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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, 17 January 2020

17th January 2020: CER Blog Readership

Bryan Wade told me recently that our blog is read with great interest by members of the Chester and North Wales CTC. In fact, at their New Year’s Day outing, they were updating him with events from recent blog postings!

That prompted a discussion at lunch during the brisk ride last Thursday about how often the write ups are read and by whom. A quick scan of the blog viewing statistics suggests that most posts are read between 30 and 60 times, but at least one has been read over 200 times! This is the ‘mod’ ride on December 27th 2018 from Meadow Lea to The Nag’s Head at Bunbury, which has been viewed 210 times!

On a wider note, our blog is viewed by an international readership. The tables below show a typical week’s readership and the total since the blog was started about 10 years ago. Only the top eleven countries are listed in each case.

One Week
Since the beginning
United Kingdom
244
United Kingdom
149212
United States
111
United States
112674
Switzerland
52
Russia
18653
Germany
46
Germany
14689
Netherlands
39
Ukraine
6943
France
29
France
6299
Ireland
29
Ireland
2987
Spain
20
Netherlands
2881
Austria
11
Vietnam
1420
Not identified
11
Poland
1167

The USA readership is understandable, as there is a huge population there with many places called Chester, but I’m at a loss to understand why we have readers in places like Russia and Vietnam!

ST

16th January 2020: Utkinton circular (mod)

A bad weather forecast hadn’t prevented a good number of Easy Riders turning up at Rose Farm Café, however many were not out for a ride.  A blustery morning was expected to turn into a very wet afternoon with southerly gusts of over 40mph. Ideas for a longer ride possibly to The Swan at Marbury, were rejected in favour of a morning circuit ending back at Rose Farm.

The moderate group consisted of four riders: new member Steve F, Peter, Dave H and myself. We set out through Cotebrook and on to Wettenhall before turning SE to Bunbury, Peckforton and Tattenhall. So far it had stayed dry, but the rain started as we left Tattenhall. Steve F headed for home as the rest of us turned towards Huxley.  Beside the Inn at Huxley, a lorry splashed a verge-full of muddy debris over us. More was to come as we took Wood Lane towards Utkinton – the surface was almost agricultural and we tried to avoid mud, potholes, hedge cuttings and carriageway wide flooding.

Rose Farm café was reached after 27 miles – not much for whole day, but not bad for a morning’s ride. The three of us all enjoyed lunch, and prepared to make our ways home.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH

16th January 2020 : Wrinehill (brisk)

A dozen riders turned out today at Rose Farm, quite a surprise given the weather forecast was for very high winds and heavy rain from late morning onwards.My proposed route was a 45 mile (74km) ride to the Hand and Trumpet at Wrinehill, riding into the wind in the morning and hopefully with a tail wind on the return.
Clive was happy to tag along, and for the second week in a row, we press-ganged Steve into joining us. He’s a glutton for punishment but loves it really! As the three of us left Rose Farm, it was still unclear where the moderates were heading although a route out to Ravensmoor and a wander around the local lanes back to Rose Farm had both been mooted. After Steve confirmed with Dave H their return rendezvous arrangements, we headed off south to take on the challenge of Tarporley high street and its crazy on-street parking system. Emerging unscathed, we turned off left and head down Common Lane passing the flooded pit I used to fish in when I was a wee boy. 

Crossing over the A51 down and up through Tilston Fearnall, we weaved a route through Bunbury and Spurstow to arrive in Burland. Here we followed the main road into Acton then took Ravens Lane to the main A530 into Nantwich. The route from Acton to Nantwich was a deviation from the planned route as it reduced the amount time spent riding through the town traffic.

Passing over the Shropshire Union Canal, I forget to turn right, so Clive took control and we followed him through a housing estate to pick up the the cycleway running alongside the River Weaver. Finally we left Nantwich along Audlem Road, part of which is closed to traffic, with a small army of workers resurfacing the road. Here we were ordered to dismount and then walk past various pieces of heavy equipment.

Once remounted, we made our way through the lanes of Wybunbury and on to Wrinehill to our destination, "The Hand and Trumpet". This  hostelry is run by Brunning and Price and reflected the group's usual decor, food and drink. Lunch chat included our perplexity concerning the wide international readership of the blog and the regularity of which they are read. Steve concluded the discussion by indicating he was going to undertake further research, with that matter concluded for now we departed. 

Light rain had started to fall as we dined, but at least it fills the potholes making them easier to spot! Our return route initially headed north before zig-zagging its way on back lanes through Hough briefly touching Shavington before re-entering Wybunbury for the second time today. By which time the rain had  stopped. 

At this juncture, Steve received a call from Dave H to enquire his whereabouts and ETA back at Rose Farm. It appears the moderates had opted for a wander around the local lanes and they were now having lunch back at Rose Farm. Steve provided the revised ETA and we continued on along flooded lanes into Nantwich along London Road where we crossed the River Weaver once more to exit the town on Welsh Row. At the aqueduct on Chester Road, we shuffled off to the right skirting Rease Heath College and heading for Wettenhall, we stop again for Steve to advise Dave that he has enough time for another coffee and cake before we arrive.


