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Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

9th August 2018: Little Bollington (mod)

I arrived last minute at Delamere due to having to go to the Post Office at Kingsley, and then having my path blocked by a lorry delivering a skip excruciatingly slowly! Steve Tan had surprised us by driving himself to the cafe in his recently restored Z3. The car looked great, and it would be smashing if Steve could continue his determined progress and eventually join us on two wheels. Steve told me that his near-death experience had changed his outlook on life; if he was thinking of doing something he was more likely to just go for it. So is he going to Amsterdam to smoke pot and enjoy the company of luscious ladies? No, he is splashing out and having his drive done!

Dave Matthews had ridden out for coffee, but was bike tweaking, and not on board for our ride today.



The moderates had already decided to go to the default destination of The Swan with Two Nicks. So it was that George, Ian, Mike, Neil and myself set off for Acton Bridge via Norley. Keith kept us company for a while, but was on night shifts so soon left us for a local spin only. The route was standard, but I thought that Ian, and certainly Neil, had probably not cycled around the back of Arley Hall. This detour passes the cricket pitch and the picturesque green and pond, before we headed out for Hoo Green and Booth Bank on our way to lunch. Lunch was good as we sat outside in the warmth and chatted.




Photos by Mike G
Our return was by way of the Trans- Pennine Trail, and then through Lymm. A labyrinth of quiet, narrow lanes off Swineyard Lane transported us past Garland Hall, Antrobus Hall, Cogshall Hall and on to Little Leigh. It was a nice day to return alongside the River Weaver, and we stopped at Dutton Locks just to relax and soak in the summer scene. Mike took some photographs, and left his helmet behind! Only George noticed after we had climbed up to the 'B' road. Mike successfully retrieved his helmet, as we continued to Delamere via the back lane west of Norley village, passing some lovely properties including Norley Hall. Ian and myself returned to the Station Cafe at Delamere. We had a cup of tea, and I learnt a little more about cycling activities in the Chester area from Ian. If you are reading this Ian, and still interested in riding the Trough of Bowland on Thursday please ring me on 01928 710308 there is a choice of a shared lift available.


DH

See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday, 10 August 2018

9th August 2018 : Marbury( brisk)


Delamere Station cafe was the venue for the gathering of 8 Easy riders today. We were all outside enjoying the  warm morning sunshine and had a lovely surprise when  Steve arrived, looking well -without his neck brace, and being free to chauffeur himself around on 4 wheels. It is good to see that you are still improving Steve.

With Clive and Ivan absent today and John M unsure whether he would be released from Grandad duties, I presumed it would be Nick and myself as the representatives for the brisk group. We had previously agreed we would cycle from our respective homes to Delamere in order that we could increase our bike mileage and allow me to get back home in time to fulfil other commitments.

We departed the cafe with Nick using his TT bike, which is not really comfortable for longer distances, because his usual road bike is  awaiting  repair.

From Delamere we headed out through Cotebrook and Rushton, where we were shadowed by  two, non- communicative, mountain bikers for a couple of miles, and then to Wettenhall. When we reached Reaseheath College we took a short detour through the  College grounds. I think this was possibly the first time Nick’s TT bike has been off road and he did not seem impressed with the harsh ride. Unfortunately for Nick once we crossed the A350 into Nantwich we took a  second off road section ,this cycleway followed alongside the River Weaver. Fortunately for Nicks derriere this was only a mile or so and we were back on the road leaving Nantwich. Passing the not so secretive ‘Secret Bunker’, through Sound and Wrenbury before arriving at the lunch stop-The Swan. Nick appeared relieved to be able to swop his TT bike for something a little more comfortable.

The Swan has had a major refit and a large conservatory extension, it offers a good selection of beer and food . We both ordered off the light bites menu- chicken caesar salad and fish fingers bap. The lunchtime chat was mainly about pubs, food, and long term survival of rural pubs.

For those who do not know Marbury it is a lovely little village, 5 miles north of Whitchurch, complete with timber framed houses dating back to the 16/17 century and is well worth a visit and exploring.

Back on the bikes we went out of the village through Bickley to Cholmondeley where we left the  planned return to Delamere and headed towards our respective  homes.

The original route returning to Delamere via Tattenhall and Utkinton is 49 miles but I think we both clocked up 60-70 miles today in perfect weather conditions. Thanks for the company Nick- hope your road bike is back with you soon.


KP

Photos and route will be uploaded in due course. CA

Friday, 3 August 2018

2nd August 2018: Llanymynech (mod)

Good turnout at the Chirk Tea Rooms for CER from Brisk and Mod riders.  The Mods group consisted of Keith, Dave H, Dave P, Andy B (who had cycled out from Mold using various diversionary routes) plus oneself.  We set of for Glyn Ceiriog (B4500) in fine weather with an occasionally ‘light light shower’. We climbed and climbed and were able to observe Chester Easy Riders overtaken by ‘Easy Coach’. 

Photos by Mike G

On through Llanarmon and the first of the steep climbs. At the top we decided to continue on to another summit eventually dropping down to Llanrhaeadr on damp roads occasionally covered in small stones. Andy advised the road was rough in places so we singled out to make sure if anyone did fall they wouldn’t take another cyclist.

Dropping down into the Tanat valley, I made a navigational error and we followed the B4580 adding about an extra 300ft of climbing. Instead of bagging three OS chevrons, another one was added making it a proper Mods ride rather than a leisure experience. Oh, the moans, but we managed it, our English contingent were also able to observe some more ‘badly maintained’ Welsh roads.

We eventually dropped down to the B4396 and with wind assistance were quickly at Pen-y-bont. A short climb over to Llansantffraidd and then onto Llanymynech. As our intended road crossing of the River Vyrnwy was closed, we used the Montgomery Canal towpath and aqueduct to get to our lunch stop, the Bradford Arms.

At lunchtime some of us discussed the nuclear industry and Chernobyl, whilst others enjoyed an ‘Aussie Summer’, a delightful beer.

In the afternoon, we had a following south westerly wind. West Felton soon arrived and we returned via Rednal, Welsh Frankton and Hindford; returning to Chirk about 4:20pm, with sufficient time for afternoon tea and catching the train home. Overall, a pleasant cycle ride covering 53 miles and just over 3,000ft climbing. For Andy B with his return home, he would have covered in excess of 100 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

MG

Thursday, 2 August 2018

2nd August 2018 : Harmer Hill (brisk)

I didn't relish the idea of cycling out the 30+miles to Chirk but Ken offered to car-assist from Rossett  so this cut down the miles out and back. We were the first at the Castle Tea Rooms but soon there were quite a few more. Nick and John M were up for my 51 miler to Harmer Hill along with Ken and myself. The Mods were heading for the dark,cloud laden hills.

We set off by a different route for me to Weston Rhyn and hence along a recently refurbished road into Oswestry. There is the odd spot of rain in the air as well. A minor diversion via the town centre to avoid the one-way system, found us bowling down Weston Lane and across the A483 at the new junction. A straight run through Maesbury and it's marsh found us at Wooslton Bank and the tiny lanes towards Weirbrook.

Onwards through Eardiston, we arrive at the back of the PGL Holiday camp at Stanwardine. There are a couple of stiffish hills and Nick stops at the top to investigate what he thinks is a stone problem with his tyre or wheel. Unfortunately for him its a broken spoke and a slightly wonky rear wheel. He is wary of riding much further, and elected to follow us towards Shrewsbury.  We turn off at Walford Heath as he trundles the few miles to Shrewsbury station to take the train back to Chirk.

Route statistics ex PlotaRoute

It is not far for us now to Harmer Hill as we enjoy the tiny lanes and gorgeous sunshine and countryside. The Bridgewater Arms beckons and we are soon ensconced around our table with a pint of Wainrights in our hands. The luncheon fare comes quickly and is substantial, tasty and reasonably priced. We discuss the Brexit mess, and decide that we don't have a solution either!

It's time to go, and it has warmed up somewhat. I miss out the back way Myddle, as we run at high speed on the A528 towards Burlton with the wind with us. The road to Loppington is smooth and fast. As we turn westwards through Cockshutt towards Lower Hordley, we have the keen westerly wind in our faces all the way.

Each cut cornfield sends up a blast of very hot air as we speed down the lanes. North towards Tetchill, we go west again up the long climbing lane to Frankton Hill. We wiggle our way to St Martins and thence via the canal into the back of Chirk at just after 1500.

So 51 miles ridden and we all elect to miss out on a coffee to get home promptly. Ken kindly drops me off at the top of Lache Lane so halving my ride home. So thanks to Ken and John for they companionship today, and we all hope that Nick made it home OK as we didn't receive a text from him telling us he was able to get the train back. Hopefully he did!

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA


Saturday, 28 July 2018

17th July 2018 : Southport (brisk)

None of the brisk riders could make Thursday, but the two Johns W and M readily agreed to accept Ivan’s offering of a Tuesday ride with the novelty of taking a train to Southport and riding home. 

Having left Chester not long after 8 a.m., we were soon transported by Mersey Rail to our seaside departure point. However, we were already in need of sustenance so Ivan treated John and I to a full English at the conveniently situated Wetherspoons. Appetites satisfied we were soon cruising along the promenade stopping to admire the starting point of the Trans Pennine Trail (photo). 







After initially heading north with views of the Morecambe Bay and the distant Blackpool Tower we soon turned inland, passing through the distinctive, rural flatlands of Hesketh Bank, Tarleton, Bretherton and eventually reached Moss Side. Turning south along the B5250 and near Eccleston came upon a most unfortunate cyclist who we managed to rescue. (photo). 

Good deed done, we motored on for a a few more miles before arriving at our planned lunch destination in Up Holland which is not as attractive as its name may suggest! Having gone to a lot of trouble to secure our bikes, we entered the pub only to find lunch was not being served and there weren’t any alternatives close by. So we continued on our way and having got some advice from a passing cyclist were soon entering the Colliers Arms in King’s Moss. It was fairly busy which was a good sign and we enjoyed substantial steak baguettes and decent beer.

We were soon back in the saddle pressing on south, bisecting Grange Park Golf Club via a trail. Reaching Rainhill, Ivan reminded us of its historic links with the railway. It was the site for the 1829 Rainhill Trials of locomotives to decide a suitable design for use on the new Liverpool Manchester Railway. The winner, of course, was the Rocket, designed by George Stephenson.

Soon we approaching the industrial and suburban sprawl of Widnes and Ivan guided us unerringly to the approach road to the old bridge to Runcorn which we all assumed would be open to us, even though currently closed to cars. However, the road was blocked and guarded by a worker who resolutely insisted we would not be able to pass until 4:30, an hour or so away. Ivan and John began planning a most unwelcome diversion via Warrington while I tried to coax a bit of cooperation from the guard who eventually went off to phone his boss. Before his return, I spotted a queue of local people up the road and enquired how the pedestrians and cyclists of Widnes and Runcorn crossed the Mersey while the old bridge was undergoing refurbishment only to be told that they were waiting for the shuttle bus that would transport us and our bikes over the new Mersey Gateway Bridge. Minutes later we boarded said bus and were whisked free of charge across the river to be deposited bang back on route on the other side! 

