Bryan, Trevor, Dave Pipe, George, John Beavis, Andy Barber, Clive and myself decided to head east from Hawarden. This avoided big hills, and better facilitated Trevor and Clive's need to return home handily for caravanning and ballooning. Mike was riding to Gobowen to see Steve. The Sportsman at Tattenhall was our destination. Ride leadership was shared, on the basis of who best knew the route at any particular time. Trevor did most of the directing based on his outward Christmas Lunch ride from December. Bilberry Wood is a bit of a killer up to the A55. John was caught in the wrong gear, and berated us for not warning him, oiling his chain, checking his tyre pressures, and telling him that he may need to take tissues. The route to Rossett is an easy-riding peach. Lovely views, a rolling ride in the spring sunshine, pressureless pace, freshly coloured countryside perfection, as we drifted down by Golly. Clive peeled off before Holt for his second attempt to make a Stratford birthday balloon trip. I hope the weather was kinder this time.
We all fitted around a round table in the library of The Sportsman, and enjoyed big portions. Apart from John, who shakes his head in disbelief at how cyclists can stuff themselves with food, and often beer, and then carry on riding. I had intended this to be a moderate-lite ride, very leisurely, not demanding in any way, not far enough for the stitching on your shorts to start to dig into your skin a little. It was going to be a lazy man's cruise. George had other ideas, however! Not unreasonably, even some moderate riders like to get a few more miles in, when the sun is on their backs and the days are longer. Hence, we headed further east for Beeston Castle, down to the Shropshire Union Canal, and up to Brassey Green. We discarded the straight option to Waverton via Hargrave, and headed for Burton via Hoofield on a favourite circuit of George's. It was around here that my bike had a major malfunction. The front changer and chain jammed. Some rough surgery with my pliers amputated the mangled cage of the changer, while Dave Pipe did an expert job on the chain, which he completed with his spare connecting link. I was able to continue the journey on the middle chain ring with no real problem. I will buy you a drink, Dave! We passed west of Christleton village centre, crossing the A51 to a welcome coffee and cake at Meadow Lea. Those returning to Wales were led by the Welsh Sherpas, Andy and George, to Hawarden Bridge on the Greenway, and then up through Shotton into open country on a narrow lane. Our climbing ended at the B5125 just west of Ewloe. From here it was just one dangerous roundabout and less than ten minutes to the cars. Fine weather and company once again on a Thursday. John sent me an e-mail and a Camila Cabello clip, which I can't download, but he recommends her singing! He also says that he enjoyed the ride, and informs me that we covered 50.3miles at a relaxed 11.4 miles per hour.