Having led 106 rides in the last three years with CER, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a different ride from our starting locations. So I set about with today's ride to Sandbach to try to find new roads and lanes to go down on the way to “The George” pub in the town centre. So the Famous Five, consisting of John² (M and W), Tom, Paul and myself, set off in and out of Tarporley bound for Wettenhall. NCN551 runs some 6 miles down to Nantwich, and it was pleasing to see that at least some of it has been patched up. No such luck for the “Boot and Slipper” pub which has been demolished! We take the ring road around Nantwich and then the parallel cycle path towards Winsford. Here we wander through Wistaston before arriving in Shavington. The pace is somewhat fast but I'm to blame for that!
We shuffle through Basford and Weston and bypass Crewe Hall Hotel on our way to Oakhanger and the eponymously name Moss, then to fly over the M6. We are briefly on the Cheshire cycleway 70. Here, there is a 1.2 mile shortcut using the 70, but I remember in time the last time I went down this bone-shaking farmer's track and decide to avoid it. So we loop around the edge of Alsager, passing the forlorn Manchester University's Alsager Campus, which will be soon be demolished to make way for 400+ houses.
After three more crossings of the M6, we pass though Malkin's Bank and into Sandbach and the pub after 30 miles at 16.5mph average. Service is swift and enjoyable at this Wetherspoons and the discussion surrounds the weighty Matters of State that are now upon us all. I can't resist a group photo in the Market Square which is heavily cobbled. There are market stalls out today as well.
It is decidedly chilly when we leave the Market Square bound for Ettiley Heath, and we are soon out of the metropolis and into the countryside. We wander through Moston to Wimboldsley, where we join the A530 before sliding around Clive Green and the edge of Winsford. Using the Hebden Green back lane, we 're now on our way to Little Budworth. As there is time, a course change takes us to the Old Fire Station cafe in Tarporley where we are expertly served by Work Experience staff from the local high school. It is getting a bit darker and colder now, and we are all wondering if the rain will hold off. So as John M heads for his car, the four of us rush down the A51 to Duddon and then via Waverton to home. I'm on 78 miles at 16 mph average, and Paul is out for his 100 today. Remarkably, a dry day!
Photographs by John Wilkie and Clive Albany