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

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Friday, 17 January 2020

17th January 2020: CER Blog Readership

Bryan Wade told me recently that our blog is read with great interest by members of the Chester and North Wales CTC. In fact, at their New Year’s Day outing, they were updating him with events from recent blog postings!

That prompted a discussion at lunch during the brisk ride last Thursday about how often the write ups are read and by whom. A quick scan of the blog viewing statistics suggests that most posts are read between 30 and 60 times, but at least one has been read over 200 times! This is the ‘mod’ ride on December 27th 2018 from Meadow Lea to The Nag’s Head at Bunbury, which has been viewed 210 times!

On a wider note, our blog is viewed by an international readership. The tables below show a typical week’s readership and the total since the blog was started about 10 years ago. Only the top eleven countries are listed in each case.

One Week
Since the beginning
United Kingdom
244
United Kingdom
149212
United States
111
United States
112674
Switzerland
52
Russia
18653
Germany
46
Germany
14689
Netherlands
39
Ukraine
6943
France
29
France
6299
Ireland
29
Ireland
2987
Spain
20
Netherlands
2881
Austria
11
Vietnam
1420
Not identified
11
Poland
1167

The USA readership is understandable, as there is a huge population there with many places called Chester, but I’m at a loss to understand why we have readers in places like Russia and Vietnam!

ST

16th January 2020: Utkinton circular (mod)

A bad weather forecast hadn’t prevented a good number of Easy Riders turning up at Rose Farm Café, however many were not out for a ride.  A blustery morning was expected to turn into a very wet afternoon with southerly gusts of over 40mph. Ideas for a longer ride possibly to The Swan at Marbury, were rejected in favour of a morning circuit ending back at Rose Farm.

The moderate group consisted of four riders: new member Steve F, Peter, Dave H and myself. We set out through Cotebrook and on to Wettenhall before turning SE to Bunbury, Peckforton and Tattenhall. So far it had stayed dry, but the rain started as we left Tattenhall. Steve F headed for home as the rest of us turned towards Huxley.  Beside the Inn at Huxley, a lorry splashed a verge-full of muddy debris over us. More was to come as we took Wood Lane towards Utkinton – the surface was almost agricultural and we tried to avoid mud, potholes, hedge cuttings and carriageway wide flooding.

Rose Farm café was reached after 27 miles – not much for whole day, but not bad for a morning’s ride. The three of us all enjoyed lunch, and prepared to make our ways home.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

16th January 2020 : Wrinehill (brisk)

A dozen riders turned out today at Rose Farm, quite a surprise given the weather forecast was for very high winds and heavy rain from late morning onwards.My proposed route was a 45 mile (74km) ride to the Hand and Trumpet at Wrinehill, riding into the wind in the morning and hopefully with a tail wind on the return.
Clive was happy to tag along, and for the second week in a row, we press-ganged Steve into joining us. He’s a glutton for punishment but loves it really! As the three of us left Rose Farm, it was still unclear where the moderates were heading although a route out to Ravensmoor and a wander around the local lanes back to Rose Farm had both been mooted. After Steve confirmed with Dave H their return rendezvous arrangements, we headed off south to take on the challenge of Tarporley high street and its crazy on-street parking system. Emerging unscathed, we turned off left and head down Common Lane passing the flooded pit I used to fish in when I was a wee boy. 

Crossing over the A51 down and up through Tilston Fearnall, we weaved a route through Bunbury and Spurstow to arrive in Burland. Here we followed the main road into Acton then took Ravens Lane to the main A530 into Nantwich. The route from Acton to Nantwich was a deviation from the planned route as it reduced the amount time spent riding through the town traffic.

Passing over the Shropshire Union Canal, I forget to turn right, so Clive took control and we followed him through a housing estate to pick up the the cycleway running alongside the River Weaver. Finally we left Nantwich along Audlem Road, part of which is closed to traffic, with a small army of workers resurfacing the road. Here we were ordered to dismount and then walk past various pieces of heavy equipment.

Once remounted, we made our way through the lanes of Wybunbury and on to Wrinehill to our destination, "The Hand and Trumpet". This  hostelry is run by Brunning and Price and reflected the group's usual decor, food and drink. Lunch chat included our perplexity concerning the wide international readership of the blog and the regularity of which they are read. Steve concluded the discussion by indicating he was going to undertake further research, with that matter concluded for now we departed. 

Light rain had started to fall as we dined, but at least it fills the potholes making them easier to spot! Our return route initially headed north before zig-zagging its way on back lanes through Hough briefly touching Shavington before re-entering Wybunbury for the second time today. By which time the rain had  stopped. 

At this juncture, Steve received a call from Dave H to enquire his whereabouts and ETA back at Rose Farm. It appears the moderates had opted for a wander around the local lanes and they were now having lunch back at Rose Farm. Steve provided the revised ETA and we continued on along flooded lanes into Nantwich along London Road where we crossed the River Weaver once more to exit the town on Welsh Row. At the aqueduct on Chester Road, we shuffled off to the right skirting Rease Heath College and heading for Wettenhall, we stop again for Steve to advise Dave that he has enough time for another coffee and cake before we arrive.


Checking in with base control -still smiling despite the wind and rain!

