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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, 20 April 2018

19th April 2018 : Barthomley (brisk)

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

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

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

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

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



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

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


ID

19th April 2018: Hodnet (mod)


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

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

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

Photo by Steve H

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

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


SH

Friday, 13 April 2018

12th April 2018: Coedway (mod)


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

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

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

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

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

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


SH

Saturday, 7 April 2018

5th April 2018 : Oswestry (brisk)

After a cool-ish start the sun was shining on arrival at Cleopatra’s and forecast was for a fine day. Thanks to Clive sending me a sortable list of CER GPX files, I had found what sounded like an idyllic ride to Oswestry. In April 2011 Clive wrote “quintessentially English summer weather and spring green countryside”. So 7 years later, almost to the day, I set off with Ivan and Nick to see if the route lived up to this fulsome description. 

Now this might be a bit lazy but I don’t think I can better Clive's previous blog:- 

So it was down familiar lanes to Shocklach and Threapwood.  Exiting to Sarn and crossing the A525 we found ourselves in the beautiful border territory close to Penley.  The sharply folded landscape hereabouts marks the border and provided the only hilly challenges of the day.  Taking the lane out of Penley, we passed The Trench, shimmy across the A528 at the Seven Sisters and The Cross and on to Elson.  The lane to Frankton passes New Crickett and Crickett itself, then onto Ridge and Perthy before exiting onto the A495 west of Welsh Frankton.  A short burn brings us into delightful Whittington with its moated castle”. 





Honouring the previous ride we too stopped at the castle for a photo. We cruised along commenting that Clive's glowing description of the countryside was fully justified. The only problem was that the beautifully undulating lanes provided numerous dips in which the recent heavy rain had gathered to form a series of deep lakes. They were a bit treacherous and but we managed to cross them all without anyone falling in. We were joined by a red kite circling overhead. We weren’t quick enough to dismount to capture a photograph, but we admired its graceful circling manoeuvres until it bored of us and headed off in search of tastier prey. Its strange to think that the red kite was once regarded as vermin and was exterminated in England, Scotland and most of Wales by the end of the 18th century. Thankfully, that situation has changed and there are more than 300 breeding pairs in Wales and over 200 breeding pairs in England according to the National Trust.

We departed from the 2011 route in to Oswestry so as to avoid the reported busy roundabout at the A5/A483 junction. Instead, we turned right before the A5 and attacked the town from the East along Middleton Road. Scenting the beer, Ivan guided us with laser like accuracy to Wetherspoons. Its probably not one of their finest establishments sited in what looked like a 1970s former main post office. However, as usual the food and drink was good value and the service speedy.

Again I can't better Clive's description “The return ride took us out behind the impressive Iron Age hill fort then past the Gobowen Orthopaedic hospital bound for Hindford and lanes to Overton.  This is really beautiful countryside around here and picture perfect” The riders in 2011 enjoyed temperatures 20+°C and whilst it was very sunny and pleasant for us it wasn’ t quite so balmy.  I think the springlike weather must have surprised Ivan’s mudguards as one of the stays came loose and repelled all efforts to fix it causing several halts for adjustment. However, eventually it was sorted and we were riding out of Overton towards Bangor on Dee. We took the direct route towards Holt via Bowling Bank and Ridleywood. Nick was in in triathlete mode and led us on a speedy 27mph, 4 mile time trial, to the A534.



We were soon enjoying our coffee the sunshine outside Cleopatra’s and reflecting on a wonderful day out in the countryside. Thankfully, unlike our last brisk ride, the only drama was a wobbly mudguard! Thanks to Clive for his route and hopefully he will be ready to ride it again with us soon. Nick headed off for Tilston and Ivan and I pointed our wheels home to Chester. The round trip from Holt to Oswestry was 49 miles we all had completed about 65 to 70 miles on reaching home.


JM

Photos from John M's phone

Friday, 6 April 2018

5th April 2018: Whittington (mod)


At last! A beautiful day’s weather was forecast. Five moderate riders gathered at Cleo's in Holt: myself, George, Jim, Dave H and John B taking his annual ride with CER (good to see you back John). I proposed a ride to Ye Olde Boote Inn at Whittington, largely because I’d passed it several times but never visited.

We struck out aiming to follow the lanes to the west of the Dee, but having seen the floodplain higher in water than I can remember, some of these were likely to be heavily flooded.  Instead we took the B-road and then the quick dash down the A525 into Bangor-on-Dee. From there it was lanes to Cloy Hall and then into Overton, where unfortunately Jim succumbed to cramp in his legs and decided to make his own way back.

We headed southwards through Rhewl, taking small lanes I’d never travelled over, some of which I wouldn’t want to take again: a very steep downhill on a surface that had almost broken up with mud and water a-plenty to cross Shell Brook and enter Wales.  The skies may have been clear blue, the sun shining and the breeze moderate, but under our wheels we often met deep mud and fully flooded carriageways. We passed through a ford that was less wet than some of the lanes. Dave and George were regretting not fitting mudguards, so was anyone caught behind them.

We cycled past Dudleston Hall, through Hindford and into Whittington to arrive at Ye Olde Boote Inn just after 1230. We placed our orders and they were speedily delivered before the crowds arrived. Conversation flowed, though what topics we covered I cannot remember, and soon it was time to go.  The consensus was positive about the pub, and I think we would each be happy to visit again.

We completed a loop back to Hindford and headed towards Dudleston Heath.  Close to Welsh Frankton I got a puncture. It was just as well it was warm and dry, because the first replacement tube failed to inflate due to a dodgy valve, and we had to repeat the procedure, aided by John being able to fit a Gatorskin with ease using only his hands.

With the odd exception, the lanes back were in better condition and we enjoyed riding though the excellent spring weather.  We crossed the A525 at Holly Bush and made for Worthenbury.  Here we diverted into the village and into the churchyard for some photos to capture the beautiful conditions.  The parish church of Worthenbury is St Deiniols.  It is said to be the best example of a Georgian Church in Wales and has a complete set of boxed pews. 

Photos by John B

From Worthenbury, we took the usual fast return to Farndon.  As were approached the old Dee Bridge we passed the brisk group heading home from Cleos.  We also paused there for a drink and some calories.  An excellent day’s cycling which covered 44 miles.


