Steve Tan, Steve Haywood, Neil Tanner, Mike Dodd, Peter and myself formed a handy half dozen for our ride. It was good to see Steve Hughes, who had ventured out of what Mike Gilbert has called, “the Welsh Open Prison”, in order to share a coffee and a laugh. Steve Haywood was managing a knee condition, but it was great to have him on board again. Dave Matthews and Jim had also ridden out, but could not join us for the day due to, respectively, a calf problem and some restoration work needed on an old BMW. Alison's was spot-on as usual, and it was nice to have a socially distanced chat in a relatively sheltered area. The change of venue from Ness on the Wirral was to avoid the high winds around the coast, with a far greater choice of sheltered routes from Tattenhall.
My route out was by way of Coddington and Stretton. At Tilston we wound up to Edge Grange, over the old Whitchurch and Tattenhall dismantled railway line, and eventually to Hampton Post and No Mans Heath, all on sheltered, small lanes. This did entail crossing and re-crossing the A41, however, but without much hassle. I mentioned to Neil that we had often had lunch in the past at the cosy, 18thcentury Wheatsheaf Inn at No Mans Heath. A few years ago it was popular for tasty sausages and gravy served in a large Yorkshire pudding. Let's hope it will open again soon. We cycled east through Bickley Town, Swanwick Green, Gauntons Bank and Wrenbury. The wind was pretty well behind us as we bowled along Marsh Lane from Ravensmoor and into Nantwich centre by way of paths across the park and the River Weaver. There were a few places available for coffee and snack takeaways, but experience told me that the Costa along the short, cobbled lane to the church would probably provide the quickest turnaround and a toastie if required. As it happened, the troops decided not to bother balancing coffee and bikes in order to find a bench or sit on the steps at the front of the church; we just stayed put in the empty and sheltered, walled car park, and sat on the kerbside. Some of you will remember using this Costa as a late coffee stop after about 80miles on Clive's Potteries Adventure, a couple of years ago I think. The clean public toilets were open outside the market about 100 yards away. I received some mild stick for taking a little time to chat to the chutney and jams woman, who now also sells home-made pies, all at very low prices. Maybe, with interest rates so low I should invest my pension in her business: Gregg's and M&S had to start somewhere!
The route home was deliberately direct in anticipation of strong headwinds. We passed the Marina, which has a very nice cafe on the waterside, and Dorfold Hall estate, before turning left at Acton, by the ancient church. For expediency, we rode along the Wrexham Road for a mile or so rather than diverting south west and then having to ferret and fiddle up to familiar Faddiley. We turned right at Burland Upper Green and battled the wind to Haughton and the Fancy House. I favoured Spurstow and Peckforton to Beeston rather than Bunbury, but I gave the dinky Radleywood link lane a miss, paticularly, as the apparent pointlessness of it raises Neil's blood pressure. Last time we went down there we rode through a flood so deep and long that two local women stood and applauded us! From Beeston, Neil provided a useful tow into the headwind for me and Steve Tan as we headed past Owler Hall to Newtown. Peter had already taken his leave for Chester before we reached Tattenhall. It was a pity that Alison's was closed, but I hope everybody enjoyed the ride. Thirty-eight miles were covered in total for those of us parked at Tattenhall. It has seemed worth the effort to start our rides again these last two weeks. The Fast Lads obviously had an enterprising and enjoyable ride, and I am looking forward to arrangements being closer to normal next week, and hopefully being joined by some of our Wales fraternity.