chat to Helen. Steve reminded me of my once forgetting to bring my jacket to this venue, on a very cold day. I asked the staff if they could spare me a bin bag, and I then made a gilet from this. Helen took pity on me and lent me her partner's cycling jacket. Today, Philippe made an appearance from the kitchen to amuse us with some inane trick questions. If you don't know why Philippe left South Africa, and how he met Helen, read their 'Journey' on Cleopatra's website. The drive home, across country to Steve's at Kelsall, and then to Runcorn was extremely frought with deep, swirling floodwater everywhere, but fortunately the old Berlingo made it. Despite everything, we were never cold, the scenery was enjoyable, and I am sure that the three of us were glad that we had made the effort. We had covered nearly fifty miles, the majority of them dry, surprisingly.
Tuesday, 7 September 2021
Good turn out at Rose farm (no head count today).
Lovely to see Mr. & Mr’s. DP complete with Tandem or should I say” E- tandem, after Dave had added a motor (nice one Dave- I wonder if it complies with the 15 mph max rules? -Lol)Also nice to see Trevor there (1st this year!) By the way mate, you owe me a pint, after finding that £20 you dropped- Lol.
Well I never, 2 E bikes at the meet, as Peter turned up as well, all we need now is Paula and we have a group (unfortunately she is not interested in larger group rides). Notable absentees, were the Runcorn lot (rumour has it, they all had something more interesting to do, which can’t be true, surely- Lol). The fast group of 2? Set off to an unknown destination, Steve H lead out the main Moderate group, East.
My easy flat moderate ride, to the Dusty Miller, became a ride to ‘#18 The Park’ in Wrenbury- Cum- Frith, after Dave M decided to join my group of Fiona, Elwyn & myself. However, there was a last minute desertion by F&E (turn coats, who decided to join Steve’s ride- what happened to cycling loyalty- Lol). So, me & Dave set off for a new cafe experience, which I might add was fab, more of that later.
We head out left on my original route, leading Dave up the steep-ish hill into Tarporley ( never thought I would ever see Dave grinding that tiny granny ring on his lovely Colnago, but I did). His feet were spinning so fast, I thought it was ET in front of me. Once through Tarporley, Dave came up with an alternative route, being as I had shortened my original plan and was winging it a little- Lol.
So Dave now leading, we end up on 2 main roads, instead of the easy, traffic free route through Bunbury (just didn’t get it, but I humoured him, as he is a bit senior to me, in many ways- Lol). However, he was forgiven after the cafe stop (bit more upmarket than most, could say posh even, with lovely knee blankets for outside. Good job Dave H wasn’t with us, we would have had to leave him outside- Lol.
They have a large covered decked area with plenty of tables and additional picnic benches on the grass, so ideal for large groups of cyclists (closed Mon & Tue, by the way, as we found out today, when I lead F&E there, much to my embarrassment- NOT- Lol). Wrenbury needed a cafe to be fair (no more stops at the post office- Lol). We discovered that it’s been there since late 2019, but due to the Pandemic, they have only really got going in the last month or so. Lovely looking carrot & coriander soup for Dave and choc cake for me, which was all good, apart from the wasps, as usual.
Lunch done, we set off again in opposite directions, as both of us preferred a route that took us home, as opposed to Rose farm. I headed virtually direct to Harthill via Bickerton and onward to Milton Green. Dave headed out toward ‘Sound’ & on up toward Bunbury & home to Oscroft.
I ended up completing 42 easy flat miles, after another nice day.
Thursday, 2 September 2021
There was a bit of confusion at Rose Farm as various cyclists seemed unsure of where to ride and who with – but then this is not unusual for CER. Eventually my suggestion of heading for the Rising Sun at Scholar Green, beneath Mow Cop, found a number of takers. The mod group comprised myself, Andy, Fiona, Elwyn and Peter. Trevor, who it was good to see after a long absence (apparently due to the competing attractions of bridge), chose to join us for the initial miles.
We left on the usual route to Cotebrook and then past Oulton Park to Marton Green and along the Whitegate Way onto Winsford. We negotiated the big roundabout to then passed through Clive and on to Middlewich. We weaved our way through its estates to emerge into more open country. At some point I phoned the pub to see if they could accommodate the five of us. No, they couldn’t! It’s a good pub in a popular location beside a canal and the Gritstone Trail and they were having a busy time. The decision was made to carry on and in the words of Micawber, “hope for something to turn up”.