SH


Monday, 2 April 2018

29th March 2018: Aston (mod)


Was it the imminent Easter holidays or was it the threat of rain showers in the afternoon? For whatever reason only five members turned up at Rose Farm. Bryan was in his car and had dropped in for a coffee on his way to see Steve who is recovering in hospital following his accident last week. (We’re thinking of you, Steve, and wish you a speedy recovery). Jim was still in recovery mode and had cycled from home with the intention cycling back after a short ride. That left just Andy B, Ray and me intending to do a full ride. None of us had a ride in mind but I dug one out of my Garmin which would head us back in the direction of Chester in the afternoon as none of us had a car at Rose Farm. The chosen destination was the Bhurtpore at Aston. 

Jim joined us as we headed out towards Tarporley, gasped up Summerhouse Bank, and then turned left at Heath Green. After crossing the A49 we headed for 'Portal' and then down Sapling Lane to Eaton. After Eaton we turned towards Wettenhall and Jim left us to head home just before we reached it. The three of us continued on passing Reaseheath College before crossing the A51 into Welshman's Lane. We emerged on the edge of Nantwich where we turned into Welsh Row. We turned right, and headed through the park, and right again, down a link road to Baddington Lane (A530). We were soon making our way down Coole Lane.  As we turned right to head towards the (not so) Secret Nuclear Bunker we found ourselves for the first time out of the cold wind that had plagued our ride so far. It was the first of several turns which would eventually put the wind at our backs for the ride home.

We joined the main road at Broomhall Green for a short stretch before turning into the village of Aston, home of the Bhurtpore with its friendly welcome. The pub was quite busy but we ordered our food quickly and because we all ordered the same it came quickly. In no time at all we were back on our bikes for the return home.

Ray wanted to get back early and we all wanted to avoid the afternoon rain if we could so we took the direct route home. Our return journey took us via Cholmondley, Bickerton, Harthill and Tattenhall and we made good time with the wind behind us. After Tattenhall we turned right towards Hargrave where we turned right again to take us up Martins Lane. At the end of Martins Lane we would have turned right to get back to Rose Farm but since we were all heading home we turned left. We rode into Waverton then on through Christleton. Before we reached the A51 by the rugby club Andy left us to head back to Mold and shortly after Ray and I parted company. I arrived home with 43 miles on the clock, Ray did about 10 miles more and Andy considerably more. Oh, and in the end the rain didn’t arrive until teatime.

TC

Saturday, 24 March 2018

22nd March 2018: Holt (mod)

A combination of holidays and the recent Siberian weather meant that I hadn’t ridden for four weeks so the prospect of a ride up into the Welsh hills was not an inviting one. When I left home for the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden I only intended to cycle up to the start then wend my way gradually back home through the Cheshire countryside. Indeed I had already arranged to meet Jim for lunch at Cleopatra’s in Holt. I arrived at the café to find Dave H and Keith surrounded by brisk riders and facing the prospect of a moderate ride featuring just the two of them. The arrival of Bryan didn’t help them either as he was out to do his own thing too. So I suggested that they could join me and they readily agreed. Bryan was also persuaded to join us with the promise of a slow-paced, mostly downhill ride.

We set off down the Wrexham Road before turning left onto the small road that would take us up the back of Bilberry Wood to the footbridge across the A55. The first section is quite steep so I stopped to wait for the others to catch up, expecting Dave & Keith to come round the corner first. But it was Bryan who appeared first. What had happened to Dave and Keith? Apparently Dave had left his hat at the café and they had gone back to get it. (Dave leaving things behind? Surely not!!!!) After crossing the A55 we turned right then left into Chester Road and continued into Lower Mountain Road by-passing the village of Pen-y-Mynydd. Then a left and right into Sandy Lane.

From there we turned into Shordley Road and dropped down Cobblers Lane, passing over A483 and the railway to emerge in Rossett. We turned onto the main road and then left into Darland Lane joining the Holt road. A long straight road (boring but unavoidable) and a left turn brought us into Holt where Jim had conspired to arrive at exactly the same time having ridden from home.

Cleopatra’s is normally one of our starting venues but today served as our lunch stop. Over lunch our conversation covered such topics as the delights (or otherwise) of cycling through Malpas and our first cars. How things have changed since the days when you could lift the bonnet and understand what was going on under there.

After lunch we crossed the River Dee into England. We turned left towards Churton then right to Coddington and left again towards Handley. Then it was up to Chowley Oak and across the A41 to Tattenhall. At Tattenhall Bryan opted to take the shortest route back to Chester, taking Dave & Keith with him. They headed off towards Bruera and Saighton and on into Chester where Bryan promised he would point Dave and Keith back in the direction of Hawarden. Living outside of Chester, Jim and I made our own direct way home via Hargrave, Waverton and Christleton. Jim had had a fairly short ride while I had managed 44 miles, the other three slightly less.

TC

22th March 2018 : Dyserth (brisk)

It is with a lot of sadness that I write this blog and a ride I would rather forget. I will however give some details to record the ride.

Today the ride starts from the Gallery Tea Rooms at Hawarden and the forecast was warm and dry. There were more riders out for coffee than taking part. Clive, Ken, Trevor, Bryan and John W were doing their own thing. Clive is up to 10K per session on a turbo trainer, and has ridden his road bike around Mollington, so well done and keep up the progress.

A ride to Dyserth and the waterfalls was proposed and three brisk riders – John M, Steve T and myself set off from the café. We rode out via Wood Lane to crossing the A494 Mold road and up Pioneer Rd. As we neared the top John shouted "flat". We stopped and replaced tube then carried on. We continued over the Halkyns via Rhes-y-cae and Lixwm.

The ride onwards to Dyserth was uneventful, and we arrived at the Waterfalls for a photo shoot.Lunch was at the New Inn and it was very busy. The landlord and lady are from Rossett so a return trip with Ken might be arranged.
.
We rode back to Chester going around the back of the town and up Alit y Graig which had 20% gradient but we achieved the ride over and on to Llanasa. It is then the usual route back via Whitford and Pantasaph and again over the Halkyns.

When proceeding down Middle Hill lane passing over the cattle grid, Steve was leading when a red landrover pulling a trailer drove passed us. In the next instance Steve had tumbled off his bike and was lying on the floor. John took charge and we were surrounded by the local community of farmers who called for an ambulance.

Steve was unconscious, but John new what to do and within 30 to 120 seconds he had given vital resuscitation to Steve who was able to tell us where he hurt. An ambulance did not arrive, but the Air Rescue Helicopter, dispatched from Welshpool, came to the rescue with three doctors on board. They soon had Steve wired up to monitors and a decision to take him to Stoke on Trent hospital was agreed between the HQ and the doctors.

