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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.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

14th June 2018: Coedway from Waverton - Long Ride

A long spell of calm weather seemed to be ending as Storm Hector battered the north of the UK. In Cheshire gale force gusts were predicted, not ideal conditions for a long ride; however it was forecast to be dry. Nine Easy Riders arrived at the Waverton canalside car park for an 8am start: George, Nick, Ivan, Trevor, Keith, Dave H, Paul, Clive and myself.  Clive was a late addition, having shortened his sailing trip in response to Hector.

Our first goal was the Midway Truck Stop at Prees Heath, about 26 miles distant. We headed towards Tattenhall, then Tilston, into Malpas from the west, and out to Whitchurch.  The main road was closed at Bradley Brook, but a short diversion kept us on track. From Whitchurch we took the Calverhall road, but turned off to pass through the placid Brown Moss Nature Reserve. Then we walked across the busy A41 dual carriageway and into our first stop.  No-one was tempted by the Desperate Dan all-day breakfast, though a cooked option was taken by some – all good value, substantial fare.

Re-fuelled we headed on through Tilstock and Hollingwood towards Northwood.  During this section the brisk riders (Ivan, Paul, Nick and Clive) broke away and forged a path to our pub stop, 30 miles distant.  The rest continued more leisurely through Lyneal and Colemere, to Lee. Here we struck southwards to Lower Hordley and Stanwardine in the Fields, before entering Ruyton XI Towns. Turning left up Little Ness Lane, we eventually crossed the A5 and entered the Severn Valley. Passing the Royal Hill pub (a possible destination for a Chirk ride), we made for Melverley, entered Wales, passed over the Severn on a single track bridge and entered Crew Green.  From here it was little more than a mile to our lunch stop.

Apparently the Old Hand in the pub’s name refers to the Red Hand of Ulster, while the Diamond refers to gold trading.  For a 17th century inn there are also reputed to be two resident ghosts. The brisk group were well into their lunch as we ordered.  In celebration of his coming birthday, Clive generously bought everyone drinks and we settled down to eat. The roast dinner was a favourite, good value and must have replenished quite a few calories. Before long the brisk riders decided to depart, minus Clive who chose a more leisurely return.  The strong winds of the morning hadn’t caused us any great difficulties, and we looked forward to an improved forecast for the afternoon.


Pub phots by SH

Prior to heading back northwards, we took a short circuit of the hills to the southwest and appreciated the enhanced views towards Llanymynech. Back over the Severn, into England, we headed towards Maesbrook.  In the morning we had enjoyed some lovely tranquil lanes and here were some more. Next we made for Maesbury Marsh and then into Oswestry from the east.  By this time the schools traffic was diminishing and we headed towards the Old Oswestry Hill Fort. 
Oswestry Old Hill Fort, photo by ID

Here we met the only unfortunate incident of the day. Cycling up the narrow lane towards the fort, we were aware of a car just behind us.  As there were no safe passing places, we pulled into a layby to let it go by. Instead the car swerved towards us and stopped only inches from my bike.  A middle aged Mr Angry started shouting about how we were in his way and in the wrong. He climbed out of his car, perhaps to accost us, as his wife looked on embarrassed. We refused to move without an apology, and Mr Angry backed down and reversed away, threatening to ‘kick our tyres in’. That was all the result of our trying to let him pass.
Chirk Aqueduct, photo by ID

Photo by ID

From Oswestry we continued north through Weston Rhyn and into Chirk for our café stop. We weren’t surprised that the brisk group had already passed through. Large portions of cake and scones were consumed to help us on our way. We left heading for Cefn-Mawr and Ruabon, and then onto lanes to Cock Bank and Cross Lanes. Approaching Holt, Clive announced we had reached 100 miles, and we stopped outside the Spar for further refreshments and observed a minor scrape between two cars.

Between Holt and Aldford a race to the finish started between Clive and Keith, while the rest of us continued, enjoying a pleasant end to the ride with blue skies and fluffy white clouds above.  Our starting point was finally reached about 7:30pm with 108 miles completed. I later heard that the brisk riders had also successfully finished their ride an hour and a half before us. We had all been lucky with the weather and enjoyed some new territory, excellent lanes and good refreshment stops.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

7th June 2018: Ellesmere (mod)

Twelve riders turned up at the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall on what promised to be a fine summer’s day. Three wanted a brisk ride while three wanted a leisurely ride, leaving six of us (Bryan, Keith, Bob, George, Neil and myself) to indulge in a moderate ride to the Red Lion at Ellesmere.

We set off down Newton Lane, turning right at the end and heading round the back of Bolesworth Castle. Crossing the A534 we sauntered through Brown Knowl and Duckington, crossing the A41 at Edge Green. Then briefly down the Cheshire Cycleway before turning right into Whitewood Lane at Kidnal. We turned left in the direction of Chorlton Lane and Cuddington Green and continued through sleepy Threapwood before crossing into Wales at Tallarn Green.

As we left Tallarn Green we turned right and then left and headed down towards Three Fingers and Little Arowry, before cycling on to Hanmer. The Hanmer Arms has always been one of our favoured stops and after closing down for a while has now reopened. It was not our intended destination today but Bryan decided to turn back here having ridden out further on a CER ride than he has for some time.

The remaining five of us continued out of Hanmer and past Bettisfield Park which was looking idyllic in the warm summer sunshine. We ran for a short time along the A495 before turning off for Bettisfield itself, crossing the Llangollen Canal as we did so. A loop round to Balmer Heath took us back into Wales once more.

Then on through Lyneal to Colemere where a vineyard, which was planted a few years ago, is now starting to look established. A sure sign of climate change. Picking up the A528, we cycled into Ellesmere. The waterfront at Ellesmere was busy in the warm June sunshine so we avoided The Boat House and headed on to the Red Lion.

The Red Lion Coaching Inn usually offers an ‘over 60s’ two course lunch for a reasonable price but on this occasion we were to be disappointed. The normally busy pub was quiet due to a kitchen refurbishment which was in progress. We were given a warm welcome but were advised that there was a limited menu in operation. We still managed to find plenty to our liking and were soon tucking in to paninis, ploughman’s lunches and the like.

Leaving the Red Lion we headed right at the roundabout, up Swan Hill and then left up to Sandyhill. Then it was into Lion Lane, a tiny road alongside Lion Lane Wood which leads on to the A539 at Sandy Lane. After only a short distance on the A-road we turned right into quiet Burgess Lane and headed up to Holly Bush and Worthenbury.  From there we went through Shocklach, Tilston and Clutton along the quiet and flat lanes of the Cheshire Plain before reaching Tattenhall. As we passed through Tattenhall Neil left us to head home and instead of turning right into Newton Lane to return to the Ice Cream Farm the rest of us carried straight on to return to our own cars or home.

