Well, here I am writing my first ever blog report, which means I have finally led my first ride. (About time really since I have been cycling with the group for over 3 years.) I’m still not sure how it came about, though, because when I left home for the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden I had only intended to cycle up to the venue to pay my fiver deposit for the Christmas Lunch ride then wend my way gradually back home through the Cheshire countryside. As I arrived Jim was locking his bike to the railings and said that he only fancied an easy ride and since we live in the same village we decided that we would plot a route home and leave the rest to head off into the hills.
We went in to find Clive, Martin, Bryan, Brian Mac, and Colin already there. Brian Mac was the first to say hello followed quickly by ‘get your wallet out’ and he had soon parted us from our £5 deposits. Jim and I set about plotting our route home and it soon became apparent that several others fancied an easier/shorter ride and suddenly I found myself nominated as the leader. We just had to decide on a suitable lunch stop and the Calveley Arms at Handley was decided upon. Dave P and Liz had arrived on their tandem by this time and just before we were about to leave Dave M turned up but said he wasn’t riding with us and was going to ride straight home. As we climbed onto our bikes Bryan Mac suddenly announced that he had a hospital appointment and promptly rode off in the opposite direction along with our Christmas lunch deposits. (Did anyone get a receipt?).
The remaining eight of us set off down the Wrexham Road before turning left onto the small road that would take us up the back of Bilberry Wood to the footbridge across the A55. It is quite steep in places and a long gradual climb but I knew that once we reached the top we would have finished climbing for the day (except for the riders returning to Hawarden). After crossing the A55 we turned right then left into Chester Road and continued into Lower Mountain Road by-passing the village of Pen-y-Mynydd. Then a left and right into Sandy Lane and Dave P announced that we were about to pass ‘Jimi Hendrix’. Sure enough in the garden to our right was an old tree trunk that had been carved into the shape of a rock guitarist. No one knows who it is supposed to be but Dave had christened it Jimi Hendrix and I must admit there was a certain resemblance.
From there we turned into Shordley Road and dropped down Cobblers Lane into Burton passing under the A483 and over the railway to emerge in Rossett. At this point several riders expected me to turn right and head up Marford Hill towards Hoseley Bank. I had always turned left here and so I had to assert my authority as leader and we turned left before bearing right towards the Holt road. A quick right again took us down a quiet country lane to emerge onto the Holt Road near the Griffin Inn. I had thought of this as a suitable lunchtime stop but we were far too early. Maybe that’s for another day when we start our ride from the Little Roodee. Another unexpected turn then, when I led them off the Holt road to the right. Someone pointed out that we were now heading away from Holt. Well, yes, slightly but we were heading towards Hoseley Bank which is where they had wanted to go ten minutes before.
At the T-junction on Hoseley Lane Martin turned right to head home and the rest of us turned left. It was then that disaster struck. I had turned round in my saddle to say goodbye to Martin and as a result I think I was in too high a gear for the incline. I tried to change down but in doing so my chain broke. Closer inspection showed that the powerlink had broken. A fairly easy thing to replace - except that I didn’t have one. Up steps Jim to the rescue. He has one for an 8-speed bike. Mine is a 9-speed but the consensus is that it should work and at least get me home. However after placing one half of it in one end of the chain I manage to drop the other half where it disappeared into the fallen leaves. Another disaster! So now I have a power link made up of half 9-speed and half 8-speed but at least we are moving again.
We turned left back towards Holt through Commonwood and arrived in the village close to Hildegard’s. We couldn’t pass Hildegard’s without going in and time was getting on. We solved that dilemma by turning just before the café and took the back road down to the bridge to cross the River Dee into England. We turned left towards Churton then right to Coddington and left again towards Handley. Final we arrived in Handley – a delightful village spoilt only by the fact that Scottish Power seemed to have most of it dug up.
At the Calveley Arms we found that we were behind a large party and had to wait half an hour for our food but the conversation flowed and the time passed quickly. Three of the group had cars parked back at Hawarden so rather than have to cycle through the middle of Chester Dave, Liz & Colin decided to retrace our route back to the start. The four of us remaining made our way back towards Chester via Tattenhall and Waverton. Bryan and Clive peeled off at Christleton and Jim and I made our own way home. A pleasant slow-paced ride on a pleasant sunny autumn day yet we still managed a round trip of 43 miles.