We do not know what happened as it was all too quick. I am not blaming the car driver, although he didn’t give us much consideration on a very narrow lane. He wouldn’t have known that a rider had fallen. The road surface is as per rural road condition with loose gravel but no serious pot holes which are more prevalent on main roads. After the rescue chopper took off, John and I continued our journey to Chester.

We all wish Steve a speedy recovery and hope he is well soon.    


ID

Thursday, 15 March 2018

15th March 2018: Peover Heath (mod)

The fast lads were absent. I believe they had been to Macclesfield on Tuesday. Dave Matthews had turned up for coffee and a chat, but had workmen in, so wasn't riding. He is riding in Majorca soon with Andy; sounds a great idea. Keith had been embroiled in decorating, but had managed to tear himself away. Clive and Macca were still in recovery mode, and it was good that they had made the effort to turn up for coffee. Macca sounds as if he has “been through the wars”, but now appears well on the mend. George had returned, and Mike arrived having hot-wheeled it from Shotton. Steve H was preparing for more peak-conquering in Scotland, so wasn't riding for once.  Conversation with Steve revealed the unlikely fact that our spouses would be inside Styal Prison on successive days. Only one of them for abusing their partner.


We set off late for The Dog, which I had booked the night before. I took the back route past the attractive Norley Hall. Mike punctured at Crowton: something to do with a repaired tyre split and pumping it up too hard. Sounded like the Dave Pipe School of How to Fettle Your Old Cycle Gear Like a Yorkshireman. We headed for Acton Bridge, then north to Frandley, passing Cogshall Hall by the way of the quiet Hall Lane. I had intended to meander around the pretty, narrow lanes of Arley, but we were running late, so took the most direct route to Knutsford, via Antrobus, Bate Heath and Tabley Hill. The weather was better than had seemed likely, and reasonably warm, despite heading into an easterly breeze. Tatton Park was picturesque as ever as we headed north in the direction of Rostherne. We were now in untried territory, as we used the quiet Marsh Lane to reach Ashley and then headed south east for Knolls Green, and on to Marthall. It had been a long first leg to The Dog, thirty-three miles, and as we had been running late, it was close to two o'clock. We were well ready for a rest, a drink and a plate of decent grub! True to form, despite the pub initially being very busy, we all received a plate of very decent grub in short order. One of our quartet fell for the waitress. Can you guess which one?

Photo by Mike G

I calculated, correctly, as it turned out, that our slightly wind assisted return would be ten miles shorter, and reassuringly quicker than our outward journey. As we cruised through 'Cheshire Set' prime real estate, Keith wondered why there were no polo clubs in Runcorn. We were soon flying down Plumley Moor Road, and reached the difficult to negotiate A556. Although I had anticipated this, one way or another we finished up like ducklings trying to cross a motorway, as we tried to reach Linnard's Lane for Higher Wincham and Pickmere. Jose Mourinho is not the only leader that needs to reflect, learn and change their ways! Lessons: if you have not had chance to reconnoitre a dangerous area of your route, at least be physically in the lead so that your instant decisions for safety can be followed, rather than shouting to those in front over the noise of traffic; if it’s really bad, take the lead onto the pavement, and cross at the lights as a pedestrian. We passed the lane down to Pick Mere where we used to take the kids on the fair. It had a big cafe, a lake 'steamer', dodgems, a ghost train, and even a helter-skelter back in the day. We continued to Great Budworth down Westage Lane which was closed to traffic because it was undermined by badgers or moles. We reached Acton Bridge by way of Little Leigh; Onston and Norley Bank followed.  Keith, my fellow not so quite heavyweight, can be glad he missed these final climbs, having headed for home earlier along his favourite Marsh Lane. There was a final twist in the tail, as Mike had a second puncture at Delamere. I had a long- promised package to deliver to George (1967-1969 copies of Penthouse), so having checked that Mike was managing, and didn't require an extra inner tube, drove to where George was parked on Delamere Lane. On returning, Mike was up and running for Chester Station. 56 miles is further than I've been for some time. Agreeable company and a relaxed atmosphere made the day.

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

13th March 2018 : Macclesfield (brisk)

As most of Brisk group would not be out on Thursday we decided we would have a ride out on Tuesday instead. Starting from Meadow Lea café, riders were John M, John W, Nick, Paul and myself. We enjoyed a coffee with Clive before the start, and he is making good progress and hopefully will be back in the saddle before too long.

Our ride today is to Macclesfield via Alderley Edge and we set off via the route to Manley and up Cobb Hill, then follow the Delamere "forest race" to Hatchmere. Such an undulating stretch and hard work. From the cross roads at Hatchmere, we head towards Norley and Sandiway. For CER rides this is the usual route and we are soon heading out via Lower Peover.

We were out this way recently when en-route to Knutsford but we are today continuing on to Ollerton and Lindow End. Here we are joining a little track heading to Alderley Edge and due to using the “little man on ride” with GPS app, I was confident it was a road and not a track. Thanks John M!!

We join the B5087 which is the road into Alderley Edge and it was very busy. Passing through the lovely town, we take a left and head up Wizard Hill; a good 12+ % hill. Not a race to the summit, but there were a couple in the group who thought it was, and they must have waited at the Wizard Inn and could have enjoyed a pint while waiting for me to catch them up!! From the pub, it is down hill to Macclesfield and the Wetherspoons pub where we are having lunch.

As usual it was excellent service and within 30 minutes we had enjoyed a good lunch and refreshments and ready for the return 45 miles back to Chester. We are on new lanes back from Macclesfield to Middlewich and, with the exception of the town area, roads were pretty good but there seem more potholes this Spring and more lanes blocked. We encountered three, but were able to pass through all.

At Middlewich, we decided to stop at the café “Stop Drinks at 35” which is run by Sally and Holly and was a good call. Drinks and cakes were the fuel we needed to complete the remaining 20 miles. Out via Warmingham and Church Minshull and Eaton to Huxley, we were motoring as a group. 

It is good now that dusk is getting later. We arrive back into Chester for 17:10 still in bright daylight. Paul has ridden 109 miles with John and John completing 90+ and Nick who peeled off at Huxley to return home to Tilston, will have completed 90+ miles too (a first for him and well done). A good day out with no incidents, no rain just happy pedal power.

Thanks to all the group for an enjoyable day out.


