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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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Sunday, 27 September 2020

24th September 2020 : New Brighton (brisk)

I have consciously decided that café meets and large groups are not for me until we are over this current plague. Therefore, I suggested to John W and in agreement with me, we decided to start later and ride straight to lunch at New Brighton. 

My route was to navigate along the coast from Parkgate to West Kirby and the ever-popular route along the cycleway to New Brighton. We met up with the Moderates only briefly riding from Ness café along the coast cycleway but the mod group stopped to chat with Doc Martin and Liz as they do!!

John and I pressed on but not flat out and enjoy the opposite views looking at the Halkyns instead of riding over them.  Only one hill to speak off and after photo stop on Davenport Road, the Pipes lane is next and the unmade road Oldfield Drive riding up to Irby.


Fame at last - for the road that is!

At New Brighton, we lunch at the fish and chip shop* but not impressed on this visit. As we were leaving Dave and George arrive and advise them to lunch at Wetherspoons, but not a good idea today after reading Clive’s blog.

As John and I set off we have a few spots of very cold rain and by the time we are passing Egremont the sky is blue above us but very dark over the water and Liverpool City. Missed that shower!

We continue riding the Wirral circular cycle route which in places needs some TLC. Leaving Eastham park, we are now inland and enjoying the quiet road at Rivacre Park although the traffic on the M53 could be heard. Ellesmere Port, Little Stanney, Stoak and we are back at Mickle Trafford.

John rides solo back home along the Greenway and I’m home

An average day around the Wirral  at 45 miles (if back to Ness), but an enjoyable day out with John again.

 See route map and/or gpx file download


ID

Photo JW 

Ed:* Perch Fish Bar maybe? or Seaside Cafe where my F&C was excellent.

https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1294732 

Thursday, 24 September 2020

24th September 2020 : New Brighton (mod)

I hedged my bets on the weather forecast – BBC said it would rain, Met Office said unlikely, and XC had both features. Still, as long as it isn't raining when you set out, then it is better to travel hopefully than not at all. Thus I arrived at Ness Gardens cafe with full Covid conditions in place.

Dave H and Keith were already there, shortly to be joined by Erik, George, Alan and Ray. So we had a Cyclist's Half Dozen didn't we? I had offered a ride around the Wirral that Dave had gratefully accepted. So we set off down the hill towards the Nets Cafe. Here along the footpath, Ivan and Wilkie zoom up upon Ray, Erik and I to tell us that the rest had stopped to talk to Doc Martin and Liz! So we wait patiently for them at the Harp whilst Ivan and Wilkie zoom off.

Soon we are in Allan Meadow passing Brian Mac's house and weaving through the park and Neston little lanes to exit along Wood Lane. Well there is no wood really and no tarmac surface either for most of it. We are now off to Brimstage via Thornton Hough and pause in Storeton. Originally I had planned to take Landican Lane, but with the recent overnight rain it was bound to be agricultural. I spare them the early mud bath and aim for Prenton Hill and the long run down to the Woodchurch Asda where we take the tarmacked version of Landican Lane southwest towards Irby and the highest point of 260ft by the old mill.

A quick right here takes us down to Frankby and a loop around West Kirby and Hoylake suburbia to end up at Meols beach where the Viking landed from Ireland a long time ago. The tide was well out today, not like the last time in March 2020 when we were here with high winds and mountainous seas. We cycle the sea wall arriving at New Brighton. The weather had been good so far as we had missed the obvious lone rain clouds, but our luck was about to run out.

Our Cyclist's Half Dozen of 7 riders wasn't accepted at the Weatherspoon's - not even as a group of 3 and then another of 4. So with the rain coming down, we head for the old favourite of Seaside Cafe and espy Ivan and Wilkie just leaving for home. No such group problems at the cafe – only table service today and as usual everything comes very quickly at a reasonable price. 

Lunch stop!

The rain stops just as we are leaving for the return loop of the fat figure of eight. Along the prom and up into Wallasey, we are now heading for the Bidston Moss M53 transfer. It's not the most attractive route back to Asda, but it just works. So we are now at Landican Lane again and up and off to Irby yet again. This time we dive down to Thurstaston heading for the Wirral Way. The Wirral Way is quiet and a bit muddy though. I suggest to a coffee stop at Elephant Cafe at Parkgate Front, and once again no problem with a Cyclist Half Dozen. The route back is well known and 47 miles comes up and a surprising 2000ft a climbs.

