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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, 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


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

Friday, 22 November 2019

21st November 2019 : Audlem (brisk)

This brisk ride today could be given the nickname of “Tu Be or not Tu Be, that is the question” Now read on!

There were a dozen or more of us at Alison’s Country Kitchen cafe in Tattenhall this week. It is proving to be a successful change away from the Ice Cream Farm. I was one of the last to arrive and I was eager to get inside away from the cold SE wind that would dog us all day today.

Although Ivan had prepared a route to Barthomley, he was happy to defer to my route of similar length of 48 miles to Audlem. Both groups set off together with the Mods turning left out of the car park, and the Briskets surprisingly turning right!

We had not gone but  a few hundred yards when “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” stopped because Elwyn’s rear tyre was a little soft. While the rest of us stood around i.e. Ivan, Ray, John W, Nick and myself, Elwyn tried to reflate the tyre to no real effect. This was apparently a new tubeless tyre put on by the bike shop at the top of Marford Hill whilst Elwyn’s bike was being serviced there. Both Ray and I were dubious of the valve stem as it doesn’t look like a tubeless tyre version. A shot of Carbon Dioxide did the trick, and we were on our way now to Bickerton Hill via Brown Knowle. Here, John wasn’t feeling 100% today so decided to head for home, which he reached without incident.

We arrive at Hampton Post crossroads and Elwyn’s tyre needs another gas transfusion. Down the hill and via a short stretch of the A41, finds us on our way to Wrenbury. By the Dusty Miller pub, the tyre needs reflating yet again and we are now running low on gas cylinders. Just over the Wrenbury railway crossing is a small industrial estate where I thought I remembered that there was a cycle business; however I was wrong. Now Elwyn’s tyre is flat yet again. Faced with getting on the train to go back home, he decides to put tube in it, and Ray and I are not looking forward to doing this due to the 50 mls of latex sealant in the tubeless carcass - a right messy business.

The tyre is off and, to our astonishment, the tyre is not tubeless but tubed, and the inner tube is not only too small for the tyre size, but has a massive tear in it! We stand around in the lee of the workshop building whilst we struggle to get the tyre back on the rim. Now all sorted, I decide that I need to cut the planned route down as we are all cold and have lost 45 mins due to the comedy of errors brought about by the “competent” cycle workshop.

We now head directly for the Shroppie Fly where, apart from one other punter, we are the only customers for lunch. We bemoan the current political climate as we edge closer to getting back on our bikes into the growing gloom of a late November afternoon. We head back towards Nantwich with the wind behind us now, and onwards to Swanley Lane canal bridge and Brindley. Cutting left down lonely Cappers Lane, we pass Bath House Farm which used to serve the Spurstow saline spa pool in the adjacent woodland - definitely not today though!

We cut across to Peckforton where Ivan and Elwyn power ahead as Ray and I take it more sedately at only 20 mph. There is no sign of Ivan at the Ice Cream Farm turn, so Ray and I head homewards assuming  that Ivan has gone back to Alisons for a warming coffee and cake session. Ivan hadn’t gone back to Tattenhall, but if he had, he would have completed the 45 mile route at 16mph average.

By the time I am home, the darkness has set in as I find my front light is just about flickering and in need of  battery transplant - just as I do.

So “Tube or Tubeless, that is the question” today  - a salutary lesson for us all!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Tuesday, 19 November 2019

14th November 2019: Parkgate (mod)

Being the closest to Chester, Meadow Lea is one of the more popular starting points on the CER calendar. Particularly for me as I can have a good lie in and still have time to cycle down to the start. Five brisk riders, seven moderates and two non-riders turned up but some were less pleased than usual with starting point. Not with the café itself, I must point out, but with the journey to it. They had ridden along the greenway, found it flooded, and decided they would be able to cycle through it without getting their feet wet. Wrong! And when I arrived there were already a number of socks and shoes hanging in front of the fire in an attempt to get them dried out before the ride started.

A discussion took place as to a suitable place for lunch. It was cold and windy with the threat of rain. No one was too enthusiastic about a long ride and the Carden Arms was suggested. However the wind was from the north and I suggested a ride onto the Wirral which would give us the wind behind us on the way back. So as the brisk group turned left out of Meadow Lea, the moderates (Andy B, Dave H, George, Jim, Mike D, Peter and me) we turned right and headed through Mickle Trafford.
I didn’t have a map but I have ridden these roads so often that I didn’t need one. We zigzagged our way over the M53, past the back of the zoo and over the canal. We were forced into a short diversion because of road works at the top of Chorlton Lane but were soon crossing the A41 at Backford and heading up Demage Lane towards the railway. The Sustrans path alongside the railway slowed us down with all its gates but we put up with it as the alternative is to cycle up main roads. Then it was on through Capenhurst and Ledsham, across the Welsh Road and on to Willaston via the ‘missing link’. We avoided the centre of the village by turning right into Mill Lane but couldn’t avoid a short trip along the busy B5151.

I had intended to stop for lunch at the Wheatsheaf Inn in Raby, which I had visited a few weeks before, but as we approached it was only just past mid-day. A short committee meeting resulted in agreement to carry on and we passed through Thornton Hough and dropped down to the Boathouse at Parkgate. Despite there not being many people in the pub the service was slow but we were warm, not particularly in a hurry and we found plenty to talk about. When the food did eventually arrive it was good and soon devoured.

Soon it was time to re-emerge into the cold and wind but at least it was behind us as we headed along the front at Parkgate and on to the Wirral Way. After a short stretch to Neston we headed down through the houses to Quayside where we passed the Harp and Nets café to reach Burton Marshes. The going was much easier now with the wind behind us and we were soon across the Marshes and through the industrial estate, now with dedicated cycle lanes.

Andy and Peter left us before we headed down the greenway back towards Chester. Jim and I were cycling together while the other three gradually eased ahead. The route back was pretty straight forward and when we approached the flooded area (now fenced off by the council) the three out in front were nowhere to be seen. I was happy that they had found their own way back to Meadow Lea so Jim and I made our own way home. Only 36 miles today and an early finish but a timely one as we made it back just before the rain started to fall.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 14 November 2019

14th November 2019 : Middlewich (brisk)

There were a fair few CER members in Meadow Lea cafe huddled around the roaring fire. Some were in civvies, and one had his boots and socks steaming by the fire. Apparently the Greenway was underwater at the M53 underpass, and at least two riders found out the hard way that it was deeper than they thought! Luckily, I had ridden to the cafe by a different route today.

I’d already planned a ride to Middlewich carefully taking the wind direction into account, as it was advertised to be gusting to 30 mph from the north. The route was vaguely a rectangle where we would have the wind behind us for a few miles on the way out and against us just before and after lunch in Middlewich. 

So the Brisk group set off with Ivan and John W committed for the full route, and John M and Nick committed to somewhere convenient to break off and head for home. Out via the usual lanes of Waverton, we turn off at Handley on our way to Bunbury. Just short of here John M and Nick peel off for home as we three continue on towards Church Minshull via Alpraham. We are going West to East now and John bravely takes the lead to shelter us

We kiss the edge of Coppenhall and ride north through Warmingham to Middlewich. I couldn’t find a record of a ride to Middlewich per se, but I had been to the White Bear in Wheelock Street before with Harry Watson’s group quite a few years ago. It was quiet inside and warm. There was a decent range of beers, and the hot food came pretty quickly and was much appreciated. We sit awhile contemplating the world - as you do - but I know we have 22 more miles with the light fading and the northerly wind as strong as ever.