49 very pleasant miles on a dry, warm summer’s day (plus our respective return journeys) in classic ‘Easy Rider’ fashion.

See route map and/or gpx file download

TC

7th June 2018: Aston (leisure)

With the moderates heading for Ellesmere, the Leisure group consisting of Jim, with Dave and Liz on the tandem set off for the Bhurtpore Arms for a curry. The route took us through Beeston, Bunbury and then the outskirts of Nantwich. We approached Aston past the bunker (formerly known as secret) followed by a short section of main road, and arrived about 12.30.

The meal was excellent as usual and we were just finishing when Dave H appeared, having had a late start from home. Unfortunately, to gain time, Dave took the ‘crud encrusted shortcut’ only to be beset by mud and nettles, and soon realised why we had chosen not to go that way a few weeks earlier.

The return route was through Chorley, Larden Green and Brindley to have a short break at Tilleys in Bunbury for coffee and cake.

A very warm day, with good cycling of about 37 miles.

JD

Sunday, 10 June 2018

31st May 2018: Spurstow (leisure)

The group consisting of Dave and Liz on the tandem, with Jim and Bryan, joined the moderate group as far as the end of Beeston Castle Lane when we turned towards Peckforton, past the castle gates, and then entered Bunbury by the back passage, so to speak. The Yew Tree, on the corner at Spurstow was our lunch stop, after a couple of sorties past a set of road works when the workers had to move their diggers to allow us past. The pub has been re-furbished and offered a reasonable choice of ales and dishes on the menu.

The return journey was through the village, turning left by the church to emerge on the A49 just uphill of the Wild Boar Hotel. Then Left at Tiverton and back through Huxley and Greenlooms.
A total of 37 miles.

JD

Friday, 8 June 2018

7th June 2018: Mow Cop (brisk)

After last week's ride to the FOB, this week was going to be hard to follow. With the weather being so great I thought the annual ride to Mow Cop would be good.

Arriving at the ICF with John W, we were soon joined by the group but mainly moderate riders. Ken was out so the two of us set of on a warm and sunny morning. We ride via Beeston, Bunbury and the usual lanes to Nantwich. We get held up at the level crossing and enjoy the quick rest in the sunshine. The barriers raise and the ride is on again heading out towards Wybunbury then Weston and Radway Green. Alsager main road has three sets of traffic lights along a half mile stretch – pot hole filling!! At least road was not closed.  At the lights at Church Lawton, we join the A34 for a short distance before the right-hand turn to Mow Cop, signposted as two miles. From here it begins the gentle rise and arriving into the village we decide to head along to the drag up to the summit. Immediately joining Station Lane, the gradient goes to 14% and increasing. We hit the 24% steep bit and it’s a push to keep going at 2mph!

The T junction looms the top and we head up to the tower. Taking in the views of Cheshire and Staffordshire from this vantage point is spectacular. The tower was built as a summer house during 1754 by the local lord of the manor, more money than sense or cheap labour. It is 355 feet high and gives fantastic views. The best part of getting up here is the easy ride down again and hopefully lunch. We spin down the hill and again get stopped at the rail crossing for the busy Manchester- Stafford line. We wait for two trains on this occasion but again we can proceed and head towards lunch at the Blue Bell at Smallwood.

We can enjoy lunch as the continuing route home is flat and "downhill". Getting back on the saddle again we continue Hassel Green and then ride on the A533 road into Sandbach. The route then takes us through the lanes to Bradwall and towards Middlewich. On through Warmingham it is then Occlestone Green and Wardle. We are stopping for afternoon tea and cake at Tilly's, and arriving at the café, we enjoy the slabs and a refreshing drink of tea and milk shake (mine)

Back at the ICF, we part ways and Ken heads of to Rossett and I back to Chester.Although only the two of us today it was a good day out. The route was 64 miles as a round trip and with the ride out and back it was 83.2 and Ken’s and extra 5-10 miles further. Riding at an average 16.3mph in great sunshine and good company.
ID

Friday, 1 June 2018

31st May 2018: Audlem (mod)

It was great to see Steve Tan and Lesley at coffee.  The fast lads had been up in Bowland, and we had already discussed having two moderate groups on the day. Most weeks recently we have been able to add a 'Leisure Group' ride for those moderate riders who would rather go slightly slower and not too far. This also means that valued senior members can continue to ride with the club, and enjoy lunch together.

This week the 'normal' moderate group consisted of Bob (just back from France), George, Neil (a welcome guest), Mike and myself. Dave Matthews was able to join us for a few miles, before returning for granddad duties.

Steve H was at coffee, but wasn't available to ride. I suggested Little Bollington and  The Swan with Two Nicks, which was accepted, but we actually went as one group with the Leisure riders as far as Bunbury in the end!  At Waverton I asked those at the front if they were O.K. riding the canal route for a change, only for loud , insistent shouts from the mob behind that we turn left. Jim was the main culprit for all this, probably forty years of issuing instructions is a habit he can't break! Bryan was being apologetic to Neil, trying to assure him that we were not usually so shambolic. I couldn't make my mind up if this was democracy in action or anarchy. C.T.C. sticklers would have definitely been tutting! Dave Matthews took his leave, as we meandered through Greenlooms to Hargrave, meeting the tandem before Huxley! Don't, ask! At least this proved  we had been travelling at the correct leisurely pace.  The Leisure Group turned off at Beeston, and the famous five pressed on through Bunbury to Brindley, and then headed east to cross the Shropshire Union Canal, before turning south to Sound via Ravensmoor. We took the quiet lane past the moated Hall o'Coole, and in short order were diving down and driving up to Audlem central. The Lord Combermere staff are always friendly, and the food is consistently good. I do think plates are a better for holding meals than wooden squares though. How many of us, at home, would prefer to eat off a wooden place mat or a small bread board, rather than use a decent sized ceramic plate?  We parked our bikes by the back gardens, and away from the bins, because it is bin lorry day on Thursdays in Audlem. We sat on the verandah in the relative cool on a warm afternoon, and relaxed. We found out that Neil was a keen golfer as well as cyclist. He had only just moved to Cheshire, and had spent a long time with the R.A.F. It was obvious that with flaps retracted he was capable of more speed. Perhaps he will have a go with the brisk group next time.