Ivan had no problem navigating through Runcorn and we were soon passing Sutton Weaver and on to Frodsham were we stopped for cake and coffee before completing the ride back to Chester. An enjoyable day out by train, bus and bike! The bike bit was 64 miles
JM

Photos JM  and JW

Friday, 27 July 2018

26th July 2018: Norton in Hales (mod)


This was forecast to be the hottest day of the year, with temperatures in the mid 30’s in the south and east, while our local forecast was predicting highs of 28 degrees.  Not that this deterred the moderates who again were out in force, but no brisk riders were to be seen.  We sat on the wasp-plagued terrace of the Ice Cream Farm as riders assembled: Bryan and David M were only out for the café; Andy W was only going part way with us because of another commitment; the rest were up for the ride: Ian trying us out for the first time, Neil, Andy B, Dave H, Mike G, Clive, Dave P and myself.

Our destination was the Hinds Head in Norton in Hales.  After some delay due to binding mudguards on Clive’s bike, we set out through Beeston, Bunbury, Haughton and Ravensmoor, to skirt Audlem via Kingsley Heath.  The route so far had been very flat allowing a good speed to provide the wind chill needed to keep us from over-heating.  As we approach out destination the land became more undulating and it was a relief to arrive at the pub. 

We thought about sitting outside, but with tables and chairs bolted to the floor we couldn’t sit together.  Indoors was comfortable and we were quickly fed with most choosing the baguette or wrap options at £7-8 each.  Dave H’s attempt to call a plumber led to a discussion of planned obsolescence and the non-repairability of so many household items. Before setting off on our return, multiple water bottles were replenished, and the all-important group photo taken, with Dave H revealing his artistic temperament.
Photo by Dave H

We travelled west through Adderley and around Shavington Park, before passing through Aston and stopping at the village shop in Wrenbury.  We sat outside consuming coffees, ice creams and other refreshments, while Dave H got into discussion with a local character. Finally extricating himself, our route continued, sometimes at ‘brisk rider’ speed, past Cholmondley and Bickerton.  We took the less demanding climb past Bolesworth Castle, where the 2018 Carfest of the North (www.carfest.org/welcome/welcome-to-carfest-north-2018) was gearing up for the coming weekend, and it certainly looked a massive event. 
Photo by Mike G

From there is was a short ride back to the Ice Cream Farm.  No-one suggested stopping: it was the first week of the school holidays and the place was teeming. On what is my last ride for quite a few weeks, we had covered 50 miles, in fairly demanding weather conditions, but on lovely lanes with good company.  Ian will be back for more.


SH

Saturday, 21 July 2018

19th July 2018: New Brighton (mod)


Arriving at Ness Gardens in lovely warm weather, I was quickly joined by Keith, Bryan W had just returned from a Scandinavian holiday, George, Trevor, Andy W, Andy B and Neil.

Enquiring on whether anybody had a planned ride, Andy W said he was only out for a meet, Trevor like Andy W was out for a morning ride and those remaining had ideas for lunch but couldn’t recommend a pub. We were missing ‘Wirral Travel Guide’ Brian Mac, and so we settled on a fish and chip emporium at New Brighton that Bryan W and George knew. A route was then agreed to our lunch stop via the Wirral Way, Hoylake and the coast. Bryan led us through Neston to the Wirral Way where Trevor left us to return home. At West Kirby, George took us to Hoylake and the coast where we were able to observe the contrasting architectural delights of the offshore windfarms and Victorian water features.
Photos by Mike G

We arrived at New Brighton with George very confident on the location of our lunchtime eatery. Having almost passed through New Brighton via Marine Lake we turned around retracing our route until the correct fish and chip shop was found, The Seaside Café. We were able to sit outside in the warm sunshine and enjoy a wonderful fare. Certainly, a holiday feel to the place. As Andy B said ‘Where could you find a ‘place’ where lunch is £6:50 and such value’. Others had chips and tomato sauce, beef burger, steak pie and a calorie filling big breakfast. There was certainly a leisurely feel to the ride.


After lunch we set off for Egremont Promenade following the Wirral Circular Trail. We stopped quite frequently taking in the views of the Mersey Estuary and Liverpool Waterfront. The Trail signage in places could be improved on this section, but with each of us using our memories we found our way to the submarine museum, Birkenhead Priory, Cammell Laird through Bromborough and onto Eastham via the Country Park. A circuitous route through the housing estates of Eastham followed, returning via Raby and Neston on quiet roads, arriving at Ness Gardens in time for refreshments. Overall about 40 miles at a leisurely pace, with plenty of sunshine and lovely company.



MG

Friday, 13 July 2018

12th July 2018: Coton (mod)


A good number of Easy Riders gathered at Cleopatra’s in Holt. The moderates were out in force: David M, Clive, Neil, Dave H, Dave P, Mike G, Andy B, George, Trevor and myself. The start of the day questioned whether the long hot dry spell was over: there was a very light drizzle on my ride to Holt, and Andy told us it had rained steadily in Mold the previous night. However we set off in dry and improving conditions with the Dog and Bull in Coton as our destination.

We crossed the bridge into Farndon, noting that it is due to be closed to traffic for 14 weeks from 16th July, and for some days in that period also to cyclists and pedestrians.  Then we headed to Stretton (where David M left us), Tilston and the Cholmondley Estate, before turning south through Bickley and Marbury, and then joining cycle route 45.  Here the more observant riders admired the Mercian Way statue. We entered Whitchurch on Black Park Road, which is closed to vehicles until 02/19 a sign said, possibly due to badgers undermining the carriageway, though we could squeeze through the barrier fencing.  From Whitchurch we took the road to Alkington, then through Hollingwood to arrive at our destination just before 1 o’clock, with 26 miles completed.
Photos by Mike G

We sat outside seeking shade from the sun at a number of wobbly tables, but the food and drink were fine as usual: we had last been here in May. Clive left early to make his own way back for an afternoon appointment, while the rest of us gathered for a photo.