A little further on with Clive in the lead and beyond shouting distance, he took the Kings Lane turning to return via Oulton Park instead of the planned route which followed Hickhurst Lane through to Eaton. No matter, so we followed as both routes are broadly similar in both mileage and ascent. After climbing up and over Utkinton Lane, Steve turned off at Rose Farm while we continue on towards Chester  and home.

If anyone had taken any notice of today's weather forecast they would not have ventured far. Luckily for us we stayed mainly dry, although it was breezy in the morning with strengthening winds in the afternoon. So moderates take note, we had a good ride out today and actually managed to get back home in daylight. 77kms (47miles) was the total for today's route and I clocked up 106kms (66miles) plus more for Clive. Thanks to Clive and Steve for their company on a good day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo by KP

Thursday, 9 January 2020

9th January 2020: Rossett (leisure)


Despite forecasts of strong winds and possible snow over high land, a good sized group of riders met in Hawarden for another day of winter delights.

The moderate group planned to go uphill, into the wind, so a small leisure group of myself, Steve H and Andy W, led by Dave and Liz on the tandem, set off in the opposite direction towards Rossett.

The route was not all downhill, however, as we started with the steep climb up the ‘orrible ‘ill’ at the back of the castle. This brought us up through Bilberry Wood and on towards Mountain Road. Here we were able to assess Flintshire Council’s road repair strategy, which appears to consist of putting some ‘rough road ’signs up where necessary. I wonder how long it will be before they actually fix it.

The day was very pleasant, if a little chilly, as we progressed round the back of Penyfford. We crossed the B5102 onto Gegin Lane, past the quarries, where the road became progressively messy-in fact well down to Clive standard! It got worse before we reached the end with threatening puddles right across the lane. Andy was grumbling as he had set off with a pristine machine which was now anything but. By the time we reached the junction at Llay we decided that we were going to be too early for the pub, but Dave had spotted an interesting looking lane straight ahead that no-one remembered having been down so we went on an explore. Soon we were descending a rather steep slope, and as every downhill is followed by an uphill, were soon pushing up the other side. This took us into Llay suburbs and then into Alyn Waters Country Park. A pleasant tootle round the eastern section brought us out on another lane, similarly spread with mud and gravel - cue more grumbling from Andy, where we returned to Llay back through another park track. We were now heading down ‘Ivan’s Hill’ towards the A55 bridge and Gresford. Once on the B5445 we soon reached the Alyn Pub at Rosset. Encouragingly it was nice and warm inside, and the staff very welcoming, as we chose our meals from the well-priced menu. Having eaten and warmed up it was time to head  homewards. Andy and Steve turned off towards Farndon, with the tandem and myself heading for Chester via Doddleston. The afternoon was no warmer than the morning but at least the wind was almost behind us. We were soon battling the traffic on the Grosvenor island on the way to Handbridge.

A moderate distance of about 35 miles or so and dry too!

JD

9th January 2020: Caerwys (mod)

Awaiting ride report


See route map and/or gpx file download

9th January 2020 : Holywell (brisk)

It was a lot colder than advertised today. On the top of the Clwydian Range it was only just above freezing, and coupled with a stiff breeze, the 28 miles to lunch in Holywell was going to be hard going. So Nick and Ken, who had both ridden over from Rossett, and a dragooned in Steve T, relied on me to navigate them safely to The Market Cross 'Spoons pub in Holywell.

Eschewing the usual route to go through Buckley via Ewloe, we take the main road towards Wrexham then turning off to Drury; and this provides a useful leg-warming exercise for what was to come. After Llong, we head east down small lanes towards Gwernymynydd and ever upwards. The short 20% rise here along Swan Lane precedes  the next rise and fall towards Loggerheads. The lane to Cilcain is agricultural in places - which was becoming the theme for the rest of the pre-lunch ride.

Its now a long  ever-upwards run to Lixwm. More of the same takes us up to Babell and a brief flattish respite heading along familiar lanes. A right towards Lloc and then a left down a lane that Nick points out is a No Through Road. Luckily I know it isn’t, but its a very rough farm track over the A55, with two hedge cutting tractors to boot. Today, it was a slight improvement over the October 2011 ride though, where we had a few hundred yards of deep cow doo-doo to ride through! We get through safely and thence it is 6 miles of dry main roads with a long downhill stretch into the centre of Holywell.


The Market Cross is pretty busy but we don't care - we just want some hot food and warmth. We even eschew beer for hot coffee! We are all feeling it today but I offer a promise of only 13 miles to get back and mainly downhill to boot - except for the near two miles of uphill immediately after lunch. The food comes very quickly and it is soon time to get back on the bikes.


We travel back amongst the tiny lanes above Flint and then a suburban traverse, complete with footpath transfer, to exit onto  Chester Road towards Oakenholt. Just passed the papermill is Papermill Lane. Normally I would say Cheerio and make my way back via Connah’s Quay and the Greenway. Today I felt guilty as all three riders had to get back to Hawarden, so I decide to join them for the 2 miles uphill ride to Northop Hall.  From here it is a familiar ride back over a very rough road surface to Hawarden arriving back at around 1500. Ken and Nick head onwards to Rossett and Steve awaits his chauffeur’s return ( aka DH)

.
So only 41 cold miles today but over 3300 ft of climb according to Nick's Garmin; although PlotaRoute shows 2979 ft - but enough any way.