Our return journey was via Aston and Cholmondeley, but we avoided  Harthill by turning left before the A534 and heading north from Brown Knoll and past Bolesworth Castle. Neil headed home at Tattenhall, where Alison's had customers inside, but a 'Closed' notice on the window. It had been a warm humid day and a cafe stop was needed, particularly with the Welsh contingent set to top 80 miles. George suggested Old Ma's. They were nominally closed, but waved us in. The mature gentleman, who I presume was the owner, was delightful company, and Bob told him that it was the best cup of tea that he had ever drunk! (I think the heat had got to Bob at this stage). Fortified by two slices of bara brith we fairly put the pedal to the metal back to Meadow Lea. Sixty miles covered, mostly just the brisk side of moderate. No thunderstorms, and enjoyable company. Jim and Dave Pipe let me know that their group's ride went really well. Out of initial confusion, organic democracy produced inclusive cycling satisfaction at the end of the day!( As Alastair Campbell may have put it).
                                                                                                                             
Photo by Mike G

See route map and/or gpx file download

 DH

Thursday, 31 May 2018

29th May 2018: Forest of Bowland (brisk)

This Thursday’s ride was unusual for two reasons, firstly it was on a Tuesday, and secondly, we decided to change plan and have an away day to the Forest of Bowland; that often overlooked area of hills to the east of Lancaster.


We (John W & M, and Ivan) met at Ivan’s house, for an 8.15 depart but we became delayed due to concern over the minimal clearance of the towing bracket on the Discovery, and the view that it wasn’t safe. So due to Ivan’s low and sagging back-end we swapped to two cars; John W’s and my mine.

We arrived a little later than planned at the lovely Lancashire village (after it was annexed from the West Riding of Yorkshire in 1974) of Dunsop Bridge, famed (apparently) for being the dead centre of the UK. So we set off in the bright sunshine and after completing and arduous 50 metres we stopped for coffee/egg baps at the Puddleducks tea room, and chatted to other cyclists there who had cycled significantly further than we had. Finally on our way westwards, after 4 miles we were confronted by the short but sharp climb (16%) up to the Trough of Bowland. It became apparent why Bradley Wiggins used this area for his 2012 Tour de France training.

Descending through a lovely wooded valley we took a left to pass through another idyllic village, Abbeystead, before the start of the next climb, a steady easy gradient to Jubilee Tower, and like the Trough, at about 300m height. In hot bright sunshine we took a breather, sat on the grass and took in the fantastic views across the Irish Sea. With views of Blackpool Tower and Lancaster and across Morecambe Bay to Barrow and on to the spread of the southern Lake District.

 Taking in the view across Morecambe Bay from Jubilee Tower
Recovered, Ivan and John W raced off on the fast descent, John and I wisely left them to it, catching up later after their 70km/hour and more top speed. The ride then took a more leisurely but no less scenic route to Caton by the A683. Taking a quick left and right took us across the picturesque River Lune, where several families were enjoying picnics on a beach there. Heading NE we re-crossed the Lune at Hornby and headed up the B6480, not before a cheeky 20% gradient was put in our way, made steeper by Ivan giving live Garmin gradient readings. The heat was beginning to be felt by all. With John M running out of water, we sped off to our lunch stop, which prevented me from pointing out Hornby Castle, as painted by John Constable.

Fortunately there was a copy of said painting within the 17thcentury Bridge Inn at Tatham Bridge. We sat down just in time for last food orders, ham. egg and chips was the main choice. The Hawkshead beer from Staveley was delicious. Most of us ordered one drink, Ivan sat down with two pints. He claimed it was a mistake by the barmaid. Others who know him better can decide! The pub proved very friendly and leaving was delayed when two locals had a lively discussion on whether B Wiggins was from the East End or Belgium. Turns out it was Belgium. That wasn’t the only fact we learnt here, Ribblehead Viaduct signal station is the only one in the country without mains water!

The consensus was we needed to do an extra few miles on the original plan, so I headed us out of the Forest of Bowland into the Yorkshire Dales, initially to Ingleton.  I knew it would only add a few extra miles, but I thought it unnecessary to mention the additional 260m climb. On arriving at Clapham, we stopped by the beck that runs through the centre of the village to enjoy ice creams. While sat on the river bank a lady was photographing the bridge next to us. Ivan kindly offered to take a picture of her and the bridge, suggesting she should get in the river for better picture composition. She replied that she would do but would get into her bikini. Not believing she had such an item with her, or on her, she disappeared to rapidly return holding a dark blue, floral patterned lower half. Nobody can say cycling is boring!

All calm in Clapham before the Bikini incident
Not quite knowing the direction this was going, the conversation unfortunately took a wrong turn to what cyclists may or may not wear under their shorts. The lady, sensibly, made a fast exit. After that bizarre moment, we thankfully got back to the safety of our bikes to head for Slaidburn, 12 miles away. The next section was always going to be the hardest. After a short distance from Clapham, we had a 4.5 mile near constant climb to Bowland Knotts at 422m height. Although the climb only averages a 5% gradient, it’s a long old, constant slog. However, the views from the top were well worth it.

John Mills arriving at Bowland Knotts
At Bowland Knott
Another fast decent to Stacks reservoir saw John W and Ivan race off, John M and I following behind. After a short climb on the B6478, we then had a fast decent into Slaidburn where we just managed to get to the tea shop before closing (why do they always close at tea time??). Getting there first, John W ordered apple pie with ice cream, Ivan rhubarb and custard pie with ice cream On seeing that John W’s pie was significantly bigger than Ivan’s, John and I naturally chose the apple pie.

A final few miles brought us back to Dunsop Bridge. The cycling in the Forest of Bowland is an absolute treat and highly recommended. Superb scenery and picture post-card villages, with very quiet roads. A great ride with great banter throughout. In total we cycled 56.5 miles with about 5200ft (1600m) ascent

See route map and/or gpx file download

NH

Photos by Nick H

Friday, 25 May 2018

24th May 2018 : Sun Bank via Worlds End (brisk)

Riding out to Holt this morning felt a little chilly after the recent warm days. On riding past the Grovensor Arms at Aldford, Colin was sitting on the wall but indicated he was ok. I’d just passed a rider in full wet weather gear and assumed he was waiting for a companion! At Cleopatra’s, a couple of riders were already enjoying tea and brunch breakfast. Soon there were plenty of riders out and the Brisk group today would be – John M, Clive, Colin and me. Fortunately, Colin’s rider to Holt was John M and not the all-weather cyclist!!

Today's route was the Sun Trevor pub via Worlds End and Minera. We set off at 10:30 out along the Borras road. Our ride through Wrexham was to keep to the B5100, which was a reasonable traffic free road except for navigation round the busy roundabout at Sainsburys and B&Q, before crossing over the A483 heading to Coedpoeth. The lanes are now dry and colourful, and we are enjoying being out and not thinking of bike cleaning. It’s not long and we are on the uphill stretch to Minera which is an 8% gradient. As usual of past week’s, temporary road work lights stop us in full pedal flow and we take rest to allow traffic to pass. Off again and to the start of the track over Worlds End. 

Are we nearly at the top!
It has been a few years since I’ve ridden this way and on the last occasion, to remind you how long it was, Bryan peeled off to do his own ride back to Chester and Mike Morley was with us. We head uphill and it is now 15% gradient before going over the brow and heading down to the ford.

Happy at the top of Worlds End  - just before the puncture!
 As we descend Colin hits a sharp stone and pssssss goes his rear tyre. It becomes a group effort in changing the tube due to fancy wheel flanges and poor pump efficiency. Tube replaced and sorted, it is now downwards again and, if you haven’t been here recently, the road has been resurfaced and better today than many main roads. There was a good flow of water passing over the ford but legs up and we’re through.

Our beloved leader with Dinas Bran in the distance

Panorama panorama
Now riding along the Panorama walk, we take the right turn to drop us down to our lunch stop which is the Sun Trevor. Clive and I arrive at the inn and we await the rear flank. Soon there's a phone call and John also has punctured and his pump is not working. I return uphill and pass the only hairpin where John and Colin are walking down to meet me. We inflate the rear tube only to find the front also is deflated. Pumped up temporarily we progress down to the inn and lunch.

Today's food service seems slow, but we enjoy the atmosphere and general chat of the route. Eventually we are ready to go and change Johns front innertube. Fortunately, a camper arrives in the car park and asks us if we need a track pump! John is now fully inflated and we cross over to the Llangollen canal for an enjoyable stroll/ ride to Pontcysyllte.

From here it is the usual return via Cefn-Mawr and Ruabon. A ride through the Erddig NT grounds is a must and thence to Cross Lanes where we ride the final leg home to Holt. It has been an enjoyable ride and full of talking issues centred around solo riding and tube inflation processes.Not the usual mileage today at 40 miles  but a ride full of scenic beauty and 2900ft of climb . Three punctures says it all really but, due to the competence of the group and team work ,everything is accomplished - eventually!

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos by John M

Thursday, 24 May 2018

24th May 2018: Coton (mod)


Another fine day attracted a good turnout for both brisk and mod groups; Dave and Liz P were also out, but doing their own route (see below for more info). The mods were Keith, Dave H, David M, Andy B, George and myself, and our destination was the Dog and Bull at Coton (or as Google calls it the “Bull and Dog”).

Our route out involved a big swing eastwards, passing by Tilston, Cholmondley and Marbury, weaving along a variety of quiet little lanes.  We approached Whitchurch from the east on a “closed road”, squeezing past concrete blocks and wire fencing to enter the town.  Then straight through to Alkington and Hollinwood, to arrive at the pub just before 1pm, with 26 miles completed.

The Dog and Bull is a favourite and we were supplied with good substantial food and drink. We discussed audax and end to end rides.  We then debated why CER is not a full member of Chester and North Wales CTC, despite general approval of the new C&NW CTC shirt, which yours truly happened to be modelling.

Photo by Steve H

The return route was through Whixall and Whitewell, then avoiding Sarn Bank to enter Worthenbury and the usually competitively fast return through Shocklach.  David M broke away somewhere along the way to head direct for home.  The remaining five ended the ride at Lewis’ in Farndon enjoying coffee and cakes, where we discovered that the old Dee Bridge connecting Holt and Farndon was going to be closed to vehicles from mid-July for about 14 weeks, and closed to bikes and pedestrians also for part of the time – take note for future rides!  

Our total distance was 47 miles: a great moderate day out, with little wind, warm sunny spells, good food and good company.

(Note from Dave P: He and Liz rode out to the Plassey: a gentle ride of 24 miles.  They will be doing similar rides for the next few meets while they build up their fitness, and anyone who wishes to join them is welcome.)


SH

Saturday, 19 May 2018

17th May 2018 : Chelford (brisk)

The brisk riders today were, John M, John W, Nick, myself and new SGCC member Colin  as a guest rider. The day is a continuation of sun and little wind making it perfect for riding.

Leaving the café, we headed towards Cotebrook passing Little Budworth via Park Lane and on to Whitegate. As usual there seem to be plenty of road closed signs, but as cyclists we are able to pass.
Arriving into Winsford and the Flashes, riding down hill towards the sharp bend there is another blocked road; zig zagging through the concrete blocks we cross over the wooden bridge spanning the river Weaver and join NCR 5 and the bumpy track up to Davenham. Passing through the town we have another two roads closed before Lach Dennis!! 

Continuing along some very quiet lanes, we are on the outskirts of Knutsford and I had tried to route us through without being on the main road. Unfortunately, as we were joining the A5033 into the town, Nick was unable to follow and the hares had taken a right hand turning and pulled up to wait for the tortoise, you’ve never seen one go so fast. In time trial mode, he was zooming past us head down and into Knutsford.  John W had to go at 27 mph to catch and pass him to advise we had turned off. Regrouping, we rode through the very bumpy potholed streets of Knutsford before re-joining the traffic lights on Toft Road (A50). Joining the B5085 the road to Mobberley is enjoyed and on towards Alderley Edge.

As we near this town there is an increase of vehicles which are mainly Chelsea Tractors. There was a little concern of "are we heading up the Wizzard". No, we take a right turn before town and ride the A535 which was fortunately a good road and we were happy going a few miles at 20+ mph to Chelford and the Egerton Arms inn. Not the first time we have visited this inn. There was a reasonable selection on the menu but for a lunch snack perhaps on the expensive side.After our lunch is consumed we get ready to set off, what a pleasure when re-emerging outside it is warmer than inside!!

Our route takes us via Goostrey and Middlewich and on to Winsford via Clive Green Lane. As we arrive in Winsford, we take the lane heading towards the Weaver river and join the cycleway and avoid most of the roads around the town. As we head up Weaver St, most of us will remember the handy cycle shop half way up the hill, now a Chinese takeaway. No more emergency stops here. 