Ray, Erik and I split for home via Burton, Ledsham, and Capenhurst. Unfortunately we catch the back end of a very wet shower. Still, the bikes needed a wash after the Wirral Way routing. George and Alan were heading over the border to Wales. So home in the dry with 60+ miles for Chester riders. Then comes the inevitable dilemma – do I clean the bike now or leave it for another day? I opted to do it then, and pleased I did so.

Finding “new” routes around the Wirral is difficult, especially since we have “lost” the expert aka Macca. Riding the Wirral during early lockdown was helpful in putting this route together, and I hope there were a few lanes that were unfamiliar to the group

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photo by Alan

Saturday, 19 September 2020

17th September 2020 : Ellesmere (mod)

It was a fine day and warm enough to sit outside Cleopatra's at Holt. I was in the position of planning to lead, but realising that the fit bunch in front of me would normally ride faster than myself. 

Dave Matthews was out for coffee, but not riding, and Nick was going to do his own brisk route.

Peter, Steve Hu, Clive, Alan and Andy B were happy to join me on a quiet lane meander into lush Shropshire. The Red Lion was updated on numbers for lunch, and we set off via Farndon to Tilston. I am not keen on the busier, rough and hilly roads in and out of Malpas, so I prefer to give it a miss. Instead we threaded our way south via Horton Green, Cuddington Heath and Oldcastle Heath (where excellent "Renaultsport" tuners are based in Peacock Farm).

From Bishop Bennet Way we swooped down to Lower Wych, climbed out, and then turned left to pass Strift House and head for Whitewell. I intended to show people the lovely little church here, but we lost Steve and Peter, and Peter again in a very small area! We crossed the A525 and the A495 not far west of Whitchurch, thankfully as a complete group. We were now into favourite cruising territory, sweeping down on largely smooth surfaces in the sun to Whixhall, and then west to Northwood. 

The lanes became narrower and the profile more hummocky, as we cut across to Lee via Lyneal, Colemere and Spunhill. The thatched cottage at the end of sun-sparkled White Mere has become the place I would most like to live! We passed the marina on the back road into Ellesmere, and the outstanding Beech House where Thomas Telford had an office next to the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal c.1806. We wound our way through through the town centre in order to reach The Red Lion. Thanks to Clive's help, and the groups forebearance, the intricate route had been, I think, worth the trouble. 

The welcome was friendly at The Red Lion, and we were able to space out over three tables outside at the back, with a choice of sun or shade. The food was fine, but soon we needed to get going. The planned route back was more straightforward . 

We took the quiet route out at the north-west end of The Mere, past the cemetery, and then left over the former railway line. We rode close to Spout Wood before heading directly for Penley via the steep bank. Through Penley we turned right opposite the interesting little Madras School, and headed directly north to Holly Bush. Clive favoured the Mulsford loop to Worthenbury. 

Somewhere around Glandeg Farm I noticed four riders had spurted ahead, as part of a tradition to start winding the pace up for a fast few miles to Farndon. I had missed the break! Like Egan Bernal my back wasn't great, but I think he had a better excuse than just being stiff from a couple of hours of work on the summerhouse. Unfortunately, Peter is not an elite domestique, so although I enjoyed an energised flog, my efforts didn't really qualify as a realistic chase. (By the way, I've just worked out that I am 82lb. heavier than Egan Bernal !) 

We just made Cleopatra's, and I had coffee and cake with Andy before he started his return ride to Mold. Alan popped up having picked up a puncture, not for the first time recently, I understand. It is pleasing that he has now officially joined the club. I really enjoyed the day, and I hope the quicker guys didn't find things too pedestrian, at least the seven mile sprint at the end should have stretched them. 

Nearly 48 mile of sunny cycle surfing in scenic countryside with friendly company. Great!

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

10th September 2020: Aston (mod)

It was good to see Trevor and Steve Tan, who had made the effort to cycle to Rose Farm, but had commitments that meant they were unable to join one of the two rides on offer. The Fast Lads had their route sorted, and I had booked The Bhurtpore for a moderate ride. Yes, I know, The Bhurtpore again, but it has two gazebos in a spacious, south-facing garden, and in these uncertain times, it is certain that we will receive friendly service, decent food and a wide choice of quality beers. I had pre-booked lunch with them.

