There was a good crowd at the Delamere Station Café, meeting here for the first time since lockdown. It was especially good to see Keith, back after the surgery on his knee. Things had changed here with a new one-way system designed to confuse us and the only seating was outside. How will we manage when the bad weather comes?
As has become the norm, once coffees had been consumed, discussion turned to who was riding with who and to where. After a head count, it was decided to have two separate mod rides, with Ivan and John W scorching off on a brisk ride in the direction of Holmes Chapel.
I had mapped out a ride to The Crown at Goostrey and had booked a table for lunch with an ETA of about 12 to 12.15. Clive, Steve Hu and Erik made up the foursome and we left at about 10.20 heading initially in the direction of Hatchmere. Passing the crossroads, we turned into Forest Road and continued on down Beech Lane to join the B5153 through Crowton to Acton Bridge. At the bottom of Acton Lane, we had to wait for several minutes before there was a gap in the traffic so that we could cross the A49. How things have changed since the peace and quiet of lockdown!
The hill on Willow Green Lane which goes up and over the Trent and Mersey canal never gets any less steep, but we were soon crossing the A533 and heading along Ash House Lane and Cogshall Lane into Comberbach. As we did so, it started to rain a bit and I was mentally cursing Carole Kirkwood, as she said that the rain wouldn’t come until after lunch and I’d brought only my lightweight jacket. Fortunately, it eased off by the time we got to Great Budworth, where we stopped for a drink and for Steve Hu to fuel up a bit.
The route now took us in a loop passed Pickmere and Wincham where we took Linnards Lane down to the busy A556. As usual, we rode along the pavement until we reached the traffic lights at The Smoker. Steve Hu had to wait for a gap in the traffic to get back on the road and tucked in alongside a Jaguar. When the lights went green he set off and was hooted at by the Jag driver for his troubles. Steve later explained that the driver had switched into ‘chimp’ mode and recommended a book called The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters for more explanation. Bedtime reading, perhaps.
On reaching Lower Peover, we followed Free Green Lane. I’d memorized the fact that I should take the second right down Foxcovert Lane, but had to stop and consult the route on my phone before being confident enough to take this tiny lane, which looked pretty muddy. Fortunately, the muddy part was short and we were soon back on a hard surface. Heath Lane took us to Townfield Lane, where we crossed the A50 into Boothbed Lane and thence on to Main Road and The Crown, arriving there just after 12.
The waitress explained that they’d run out of several items due to demand on the ‘Eat out to help out’ offer, so only things on the Main Menu were available. The food came quickly and was of a good standard and reasonably priced; good enough reasons to leave The Crown on our list of favoured stops. Lunchtime conversation revolved around moving house (or not!), the vagaries of local authority planning and the cost of cutting down trees.
We left the pub at about 1.20, heading north-east out of Goostrey along New Platt Lane, crossing the A50 at Rudheath Woods and passing Shakerley Mere to reach Lach Dennis. At Davenham, it was ‘proper raining’, as John W would say, so we stopped to put on the necessary gear. Clive showed us a much safer way to cross the Northwich by-pass and reach Hartford. From here we took Hodge Lane to cross the A49 at Bryn and took Bag Lane heading towards Norley Bank, which provided only the second steep climb of the day. As we went up Maddocks Hill, Steve Hu said something about an average speed of 15 mph, but I find that hard to believe. My computer said fourteen point something. Reaching Hatchmere at 2.30, having covered a smidge under 40 miles, we said our farewells, with Clive and Erik heading in the rain for Chester, Steve Hu for his car and yours truly for Runcorn.
A good ride at a mod+ pace. Thanks to Clive, Steve Hu and Erik for your company.