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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, 22 November 2019

21st November 2019 : Audlem (brisk)

This brisk ride today could be given the nickname of “Tu Be or not Tu Be, that is the question” Now read on!

There were a dozen or more of us at Alison’s Country Kitchen cafe in Tattenhall this week. It is proving to be a successful change away from the Ice Cream Farm. I was one of the last to arrive and I was eager to get inside away from the cold SE wind that would dog us all day today.

Although Ivan had prepared a route to Barthomley, he was happy to defer to my route of similar length of 48 miles to Audlem. Both groups set off together with the Mods turning left out of the car park, and the Briskets surprisingly turning right!

We had not gone but  a few hundred yards when “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” stopped because Elwyn’s rear tyre was a little soft. While the rest of us stood around i.e. Ivan, Ray, John W, Nick and myself, Elwyn tried to reflate the tyre to no real effect. This was apparently a new tubeless tyre put on by the bike shop at the top of Marford Hill whilst Elwyn’s bike was being serviced there. Both Ray and I were dubious of the valve stem as it doesn’t look like a tubeless tyre version. A shot of Carbon Dioxide did the trick, and we were on our way now to Bickerton Hill via Brown Knowle. Here, John wasn’t feeling 100% today so decided to head for home, which he reached without incident.

We arrive at Hampton Post crossroads and Elwyn’s tyre needs another gas transfusion. Down the hill and via a short stretch of the A41, finds us on our way to Wrenbury. By the Dusty Miller pub, the tyre needs reflating yet again and we are now running low on gas cylinders. Just over the Wrenbury railway crossing is a small industrial estate where I thought I remembered that there was a cycle business; however I was wrong. Now Elwyn’s tyre is flat yet again. Faced with getting on the train to go back home, he decides to put tube in it, and Ray and I are not looking forward to doing this due to the 50 mls of latex sealant in the tubeless carcass - a right messy business.

The tyre is off and, to our astonishment, the tyre is not tubeless but tubed, and the inner tube is not only too small for the tyre size, but has a massive tear in it! We stand around in the lee of the workshop building whilst we struggle to get the tyre back on the rim. Now all sorted, I decide that I need to cut the planned route down as we are all cold and have lost 45 mins due to the comedy of errors brought about by the “competent” cycle workshop.

We now head directly for the Shroppie Fly where, apart from one other punter, we are the only customers for lunch. We bemoan the current political climate as we edge closer to getting back on our bikes into the growing gloom of a late November afternoon. We head back towards Nantwich with the wind behind us now, and onwards to Swanley Lane canal bridge and Brindley. Cutting left down lonely Cappers Lane, we pass Bath House Farm which used to serve the Spurstow saline spa pool in the adjacent woodland - definitely not today though!

We cut across to Peckforton where Ivan and Elwyn power ahead as Ray and I take it more sedately at only 20 mph. There is no sign of Ivan at the Ice Cream Farm turn, so Ray and I head homewards assuming  that Ivan has gone back to Alisons for a warming coffee and cake session. Ivan hadn’t gone back to Tattenhall, but if he had, he would have completed the 45 mile route at 16mph average.

By the time I am home, the darkness has set in as I find my front light is just about flickering and in need of  battery transplant - just as I do.

So “Tube or Tubeless, that is the question” today  - a salutary lesson for us all!

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

14th November 2019: Parkgate (mod)

Being the closest to Chester, Meadow Lea is one of the more popular starting points on the CER calendar. Particularly for me as I can have a good lie in and still have time to cycle down to the start. Five brisk riders, seven moderates and two non-riders turned up but some were less pleased than usual with starting point. Not with the café itself, I must point out, but with the journey to it. They had ridden along the greenway, found it flooded, and decided they would be able to cycle through it without getting their feet wet. Wrong! And when I arrived there were already a number of socks and shoes hanging in front of the fire in an attempt to get them dried out before the ride started.