We head north to Bostock Green and Davenham then cross into Hartford. We clip Cuddington and climb up to Norley and thence out through Delamere Forest and Ashton Hayes arriving back in Guilden Sutton at around 1530. I head for home as it has just started to rain, and get in before it really starts at just before 1600 with 66 miles all round. Today's route was only 54 miles but at a 16 mph pace. It was cold and with that wind we were glad we had plenty on. As I arrive home I notice it has warmed up to 5C!

Thanks go to John W for his sterling service in taking the lead on the front today. A tiring ride as my achy legs attest!

See route map and/or gpx file download


PS : The problem of deep water on the Greenway had been solved as John rode back home - it has been closed!

Photos by JW

Saturday, 9 November 2019

7th November 2019: Hanmer (mod)

For CER riders looking out of their bedroom windows the main question was, “If I turn up to ride today will I just get reasonably wet, or insufferably wet, as in having to endure miserable, cold hours of driving rain ?” Those who have rich and full lives, urgent household task to tackle, or stimulating company at home, sensibly chose to “give it a miss”. Clive, Ken, George, Nick and myself turned up. To be fair, Nick was multi-tasking in terms of a need to get to Screwfix in Wrexham before the end of the afternoon, then he was going to hang curtains, and later practise his karaoke! That's the energy of (relative) youth for you. I suggested Hanmer or Ellesmere, and I reckon Ken had calculated that at my pace he'd be returning home in the dark if we went to Ellesmere, so the Hanmer Arms it was to be.

I sort of led, but although I have pioneered some perverse routes in this area, mainly to avoid hilly and rough-roaded Malpas, the help of the rest of The Crazy Gang, who ride these lanes more frequently, smoothed things along. When I don't know my north from my south, George can always take bearings from his beloved distant Welsh hills in order to keep us on track. The route out was via Churton. At Coddington the Caravan Park cafe was recommended to those who hadn't yet partaken. We continued through the mazy little lanes of Cuddington Heath and Oldcastle Heath. We passed Peacock Farm where my Clio RS happened to be in the capable, specialist hands of Steve and Andy of Birchdown Motors. At Eglwys Cross, Clive, perhaps surprisingly, suggests the main road in order to miss the super muddy back lane to Hanmer. George and I remember well using sticks here to poke the muck from between our tyres and mudguards. It was by leading us on back lanes like this that Clive literally cemented his reputation. The Hanmer Arms is full of chatting ladies, one of whom nearly knocks me over, chuckling over her view that my yellow “safety jacket” was the only thing that saved me from demolition. Service and food were very good, and it is nice to see this long time CER favourite returned to top form.

The conversation was interesting, but as I strayed onto the political, George, quite rightly mentioned out our informal concensus on avoiding the risk of heartfelt arguments over politics.  Of course, George may have just been on Civil Service autopilot after decades of ensuring Political Purdah before elections!

Our return was via Little Arowry, Three Fingers, Threapwood and Shocklach. The pace of the fast lads was considerately turned down, but progress had been good all day. Nick peeled off for home. We, amazingly, felt very little rain until the last few miles to Farndon; even this was only light. We decided to give our custom to Helen, back at Cleopatra's. We had a very pleasant coffee and cake session before departing. I suspect Ken, and definitely Clive, will have hit real rain riding home. Only 31 miles, but very enjoyable despite the gloomy forecast. I am sure that we all were glad that we had not “given it a miss”!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 2 November 2019

31st October 2019 : Norton in Hales (brisk)

Asked if I could provide a route from Rose Farm, I consulted the CER bank of past routes, looking for somewhere to the south, so that I could cut across to Tilston on the return leg. So, Utkinton to Norton in Hales was duly selected. The choice was narrowed when I found I couldn’t download pre-2018 routes. However, it proved to be a good choice, even though the brisk riders were down to just two, me and Ken.

We opted to take the A49 road crossing along Heath Green to cut around the back of Tarporley, as opposed to negotiating the car madness of downtown Tarporley. The route took us along the quiet and scenic lanes past Beeston Castle, through Bunbury to Audlem, where we corrected a missed right turn.

Commenting on the strong headwinds, coming from a generally south direction, we were feeling smug in the knowledge of a return tailwind. While keeping up a good pace we were relieved to get to the Hinds pub in Norton in Hales. We arrived at about 12.15 when it was quite empty, but pretty busy when we left. Food was good, as was the beer, but an even better looking white IPA came on tap as we were leaving.

The return leg took us along very quiet and fairly direct lanes to Adderley, Aston, Wrenbury and Bickerton. It was fortunate it was dry because the roads around Adderley and Aston were covered in a smooth, dried mud road surface (resulting from farm vehicles cutting of the maize crop), that in the wet would turn into an ice rink. Staying upright still required concentration, especially with the odd kamikaze pheasant and stoat.

At Bickerton, I left Ken to negotiate Harthill and the very lumpy road surface of Wood Lane (Utkinton), and instead turned left at the church. After a small climb, three miles of blissful downhill landed me in Tilston. We had a great day out on an excellent route covering 57 miles. We completed this at an average of just over 15mph. Oh, and that tail wind of course never materialised!


Friday, 1 November 2019

31st October 2019: Aston (mod)

There was a good turnout at Rose Farm, with nine riders (Clive, Daves M and H, Mikes G and D, George, Trevor, Keith and myself) who were up for a 40 mile ride to The Bhurtpore at Aston, along a route that I had picked up from previous CER ride. As we were about to set off, Dave M offered to take us along a ‘country route’ to Aston rather than the route I had planned. I gladly agreed, as it would take the load off me having to lead.

Turning left out of Rose Farm we ran down the hill and then turned first right into Wood Lane – not our usual route. We then followed Dave through Clotton and Hoofield and across the Shropshire Union Canal at The Shady Nook before heading for Beeston and Peckforton Castles. At Peckforton, we went left into Peckforton Hall Lane and thence on to Spurstow. Here came the only ‘non-country’ bit – a half mile dash down the A49 until we reached the safety of Badcocks Lane from where we followed a winding route to Brindley, where we crossed the A534.

At Lardon Green, I heard a shout from behind and turned around to find Clive at the side of the road with his bike upside down, looking for the cause of the puncture in his (tubeless!) rear tyre.  Soon all nine riders were standing around in the cold (it had started to drizzle a bit – as predicted by Carol!). Rather than everyone getting cold, Dave M took four ‘softies’ off to the pub whilst the ‘hard men’ stayed to help Clive.

The repair took a while, as the ‘goo’ inside the tubeless tyre didn’t seal the hole as it should. So Clive had to resort to putting a tube in, but this meant extracting the tubeless valve first. Eventually all was well, helped along by Keith’s CO2 cylinders (21st century technology, Clive) and we soon covered the remaining 7 miles to The Bhurtpore.

The advanced party had ordered but were not yet eating and the rest of us soon ordered and were served with curries, Balti, pies and other tasty food. Talk around the table covered the forthcoming Rugby World Cup final and how you’d never see Steve Bruce shed a tear however many Newcastle let in!