We caught our first glimpse of Mow Cop as we crossed the M6. Then it was on to Brereton Green and Spen Green. Here about four miles short of the Rising Sun, we noticed the Blue Bell Inn. A quick check confirmed they could feed us and we settled on of their many outside tables. Orders were taken outside and we chatted generally about bikes and when Rose Farm gates would be locked for Fiona and Elwyn had left their car there. The internet informed us that they were safe up to 6pm. Our food and drink had arrived and the consensus was that our lunch was good value and the beer drinkers appreciated their ale.
|Photo by SH|
We continued towards Mow Cop discussing various routes of ascent, but with no-one willing to take on the challenge. We passed through Scholar Green and Rode Heath, before entering open countryside again. Wheelock Heath came next, but we were brought to a halt by an extremely busy A534. It was only due to a kind motorist that we were able to cross. Next came Clay Lane, “the worst surface in Cheshire”, partly due to subsidence but there is no excuse for the dreadful surface. At least, afterwards we appreciated smooth roads more. The northern suburbs of Crewe followed, then Church Minshull and Wettenhall, before we rejoined our outward route near Cotebrook. It should have been a straightforward return, but for major potholes near Utkinton Hall, but somehow we lost Fiona. Elwyn tracked her down using Strava on her way to Tarporley, and we all eventually made our way back to the start.
We had covered a total of 53 miles. The morning had been cool and overcast and we were starting to feel the chill as we left the pub. But then, we caught a few rays of sunshine, and as we continued our ride it became noticeably warm. With very little wind it was a pleasant ride through a landscape that was largely unfamiliar to Fiona and Elwyn.
Last week, I expounded my riding algorithm and used the Speed vs Hills formula - this week I am using Distance vs Speed on the ride to Audlem.
Friday, 27 August 2021
As always there was a warm welcome at the Gallery Cafe in Hawarden. A fast group of four were debating their destination and the mod group were still enjoying the coffee.
Alan advised he had an off piste route from Hawarden eg not out amongst the hills. The destination of the Royal Oak was suggested and seized upon by the flat riders.
So a mod group consisting of Steve T , Steve Hu , Andy, Alan, Peter and Mike G. As we left Hawarden Mike G let it slip he had just ridden in from Rhos only 37 miles, whilst Andy had been conducting hill reps up Tinkersdale road to warm up. The scene was set for a brisk day!
The route took us up out of Hawarden only to stop at an unknown grave near Shortly. From here we headed for Rossett; on arriving at Rossett we were advised on the need to climb Marford Hill, this went down well. From here the route took in some fantastic small lanes before arriving at Cross Lanes. Unfortunately Steve Hu new bike decided to present a slow puncture. at this point the entire group were privileged to witness a masterclass in puncture repairs.
With the Elite rider group currently baying for more we made quick progress to Kinnerton where Peter departed. The group of five then battled the A road to Handbridge where 5 became 3 as Mike left to set off to Rhos and Alan decided to remove his crank arm whilst doing 25 mph!. Lots of multitools and we were off again , around Handbridge , the Dee path and finally Hawarden for a well deserved rest. The mileage was 47 miles at a respectable 13.3 mph.
Thursday, 26 August 2021
Sunday, 22 August 2021
Friday, 20 August 2021
Steve Tan, Dave Matthews, George, Steve Hughes, Mold Andy and myself were the potential moderate group. It was good to chat to Nick and Ken. Ken has made a successful recovery from his lymphoma and subsequent gruelling treatment, but still has to be particularly careful to avoid Covid. Amazingly, Steve Tan had turned up for a short ride after spending three days in Warrington Infirmary! The moderate group who were available for the day's ride consisted of George, Steve H, Andy B and myself.
