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.