As we’d already covered some of my return route on the way down here, Clive did some routing on the fly (or rather his iPhone) and offered to lead back to Utkinton. This took us back to Wrenbury and then to Sound, Ravensmoor and Acton. Some wiggles down the lanes led to the Venetian Marina using NC551. At Cholmodeston, Dave M said that he’d take over to avoid going through Bunbury. So we headed east, wiggling down the lanes past Calveley Primary School, which seems to be a long way from the village. More wiggles down the lanes took us past Oulton Park, where the sound of racing cars could be heard; a track day, perhaps.

Crossing the A49 at Cotebrook took us into Utkinton Lane and so back to our starting point with 46 miles covered at an average speed of 13 mph – quite brisk for a mod ride! My thanks to Clive and Dave M for leading a great route down some quiet lanes and to the other mods for their company on a day when the rain held off yet again.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 26 October 2019

24th October 2019: Special - Marton (mod)

There was a surprisingly good turnout for the last Special Ride of the year - a cyclist's dozen of thirteen riders met at High Legh garden (and everything else) centre for the 1030 off.  The weather was not promising in that there was light rain on the way to the cafe, but it improved to grey cloud cover for most of the morning.

The Moderate group consisted of Andy B, Mike D, Peter, Dave H, Steve T, Trevor and myself. I had already prepped the group that there were lots of twists and turns on this ride as we set off bound for Rostherne and its impressive natural mere (48 hectares and 30m deep). We wiggle our way through Mobberley where, detecting a loud noise, I pull to the side expecting a larger tractor to pass, only to find that a Virgin Atlantic 747 was taking off in the next field. Mobberley airport is in fact Manchester International Airport!

We are now on our way south east towards Nether Alderley and the start of Artist’s Lane aka Wizard Hill lane. We each grind our lonely way up the mile plus lane and rest outside the  "Wizard of Edge” pub. It’s now largely downhill now through Birtles to Henbury. School Lane, down through Gravelhole and Hunt woods, is definitely downhill and as the road flattened out, a double cyclist nemesis greets us - two tractors hedge cutting! We gingerly pass by then turning into Bearhurst lane, I hear the plaintiff cry of "Stopping -puncture"! Andy has a front wheel flat and, as it is nearly mended, I espy a rather large thorn in his rear tyre. To add to the situation, Peter then owns up to a front wheel puncture as well. After about a 30 mins delay, we are off again for the 5 miles or so through Gawsworth to Marton and the Old Barn cafe arriving about 1330.

The cafe had reserved two tables for six for us but no Brisk riders were in evidence as yet. They had a longer and hillier ride to the same cafe. We quickly sit and order our repast. The Brisk group arrives complaining of a minor piece of off-road transfer and that the route was rather steep! We all agree that the repast was of excellent quality. Outside it is looking a little dark and I wonder if the we were going to get rained on. So we set off for the return route and I “decide” to make an instant minor route alteration on our way to Goostrey. The sun has now come out and a little bit of warmth is in evidence.

We are now heading north east bound for Knutsford where Steve has suggested we use the Tan Transfer to get us across the the very busy A556 at Tabley. This works a treat  and it is now a 5 mile run back to High Legh. The Brisk group have supped and gone, as we arrive back around 1630 with 51 miles and 1800ft of ascent.

For me, there were miles of new lanes through beautiful and affluent Cheshire Life countryside; however, Dave and Steve seemed to know quite a few of the lanes today. So, paraphrasing the Morecambe and Wise Andre Previn sketch  “ I was riding all the right lanes but not necessarily in the right order"

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 25 October 2019

24th October 2019 :Special - Marton (brisk)

With Nick for company, we headed by car to High Legh Garden Centre for our caffeine fix and rendezvous for the 58 mile,  brisk  ‘special’ ride.

As both groups gathered for the ‘grand depart’,  Nick got the zip of his Gore jacket jammed in the fabric but in freeing the zip, he somehow managed to break the zip on his seat pack rendering it useless. Meanwhile, John M, John W, Ivan, Ray and myself waved off the moderates while Nick organised his gear.

Finally we set off in pursuit of Clive and the moderates, the first part of route being  shared by both ride groups. We caught up with them just before Rostherne Mere and continued our brisk pace through the quiet and very flat lanes of East Cheshire until the first and only advertised mile climb of the day up towards Alderley Edge and the Wizard Inn. The 7% gradient slowed us down but eventually we pressed on towards Prestbury. Just before reaching Nether Alderley ‘Plotaroute’ directed us through a private property fortunately the error was spotted and we continued on the posted route into Prestbury and onto horrible cobbled speed bumps .

Leaving the town, we headed south of Bollington along Dumbah Road to meet the A523, where we had to go on two hundred meters of dual carriageway before branching off over a heavily brambled steep embankment to drop down to a minor road, Clarke Lane. As you can see by the photos John W and Ivan enjoyed breaking the trail through the nettles and brambles!

Clarke Lane led us directly up Kerridge Hill,  a climb of about 1.5km with 100 metres of ascent, the first of 4 significant climbs before lunch which were a surprise as they were omitted  from Clive’s advert about the ride!

After the descent of Kerridge Hill there was a cry of “glass“ but the warning was too late for us to avoid. The next long climb, to Tegs Nose, started almost immediately but inevitably by the time we reached the top Nick had a puncture. At this point we had  4 riders at the top of hill, 2 having already descended. No sooner had we remounted and shouted we were on our way, John M suffered the same fate as Nick. Meanwhile, Ivan and JohnW, presumably fed up of waiting for us rode back up the back up the hill to rejoin us. 

Ivan indicating that they had had 2 punctures today.

The rest of route through Sutton Lane Ends and Gawsworth to Marton was incident free but it was nearly 2pm before we arrived at the Old Barn Cafe where the mods were already seated and awaiting their food. It seemed  their arrival was only 15 mins before us as they were delayed by punctures.

The lunch chat of both groups  was mainly focussed on the ride route and punctures and filled most of the lengthy wait time we endured for our food - it took almost an hour to be served which was strange given we  were the only customers . 

Finally fed and watered, the mods left first and then the brisk group shot off like a dogs after a hare, chasing the mods and wanting to make up for the time loss. The mods were caught at Swetenhams Heath where they turned right and were followed by most of the brisk group who then had to be recalled as our route took a different trajectory. Shortly after ‘Plotaroute’ tried once again to send us through private property, but fortunately the error was  spotted in time to avoid the turn. The remaining journey along the flat lanes through Goostrey and Wynscham was uneventful.

The route today totalled 93km (58miles) and according to Garmin contained 880 mtrs (2887ft) of ascent. A great route that is worthy of a revisit.

Thanks Clive for your planning and to the brisk lads for their company.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday, 18 October 2019

17th October 2019: Bickerton (mod)

There was a fine turnout at Delamere Station Cafe. It was good to see Steve Haywood, who is hopefully on the mend. There are a number of us who have had an enforced absence from club rides for medical reasons, so we can empathise with the frustration felt by Steve. We are missing Steve's major contribution in not just posting all moderate ride write-ups, as he continues to do, but in his willingness to seek out routes and new pub stops, and to so often lead and write up the rides. As well as missing his usefulness, we just miss his company. 

