The last ride of the year and six stalwarts meet up at the Ice Cream Farm (Bryan, Ivan, Dave M, Ray, Liz & Dave and I). The weather promises a few showers and this is exactly what we get – what it didn’t say was that they would be ice cold showers. Out via Beeston Castle, we are bound for the Red Cow in Nantwich. Avoiding the obvious way via Bunbury, we take Dean Bank before the castle to access the A49 just before the Wild Boar Hotel. Right towards Whitchurch, we warm up the legs up the hill to take Bunbury Common lane and on toward Alpraham. A quick right and left into Hilbre Bank, we head north towards Eaton. The pack is waiting for a right turn to take us to Wettenhall, but I add in a loop out through Eaton and then skirting Oulton Park before taking the long run down to the outskirts of Nantwich. It starts to rain as we cross the A51 down Manor Lane into Nantwich town.
Bikes securely under cover in the Red Cow car park, we find inside a roaring fire in the bar and several interesting ales. We all order quickly then kill time by discussing the merits of Christmas TV. The lunch takes a while to come but we are not really in a hurry as we arrived quite early and with only 22 miles under our tyres. As we leave, the rain comes down coldly but thankfully briefly as we head out of town through the park and towards Ravensmoor. The strong westerly wind slows us as we turn right into Dig Lane. Here the tandem duo decide to wend their own way home so we five mono-cyclists head up the muddy lane bound for Swanley. Along the straight towards Chorley, the strengthening wind slows us down almost to single figures so we pull up at the Faddiley turn to take stock.
Bryan, Dave and Ray elect to go back via Peckforton whilst Ivan and I head off for Cholmondley and Broxton. We run up past Bolesworth Castle and into Tattenhall taking a left towards Gatesheath and the A41 Chester bound. The A41 was the better option than Saighton given that it was lightly trafficked and afforded some protection from the westerly wind. The round trip from Chester was around 60 miles but the westerly wind must have surely added an extra 10 miles on top of this. This was my 47th CER Thursday ride of the year and 3067 miles ridden, and, like all others considerable enjoyment all round.
The Peckforton three made good progress through Brindley, then bypassed Bunbury to take the scenic route via Peckforton to Beeston anticipating the downhill run from there back to the Ice Cream Farm. Not today though: with the wind gathering strength it was hard work to just keep moving. Back at the Ice Cream Farm we chatted about the day over a huge pot of tea before at just after 16:00 starting the final leg back in the dark. A 39 mile round trip from the Ice Cream Farm and 60 miles overall from Chester.