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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, 18 January 2019

17th January 2019: Aston (mod)

A cold and icy start, with temperatures only slightly above zero, but sunshine forecast, brought out four moderates among the CER members gathered at Rose Farm. I suggested a ride out to the Bhurtpore Arms at Aston, as our last attempt to visit in November had failed due to a power cut in Aston village.  I was joined by Andy B, Steve T (recently relieved from spousal chauffeuring duties) and Dave H (getting back into the swing of cycling).

There were ice patches in the Rose Farm car park, so we started gingerly following the usual route to Cotebrook, and onwards to Wettenhall, Nantwich and Wrenbury.  Passing Wrenbury Station we arrived at the Bhurtpore as their clock chimed 12 o’clock. Settling in to their welcoming food and drink we remembered how much we enjoy this pub, though only Dave indulged in a curry.  We discussed DIY and the problems of domestic appliances.  In answer to one question raised by an old sale poster on the wall, I can confirm that Imperial measures of area are the acre, the rood and the perch.  The clock chimed 1 o’clock and our lunch hour over it was time to move on.

We took a short loop along Pinsley Green Road to re-emerge in Wrenbury and make our way northwards towards Larden Green. Cycling gently along the narrow Hearn’s Lane we met an HGV that refused to move over for us, despite there being space on its side of the road. After being squeezed dangerously, if slowly between the truck and the road margin I record his details – look out for a white 7.5 toner MX58LBJ!

No more events were to trouble us.  We passed through Haughton and noted that the Nag’s Head had re-opened, then it was through Bunbury and around Beeston Castle, where we were surprised to still see some sheet ice.  We entered Tarporley from the west and called at the Old Fire Station café for refreshments.  As we left we examined the large old CTC badge in relief on the front of the Swan Hotel.

We arrived back at Rose Farm with 40 miles completed on a good winter’s day.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

Thursday, 17 January 2019

17th January 2019 : Sandbach (brisk)

The weather was magical – very cold (about 1C when I left home) and very bright with excellent visibilty and a full day of bright sunshine in prospect. The only problem was it had rained during the early hours, and with sub-zero temperatures, I wondered how much ice there would be on the lanes. So I rode somewhat gingerly out to Rose Farm meeting Bryan part way along the long ever-upward lanes to the cafe. Some good news seems to be that the road down the hill outside of the cafe might be repaired in early Feb if the road sign is truthful.

I had cobbled together a flat ride to Sandbach and Nick, John W and Ivan were happy to be in sheep mode today. So we left by turning right out the gates and up Quarry Bank to High Billinge – only a straight mile of 11% climbing to warm up the legs! I promised that this was the only significant hill today. So out via Cotebrook, we skirt Little Budworth onwards to Whitegate. Bowling along Chester Road, Hartford, we turn to cross the main road to access the blue bridge and thence through Davenham.

Lach Dennis comes and goes as we take the main road towards Goostrey, with the Jodrell Bank dish resplendent in the bright sunshine. Going via Twemlow Green, we are soon in the outskirts of Holmes Chapel. We skirt around to the east then briefly down the quiet A54 before diving right down the “Closed” Mill lane passing over the Croco River then onto the old main road aka the A50.

We now have to travel northwards to be able to access the lane to Bradwall Green then a couple of miles into Sandbach. Here, just after a bend, double disaster strikes as both Nick and John succumb to black ice. Thankfully both are OK but rather shaken up by the unexpected fall. We had all been very careful all the way today in reading the road to find dry spots and identifying possible black ice. So we ride on into Sandbach and into the busy “George”.

After ordering our meals, John and Nick were applying first aid to their bleeding elbows and inspecting the damage to their riding gear. The bikes were OK however. The George staff offered sticking plasters, but a hot meal and drinks were very welcome after 28 miles in the balmy 4C heat.


Wetherspoon's "The George Inn" in Sandbach
The route back was straightforward being via Ettiley Heath and Coppenhall to take the well-ridden lanes via Wettenhall to Eaton and thence Tarporley. Nick rode back to his car at Rose Farm with 48 miles ridden, as we three headed for Brassey Green and home having completed mid 70 mileage today. I got home at 1600 where the temperature was now 2C.

As ever we all enjoyed the ride, but the black ice took the shine off it. Hopefully any injuries to John and Nick will quickly heal.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Update on Nick : "A bit sore, thanks. Hip swollen and bruised and strained neck muscles on one side, but I’ll recover. Hope John’s OK"

Update on John W: OK but sore as well.