The route was great, originally created by Ken, with Paul Rose and Steve Tan in tow. Steve led with Fiona, Andy, daft Andy, Bob, George, Mike the voice, Dave Pipe and myself.

We turned left at Hatchmere, and left again toward Kelsall, and right down the delightful, little, leafy Grange Road to Ashton Hayes. Unfortunately, Bob was ahead and missed the turn. Eventually we were reunited, and passed through Oscroft and Waverton. Andy B. had a puncture before Saighton. Mike kindly offered to chase Bob and George who were off the front. Andy's rear tyre was as thin as a wafer of graphene, and I think he realised that it needed to be junked when he got home. In the tradition of true farce the lead three returned, as we unwittingly missed them on the Churton to Coddington back lane. As the main peloton were now running late we lunched at the delightful Mannerwood Country Caravan Park cafe. The young women serving were friendly and efficient, and the food was very tasty.

Our route back was through Tilston, Bickerton and Bunbury. Dave Pipe and myself were severely tempted by Tilly's, but we all ploughed on to Eaton via the tough Tilston Bank. I needed to get back home, so I haven't yet found out what happened to the breakaway group. I hope their lunch at The Bickerton Poacher was enjoyable! The weather was ideal, so I am sure we all enjoyed the day despite the unintended split. When I returned I found that I had lost one of my new flashing heel clips. Ah, well! They were half price! 43 relaxed miles in excellent company. Thanks again to Steve for resurrecting this picturesque route. 


Thursday, 17 October 2019

17th October 2019 : Goostrey (brisk)

A chilly start this morning as I set out via Manley for Delamere. Just outside Mickle Trafford, I espy Trevor and Jim fixing Trevor's puncture - they are OK, so I soldier on passing Manley Mere on the way to Delamere. This starting point is as popular as ever with about a dozen or so Easy Riders taking morning tea or coffee. A welcome visitor was Steve H who had travelled over Kelsall Hill to the station cafe by the oldest transport system available i.e. Shankys's Pony. Good to see him and he is making progress, it will be a little while yet before he is back in the saddle.

At coffee, I had cobbled together a route to Goostrey directly into the phone but realised that I would have to reverse it as it was longer on the homeward leg than the outward to lunch. So Nick, Elwyn, John W, Ray, Ken and I set off for Fishpool Lane and Cotebrook. The low bright sun made reading the road surface quite difficult, but thankfully there were no surprises as we head for Wettenhall.

We now take the long lane to Church Minshull and out on the Nantwich Road towards Middlewich. Turning off into Chapel Lane, we can now run northwards with the stiff breeze behind us into Middlewich proper. A quick right and left finds out on the road to Cranage, and we follow the lane to Twemlow Green. Jodrell Bank telescope dish looms high over the countryside as we turn into Goostrey bound for The Crown pub.

We have visited this pub quite a few times and it doesn't disappoint today either. We learn that Boris has just concluded a deal with Brussels and all wonder whatever is going to happen next. Whilst a few of us are waiting for apple pie and custard, I realise that, in reversing my hastily constructed route, we shall now have all the hills to climb on the way back. I decide that I need more practice on route plotting and hastily create a flatter route back.

The return takes us to Lach Dennis and Davenham and onwards to Hartford. After Cuddington, we take my favourite lane, Gallowsclough Lane, back into Norley. I find out later that we have passed a megalithic round barrow half way down this lane. Read about it here.

It is now a short ride back to Hatchmere where John, Ray and I head back for home via Delamere  with about 75 miles under the tyres. The remaining riders go back to the cafe with only 45 miles ridden but at 16.5mph average.

So thank you to my domestiques who took the wind off the front for me a few times during the ride today. I enjoyed the ride on my new Hunt wheels with tubeless Conti Grandprix 5000 tyres - they did actually feel quicker - but will it be a lasting reality or just an illusion!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday, 14 October 2019

10th October 2019: Baschurch (mod)

After Clive's Beatles Tour a few weeks ago the moderate ride today turned into something of a Mystery Tour although we were as far away from Liverpool as we get on our normal rides. I had gone to Chirk on the train along with David M and Andy W, but David was scouting out part of a route for an Audax ride he was planning and Andy was going with him. I was pleased when Andy B and Dave P turned up at the cafe as until then it had just been me and a group of brisk riders there.

The brisk group had got themselves organised and promptly set off on their ride while the three of us hadn't even thought about where we might go. Dave and Andy didn't have any maps but I had my Garmin. However it was my first ride back after a trip to Europe and unfortunately I hadn't reloaded my British maps. I managed to find and load a route but all I had on the screen was a red line on a blank background. All I knew was that the route appeared to head down onto the Shropshire plains and was about 40 miles, two features which were acceptable to the others. And so our mystery trip began.

We turned left out of the cafe, then right and dropped down onto the canal towpath to cross Telford's aqueduct. At Rhoswiel we left the canal, crossed the A5 and found ourselves heading towards Hindford. Then it was on through Tetchill and Hordley to Bagley.

About 15 miles into the ride we started to see signs for Baschurch and I realised that we were probably heading for Ruyton-X1-Towns and the Talbot Inn. Sure enough as we approached Baschurch we turned right onto B4397. On the previous ride from Chirk, Clive had said that the Talbot Inn was closed on Thursday lunchtime and had taken us instead to Moor Farm cafe at Baschurch. Not wanting to arrive in Ruyton to find that we couldn't get any food we opted for the same alternative and ate well from the hearty menu. The pies in the farm shop looked good too (Note to self: must bring a bigger saddle bag next time!). After lunch we continued along the main road into Ruyton and noticed that the Talbot Inn appeared to be open. (Perhaps we can use it again on future rides).

If football is a game of two halves then today's ride was certainly a ride of two halves. The morning ride out had been dry but for the most part into the wind. The afternoon was just the opposite and the rain started as we headed to Wykey and Eardiston.

Now that I knew where we had been, I had a good idea of the route back. Which is just as well because as we approached Maesbury the screen on my Garmin decided to freeze. Not only was I without the maps but now I had no red line to follow either. However we found our way to the A5 crossing near Aston and then turned left towards Oswestry. I was confident that I knew the route around the suburbs of Oswestry and soon we were climbing up the road past the Old Fort.

Shortly after that we came across a car stopped blocking the road. Apparently, a herd of cattle were on their way towards us and we were advised to wait. We had to wait longer than expected and Dave decided that his light rain jacket was no longer up to the task. So he changed into his rain cape – at which point the rain stopped. If only he had decided to change earlier!

Once the cattle had passed we carried on along the top road, turned down through Weston Rhyn and found our way back to the canal for the return to Chirk. Just the three of us to complete a pleasant (despite the weather) 40 mile ride. A bit of work to do when we got home though, to wash the Shropshire mud off our bikes.


Thursday, 10 October 2019

10th October 2019: Ruyton XI Towns (brisk)

I had 10 minutes to spare before setting off by car to Chirk, so I rapidly put together a route that could be used as a brisk or moderate ride. The problem was it was only 42 miles. I thought “never mind, someone will have a suitable route”. I arrived in the car park and it was clear that the weather could do anything today, so I had a ride around to warm up the legs before going to the Castle Bistro for a coffee.

