There was a decent turnout at Utkinton: Alan, Andy, Mike M, Ray, George, Liz and Martin, Trevor, Brian Mac, myself, Dave M in civvies, and usually last but never least - Liz and Dave.
I had promised to lead a moderate ride, and the fitter guys chose to go along with this. We took off in the direction of Tarporley, then turned left up Heath Green on the old route to Eaton crossing the A49. Shortly after Eaton most of the bunch suffered a drenching from a passing Audi hitting a very large puddle. We were soon bowling past Wettenhall towards Nantwich. It was good to hear people chatting away in a relaxed manner. I was aware that we tend to totally trust the leader, but that my chosen route was unfamiliar to me for many stretches ahead. Well, at least if I felt like the Lone Ranger, Mike “Tonto” Morley was there to help. We were a little ahead of schedule, so Mike suggested the cycle route through Reaseheath College grounds (photo). At the edge of Nantwich town we turned under the canal, and then past the marina that has a pleasant waterside café. We turned left at St. Mary’s church, Acton that has the oldest church tower in Cheshire and some Norman carved stones inside. Tonto had already identified a suitable lunchtime hostelry using his renowned hop-seeking senses. We arrived at opening time at the Farmer’s Arms in Ravensmoor. Dave and Liz were a little late, as they had been hunting for duck eggs.
Photographs by Alan Jeffs
Lunch was excellent, and Mike fell in love with the waitress. We set off again, heading south towards Wrenbury. Martin thought that the pace “was even slower” after eating, but I had eaten poached salmon and drunk no ale. Anyway, I took the hint and turned the wick up slightly as we undulated our way in a loop taking in Wrenbury Heath, Wrenbury itself, Chorley, Larden Green and Gradeley Green. We had to hold our nerve through a number of flooded sections of road, but otherwise, it was all quiet and pleasant. It was quite hard work for the tandem at this stage because of the slightly increased pace, number of small hills and the amount of pudding Dave had eaten. I overcame my lack of knowledge of these roads by permanently perching my reading glasses on my nose and plotting ahead whilst riding, using my handlebar map holder. We were soon heading north through Brindley and towards Tilley’s cake and coffee shop (photo). The Chester section then headed for Beeston, and the rest were riding back to Utkinton. Unfortunately, we somehow missed the left turn for Tilstone Fearnhall and Tarporley and finished up on a longer route via Alpraham and Eaton. Still, the rain held off and we had all clocked a very sociable 44 miles at least.