To make the ride a bit more than the normal pleasant, but predictable plod, my route plan was to add in some extra quiet lanes before Nantwich, and to leave the option of riding a loop south and east of Audlem to add interest and miles if we fancied it. There were only three of us, myself, Keith and Peter, who has been self-isolating, but decided to follow us at a safe distance. We headed for Tarporley, climbing up before turning left to Heath Green, crossing the by-pass on foot. At Portal, we turned down Sapling Lane, passing the remains of a Roman villa just before the junction at Eaton. The weather was worse than expected, looking very grey, with some heavy drizzle, and cooler than of late. The route chosen took us in the Calveley area, meandering peacefully to Cholmondeston, south of Wettenhall and back on our standard route to the edge of Nantwich. We avoided Nantwich traffic by taking Chester Road to Acton, and then using the lovely little Ravens Lane, past Madam's Farm on the Dorfold Hall estate, and onto Tally-ho. We headed towards Audlem via Ravensmoor, Sound, Hall o'Coole and Brickwall Farm, before turning north-west to Aston. The weather had improved, but we chose the shorter option to the Bhurtpore, rather than looping as far south as Coxbank and Wilkesley, as we had already covered a reasonable mileage.

At lunch, Keith and I had the usual hydrating cyclists' sort of soda plus drink, while, once again, Peter was enjoying a pint of beer, this time a 5% special. I was still ramming down extra chips, when it was time to go. I always feel so at home at the Bhurtpore, tempted to have another drink, and a sweet a la Dave and Liz, and then ordering a taxi back. We were a bit cool to start with on the way back, but made good progress on our normal route to Bunbury, via Wrenbury, Larden Green and Brindley. The sun was out, and all was well in our Easy Rider pleasure mode. Peter left us at Bunbury to head back to Chester. Keith and I attacked Tilstone Bank, and finished up at the Old Fire Station for cake and coffee. Keith has become a grumpy old man since lockdown, so it was no surprise that he claimed that his cake was stale. Like most grumpy old men he was probably totally correct in his judgement. Nearly 44 enjoyable miles in good company.

DH

Thursday, 10 September 2020

10th September 2020 : Alsager (brisk)

As the bard once said " Oh what a grey day!"

The weather forecast was indifferent – the only good point was almost no wind. As I left home for Utkinton it was just 12C, and throughout the day, it warmed up to 15C but no sunshine just threatening dark clouds and grey clouds everywhere.

I bumped into Ray near Pearl Lane so we rode out together passing Trevor in Duddon. Dave H and Keith were just getting the bikes out of the car when we arrived at Rose Farm Cafe. We chatted outside as it was before 1000, but the cafe had been open for an hour and we were invited in! 

Not too many riders out today. The Mods were off to their favourite pub in Aston. The surprise rider was Ivan, as I knew he was off to south of Whitchurch with Wilkie for a fast ride. However John was needed for grandpa duties, so Ivan decided to ride with Ray and I as far as Middlewich. He was then off to Nantwich to see his sister and family members. The other rider on grandpa duties was Steve T.

As we left, the misty rain could be seen across the Cheshire plain. We took the usual way out to Oulton Park, nearly being run down by two enormous tractors that were not giving way at all. Soon we were on the back lane behind the Cheshire Police HQ in Winsford. Out of Winsford towards Middlewich, the countryside really didn't improve much as we circle around Middlewich. Here, Ivan headed north as we headed south towards Sandbach down the long Bradwall Road. If the sun had come out here, it would have lifted the grey pallor of the countryside.

At Sandbach, we forsake the usual Spoons pub and head out for Wheelock taking a new lane to us; aka Mill Hill Lane. Yes, there is a mill and, as we climb out the other side, the road becomes a farmer's lane replete with farm machinery and a farm. It worked today – but best avoided in the wet I suggest. Soon we are at Malkin's Bank and then twice under the M6 at Hassall Green. Here we take the Salt Way cyclepath. According to Ivan, who knows about these things, it was the line of a railway taking salt out of the local mines. It's a good surface but a bit dank and dark. So as soon as a parallel lane appears, we take it, this now being NCR 5 to Alsager.

It starts to rain – only lightly, but the temperature has dropped. We circle around to find the Asda, but decide given that the clouds are looking ominous now, to sprint down to The Plough on the western end of Alsager. This is a typical all-you-can-eat roast meal buffet pub but we opt for so-so sandwiches and a meagre bowl of chips. It was warm inside– that's the only good thing we could say about it!

