A cold coming we had of it, gathering at Manley Mere and complaining of the temperature. But at least it was dry, though with heavy rain forecast from 14:00. At first there were nine of us, though Dave M had only driven out for a coffee. John was after a 100km ride to meet his target, so he set off on his own. That left 7: myself, Chris, Mike McC, Steve T, Liz & Dave Pipe and Sue, a prospective member.
I suggested the Salt Barge Inn at Marston, which met with general approval, but we’d gone less than a mile when Liz & Dave decided to do their own thing, perhaps put off by the prospect of a wet return. So then there were 5. We set out up the hills over New Pale, and at the top Sue peeled off to complete her own loop. And then there were 4. We sped down through Kingsley and Acton Bridge, where we crossed the Weaver, then through Little Leigh, Comberbach and Great Budworth. Swinging south through Pickmere, we arrived at the Salt Barge with 21 miles covered in reasonable conditions.
We were given a warm welcome and were enjoying the Tatton Ale while deciding what to eat. Food was arriving at the next table – a massive burger and a whale sized cod and chips. Intimidated by the size of the portions, we each decided to go for the “smaller meals for smaller appetites”, only to realise when our own food arrived that that is exactly what our neighbours had been eating. Very well fed, we left the pub just in time for the rain to start and the temperature to lift.
Our return led us through a splashy Marbury Park, and onward past the Anderton Boat Lift through conditions did not encourage us to stop. Through Winnington on streaming roads and onwards towards Weaverham, where Steve T left us to head home. So then there were 3. Then on to Sandiway, Cuddington and Norley, through Delamere Forest and into Ashton. Here I headed off to Kelsall. Then there were 2: Mike & Chris heading off to find the end of the Greenway and so to their homes.
Overall a good morning’s ride, a fine lunch and rather wet in the afternoon, not bad for January. The route out from and back to Manley Mere was just under 40 miles, so not a bad distance either for the time of year.