Heavy rain was likely, so I asked the troops if a meandering route to The Spinner and Bergamot at Comberbach was acceptable, on the basis that a short, quick return route was then possible if the heavens opened. My suggestion was accepted, and we headed for Acton Bridge via Norley Hall, Crowton, Ainsworth Lane and Cliff Lane. Steve Tan had visitors due midday, apart from any health concerns, so soon spun off for home. From the A49 crossing of the Weaver Navigation we rode north-west, passing the impressive, but discretely screened, Cogshall Hall. Proper little quiet lanes led to picturesque Higher Whitley with its attractive duckpond in front of the handsome, old farmhouse. We continued to use off-piste narrow lanes towards Whitley Reed and on to Barber's Lane, crossing Arley Lane. I was able to point out the hangar at the bottom of a garden where two vintage German planes were housed. The weather was a bit minty for private flying, but perhaps we will be lucky and see them in action in the future. We circled back south passing Garland Hall, Crowley Lodge and the Georgian Pole House before reaching Comberbach.
Lunch was very good at The Spinner and Bergamot after clocking up about twenty-three miles.I should have ordered something smaller, as I couldn't finish it in good time. Steve volunteered a small plastic bag, and my daughter's dog thereby enjoyed some tasty lamb for tea.
Friday, 13 August 2021
Today’s ride started from the Castle Bistro in Chirk – always a welcome opportunity to get outside our usual Cheshire territory. There were seven moderate riders: Dave H, Dave P, Andy B, Alan, Steve T, Steve Hu and myself. I had in mind two possible destinations – The Old Hand and Diamond at Coedway and the Royal Hill at Edgerley. In truth both of them offered similar rides as the same route leads to them, you just need to travel a little further to Coedway. Incidentally, the proper address of the Royal Hill is Edgerley, though on the map, Pentre or Melverley seem the more obvious locations.
|Photo by AO|
We arrived in Bagley where we took the turn to Stanwardine-in-the-Fields and travelled through some lovely countryside on quiet and smooth lanes. After Stanwardine, came Baschurch, and then Little and Great Ness before we crossed over the A5. Here we could see a densely packed herd of sheep on the opposite hillside. Though as we approached their movements looked unnatural, and it was only as we got closer that we could see they were in fact a flock of white geese! We continued, passing by the army camp and arrived at our destination.
The Royal Hill is in a delightful south-facing location on the banks of the River Severn looking towards the distinctive Breidden Hills on the far bank. Atop the main hill is Admiral Rodney’s Pillar, erected to commemorate his victories in the American War of Independence. Obviously, his battles went better than the rest of the war.
|Photo by SH|
We sat on benches outside. It was warm, quiet and relaxing in the sun. The Severn was close by, though we had to look over a hedge to see it. A chap came over to talk and ask whether we were from Shrewsbury. He had arranged to meet members of a cycle club there for lunch and was checking to see if we were them. We admired his car, a classic open-top maroon Mercedes. Food arrived quickly and was enjoyed. Before long it was time to leave.
Our return took us to Melverley, where previously Mike Gilbert (I think) had shown us to the church, an ancient half-timbered structure on the banks of the river. Today, we passed by and made for Maesbrook, then Maesbury and into Oswestry from the east. Negotiating the back streets we emerged by Old Oswestry Hill Fort, and took the road to Weston Rhyn. Avoiding the busy main road, we dropped down to the Ceriog Valley and climbed back up to our starting point.
We covered 43 miles in some lovely weather and pastoral scenery, and with good company. An excellent ride.
Back on 29th April, Ivan lead a ride around the hills of Wales to Montford Bridge. We ended up at a biker's cafe just off the A5 at Montford Bridge. With this in mind, and an urge to remove the Welsh hills, I crafted a 62 miler basically running SSE of Chirk through the glorious Shropshire countryside. I only had two takers for this ride, John M and Nick, but they were up for a flat ride in the August sunshine.
Thursday, 5 August 2021
The forecasters had promised us strong SSE winds gusting to nearly 30mph, plus heavy rain from noon. Given this poor forecast there was a good CER turnout at Alison’s in Tattenhall. It was especially good to see Bob for the first time in some months. He is moving to live near Chorley, and we wish him well in his health and his new life in Lancashire.