Winsford's Weaver Park
Going via Townfield Drive, we join the little lane that leads to the A54. Nick in the lead, we are soon accelerating along the A54 before turning into Rushton lane and skirt around the walls of Oulton Park. We had decided a tea stop at Tarporley would be welcome, so it is through Eaton before arriving at the Old Fire station Café. John W continues on to Chester whilst the remaining group enjoy drinks and cakes in this excellent café.

Colin leaves us here to cycle home to Mouldsworth and Nick back to Rose Farm to collect his car. John M and I ride out via Brassey Green and Waverton and back into Chester. A good ride on a sunny day, with good companions. Hope Colin joins us again. Good to have John W out to as he is a must to have on the front to pull us along. A round trip of nearly 60 miles plus the ride out and back so another 80 miles recorded 16mph.


ID

Photo John W

Friday, 18 May 2018

17th May 2018: Market Drayton (mod long)


A spell of excellent weather brought out a goodly number of Easy Riders to Rose Farm, which allowed Mike to collect their subs – yes it’s that time of year. Apart from my group, I’m not sure who went with which leaders, but we ended up with three groups.  The ‘moderate long’ group comprised me, Clive and Mike, and our objective was the Red Lion at Market Drayton; a destination we usually only attempt from the Ice Cream Farm.

We travelled out via Cotebrook and Wettenhall into Nantwich, where we passed through Brookfield Park, crossing and re-crossing the River Weaver on dry paths until we emerged on the road to Hack Green and Audlem. We rode through the busy little town and regained the lanes heading for Norton in Hales and then onto Market Drayton.

The Red Lion offered its usual excellent welcome and good value food and Joules beer, this time providing a royal wedding beer which Mike sampled. Staying with this theme, Clive gave us a potted history of the Adnams Brewery in Southwold.
Photo by Mike G

Our return was through Longslow and around Shavington Park, before passing through Aston, where Dave H and his companions were seen still enjoying their lunch at the Bhurtpore. Then it was onto Ravensmoor and Bunbury where we refreshed at Tilly’s and said goodbye to Clive who headed straight home. Mike and I continued on a short section of the A49, before passing through Tiverton and entering Tarporley from the south west. From there it was up the hill and back into Utkinton. In all 58 miles completed on a relatively flat route which allowed a fairly fast time for us mods.


SH



Tuesday, 15 May 2018

10th May 2018: Tattenhall (mod)


Bryan, Trevor, Dave Pipe, George, John Beavis, Andy Barber, Clive and myself decided to head east from Hawarden. This avoided big hills, and better facilitated Trevor and Clive's need to return home handily for caravanning and ballooning. Mike was riding to Gobowen to see Steve. The Sportsman at Tattenhall was our destination. Ride leadership was shared, on the basis of who best knew the route at any particular time. Trevor did most of the directing based on his outward Christmas Lunch ride from December. Bilberry Wood is a bit of a killer up to the A55. John was caught in the wrong gear, and berated us for not warning him, oiling his chain, checking his tyre pressures, and telling him that he may need to take tissues. The route to Rossett is an easy-riding peach. Lovely views, a rolling ride in the spring sunshine, pressureless pace, freshly coloured countryside perfection, as we drifted down by Golly. Clive peeled off before Holt for his second attempt to make a Stratford birthday balloon trip. I hope the weather was kinder this time.

We all fitted around a round table in the library of The Sportsman, and enjoyed big portions. Apart from John, who shakes his head in disbelief at how cyclists can stuff themselves with food, and often beer, and then carry on riding. I had intended this to be a moderate-lite ride, very leisurely, not demanding in any way, not far enough for the stitching on your shorts to start to dig into your skin a little. It was going to be a lazy man's cruise. George had other ideas, however! Not unreasonably, even some moderate riders like to get a few more miles in, when the sun is on their backs and the days are longer. Hence, we headed further east for Beeston Castle, down to the Shropshire Union Canal, and up to Brassey Green. We discarded the straight option to Waverton via Hargrave, and headed for Burton via Hoofield on a favourite circuit of George's. It was around here that my bike had a major malfunction. The front changer and chain jammed. Some rough surgery with my pliers amputated the mangled cage of the changer, while Dave Pipe did an expert job on the chain, which he completed with his spare connecting link. I was able to continue the journey on the middle chain ring with no real problem. I will buy you a drink, Dave! We passed west of Christleton village centre, crossing the A51 to a welcome coffee and cake at Meadow Lea. Those returning to Wales were led by the Welsh Sherpas, Andy and George, to Hawarden Bridge on the Greenway, and then up through Shotton into open country on a narrow lane. Our climbing ended at the B5125 just west of Ewloe. From here it was just one dangerous roundabout and less than ten minutes to the cars. Fine weather and company once again on a Thursday. John sent me an e-mail and a Camila Cabello clip, which I can't download, but he recommends her singing! He also says that he enjoyed the ride, and informs me that we covered 50.3miles at a relaxed 11.4 miles per hour.
                                                                                                                                  
DH

Friday, 11 May 2018

10th May 2018 : Corwen (brisk)

Today the meeting place was the Gallery Tea Rooms at Hawarden. Knowing that my regular brisk riders were not riding today, I had a route prepared, but was edging on accompanying the moderate riders. Arriving at the café, there were soon plenty of riders out to enjoy the sunshine including Ray. After Dave H advised their ride would be to Tattenhall, I decided to ride my route to Corwen was my option and Ray would accompany me but had to return to Chester for appointment later in the afternoon. 

We set of just the two of us and were soon heading down the A550 to go via the Old Warren route to Dobbshill. Crossing the A55 and the unfriendly cycle gate, we head along Hope Rd to Kinnerton Rd.
After 10 miles to Treuddyn,  I realised I hadn’t ridden any miles!! The Garmin had not been activated since the café. Ray and I rode on to Nercwys where Ray decided to leave and head back towards Chester.

My route now takes me via Eryrys and Llanarmon-yn-lal (Raven Inn). The lanes are absolutely fab to ride along after the past winter months and both Ray and I had enjoyed some good climbs. The best was via the Shelf and into Carrog. My ride from here into Corwen was just fantastic and passing over the Dee river into Corwen town; very picturesque.


 The "Shelf"                                              Corwen                                               Hope


After lunch at The Crown, I was soon on the bike heading back towards Hawarden and Chester. Attached is the route and this is one that I will ride again. There are some 17% climbs on my return but with a tail wind I was able to navigate – just!!