Our return led us north and westwards to Tallarn Green where a scarecrow festival was obviously underway. We dropped down to Sarn Bridge and turned left to avoid the bank, and made our way on a lovely quiet lane into Worthenbury.  Then it was the usual route back, with half the party pushing on ahead in the traditional(?) race to the finish, this being at Lewis’ café.  We sat on the terrace, enjoying coffee, cakes and the afternoon sunshine, when Ivan stopped on his way home after completing the brisk riders’ route.

Our total distance was 48 miles, covering many lovely gentle lanes in improving weather.  The rain did eventually come, but later that night.


SH


12th July 2018 : Burlton (brisk)

A change from the recent weather meant it was overcast and wet as I made my way to Cleopatra’s where around a dozen CER’s were gathered. There were two routes on offer, Steve planning to visit Coton and mine to the Burlton Inn at Burlton. Everyone with the exception Ivan opted for the moderate option so at 10:30 prompt we set off leaving Steve to round up his group. 

Travelling across the Dee bridge and down towards Shocklach was fine until a lapse in concentration meant I had led us towards the homebound leg of the route instead of the outbound leg! This was soon remedied by turning left at ‘The Bull’ heading to Tilston where, as we passed the church, we saw Nick Holmes. He was  out for a run ,at least we think it was Nick he waved, we waved, it looked like Nick and it was in his locale.

Heading out of  Tilston  towards the A41, we briefly  joined  the moderate group who were probably a bit confused as to how they had managed to get ahead of us. Leaving their route, we  went through Larkton Hill, No Mans Heath and Malpas, and here we crossed the A525 at Iscoyd Park. Onwards through Fenns Bank and Whixall, we picked up a lovely smooth road, thanks to new tarmac, that took us all the way into Loppington before passing to the west of Sleap airfield and finally our lunch stop ‘The Burlton Inn’.

This pub was a first for us both and has a nicely decorated interior. There were  only a handful of customers and our food and drink order was quickly served. My main meal of Steak pie, chips and vegetables, was a large tasty portion and was consumed whilst chatting about family life and forthcoming holidays. Once fed and watered we headed back to Holt  by following a mainly straight northerly route linking Lyneal, Welshampton and Threapwood.

Ivan took over the lead  in Theapwood and set a fierce pace (obviously wanting to burn off the bangors and mash) through to Crewe by Farndon. Here we turned and took an alternative route via a back road into Farndon arriving back at  Cleopatra’s for coffee and cake at about 3:30.

Thanks for the company Ivan,  a good day out covering 57 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Monday, 9 July 2018

5th July 2018: Aston (mod)


Steve had been chauffeured to Rose Farm by Lynne (my wife), and it was great to have him in the mix again. Lynne was favourably impressed by the company I keep. Perhaps, I had painted too much of an 'old lags in Lycra' picture at home, when describing our Thursday interactions! In a year when their changed circumstances had meant some individuals not renewing their membership, it was great to welcome Colin and Neil as fully paid up new members.

Route-wise, the moderate riders were without a clue, so chose our favourite default destination:   The Bhurtpore. Mike, Keith, Andy, Neil, Dave Pipe and myself formed the moderate group. We took the route through Cotebrook and along the narrow lush lanes, next to the baking brick of Oulton Park boundary. At Oultonlowe Cottage we turned right and took a quiet lane favoured by Ivan and Clive. Andy wasn't keen, having remembered a rough section of tarmac from a few weeks back. As he was on his tank-tough heavyweight steed, no harm was likely. From Wettenhall we made swift progress down Welshmen's Lane, and turned off through the park just before Nantwich centre. The paths were dry and the greenery relaxing as we passed  the ox-bow lakes of the River Weaver, and joined the A530 for only yards before heading south down Coole Lane. We then had a bit of an 85% thrash with the wind in our spinnakers, before turning north-west up Back Coole Lane. We crossed the Whitchurch Road into Aston to a very hoppy aroma. The surprisingly large grain mill in this small village was the source of the heady scent. We, of course were very at home in The Bhurtpore. We sat outside under canvas, and had a good selection of ales and curries to choose from.

Photo by Mike G

The route home took a turn left down Pinsley Green Road, for a change, and so by-passed Wrenbury. At Marbury the revamped Swan looked worth trying for a future lunch break. Ray Hardman used to have a drink and snack on the south side of the church with a lovely view over the    Big Mere, which you can't even see from the road we are on. We should stop and try 'Ray's View' next time. We headed north to Chorley Bank via Norbury and Gaunton's Bank. We crossed the A534 at Brindley, passed Tilly's in Bunbury with difficulty, climbed Tilstone Bank, and headed for The Old Fire Station at Tarporley. We took our bikes through the cafe to the back, and sat at a shaded table. We had our usual friendly reception, and were supplied with jugs of water with slices of lemon. Dave Pipe and I enjoyed ice cream cornets as well as cake and coffee. It had been a hot day, but as I made the final ascent to Rose Farm, I was alone. Everyone had ridden their separate ways home, even Keith to Runcorn. About 43 relaxing miles for me, closer to 90 for Andy, and somewhere in between for the rest of the gang.       


DH                             


Friday, 6 July 2018

5th July 2018 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Arriving at Rose Farm café it was great to see Steve T and Mrs Lynda Heath out for a coffee. Great to see you both and very glad to see Steve so buoyant, you’ll soon be back on the bike.

Today's adventure is not about the bike and speed, it’s much to sunny for heads down and bums up so a meander around sun drenched lanes, good price lunch stop and ice cream were factored for our pleasure today.

