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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.

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Friday, 20 April 2018

19th April 2018 : Barthomley (brisk)

Today’s meet was the ICF and on the first of this year’s sunny day’s I rode out with Clive from Chester. Great to be out with him again and see he is enjoying being back on the bike. There were plenty of Mod riders at the ICF but only Nick and I were out as the Brisk group.I had a route to the White Lion at Barthomley and an 83-mile round trip to and from Chester. Nick and I set off and encountered the first of many road works at the end of Newton Lane just one of many road’s blocked during today’s ride. Road pot hole filling was the jinx of the day rather than flooded roads of last week’s ride.

We rounded Beeston and on through Bunbury. Tilly’s café was packed with morning strollers but the front car park was filled with cars rather than bikes. We take the lanes leading to Ravensmoor and encounter the only muddy patch of the whole day. On arriving at the cross roads at Ravensmoor, I stop and find Nick is not behind me. A couple of minutes later he rounds the bend. So as not to muddy his pristine cycle which has seen a lot of devoted cleaning recently, he went at crawling pace so as to reduce the slurry marking his new carbon wheels and frame.

It is a lovely experience cycling in shorts and shirt only after what seems like a long winter period. From Sound, we head on to Audlem and pass through the town on the A529 then out to Hankelow. After about 1.5 miles we turn left onto Bridgemere Lane. I have ridden this before and it is a good lane passing over the A51 at Bridgemere. Following this route, we pass Checkley and into the pretty village of Betley. Taking a right turn we go along Knowlbank Road with the intention of continuing along the B5500 but a big fence tells us the road is blocked. They are doing bridge work over the M6 so if passing on the M6 after junction 16 if the look for the trio of bridge works we were intending to cross the middle bridge. After consultation with the Garmin, we retrace our route back to the previous road works and have to detour taking a right, right and right turn which brought us back on route to take us to the White Lion at Barthomley.

We were not the only cyclists using this hostelry today but fortunately they were enjoying the sunshine outside. We ordered our lunch, Steak and Guinness ale pie and mash with veg: fantastic lunch with lashings of gravy was just what was needed for the remainder 40 miles back home!!! Our return journey took us south of Crewe passing the largest rail yard on the West Coast, Basford Hall Junction thence passing through Shavington, Blakelow and into Nantwich.

Nick and I had already decided where the afternoon stop would be and we were stopping at the Cotton Arms at Wrenbury. I have used this before with Clive and Dave Heath as they offer ice cream but when we arrive I couldn’t resist a cool pint of golden ale.



Too soon we were back in the saddle bound for Cholmondeley but half way along the estate road we turn left towards Larkton to ride via Tilston (Nicks abode). I leave Nick at the Carden Arms crossroads and continue lonesome back to Chester via Barton, Coddington and Alford. Exiting at Churton it is the B5130 I ride to Huntington and home. I’ll leave cleaning the bike for today as the slurry has already dried hard as XXXX so nothing spoiling.

As booked, both Nick and I have enjoyed 84 miles of lovely riding on very pleasant lanes now they’ve dried out and the flowers and fields are in bloom with plenty of chorus from birds happy to sing in the bushes and trees as the sun shines; it was a pleasure today. The circular route to ICF would have been 67 miles.


ID

19th April 2018: Hodnet (mod)


Gathering at the ICF were CER members keen to make the best of the hot and sunny forecast. Making a welcome return were Clive and Dave P, keen to demonstrate their cycling fitness, though I think Dave was showing off by riding his fixie! They joined Dave H, Keith, Andy B, George and myself in the mod group.  Nick and Ivan were planning a brisk ride. Dave H set expectations for his slow riding early on, saying that “My wife, Keith and I had a heavy night last night”. As eyebrows were raised, he clarified that they had all been to a boxercise class.

Our route was to a new destination for me: The Bear at Hodnet. We headed out through Tattenhall and Tilston, and much to Dave H’s disgust, through Malpas.  Dave has a strong dislike of Malpas, maybe something bad happened to him there once. Then it was through Higher Wych and towards Fenn Wood.  At one point some one thought our route was taking us towards Arrowy. Such was the fear in your author’s mind of the dire state of this lane, that a halt was called and the map consulted.  Relieved that we were passing well to the east of Arrowy, we continued.  The heavy flooding of recent days had largely disappeared from the lanes, though the mud left behind had dried and created clouds of dust when larger vehicles sped by.  We passed pleasantly through Coton and then Prees, before approaching Marchamley from the north – a steep uphill but nothing like as bad as the approach from the south.  Then it was a fast downhill into Hodnet, with The Bear in its centre.