Ken obviously enjoyed the route sending me a WhatsApp as follows  "Thanks for today Clive, lovely flat ride😫on mud free roads...In perfect weather..” and Nick’s was "That about sums it up! Thanks Clive”  The cold must have addled their brains, or, they must have been on another ride! Nonetheless, thank you for keeping the grumbling about muddy road surfaces to minimum.


See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Saturday, 4 January 2020

2nd January 2020 : Aston (brisk)

A great turnout for the first ride of the 2020 with a ‘bakers dozen’ of riders and the brisk group being outnumbered 2:1. The weather was overcast with strengthening winds from the south as the day progressed hence the route, the only one on offer, entailed an easier return journey taking account of the wind direction.

So we, i.e Nick, Ray, John W and myself, left Delamere, crossing the A49 at Cotebrook, and passed  south of Oulton Park race circuit. The lanes, which for many weeks had been waterlogged, were drying up slowly but unfortunately the remaining debris continued to cause issues in many places. Along Wettenhall Long Lane and Winsford Road, we passed over the Shropshire Union canal into the outskirts of Nantwich and remembered to avoid the shortcut we cannot use through Rease Heath College.

From my perspective, the pace was a little too brisk for the first ride of the year, but clearly the rest of the group were carrying less Christmas stodge than yours truly. Luckily for me Ray called a halt to phone home and, after some pleading negotiations, confirmed he could continue to ride for the rest of the day.

We continued out of Nantwich crossing under the canal towards Acton where we turned left and left again passing through Ravensmoor. As we entered Wrenbury, Nick called a halt at the entrance to the Business Park to see if the bike lock he left here in November when attending to Elwyn’s tubeless tubed tyre issue was there. Not surprisingly it wasn’t. At this juncture, John decided it would be a good point for him to head home and resume Grandad duties. 

The lunch stop at The Bhurtpore Inn was literally around the corner. In five years of riding with CER I had never been here and I was impressed with both beer and food. The lunch chat revolved around the pro’s and con’s of tubed or tubeless tyres; the consensus 2 to 1 against tubeless. Sorry Ray.

Out-tubed! - 2:1 for tubes
Lunch over, we head out back to Delamere, initially heading towards Cholmondeley before turning east and crossing the A534 at Faddiley. With a favourable wind direction and drier roads, our progress became much easier as we rode through Bunbury then dropping down to cross the Shropshire union canal, for the third time today, at Tilston Fearnall.

Once over the A51 it was plain sailing all the way back to Cotebrook where Nick  headed  back to Delamere and Ray and myself to Chester. Unusually, the weather was dry all day, not something we have been used to of late and with a good tailwind the 75km (47 Miles) made for excellent first ride of 2020.



Happy New Year !

KP

Photo KP

Thursday, 2 January 2020

2nd January 2020: Pickmere (mod)

First ride of the New Year and the weather looked reasonable – mild and dry with the prospect of some rain only towards the end of the afternoon.  This produced a heathy turnout of Easy Riders at Delamere Station Café, perhaps members were hoping to work-off their unhealthy indulgences of the Christmas season.

Steve T and I had each come prepared with a moderate route.  Steve’s was 40 miles long with 25 miles before lunch.  My ride was 40 miles long with 25 miles before lunch.  Steve’s went to the Red Lion at Pickmere. Mine went to the Red Lion at Pickmere.  We had both selected the same ride from the club archive and so we jointly led for the day.

The moderates comprised the two of us, plus Dave H, Bob, Andy B, Trevor, Ian and Peter. We started by following David M out from the café towards Frodsham.  While he continued, we turned right to head towards the Weaver Navigation, taking the bumpy Cliff Lane into Acton Bridge, across the A49 for the first time, before crossing again, and crossing again to reach Higher Whitley. We were passing a good many horses and riders, including one who told us that flashing lights could alarm the animals. At some point there was confusion when the command “straight on” led half the group to follow the main lane to the right, while the other half turned off to continue literally straight on. No harm done, we crossed over the M6 by its junction with the M56, and began to head south into a blustery wind. It was only a little further before we reached our lunch stop. Here Andy decided to head straight back as it was a long way to Mold.

The Red Lion welcomed us with a fire and we ordered our food and drink. Service was quick leaving us limited time to talk about football, warm weather holidays and how members could access our routes from the blog.

The skies had darkened when we left the pub, encouraging a few more of us to switch our lights on. We took one of our familiar routes back, through Great Budworth, Comberbach, Little Leigh, Acton Bridge and Onston.  Before taking the rough tarmac to Delamere Station we said goodbye to some more riders, leaving only Ian and I to take tea and coffee at the café   Our route had been 40 miles long, and no rain materialised.  Not a bad outing for January and my first proper ride in six months.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Sunday, 29 December 2019

29th December 2019: Annual Ride Statistics

This time last year, I compiled some statistics about the number of rides and mileage since the club was started in April 2008. I have now updated it for the 2019 Club Year.

This year featured 84 rides and their blogs covering 3947 miles over 52 Moderate/Leisure rides along with 32 Brisk rides. 

There appeared to be only one week when No Ride was reported and this was in early March.