ID

Friday, 9 March 2018

8th March 2018 : Wem (brisk)

Today's ride is meeting at The Tea Rooms Café in Chirk so for me it was train assist. Setting off from home it was heavy snow, although too wet to stick but the forecast was to be a fine dry day after rush hour traffic!! Nonetheless I had donned additional clothing!! Mistake.

Gathering at the café were an equal number of riders for the Mods and Brisk groups. I had circulated a route to Tilley and visit to The Raven Inn. Four brisk riders, John, Nick, Steve and myself set of down Chirk Bank taking the right turn over the canal and to Western Ryn. The road side along this stretch was covered in snow, so it is lucky we are here this week. Up and onwards towards Hengoed and then the top of the hill, before the downhill stretch into Oswestry.


We skirt the town via numerous streets to join B5069 passing through Morda and crossing the A483 and continuing along the B4396. The route along this narrow lane suffered heavy snow recently (see photo). Passing through Ruyton X1 Towns then towards Baschurch, we pass through the small but pretty village of Burlton where Nick has a click from the wheel and stops to inspect it; meanwhile we continue UP hill before realising we had a tailer! Back down the hill then to find Nick getting ready to call home. Up again and onwards to Loppington taking the route towards Tilley and Wem.

Arriving in Tilly and the Raven Inn, we are met with a closed pub!! Oh well, we continue to Wem where we are advised to try the Castle Inn, a Joules house. Seating in the best and softest pews in the house, we are soon served with drink and lunch. The Yorkshire pud and sausage was very tasty and reasonably priced at £7.00.

We leave Wem via the usual route the B5063 towards Northwood and Welshampton and Dudleston Heath. While approaching a right-hand fork, we have a peloton cock-up culminating with Steve hitting a pot hole, curb and finally landing on the deck. This results in a front wheel flat. All the tools are out, and we are soon performing a precision pit stop repair stripping the wheel and inner tube out only to find Steve’s replacement as holey as the original.


A new replacement was donated and tyre refitted. Due to John's meticulous fitting of the tyre to the wheel, the fit was exactly as it came off. Once the inner tube inflated, we noticed the tube popping out of the side wall!! Off again, and emergency boot patch fitted. Thank heavens for these easy fit solutions.

Ready to roll onwards again through St Martins, we then negotiate the very busy Lord Morton roundabout to head towards Chirk. Passing the Poacher inn, we take the canal route passing over the viaduct into Chirk. We are beaten back to the café as the Mods are all sitting in the window seat awaiting our return.

A distance of 49 miles round trip with a 2087 ft of ascent at an average of 15.2 mph. A very enjoyable route covering some new lanes and revisit of old territory with good companions to ride with; plus a new lunch stop at Wem.

ID

Photographs by John M

8th March 2018: Nesscliffe (mod)

Waking this morning and looking out of the window revealed driving snow – not very encouraging for a ride.  Still the forecast promised improvement and as I drove down to Chirk the temperature gradually rose and on arrival the skies cleared. Seven riders gathered in the Tea Rooms, three opting for a moderate ride to a new destination - the Old Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe.

So it was that Andy B, Dave H and myself set off on familiar lanes through Hindford and Lower Frankton.  Though the lanes were muddy and the snowy remnants of last week’s ‘Beast from the East’ were banked up on the verges, our spirits were lifted by blue skies, sunshine and fresh snow glistening on the distant Welsh hills. Soon we headed into new territory and joined a lovely long clear quiet and well surfaced lane running from Hordley to Baschurch. We continued through Little Ness until we came to our destination.

Nesscliffe used to sit across the A5 but has now been by-passed.  You may know it for Nesscliffe Country Park with its sandstone caves and outcrops, or you may have seen the signs for the military base and ammunition dump.  My memory of it comes from escaping Birmingham to investigate climbing on the sheer walls of its sandstone quarries and on nearby Pontesbury Hill. The Old Three Pigeons Inn dates back to the 15th Century. Seats beside the open fire were taken, and we ended up sitting near to a group of fellow cyclists from Shrewsbury.  The pub offered us real ales and a range of food, though we chose the snack menu at £5.50 a portion.

Refreshed, but not looking forward to the return headwind, we left heading over more fresh territory towards West Felton and then into Oswestry. After passing Old Oswestry Hill Fort we made for Western Rhyn, which we left via the High Street and down a steep hill to the Ceiriog Valley, and then back to the start – a much better alternative than climbing Chirk Road hill.

We were relaxing after our 40 mile ride in the Tea Rooms as the brisk group arrived.  Overall a very good ride over some new territory through very pleasant countryside, interesting villages and buildings.  In spite of the early morning snow, there had been a clear promise of spring in the air.

See route map and/or gpx file download


SH

Thursday, 1 March 2018

1st March 2018: Tattenhall (mod/"mad")


The forecast was poor – snow showers and blustery cold winds. Some of the back lanes still had a covering of snow/ice as I made my way to the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall, but others were clear and dry. To ride or not to ride?  That was the question on my mind as I turned into the car park. This was empty, apart from Keith’s bright red Suzuki. Well, I thought it’s early yet (ten to ten); others may turn up. Keith was in two minds about riding as well, so we decided to go inside and see who arrived.  But how to get in? The cyclists entrance was locked and barred and the chairs inside were still stacked up. Fortunately, a young lady arriving at work allowed us to follow her through the side gate and into the (relative) warmth of the café.  The staff were amazed to see us; they were not expecting to see any customers for the café today and certainly not any cyclists.
 
"A CER ultra"
Photo by Steve T
Shortly afterwards, Steve H arrived in civvies, followed by Ivan, also in civvies. Both had to find their way in through the ‘kiddies’ entrance. Both thought that Keith and I were mad to be even considering a ride, given the biting cold wind outside and the promise of worse to come. After a warming coffee and a chat, Steve and Ivan made to leave (the latter to pick up his new car!) and Keith and I put on several more layers before going out to get our bikes from our cars. Ivan had suggested a ride to Tarporley and the Fire Station café, giving a round trip of about 10 miles as being a sensible objective.

So that’s what we set out to do. But as we rode towards Huxley, Keith was falling a long way behind me. He was having a problem with his bike ‘wobbling’, which was causing him concern and sapping his confidence. So we decided to turn round and head back. As we rode down the hill from the bridge over the Shropshire Union canal, he said that it was alright now and that the ‘wobble, must have been due to the strong cross-wind we had been experiencing. ‘Why don’t we go a bit further?’ he said. So we went straight past the turning to the ICF and on into Tattenhall village. There we turned left towards Beeston and then took the next two lefts to bring us back to the ICF. By now, Keith was feeling a lot more confident. ‘Why don’t we go round again?’ he said. So we did, but by the time we were approaching Tattenhall again, all feeling had left the toes of my left foot and my fingers no longer felt attached to my hands. So this time, as we entered the village, we turned right and headed for Alison’s Country Kitchen. Once more, they were astonished to see any cyclists, proclaiming that we ‘must be mad’.

A cup of tea and a bacon, mushroom and cheese omelette eventually put warmth back into our extremities and so we headed back outside.  As the photo shows, the roads were not too bad, it was just the intense cold wind which limited what we could do. So, this time, when we reached the ICF, we called it quits, having covered the massive distance of 10.6 miles.

But at least we had tried; it takes more than ‘the beast from the east’ to stop the ‘ultras’ of CER from riding out on what, meteorologically speaking, was the first day of Spring!

ST

Friday, 23 February 2018

22nd February 2018 : Peover Heath (brisk)

I had created this route using http://cycle.travel/map as Ken had told me that it’s easy to use. Yes, it is easy to use, but as you will see, you need to check the route it generates, otherwise you can end up going down bumpy tracks or private roads.

From the throng of CERs (including Clive – good to see you if only for coffee) gathered at Meadow Lea on a bright but chilly morning, six offered themselves for the ‘brisk’ ride; Ivan, Paul, John M, Nick (on posh new bike) and Dave M, who said he’d come with us at least part of the way.

The first part of the route, along the A56, is pretty dull, but we were soon in the lanes, passing the entrance to the Windsurfing Centre at Manley, one of our erstwhile starting venues. The road along here is very rough and the vibrations caused my rear mudguard stays to come off the retaining lugs, a problem I’ve had before and one I thought I’d fixed. After a quick stop to put them back on, we continued, only for them to come off again soon after. So we stopped at the top of the hill on Sugar Lane, where Dave M delved in his saddlebag and provided some cable ties with which to make a lasting repair. Having fulfilled his role as ‘support crew’, Dave opted to do his own thing from here as his heart pacemaker doesn’t get on very well with hill climbing.

We pressed on through Mouldsworth and the undulating road through Delamere Forest to Norley, Cuddington and Sandiway, where we diverted from the route suggested by cycle.travel to avoid a long, bumpy run alongside the A556 Northwich by-pass. Instead, we headed towards Weaverham and then swung right through Hartford (and the first of many road works) to join the ‘cycle track’ (I use the term in the loosest possible way) next to the A556 at Hartford Bridge. We quickly left the main road ran through Davenham and out into the countryside on NC573. Crossing King Street (A530) there were more road works for the installation on new gas pipes. (I could bore you with the colour codes used for pipes to carry different services – gas, water, telecoms etc.,…. but I won’t!)

We followed NC 533 to Goostrey, passing two more places where is said ‘road closed’, but which we could pass on bikes – even if John had to carry his at one point. From Goostrey we turned north through Withington Green and the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank which is impressive every time I see it. A short run down Basemill Lane to Peover Heath brought us to ‘The Dog’ and our lunch stop. The pub was nice and warm, but quite busy, as it still seems to be half term hereabouts. So, we had to wait a while for the food, but it was good and filling when it did come. There’s a portrait of ‘The Dog’ where we were sitting and John M found is disconcerting, as it seemed to be dressed in women’s clothing and staring him in the eye (see photo) so he didn’t know what to make of it.

Setting off after lunch, the temperature had dropped significantly, the sun being partly hidden behind clouds. We pressed on, but I now found the cost of not checking the proposed route more carefully as it wanted to take us up the driveway to Peover Hall, a Grade II* listed Elizabethan family house dating from 1585. During World War II the house was requisitioned as the HQ for General George Patton of the United States 3rd Army to train for the D-Day landings in 1944. It is open to the public, but probably not for passing cyclists, so a diversion was called for which took us through Goostrey and back along NC533 to the A50. After a short run towards Knutsford on this road we turned left for Lower Peover and got back ‘on route’. Going through Lower Peover we came across yet another ‘road closed’ section. Here, Nick had a contretemps with a lady in a 4X4 who, it seemed, could neither read the road signs nor execute a multi-point turn when she reached the closure point. At the far side of the roadworks, John had an altercation with a traffic bollard. He claimed he was looking at his Garmin, but Nick reckons that there’s something of the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ about this part of the world. In any event, no damage was done to man or bike and we were soon on our way again.

Crossing the M6 at Plumley Moor, we were reaching more familiar territory, but I was beginning to feel the pace, taking refuge behind John whenever I could. We negotiated the tricky crossing of the A556 at The Smoker and were soon in Wincham. Entering Neumann’s Flashes, Ivan stopped to answer a call of nature whilst we carried on. However, there is a right turn along the way and Paul suggested that Ivan might not see us take it, so he went back to look for him. A good job too, as Ivan wouldn’t have taken it without Paul’s guidance and he might have been lost forever in the flashes. The path emerged on Marbury Lane, once a through road owned by ICI between Anderton and Northwich, but now closed to cars. Exiting Marbury Park, the route took us through Comberbach, Dones Green and along bumpy Marsh Lane to Dutton and the A533. We took the lane through Aston village to reach the top of the hill at Sutton Weaver. Here, Ivan declared that he was not stopping for coffee in Frodsham; he needed to get home as he was going out that evening. As it was just after 4pm at this point, John M, Nick and Paul also decided to head straight back, which gave me the excuse to peel off half way down the hill and go straight home. I had ridden from home to Meadow Lea in the morning, so can justly claim to have done the full ride.

This was a total of 67 miles on a dry but cold day using some new and some familiar lanes. At least there was no need to jet wash the bikes this week!

Photo Steve T

22nd February 2018: Waverton (mod)

A large gathering of Easy Riders assembled at Meadow Lea Café and it was good to see Clive recuperating after his operation.  In the absence of any other suggestions, I put forward the idea of the Black Dog in Waverton. I feel that when we start our rides from a central location such as Mickle Trafford or the Little Roodee, as was, it is an opportunity to visit venues closer to Chester than we would from our outlier café starts.  Given that the Black Dog was only 5 or 6 miles away, it required a fairly circuitous route to make a day of it, and coincidentally one that passed close by the homes of Jim, Ivan, the Pipes and David M.  It was also a route that, in response to comments from last week, would be very flat.

