This week the 'normal' moderate group consisted of Bob (just back from France), George, Neil (a welcome guest), Mike and myself. Dave Matthews was able to join us for a few miles, before returning for granddad duties.
Steve H was at coffee, but wasn't available to ride. I suggested Little Bollington and The Swan with Two Nicks, which was accepted, but we actually went as one group with the Leisure riders as far as Bunbury in the end! At Waverton I asked those at the front if they were O.K. riding the canal route for a change, only for loud , insistent shouts from the mob behind that we turn left. Jim was the main culprit for all this, probably forty years of issuing instructions is a habit he can't break! Bryan was being apologetic to Neil, trying to assure him that we were not usually so shambolic. I couldn't make my mind up if this was democracy in action or anarchy. C.T.C. sticklers would have definitely been tutting! Dave Matthews took his leave, as we meandered through Greenlooms to Hargrave, meeting the tandem before Huxley! Don't, ask! At least this proved we had been travelling at the correct leisurely pace. The Leisure Group turned off at Beeston, and the famous five pressed on through Bunbury to Brindley, and then headed east to cross the Shropshire Union Canal, before turning south to Sound via Ravensmoor. We took the quiet lane past the moated Hall o'Coole, and in short order were diving down and driving up to Audlem central. The Lord Combermere staff are always friendly, and the food is consistently good. I do think plates are a better for holding meals than wooden squares though. How many of us, at home, would prefer to eat off a wooden place mat or a small bread board, rather than use a decent sized ceramic plate? We parked our bikes by the back gardens, and away from the bins, because it is bin lorry day on Thursdays in Audlem. We sat on the verandah in the relative cool on a warm afternoon, and relaxed. We found out that Neil was a keen golfer as well as cyclist. He had only just moved to Cheshire, and had spent a long time with the R.A.F. It was obvious that with flaps retracted he was capable of more speed. Perhaps he will have a go with the brisk group next time.
Our return journey was via Aston and Cholmondeley, but we avoided Harthill by turning left before the A534 and heading north from Brown Knoll and past Bolesworth Castle. Neil headed home at Tattenhall, where Alison's had customers inside, but a 'Closed' notice on the window. It had been a warm humid day and a cafe stop was needed, particularly with the Welsh contingent set to top 80 miles. George suggested Old Ma's. They were nominally closed, but waved us in. The mature gentleman, who I presume was the owner, was delightful company, and Bob told him that it was the best cup of tea that he had ever drunk! (I think the heat had got to Bob at this stage). Fortified by two slices of bara brith we fairly put the pedal to the metal back to Meadow Lea. Sixty miles covered, mostly just the brisk side of moderate. No thunderstorms, and enjoyable company. Jim and Dave Pipe let me know that their group's ride went really well. Out of initial confusion, organic democracy produced inclusive cycling satisfaction at the end of the day!( As Alastair Campbell may have put it).
|Photo by Mike G|
See route map and/or gpx file download