A large number gathered at Rose Farm and it was obvious that we would need to split into two groups. The ‘moderates’ had at least two routes to choose from, but the ‘briskers’ – comprising of John, Tom, Ray, Steve T. and Ken – did not have a route as, neither Clive nor Ivan, the usual leaders, had turned up due to other commitments. John consulted his Garmin and offered a 70km ride to Audlem. So, 10 minutes after the moderates had left, we set off, only to find the moderates waiting at the entrance to Rose Farm where Dave P had lost his helmet!
We went along Utkinton Lane and down through Cotebrook, passing the ‘Knickerbrook’ entrance to Oulton Park race circuit. Then on through Rushton and Wettenhall, with John setting a good pace and navigating with great confidence. All went well until we reached Reaseheath College, where ‘Garmin’ was telling John to take the road through the college grounds. Dave Heath later told me that this was possible, but we were not confident, so continued down Wettenhall Road, across the A51 and into Nantwich via Welshman’s Lane and Welsh Row. We threaded our way through the centre of Nantwich with John following the satnav’s instructions – whereupon we found ourselves at the other side of Reaseheath College - the clever thing had re-routed to take us back to where we had departed!
After a good 10 minutes consulting various Garmins and Google Maps, we deduced that we needed to be on the other side of Nantwich, heading out on the A529/A530. So, completing a circuit around the town we picked up the A529 and then A530 and then headed off towards Audlem down Coole Lane. Half way along, we came across the signpost to the ‘Secret Bunker’. Built in 1950 the 35,000 square foot underground bunker would have been the centre of Regional Government had nuclear war broken out. It was declassified only in 1990.
We arrived in Audlem at about 12.30 and decided to see if there was room at The Old Priest House café. Squeezing the five of us onto a table for four, we ordered our food and admired the many cycling photos, including one of ‘Harry the Bike’ as he marked his 500,000 miles in the Guiness Book of Records. Apparently he averaged 280 miles to the pint!
Photographs by Steve Tan
Although a little slow to arrive, the meals were excellent and enormous, especially John’s ‘Mega-breakfast’. Suitably restored we set out for home, retracing our route from Audlem back to Coole Lane. About one-third of the way along, we turned left towards Broomhall Green and Sound, crossing the A530 there. Thence on to Wrenbury, where we had to stop, as the bridge over the Shropshire Union Canal near the Dusty Miller pub had been raised to allow a barge through. This allowed us a short breather, as John had been setting a furious pace, fuelled no doubt by his ‘mega-breakfast’. This continued as we zoomed through Bickerton and across the A49 at The Cholmondeley Arms, heading past Cholmondeley Castle Gardens to Bickerton and then over Harthill to Tattenhall. John was still flying, fuelled by a desire to catch up with and berate the driver of a Land Rover and trailer combo that had nearly taken him off. Luckily for the driver, the chase was in vain.
Reaching Hoofield, John, Tom and Ray peeled off to head back to Chester leaving Ken and Steve to wend their way along the aptly-named Corkscrew Lane back to Rose Farm, arriving just in time to enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
A total of 50 miles/80 km at an average speed of 16.4 mph, this was a definitely a proper ‘brisk’ ride.