The Bear is a large rambling inn with many rooms, one of which has a glass floor revealing an old well beneath.  It is said to date back 500 years and there was once a bear pit on the site. Also dating back many years, our CER members settled down to eat and drink.  Many chose the two courses for £9.50. We spoke about the move away from diesel and petrol to hybrid and electric cars.  Then we settled on a topic we could really get our teeth into, a trip down memory lane. The question was simple, who recorded “On the road again”.  The answer was harder to find. There must have been 20 or 30 wrong answers put forward, before finally someone said Canned Heat.

Photo by Steve H

It was time to leave.  We headed through Wollerton and then negotiated the busy Ternhill roundabout using the pavements. Back onto the quieter roads we passed through Longslow, where we had a photo stop, and then around Shavington Park, enjoying the afternoon sunshine, the parkland scenery and the gentle lanes. Heading north towards Aston, we paused to consider where to take a coffee break.  The Bhurtpore was a possibility, but rejected after Dave P said he would have to have a curry if we stopped there.  Instead we made for Wrenbury Village Stores, just as the primary school day was ending. We sat outside in the sun enjoying drinks and some food.  A mother with her two young sons sat nearby while they ate their ice creams. We struck up a conversation and  Keith tried to encourage the boys to leave school and join the circus.

From Wrenbury, the route took us past the Cholmondley Arms, Bickerton, over Harthill and back into Tattenhall. We had travelled 58 miles on a day when local temperatures had reached over 23 degrees. Nationally it was the warmest April day since 1949. And it had been great to welcome back Clive and Dave P to a full ride.


SH

Friday, 13 April 2018

12th April 2018: Coedway (mod)


Our start point this week was Chirk Tea Rooms, which appears to have been renamed the Castle Bistro. After last week, we had been hopeful that spring had started.  Foolish us! The brisk riders, Ivan, Nick and John M, had planned a trip to Pistyll Rhaeadr, but then received a report on conditions on the hills from Andy B (who had cycled from Mold over the Horseshoe Pass). They decided they didn’t want to spend the whole day in the clouds and chose to join me and Andy on a mod ride.  I’d been looking for a possible destination for a long ride this June and came upon a pub at Coedway, just south of the River Severn, about 9 miles west of Shrewsbury. David Matthews was out, but sensibly not riding today. 

We set off over the A483 roundabout and down through the Franktons before joining the long road to Baschurch. From here we took a series of lanes through Great Ness, Pentre and Melverley, before crossing the River Severn by a single track bridge, and following a B-road to Coedway.  It had not rained for all of the morning, but it was hard to remember when it had been dry.  The wet, sometimes flooded surfaces and lots of mud added to the damp mood.  Also it was cold, and at one point Nick had to stop to tackle his freezing hands.

So it was with some relief that we pulled into the 17th century Old Hand and Diamond Inn. A CTC welcome sign was reassuring and so was the quality of the beer and the low priced menu.  The warm fire would have been another attraction if any of the nearby seats had been vacant. We discussed the drums of war coming from the White House, and moved onto more reassuring topics such as the relative attractions of Bristol, Chester and Hull. It was a bit of a wait for the food, lots of diners had ordered before us, but when it came it was substantial and good quality.

As we were eating it started to rain heavily. Ivan suggested we stay for another pint, but reluctantly was dragged back to his bike. Our return route included a planned visit to Steve T at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital. We passed again over the narrow River Severn bridge and headed towards Maesbrook, then Maesbury and Whittington.  Here Ivan and John headed via Oswestry back to Chirk.  They were going to visit Steve later by car. The rest of us made direct for the hospital.

As we clip-clopped down the corridors and onto the ward, we signalled our arrival. At the nursing station, the nurse already knew who we’d come to see.  Steve is in a comfortable room of his own. He’d already had a visit from David M that morning, so together we ourselves and later Ivan and John, this was very much a CER day for him.  He was in good spirits and had just reached the halfway point on his six weeks of prone bedrest, before the clinicians start slowly to elevate him.  We spent a while chatting and, as we left the hospital, Ivan and John arrived.