Leaving the café were, John M, Nick, Ken, Colin and myself. We headed for Cotebrook and along Oulton Mill Lane and took the first left and right to head us in the direction of Whitegate. Heading into Hartford up Cinder Hill was our first encounter with impatient female car drivers. On overtaking us on a blind right-hand bend there was a screech of rubber as she nearly went head on with approaching motorist then gave us a blast of disgruntlement on her horn!!

Through Hartford and towards Anderton, passing the boat lift dock visited in April but not today, we continue to Comberbach and passing Antrobus Golf Club. The lanes are very quiet and we are enjoying the meander and head down to Grappenhall where we are joining the Trans-Pennine cycle route 62 which we ride until Dunham Massey. The track is very hard and dry but little use by walkers but one elderly cyclist who wanted to run us down in his haste to improve his Strava segments (ha ha).

A well earned pint (or two)

Leaving the trail, we head for the Vine Pub where we enjoy a quality pint in the luxurious garden for £2.00 a pint and BLT buns and chips to follow. Hospitality was good with the chef coming out to ensure our lunch was alright and to advise us that there were alternatives on the menu. It’s too hot to eat a meal and ride was our excuse.

We regretfully depart and go via the little track along side Dunham Masset NT Hall and over the little bridge. There was a call for refreshment stop at the "Swan with Two Nicks" but ruled off-side. Onwards then to Little Bollington and to Gt Budworth where we are stopping for ice cream. Another very popular location but plenty of staff on hand to serve. Fully refreshed we continue our ride homeward bound passing through Comberbach again and to Higher Leigh and the Weaver Bridge. 


Going off road again we saunter along side the river to the locks and have time for another photo shoot for rogue’s gallery and continue through the fields to the lane which takes us up hill towards Crowton. This is a much easier route than tackling the hill up to Acton Bridge!

The Weaver bridge 
We continue to get over Norley Hill and arrive at Hatchmere where we are spitting up. Three heading through Delamere and Nick and Ken riding back to Rose Farm. Another great day out with like minded riders for company with 75 miles covered as a round trip H-H or 55 miles to and from the cafe. Next weeks ride from Cleopatra’s – time for a summer ride to Mow Cop?


ID

Photos by John M and Ivan D

Monday, 2 July 2018

1st July 2018: Chester and N Wales CTC Vets 100

A few Easy Riders took part in the 53rd annual Bert Bailey Memorial Veterans' 100 mile ride on Sunday. You have to be over 55 but this seemed to be a loose specification. These were George, Mike G and myself. Dave P was on carpark meet-and-greet duty at Duddon village hall from before 0800 as well. In addition, there was one tandem entry, that being former CER riders Graham and Vicky Payne. There were a few Watson's Wanders riders also taking part.

Despite Dave M recommending to Laurie Mason (the organiser) that I do not lead a group, I found myself leading out Group 3 at 0830!  There were twelve of us including Graham and Vicki. The other riders were from all over and I knew none of them. My first task a week ago, had been to decipher the the route sheet which was more like a knitting pattern instruction with lots of hieroglyphics. I seemed to have got it about right as we headed for Overton village hall via Holt and Threapwood.

Stamina is needed on this ride not only for the distance but for the mountains of food at each stop. So we all tucked in to cakes after 90 mins riding in the cool morning air. Off again the route was straightforward going via Ellesmere to Queen's Head. Thence into the lovely border lands in South Shropshire.

Lunch was at the village hall in Four Crosses and we arrive just as Group 1 (who had started at 0800) were entering the hall for lunch. On the way down we had also overtaken Group 2 (who had started at 0815). Lunch was substantial, but soon my group were keen to get back on the road again. So off to back to Overton via Crewgreen and Rednal airfield and Ellesmere. Here, all the group fancied an ice-cream so went down to The Boat House by the mere. I decided to make for Overton village hall  for a longer rest. I was the first to arrive of all riders, and had remarkable restraint in not attacking the piles of sandwiches and cake before the others finally arrive.

So the final leg is back to Duddon and it's high 20C and it's hot! We decide to call the Carden Arms to see if they are open - and they were. So we all pile in for a welcome pint. Arriving back at Duddon with just a 100 miles under the tyres, we find yet again we are the first group back.

We collect our certificates and many decide they would like to go home for a shower rather than wait for the other three groups to turn up for the certificate ceremony!

Proof positive!
So, not a challenging 100 miler route-wise but as ever, the Cheshire and Shropshire countryside with a soupçon of Welsh borderlands, makes for a very pretty ride. I had an enthusiastic group behind me who kept as a group throughout the day as evidenced by the 14.8 mph average speed on what was yet another very hot and windless day.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Friday, 29 June 2018

28th June 2018 : Graig Fechan (brisk)

It's a Hawarden start and its hot so, of course, the brisk riders are out in force for a hilly adventure. 

Ivan took a day off from route planning and settled for my offering of a ride to the Three Pigeons Pub in Graig-fechan. The pub was slightly less than half way so there was some discussion about adding a few more miles, and 1000 feet of ascent! The fact that Clive clearly thought we were mad to be taking on the hill over Eyrys on a steaming hot day persuaded us that we didn’t need to add more hills to the route.

For once the brisk team outnumbered the moderates. With me were Ivan, Nick, John W and Paul. Off we went up through Ewloe and Buckley eventually emerging on to the A5118 near Padeswood and after a short run turning on to the B5444. Very shortly afterwards starts a four mile, 1000 ft climb up to Eyrys. The slope averages about 5% but (according to Strava) there are a couple of bits at around 19%. I decided to take it easy (not much choice really!) but the others seemed to take it all in their stride. We did however pause for a photograph at the top. 