With 27 of the 50 miles ridden, the route back is down the delightful lanes around Oakhanger and Winterley until Crewe environs appear. We slide around Coppenhall and onto Church Minshull. The bikes now know the way back to Tarporley via Eaton. If we had gone back to Utkinton, it would have been 50 miles.

Ray and I choose to head for home via Hargrave and Huxley. Back into Chester, it has warmed up to 15C and Ray will have had a 75+ mile day with mine at 80 miles – the second 80 miler of the week!

So, many thanks to Ray for sticking with me today and taking the front as my legs were tiring on the way back. This was a circular ride trying to avoid the industrial towns of central Cheshire. If the sun had shone, I would have written an entirely different blog! 

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA


Saturday, 5 September 2020

3rd September 2020 : Rhos on Sea (brisk)

Today’s start location is the Gallery Coffee shop with the promise of hills and God’s wonderful country. Sun and strong wind promised by the weathermen. The café was as friendly as ever and pleased to see us back and was nice to be back. 

The brisk riders out today are just John and I with Ray on a promise at 15:00 and Clive taking it easy and Nick/John?. Ken is recovering after treatment but riding safely and with excellent performances. Not long before he’s back then!

John and I set off on a route to Rhos on Sea for a fish and chips lunch and we were not disappointed. Using the usual quick and easy route from Hawarden via Northop and skirting the A55, we were soon on the Halkyns. John had a mechanical, but fixed and were off. No support vehicles on our rides!

The long straight from the Monastery at Pantasaph was tough to the junction before the turn for Whitford. Although the head wind was making it a hard ride, we also have a few hills to navigate. The steepest and most challenging was leaving the Rhuddlan road riding along Primrose Hill road. I mentioned to John “why give such a road a pretty name” (Mike may comment) as the gradient is creeping upwards and getting harder. Passing through the little and very pretty village of St George we are now riding on a single track for approx. 2 miles at severe gradients between 15 and 20 %. We both got to the summit and Strava advised only one summit left to ride, bring it on!!

Passing through Dolwen, we spy a previous lunch stop, The Wheatsheaf, but continue on towards Colwyn Bay and Rhos. Our last summit was no where near as hard as expected and we are at the top of Old Colwyn and rolling down to the coast.

At the top




Arriving on the newish esplanade it is bathed in sunshine and even kids in the sea as we head for the chippy.The Galleon F&C shop is the location for lunch and they were enjoyed sitting on a bench looking out to sea they also tasted great.

We set off back towards Chester on NCR 5 and with a tail wind it was very welcome. We didn’t stop for tea and cake this afternoon passing through Flint and joining the Greenway home at Connah's Quay. 

John took leave at Blacon Station and I rode the last few miles home.  The circular route to and from Hawarden is around 80 miles. Our total was 20-mile greater riding out from Chester. My Garmin said 6000 feet of ascent but I think it nearer 5000* feet of climbing to enjoy or not, but at least you do the bumps first.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID


*plotaroute has 4200ft


Friday, 4 September 2020

3rd September 2020: Llandegla (mod)

 The Grand old Duke of York Ride!

 As this was my local ride, somehow Steve Tan had suggested I put together a route. In my defence I have only lived in the area and I knew if you don’t go down the coast or onto the Cheshire plain rides are either “Ard” or “Dead Ard”. So selecting an Ard ride I set off.

 This would be a good day as I was introducing a new member Alan Oates to the group. On arriving at the Gallery I was disappointed to see only two bikes outside and thought it’s only going to be a select few today. On walking through the door a wealth of CER folk were enjoying coffees and tea. Little did I know we park at the rear!

 Dave Heath completed the Elf and Safety information for Alan and we were split into a number of groups, Dave was off to Babell and he asked if I could lead a group. Initially we were Andy Barber, Steve Tan Alan and myself. Then Erik and Ray Stigter joined; Ray was on a time cut off so could only do part of the route. Just as we were leaving Clive arrived and now we were seven.

 The route out of Hawarden over the A55 was steady with Steve Tan showing why he wears the Ineos colours as our lead out man. A bimble through Sychdyn and through Mold had us on our first ascent of the day.