YearMileageBlogsAv Miles/Ride
20081,1372447
20092,8945355
20102,6405350
20113,4956157
20123,6157648
20133,0255753
20143,7087252
20154,2168152
20164,3258352
20173,8327452
20184,4728950
20193,9478447








Totals41,30680751


In addition, I have analysed the blogs to find out who were the authors and their frequency (highest number first). CA, SH and DH  wrote up half of the total  blogs.

And  ID, ST, KP, JD,TC, KB, JM, BM, MG, DP, GW, NT, NH  all led and wrote up at least one ride.

It is great to see more members offering to lead rides and write up the blogs.

We also welcomed some new members this year and look forward to them adding to the blog write-ups for 2020.

Should any member want to have any of the route gpx files, then they are stored via Dropbox and can be downloaded via a link upon request (email me). We have "saved" rides from August 2017 right up to end 2019. In addition, there are 180 odd rides covering the period Jan 2009 to Nov 2013. After that date through to July 2017, we lost all the gpx files when "bikeroutetoaster" website suddenly stopped working and we were unable to access the site and retrieve them.

Today, all the current routes are stored on PlotaRoute and are backed up on a shared Dropbox account (SH, ST and CA have access to this)

So, if you fancy leading a ride from a particular start point, you could select from over 350 gpx files and lead a route that we may have done before but probably will have forgotten - or ride the route in reverse which makes it a "new" route - after all, I have often heard "we haven't been down here before" when we patently have!

Have a great New Year's Eve and Best Wishes for 2020

CA

Thursday, 26 December 2019

26th December 2019: Shocklach (mod)

It wasn't a great forecast, and many CER riders were tied up by family commitments at this festive time. I wasn't sure that any other riders would be turning up as I approached Cleopatra's in Holt. Thankfully, the strange sight of a bikeless frontage was changed by Steve Haywood's timely appearance. Helen provided a warm welcome, and informed us that Boxing Day was usually one of their busiest days, but the weather.....! Steve had read my e-mail, so knew that he would not be alone if he turned up. Actually, the weather forecast was not too bad, and it was likely to become drier as the day wore on. Over ten years, I can only recall three other rides with only one other rider turning up. One was when Colin Watson was a club member, and I turned up at Ness Gardens with about three gears working. We finished up having lunch at the atmospheric cafe upstairs at the Woodside Ferry terminal. Another time was last winter with George, when it was pretty icy, and we finished up at Overton, without going near treacherous looking untreated side lanes. The third occasion was when Clive had recently joined the club, and we braved an unpromising forecast to ride to Great Budworth for lunch. On our return Clive, who was just getting into cycling, struggled slightly up the steep rise past The Goshawk. I was never to witness such a sight again, as Clive went from strength to strength.

Steve, as ever had three planned routes. We needed to miss some likely flooded lanes close to The Dee. I had checked  the Hanmer Arms the night before, which was open, but probably needed booking, and pubs in Whitchurch were a mixed bag, with one of our favourites closed. We didn't want to get back late, with families keening behind the back door anxious for our return at this family time. Or perhaps they were too inebriated from their continuing Christmas celebrations to be able to drive to the supermarket for a bottle of milk and a packet of Rennies. So, a modest ride to Overton was decide upon, via the B5130 to Cross Lanes and the A525 to Bangor on Dee.

The roads were delightfully quiet. We were early at the White Horse, and it was closed. Just as we were planning our next move, a bloke came out and said he had just lit the fire for the hotel, but there would be no food. He suggested The Buck House, but that was back at Bangor on Dee. We knew that we could get lunch at Cleopatra's if all else failed, so we fettled a quiet route north west to Shocklach via Worthenbury.

To avoid running into a big group booked in at Cleopatra's, Steve suggested The Bull at Shocklach. The last time I was here was with George and Steve, at least, near the end of a  long summer ride. It was like being on the set for an episode of Midsomer Murders. Someone eventually took our drink order on that occasion, and we never saw him again!  Although we did see two ears sticking out of the bin at the back when we returned to our bikes. This time it was quite busy, with some customers believed to be involved with a Boxing Day Hunt. We had passed vehicles apparently engaged in hunting activity on the way. I have to say at this point, that I have no evidence of foxhunting taking place, as it is illegal. The dogs are now allowed to chase a lure, but the evidence appears to indicate that foxes are sometimes killed “ unintentionally”. The food was fine, and it was good to be able to catch up properly with Steve, and discuss a range of issues.

When we finally returned to Cleopatra's, we didn't stop again, but returned to our doting families as soon as possible. It hadn't rained properly all ride, and it was a nicely paced, relaxed outing. Another day that had appeared unpromising, but turned out well worth the effort. Short and sweet. Many thanks to Steve for his faultless leading.