Trevor set off, very briskly, leading Keith, Mike G, Andy, George, Bob and myself, towards the Old Dee Bridge in Chester. Pretty soon we had the first of our encounters with hedge cutting, and we carefully wheeled our bikes over the debris. We crossed the bridge and I took over. Past West Cheshire College towards Ecclestone, and then down the road towards Rossett.  We diverted up the Straight Mile and met a host of snowdrops.  Mike became quite poetic and took several photos.  Then it was along Darland Lane to approach Holt and onwards to Aldford, and through Bruera. Bob was getting carried away by our flat route and sped ahead, missing the right turn to our destination until Keith brought him back.

Photos by Mike G
The Black Dog was already hosting three parties and we had to suffer a one hour wait for food – one of the consequences of mid-week lightly staffed kitchens being hit unexpectedly by too many customers.  When they did arrive the portions were substantial and the prices reasonable.

From Waverton we passed through Hargrave and by the Inn at Huxley, still not open, four years late after a major re-build, but looking rather splendid. Then it was onto Tarporley, which we left by the Utkinton Road and the only hill of the day, before heading towards Duddon.  We then met two sets of tractors hedge-cutting and were forced again to gingerly wheel our bikes around the thorns.

We crossed the A51 at Duddon and shortly after things went awry. Mike had stopped to sort out a piece of glass in his tyre, and didn’t see four of us turn right towards Okell’s Garden Centre. Noticing something wrong we stopped and then saw, over the hedgerows in the distance, Mike, Andy and Keith following a different route, back towards Waverton. Having every confidence in their navigation skills, George, Trevor, Bob and myself continued along Platts Lane and then into Oscroft. Next we crossed the A556 and passed through Great Barrow, before meeting the A56.  We followed this back to our start, while at the same time passing Keith who was now heading homeward.  The missing three had made it back to Meadow Lea about 20 minutes before ourselves.

We had travelled about 46 miles on a dry, mostly sunless day with light but cold winds. According to the mapping app we had climbed less than 500 meters.  It was the first time in many weeks that the bikes came back as clean as when we left.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 16 February 2018

15th February 2018 : Ellesmere (brisk)

Today's ride weather prospect was one of blue skies but windy. I decided on fewer clothing layers and, as the roads should be dryish, a lighter bike but no mudguards! (Okay if your in front).

Meeting at Cleopatras in ‘Holt’ there was a good turnout for both groups of riders today.
Out with the Briskers were – Ivan (leader) Steve T, John M and Nick. I had a couple of routes planned but decided on Ellesmere and the Red Lion inn. The other was Llangollen and hilly.

On setting off, I immediately went the wrong way. The route was reversed in my brain and the planned route not switched on via the Garmin. We set off for Cross Lanes, Wrexham instead of Tilston and Malpas, so I decided on a mystery tour going in the general direction of the Red Lion.

Heading down the B5130 towards Cross Lanes, we take a left and head for Bangor on Dee. Over the bridge and head on to Holly Bush. Riding along the A525 passing Horseman's Green, we take a right skirting Hanmer but encounter the muddiest road this year. Bike wash needed again and a wash for Nick who hadn't realised I had no mudguards. Passing Bettisfield, the old railway station is a café and looks very nice with lots of railway memorabilia on display from the road and looks worthy of further investigation. Through the pretty village of Lyneal we take the left fork to pass the Meres.

The lanes we are now travelling were last explored with Clive. The three Meres are The Mere, White Mere and Cole Mere. There is a big construction site after passing Cole Mere going up the hill and it doesn’t seem much different from the last time we passed the site.

Joining the A495, it is a run down into the town of Ellesmere and our lunch stop. Due to my map skills reading we have knocked 7 miles of my scheduled route. This is a pleasant surprise for Steve as he is still recovering from the temperature drop between Antigua and Salop, some 25 degrees. It was colder in the pub than outside, but we were unable to bag the table near the open fire.

A reasonable lunch was provided but we can’t wait to get back in the saddle and the warmth provided by nature.We leave Ellesmere via the A539 along Hollybush lane taking the route towards Threapwood and the usual route back to Farndon via Shocklach.

We arrive back at Cleopatras having only covered 45 miles on such a lovely day, is it nearly spring? Anyway, we enjoy afternoon tea and cake in comfort and leave Steve to await arrival of the Mod’s who do arrive back just as we are leaving to head back to Chester.

Overall mileage was 43 miles around and 63 miles to and from Chester, so not too bad.

Enjoy cleaning your bikes and see you all next week.



ID

Thursday, 15 February 2018

15th February 2018: Hanmer (mod)

A cold sunny but very windy day saw the Easy Riders descend in number on Cleo's in Holt.  It was good to see such a turnout and discussion covered the CER 10th Anniversary Special Ride on 26th April. But today, David M, Trevor and Bryan were doing their own thing; the mods decided on a trip to the Hanmer Arms; and our phalanx of brisk riders were heading for Ellesmere. (Is ‘phalanx’ the right term? Maybe it should be a ‘flight’ or a ‘tornado’? Suggestions on a postcard please.)

The mods were Andy B, Bob, Dave H, George and myself. The route out went through Shocklach, Threapwood and Penley, before skirting The Mere at Ellesmere, and then heading northeast to Hanmer. The wind came from the west and gusted strongly, but unlike the Winter Olympians at Pyeongchang, there were no complaints from the stoical mods. Though they were less sanguine about the steep climbs out of valley bottoms we kept finding.

With 25 miles covered, we arrived at the Hanmer Arms.  It was as good as always, and for those with big appetites and small pockets, the ham and eggs is to be recommended. We chatted about CER’s history and those with long memories tried to recall ‘the who’ and ‘the what’ of previous years, not always successfully.

The return route was only 14 or so miles and was mainly with a tailwind, so we needed to add another challenge. This came from the road surface, though many riders doubted we were actually on a road as we took the route from Arowry to Eglwys Cross and northwards. We had more potholes than road and Somme-like mud. Luckily Dave had packed his patent mudguard de-mudder: a special twig designed for such eventualities.  Soon we were back on tarmac, heading towards Malpas by special request from Dave. From there it was a quick ride to Stretton, down Wetreins Lane and back into Holt.

We arrived back at Cleo's, just as the brisk group were leaving, and settled in for hot drinks and cake, with nearly 39 miles covered. Special congratulations are in order for Bob, who completed an entire ride without a puncture!

