Two Runcorn guys were joining us for the first time: Karl Ashton and Steve Tan. I knew they were both strong and fit, but were only just getting into cycling, so a moderate ride led by Jim had been planned. It was great to see Mike Morley looking and feeling relatively well, and learning later that he had been inspired to take a short ride that afternoon.
The aspirational group led by Clive took off as agreed, including George on temporary loan. The newcomers and myself then headed downhill behind Jim. Jim promptly fell off due to gravel as he attempted to turn left into Smithy Lane. Fortunately, his accident was at low speed so although badly winded and a bit damaged around the edges, we didn’t need to call the air ambulance for him. Once we had walked back to Rose Farm Garden Centre with Jim we set off again, unfortunately without him, and only myself having any knowledge off possible routes. We didn’t even have a Chester and Wrexham OS map. We headed for Nantwich at a steady pace via Heath Green, Eaton and Wettenhall. We tried to cycle through the grounds of Reaseheath College, but retreated having been confronted with large tar rolling vehicles, and not wanting to invite any further accidents. On reaching the edge of Nantwich we turned west passing the marina, where you can enjoy a snack sitting in the sun on the boardwalk, next to the narrow boats and glittering waters of Basin End. On our left was Dorfold Hall, a Grade1 listed Jacobean building. We passed The Star pub that has recently won a good food award, but it is too early for eating. Left at St. Mary’ Church, Acton with its fine C13th. Tower. We decide to give the Farmer’s Arms a miss at Ravensmoor, and eventually cross the River Weaver by footpath down the delightful track past Woodcotthill Farm direct to the Bhurtpore Inn. Three curries and three lime and sodas; for the record there are lots of interesting beers on offer, and a pretty barmaid. Mike Morley would be purring like the Cheshire Cat if he was with us today.
Our route back is via Wrenbury, and a combination of my sketchy memory and a map app on Steve’s phone got us back through Chorley before crossing the A534 at Brindley. On reaching Tilly’s at Bunbury we met Petar and Steve who had lost touch with their brisk brethren. Cake and coffee arrived at the same time as Clive and the rest of his merry men. It was a pleasant surprise for us all to be together again, before we went our different ways back on the last leg. Our hilly route back to the cars, particularly the steep climb at Tilstone Bank, showed our newcomers that even easy riders on a moderate ride have to put their back into it occasionally! My two new guests thoroughly enjoyed their ride and I fully expect to see them again. They coped admirably, and although we deliberately went at a modest pace it was obvious that they are easily capable of going further and faster if required. Cappuccino and cake-curry-to cappuccino and cake was about 2,000 calories. Distance just short of 38 miles.