 I guess the clue is in the word Upper Bryn Coch road, which just seems to climb forever. Shortly we were in Maeshafn seven miles out and already tucking a thousand feet of climb in. We joined the Moel Famau road also known as Bwlch Penbarras, this was hard! At the top whilst the group waited for me I explained the next part of the ride was to drop into LLanbedr then climb to the Clwyd Gate. This resulted in a mutiny and the naming of the ride ‘Duke of York’ , as when we were up we were up and when we went down , we went straight back up.

 Local knowledge from Andy suggested a good route to maintain height and make a bee line for the lunch stop. The newly surfaced road around Llanarmon yn lal meant we descended like wraiths and Clive asked the question “why can’t all roads be like this”. At this point Ray broke off and headed back for Chester.

 As we were going to the mountain bike centre at Llandegla for lunch Clive suggested a bomb cratered small road as a route, which turned out to be a cracking route into the centre for lunch. Whilst only having covered 27 miles we had ascended nearly 3000 feet.

 Replete with cheese on toast, minted lamb wraps, Welsh burgers or super salad boxes we set off back. Clive took the lead and showed everyone a new route through Bwlchgwyn and back down into Caergwrle. The descents were sublime after all the climbing we had done.

 Andy left us to head for Mold and the remaining crew wound our way back to Hawarden.

 So a tough challenging ride completed with aplomb by everyone, thanks to Andy for the common sense and local knowledge and Clive for the route back. I recorded 40 miles and 3700 feet of climbing all done at a CER mod pace of 12mph.

 Steve Hughes

See route map and/or gpx download

3rd September 2020: Gwaenysgor (mod)

I arrived at Hawarden to find that a number of club members were already in attendance occupying our usual corner. I walked in with Keith and as all the chairs were taken we were directed by Spiros to a table on the other side of the room. Here I bored Keith with tales of my cycling the length of the Leeds - Liverpool canal while we drank our coffee. This is my excuse for not really taking much notice of who was around. So no list of members present from me I am afraid.

 Dave H joined us and asked if I could put together a route to the Eagle & Child at Gwaenysgor which would not involve steep climbs particularly early in the ride. Not an easy ask but I quickly, for me at least, came up with a plan. This moderate group consisted of Dave, Keith and myself. Not sure how this happened - I must pay more attention in future. We set off following the usual route into Wales through Ewloe, Northop Hall and Northop. To avoid the steep climb up to Rhosemor we braved the traffic for the 100 yard dash on the hard shoulder of the A55. Climbing steadily up to Pentre Halkyn I was telling the guys that June and I nearly bought a house here but were put off by the heavy trucks going to the quarry on the back of the mountain. Plenty were in evidence today. Clearing the quarry traffic we continued our steady climb up to Brynford. Crossing the golf course where the sheep considerably outnumbered the golfers we crossed over the A55 and bowled on down past the abbey to Gorsedd. In order to attempt to find some fairly level ground I decided that we would cycle along the A5151. This is a good route for cycling with a good surface and gentle up and down terrain. It was quiet during lockdown but busier today. Unscathed we got to the Gwaenysgor turnoff and enjoyed a tranquil amble to the village and the pub.

 The pub was busy. Dave had thoughtfully booked ahead and we were shown to our reserved table. Food and drink ordered and delivered in "cycling" time. 45 minutes later we were back on our bikes. During a planning meeting, over lunch, we agreed that we were ready for a few more hills on the return leg. Leaving the village we therefore ran down the delightful little valley to Llanasa where we took the long but not too steep climb heading for Trelawnyd. Short of Trelawnyd we dropped off to the left to the hamlet of Axton where we re-joined the A5151 to return to Gorsedd. To avoid covering any more of the outward leg here I decided to cycle on to Babell. Just short of the village we turned left and took the undulating lane to cross the B5121. The road kicks up now and we dig deep to breast the top of the hill only to find another hill in front of us going past the quarry. Fortunately no trucks around as we swing right behind the quarry to finish our climbing on the summit of Halkyn mountain. Although I cycle out this way regularly I never tire of the splendid views across the Wirral to Liverpool and beyond. We turn right onto the B5123 to cycle along to Rhosemor. Here we turn left and free wheel down narrow winding country lanes to Northop only disturbed by white van man, coming the other way, who nearly took Keith out as the big van was travelling far too fast on these narrow roads. This didn't detract from a thoroughly enjoyable ride in amiable company. I left my companions at Northop so I am afraid I don't know how many miles we cycled but not sure it really matters. 40 plus perhaps.

 GW