The rain had finally stopped as we mounted our bikes for the final leg. We crossed the A483 and made for Weston Rhyn to drop down into the Ceriog valley on a steep minor road before returning to our start. We had completed 51 miles, and despite the weather, we reckoned we’d found some really nice lanes.  Roll on spring proper, next week they say it’ll be nearly 200C.


SH

Saturday, 7 April 2018

5th April 2018 : Oswestry (brisk)

After a cool-ish start the sun was shining on arrival at Cleopatra’s and forecast was for a fine day. Thanks to Clive sending me a sortable list of CER GPX files, I had found what sounded like an idyllic ride to Oswestry. In April 2011 Clive wrote “quintessentially English summer weather and spring green countryside”. So 7 years later, almost to the day, I set off with Ivan and Nick to see if the route lived up to this fulsome description. 

Now this might be a bit lazy but I don’t think I can better Clive's previous blog:- 

So it was down familiar lanes to Shocklach and Threapwood.  Exiting to Sarn and crossing the A525 we found ourselves in the beautiful border territory close to Penley.  The sharply folded landscape hereabouts marks the border and provided the only hilly challenges of the day.  Taking the lane out of Penley, we passed The Trench, shimmy across the A528 at the Seven Sisters and The Cross and on to Elson.  The lane to Frankton passes New Crickett and Crickett itself, then onto Ridge and Perthy before exiting onto the A495 west of Welsh Frankton.  A short burn brings us into delightful Whittington with its moated castle”. 





Honouring the previous ride we too stopped at the castle for a photo. We cruised along commenting that Clive's glowing description of the countryside was fully justified. The only problem was that the beautifully undulating lanes provided numerous dips in which the recent heavy rain had gathered to form a series of deep lakes. They were a bit treacherous and but we managed to cross them all without anyone falling in. We were joined by a red kite circling overhead. We weren’t quick enough to dismount to capture a photograph, but we admired its graceful circling manoeuvres until it bored of us and headed off in search of tastier prey. Its strange to think that the red kite was once regarded as vermin and was exterminated in England, Scotland and most of Wales by the end of the 18th century. Thankfully, that situation has changed and there are more than 300 breeding pairs in Wales and over 200 breeding pairs in England according to the National Trust.

We departed from the 2011 route in to Oswestry so as to avoid the reported busy roundabout at the A5/A483 junction. Instead, we turned right before the A5 and attacked the town from the East along Middleton Road. Scenting the beer, Ivan guided us with laser like accuracy to Wetherspoons. Its probably not one of their finest establishments sited in what looked like a 1970s former main post office. However, as usual the food and drink was good value and the service speedy.

Again I can't better Clive's description “The return ride took us out behind the impressive Iron Age hill fort then past the Gobowen Orthopaedic hospital bound for Hindford and lanes to Overton.  This is really beautiful countryside around here and picture perfect” The riders in 2011 enjoyed temperatures 20+°C and whilst it was very sunny and pleasant for us it wasn’ t quite so balmy.  I think the springlike weather must have surprised Ivan’s mudguards as one of the stays came loose and repelled all efforts to fix it causing several halts for adjustment. However, eventually it was sorted and we were riding out of Overton towards Bangor on Dee. We took the direct route towards Holt via Bowling Bank and Ridleywood. Nick was in in triathlete mode and led us on a speedy 27mph, 4 mile time trial, to the A534.



We were soon enjoying our coffee the sunshine outside Cleopatra’s and reflecting on a wonderful day out in the countryside. Thankfully, unlike our last brisk ride, the only drama was a wobbly mudguard! Thanks to Clive for his route and hopefully he will be ready to ride it again with us soon. Nick headed off for Tilston and Ivan and I pointed our wheels home to Chester. The round trip from Holt to Oswestry was 49 miles we all had completed about 65 to 70 miles on reaching home.


JM

Photos from John M's phone

Friday, 6 April 2018

5th April 2018: Whittington (mod)


At last! A beautiful day’s weather was forecast. Five moderate riders gathered at Cleo's in Holt: myself, George, Jim, Dave H and John B taking his annual ride with CER (good to see you back John). I proposed a ride to Ye Olde Boote Inn at Whittington, largely because I’d passed it several times but never visited.