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH   

Thursday, 19 December 2019

19th December 2019: Barton (mod)

(I've had reported that the smiley emojis :-) in the report below are not showing and appear as "J"s instead - please read accordingly - SH)

What do you mean, I have to write the blog for the day's ride? That was not part of my plan when I volunteered to lead a route. Don’t blame me for the following illiterate diatribe:

So, there we were at Rose farm café, pondering the threat of heavy rain coming from the south (due after 1pm), on top of already flooded roads all over the countryside; Dave H – Steve H – Peter- Bob – Steve T – Dave M – Trevor -Clive - Elwyn – John W and yours truly. We were clearly minus a few regulars, one  notable was Fiona. However, Elwyn informed us that she had a better offer and was riding with MGVC- ooh! “Get her” J J
Other missing notables were, most of the fast boys, so Elwyn and John elected to join us (rumour has it that they wanted to experience a real ride, instead of all that macho speed stuff, I could be wrong of course, but rarely am J)

As I discovered, I wasn’t the only one  interested in a mud free ride for a change, with the hope of relatively dry lanes (in the grand scheme of things of course) Hence, It was quickly decided to follow my route ( Dave H & Steve T that is - something about being tired of always carrying the group and getting no recognition for all their efforts or did I miss hear the chuckle brothers J)

Our destination was Manor Wood cafe, not visited before by some of the group, but a favourite of mine, especially in the summer with its outside seating, beside a quaint landscaped Mere and strange looking folk, in camouflage gear, dangling poles in the water   (almost as strange looking as us lot of course J)

Again, to be different. I head out right from Rose Farm and immediately we were in trouble with confusion over the number of riders, as I thought we were 11, however, Dave M did his usual and went the other way. Steve H was also missing, to which I was then informed, by one of the chuckle brothers, that Steve was suffering a bit and decided to head home. So, after a bit of a discussion we head off again with 10 in tow- well 8 and a couple of fast Klingons J

With the first 2 losses under our belt we head toward Oscroft on a few fast open lanes and quickly spread out with Peter doing the duties of “tail end Charlie” on his E-bike. The ride was going well (nice and mud free) until Clive decided to hijack the route and lead us down the back lanes of Aldford. This was shortly after I had stopped to admire the lovely wild meadow noted on the left, just before Aldford bridge. So it may have been that the group was temporarily rudderless and that Clive used his initiative (what a load of crap J)    

On we trot toward Churlton, where we lose Trevor, who headed off toward Coddington and home. No sooner had we lost Trevor, when John decided he needed to head home, something about dropping his bike off at AJ’s however, we all knew the real reason, as he was spotted at the rear, somewhat flagging, chatting to the green party (clearly his legs had gone - totally underestimated the pace of this group JJJ)

Anyway we make it to the café (at Barton) with no further losses. On arrival I discover that I hadn’t paid for the bag of coffee beans, I thought I had paid for on my last visit – oops! Clive commented, at our table, that we had only completed 20 miles, which didn’t stop the majority ordering the “full monty” ( 33 miles for yours truly J)
The lunch conversation seemed to revolve ostensibly around property and in particular our 1st mortgages. It was then we discovered how old Bob was, as his thatched cottage in Oxford cost him £1000 can you believe, back in year dot- well, maybe a bit more than £1000 J
The rest of the conversation was about how useless Elwyn was with electronics and bikes- to which Clive then demonstrated how easy it was to plot a route home on his Garmin (think Elwyn said “show me again and again” JJ)

So we finally get going, after the “last supper” and still with no rain, but the worst of the lanes, in order to get across the A41. At Tattenhall, I decide to change the route slightly to avoid the really mucky marina area, due to the building site. This also provided a much needed tailwind for some. So we head out to Beeston castle and down to the Shady Oak pub, once I had corrected Clive on his poor sense of directionJ

At Brassey Green, with 4 miles to go, I leave the remaining 5, and head home, they turned right to Tarporley and on to Rose Farm. I got home after 45 miles with only a bit of drizzle in the last 2 miles. Hopefully everybody else made it the last few miles to Rose Farm (33 total for the ride). I kept my fingers crossed as I rode home, as up until that point Elwyn had not fallen off his bike – still getting used to those clippie things on his pedals  J   

So, all in all a pretty good day for all, to which we all have to thank the ride leader for stepping up with a fabulous route with very little mud (as predicted) - exceptional lunch stop - and finally, amazing leadership.

Yours truly – Alias; lies R us JJJJ


PS;  Merry Xmas to you all and a Happy New Year 

See route map and/or gpx file download

NT

Sunday, 15 December 2019

12th December 2019: Gresford - Christmas Lunch Ride (mod)

I can't believe another year has gone by. Time for the annual Christmas Lunch ride again. Dave H kindly volunteered me (Thanks Dave!!!) to lead the moderates so on a damp wet morning which was destined to get worse I met up with Dave, Jim and Steve T for the ride up to Hawarden. We cycled into town, down to the river and along to the Old Dee Bridge. I will start my narrative at this point as we were to return here later in the day to complete a circular route.

We continued alongside the river skirting round the Little Roodee car park and then the racecourse. After passing the new flats we were forced onto New Crane Street for a short distance before cutting through The Cop back to the riverside. We followed the river now as far as the Ferry Lane bridge where we crossed over into Wales. Here we turned right onto the main road and passed the back of the Airbus factory. At the roundabout we turned right and then left up Rake Lane before turning right again for the final run up to Hawarden.

Although we were early we weren't the first to arrive and eleven riders had turned up by the time we had to leave. The brisk riders had planned their own ride and Steve joined them while we were joined by Andy B, Mike G, Peter and Brian. The seven of us set off down the Wrexham road then turned left up towards the A55 footbridge. As we neared the top we could see snow on the hills to our right. The question was would we get the promised rain later or would it be snow? It was certainly cold enough.