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 9 February 2018

8th February 2018: Aston (mod)

Ken came and went (pleasantly).  Some regulars were on holiday. Keith was on nights. The bad-back brigade were indisposed.  Not so incidentally, we wish Clive and Macca speedy recoveries from surgery. Dave and 'Liz sent me a text to say they were preparing to fly to Lanzarote; they were having trouble registering packed panniers as hand luggage with Ryanair!  The weather forecast would have made you pull the duvet over your head, if you hadn't been an indefatigable member of a special cycling club. So, the remnants were:  Bob, Ivan, Nick, Andy B., Mike, Steve H., Trevor and myself. Ivan was thinking of far east Cheshire, and Steve had a route to Goostrey, but in the end we all went out to The Bhurtpore together.

I had chosen the route, so that we would not be battling straight into the forecast wind and rain after lunch. A direct return from Aston would be quite quick if conditions became really unpleasant. We headed out towards Tarporley, gasped up Summerhouse Bank, and then turned left at Heath Green. After crossing the bypass we headed for 'Portal' and then cruised down Sapling Lane, passing the only remains of a Roman villa in Cheshire, as we reached Eaton. We diverted down The Hall Lane, a small lane off Hickhurst Lane on our way to Wettenhall. At Oultonlowe cottage Ivan pointed out an alternative quiet route, which I would like to try next time.  Bob had his obligatory puncture, despite his latest Continental Super Thorn Crusher rubber. The upside is that he is becoming as slick as a Sky mechanic at dealing with punctures, as long as he takes a few lungfuls of salbutamol before starting.
Puncture stop!        Photos by Mike G

After Reaseheath College we crossed the A51 into Welshman's Lane, eventually turning into Welsh Row with its rich variety of attractive architectural styles. We turned right, and headed through the park, and right again, down a link road to Baddington Lane (A530). We were soon ploughing through the wind down Coole Lane.  I would normally continue for over five miles south, towards Audlem, before cutting north-west to Aston. This time, we headed in the direction of The Secret Nuclear Bunker, and joined the main road at Broomhall Green for a short stretch before turning into the village at Aston.

The Bhurtpore had the usual scrummy ales and curries on offer, and with its friendly atmosphere has always been a favourite of ours.

Decisions, decisions.

Our return was via Wrenbury, Chorley and Burland Green. We made a small diversion to see Haughton Hall, and then carried on to Bunbury.  Trevor left us here. We made a group decision to head for The Old Fire Station for a coffee and cake, so I changed my original route from Alpraham and The Shire Horse Centre, to Tilstone Fearnhall and Tarporley. Ivan had been like a cocker spaniel searching for drugs all ride, turning off to join Nick heading for Marbury at one point, only for them to rejoin us shortly after. This time he led the front of the group up Brains Lane to Eaton, while those who already had brains took the usual direct, back route into Tarporley.  Anyway, we all finished together at The Old Fire Station, where we received the normal warm welcome, and a jug of water with a slice of lemon. The weather hadn't deteriorated too badly as yet, but some still had a few miles to go. Mike and Andy were heading for Chester, with Andy set to reach the high eighties before returning to Mold. The basic ride was just on forty miles, and, as so often, the weather had been better than forecast, and warmer than recent days. It was very pleasant having a combined ride, even if the faster guys had had to rein themselves in.                                   

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH 

Friday, 2 February 2018

1st February 2018: Gwaenysgor (brisk)

The ride out to the Gallery Tea Shop was peppered with hailstone and headwinds, so not sure what ride we would be covering. A reasonable turnout of Mods and Brisk riders so my offer of riding towards Prestatyn to the Eagle and Child was good and I was joined by John and Nick.

We set off on the usual route through Harwarden. Ewloe and Northop Hall. Passing through Northop we turn left past the Boot Inn onto the B5126 heading up to Rhosesmor. With a headwind and another hailstone shower it wasn’t pleasant but we continued. By the time we were at Rhes-y-cae the sky was blue but we still had the wind. The roads were very wet, flooded and muddy. Clean bikes again!! Our next climb was Babell and after climbing out of the valley, I succumbed to my first puncture of the year. Soon fixed we were on our way again.

Crossing over the A55 it is now getting close to our lunch stop. Arriving at the inn we parked alongside Mike’s bike who had ridden out from Rhos to join us. Over a hot lunch and a beer, we discuss the merits of going down a 33% gradient. Mike was making a different way home but we three decided to stick with the route and head on down.

The sun was now shining and hopefully the wind on our backs. We stop at the viewing point for photo just in case!! Then enjoyed the ride down on an excellent road surface, getting a max speed of 37mph which was pretty hairy when hitting the hairpin bend.

Photo by ID

We don’t go all the way down but ride through the housing estate towards Gronnant which saves having to lose height, and the ride along Gronant road was helped with the strong tailwind. Keeping on the ridge of the hillside we passed Trelogan and Tre-Mostyn before making our decent onto the A548 opposite the floating wreck moored at Mostyn. We ride along the quiet! ‘A’ road into Flint where we stop for coffee and cake. We were the centre of attraction with some of the customers as they were surprised we all had slabs of cake!! We have just cycled 50 miles and deserved our calorie supplement.

We carry on to Shotton where Nick continues on to Hawarden to collect his car and John and I continue on the Greenway to Chester. Arriving back for 16:30 still daylight and not needing lights. A hilly morning ride covering 4035 feet of ascent at an average of 13mph. Distance ridden for the John and myself was 65 miles and for Nick riding back to the Gallery should be approximately 50 miles.

A good ride on dirty roads, roll on spring and summer. Bike wash first on agenda.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

1st February 2018: Maeshafn (mod)

Hawarden, 1st February – St Brigid’s Day, the start of the pagan Irish festival of spring: Imbolc. Nothing spring-like today: cold, hail, gusts to nearly 40mph. Mod riders - a few brave souls: Andy B, Tom, Keith, Dave H and me, Steve. Where to: Maeshafn.

Into the northwesterly: to Northrop, Rhosesmor and Moel-y-crio. Steep climbs bring advantages – shelter from the wind - but heading south brings greater relief. South to Cilcain and beyond, then west up the valley towards Bwych Penbarras. Before Moel Famau car park, we turn left and down the opposite side to meet the A494.

“Straight on” I say. “Are you insane!” says Andy, knowing mod rides don’t do the double chevrons lying ahead. The hill beckons us on, steepening gradually, then fatally: Tom steams ahead, Dave and Keith fall by the wayside; Steve makes heroic effort to fail 10 yards before the top; Andy, slow and steady, makes it.

18 miles and 1900 feet climbed, recovery is needed – nothing could be better than The Miners Arms - warm, satisfying food and drink and very friendly (landlord did the coast-to-coast).

Easy now. A long downhill to Nercwys, into Buckley, down to Ewloe, “Goodbye Tom”. Harwarden reappears. Overall only 29 miles, but good going. Thanks Andy & Tom for navigational assistance.  Maybe spring will happen next Thursday.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Friday, 26 January 2018

25th January 2018: Pickmere (mod)

Have you ever travelled past an interesting-looking or attractive place and thought “I wonder what that’s like”?  I’ve cycled many times past the destination of this ride. It’s often on our routes to the Peovers, Chelford or Wincham, but really too close to our ride starts to be an obvious choice.  So it was that I devised a route for a short winter’s day that involved a long outward ride leaving less than a third of the miles for our return.

Quite a large turnout at Delamere Station Café, resulted in only 4 members joining the moderate ride: Andy B, Dave H, Keith and myself. The forecast was for a dry often sunny morning, but a high risk of heavy rain in the afternoon.  With this in mind I thought it best to ride moderately briskly before lunch in hope of arriving dry.

We took the longer route out to Acton Bridge, passing three “No Through Road” signs to come close to the River Weaver and then ascend Cliff Lane.  We crossed, re-crossed and re-crossed again the A49, before travelling through Higher Whitley. From here it was north-westwards, passing over the old concrete perimeter of Royal Naval Air Station Stretton, south of Warrington. This facility, known as HMS Blackcap was operational from 1942 to 1958, flying Fairey Barracudas, Fireflies and Supermarine aircraft amongst others.

Next we crossed some more modern transport infrastructure, the M6/M62 junction, before starting to loop south beside Swineyard Hall, a moated partly 16th century country house. Continuing our wide circuit of Arley Hall, we entered the village of Pickmere, and swung into the carpark of the Red Lion, before a drop of rain had fallen.

The Red Lion is a Robinsons’ pub with an open fire, a friendly welcome and tasty food.  I settled down with an excellent pint of Unicorn, and three of us opted for baguette and chips at around £7.  A series of historical photos adorn the walls, many of Pickmere Lake in its Edwardian heyday, complete with landing stage, rowing boats and cruiser. Dave remembered this as well as the travelling fair, but it all later fell into decay.  I am told that the cruiser, the Princess Irene, can still be found underwater in the middle of the lake. Despite this and later housing developments, you can still enjoy a walk around the lake.

We left the pub as the rain started and before long it was heavy with a very blustery wind making progress difficult.  But we weren’t going to be under a deluge, because although a lot of water had fallen, we were not under it at the time.  The skies brightened and we then only faced intermittent rain. The route back was direct through Great Budworth, Little Leigh and Norley, the only interest being the indefinite closure to motors of Westage Lane into Great Budworth due to badger earths undermining the carriageway. Keith left us for Runcorn and the remaining three headed back towards Delamere: Dave to his car, myself slightly further on to Kelsall and Andy much further on to Mold.

Overall a very good ride of about 40 miles in generally reasonable weather with a new find in the Red Lion for lunch stops.

Route now loaded on plotaroute.com due to bikeroutetoaster.com remaining down:
See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

25th January 2018 : Knutsford (brisk)

Ten club members gathered at Delamere Station Café on a dry and sunny, if chilly morning. Dave M and Ken were there only for coffee, as they had commitments later in the day, so that left eight riders. These split into two fours, the moderates heading for the Red Lion at Pickmere and the briskers (John M, Ivan, Nick and Steve T) for “The Angel@ King Street” in Knutsford (96 King St, Knutsford WA16 6HQ. Tel. 01565 651165).

Initially we all set off together, but our routes parted at Hatchmere. From there we took one of the normal routes to Norley , Crowton and Acton Bridge. The climb out of the Weaver Valley took us up to Little Leigh from where we headed for Knutsford via Frandley, Antrobus and Bates Heath. Crossing the A556 at Tabley we zoomed into Knutsford, helped in no small way by the following wind, arriving at the Angel at 11:45.

To our surprise, they were already open and serving both food and ale. It’s a Joseph Holts hostelry that has recently had a makeover and it’s now a comfortable, well-appointed place. Ivan and John tried their ‘Two Hoots’ ale and seemed satisfied with it. The food was also of a good quality and at a reasonable price. A place to think about revisiting? Over lunch we discussed knee and back surgery (a subject relevant to several of our members); hearing aids, their limitations and technical developments and, weirdly, tides and why it takes half the time for the tide to come in at Widnes as it does to go out. I still haven’t found out why, but it seems to be peculiar to Widnes (why am I not surprised?).

The sun was still shining as we retraced our route out of Knutsford, but there were some dark clouds to the west, suggesting that we might encounter inclement weather before the end of the day. At Tabley Brook Farm, we stayed on the B5391, passing the Red Lion at Pickmere (were the mods still lunching?) and on into Higher Wincham. Here we swung right to pick up the A559 through Higher Marston before turning left up the short, but steep incline that took us to Comberbach. Steve had a minor mechanical here (chain off), but this was soon fixed and we cycled along Cogshall Lane to Dones Green where we crossed the A49 into Marsh Lane. This has to be one of the worst lanes in Cheshire. The top coat has been worn away in a random manner, leaving a rough and surface which makes it difficult to find any kind of smooth surface. It’s also slightly uphill which adds to the difficulty.

Turning left at the top of Marsh Lane, the skies darkened even more and the first spots of rain started. At Dutton, we stopped so that John could put on his waterproof. Steve chose not to do likewise, a decision he’d regret later. At Whitehouse Industrial Estate, we took a left turn down Aston Lane. Part of this has now been re-surfaced, so many of the potholes have disappeared and it’s now a nice lane to ride on. By now, the rain was coming down in buckets, with little prospect of a let up. So, rather than going on down into Frodsham, Steve opted to head for home as we reached Sutton Weaver, leaving the others to take refuge in Costa Coffee. From there, Nick headed back to Delamere and his car, and Ivan and John headed for home. As it happened, the rain stopped as soon a Steve left, so the others completed the ride in the dry.

The round trip from Delamere to Knutsford and back was about 44 miles and our average speed was 15 mph. A good ride with excellent company.

See route map and/or gpx file download ( on "plotaroute" as Bikeroutetoaster unavailable at present)

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