Checking in with base control -still smiling despite the wind and rain!

A little further on with Clive in the lead and beyond shouting distance, he took the Kings Lane turning to return via Oulton Park instead of the planned route which followed Hickhurst Lane through to Eaton. No matter, so we followed as both routes are broadly similar in both mileage and ascent. After climbing up and over Utkinton Lane, Steve turned off at Rose Farm while we continue on towards Chester  and home.

If anyone had taken any notice of today's weather forecast they would not have ventured far. Luckily for us we stayed mainly dry, although it was breezy in the morning with strengthening winds in the afternoon. So moderates take note, we had a good ride out today and actually managed to get back home in daylight. 77kms (47miles) was the total for today's route and I clocked up 106kms (66miles) plus more for Clive. Thanks to Clive and Steve for their company on a good day out.

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Photo by KP

Thursday, 9 January 2020

9th January 2020: Rossett (leisure)


Despite forecasts of strong winds and possible snow over high land, a good sized group of riders met in Hawarden for another day of winter delights.

The moderate group planned to go uphill, into the wind, so a small leisure group of myself, Steve H and Andy W, led by Dave and Liz on the tandem, set off in the opposite direction towards Rossett.

The route was not all downhill, however, as we started with the steep climb up the ‘orrible ‘ill’ at the back of the castle. This brought us up through Bilberry Wood and on towards Mountain Road. Here we were able to assess Flintshire Council’s road repair strategy, which appears to consist of putting some ‘rough road ’signs up where necessary. I wonder how long it will be before they actually fix it.

The day was very pleasant, if a little chilly, as we progressed round the back of Penyfford. We crossed the B5102 onto Gegin Lane, past the quarries, where the road became progressively messy-in fact well down to Clive standard! It got worse before we reached the end with threatening puddles right across the lane. Andy was grumbling as he had set off with a pristine machine which was now anything but. By the time we reached the junction at Llay we decided that we were going to be too early for the pub, but Dave had spotted an interesting looking lane straight ahead that no-one remembered having been down so we went on an explore. Soon we were descending a rather steep slope, and as every downhill is followed by an uphill, were soon pushing up the other side. This took us into Llay suburbs and then into Alyn Waters Country Park. A pleasant tootle round the eastern section brought us out on another lane, similarly spread with mud and gravel - cue more grumbling from Andy, where we returned to Llay back through another park track. We were now heading down ‘Ivan’s Hill’ towards the A55 bridge and Gresford. Once on the B5445 we soon reached the Alyn Pub at Rosset. Encouragingly it was nice and warm inside, and the staff very welcoming, as we chose our meals from the well-priced menu. Having eaten and warmed up it was time to head  homewards. Andy and Steve turned off towards Farndon, with the tandem and myself heading for Chester via Doddleston. The afternoon was no warmer than the morning but at least the wind was almost behind us. We were soon battling the traffic on the Grosvenor island on the way to Handbridge.

A moderate distance of about 35 miles or so and dry too!

JD

9th January 2020: Caerwys (mod)

Awaiting ride report


See route map and/or gpx file download

9th January 2020 : Holywell (brisk)

It was a lot colder than advertised today. On the top of the Clwydian Range it was only just above freezing, and coupled with a stiff breeze, the 28 miles to lunch in Holywell was going to be hard going. So Nick and Ken, who had both ridden over from Rossett, and a dragooned in Steve T, relied on me to navigate them safely to The Market Cross 'Spoons pub in Holywell.

Eschewing the usual route to go through Buckley via Ewloe, we take the main road towards Wrexham then turning off to Drury; and this provides a useful leg-warming exercise for what was to come. After Llong, we head east down small lanes towards Gwernymynydd and ever upwards. The short 20% rise here along Swan Lane precedes  the next rise and fall towards Loggerheads. The lane to Cilcain is agricultural in places - which was becoming the theme for the rest of the pre-lunch ride.

Its now a long  ever-upwards run to Lixwm. More of the same takes us up to Babell and a brief flattish respite heading along familiar lanes. A right towards Lloc and then a left down a lane that Nick points out is a No Through Road. Luckily I know it isn’t, but its a very rough farm track over the A55, with two hedge cutting tractors to boot. Today, it was a slight improvement over the October 2011 ride though, where we had a few hundred yards of deep cow doo-doo to ride through! We get through safely and thence it is 6 miles of dry main roads with a long downhill stretch into the centre of Holywell.


The Market Cross is pretty busy but we don't care - we just want some hot food and warmth. We even eschew beer for hot coffee! We are all feeling it today but I offer a promise of only 13 miles to get back and mainly downhill to boot - except for the near two miles of uphill immediately after lunch. The food comes very quickly and it is soon time to get back on the bikes.