We turned right and then left into Old Hope Road and followed familiar lanes below Hope and Llay. As we crossed the Rossett – Llay road the weather worsened. The snow kept itself to the upper levels but it was raining by the time we reached Gresford Road. Here we dropped down to cross the bridge over the dual carriageway and turned into Springfield Lane. This took us to the bottom of Marford Hill. Peter wasn't able to join us for lunch and left us here while we climbed our way up into Gresford. At the lights we turned left and right into Old Wrexham Road. Only a mile to go to lunch now and shortly after passing The Flash we arrived at the Pant-yr-Ochain.

We had arrived cold and wet but that was soon forgotten as we headed to the bar for some pre-lunch drinks. We were first to arrive but we were soon joined by the brisk riders and those who had taken more notice of the weather forecast. We have been to the Pant-yr-Ochain for our Christmas lunch on several occasions and for good reason. They always put on a good lunch and today was no exception. Mercifully the conversation topics over lunch did not include politics or the day's general election.

All too soon lunch was over and we had to head back out into the cold and rain. Maybe it was the warming lunch or maybe it was good selection of ales that were on offer. Either way it helped us to forget about the wet weather. Even so we opted for the most direct route back. Andy, Mike & Brian went their own separate ways while Steve returned to us along with Clive for part of the way. We headed back through Gresford, down Marford Hill and then straight on through Rossett and Pulford. After the Grosvenor Garden Centre we turned right to pass through Eccleston & Handbridge before crossing the Old Dee Bridge to complete our circular route. Only 31 miles but 38 in total to get back to our starting point.

A big thank you to Dave H for organising the lunch again this year. Not an easy task as I know from experience. Happy Christmas to all our blog readers and all the best for 2020.

See route map and/or gpx file download

TC

12th December 2019 : Gresford - Christmas Lunch Ride (brisk)

The Met office prognosis for today was  dire - low cloud with heavy rain forecast for most the day; this, adding to the accumulation  of several days of very heavy rain,  probably meant that  pedalo’s rather than pedal cycles should have been our vehicle of choice. 

Nick joined me on ride from home for today's ride with both of us hoping to burn off a few calories in advance of the CER Christmas lunch at the Pant yr Ochain. A good dozen CERS turned out for the pre-lunch ride  meeting at the Gallery coffee shop where we were  given the sad news by the owner that from March next year he would be selling the business due to ill health.  He will be sadly missed as he has been an excellent host over the years.

Today's ride suggestion was via Buckley, Summerhill, and Wrexham to the Pant Yr Ochain ; a route of 40km. Three brisk riders took up the offer i.e. Clive, Ray and  Nick  but then we pressed-ganged Steve T  taking our group total to five including myself. Departing promptly, we  headed off towards Buckley on wet roads but at least it wasn’t raining. A good start, although one malcontent was heard to comment that if you concentrated really hard you could just about see your front wheel disappearing into the mist.


Navigating our way through Buckley, we were caught up in slow moving traffic caused by people queueing for the polling station, eventually we exited onto Padeswood Road  passing the deserted golf courses on our way to Hope and Caergwrle. As we left Caergwrle, on Ffrwd Road towards the only hill of the day, the rain arrived along with the only mechanical of the day. Steve dislodged his chain at the start of Bellan Road hill and, in the true spirit of Christmas, the rest of the group rode off to wait for him at the top.


With Steve’s chain problem solved, the going was all downhill  along with  the weather. The heavy rain  spurred us on down the aptly named Top Road and with a quick zigzag to cross the A483 we entered Wrexham. Here the  time and weather forced us to shorten the ride, and take a more direct route through town which brought us out onto Borras Road and into Gresford  arriving at the Pant just after 12:00. 
The moderate riders had already arrived along with another dozen CERS who had  opted for  a warmer  and drier form of transport.


A fuzzy photo - just like today's view through cycling specs!

Thanks to Dave H, who was in full headmaster mode, for producing a wonderfully organised event, everyone was issued with pieces of paper listing their meal choice and, of course, to The Pant who performed to their usual high standard. A perfect end to the day and after a pint or two of Penny Porter the wet weather of the morning faded away quickly.

Today"s route was cut short from the original 40km to 33 km with 320 mtrs of ascent and was  ridden on very waterlogged  and muddy roads in heavy rain,  hopefully it was enjoyed as much as it was endured.

KP

Photo KP

Saturday, 7 December 2019

5th December 2019 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Meeting at Delamere Station café was today a festive location with more Christmas trees than bikes in the car park. All that was missing were the elves, but with a good turnout of mam(w)il’s in splendid colours, we managed a reasonable substitute for a short while.

The brisk riders today were minus Clive, but a couple of routes were proposed, but with a wet and windy pm in prospect, a shorter ride was agreed and the Vine at Dunham Massey was our lunch destination. Finding our bikes amongst the Christmas trees, the brisk group today consisted of John W, Ken, Ray, Elwyn and myself.

Leaving the café, we head towards Hatchmere on probably the roughest tarmac surface in Cheshire and turning right at the cross roads for the B5153 and Crowton. It’s a fast descent from Norley and the pace is maintained to Acton Bridge before crossing over the blue bridge then the uphill via Willow Green Lane aka a very mucky lane!! With a tail wind and a reasonable pace, we arrive at Lymm and join the A road to Warburton where we head towards Dunham Massey.

We’ve arrived at the Vine at 11:58 and by the time our bikes were secured to the garden furniture, the doors were open and we were inside to be greeted to an open fire in full fury. A pint of Sam Smiths golden beer at £2.00 and a delicious lunch of pie and seasonal veg was very welcome. Our route out covered 25 miles, but the return was only 20 to Hatchmere and as it was now starting to drizzle, and we were keen to get started.

Riding along the track adjacent to Dunham Massey Hall, the car park was very busy with cars probably due to the big Christmas light switch-on which had signs boasting a sell-out. Passing the Swan with Two Nicks, then crossing the A56 and stopping for a photo shoot under the M56 bridge at the John Wesley monument. Reading in Wikipedia later, one of his quotes was “Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry” but today we are, so off again up Booth Bank and with the recent rain and hedge trimming, another mucky road. Passing High Legh garden centre, it is a different day to the recent Special Ride which started from here.

Underneath the M56  - John Wesley Memorial
Riding towards Great Budworth, I suggested that if the village was festive a better location for a photo opportunity but not a tree in sight! Must be filming again. Passing the mere on our left, another suggestion for a shoot was also declined and, to keep the locals happy, a gate stop opportunity taken.

From Comberbach, it was then following the usual route via Anderton and the Boat lift dropping down to Winnington. There are so many new homes built around here now it is very different area from just a couple of years ago. As mentioned in an earlier comment, from Delamere it's down hill to Crowton, so the return must be uphill and our last push up Maddocks Hill is felt.

Into Norley village and then back to Hatchmere crossroad, we continue along the roller coaster road through Delamere after parting with Elwyn riding back to the café and Ken who had parked up in the woods. John, Ray and I ride back to Chester and, as we arrive back, the wind has whipped up and were grateful to be back on local territory.

For the three Chester riders, we’ve ridden 65+ miles and an undulating 3000ft of climb at 15mph. The round trip distance returning to Delamere café is 45 miles. Although my bike had full length mudguards, I was a very spotted with mud and my overshoes thick with road slush. Bike is all very dirty – the joys of days out.

Thanks to my fellow riders for a good day out with no incidents 


ID

Thursday, 5 December 2019

5th December 2019: Bunbury (mod)

“And then there were none”

The team were greeted by some festive music on arriving at the Delamere café, and a good sized group set off for a steady moderate ride to Bunbury. A short stop in Kelsall gave Dave P the opportunity to ring ahead to the pub and check that they were happy for the group consisting of Dave and Liz on the tandem, Dave H, Steve H, Bob, Fiona, Andy W, Neil and myself to arrive at lunchtime. Having cleared that hurdle we set off along Willington Lane, and past Willington Hall. If you’ve ridden this bit of road you’ll know that the surface is as rough as anything Clive takes us on, so the last time I went down there I filled in a repair  report for the Cheshire Highways. Some days later I got a call from the local engineer to inform me that he’d looked at the surface and it didn’t fit the criteria necessary for a repair! Perhaps they need to lose a few local Range Rovers in the holes before action can be taken. However, the next section has been re-surfaced and a pleasant downhill took us to the A51 where traffic was briefly absent allowing us a quick crossing onto Corkscrew Lane.

The farmers had thoughtfully sprayed most of the surface with a fine layer of post-glacial mud, which makes a change from the usual blackthorn I suppose. The rain that was forecast for 3pm made a preliminary appearance but generally we stayed dry. Past the entrance to Beeston Castle - not many visitors there on a gloomy December day - and on to Bunbury and the Nags Head. The open fire was a welcome sight and we were soon perusing the menu. The meals were good quality and well –priced, but it was soon time to head back out into the gloom.

Dave and Liz set off to retrace the route out, Fiona and Neil felt the need to add on a few extra miles, which left the rest of us to head back to Beeston. Andy then peeled off direct for Chester and the remaining 4 continued down to the Ice Cream Farm and over the twin peaks by Tattenhall Marina. Here Dave and Bob took a right up to Huxley and back to Delamere. Steve and myself continued along Greenlooms Lane where we parted as Steve went right to Tarvin and I continued left to Guilden Sutton. The wind was beginning to pick up now with twigs and leaves blowing across the road, so I was quite relieved to get home to a mince pie and cup of tea. Just 40 miles for me, perhaps a bit less for the group, but a pleasant ride well up to moderate standards.

See route map and/or gpx file download

JD

Friday, 29 November 2019

28th November 2019: Nesscliffe (mod)

Once again the forecast was ropey. The added deterrent was a start at Chirk, deep into the territory of potential natural disasters. Steep, muddy lanes with torrents of water and treacherous icy bends. Wet and shivery cold on  quickly darkening days, dreading a puncture in remote and exposed  territory. Welcome to cycling in winter Wales! Ask Steve Haywood about his debut ride with us, some time back, from this venue in a “challenging” environment.