At the top!
There were a few more less serious ups and down before the very fast 2.7 mile descent towards Llanbedr DC along the winding A494. Speeding down in glorious sunshine I recalled the last time I descended this with easy riders in pouring winter rain. Clive had warned us to take it easy and I did so heaving on my ineffective wet rim brakes. Sighing with relief at the bottom, making the slow right turn I found myself on my back sliding along the road with a car following a few yards behind! This time no such dramas as we gathered to consider why Nick's chain has a habit of throwing itself off the chain-ring at the most inappropriate times. He’s tried almost everything to fix it and the consensus was that it may need a link or two removed.

We join the B5429, enjoying the very pleasant views of the Clwydian Range that distract us from the fact that its a few uphill miles to Graig-fechan and the Three Pigeons Pub where we arrive at 12:15. I notice that the route continues uphill but we forget that for now as we settle for lunch in the shade of the verandah at the rear of pub.


Its a well furnished, characterful pub with extremely pleasant staff and great beer. The menu contained a good range but some of the main courses looked a little expensive. Our choices were mainly soup of day and sandwiches but John W had the Farmers Lunch which was massive and probably enough for two. The conversation turned to youthful misdemeanours with one of our company admitting to once being locked up overnight in police cells. We also learned that it isn’t wise to go cold calling at John W’s house! 


The temperature has soared higher as we set off from the pub. The road continues up hill on a stretch which I understand is known as “the mantlepiece”. Its an ascent of over 500 feet to the top a couple of miles away. Anyway Paul attacks it followed by the rest of us. A gentle incline follows for a few miles along the B5430 before a short climb into Llanarmon-yn-lal. I’ve already quaffed my water supply and call for a halt in the village to get a top up. However, the offer of ice cream is too tempting to resist so its Magnums all round plus a litre of water for me! What a picturesque location. Its a pity that the Raven Inn isn’t open during the day! 


More bumps follow along the B5439 towards Graianrhyd. As a reward, we enjoy the luxury of a couple of long descents between Llanfynyd and Cefn-y Bedd on the B5101 and B5102. Then we motor along a flat run incorporating the traffic free and wooded Springwood Lane running parallel with the A483 which delivers us to the lower reaches of Marford Hill. Now diverting from the planned route we turn left heading to the roundabout. Nick had to return to Hawarden for his car and, escorted by Paul and Ivan, takes the B5102 left (big hill!) towards Hope and onward to Hawarden whilst John and I keep straight on for Chester via Pulford, Dodleston and over the Dee at Saltney. 


The planned route was 43 miles. Nick rode 48 miles from Hawarden and back climbing 4000 feet. John W, Ivan and I completed well over 60 miles including our rides from home and back. Paul had done a circuit via Holt before the start and clocked up 88 miles. It’s worth noting that almost 3000 feet of climbing was done in a section of under 24 miles starting with the climb to Eyrys. 

It’s a lovely route and one worth doing again albeit in cooler conditions. It was a great day out with excellent riding companions. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

JM

Photos by ID


28th June 2018: Gwaenysgor (mod)

Hottest day of the year so far?  Let's climb some hills!

There were a lot of riders out at Hawarden today. The Mods were outnumbered nearly 2:1 by the Brisk group who were going off to "Climb every Mountain".  This left Dave P and Andy B and myself to try to decide what to do. I offered to cobble together a ride loosely based around the one that the three of us had taken in January 2017 to Rhuddlan when the temperature was 25C cooler.

It was good to see Macca out for the first time since his knee operation. Understandably he was taking it very easy, so made his own ride homewards.

So we set off the usual way to Northop. Here I gave a choice of the route out to Halkyn Mountain and the "pretty" route was chosen i.e. the tiny lanes up to Rhosesmor. This afforded us much needed shade as we avoid the "Steve T" section of the lane. Up and over the Windmill, Andy decides we are going left up towards the quarry - so, no matter, I re-route on the fly. Out through Babel we head north towards Lloc then take the left turn down the No Through road to get over the A55. As I rode down the lane I thought I recognised it. This was the lane taken in October 2011 with a section under 6" of liquid manure which required the then riders' bikes to be jet-washed at the Pet Cemetery cafe!

Dave requests we stay "high" so I re-route again and take the delightful lane passing Llyn Helyg to eventually arrive in the middle of Dyserth. We try to find the waterfall, but to no avail, and, giving up, we head ever upwards towards the "Eagle and Child" pub arriving after after 24 miles.

Lunchtime conversation is as varied as ever as we sit under the sunshade out in the garden. However the heat is rising, and we need to get on, so after a brisk climb to the top of the hill for a panoramic vista of Liverpool Bay and the Snowdon range, we head for Llanasa. The pub here is open for business but not at lunchtimes apparently.


Liverpool Bay with fittingly, two "red shirts"
Following the cycleway towards Whitford, we are out and up going towards the Friary St Pio's cafe for a cuppa. A quick uphill diversion via Carmel finds us at the cafe after just 9 miles opting to sit inside to get out of the heat. The route back to the start is predictable and the breeze up on the mountain tops is very welcome. Andy leaves us at the Bluebell pub heading for Mold, and Dave suggests we take the "Steve T" route back down to Northop. Mindful of recent events, we ride downhill with some reserve.

Outside Northop, Dave and I opt for the downhill run into Shotton and the greenway. If we had run back to Hawarden, it would have been 47 miles with 3500ft of climb. So as ever, each ride brings it's memories and companionship moments.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Friday, 22 June 2018

21st June 2018 : Barthomley (brisk)

A fine dry day was forecast but with an northerly wind. The ride out from Chester to Delamere for the café start was testament to the predictions. I met John at the Meadow Lea end of the Greenway. Although a reasonable turnout at the cafe, most other riders were opting for a moderate ride to Goostrey so John and I set of for a ride to the White Lion Inn at Barthomley.

