Steve Tan was my passenger from Runcorn. Road works in Frodsham meant a u-turn and a diversion down the motorway, and another about turn was required for a blockage when trying to head up towards Kelsall from Helsby. We were running a little late by the time we arrived at Utkinton. It was an easy decision when faced with our admirably fit and fast comrades on their best bikes, to decide to just relax and do a familiar, pleasant route to the Bhurtpore at Aston at an easy pace. The reality was, that I was about 24kg. heavier than Ray, and Steve's hybrid was about 9kg. heavier than Ivan's Willier, and that's before comparing our relative cycling fitness levels! A unified ride just wouldn't have worked. Although it did make me determined to lower my calorie intake, and up my training before the Lake District ride.
It was yet another ideal cycling day, and the tinge of autumn colours added to the pleasing rural landscape unfurling before us. Our route took us to Eaton and Wettenhall, and on to Ravensmore via Reese Heath and Acton. I tried to use my map to direct a lorry driver to a farm, but accidently sent him the wrong way, and also lost my gloves. This was made worse, because they were two odd gloves, so I now have two matching, now useless, gloves at home!
The Bhurtpore was welcoming as usual, but the curry wasn't cheap and was just below average in quality. I'd already got lost around Sound on the way, and a similar casual attitude had us turning west too early at Chorley on the route home. We headed briskly up the A49 from the Cholmondeley Castle entrance to Spurstow, and then rode to Tarporley through Peckforton, Beeston and Birch Heath. The service was exceptional at the Old Fire Station, and we enjoyed coffee and cake in the sun at the back. We also had a long chat with a very elegant old lady, with Steve exchanging stories of Yorkshire towns and Leeds University, with which they were both familiar. We soon whacked up the last climb to Rose Farm and my now clean car. We had covered a very relaxed 40 miles, savouring every mile of lovely Cheshire countryside and the blessing of an Indian summer.