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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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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

2 comments:

  1. John/Ivan, I hope that you weren't distressed riding down Middle Lane. At some point, I'd like to go there myself to thank Ian and his neighbours for all that they did for me that fateful day. Also to apologise to his son for traumatising him!

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  2. Steve, we were ok but took it very steady. I'm sure the locals would be pleased to see you. I think you are a bit of a celebrity round there!

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