Leaving the café, we turn right to head out along station lane towards Nantwich. Wind on our backs we cross over the main roads A556 and A54 then A49 at Cotebrook. Up to Eaton and turn left at the sigh post and we are Wettenhall bound. Rounding the corner at Reaseheath College it isn’t 11:30 yet so very good time made over 18 miles.

Through Nantwich and direction Wybunbry, we go through the village and turn left onto Wrinehill Road. This is a good lane to ride along and turning left at Wrinehill village we head towards Betley. It is now a little climb to get up to Balterley but no problems as we still have the tail wind. Arriving at the lunch stop at 12:20 we are soon enjoying the famous steak and ale pie.
When we were riding towards Nantwich and on Fishermans Lane, we swopped bikes to allow me to test the suspension on John's bike; so at lunch time we have the best buy guide on suspension bikes, (look out Marilyn and watch the account!!)

Our route home is via Crewe and on arrival at Crewe Green out of 5 exits on the roundabout only two open to traffic. We navigate the footpath and eventually find our booked route Sydney lane to take us to Maw Green and Bradfield Green. We have experienced only a few occasions of head wind but with J on the front! No problem. At Church Minshull, we head towards Darnhill and up the 10% with a head wind in front and big bus behind, makes you get up quicker! We keep to the outer roads to pass Winsford and keep to the B5074 and on to Foxwist Green and Sandiway. Its then undulating roads passing Cuddington and Norley and at Hatchmere taking a R/H to return to the café at Delamere for a chunk of the delicious looking cake spotted at Breakfast.

I assume we return before the mods as its only 14:40 and enjoy our desert sitting outside in the sunshine. From the café we return through the woods and it is a reasonable route and a good short cut as we came out not far from the railway bridge. It is only a matter now of getting up Goshawk bank but up and over it is now the bumpy road along Manley lane before the main A56 into Chester.

As John and I had been out Tuesday with train assist to Shrewsbury then cycle to Welshpool and back to Chester todays ride was not as taxing but we still had a ride of 76 miles round trip. 

A very good day out on fantastic lanes and no incidents. Thank you, John, for bearing the brunt of the headwind but it still feels hard behind you.


ID

21st June 2018: Goostrey (mod)

The summer equinox, the longest day and the first day of summer, and yet it felt more like autumn.  The temperature had dropped and there was a strong NNW wind. At Delamere Station Café, Ivan and John W were on a brisk ride, Dave & Liz P were on a leisure ride, which left Andy B, Bob, Clive, George, Mike, Neil and myself as the moderates.

We usually cycle out to Goostrey from Rose Farm, so it made a change to go there from Delamere.  The route was largely familiar: out by Acton Bridge, Combermere and Great Budworth, where the through road is still closed to cars because it has been undermined by moles.  Plumley was next, where I noticed that the Plantation Garden Centre had been renamed the Plumleys Garden Centre (perhaps because of the connotations of a plantation). At Lower Peover crossroads, instead of taking the familiar B-road, we went straight on and came across the Tree of Imagination. This is an intricately carved, spectacularly decorated and inventive transformation of a large old oak stump: www.lower-peover.co.uk/lower-peovers-tree-of-imagination/

Photos by Mike G

A few miles later we emerged back onto familiar lanes and headed into Goostrey and to The Crown, a favourite destination. I noticed under the menu heading of “Pub Classics”, they offered Avocado, Feta & Pomegranate Seed Salad!  We all chose more traditional meals from the £6 lunch menu of substantial fare.

The route back took us through Lach Dennis and, even though we hadn’t travelled far from the pub, into the café at Shipbrookhill Farm. Here about half of us chose the ice cream despite the temperature.  After Davenham, we took the rough track from Moulton to cross the Weaver Navigation, not much worse than some Cheshire lanes.  Then, taking advantage of the dry ground conditions, we followed the Whitegate Way towards Oulton Park.  Here we had the only technical difficulty of the ride when a twig got stuck on Andy’s drive belt and pulled it off. Fixing it was a bit more complicated than putting a chain back on, but a lot cleaner.

At Cotebrook, half the party headed off towards Waverton and points homeward. Andy, Mike, George and myself continued northwards towards Delamere, though I turned off to slog up Heaths Lane. We’d had a relatively short ride for the day of the summer solstice, but it was enjoyable. The circuit from Delamere Station was 46 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Saturday, 16 June 2018

14th June 2018: Coedway from Waverton - Long Ride

A long spell of calm weather seemed to be ending as Storm Hector battered the north of the UK. In Cheshire gale force gusts were predicted, not ideal conditions for a long ride; however it was forecast to be dry. Nine Easy Riders arrived at the Waverton canalside car park for an 8am start: George, Nick, Ivan, Trevor, Keith, Dave H, Paul, Clive and myself.  Clive was a late addition, having shortened his sailing trip in response to Hector.

Our first goal was the Midway Truck Stop at Prees Heath, about 26 miles distant. We headed towards Tattenhall, then Tilston, into Malpas from the west, and out to Whitchurch.  The main road was closed at Bradley Brook, but a short diversion kept us on track. From Whitchurch we took the Calverhall road, but turned off to pass through the placid Brown Moss Nature Reserve. Then we walked across the busy A41 dual carriageway and into our first stop.  No-one was tempted by the Desperate Dan all-day breakfast, though a cooked option was taken by some – all good value, substantial fare.