A great day, largely solo riding, but an enjoyable one. Glad I made the decision to do some hard riding as Thursdays and different café starts is why we have a riding club. A ride of 80+miles Chester and back, but 59 miles all round from Hawarden, with 5,988 ft of ascent plus the bit not included between Hawarden and Nercwys.

Thanks to Ray for joining me, and I look forwards to riding this another day. 


ID

Photos by ID

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

3rd May 2018: Delamere Station to Aston (mod)

[NOTE: 10th ANNIVERSERY RIDE. The 26th April blog entry has now been updated with John M's video and a photo of Bryan's gift]

A good sized group of brisk and moderate riders met at a sunny Station Café in Delamere to be joined by David M for a pre-grandparenting coffee.

The destination for the moderates was the Bhurtpore Arms in Aston and the group of Bryan, Dave H, George, Andy B, Mike G, Trevor, Clive and Jim set off along the rather busy B5152. After 3.65 rather hectic miles we were relieved to reach the relative calm of Cotebrook and the outskirts of Oulton Park.

As we reached Wettenhall, Clive departed in a search for more unadopted lanes to entertain us with on future rides. The rest pressed on past Reaseheath College and to the west of Nantwich. On reaching Ravensmoor we resisted the temptation to take the crud encrusted shortcut and carried on along the longer but rideable lane to our destination. The food was excellent, and the beer drinkers happy with the choice of refreshment. The temperature dropped as we hit the road again, but we did at least have a tailwind as we rode northwards towards Bunbury. After a short coffee stop, Jim and Trevor took the road to Beeston and Tattenhall, while the rest crossed the busy A51 to pick up the outward route at Oulton.

A very pleasant, days riding of about 42 miles or 50 for those finishing at Guilden Sutton

Photo by Mike G



Sunday, 6 May 2018

3rd May 2018 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Looking out before setting off on my ride to Delamere, the weather looked promising but as the forecast was sub 15 degreees I opted for longs. However, on arrival at the Station cafe several pairs of winter bleached legs were on show….brrr. This club has some hard members!

It was encouraging to sit outside in the pleasant sunshine and the three briskers soon settled on Ivan’s circuitous route to Dunham Massey. Turning left out of the car park, Nick was already saying his legs were heavy and his mood was not improved by being cut up by a speeding car. He managed to stay upright and soon we were cruising along though Norley and Cuddington, Weaverham and Winnington. We had a cultural stop to admire the engineering wonder that is Anderton Boat Lift and reflected on the faded glory of the former salt works. As an aside Nick questioned the sustainability of so many new housing developments on former industrial sites and pondered how all these new residents were employed. Surely they all can’t be in the new sweat shops otherwise known as call centres!

Anyway, us free souls had no such labours to worry about as the following breeze helped us roll past Marbury Country Park, Comberbatch and Antrobus. We then were heading for our next cutural visit. This time through the grounds of Arley Hall. None of the tracks seem to take us close to the big house but we went past several other very attractive timber frame dwellings and a pretty lake before encountering a “private track” sign. This was duly ignored on the basis that it probably applied to motorists!. Very shortly afterwards we were back on public roads and over the M6. This seemed to serve as a firing gun for Ivan, who true to form, scenting beer lead a speedy 6 mile sprint to Dunham Massey and the Vine Inn. 

The pub has an inviting exterior and pleasant gardens. Inside it is simply but very comfortably furnished with 1950s flowery wallpaper. It reminded us Cestrians of the Albion public house minus the truculent landlord. Despite Ivan’s joke that lycra was amongst the banned attire, we were allowed to join what seemed a happy band of mainly local drinkers and diners. The cause of their content was soon discovered when we learned that it was a mere £2 for a pint of Sam Smiths best. We also went for pies from the local butcher, with mash, veg and gravy which were very good indeed. Now fully laden we resisted the temptation of more cheap beer and decided it was time for the return leg knowing that our outward friend the wind was about to change sides. 

We headed south east through posh Bowden and Hale which has some of the most imposing houses in Cheshire and some of the most pot-holed roads! The breeze was felt most keenly on the straight 4 mile run between Ashley and Over Tabley passing alongside Tatton Park. Taking shortish turns on the front we managed to keep up a good pace. Soon enough we passed through Comberbatch for the second time and on to Little Leigh and Acton Bridge. I was thinking this is going well we’ll soon be in Norley but had forgotten that it gets a bit hilly in these parts.  Ivan reckoned we took the easiest option but the big roller coaster up to Norley took its toll late in the day.  Not to worry as the pain was easily forgotten as we were soon enjoying cake and coffee back at Delamere Station.

The weather had one last surprise as we set off for home the sky darkened and spots of rain began to fall. Nick was fortunate to have his car nearby but Ivan and I got a little wet as we rode along the forest road. It was a somewhat chilly but not too bad and certainly not enough to spoil what had been and excellent ride. The route from Delamere and back was about 55 miles and Ivan and I had done close to 80 on arrival in Chester at 16.5 mph average. And yes, we did also enjoy the culture and scenery!


JM

Friday, 27 April 2018

26th April 2018: 10th Anniversary Special Ride - Chester and the Wirral (brisk)


We all gathered and rode out together at the Roodee café Chester for today's top billing of the year as Bryan led the 10-year anniversary ride to Ness Gardens. 

After coffee and speeches, the Brisk group consisting of John M, Nick and myself rode on to Frankby and thence meeting up with the Mods at the “Old Rathbone” (formerly the “Farmers Arms”) who were keeping to the original route of ten years ago.

Our route out, via Parkgate and with clear blue skies the view across the water to Wales, was very spectacular. We kept left of the A540 skirting the mega houses on this peninsular side and negotiating Oldfield Drive which must be the only unadopted steep path/road on the Wirral. We stopped for a photo shoot at the top, one to get our breath back and also to take in the view on offer.





Top of the "climb"

It was then on to Irby before dropping into Frankby and the 'Old Rathbone”. It was surprising that we were there first, but the remaining group arrived 10/15 minutes later minus 3 riders. Have to read their blog for further info!

After a good lunch and speeches by Bryan and Dave H, we set off on a different course home again from the main group and did a loop around Frankby up to Greasby and Woodchurch. I had a cycle route through this area but was unable to locate the route; too many houses new and old.

We crossed the busy A552 and headed up Landican Rd. The mods were also heading out this way but they were either too fast or to slow as we didn’t meet or catch sight of them. Carrying on through Pensby and Hesswell to Brimstage and then turning for Thornton Hough.It doesn’t seem to take long to get out of the one half of the built-up Wirral before entering the opposite half which becomes mainly fields thankfully. Raby Mere was next before heading down Rivacre Valley.