Photo: ℅ Wetherspoon's website and Rob Davies

Sunday, 13 January 2019

10th January 2019: Aldford (leisure)

A good turnout on a cold January day enabled a small group of leisure riders, Bryan, Dave H and myself to set off independently. I chose a popular route going down to Holt and back to Chester as it gave us a number of options should the weather take a turn for the worse. As it happened it gradually warmed up during the day, but also brought in a thin misty drizzle. The morning was very pleasant though and we chose the Grosvenor Arms at Aldford as our lunch stop. Service was cheerful and speedy and Bryan seemed pleased with the choice of beers. I wasn’t too thrilled with the price of the lime and soda but overall a pleasant lunch stop. The return up through Saighton, where Bryan departed for Chester, gave us the chance to inspect a line of potholes that I reported to Highways before Xmas. I have to say that they have been filled in - they are now a line of humps! Progress of sorts I suppose.

Back at Guilden Sutton after 36 miles and a very pleasant winter’s ride.

JD

Saturday, 12 January 2019

10th January 2019 : Caerwys (brisk)

Today's brisk riders comprising of Nick, Ivan, Ken and myself set off from the Gallery Cafe towards the Welsh hills expecting a grey but mild dry day. It soon became clear that the forecasters had got it wrong. Persistent showers, poor visibility and  slate coloured skies were the order of the day.

However our spirits weren’t dampened as we knew we would soon be warming up on some of the steep inclines ahead on a circuitous route to Caerwys. Firstly, we motored on through Ewloe and Buckley followed by a short blast along the Mold Road before turning off at Llong. We soon passed Gwernymynydd and Loggerheads and as planned eschewed the main road to Llanbedr DC to "enjoy" the  two mile climb to the top of Bwlch Penbarras. Our only photos of the day give a good idea of the lack of visibility at the top. Anyway, having imagined the glorious view of the Vale of Clwyd we launch ourselves into the mist down the pass. It's on hills and in conditions like this that you thank God for disk brakes!
 Bwlch Penbarras
The relatively flat 8 mile run along the vale was uneventful but proved a good test for our winter kit. I regretted my lack of overshoes (damn those those weather forecasters). However, the main problem was viewing the route on the garmin through steamed up and wet specs that no amount of wiping would clear!  Needless to say the view of the Clwydian Hills to our right was more illusory than real.  It was as we stopped to check directions in Llangynhafal that Nick pointed out the enticing Golden Lion Pub which he assured us was wonderful and well worth visiting. Wondering if this was a subtle hint and, becoming concerned about a mutiny on the climbs still to come, I pondered out loud if we should call a halt, have lunch and find an easy way home.  I should have known better as Easyriders are made of stern stuff. My ruminations were given short shrift! We rolled onward and, on reaching Bodafari, sharply upwards! 


 We admired, but were not tempted by, the vision of the alluring Dinorben Arms. Knowing that lunch at Caerwys was tantalisingly close, we began the two mile grind over the shoulder of Moel y Gaer and up towards the appropriately named Sodom. Here the severity of the slope caused front wheels to lift from the road followed by loss of traction of the rear! Ivan and I lost all forward momentum and came to a halt.  We found it almost as difficult to walk 30 metres before being able to remount. Nick and Ken and manage to wobble on.  Eventually we crested the top and  after a couple of miles more arrived at Caerwys only to find that our planned lunch destination at the golf club was closed. (apparently awaiting new management). 
Plan B was the Piccadilly Inn where we were warmly welcomed by staff, a roaring log burner and customers admiring  our fortitude (actually they thought we were completely insane to be out cycling).


The place was busy but we were soon served some good food and beer. Ivan's choice of beef and onion baguette was sufficient for 2 but he was man enough for it. Our mood was good as we set off in for the shorter and relatively easier return. There was a bit of a hill up to Pant along a narrow muddy lane,  followed by the run through Pant Asaph and along the undulations of the Halkyns. For the first time since Steve Tan’s accident, we ventured down Middle Lane where Ivan and I pointed out the field were the air ambulance had landed and the spot were Steve came off and lay stricken on the floor. We are still none the wiser as to what caused such a catastrophic crash.

By chance Ian, a local, who had called the ambulance, came out of his house and we had a conversation about the events of that fateful day. We learned that his 4 year old son had seen everything and unfortunately had been quite traumatised for a day or two afterwards. Ian was delighted to hear that Steve is recovering well and asked us to pass on his best wishes. With the light failing we continued down to Northop and along the usual roads to Hawarden where Ken turned off to cycle home in Gresford and Nick returned to his car.  Ivan and I cycled along the river back to Chester and clocked around 64 miles for the day.

The main route was 45 miles and according to RWGPS should have been 3200 ft of ascent but Garmin recorded 4200ft (for my whole ride to and from home) and it certainly felt like the latter. Given the weather, readers may think we had a less than enjoyable day but, the reverse was true. We accepted the weather for what it was and enjoyed the challenge of riding our bikes supported by the company of  good humoured friends. How euphoric will we be when we return to this loop in the summer sun?!