The anticipated weather affected our choice of route: either a longer trip south-westward in a crosswind to the Greyhound in St Martin’s, or a shorter route that minimised the time we would spend in rain. The latter was chosen which meant a trip southward to one of our favourite destinations, the Hanmer Arms. The group comprised myself and the other two Steves, Dave H, George, Alan and Andy, plus Neil who was only able to join us for part of the ride. We headed off over the hills by Bolesworth Castle and then to Brown Knowl. Although having not long been riding, we managed to lose both Alan and Steve Hu by the time we reached Broxton Old Hall. Luckily telephone communication was established and they re-joined us shortly afterwards. We continued on to No Man’s Heath and began the climb up to Malpas. Here heavy rain began to fall and we donned our waterproofs expecting to be wet for the rest of the day. The route took us through Lower Wych, by when the rain had petered out. It didn’t take long to reach Eglwys Cross and join the A-roads that led us into Hanmer village by 1230. Although we had often been riding into the wind, it didn’t cause us too many problems, perhaps we had been sheltered by the landscape.
We had called ahead to alert the pub, but need not have worried as initially we were the sole customers. Drinks and food were ordered, the light bite fish and chips proving most popular and very tasty. Conversation ranged widely but, after George described having watched Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm, tended to focus on farming. Specifically, Clarkson’s lack of farming aptitude and the massive cost of farm machinery, narrow margins and where did farmers make their money.
|Photo by SH|
It was still not raining when we left the pub. We headed for Tallarn Green and Threapwood, noticing, as we leave Chapel Lane and join the B-road, a substantial house oddly named “The Holy Land”. From there we made for Tilston and Stretton, passed by Manor Wood café, and were soon back in Tattenhall. We’d only covered 34 miles, our return helped by a strong tailwind. The heavy rain hadn’t materialised, though when I reached home, I found it had fallen there and much more would later in the day. I think we’d been lucky.
Plan A: Was to ride half of an Audax 200k ride, going to Wilmslow, under the runways and back. This changed to Plan B: i.e follow compass into wind & make up as we go. Ken was out today as well and due to fact that Ken was having to be home early, plus having another ride tomorrow, Plan B was adopted. We decided on a loop around Holt and let Ken cut out, with myself & Matt to continue.
Matt & I continue into a strengthening headwind on Borras Road, with a poor surface and progressively testing inclines, trying to be aero, towards Wrexham. A short stop for fluids leads to temptation, with chip butties at Borras Park Fishbar; suitably refreshed, we head to, then pass Gwersyllt, the one time meeting place for CER many moons ago, now solely for Wrexham Reivers & Cafe Hoppers on Saturdays.
Heading North, towards Llay, zig-zagging passed & down Higher/Lower Kinnerton and through Bretton to thankfully head East on A5104 with a great tailwind on the newly surfaced cycle path, then turning off to cross the Dee onto Ferry lane and home for me, while Matt continues on the Millennium home.
Only four brisk riders today and we really didn't know where to go. The rain was forecasted by lunchtime and it was quite windy from the South. So Nick proposed a run round to Ravensmoor, which we quickly assented to. Ray, John W and myself followed Nick out of Tattenhall bound for Bunbury - all at quite a lick despite the blustery wind. Passing straight though Bunbury, we take Long Lane out of Haughton towards Burland. At Ravensmoor, we turn for home via Nantwich where the wind starts to be helpful to us.
Exiting Nantwich via Welshman's Lane, we are soon on the long and uncomfortable drag up to Wettenhall with only the following wind to make it bearable. Another Long Lane connects back to Alpraham and on to Bunbury.
The Co-op provides a sumptuous lunch as we sit on the bench at the road triangle watching the comings and goings of this busy village. Re-tracing our route this morning, we are soon back at Beeston Castle where we opt to head back to Chester via Huxley. Nick had peeled off here going back home via Bickerton.
The wind is well behind us now as we enter Chester with nearly 60 miles out and back at a surprising 17.1 mph average speed. The rain didn't really trouble us when it started around 1200, with only a couple of light showers, so well worth the effort of getting out today.
This was a warm-up run for John and Ray who are riding a mid-Wales Audax on Saturday - only 200Km!
Friday, 30 July 2021
A good turn out today at Meadow Lea (I saw at least 15 riders), and very nice to see Dave P there, well on the way to full recovery it seems (love the bike Dave). Fiona and Elwyn couldn’t make it, due to a mini cycling break between Ludlow & Hay on Wye (tough life). The main moderate group, approximately 10, set off left, out of Meadow Lea, whereas, yours truly, along with DM, set off right.
I was carrying an iffy hamstring, so Dave’s suggestion of heading west, along the Greenway, directly into the stiff wind, sounded perfect as the Greenway provides complete protection from the wind and he had also planned a virtually flat route. We therefore cruised along the Greenway, unaware of the wind, until Shotton, which took us far enough west that we virtually had a cross tailwind, at worse, for the majority of the ride (ideal). So, after turning left off the Greenway, over the River Dee, Dave led me on a couple of small lanes that I had not ridden before. This included the only real uppy bit, a fairly lengthy drag up toward Hawarden, avoiding the main road.
After taking the little foot bridge over the A55, at the top of the ‘Old Warren’, we proceed through Hawarden and head south, past the site of my infamous; ‘let’s rip the bike of the car roof, by hitting the overhead, max height beam, moment’ (what a plonker- anyway, in the past, if not forgotten). It was at this point that I asked Dave where we were heading for. His response was “Cleopatra’s” which, I was fine with, but saw a chance of gaining some smartie points, by suggesting a different café that Dave had never been to or even heard off (shock horror). Dave was game to try somewhere new, especially as it was so close to Cleopatra’s and therefore only needed a tiny deviation from our route.
Once we got to Rossett we turn right to head up Marford hill and swing around the back, half way up, heading to Borras, so as to be able to drop down into the Acorn café at Commonwood Fishery (they do a wicked vegie haloumi burger -massive! On homemade baps). I think Dave was pleasantly surprised at the scenic and amazingly quiet café location, where upon we ordered fish & chips for Dave and a sweat chilly haloumi wrap for me. I think Dave had watched too much of the Olympic swimming, as mid fish & chips, he proceeded to try and teach a wasp how to do the breast stroke in his cup of tea. Unfortunately for the wasp, Dave’s coaching talents were lacking and the wasp was done for.
So, wasp now dead and great food devoured, we set off again, into Holt and on up toward Saighton. We take the little side lanes of Churton and Aldford, of course, thus avoiding much of the main road. Before we knew it we were in Waverton, where upon Dave showed me another little bit of lane I’ve not ridden, that took us up the side of the ‘Black Dog’ pub (which by the way, has improved no end with it’s intriguing outdoor pods and much improved food). In Dave’s opinion this way of crossing the A41 is safer & I sort of get his point, as you don’t have to sit in the middle of the road, waiting for traffic to pass, as you do when crossing opposite the antique shop. A41 behind us and my cue to say “thanks and cheerio” to Dave, as I head south to Tattenhall & home. Dave was heading home to Oscroft.
I got home after 57 pleasant miles on the clock at a sedate 14 mph average & only 1400’ of assent, which must have been perfect for me, as there was no sign of any hamstring issues (12 of those miles were getting to Meadow Lea in the first place). Great day out as usual & nice to see everybody. Finally, and somewhat spookily, both Dave & I bumped into old friends at different points on our route (small world again).
Thursday, 29 July 2021
We met at Meadow Lea café on a day sandwiched between a Wednesday of downpours and a Friday of forecast steady rain. Miraculously, this Thursday’s forecast was dry, cloudy with sunny spells but with a stiff westerly wind. That dictated a north-south route, and I’d worked out one to The Swan at Marbury. Many Easy Riders were at Meadow Lea, so a largish group of ten formed the mods. Jim joined us for the first few miles, and the rest were Roy, Andy B, Alan, Dave H, Dave P, George, Steve T, Peter and myself.
We headed out to Waverton, then alongside the Shropshire Union Canal and into Tattenhall. From there we passed through Carden and into Tilston, and then took the old Roman road towards Malpas, turning left at Simmonds Green to arrive in No Mans Heath. For those interested, the name originates in the 15th century as “Nomonheth”, and refers to common lane outside specific ownership. We crossed the A41 and then the A49 at Bickley, to arrive at our destination just before 1 o’clock.