There was a reasonable crowd of CER riders there and it polarised into a brisk ride ( yes, my route) consisting of John M, Nick and a dragooned in Steve T. I explained the length dilemma and explained we would just wing it when we got as far south as I had originally planned.  I didn’t catch where the Mods were going though. So we set off down the Ceiriog Road and up and around the back lanes of Weston Rhyn and in and out of Oswestry. 

The first part of today's route was a steal from the recent Mod ride to Baschurch as we continue south and east to Melverley. My original route for today then turned north for Montford Bridge and Ruyton. So after a quick conflab, we slide across the River Severn and take the long and undulating “main” road east through Ford on the A458 to turn up to Montford Bridge. The weather is threatening now and light rain and drizzle now accompany us all the way to Ruyton XI towns with 31 miles up. 

Believing that The Talbot did not open until 1400, we stop at Cafe Eleven where I am told it will be 25 minutes at least before we can hope to get some food. I ask John to ride down the high street to check if The Talbot is open - and it is! It now opens at 1200 except on Mondays, but after the ride I check their website which states food service between 1800-2100 only. So, somewhat confused now.

We go in and food is on, and as its a Joules pub, there is delicious Slumbering Monk ale to be had. We all order Eggs Benedict (in various forms) and some excellent chips.  We talk about our ancient memories and our ailments ( do we need an Ailments tab on the website perhaps?). Warmly ensconced in the bar, it is difficult to leave knowing that the rain is all around, and my original cobbled together route is a very short run back. So I look again and plot a slightly longer route back via St Martins. 

So up Grug Hill and onto Gimpo, it seemed like the lanes have all been hedge-trimmed or tractor to death, so we have mud and thorns and debris everywhere. We hit Welsh Frankton and I remember that the obviously direct lane to St Martins is in appalling condition so we circle Perthy and onto New Marton and St Martins. It is now only a quick dash down to the A5 roundabout, then onto the canal side by the Poacher Pub to end up back at the cafe after 48 miles and 2500 ft of climbs at around 1515.

It had rained all the way home, and the temperature had dropped, and the bikes were covered in Shropshire countryside debris - so we all decided to head for home rather than take a coffee on the cafe. So thank you for being patient with my route planning today, but as ever, an enjoyable day out on the bike

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday, 5 October 2019

3rd October 2019: Whitchurch (mod)

There was a fine turnout for our first club visit to Alison's Country Kitchen. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, and we were accommodated in the back room. We had plenty of space for our bikes and no problems parking our cars for the day at the back. John Adam and his friend were welcomed. John decided to go with The Fast Lads, after I explained how slow I was going to be, whilst waving two coffee stained, disintegrating maps in my hand. I did have a complicated route to Ellesmere vaguely in mind, but Steve Tan, thankfully, had a former route to Whitchurch on his Garmin.

The moderate group consisted of Andy Barber, Mike Dodd, Fiona, Steve Tan, Mike Gilbert, Neil and myself. Our route took us toward Wrenbury via Beeston. There are many little lanes you can choose in order to drift down to Whitchurch, and Mike and I became concerned that every obvious right turn was being spurned. Steve was sticking to the route he had downloaded, and we were so far south-east of Whitchurch in the end, that we were close to Calverhall. Surely this hyper-loop gives the clue that this must have been a Clive route originally! Although, we never passed through any deep mud surrounded by Saddlebacks, so perhaps not. Neil thinks that my rear tyre is soft, but I am able to assure him that it is just the visual result of my rubber squashing weight perched on the saddle.

After thirty miles, The Black Bear provided the usual friendly and characterful environment for lunch. The Fast Lads made a surprise appearance outside, having finished their own lunch elsewhere in the town. They had just stopped to tweak their afterburners.

The return starts with a surprisingly stiff climb to Wirswall, and as we briefly stop, the view is smashing. Looking out from this quiet leafy lane across Cheshire, the moment encapsulates the essential experience of riding with Chester Easy Riders: quiet, scenic routes, and a relaxed pace in convivial company. We cross the A49 at Bickley and take on Harthill before whooshing down to Tattenhall and just beating the expected rain. Unfortunately, Alison's has stopped opening all day, so no coffee and cake. Never mind, about forty-five very enjoyable miles. Many thanks to Steve for an excellent lead.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 3 October 2019

3rd October 2019 : Whitchurch (brisk)

It was an unwelcome chilly start this morning, but a huge crowd of riders had descended on Alison's Country Kitchen cafe in Tattenhall for the first visit to this "new" starting point in Tattenhall.  John M asked me "if I had a route", to which I answer " I always have one (even when I haven't actually prepared one) ", so the brisk ride was sorted!

Today, Ivan was just out for a solo ride before he went to Liverpool to "meet" Bradley Wiggins for some riding tips. So our group consisted of John W, John M, Nick, Elwyn and a potential new member, John A. Too many Johns and Daves now!

The route had been prepared by using the new features of the Viewranger app which allows one to create a route on the phone directly, and it will auto-route for walking, cycling or motoring. It will also allow you to edit the route once saved. So we set off out of Tattenhall and up and over Harthill bound for Bickley. It's about here that I realise we are going out out on the return loop of the ride, but no matter I correct, re-set the direction of travel, and we head for Ashton via a circuitous route through Marbury. It is now  along run down Steppenhall Lane. Checking again I realise that we shall be at Calverhall far too early for lunch and with not enough miles ridden. So a quick re-route takes us out in a loop to arrive in Calverhall after 25 miles. As it is still only 1230, I ask for permission to cycle on the Whitchurch town.

So off via Ightfield and the twin Ash villages, I dive off left down and through Brown Moss Nature Reserve to enter the back of Whitchurch and thence to The Wheatsheaf in Green End. We have been to this welcoming pub before and we are soon seated with food orders taken and drinks delivered to the table. There is the usual lunchtime banter, and Elwyn then informs me that the Mods are up the road in the Black Bear pub - so that is why there is a photograph of us outside it!

This was taken outside the pub where we didn't have lunch in Whitchurch!

At lunch, I had abandoned the planned route and put together an "improved" return section counter-intuitively going away from Tattenhall towards Fenn Bank via Alkington. We are soon heading in the right direction now with the wind behind us in the hilly borderlands of the Wyches. Pretty soon we in and out of Malpas heading for Brown Knowl and the hillside lane behind Bolesworth Castle

We arrive back into Tattenhall about 1530 to a closed cafe. It is then I recall that when I had last visited the cafe they said that on this particular Thursday they would be closing early.

So John W and A head off home as I promise a hot drink via the Spar shop, only to find their machine was "being cleaned". So John M and I settle for a cold chocolate drink to fortify us for the return to Chester in light rain.

The route around was 53 miles and at 15.6 mph with a surprising 2630ft of climbs - something to do with Harthill and Brown Knowl I suspect. Riding back to Chester I find that if have ridden 79 miles and my trusty Trek Pilot has just turned over 30,000 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photo JW

Thursday, 26 September 2019

26th September 2019 : Beatles Tour of Liverpool Reprised (brisk)

A few weeks ago, Ivan had mentioned that it would be good to re-ride the Beatles Tour of Liverpool. Brian Mac had expertly constructed a route around the Fab Four's birthplaces and other significant sites.  See this link for the original blog.

This ride was in July 2012, and unfortunately the gpx file was lost when BikeRouteToaster abruptly ceased to be available and all our previously stored routes were lost. So I spent some time reconstructing the route from my live recording of the route and adapting it to start from Ness Gardens rather than Chester Station.

The Fab Six brisk riders were John M, John W, Ivan, Nick, Ray and myself. Ken, Dave M, Andy B, Andy W and Dave P were just out for coffee today so missed a memorable ride! We set off via Raby and Clatterbridge to mosey passed Port Sunlight village and thence onto the Wirral Circular cycle path.

At Lower Tranmere, we stop at Cammell Laird's shipyard as there are myriads of people funnelling into the yard to see the naming ceremony by the Duchess of Cambridge of the "Sir David Attenborough" polar exploration vessel in the presence of the Duke of Cambridge and Sir David himself. We could just catch a glimpse of the ship painted in a day-glo Post Office red. Onwards via Birkenhead Priory, we wend our way to Hamilton Square Metro station for the single stop sub-Mersey transfer to James Street station.

Safely on the river front, we cycle through crowds of tourists to exit north and surprisingly uphill, to Toxteth and the Dingle area to arrive at Madryn Sweet. This is where Ringo Starr was born but today he wouldn't recognise it as we couldn't as it has had a marvellous make-over. We could actually get up Madryn Street as it was closed off and for builders only. So we cycle up the next road which had had the refurbishment. We have an informative chat with a local tenant who tells us that the two-up two-down original layout has been transformed in the three or even four bedroomed properties. 

The streets around here all have Welsh names and the reason why can be found here. We also ride to the Empress pub where his mum worked next to where the Starr's had moved from Madryn Street.

Voelas Street -original and recent  (ex Wikipedia)
We also ride to the Empress pub where his mum worked.

Empress Pub - note the number of cyclists (ex Wikipedia)

We press on now via Sefton Park and Penny Lane to Picton and its clock to find George's house in Arnold Grove. Quite a sad area really. Next comes a long run to Woolton to St Peter's Church and its hall where Paul was introduced to John in July 1957 -  Yes, 62 years ago! There were Beatles tour taxis here discharging sightseers as well.

Retracing part of the route, we stop briefly at John's house (now a NT property) before moving on to Paul's  house in Allerton also NT. It's here that I realise I have cycled passed Strawberry Fields -  but is that thunder I hear or empty stomachs? So we head off for the Greenhills pub for a carvery or pizza lunch. 

The real Macca's boyhood home
Outside John's boyhood home

During lunch, there is a scene reminiscent of the meerkat TV videos as periodically one concerned cyclist after another stands up to look out of the window to check that the bikes are still outside! 

We decide to go back a mile to Strawberry Fields and stand outside the gates for the obligatory photo also noticing there is a rather modern building now in the grounds owned by the Salvation Army.

At Strawberry Fields Forever
It is now a straight run downhill to Aigburth via West Allerton to the Merseyside cycle path. I hear a "rifle shot" sound emanating from behind me and wonder if the natives are restless and don't like non-Scousers, but we did had two of them riding with us. It was Ivan's high quality rear tyre, which had sustained an explosive decompression. The side wall of the tyre was split as was the tube. John W and Nick offer to go and find a suitable replacement from a bike shop about 1.5 miles away. This they do and a suitable replacement is fitted and we are on our way again.

The plan now was to circle back into the Georgian Quarter to marvel at the Victorian Gents in the Philharmonia Rooms pub (and have an obligatory swift half), but we had lost about 45 mins with the puncture, so we headed for James Street station. Safely back via Hamilton Square, we head uphill via Victoria and Egerton parks to Storeton. It's now a short hop via Raby to get Nick, Ivan and John W back to Ness Gardens.  Ray, John M and myself head back via the back lanes of Capenhurst to Mollington.

So a fabulous day out with some very patient cyclists cycling through our musical heritage all  thanks to the Fab Four and other Liverpudlian artists. Who can forget hearing "Please Please Me" for the first time! And No - no-one was heard singing "Ferry Across the Mersey"

The weather was kind in that we seemed to miss the showers and find some sunshine in our 47 miles jaunt.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos; JW, JM and ℅ Wikipedia

Friday, 20 September 2019

19th September 2019: Maesbury Marsh (mod)

On what will probably be the last warm and sunny day of the season, there were plenty of Easy Riders gathered at Cleopatra’s. The mods were destined for The Navigation Inn at Maesbury Marsh, following a route that I’d pulled from the blog some time ago. I’m not sure who devised it, but as we followed the route, it had all the feeling of one of Clive’s. When it was first done, I do not know and it would take forever to sift through all 790 on the blog to work that out.

So Andy B, Andy W, Dave H, Dave M, Peter, George, Fiona and yours truly set off through Farndon, heading for Shocklach, Worthenbury and points generally south. Apart from the odd missed turn, things went well, at least to begin with. We even went ‘off piste’ near Penley and found a small lane about which Dave M waxed lyrical before rejoining the pre-ordained route. Stops were made occasionally to make sure we didn’t lose anyone along the way as we meandered down the quiet lanes of Shropshire.

Crossing the A495 at Welsh Frankton, we crossed the Llangollen Canal at Lower Frankton. However, things went wrong at Rednal. Andy W, Fiona and I were a little ahead of the others and they missed us as we turned down the lane going to West Felton. By the time we reached Grimpo, we could no longer hear Dave H’s dulcet tones, which I’d been relying on as evidence that the group was still together (bear in mind that I can’t look backwards these days as the surgeon sewed my head back on facing strictly forwards.) So, I back-tracked for some distance without finding the rest of the group, but then I had a call from Dave H to say that they were at Queens Head, but it was OK as he had his maps with him and could find The Navigation Inn OK. I headed back towards Grimpo only to find Andy W and Fiona in telephone conversation with Dave M. ‘We’re in the Queens Head’ he was saying. Andy thought that the lunch stop had been changed until I told him that Queens Head is a place as well as a pub and that we were going to The Navigation Inn as planned.

So we pressed on through West Felton and came across the rest of the group at Woolston, just a mile or so away from our lunchtime destination, 29 miles from our starting point.

The pub (who we’d phoned earlier) was very quiet with only one person on duty, so I was a little concerned about how long it might take to get served. The guy took our orders for drinks and food and at one point, Dave M asked if his wife was slaving away in the kitchen preparing food for us. ‘That’s my husband!’ was the reply at which point tumbleweed could be seen blowing through the bar…….

In the event, no harm was done and our food came quite quickly and was of good quality. We ate outside in the warm sunshine, next to the canal. A young couple were there with a dog, but they soon left, claiming that they needed to get back for the school run. A likely tale! By choice, George sat on his own in the shade, listening to the conversations going on around the two tables we were sitting around. Saving nuggets of info for future use, no doubt.

As we gathered for the traditional photo, a nice young lady offered to take one including us all, which makes a change. I’m sure you’ll be impressed with the composition, with Andy B and George posing on the steps.
Photo by CER

Our route back was a little more direct, with less meandering and some busier roads. A wrong turn at Whittington (I blame reflections on my screen) meant that we had to turn around and make a right turn at a time when every large wagon in Shropshire seemed to be coming around the same junction.

On we pressed through St Martin’s and Overton, where Dave M left us to make for home. We went on to Bangor-on-Dee where we crossed the cobbled bridge against the flow of traffic and joined the A525 for a short distance before turning right to skirt Wrexham.  At Bowling Green our plan was to take a route along small lanes which run approximately parallel with the B5130. Fiona needed to get home, so she opted to take the B-road route back for Holt. Andy W told me ‘the thing to remember about this bit is that you turn right at every junction……except for the first one where you turn left.’ And so it was that we trundled into Holt at about 4.20, having covered just over 54 miles.

Andy W left for home whilst the rest of us stayed for a well-earned cup of tea and (for Dave H only), a slice of cake.

A great day out in warm sunshine and, once again, no need to clean the bike. As George said, we’ll remember that bonus fondly was we sluice mud, cow muck and other detritus off our bikes in the coming months.


Thursday, 19 September 2019

19th September 2019 : Baschurch (brisk)

Today's ride was meeting at Cleopatra’s coffee bistro at Holt. A good turnout of mixed riders to enjoy the late Indian summer's day with expected blue skies and little wind. A selection of routes were proposed for the Brisk riders and the 57 mile ride to Baschurch was the ride we agreed upon.

Setting of were Clive, Nick, Ken, with the welcome addition of Neil and Elwyn and yours truly. The ride out was via Threapwood, Tallarn Green and Penley before heading towards Loppington and Myddle.The lanes were very quiet of normal road traffic, but a few tractors were vying for the same little lanes.

There were a few bumpy lanes but overall pretty good. Not too many steep gradients to grunt over and before 12:30 and 35 miles covered, we arrive at the New Inn at Baschurch. Today we were able to sit round a very big circular table and enjoy an alfresco lunch of six different menus all very different and excellent quality.

The problem with such good hospitality afforded was that we had to again get on our bikes for the return ride back to Holt. A good job it was only 25 miles and all down hill!! From Baschurch we travel on very good surfaced lanes to Ellesmere then then on to Bangor-on-Dee.

We stay on the A525 to Pickhill Lane, cutting the corner at Cross Lanes to Talwrn, then joining the road back to Holt. Here we went into a sprint finish with Elwyn leading with Nick close on his wheels and me lagging behind. Sensibly Ken, Clive and Neil rode with style and arrived at Cleopatra's much more refreshed and able to enjoy coffee and cake without soaking everything.

The Sextet safely back at Cleopatra's
Thanks for the company and I only wish we could enjoy more rides in the sunshine.The ride back and to  Chester was 78 miles with an average of 16.6 mph. It wasn’t quite as flat as we thought as there were 2703 ft of ascent covered.

A ride from Ness next week – let's hope we still have the Indian summer.


Photo taken by a passer-by

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

12th September 2019: Aston (mod)

It was good to see a mix of old and new members at ease, chatting and supping at Rose Farm cafe. Michael Dodd had rung me the night before, and I was pleased to see that he had turned up. Our recruitment has been very idiosyncratic recently. Peter joined after Trevor gave us a plug on 'Countdown', and Michael on reading our blog,  figured that Fiona and Elwyn must be his friends from the same Chester gym.  Steve Tan had a possible ride, and Clive had a route to Alsager, but I had a cough and cold and needed moderate pace and distance, even if it meant peeling off on my own at some stage. Fortunately, Andy Whitgreave likes to take it easy, and Fiona enjoys the lack of pressure compared with proper road club sessions. Actually, Andy who is often touring abroad and is cycling fit, enjoys very easy riding so much that he had arrived on a swanky electric bike. It turned out that a route to the Bhurtpore Inn was an acceptable moderate ride for Andy, Fiona and Mike and they opted to keep me company. 

The route was familiar and relaxing: down to Cotebrook, skirting the southern edge of Oulton Park and on to Wettenhall. There were people below, enjoying tea and a bite at canal-side tables, as we crested Cholmondeston Bridge at Venetian Marina. At Reaseheath College, I pointed out where we are no longer allowed to ride through (at point of prosecution). It was very mild, and garment removal was beginning. We were soon passing Henhull Hall. At this point I decided that the ultra swish bikes of Andy and Fiona should not be subject to the grit of parkland in order to skirt south of Nantwich.

The alternative took us to the fine old church at Acton, down Ravens Lane, across to Swanley Lane, past Ravensmoor and into the Bermuda Triangle of Sound Heath. I remember being here with Dave and Liz and Dave's clockwork GPS; our heads began spinning, and we nearly disappeared up our own butted tubing. Andy and I decided that the extra loop south east of Aston would give us a few more pleasant miles before lunch. We headed in the direction of Audlem, and I tried to draw attention to the moated Hall o' Coole. This was the second time I had tried to educate the peasants, a la Brian Mac, but failed to muster any interest! The first time was when we passed Madam's Farm on the Dorfold Hall estate. When we reach The Bhurtpore, I'll tell them to look up the history on t' internet! We turned north west up Back Coole Lane to head straight for lunch in Aston. We always feel welcome and at home in The Bhurtpore. My curry was plain, but contained plenty of decent chicken, and the service was friendly and efficient. It was good to chat to new riders, and get to know each other better. It strikes me that we have been very lucky lately in the personable nature of the riders who have joined us.

The return was intended to be shorter than the 25 miles to lunch. Andy marvelled at the lightness of Fiona's bike, and they wondered how a light, fit rider would fare on a hill against old Andy and an electric motor. I had no plans to return via Harthill, for instance, to test out their imagined joust! Our return was via Wrenbury, Chorley, Burland Green and Radmore Green.  I led a little diversion down a backwater to see   Haughton Hall. Steve Tan rang to say that The Fast Lads were back at Rose Farm. As Elwyn was sharing a car with Fiona, and Steve with me, it looked like the partaking of coffee and cake at Tilly's or the Old Fire Station would be a mite inconsiderate. No matter, if anyone in the club needs less cake, its me!  The sting in the tail after Bunbury is the sharp climb at Tilston. This was a chance for the Andy and Fiona contest. I am not sure what happened, but Fiona flew up like a bird, Mike did a Vettel block on Andy, and then they disappeared around the corner. We returned on the narrow lanes to Rhuddall Heath and Tarporley before climbing back to Utkinton, with Andy peeling off for home on the way. We covered a very pleasant and sociable 45 miles on mainly quiet lanes, and managed to find a sheltered route where we hardly noticed the the strong wind. I hope Mike joins us again, when he is not in Germany.


Thursday, 12 September 2019

12th September 2019 : Alsager (brisk)

It becomes more and more difficult to prepare routes which contain "new lanes" these days. There are 790 blogs on our website that have been posted over the last 10+ years. Bryan W used to mark up his OS maps with a highlighter to show the lanes and routes ridden. Maybe he still does! Its a pity that we can't collate all routes from these 790 posts to prepare an electronic version of Bryan's highlighted maps to make the ride compiler's job easier!

Notwithstanding any of the above, I believed I had cracked it today with a brisk run to Alsager down some new lanes. Steve T and Elwyn were up for it, but I had to persuade Neil that the 51 miler was flat and if he were to peel off for home near to Alpraham, he would save at least 5 miles off the out and back trip. He was a little hesitant but decided to give a try. "Oh ye of little faith!*

So we four set off out via Little Budworth on our way to Blakeden Lane to skirt Winsford. Its not a pretty place neither is Middlewich which we had to skirt via the multitudinous housing estates. At Brereton Green, and after 16 miles, we now take the "new" lanes of Moorhead, Brookhouse and Moss End lanes. We now cross the A50 and run west of Rode Heath and south in deep lanes shielding us from the brisk SW winds.

Alsager comes up and we slide passed the Wilbraham Arms, a pub I had used before but service was so slow that today we would use The Plough at the western end of Alsager. Here you can get a full carvery roast at a very reasonable price if so minded. We four didn't indulge, but my small fish and chips was enormous. Lunchtime banter reflected on the present housing market and the fact that it felt like "they were being built everywhere we cycle".

So to prove it, we set off through a housing estate, diving off a little lane and over the M6 and down the lovely lanes of Oakhanger to Winterley. We're back into Crewe suburbia now circling Coppenhall on our way to Church Minshull. I change the course on the fly to get Neil closer to Alpraham to ease his run back to Tattenhall albeit directly into the gusty SW winds.

We three carry on to Eaton and thence into the back of Tarporley where I can't resist a climb up Cobbler's Cross Lane. Elwyn shoots up this even after nearly 50 miles of fairly brisk effort. The Heath Green transfer finds us close by Rose Farm at just after 1500 with 51 miles and a surprising 1938ft of ups and downs.

No cycling problems today, with lots of long quiet lanes in a quiet day for weather, except for the wind that is. As I cycle back to Chester, its full force dulls my "brisk" efforts and I am grateful that home arrives after "only" 79 miles.


* Neil saved six miles!

See route map and/or gpx file download

Sunday, 8 September 2019

5th September 2019: Holt (mod)

Today’s meet was at The Gallery cafe, Hawarden, so I set thinking it’s going to be a dry one. Well it was after a little shower, the one that came as all six of us set off to the cafe.  Only two got caught as they rode out: Brian W but he boxed clever and put a waterproof jacket on and Dave M took shelter in a factory on Broughton Industrial park. You know the thing dressed as a cyclist not looking out of place, ha ha, but at least he kept dry. 

So at the cafe was myself, Brian W, Fiona, Elwyn, see I did listen this time on how to spell your name bud, oh while I’m at it he came with us but is really a fast lad so had to put up with us other mods, Peter on the electric bike like Brian’s, Dave M and me.  Dave said he has been out for an early bimble and was heading to Holt for lunch, so as Brian wasn’t riding with us and we didn’t have a  plan we asked Dave if we could tag on. So we set off on a 15 mile route to Cleopatra's via Lower Kinnerton, Rossett, etc. Here we had a light lunch.  We took a route that Fiona and Elwyn knew, liaising with Peter, back to our start, meandering  around the back lanes of Rossett up to the cafe and cars in Hawarden.  

It was only a short ride, about 30 miles due to people chatting and us not having a plan B.  Now I know what Pep and Co go on about having a plan B.  Anyway the day turned out great as the rain went, the sun shone and the company was good.  Today's blog is short and not much info but the reason is a quirky one, as except for at the cafe where big bad Brian was and he knew me and big bad Dave, all the others were new to each other so on the ride it was a case of getting to know each other, being sociable, chatting, etc. I think I know the reason individuals didn’t get to the ride as they were lording it big time as having been put in their place by 1/2/3/4/5 year olds for the last six weeks.  So they have now gone away on a break asking what happened there.


Friday, 30 August 2019

29th August 2019: Over Peover (mod)

A large group of riders assembled at Delamere Forest Station Café on a warm bright morning. Once we had sorted out who was riding and who wasn’t and who was ‘brisk’ and who wasn’t, it looked as if there would be six for the moderate ride to The Dog at Over Peover – except that Dave P had arrived telling us that Peter had ridden with him from Chester, but he’d picked up a puncture about half a mile away from the café and was in the process of fixing it.

There followed a lengthy delay whilst we a) located Peter and checked that he could fix his puncture, b) got him to the café with it fixed and c) examined the cuts in his tyre(s) and established that they were too serious to allow him to continue with us. So, in the end, we would be six and not seven.

So it was 11.00 by the time we left Delamere heading, inevitably, towards Hatchmere and thence Norley. By this time ‘we’ consisted of Dave H, Dave M, Dave P, Fiona, George and yours truly. Taking the pretty Gallowsclough Lane in Norley, we headed across the A49 at Cuddington and the A556 at Sandiway. I had been anxious to make up for our late start so had been pressing on. At this point we’d averaged almost 15 mph – a supersonic speed for the mods. Things slowed down a little as Dave M led us over the River Weaver at Bradford Mill and up the rough path under the bridges leading up to Moulton. At Davenham we picked up Cycle Route 573, which runs east towards Congleton, passing through Lach Dennis and Goostrey.

Passing The Crown at Goostrey, we looked but couldn’t see any sign of the brisk riders who had planned to stop there for lunch. Either they were hiding from us or they were lost on the Whitegate Way.

Passing close by Jodrell Bank, we arrived at The Dog in Over Peover at 12.50, having covered just under 25 miles in less than 2 hours. As usual, the food at The Dog was excellent and the service friendly. There was some discussion about the multitude of ‘Peovers’ in this area.  According to Wikipedia, Peover is a rural area in Cheshire, southwest of Chelford and northwest of Jodrell Bank. It contains Peover Superior (also called Over Peover), and Peover Inferior (also called Lower Peover or Nether Peover) and Peover Heath.  Peover is mentioned in the Domesday Book as "Pevre", from a Celtic word meaning "the bright one" referring to the Peover Eye, a local brook.

Photos by Steve T

Suitably refreshed and photographed for posterity, we made our way out of Over Peover to Lower Peover. Here Dave M took his leave to ride back to Oscroft by a different route. We pressed on over Plumley Moor, crossing the busy A556 at The Smoker by wheeling the bikes over the pedestrian crossings.  Riding the short distance on the pavement alongside the A556, we turned right into Linnards Lane and followed this into Higher Wincham. From here we took the familiar route through Pickmere, Great Budworth, Comberbach and Little Leigh to take us down to the River Weaver at Acton Bridge.

Given the choice between riding up the very steep hill into Acton Bridge, or taking the riverside path to Dutton Locks and the more gradual climb back to Delamere, we stuck by the moderate group motto of ‘never take the hard route when there’s and easier one’ and rode down to the river. Fiona thought she was going to have to swim across the river, but found the crossing at the locks a novelty. She was less impressed by a muddy section of the path as we cycled towards the railway viaduct!

The climb out of the Weaver Valley up first Crewood Common Lane and then Norley Lane is certainly less steep than taking Acton Lane, but it’s quite a long grind, so it was a relief to reach the top and freewheel down to Hatchmere. Here we directed Fiona back through the forest to the café where she’d left her car. There rest of us split up like the Red Arrows, heading back home after 46 pleasant miles through the Cheshire countryside on a sunny summers day.

Thanks to Dave M for his guidance on the early sections of the route and to all on the ride for their company on a classic moderate ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download