A discussion took place as to a suitable place for lunch. It was cold and windy with the threat of rain. No one was too enthusiastic about a long ride and the Carden Arms was suggested. However the wind was from the north and I suggested a ride onto the Wirral which would give us the wind behind us on the way back. So as the brisk group turned left out of Meadow Lea, the moderates (Andy B, Dave H, George, Jim, Mike D, Peter and me) we turned right and headed through Mickle Trafford.
 
I didn’t have a map but I have ridden these roads so often that I didn’t need one. We zigzagged our way over the M53, past the back of the zoo and over the canal. We were forced into a short diversion because of road works at the top of Chorlton Lane but were soon crossing the A41 at Backford and heading up Demage Lane towards the railway. The Sustrans path alongside the railway slowed us down with all its gates but we put up with it as the alternative is to cycle up main roads. Then it was on through Capenhurst and Ledsham, across the Welsh Road and on to Willaston via the ‘missing link’. We avoided the centre of the village by turning right into Mill Lane but couldn’t avoid a short trip along the busy B5151.

I had intended to stop for lunch at the Wheatsheaf Inn in Raby, which I had visited a few weeks before, but as we approached it was only just past mid-day. A short committee meeting resulted in agreement to carry on and we passed through Thornton Hough and dropped down to the Boathouse at Parkgate. Despite there not being many people in the pub the service was slow but we were warm, not particularly in a hurry and we found plenty to talk about. When the food did eventually arrive it was good and soon devoured.

Soon it was time to re-emerge into the cold and wind but at least it was behind us as we headed along the front at Parkgate and on to the Wirral Way. After a short stretch to Neston we headed down through the houses to Quayside where we passed the Harp and Nets café to reach Burton Marshes. The going was much easier now with the wind behind us and we were soon across the Marshes and through the industrial estate, now with dedicated cycle lanes.

Andy and Peter left us before we headed down the greenway back towards Chester. Jim and I were cycling together while the other three gradually eased ahead. The route back was pretty straight forward and when we approached the flooded area (now fenced off by the council) the three out in front were nowhere to be seen. I was happy that they had found their own way back to Meadow Lea so Jim and I made our own way home. Only 36 miles today and an early finish but a timely one as we made it back just before the rain started to fall.

See route map and/or gpx file download

TC

Thursday, 14 November 2019

14th November 2019 : Middlewich (brisk)

There were a fair few CER members in Meadow Lea cafe huddled around the roaring fire. Some were in civvies, and one had his boots and socks steaming by the fire. Apparently the Greenway was underwater at the M53 underpass, and at least two riders found out the hard way that it was deeper than they thought! Luckily, I had ridden to the cafe by a different route today.

I’d already planned a ride to Middlewich carefully taking the wind direction into account, as it was advertised to be gusting to 30 mph from the north. The route was vaguely a rectangle where we would have the wind behind us for a few miles on the way out and against us just before and after lunch in Middlewich. 


So the Brisk group set off with Ivan and John W committed for the full route, and John M and Nick committed to somewhere convenient to break off and head for home. Out via the usual lanes of Waverton, we turn off at Handley on our way to Bunbury. Just short of here John M and Nick peel off for home as we three continue on towards Church Minshull via Alpraham. We are going West to East now and John bravely takes the lead to shelter us

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We kiss the edge of Coppenhall and ride north through Warmingham to Middlewich. I couldn’t find a record of a ride to Middlewich per se, but I had been to the White Bear in Wheelock Street before with Harry Watson’s group quite a few years ago. It was quiet inside and warm. There was a decent range of beers, and the hot food came pretty quickly and was much appreciated. We sit awhile contemplating the world - as you do - but I know we have 22 more miles with the light fading and the northerly wind as strong as ever.