I’d phoned ahead to The Swan and was told that they were fully booked inside, but that the outside tables were available on a first come, first served basis. In fact, most of the indoor bookings were for a large pre-wedding drinks party, and this group had decided to stand outside in the fine weather. As we occupied some outdoor tables, we worried initially that if they we ordering food we would have a long wait. However, before long the church bells started to ring and they drifted off to the service. Naturally our conversation touched on weddings. The food and drink arrived shortly and were excellent as was the service. As we prepared to leave at 2pm, Dave H suggested we visit the Church yard which was a pleasant place to sit and look out over a hidden mere. On reflection, though, we felt that our group would not be a welcome addition to the wedding photos.
|Photo by SH|
Friday, 23 July 2021
On what was arguably the hottest day of the year so far a number of intrepid CER riders met at Ness Gardens Cafe. The group consisted of Elwyn, Fiona, Neil, Dave M, Steve Ha, Steve T, Steve Hu, Alan, Roy, Andy B and George.
Elwyn, Fiona, Dave M, Neil and Steve Ha had all ridden from their respective dwellings having covered 25/30 miles already, so this group set off for home via different routes.
This left the hard core of George, Steves T & Hu, Roy, Alan and Andy. Alan had a route around the Wirral however this involved extensive use of the Wirral way and the thought of stone chips on Steve’s Hu new bike left him apoplectic with worry. However even in his absence Clive saved the day (thank you Clive). Steve Hu had recorded the 12th March 2020 ride when Clive navigated us around the Wirral on a day of stinging wind and high tides. Today there was no wind, or breeze just 26 to 30 deg C wall to wall sun.
The group left Ness returning to the coastal path past Nets and on towards Parkgate. Some nifty turns and a short stretch on the Wirral Way had us cruising through Lower Heswall and onto Ireby. A strange sound emanating from Andy’s bike turned out to be a nasty puncture which had damaged his tyre. Despite wacky suggestions to insert £10 notes into the tyre between the case and the tube we were left with an Egg bulge on the tyre. Quick thinking and internet browsing by Alan tracked down a bike shop in Moreton for a new tyre. Once replete with fresh water, a new tyre and having found a £10 in his tyre Andy was good to go at full speed. I just wonder if the 145 mile Audax he did in Suffolk last Saturday had worn his tyre too much.
Onwards to the Sunshine Cafe at New Brighton, open, quiet, but unfortunately no shade, so back to plan B, Wetherspoons. Despite testing the linguistic skills of the bar man George managed to order two meals in a pure Geodie accent. Possibly as a result of the translation required, Andy's and George's meals were last to arrive.
|Photo by AO|
Again fully replete the team of six set off along the New Brighton coastline weaving along opposite the Liverpool City backdrop complete with cruise liner in dock. Then followed the endless turns to take us through Woodside, Birkenhead, Rock Ferry and ultimately Eastham. Another refreshments stop here where the peloton fueled up on Ice Creams and soft drinks. From Eastham it was a short jaunt through Willaston back to Ness Gardens.
Just under 40 miles on a very warm day with super company.
Saturday, 17 July 2021
As usual, there was a good turn out at Cleopatra’s. It was especially good to see Ken who’s making a good recovery – very good if his Strava posts are anything to go by! The mods today were Dave H, Steves Hu and T, Mike D and Alan, with Jim and Dave M accompanying us for the first few miles. Our destination was the Dog and Bull at Coton, somewhere that we haven’t been to since May 2018 when the ride had been led by Steve H, so a visit was well overdue.
The route out took us east to Tilston, Duckington and Cholmondeley before turning in a more southerly direction for Bickley and Marbury with the wind behind us. Jim and Dave M had left us when we reached Stretton Hall.
The sky was overcast, but it was still quite warm as we made our way into Whitchurch. At this point, Steve Hu left us, as he had to go home to take delivery of a new Colnago bike and to berate his builder about some ‘snagging’ issues with his new house. We threaded our way through Whitchurch and found the road out to Alkington without any difficulty. From there we followed the quiet lanes through Hollinwood to Coton, arriving at the pub soon after 1 o’clock with 27 miles completed.
Although the pub was quiet, there seemed to be only one member of staff who apologized in advance that he might take a while to get to us. In the event, the service was quick and, as we sat outside enjoying the food and drink, the clouds dispersed and we were bathed in warm sunshine.
Suitably refreshed, we made our way back through Whixhall, Whitewell, Tallarn Green and Worthenbury. The countryside was looking its best and the lanes were mostly quiet, although the silage cut was in full swing and we came across a few large tractors with even larger trailers full of grass cuttings. Happily, there were no incidents or difficulties with them.