See route map and/or gpx file download

JM

Photos by ID and NH

Thursday, 10 January 2019

10th January 2019: Minera (mod)


A good number of riders gathered at the Gallery Tea Rooms in Hawarden. It was also good to see Dave H out on a bike again – he was joining Bryan W and Jim on a shorter ride and I believe the brisk riders were off to do something incredibly steep.  That left the moderates: Andy B, George, Clive and myself.  I’d been looking for a change to our usual routes out from Hawarden and also a different lunch stop. I picked out a destination almost due south from our start – the Tyn-y-Capel in Minera.

As we set off we immediately found ourselves in drizzle and in one form or another we were in damp and murky conditions all day, albeit relatively mild ones. We headed out through Buckley and skirted around Mold to pass near Nercwys and Treuddyn. We were climbing steadily upwards throughout, but only had to surmount one steep chevroned hill. We turned left at Rhydtalog to reach Four Crosses and our high point of the day at just over 1,000 feet. Then it was steeply downhill into Minera and to the Tyn-y-Capel on the right.

The Tyn-y-Capel sits looking over the valley towards the Clwydian Hills. Apparently the building has its origins as a hostelry for pilgrims making their way over Esclusham Mountain to Valle Crucis Abbey, near Llangollen. It’s also one of the 50 best pubs in Wales according to Wales Online. The large pub has extensive terraces where you could sit in the sun and admire the views on a summer’s day. No such luck today, indeed no views at any point on our ride.  Inside we found good value food and drink.  I had an excellent pint of “The Cat in the Chapel”, which seemed a very Welsh name for a beer.  While we ate, George told us of the “Free Solo” movie he’d just seen about the El Capitan climb in Yosemite, and this led to a general discussion about climbing. We then moved on to Brexit! -  soon it was time to leave.

Our return took us downwards on the B-road by Coedpoeth. At one point heavy rain forced me to stop as the combination of a wet screen and wet glasses meant I couldn’t read the map. We then followed a zig-zag of urban roads through Pentre Broughton to find our way to Gwersyllt. We took the busy road to Llay roundabout, and after the traffic lights, followed lanes back northwards to Penymynydd.  We said goodbye to Clive and Andy, before passing through Bilberry Wood and onto Hawarden car park.

We had covered only 30 miles, but travelled in a less familiar direction from Hawarden which, as Clive pointed out, brought us into the neighbourhood of the rides we used to do from Alwyn Waters.  We also found a good pub, which we will remember for future use.


SH

Friday, 4 January 2019

3rd January 2019: Pickmere (mod)

Gathered at Delamere Station café for our first ride of the year was a decent turnout for a moderate ride: Keith, George, Andy B, Clive and myself.  Also there were Steve T only out for the café and Dave H in civvies. 

The weather was forecast to be very cold with little wind, no rain and maybe some sun.  With early morning temperatures well below zero I expected frost and ice on the lanes and therefore prepared a route which largely passed over roads likely to have been gritted and which was relatively short.  It turned out that a mix of low humidity and some cloud cover meant my fears were unjustified, but we followed the route nonetheless.

We cycled out on the road to Frodsham, Steve T left us as we turned down the hill to Kingsley, then followed the main road to Acton Bridge, and across the Weaver.  Here I suffered a rear puncture, the first for a long time, caused by a small stone chip.  The tyre was changed, with thanks to Keith’s CO2 cylinder, while the others shivered.  I them offered the choice between the original route or the quickest route to the pub: in need of warmth, the short route got it. 

In Great Budworth, we passed along Westage Lane which has been closed to traffic for many months due to the road being undermined by badgers.  This time work was underway.  The badger sett must have been moved, the banks were covered with wire netting to prevent them returning, and workers were finishing off some re-surfacing and clearing overgrown vegetation.

The pub was quickly reached and we ensconced ourselves in front of a warm fire.  The welcome was friendly, and the food and drink were satisfying. While we ate, Keith entertained us with his climb up the North Ridge of Tryfan, onto the tops and down beside the Devil’s Kitchen.  This led to a number of mountain tales from others before it was time to leave.

Our return was equally short, passing through the Flashes and Marbury Park, then by the Anderton Boat Lift, into Weaverham, Sandiway and Cuddington. Some steep hills back to Norley followed. We said some goodbyes at Hatchmere, and George and I continued for a brew.

Choosing the Visitor Centre Café over the station to get some better coffee (it is better!), we soon regretted this as the place was teaming with people, the queues were long and all the tables occupied. There has been some discussion of using the Visitor Centre rather than the Station café to meet due to the coffee. While there were reasons that today was particularly busy, it can also be very crowded some mornings on good days in the school holidays. We need to bear this in mind if we do switch regarding holiday dates.

Overall we had a good ride of 30 miles with a good pub stop.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH