Jeremy Clarkson’s car blog in the Sunday Times is invariably a rant about a current personal issue padded out with a car review. Well this blog is similar except it’s not a rant, but a celebration and a ride description. There is a misconception that all brisk rides are long, hilly, fast and furious. Well some are, and some are not. Our unofficial Tuesday rides are invariable long, fast, and hilly and furious (well relatively so for 60+ers). As Ivan had planned the Tuesday ride to the new Wetherspoons in Sandbach, I said I would plan today’s ride from Chirk. So often from Chirk we attack the hills but I wanted something different today. As I was feeling a bit sore from my unfortunate dismount in the rain on Tuesday, I planned a flat ride to The Shrewsbury Hotel (aka Wetherspoons) in Shrewsbury. The aforementioned celebration is that of the beautiful Shropshire countryside between Chirk and the county seat. Out through Western Rhyn, there is a tiny arrow-straight lane that gives you marvellous views of the land around culminating in the foreboding Old Oswestry Iron Age hill fort. Sliding out around the town, we are soon away from Oswestry and riding through Queens Head. The road down through Ruyton XI-Towns passes by many old country estates. The views are of the Wrekin and Caer Caradoc beyond. At Fitz, we now go east then south through suburbia to access the superb Severn river embankment in Shrewsbury itself. Following it clockwise as far as we can go, we arrive at the pub after 30 miles.
Wetherspoons is fine except they forget to bring out my lunch, so I ask for my money back and in doing so get a free pint. A few of Ivan’s chips will have to suffice today supplemented by a Snickers bar. Back along the river, we exit via the cycleways to Montford Bridge. Over the Seven and the A5, the ride back is largely along highway 81. Moving North Eastwards, we pass by the Army training camp at Wilcott and the radio telescope at Knockin. The sun has warmed the air, the roads are good, and the countryside is quintessentially English in these former Marcher bad lands (as evidenced by quite a few former Motte and Baileys). Across Maesbury Marsh, we complete the figure-of-eight routing by crossing the A5 towards Gobowen. My lack of lunch necessitates tea and cake at Derwen College as it is obvious that we three (Ivan, John and myself) will not make it back in time for the 15:50 Chester train. A leisurely return is completed via the Rhyn valley with its steep climb out. Sixty miles in just over 4 hours. Acres and acres of wonderful countryside so rarely seen and appreciated by motorists. A Magnum ice cream rounds off a superb day's cycling!