I’d been out on Tuesday with Ivan and Tom and we had arrived at the Salt Barge too early, so I fancied a return ride to sample its fare. We weaved out through Cotebrook via an unconventional route to access Whitegate Way all the way into Winsford. Out via Wharton, we were riding the main roads a bit before sliding through Bostock Green bound for Davenham. Out past Davenham Church all was going well until Dave P had a puncture. By this time it was clear that we were going to arrive 30 minutes behind schedule at the Salt Barge; the schedule being to be in the pub before the rain started. So, on the fly, I re-route to Lostock Green.
As we hit the A556 dual carriage crossing, Bryan spent a few greasy minutes sorting out his chain, cassette and front chain ring. Off across the dual carriage we slide through Lostock Graham noticing the first signs of its industrial heritage i.e. brine fields. At the lights I shoot off down the hill, being just a couple of miles from the first pint, that is, until Dave P on his fixie, pedals furiously past me to say Bryan has another transmission malfunction. Back up the hill, Bryan demonstrates a masterclass in removing the chain split link to re-thread the chain through the rear hanger. The rear hanger looks decidedly dodgy, so Bryan elects to minimise gear changes from henceforth.
We arrive at the Salt Barge just as the rain starts around 13:00. The pub is very quiet, and soon three pints of Tatton Brewery’s “Yeti” ale are pulled in double quick time. Mein Hostess takes our orders, and soon we are tucking into wholesome fare. Having put the world to rights and re-sampled the Yeti, we set off on a hill-avoiding modified return track. We take the track through Marbury Park, which is quite delightful in the late autumn rain. Cogshall Lane brings into Little Leigh. At Acton Bridge, it’s up through Weaverham to Gorstage. Here disaster strikes once again for Bryan, as the rear hanger breaks away completely and Bryan comes to an abrupt halt. Quick as a flash, there is another masterclass from Bryan in converting a 30 geared bike into a free-wheeling fixie! So delayed again, we start off even more gingerly through Sandiway. Bryan’s car is at Rose Farm, but he quickly realises that gradient and time is against him to retrieve it, so we progress at a leisurely pace along the main road to Old Kelsall Hill road. A diversion to Tarvin takes us back to town via Waverton and Pearl Lane.
By this time its proper dark, but we are all back into Chester safely. So we end up with three bikes returning; one original fixie, one free-wheeling fixie and 22 speed compact. Oh, I need to mention that the rain was not torrential, and only lasted a couple of hours. Mindful of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, and with due apologies to Shakespeare lovers, those in the warm and dry at home this Bonfire’s Night day might like to enjoy the following verse which has been freely adapted from Henry V’s rousing battlefield speech. I’m sure Bryan felt like it was a battle today!
(Cue rousing music)
We few, we happy few, we band of riders
For he today that gets his boots wet with me
Shall be my co-rider; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall improve his fitness level;
And CER riders then at home in the warm and dry
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here
And hold their saddles cheap while any speaks
That rode out with Bryan, Dave P and Clive
To Marston upon that Bonfire Night’s day.
See route map and/or gpx file download.