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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, 9 November 2018

8th November 2018: Llanymynech (mod)


Four moderate riders assembled in the now-named ‘Castle Bistro’ in Church Street, Chirk: Keith, Trevor, Bob and myself. The morning had started poorly with rain and low cloud on the hills. However by the time we were ready to leave, the rain was ceasing, although the day would remain murky and the lanes wet and muddy.  Our destination was the Bradford Arms in Llanymynech.

We took a common route out from Chirk, crossing the A5 roundabout and making for Hindford. Before we made it to Welsh Frankton, the long dormant curse of ‘Puncture Bob’ struck, and we stopped while he fixed his rear tyre.  While this was happening we watched several tractors pulling slurry tanks that were far too wide for the lanes pass by.  Next we saw a white builder's van speed towards us and stop.  “Have you seen a silver car?” they asked. Apparently the car had clipped their wing mirror and they were trying to chase it down. We couldn’t help them, though as we resumed our ride, we met them in their search again.  I think we were all grateful not to be the subject of their ire. We continued onwards through West Felton and Maesbrook, before joining the road into Llanymynech and cautiously driving through some fresh hedge cuttings.

Llanymynech is on the England Wales border. If the old Lion Pub had still been open we could have chosen between two bars in England and one in Wales. When many Welsh counties were “dry” on Sundays, you could always get served in the “wet” English bars.  We however were after a very much open pub.  We have visited the Bradford Arms several times before and were settled comfortably besides an open fire, while we all tucked into fish and chips. For some reason the conversation focussed on the energy industry – oil, nuclear and solar.

Soon it was time to leave and we tracked back through the hedge cuttings before heading north to Maesbury and approaching Oswestry through quiet lanes from the east.  For once we were ahead of school closing times and the traffic was light.  As we passed by the old hill fort, several riders remembered the altercation with the angry old man who tried to run us off the road on this year’s long ride. No such problems today, as we make our way towards Weston Rhyn.  A few miles out from the village, the curse strikes again, this time in the front tyre. Trevor leaves us to catch his train while repairs are made.  We exit Weston Rhyn via the High Street which takes us down to the Ceriog valley and a much more pleasant return to Chirk than the main road.

We head straight to the car park, where we meet the returning brisk riders. A good ride in reasonable conditions: 20 miles before lunch and 16 after.


SH

8th November 2018 : West Felton (brisk)

A showery damp day was  forecast by the Met Office and six riders turned up for the brisk ride, John W, John M, Ivan, Clive, Nick and myself. The ‘moderates’ planned a ride to the Bradford Arms at Llanymynech and, coincidently , the ‘brisk’ group, courtesy of Ivan, planned a ride to the Bradford Arms at Knockin, but  the day  became the day of the detours. 

The rain was falling as we left Chirk and headed up the Ceiriog valley and into Glyn Ceiriog. Turning left across the river, we climb to the high point of the day Graignant (350 metres) where we stopped to take a photo. Alas, the  autumn colours, although lovely,  just needed a little sunshine to make them spectacular. 

Yes, there is another hill over there
Onwards through Selattyn and before climbing the hill to the Old Racecourse, west of Oswestry, we came to a stop as our road was blocked due to  tree-felling operations .  We dismounted and carried the bikes past the obstruction before riding through various unpronounceable Welsh hamlets. On reaching the bridge over the canal and river about 1.5 km outside Llanymynech, we found the bridge closed for maintenance. The bridge repair operative made it very clear that no-one was going to pass. Even though, in our view, it looked as though we could dismount and walk across. A roadside discussion ensued to determine a diversion; this resulted in turning away from the bridge and heading into Four Crosses along the main road to rejoin our route in Llanymynech. This detour only added 4 km .

The road into Knockin was flat but John M was feeling a bit under the weather and struggling to keep up, so John W held back to keep him company while the rest of the group, totally unaware of John’s issue, carried on to the pub. On entering the Bradford Arms car park, it was evident that a large funeral wake was in progress and we were politely told that they could not accommodate us. After another discussion, we  decided to divert to the Queens Head at Queens Head although poor John did not relish the extra miles to the lunch stop.

Leaving Knockin we headed out through Woolston to West Felton where, at the crossroads,  the Punch Bowl inn came into view. We were relieved when the landlord confirmed that they were still serving food given it was 2pm and we had ridden 61 km. The Punch Bowl has a nice friendly atmosphere and everyone appeared to enjoy their lunch so it is venue well worth adding to the CER lunch list. 

