12 members gathered at Rose Farm Garden Centre in surprisingly cold weather. I had already put on an additional layer but it was still cold. Oh well, we would soon warm up and the forecast for the afternoon promised that the sun would break through. “Where are off to then?” “Does anyone have a route?” silence “Well I have a moderate ride in mind to the Red Lion at Goostrey but it involves some tracks: how does that sound?” The nods of assent signified agreement.
With the ride agreed it was time to leave in something of a large group comprising Andy, Ivan, Liz D, Martin, Dave M, Dave & Liz P, Dave H, Ray, George, Trevor and me. Mindful of the shambles earlier in the month we kept together through Cotebrook and Little Budworth before turning on to the Whitegate Way for a pleasant run down to the Weaver Navigation. We crossed the Weaver by the wooden bridge and took the rough track up to Moulton and on to Davenham where a right turn put us on the road to Lach Dennis and Goostrey. The steady conversation from further back in the group suggested the pace was about right and we made good progress. At Lach Dennis a surprise left turn indicated that we weren’t going straight to Goostrey today. By Boots Green we were on unfamiliar lanes particularly as we continued along an increasingly rough track signed as a dead-end. The highlight of the day was soon revealed as the track turned into a one-mile long bridle path peppered with mud traps to test the groups riding skills. Once through it was only a short ride to Goostrey and the welcoming sight of the Red Lion.
It’s quite a few years since I was last there and I’m pleased to say the welcome was as good as I remembered. It’s not easy to serve 12 hungry cyclists who arrive without warning but the Red Lion coped admirably and food was soon coming out of the kitchen while we sampled the Black Sheep and Hobson’s ales. It was soon time to leave and, sad to say, the weather outside was no warmer.
On our way we negotiated the back lanes and a short track to emerge in the centre of Holmes Chapel before more lanes to Middlewich. Back on home ground my services as ride leader were no longer required as the group took the familiar route back via Church Minshull and Wettenhall to Eaton. Here we stopped to select today’s tea stop. Was it to be the Fire Station Café in Tarporley, the Shire Horse Centre or back to Rose Farm? The Shire Horse Centre won the vote and within a few minutes we had settled down with tea and cake for a relaxed chat before the last few miles back to Utkinton having completed 45 enjoyable miles.