We had the wind behind us most of the return ride and were enjoying this particular stretch of road. We are overtaken by a car who slows to a stop on passing us before starting the climb out of the valley. As we get up to the car it set off at full gas !!!! We now have the ride through the port and this town will never win architectural awards either. Crossing over the main street we head down Cromwell Rd which is now a massive new housing estate.

We take a “Clive short cut” at the end of Thornton Rd and pass under the M53 and up to the main roundabout for Cheshire Oaks. As soon as we arrive at Stanney Mill Road the traffic is very noticeable with queuing traffic either direction. Pavement riding up to the old Cheshire Oaks Cycle shop (now closed) we circle anti-clockwise round the roundabout via the cycle way and crossing lights.

After negotiating the standing traffic, we are on Little Stanney lane heading home. Through Stoak and Wervin and into Upton where we say farewell to John. Nick and myself ride on to Brook lane where we join the greenway and branch off along the canal to Telford's Warehouse and the Roodee café.

Today’s Wirral ride was a 60-mile ride out and back which was a little further than the inaugural ride of 45 miles. With 18+ riders taking part today with two groups of riders to mark the event, it was every bit as special as that first ride 10 years ago.

Well done Bryan


ID

Photos by J Mills

Thursday, 26 April 2018

26th April 2018: 10th Anniversary Special Ride - Chester and the Wirral (UPDATED)

Ten years of Easy Riding! What a surprise when Clive enlightened us some time ago, but here we were at the newly opened Roodee café to repeat the inaugural ride to the Wirral.

A good sized group consisting of Bryan, Ivan, John M, Trevor, Nick, John B Graham and Vicky on the tandem, Andy W, Clive, Dave H, Keith, Dave P and Liz (in the car), Steve H and myself set off round the racecourse heading for Blacon. Soon we left the outskirts of Chester and after a brief burst along the A540 turned onto quieter lanes at Puddington, arriving at our coffee stop at Ness Gardens pretty well on time. Brian Mac, unable to ride after a knee operation, had arranged with the management for some reserved tables and a separate refreshment counter, which enabled us to get organised fairly quickly. We were also joined by Glenys and David M for elevenses.

I took the opportunity to formally thank Bryan for all the work he has put into getting the club off the ground and ensuring its smooth running. It is significant that we now have 5 volunteers taking on the various tasks that Bryan did on his own. Brian Mac then presented Bryan with a bicycle themed gift, organised courtesy of Ivan, and engraved with a short inscription.


Bryan informed us that he was not leaving the universe - just going to be commuting between properties. We were pleased to be updated on the progress of Steve Tan and we send him all our best wishes for a continual recovery.
Photos by Macca

Then it was time to hit the saddles again, into Neston and onto the Wirral Way. We were making good progress until we approached Caldy, when John B picked up a puncture. As we were near to our lunch stop, Clive, Dave H and Dave P stayed behind to assist while the rest carried on to The Old Rathbone at Frankby. We were joined by Brian Mac and Glenys for lunch but had nearly finished our meal when the puncturees arrived. Despite the considerable skill of all 4 members John’s wheel could not be fixed and he had to phone for transport home. Dave H, wearing his team manager’s hat, gave us all an individual aspirin sample to put in our wallets in case of any future medical emergency of the sort that a group of elderly cyclists might encounter!  Bryan then informed us that his remaining role, of club secretary, was being taken over by Dave H, who then made a short speech confirming his commitment to the ethos of the Easy Riders.  Admin sorted, we set off towards Irby and then Landican where Bryan decided to follow the scenic and at times very muddy Landican Lane as per the original ride. Fortunately we only encountered a couple of muddy sections and soon emerged on the lane at Storeton. From there it was south through Brimstage, Thornton Hough, Raby and back to Ness Gardens for afternoon tea. Here Graham and Vicky left us to return by car while we took the boardwalk and Greenway back to Chester. The group separated again outside the college with the residue continuing to the end of the Greenway.



Approx 52 miles of pleasant, steady, typically Easy Riders riding.

Here’s to the next ten years, and thanks again Bryan.

See John M's video 

See route map and/or gpx file download

JD

Friday, 20 April 2018

19th April 2018 : Barthomley (brisk)

Today’s meet was the ICF and on the first of this year’s sunny day’s I rode out with Clive from Chester. Great to be out with him again and see he is enjoying being back on the bike. There were plenty of Mod riders at the ICF but only Nick and I were out as the Brisk group.I had a route to the White Lion at Barthomley and an 83-mile round trip to and from Chester. Nick and I set off and encountered the first of many road works at the end of Newton Lane just one of many road’s blocked during today’s ride. Road pot hole filling was the jinx of the day rather than flooded roads of last week’s ride.

We rounded Beeston and on through Bunbury. Tilly’s café was packed with morning strollers but the front car park was filled with cars rather than bikes. We take the lanes leading to Ravensmoor and encounter the only muddy patch of the whole day. On arriving at the cross roads at Ravensmoor, I stop and find Nick is not behind me. A couple of minutes later he rounds the bend. So as not to muddy his pristine cycle which has seen a lot of devoted cleaning recently, he went at crawling pace so as to reduce the slurry marking his new carbon wheels and frame.

It is a lovely experience cycling in shorts and shirt only after what seems like a long winter period. From Sound, we head on to Audlem and pass through the town on the A529 then out to Hankelow. After about 1.5 miles we turn left onto Bridgemere Lane. I have ridden this before and it is a good lane passing over the A51 at Bridgemere. Following this route, we pass Checkley and into the pretty village of Betley. Taking a right turn we go along Knowlbank Road with the intention of continuing along the B5500 but a big fence tells us the road is blocked. They are doing bridge work over the M6 so if passing on the M6 after junction 16 if the look for the trio of bridge works we were intending to cross the middle bridge. After consultation with the Garmin, we retrace our route back to the previous road works and have to detour taking a right, right and right turn which brought us back on route to take us to the White Lion at Barthomley.

We were not the only cyclists using this hostelry today but fortunately they were enjoying the sunshine outside. We ordered our lunch, Steak and Guinness ale pie and mash with veg: fantastic lunch with lashings of gravy was just what was needed for the remainder 40 miles back home!!! Our return journey took us south of Crewe passing the largest rail yard on the West Coast, Basford Hall Junction thence passing through Shavington, Blakelow and into Nantwich.

Nick and I had already decided where the afternoon stop would be and we were stopping at the Cotton Arms at Wrenbury. I have used this before with Clive and Dave Heath as they offer ice cream but when we arrive I couldn’t resist a cool pint of golden ale.