Re-fuelled we headed on through Tilstock and Hollingwood towards Northwood.  During this section the brisk riders (Ivan, Paul, Nick and Clive) broke away and forged a path to our pub stop, 30 miles distant.  The rest continued more leisurely through Lyneal and Colemere, to Lee. Here we struck southwards to Lower Hordley and Stanwardine in the Fields, before entering Ruyton XI Towns. Turning left up Little Ness Lane, we eventually crossed the A5 and entered the Severn Valley. Passing the Royal Hill pub (a possible destination for a Chirk ride), we made for Melverley, entered Wales, passed over the Severn on a single track bridge and entered Crew Green.  From here it was little more than a mile to our lunch stop.

Apparently the Old Hand in the pub’s name refers to the Red Hand of Ulster, while the Diamond refers to gold trading.  For a 17th century inn there are also reputed to be two resident ghosts. The brisk group were well into their lunch as we ordered.  In celebration of his coming birthday, Clive generously bought everyone drinks and we settled down to eat. The roast dinner was a favourite, good value and must have replenished quite a few calories. Before long the brisk riders decided to depart, minus Clive who chose a more leisurely return.  The strong winds of the morning hadn’t caused us any great difficulties, and we looked forward to an improved forecast for the afternoon.


Pub phots by SH

Prior to heading back northwards, we took a short circuit of the hills to the southwest and appreciated the enhanced views towards Llanymynech. Back over the Severn, into England, we headed towards Maesbrook.  In the morning we had enjoyed some lovely tranquil lanes and here were some more. Next we made for Maesbury Marsh and then into Oswestry from the east.  By this time the schools traffic was diminishing and we headed towards the Old Oswestry Hill Fort. 
Oswestry Old Hill Fort, photo by ID

Here we met the only unfortunate incident of the day. Cycling up the narrow lane towards the fort, we were aware of a car just behind us.  As there were no safe passing places, we pulled into a layby to let it go by. Instead the car swerved towards us and stopped only inches from my bike.  A middle aged Mr Angry started shouting about how we were in his way and in the wrong. He climbed out of his car, perhaps to accost us, as his wife looked on embarrassed. We refused to move without an apology, and Mr Angry backed down and reversed away, threatening to ‘kick our tyres in’. That was all the result of our trying to let him pass.
Chirk Aqueduct, photo by ID

Photo by ID

From Oswestry we continued north through Weston Rhyn and into Chirk for our café stop. We weren’t surprised that the brisk group had already passed through. Large portions of cake and scones were consumed to help us on our way. We left heading for Cefn-Mawr and Ruabon, and then onto lanes to Cock Bank and Cross Lanes. Approaching Holt, Clive announced we had reached 100 miles, and we stopped outside the Spar for further refreshments and observed a minor scrape between two cars.

Between Holt and Aldford a race to the finish started between Clive and Keith, while the rest of us continued, enjoying a pleasant end to the ride with blue skies and fluffy white clouds above.  Our starting point was finally reached about 7:30pm with 108 miles completed. I later heard that the brisk riders had also successfully finished their ride an hour and a half before us. We had all been lucky with the weather and enjoyed some new territory, excellent lanes and good refreshment stops.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

7th June 2018: Ellesmere (mod)

Twelve riders turned up at the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall on what promised to be a fine summer’s day. Three wanted a brisk ride while three wanted a leisurely ride, leaving six of us (Bryan, Keith, Bob, George, Neil and myself) to indulge in a moderate ride to the Red Lion at Ellesmere.

We set off down Newton Lane, turning right at the end and heading round the back of Bolesworth Castle. Crossing the A534 we sauntered through Brown Knowl and Duckington, crossing the A41 at Edge Green. Then briefly down the Cheshire Cycleway before turning right into Whitewood Lane at Kidnal. We turned left in the direction of Chorlton Lane and Cuddington Green and continued through sleepy Threapwood before crossing into Wales at Tallarn Green.

As we left Tallarn Green we turned right and then left and headed down towards Three Fingers and Little Arowry, before cycling on to Hanmer. The Hanmer Arms has always been one of our favoured stops and after closing down for a while has now reopened. It was not our intended destination today but Bryan decided to turn back here having ridden out further on a CER ride than he has for some time.

The remaining five of us continued out of Hanmer and past Bettisfield Park which was looking idyllic in the warm summer sunshine. We ran for a short time along the A495 before turning off for Bettisfield itself, crossing the Llangollen Canal as we did so. A loop round to Balmer Heath took us back into Wales once more.

Then on through Lyneal to Colemere where a vineyard, which was planted a few years ago, is now starting to look established. A sure sign of climate change. Picking up the A528, we cycled into Ellesmere. The waterfront at Ellesmere was busy in the warm June sunshine so we avoided The Boat House and headed on to the Red Lion.

The Red Lion Coaching Inn usually offers an ‘over 60s’ two course lunch for a reasonable price but on this occasion we were to be disappointed. The normally busy pub was quiet due to a kitchen refurbishment which was in progress. We were given a warm welcome but were advised that there was a limited menu in operation. We still managed to find plenty to our liking and were soon tucking in to paninis, ploughman’s lunches and the like.

Leaving the Red Lion we headed right at the roundabout, up Swan Hill and then left up to Sandyhill. Then it was into Lion Lane, a tiny road alongside Lion Lane Wood which leads on to the A539 at Sandy Lane. After only a short distance on the A-road we turned right into quiet Burgess Lane and headed up to Holly Bush and Worthenbury.  From there we went through Shocklach, Tilston and Clutton along the quiet and flat lanes of the Cheshire Plain before reaching Tattenhall. As we passed through Tattenhall Neil left us to head home and instead of turning right into Newton Lane to return to the Ice Cream Farm the rest of us carried straight on to return to our own cars or home.

49 very pleasant miles on a dry, warm summer’s day (plus our respective return journeys) in classic ‘Easy Rider’ fashion.

See route map and/or gpx file download

TC