On reaching Shocklack, Alan and Steve T had pulled ahead of the others, but the usual sprint to Farndon didn’t materialize, possibly due to the fairly stiff north westerly wind blowing down the road and the soporific effect of the warm sunshine.
We reached Cleopatra’s about 4 pm, having completed 47 miles and, surprisingly climbed 1850 feet. Thanks are due to Steve H for the route and to my companions for their company.
Thursday, 15 July 2021
Thursday, 8 July 2021
It was warm but cloudy when a large group of moderate riders assembled outside Rose Farm Café. Other members present were John W and Neil, each planning to do their own thing, and Jim in civvies. The mod group were somewhat at a loss as to where to go and who should lead. David M stepped into the confusion and offered a ride to the Lord Combermere at Audlem. Following him were Dave H, George, Andy B, Alan, and Clive, plus the three Steves (T, Hu and Ha).
We rode out through Clotton, Huxley and Tiverton to join a very quiet A49. As we left the 30mph zone we turned right into Dean Bank towards Beeston village and suddenly were in the midst of traffic flowing both ways. Why this was, was a puzzle to all. Next, we passed through Bunbury and headed towards Haughton. By the time we reached the ornate Old School House, a gap had opened up, so while the lead group passed through Haughton, the followers turned right towards Brindley. After a phone call, we decide to meet up in Ravensmoor. The lagging group then got itself confused on Whitehaven Lane. Dave H was convinced we should go one way, I was convinced we should go the other, to the extent that I got the map out. I was wrong! After re-joining at Ravensmoor, we passed through Sound and into Audlem.
The Lord Combermere was looking welcoming, with lots of vacant tables outside under a marquee. Unfortunately, due to a group of customers inside, we would have an unacceptably long wait for food, so another plan was needed. Clive cycled off to see what other local pubs could offer, while David M went to the Old Priest’s House Café, which most of the group felt would be too small for us. Clive had better news, that although the Shropie Fly was shut, the Bridge Inn was open and could accommodate us. I don’t think that CER has been here before, but it was very pleasant, sitting outside at the back with the canal alongside having our lunch. We should probably in current conditions always phone ahead to book. Meanwhile David M had been served quickly and passed by to say he would head back on his own. This left Dave H and myself to plot a route back.
We took the main road through Audlem to the east, then turned onto NCR552 towards Market Drayton, but not for long as we looped south of Audlem, to join the lanes heading north to Aston. Pausing briefly outside The Bhurtpore, we made for Wrenbury, but found road works (“delays up to 15 minutes”) on the way to the level crossing. Bypassing these to get to Wrenbury canal bridge, we continued to Chorley Bank where we said goodbye to Clive. By now talk had turned to another café stop, so we passed through Brindley and followed our outward route to Bunbury where we arrived at Tilly’s at 4pm, expecting that to be closing time. In fact, Tilly’s is now open to 5pm on Thursdays, and also Tuesdays and Wednesdays I think. Hot drinks were consumed and cakes for the indulgent few.
Steve Hu had already left us, but some debate was had over the route to take us home. Dave H, Steve T and George headed for the Tilston Bank and back to their cars in Utkinton, accompanied by Andy, while Alan and I separately made our own ways onward.
The total route distance back to Rose Farm was 53 miles. It had been a good day with fine, warm weather and little wind. Very enjoyable.
Saturday, 3 July 2021
Riding out from Chester to Hawarden, I met up with John W and we rode on the greenway to Shotton then back along the Dee way to Queensferry then along Gladstone Way to the cafe. A quick cup of tea and, and as the brisk group is just the two of us, we set off along the usual ride via the main road to Ewloe and up to Northop.
Passing the castle, we ride through the town and join the cycleway before crossing over the River Clwyd and then joined the cycle path to Rhyl. It's now onto NCR5 along the sea wall to Mostyn stopping here briefly for a snack at a local Spa shop.
The sun did emerge eventually, but an enjoyable ride none the less. John had ridden Dave M's Berwyns Audax 130 mile with 9000ft of climb on the Sunday yet he was still a force to ride with today. The out and back route at Hawarden would be about 54 miles.
A good day out and 73 miles out and back to home and, as Bryan W always remarked, 2786 ft up and 2771ft down equals a flat ride that was covered.