We were back on the bikes by 3pm and heading to Rednall, here we  rejoined our original route. John M had recovered during lunch and we all cycled together for the remaining 22 km to Chirk. On arrival at Chirk, everyone went there separate ways; Clive and John M to their cars, Nick and myself opted for a coffee prior to our drive home, Ivan and John W chose to ride home rather than wait an hour for the train.

The original route is 86 km but because of all our detours we rode 84 km with 1199 meters of ascent, John and Ivan’s mileage was obviously a lot higher.

A lot happened today with plenty of disruption to our planned route.However, I subsequently took a closer look at the OS map which revealed the diversion we took at Llanymynech could have been shortened to just 400 mtrs by using a canal towpath and aqueduct to cross the River Vyrnwy!  

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo KP

Saturday, 3 November 2018

1st November 2018: Hanmer (mod)


All Saints Day began with steady rain, but by the time I’d ridden to the Ice Cream Farm, the clouds had cleared and the day promised to be dry with some sunshine and mild winds. Twelve Easy Riders turned up, the moderates comprising Jim, George, Mike G, David M, Neil (on his new bike), Steve T, Trevor and myself.  It was good to see Dave H also there, in civvies performing his club secretary duties, and also collecting choices and monies for the Christmas Lunch.  He needs to receive confirmation of attendance and at least the £5 deposit by 22nd November.

I had pulled a previous ride to Hanmer from the archive: a figure of eight with a return through Malpas and Brown Knowl. We started through Tattenhall, Barton and Threapwood, but were making good time and I therefore decided to divert eastwards and dip down through Lower Wych to avoid arriving too early at the pub.  As we travelled along some good surfaced lanes for a change, we split into two groups.  I remained in the slower group and we were surprised to arrive at the Hanmer Arms ahead of the others.  About 5 minutes later they arrived much muddied from their excursion through the lanes to Arowry, whilst we had taken the clean main road for the final mile or so.

The pub was quite busy but we were accommodated on a couple of tables and served relatively quickly.  As usual, there was a friendly welcome with good value food and drink. There appears to be a planning application for a large holiday home development behind the pub. These and caravan parks seem to be a way to keep many country pubs open when others are forced to close.

I modified our return plans to keep the overall route under 40 miles and to avoid what would have been a hillier return. We took the fairly direct route northwards through Tallarn Green, Shocklach and Clutton. At Sarn Bridge we find a mega-sized tractor going our way, confronting an even bigger one on the bridge.  We carefully keep well away from these monsters at they manoeuvre past each other. From Sarn Bridge we gradually shed riders, as they make their own ways home.  Eventually only Steve T, George, Jim and myself end up back at the Ice Cream Farm, to reflect on what had been a good autumn ride of 38 miles.


SH

Friday, 2 November 2018

1st November 2018 : Calverhall (brisk)

Despite the early showers, there were plenty of riders at the Ice Cream Farm but only 3 briskers. I had proposed a ride to Market Drayton but readily agreed to Clive’s amendments so as to make the Olde Jack pub in Calverhall our lunch destination. With John W making up the party, we headed off in the direction of Beeston, Bunbury and Alpraham. Clive was setting a good pace and we were soon sprinting along the short stretch of the A51 before turning off at Barbridge. Then after looping around the lanes, we cross the A51 and begin our approach to Nantwich. The route takes us through the west side of the town and through the park near the River Weaver. It was all very pleasant as we meandered along the shared pathway but suddenly Clive parted company with his bike and was flat on his back. Thankfully, he was back to his feet very quickly saying that all was well with him and his bike. We think his wheel skidded on the metal grating that runs for several metres alongside the path as it passes close to the river and under a bridge. 

Relieved that no damage had  been done, we leave Nantwich via the A530 but soon turn on to Coole Lane to coast along pretty lanes towards Audlem and without further incident to Calverhall. We enjoyed a warm welcome at the Olde Jack and were soon served our selection of baguettes and sandwiches. Conversation included the various apps available for route mapping and also Brexit. Unsurprisingly we were unable to come up with a solution to the question of the Northern Ireland backstop! 

Returning to the simpler question of getting home, we jumped on our bikes heading in a northerly direction. Keeping up a good pace we passed through Aston, Wrenbury, Cholmondeley and Bickerton. It was a bit of a grind up Harthill and we paused at the top to admire the view which on such a clear day included Liverpool Anglican Cathedral in the distance. We then raced downhill and up again before sprinting on to Tattenhall. Foregoing afternoon coffee at the Ice Cream Farm, we made our way home. A good run out in decent weather for November. Long may it last! 

The route to and from the Ice Cream Farm is about 55 miles but the three of us completed about 80 miles each (averaging 16 mph) including the return trip from home.

See route map and/or gpx file download

JM