The committed (or those who should be committed) arrived in the welcome warmth of  the Castle Bistro and Tea Room. I had knackered my back, but was deluding myself that hours vibrating it on rough roads was just what the doctor ordered. Dave Matthews had ridden out, and was returning home after coffee. Ken was also on his bike, but would be cycling to visit his dad, and had an appointment later. The moderate group consisted of Andy Barber, Steve Tan, George, Peter and myself. The conversation was wide-ranging: from a consensus that carbon offsetting was of very dubious merit, to Steve's interesting history of The Cresta Run. Steve and his wife, Lesley, have actually been passengers on the Cresta Run, proof that he was keen to risk his neck long before his aerial gymnastics with us. I failed to persuade with my vague and  conservative plan to circle down in the direction of  Bagley and up to Ellesmere for lunch. My idea was that if the weather really turned sour we were never too far from Chirk. Also, Andy wasn't keen on returning late as he would have another 22 miles to ride to Mold in fading light. Nevertheless, we decided to “go for it” and ride to the Two Pigeons at Nesscliffe, a route which Steve had on his phone from a previous Steve Haywood ride, which George, Andy and I had enjoyed.

The start was fine, and had the distinct merit of avoiding the mountainous wild west climbs into Wales. We headed in the direction of Hindford, but missed the turn, so finished up reaching Welsh Frankton via Whittington. We then fairly licked along on some lovely lanes to Weston Lullingfields, and out of Baschurch via Little Ness and Great Ness. We had made good time to lunch, and the friendly service, fine food and chiselled sandstone walls of The Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe made for an agreeable break. This, however was going to be a ride of two halves!

As soon as we came out for our return we were met by wet saddles and steady rain. The route back was shorter, and still scenic, and enjoyable up to a point. We were facing a light headwind most of the time, and by the time we reached Maesbury thoughts began to wander towards how long it would take to reach the warmth of Castle Bistro. Alas, it was not to be! Peter pulled over on reaching Maesbury Road Industrial Estate. When I caught the others at a busy junction it became obvious Peter had not just stopped to make adjustment, as there was no sign of him as we waited. When I cycled back, Peter was still struggling to force a very tight fitting Schwalbe off his front rim. The puncture was hard to find, but Peter eventually had everything back together, I had phoned  the others to carry on to Chirk without us, but then Andy appeared at the other side of the road! I must admit Peter dealt with the puncture with admirable insouciance. Mind you he has had plenty of practice lately: this was his third puncture to my knowledge! I, on the other hand, was wet, bothered about the building traffic, the failing light and my need to go to the toilet. The spirit of Scott of the Antarctic was definitely not with me. I was thinking more of “Beam me up Scotty!”

Forty minutes later we started on our route to the Old Fort. I'm afraid I wasn't much use to Steve, as I was heading for the Cumbrian Railway Museum as a viable approach, while Steve was correctly following the route on his phone. I think he was wanting to tell me where to stick my soggy paper map! It was a relief to leave the town traffic and climb past the fort. The remaining ride was on a familiar and direct lane to Weston Rhyn, and then we were soon at Chirk.

There had been plenty of thick mud tractor tyre lines and thick wet clumps of leaves to safely navigate. It was nice to reach the warmth of Castle Bistro, but I was conscious that Andy hadn't the time to stop, as his ride was far from over. We had volunteered to drive him back, but three people and three bikes is very hard to accommodate in my car without my rack. Also, he would  probably have had to be anaesthetised to get him out of the saddle! The cold had got to Steve with his low body fat ratio, but I think we all agreed that we were glad that we had made the effort. Good company, cake and hot coffee made for a positive perspective on the day. I hope Peter and Andy felt the same sans the cafe ending! Many thanks to Steve for a really good job leading, once again.

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

Saturday, 23 November 2019

21st November 2019: Whitchurch (mod)

It was an excellent turnout at Alison’s Kitchen of mods and briskers.  DaveH not having his maps, requested suggestions. It was quickly agreed we would go to the Black Bear in Whitchurch following a route DaveM and myself conjured up some time ago on a previous visit. Jim, DaveM and SteveH were out for morning rides as ten of us set off (Mikes D&G, SteveT, Fiona, Neil, Trevor, Bob, George, DaveH and electric Peter). Neil had raised concerns about mud on the road towards Clutton. As it had recently been dry, I decided to take the risk.

With Trevor leading we were soon in Tilston. With no one volunteering to try the stocks, we quickly made our way onto Threapwood following the CTC Spring 50 route. Only one incident so far, we had the rare experience of local hedge trimmers sweeping up their messes. Whilst DaveH was thanking them, those behind nearly piled into him on a muddy surface as he forgot to advise he was stopping.

Onto Hanmere area and whilst making our way to Bronington, we encountered the epi-centre of muddy roads where we stopped, allowing Bob, Fiona and Neil to remove the accumulating mud from their mudguards. I was accused of trying to emulate Clive A. Where were those stocks?
Photos by Mike G

As time was getting on and it would take about an hour for all of us to be fed and watered at the Black Bear, we headed for Whitchurch rather than divert to Whixhall Moss area as originally planned. The temperature by now had risen to a tropical 3.9 degrees C.

Lunchtime conversation covered ISharing apps/Life 360, BBC Four programmes and other issues, yes including politics as we thawed out and enjoyed the lunchtime food and drinks (Salopian Gold was excellent).

We departed Whitchurch at about quarter to two and because if any of us got a puncture, I decided on a straightish route back via Marbury, NCN 45, Harthill finishing with a lovely run down to Tattenhall. Arriving at three pm we had covered about 36 miles. It left sufficient time for those from farther afield to return in daylight and the café hoppers, a further opportunity for some light refreshments. On a positive outcome, with us all having muddy bikes it enabled us to gain greater familiarisation with our trusty steeds.

See route map and/or gpx file download

Mike G