Nine of us met at the Gallery, so we could all use the limited seating outside. Six mods, bravely choosing to follow me to the Eagle and Child. So Steve Hughes, Andy Barbour, Dave H, Steve Tan, Mike Dodd and myself (Alan), set off freewheeling down Gladstone way. My intention was to keep the climbing to the absolute minimum to reach our destination, after we had become used to the flatter Cheshire rides. Flintshire is a bit hillier!
At the busy ‘Asda’ roundabout we took the cycle path over it and then on to the ‘blue’ bridge over the Dee. Then following the coastal path through to Connah’s Quay docks, past the excellent Yvonne’s café (Sustrans volunteers meet there most Tuesdays at 10). Then on to Flint trying to avoid the A548 as much as possible, then a detour along the ‘prom’ to have a photo by the castle.
|Photo by AO|
Back onto national cycle route 5 into Bagillt, the easy riding over, up the steady climb into Holywell. Andy and Steve Tan powering away out of sight into Holywell which, unfortunately was not the way I had in mind! So Steve H kindly went off on a search and rescue mission and we all regrouped at Carmel.
Then at last away from busy traffic, on peaceful lanes through Whitford, passing Mynydd y Garreg tower’, Maen Achwyfan cross and down to the delightful village of Llanasa. Arriving at the pub the skies had darkened considerably, but, thankfully no rain. So, with such poor visibility we skipped the extra half mile to the viewpoint, a shame as the mist cleared shortly afterwards. After a nice lunch in the garden and admiring the impressive hanging baskets, it was off along a route well known to many CER riders. Across the A55 then up to Halkyn via Babell, then down to Northop, where I turned off for Flint, the full loop to Hawarden 44 miles, more for some. Mike gets to wear the yellow jersey this week with an extra 20 miles to and from Chester, even more, than ‘ard Andy!
Friday, 25 June 2021
It was good to see John Wilkie and Dave Matthews, though John was doing his own circular ride, and Dave was busy organizing a cycling event, which was particularly demanding in these Covid times.
The moderate group consisted of Andy Barber, Alan, Roy, Clive, Mike Dodd and myself. I suggested The Dog in posh Peover Heath, and rang to book lunch. Our way out was by way of Norley Hall, Ainsworth and The Cliff to Acton Bridge. I knew that a couple of the lads had not covered some of these nooky lanes before, and it made for a quiet, scenic start. We entered Comberbach from Senna Lane having detoured around the discreet and impressive Cogshall Hall. From picturesque Great Budworth we passed through Pickmere where there was once a fairground on the side of the mere. We rode up the Roman Road route of the A556 in the direction of Plumley, sensibly sticking to the pavement. When we reached the A50, I decided to cut a northerly loop out to Ollerton and Marthall, so we arrived in good time after passing Barclays Radbroke Hall and cruising through the desirable location around Over Peover. You don't see too many polo clubs riding out from Runcorn! Lunch and service at The Dog at Peover Heath were up to the usual high standard, although the prices would seem a little high if you normally ate out in Mold or Flint, or came from Barnsley.
Clive expertly led our return, initially down the attractive narrow lanes to Goostrey. From here we made good progress to Lach Dennis, and were soon on the way into pretty Davenham. On climbing out of Hartford, Andy realised that he had lost the special long nut securing his rear brake. He did not fancy using cable ties to secure it, preferring to find a bike shop. The guys located G&B Cycles, using their mobiles, and it wasn't too far back. Andy is independently minded, so it was a waste of time trying to change his mind. Alan suggested that he could take Andy and his bike at least to Flint if he rang him when he got back to his car at Delamere. I said, “Good luck with that one!” as I remember him declining a lift from Chirk in very poor conditions and fading light, and he probably would have his phone switched off anyway. Thankfully, it all turned out fine: the bike shop had the correct bolt, fixed it right away, and refused any payment. Andy had his wife, Julie, write a glowing review for G&B Cycles who are based on the A599 main road into Northwich from Greenbank station. They have lots of great reviews. Clive completed the ride via Delamere Park, and passing Gary Barlow's former residence before taking Gallowsclough Lane into Norley and then on to Hatchmere. We covered 44 very enjoyable miles in warm and dry conditions. Andy managed more than 103 miles, had the gigantic Airbus Beluga pass close to his stubborn head, and got home about 7 pm.