We head north to Bostock Green and Davenham then cross into Hartford. We clip Cuddington and climb up to Norley and thence out through Delamere Forest and Ashton Hayes arriving back in Guilden Sutton at around 1530. I head for home as it has just started to rain, and get in before it really starts at just before 1600 with 66 miles all round. Today's route was only 54 miles but at a 16 mph pace. It was cold and with that wind we were glad we had plenty on. As I arrive home I notice it has warmed up to 5C!


Thanks go to John W for his sterling service in taking the lead on the front today. A tiring ride as my achy legs attest!


See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

PS : The problem of deep water on the Greenway had been solved as John rode back home - it has been closed!



Photos by JW

Saturday, 9 November 2019

7th November 2019: Hanmer (mod)

For CER riders looking out of their bedroom windows the main question was, “If I turn up to ride today will I just get reasonably wet, or insufferably wet, as in having to endure miserable, cold hours of driving rain ?” Those who have rich and full lives, urgent household task to tackle, or stimulating company at home, sensibly chose to “give it a miss”. Clive, Ken, George, Nick and myself turned up. To be fair, Nick was multi-tasking in terms of a need to get to Screwfix in Wrexham before the end of the afternoon, then he was going to hang curtains, and later practise his karaoke! That's the energy of (relative) youth for you. I suggested Hanmer or Ellesmere, and I reckon Ken had calculated that at my pace he'd be returning home in the dark if we went to Ellesmere, so the Hanmer Arms it was to be.

I sort of led, but although I have pioneered some perverse routes in this area, mainly to avoid hilly and rough-roaded Malpas, the help of the rest of The Crazy Gang, who ride these lanes more frequently, smoothed things along. When I don't know my north from my south, George can always take bearings from his beloved distant Welsh hills in order to keep us on track. The route out was via Churton. At Coddington the Caravan Park cafe was recommended to those who hadn't yet partaken. We continued through the mazy little lanes of Cuddington Heath and Oldcastle Heath. We passed Peacock Farm where my Clio RS happened to be in the capable, specialist hands of Steve and Andy of Birchdown Motors. At Eglwys Cross, Clive, perhaps surprisingly, suggests the main road in order to miss the super muddy back lane to Hanmer. George and I remember well using sticks here to poke the muck from between our tyres and mudguards. It was by leading us on back lanes like this that Clive literally cemented his reputation. The Hanmer Arms is full of chatting ladies, one of whom nearly knocks me over, chuckling over her view that my yellow “safety jacket” was the only thing that saved me from demolition. Service and food were very good, and it is nice to see this long time CER favourite returned to top form.

The conversation was interesting, but as I strayed onto the political, George, quite rightly mentioned out our informal concensus on avoiding the risk of heartfelt arguments over politics.  Of course, George may have just been on Civil Service autopilot after decades of ensuring Political Purdah before elections!

Our return was via Little Arowry, Three Fingers, Threapwood and Shocklach. The pace of the fast lads was considerately turned down, but progress had been good all day. Nick peeled off for home. We, amazingly, felt very little rain until the last few miles to Farndon; even this was only light. We decided to give our custom to Helen, back at Cleopatra's. We had a very pleasant coffee and cake session before departing. I suspect Ken, and definitely Clive, will have hit real rain riding home. Only 31 miles, but very enjoyable despite the gloomy forecast. I am sure that we all were glad that we had not “given it a miss”!

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

Saturday, 2 November 2019

31st October 2019 : Norton in Hales (brisk)

Asked if I could provide a route from Rose Farm, I consulted the CER bank of past routes, looking for somewhere to the south, so that I could cut across to Tilston on the return leg. So, Utkinton to Norton in Hales was duly selected. The choice was narrowed when I found I couldn’t download pre-2018 routes. However, it proved to be a good choice, even though the brisk riders were down to just two, me and Ken.

We opted to take the A49 road crossing along Heath Green to cut around the back of Tarporley, as opposed to negotiating the car madness of downtown Tarporley. The route took us along the quiet and scenic lanes past Beeston Castle, through Bunbury to Audlem, where we corrected a missed right turn.

