On my way out to Tattenhall, I overtook a rider in Chester who seemed to follow me all the way to Waverton. It transpired this was Paul R who was trying us out for the first time. The ride to the Ice Cream Farm was therefore used to inform Paul of our ethos and paucity of rules and regulations. We arrived early just as Dave M arrived – he was only out for the coffee as he was still in “Audax Recovery Mode”. There were a lot of us out today: Janet, Trevor, Ray, Alan, Liz and Dave, Ivan, Norman, Martin, myself, Peter (out for his second time) and Paul. I suggested a ride of about 63 miles to Pipe Gate (“Where?” they all cried. “South of Woore”. “Where?” they repeated) and in sheep mode, we set off bound for Carden and Tilston.
Photographs by Alan Jeffs
At Carden my phone rang, it was Janet “I’m near Beeston Castle, where are you?” – we had left without her, as she was still in the loo! I gave her some directions to meet us at No Mans Heath and we ploughed on. A mile up the road, Norman was having problems with his panniers so the lead group waited at the Carden Arms. Onwards via Tilston and Ebnal Lane, we arrived at the A41 No Mans Heath rendezvous. I called Janet but she had decided to head homewards, so “Group Apologies” to Janet for not realising you were not with us. Off again towards Aston but a puncture halted us after a half a mile. This provided the time to try and fix Norman’s pannier (which had a missing fixing screw) using a cable tie. At this point I decided to abandon the planned route to the Chetwode Arms and go for the Shroppie Fly in Audlem. However I now planned an indirect route to take in the flight of locks at Cox Bank. So out of Aston we headed for Burley Dam and Wilkesley.
Arriving at the flight of locks, a few decided to take the direct route into Audlem along the canal whilst the rest of us kept turning left until we hit the canal again in Audlem town centre. The food came swiftly and during lunchtime Norman fixed his bike courtesy of the local bike shop, and Alan had repaired a slow picked up earlier. As the sun warmed us we left within the hour for a yet more circuitous route back. For us all lots of new lanes were cycled as we negotiated Nantwich bound for Tilley’s at Bunbury. Hedge-cutting season had started so occasionally it was a hazardous ride crossing our fingers that no further incidents occurred. At Bunbury, Ivan shot off to get home early and the rest of us acquired our Tilley Loyalty cards. Arriving back at the Ice Cream farm with not quite 60 miles on the clock, three of us were Chester bound with over 80 miles ridden and a dry day again.