Too soon we were back in the saddle bound for Cholmondeley but half way along the estate road we turn left towards Larkton to ride via Tilston (Nicks abode). I leave Nick at the Carden Arms crossroads and continue lonesome back to Chester via Barton, Coddington and Alford. Exiting at Churton it is the B5130 I ride to Huntington and home. I’ll leave cleaning the bike for today as the slurry has already dried hard as XXXX so nothing spoiling.

As booked, both Nick and I have enjoyed 84 miles of lovely riding on very pleasant lanes now they’ve dried out and the flowers and fields are in bloom with plenty of chorus from birds happy to sing in the bushes and trees as the sun shines; it was a pleasure today. The circular route to ICF would have been 67 miles.


ID

19th April 2018: Hodnet (mod)


Gathering at the ICF were CER members keen to make the best of the hot and sunny forecast. Making a welcome return were Clive and Dave P, keen to demonstrate their cycling fitness, though I think Dave was showing off by riding his fixie! They joined Dave H, Keith, Andy B, George and myself in the mod group.  Nick and Ivan were planning a brisk ride. Dave H set expectations for his slow riding early on, saying that “My wife, Keith and I had a heavy night last night”. As eyebrows were raised, he clarified that they had all been to a boxercise class.

Our route was to a new destination for me: The Bear at Hodnet. We headed out through Tattenhall and Tilston, and much to Dave H’s disgust, through Malpas.  Dave has a strong dislike of Malpas, maybe something bad happened to him there once. Then it was through Higher Wych and towards Fenn Wood.  At one point some one thought our route was taking us towards Arrowy. Such was the fear in your author’s mind of the dire state of this lane, that a halt was called and the map consulted.  Relieved that we were passing well to the east of Arrowy, we continued.  The heavy flooding of recent days had largely disappeared from the lanes, though the mud left behind had dried and created clouds of dust when larger vehicles sped by.  We passed pleasantly through Coton and then Prees, before approaching Marchamley from the north – a steep uphill but nothing like as bad as the approach from the south.  Then it was a fast downhill into Hodnet, with The Bear in its centre.

The Bear is a large rambling inn with many rooms, one of which has a glass floor revealing an old well beneath.  It is said to date back 500 years and there was once a bear pit on the site. Also dating back many years, our CER members settled down to eat and drink.  Many chose the two courses for £9.50. We spoke about the move away from diesel and petrol to hybrid and electric cars.  Then we settled on a topic we could really get our teeth into, a trip down memory lane. The question was simple, who recorded “On the road again”.  The answer was harder to find. There must have been 20 or 30 wrong answers put forward, before finally someone said Canned Heat.

Photo by Steve H

It was time to leave.  We headed through Wollerton and then negotiated the busy Ternhill roundabout using the pavements. Back onto the quieter roads we passed through Longslow, where we had a photo stop, and then around Shavington Park, enjoying the afternoon sunshine, the parkland scenery and the gentle lanes. Heading north towards Aston, we paused to consider where to take a coffee break.  The Bhurtpore was a possibility, but rejected after Dave P said he would have to have a curry if we stopped there.  Instead we made for Wrenbury Village Stores, just as the primary school day was ending. We sat outside in the sun enjoying drinks and some food.  A mother with her two young sons sat nearby while they ate their ice creams. We struck up a conversation and  Keith tried to encourage the boys to leave school and join the circus.

From Wrenbury, the route took us past the Cholmondley Arms, Bickerton, over Harthill and back into Tattenhall. We had travelled 58 miles on a day when local temperatures had reached over 23 degrees. Nationally it was the warmest April day since 1949. And it had been great to welcome back Clive and Dave P to a full ride.


SH

Friday, 13 April 2018

12th April 2018: Coedway (mod)


Our start point this week was Chirk Tea Rooms, which appears to have been renamed the Castle Bistro. After last week, we had been hopeful that spring had started.  Foolish us! The brisk riders, Ivan, Nick and John M, had planned a trip to Pistyll Rhaeadr, but then received a report on conditions on the hills from Andy B (who had cycled from Mold over the Horseshoe Pass). They decided they didn’t want to spend the whole day in the clouds and chose to join me and Andy on a mod ride.  I’d been looking for a possible destination for a long ride this June and came upon a pub at Coedway, just south of the River Severn, about 9 miles west of Shrewsbury. David Matthews was out, but sensibly not riding today. 

We set off over the A483 roundabout and down through the Franktons before joining the long road to Baschurch. From here we took a series of lanes through Great Ness, Pentre and Melverley, before crossing the River Severn by a single track bridge, and following a B-road to Coedway.  It had not rained for all of the morning, but it was hard to remember when it had been dry.  The wet, sometimes flooded surfaces and lots of mud added to the damp mood.  Also it was cold, and at one point Nick had to stop to tackle his freezing hands.

So it was with some relief that we pulled into the 17th century Old Hand and Diamond Inn. A CTC welcome sign was reassuring and so was the quality of the beer and the low priced menu.  The warm fire would have been another attraction if any of the nearby seats had been vacant. We discussed the drums of war coming from the White House, and moved onto more reassuring topics such as the relative attractions of Bristol, Chester and Hull. It was a bit of a wait for the food, lots of diners had ordered before us, but when it came it was substantial and good quality.

As we were eating it started to rain heavily. Ivan suggested we stay for another pint, but reluctantly was dragged back to his bike. Our return route included a planned visit to Steve T at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital. We passed again over the narrow River Severn bridge and headed towards Maesbrook, then Maesbury and Whittington.  Here Ivan and John headed via Oswestry back to Chirk.  They were going to visit Steve later by car. The rest of us made direct for the hospital.

As we clip-clopped down the corridors and onto the ward, we signalled our arrival. At the nursing station, the nurse already knew who we’d come to see.  Steve is in a comfortable room of his own. He’d already had a visit from David M that morning, so together we ourselves and later Ivan and John, this was very much a CER day for him.  He was in good spirits and had just reached the halfway point on his six weeks of prone bedrest, before the clinicians start slowly to elevate him.  We spent a while chatting and, as we left the hospital, Ivan and John arrived.

The rain had finally stopped as we mounted our bikes for the final leg. We crossed the A483 and made for Weston Rhyn to drop down into the Ceriog valley on a steep minor road before returning to our start. We had completed 51 miles, and despite the weather, we reckoned we’d found some really nice lanes.  Roll on spring proper, next week they say it’ll be nearly 200C.


SH