Commenting on the strong headwinds, coming from a generally south direction, we were feeling smug in the knowledge of a return tailwind. While keeping up a good pace we were relieved to get to the Hinds pub in Norton in Hales. We arrived at about 12.15 when it was quite empty, but pretty busy when we left. Food was good, as was the beer, but an even better looking white IPA came on tap as we were leaving.

The return leg took us along very quiet and fairly direct lanes to Adderley, Aston, Wrenbury and Bickerton. It was fortunate it was dry because the roads around Adderley and Aston were covered in a smooth, dried mud road surface (resulting from farm vehicles cutting of the maize crop), that in the wet would turn into an ice rink. Staying upright still required concentration, especially with the odd kamikaze pheasant and stoat.

At Bickerton, I left Ken to negotiate Harthill and the very lumpy road surface of Wood Lane (Utkinton), and instead turned left at the church. After a small climb, three miles of blissful downhill landed me in Tilston. We had a great day out on an excellent route covering 57 miles. We completed this at an average of just over 15mph. Oh, and that tail wind of course never materialised!


NH

Friday, 1 November 2019

31st October 2019: Aston (mod)

There was a good turnout at Rose Farm, with nine riders (Clive, Daves M and H, Mikes G and D, George, Trevor, Keith and myself) who were up for a 40 mile ride to The Bhurtpore at Aston, along a route that I had picked up from previous CER ride. As we were about to set off, Dave M offered to take us along a ‘country route’ to Aston rather than the route I had planned. I gladly agreed, as it would take the load off me having to lead.

Turning left out of Rose Farm we ran down the hill and then turned first right into Wood Lane – not our usual route. We then followed Dave through Clotton and Hoofield and across the Shropshire Union Canal at The Shady Nook before heading for Beeston and Peckforton Castles. At Peckforton, we went left into Peckforton Hall Lane and thence on to Spurstow. Here came the only ‘non-country’ bit – a half mile dash down the A49 until we reached the safety of Badcocks Lane from where we followed a winding route to Brindley, where we crossed the A534.

At Lardon Green, I heard a shout from behind and turned around to find Clive at the side of the road with his bike upside down, looking for the cause of the puncture in his (tubeless!) rear tyre.  Soon all nine riders were standing around in the cold (it had started to drizzle a bit – as predicted by Carol!). Rather than everyone getting cold, Dave M took four ‘softies’ off to the pub whilst the ‘hard men’ stayed to help Clive.

The repair took a while, as the ‘goo’ inside the tubeless tyre didn’t seal the hole as it should. So Clive had to resort to putting a tube in, but this meant extracting the tubeless valve first. Eventually all was well, helped along by Keith’s CO2 cylinders (21st century technology, Clive) and we soon covered the remaining 7 miles to The Bhurtpore.

The advanced party had ordered but were not yet eating and the rest of us soon ordered and were served with curries, Balti, pies and other tasty food. Talk around the table covered the forthcoming Rugby World Cup final and how you’d never see Steve Bruce shed a tear however many Newcastle let in!

As we’d already covered some of my return route on the way down here, Clive did some routing on the fly (or rather his iPhone) and offered to lead back to Utkinton. This took us back to Wrenbury and then to Sound, Ravensmoor and Acton. Some wiggles down the lanes led to the Venetian Marina using NC551. At Cholmodeston, Dave M said that he’d take over to avoid going through Bunbury. So we headed east, wiggling down the lanes past Calveley Primary School, which seems to be a long way from the village. More wiggles down the lanes took us past Oulton Park, where the sound of racing cars could be heard; a track day, perhaps.

Crossing the A49 at Cotebrook took us into Utkinton Lane and so back to our starting point with 46 miles covered at an average speed of 13 mph – quite brisk for a mod ride! My thanks to Clive and Dave M for leading a great route down some quiet lanes and to the other mods for their company on a day when the rain held off yet again.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST