This week’s blog is like a Christmas cracker - full of surprises! First off, it starts from the Old Dee Bridge and via Alyn and Gobowen, ends up back at the bridge. Ray and I had surmised that it would probably be just us two at Alyn cafe as we set off via Dodleston and Marford Hill for the 14 mile ride. I reckoned that Steve H would have either ridden over from Kelsall, or car-assisted to Alyn. Arriving into the park by the back door, we see Steve just about to saddle up. He warns us of an icy path report from a local. Testing the path rather gingerly, I quickly end up inspecting it rather too closely; so we three decide to walk the path to the cafe. The next surprise is that Andy B, Macca and Paul R are already there. Macca unfortunately had come off on the same icy path, and decided he would just ride homewards bound - nothing broken, but now nursing a sore elbow and thigh.
The next surprise really isn’t a surprise as no-one has a route planned. Steve decides he will drive elsewhere to find non-iced up lanes, while I ponder a route out through Wrexham and then "Somewhere". So we four (Ray, Andy B, Paul R and myself) set off into Wrexham bound for "Somewhere". Inspiration comes as we skirt the hospital, then take the Foxwood Drive transfer to end up on the lane to Erdigg. The lanes are filthy and Ray is beginning to rue the choice of “mudguard-less” Titanium model today. We stop after Erdigg and I offer a choice of venues - mistake really - just do a "Harry Watson" and get them to follow you. So I announce we are off to Derwen College at Gobowen for lunch.
The route is straightforward now through Ruabon, down and up the Dee Valley passing Cefn Mawr, and then the back way into Chirk via the marina, golf course and Chirk Castle. I elect to take the aqueduct, but the boys prefer the road, so with clear instructions to ride to Weston Rhyn, I find I am alone on the road! The boys took the canal path, so after a phone call, they enjoy the reverse route back to me. We are out now down my favourite, if very muddy, lane towards Gobowen. The next surprise has been that it’s been raining on and off since we left Wrexham, very much contrary to Carol Kirkwood’s sunny forecast using the new £99 million Met Office computer - no wonder the Met Office has lost the BBC Weather contract!
Another surprise is that neither Andy or Paul have been to Derwen College restaurant before. This time we are in early after just 20 muddy miles, so we get a table easily. The food comes to the table in five minutes flat after ordering, and we are all thankful for some hot fare. So 30 mins later, we are back on our bikes and in sunshine at last. I plot a narrow lane route back to Chester so we take NCN455 towards Threapwood since none of us needs to get back to Alyn. The tiny lane is absolutely filthy as we pass Hindford by. I decided a route upgrade is needed, and suggest we take the main roads back to Overton and thence to Bangor-on-Dee. “Yes, Please!” is the response, so exiting the lanes at Dudleston Heath, and on “clean” roads, and we sail passed Gadlas Hall turning left towards Overton. Andy’s bike is making strange noises so he elects to carry on to Wrexham and home to Mold.
We three take the Bangor road passing the race course at some speed, which has a meet on. Here, I recall that the road to Holt via Shocklach is very, very dirty due to farm vehicles, so suggest we go around Wrexham Industrial Estate and take the Borras road. Paul decides he wants to return via Holt, so he peels off, and Ray and I return much the way we came out down via Borras, Marford Hill and Dodleston. We arrive back with 65 very muddy miles ridden.
The final surprise is that neither Ray nor I intended to ride so far today - it was just meant to be a ride out and back. So for my final ride of the year I managed 74 miles with nearly 1000m of climbs, and then spent 15 mins cleaning my bike when I got home - it must have been at least 500gm lighter after the wash!
So Happy Christmas to all CER riders and I hope Father Christmas brings you all those presents that you have been hinting at all year. See you in January 2017!