We struck out aiming to follow the lanes to the west of the Dee, but having seen the floodplain higher in water than I can remember, some of these were likely to be heavily flooded.  Instead we took the B-road and then the quick dash down the A525 into Bangor-on-Dee. From there it was lanes to Cloy Hall and then into Overton, where unfortunately Jim succumbed to cramp in his legs and decided to make his own way back.

We headed southwards through Rhewl, taking small lanes I’d never travelled over, some of which I wouldn’t want to take again: a very steep downhill on a surface that had almost broken up with mud and water a-plenty to cross Shell Brook and enter Wales.  The skies may have been clear blue, the sun shining and the breeze moderate, but under our wheels we often met deep mud and fully flooded carriageways. We passed through a ford that was less wet than some of the lanes. Dave and George were regretting not fitting mudguards, so was anyone caught behind them.

We cycled past Dudleston Hall, through Hindford and into Whittington to arrive at Ye Olde Boote Inn just after 1230. We placed our orders and they were speedily delivered before the crowds arrived. Conversation flowed, though what topics we covered I cannot remember, and soon it was time to go.  The consensus was positive about the pub, and I think we would each be happy to visit again.

We completed a loop back to Hindford and headed towards Dudleston Heath.  Close to Welsh Frankton I got a puncture. It was just as well it was warm and dry, because the first replacement tube failed to inflate due to a dodgy valve, and we had to repeat the procedure, aided by John being able to fit a Gatorskin with ease using only his hands.

With the odd exception, the lanes back were in better condition and we enjoyed riding though the excellent spring weather.  We crossed the A525 at Holly Bush and made for Worthenbury.  Here we diverted into the village and into the churchyard for some photos to capture the beautiful conditions.  The parish church of Worthenbury is St Deiniols.  It is said to be the best example of a Georgian Church in Wales and has a complete set of boxed pews. 

Photos by John B

From Worthenbury, we took the usual fast return to Farndon.  As were approached the old Dee Bridge we passed the brisk group heading home from Cleos.  We also paused there for a drink and some calories.  An excellent day’s cycling which covered 44 miles.


SH


Monday, 2 April 2018

29th March 2018: Aston (mod)


Was it the imminent Easter holidays or was it the threat of rain showers in the afternoon? For whatever reason only five members turned up at Rose Farm. Bryan was in his car and had dropped in for a coffee on his way to see Steve who is recovering in hospital following his accident last week. (We’re thinking of you, Steve, and wish you a speedy recovery). Jim was still in recovery mode and had cycled from home with the intention cycling back after a short ride. That left just Andy B, Ray and me intending to do a full ride. None of us had a ride in mind but I dug one out of my Garmin which would head us back in the direction of Chester in the afternoon as none of us had a car at Rose Farm. The chosen destination was the Bhurtpore at Aston. 

Jim joined us as we headed out towards Tarporley, gasped up Summerhouse Bank, and then turned left at Heath Green. After crossing the A49 we headed for 'Portal' and then down Sapling Lane to Eaton. After Eaton we turned towards Wettenhall and Jim left us to head home just before we reached it. The three of us continued on passing Reaseheath College before crossing the A51 into Welshman's Lane. We emerged on the edge of Nantwich where we turned into Welsh Row. We turned right, and headed through the park, and right again, down a link road to Baddington Lane (A530). We were soon making our way down Coole Lane.  As we turned right to head towards the (not so) Secret Nuclear Bunker we found ourselves for the first time out of the cold wind that had plagued our ride so far. It was the first of several turns which would eventually put the wind at our backs for the ride home.

We joined the main road at Broomhall Green for a short stretch before turning into the village of Aston, home of the Bhurtpore with its friendly welcome. The pub was quite busy but we ordered our food quickly and because we all ordered the same it came quickly. In no time at all we were back on our bikes for the return home.

Ray wanted to get back early and we all wanted to avoid the afternoon rain if we could so we took the direct route home. Our return journey took us via Cholmondley, Bickerton, Harthill and Tattenhall and we made good time with the wind behind us. After Tattenhall we turned right towards Hargrave where we turned right again to take us up Martins Lane. At the end of Martins Lane we would have turned right to get back to Rose Farm but since we were all heading home we turned left. We rode into Waverton then on through Christleton. Before we reached the A51 by the rugby club Andy left us to head back to Mold and shortly after Ray and I parted company. I arrived home with 43 miles on the clock, Ray did about 10 miles more and Andy considerably more. Oh, and in the end the rain didn’t arrive until teatime.

TC