We travel back amongst the tiny lanes above Flint and then a suburban traverse, complete with footpath transfer, to exit onto  Chester Road towards Oakenholt. Just passed the papermill is Papermill Lane. Normally I would say Cheerio and make my way back via Connah’s Quay and the Greenway. Today I felt guilty as all three riders had to get back to Hawarden, so I decide to join them for the 2 miles uphill ride to Northop Hall.  From here it is a familiar ride back over a very rough road surface to Hawarden arriving back at around 1500. Ken and Nick head onwards to Rossett and Steve awaits his chauffeur’s return ( aka DH)

.
So only 41 cold miles today but over 3300 ft of climb according to Nick's Garmin; although PlotaRoute shows 2979 ft - but enough any way.


Ken obviously enjoyed the route sending me a WhatsApp as follows  "Thanks for today Clive, lovely flat ride😫on mud free roads...In perfect weather..” and Nick’s was "That about sums it up! Thanks Clive”  The cold must have addled their brains, or, they must have been on another ride! Nonetheless, thank you for keeping the grumbling about muddy road surfaces to minimum.


See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Saturday, 4 January 2020

2nd January 2020 : Aston (brisk)

A great turnout for the first ride of the 2020 with a ‘bakers dozen’ of riders and the brisk group being outnumbered 2:1. The weather was overcast with strengthening winds from the south as the day progressed hence the route, the only one on offer, entailed an easier return journey taking account of the wind direction.

So we, i.e Nick, Ray, John W and myself, left Delamere, crossing the A49 at Cotebrook, and passed  south of Oulton Park race circuit. The lanes, which for many weeks had been waterlogged, were drying up slowly but unfortunately the remaining debris continued to cause issues in many places. Along Wettenhall Long Lane and Winsford Road, we passed over the Shropshire Union canal into the outskirts of Nantwich and remembered to avoid the shortcut we cannot use through Rease Heath College.

From my perspective, the pace was a little too brisk for the first ride of the year, but clearly the rest of the group were carrying less Christmas stodge than yours truly. Luckily for me Ray called a halt to phone home and, after some pleading negotiations, confirmed he could continue to ride for the rest of the day.

We continued out of Nantwich crossing under the canal towards Acton where we turned left and left again passing through Ravensmoor. As we entered Wrenbury, Nick called a halt at the entrance to the Business Park to see if the bike lock he left here in November when attending to Elwyn’s tubeless tubed tyre issue was there. Not surprisingly it wasn’t. At this juncture, John decided it would be a good point for him to head home and resume Grandad duties. 

The lunch stop at The Bhurtpore Inn was literally around the corner. In five years of riding with CER I had never been here and I was impressed with both beer and food. The lunch chat revolved around the pro’s and con’s of tubed or tubeless tyres; the consensus 2 to 1 against tubeless. Sorry Ray.

Out-tubed! - 2:1 for tubes
Lunch over, we head out back to Delamere, initially heading towards Cholmondeley before turning east and crossing the A534 at Faddiley. With a favourable wind direction and drier roads, our progress became much easier as we rode through Bunbury then dropping down to cross the Shropshire union canal, for the third time today, at Tilston Fearnall.

Once over the A51 it was plain sailing all the way back to Cotebrook where Nick  headed  back to Delamere and Ray and myself to Chester. Unusually, the weather was dry all day, not something we have been used to of late and with a good tailwind the 75km (47 Miles) made for excellent first ride of 2020.



Happy New Year !

KP

Photo KP

Thursday, 2 January 2020

2nd January 2020: Pickmere (mod)

First ride of the New Year and the weather looked reasonable – mild and dry with the prospect of some rain only towards the end of the afternoon.  This produced a heathy turnout of Easy Riders at Delamere Station Café, perhaps members were hoping to work-off their unhealthy indulgences of the Christmas season.

Steve T and I had each come prepared with a moderate route.  Steve’s was 40 miles long with 25 miles before lunch.  My ride was 40 miles long with 25 miles before lunch.  Steve’s went to the Red Lion at Pickmere. Mine went to the Red Lion at Pickmere.  We had both selected the same ride from the club archive and so we jointly led for the day.

The moderates comprised the two of us, plus Dave H, Bob, Andy B, Trevor, Ian and Peter. We started by following David M out from the café towards Frodsham.  While he continued, we turned right to head towards the Weaver Navigation, taking the bumpy Cliff Lane into Acton Bridge, across the A49 for the first time, before crossing again, and crossing again to reach Higher Whitley. We were passing a good many horses and riders, including one who told us that flashing lights could alarm the animals. At some point there was confusion when the command “straight on” led half the group to follow the main lane to the right, while the other half turned off to continue literally straight on. No harm done, we crossed over the M6 by its junction with the M56, and began to head south into a blustery wind. It was only a little further before we reached our lunch stop. Here Andy decided to head straight back as it was a long way to Mold.

The Red Lion welcomed us with a fire and we ordered our food and drink. Service was quick leaving us limited time to talk about football, warm weather holidays and how members could access our routes from the blog.

The skies had darkened when we left the pub, encouraging a few more of us to switch our lights on. We took one of our familiar routes back, through Great Budworth, Comberbach, Little Leigh, Acton Bridge and Onston.  Before taking the rough tarmac to Delamere Station we said goodbye to some more riders, leaving only Ian and I to take tea and coffee at the café   Our route had been 40 miles long, and no rain materialised.  Not a bad outing for January and my first proper ride in six months.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH