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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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Thursday, 23 September 2021

23rd September 2021 : St Martins (brisk)

Those of us who lead rides find it increasingly difficult to devise a route which is not a wholesale repeat of a previous ride. As time passes, and it's more than 12 years since the inaugural ride to Frankby in April 2008 and 900+ rides, the unique permutations of start point and lunch point reduce. So when Ivan asked “have you a route for Thursday" as he had a “complete loss of suggestions”, I thought, so have I! So I looked through previous rides but not with much conviction. I then consulted the advertised wind direction and wind speeds. It was perhaps going to be north westerly and quite strong. So the decision was made - let’s go south westerly then the wind will be across us and perhaps behind us at some stage.  So that’s how today’s brisk ride towards Oswestry came about - no magic and a lot of autorouting on PlotaRoute.

The Brisk group today had five riders - a 66% increase over the last month’s usual duo or triplet. John W, Ivan, Ray and new rider Matt, were happy to be lead astray from Alison’s towards Oswestry. Out via Barton and Wetreins Lane, we ride the Wrexham Industrial Estate ring road at some speed to skirt Bangor on Dee to get into the tiny lanes towards Dudleston Heath via Lightwood Green. I can’t remember the last time I took this lane to Hindford, but it was a joy to ride despite the twists and turns and sometimes rough surface. John’s now running low on fluid so the Premier mini-mart in Whittington was a lucky find for a top up.

The original ride (which now most of the riders have on their Garmins) is showing a run down to Sainsburys in Oswestry, but I decide to change the route to cut this bit out. So they are all riding blind and playing follow-my-leader as I take them through The Park towards Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital. A right and a left passing Derwen College, finds us nearly back on track riding towards the St Martins road. This road is ever upwards and it’s a relief when Stans Superstore comes into view at the top of the hill. 

Ivan and John have used Stan’s before but the last time they couldn’t gain entry as a serious crime had taken place and police were everwhere. This time there was no such problem except for the personal problem of choosing what to buy in the “£3.50 meal deal”. Across the road, there is a small memorial park to the miners of St Martins who worked at the nearby Ifton coal mine - the last one to close in the area in 1998. We sit in the sunshine enjoying the facilities in this surprisingly busy area.

Time to go again and a very pleasant ride to Overton, despite the very nasty dip with it’s 10% gradient at the border between England and Wales. Equally the ride back to Worthenbury is enjoyable despite bad road surfaces. With this in mind, I eschew the rat-run back to Holt in favour of Chorlton and Tilston with the pleasure of Carden Hill. This part of the ride back was slightly difficult for Ivan as his Shimano Di2 Ultegra gear train had run out of battery and thus little opportunity to change gear, nevertheless he didn't seem to slow down at all!

We were back in Tattemhall about 1445 after almost 58 fast miles (16.5 mpg avg). As Alison’s was due to close, we head for home. John, Ray and Matt split off as I persuade Ivan to seek out the Tattenhall Marina cafe. We arrive to find the road barred but sidle around this to seek out the cafe. It looked shut and as it was getting cold and the sun had gone in, we decide to give it a miss.

Arriving back in Chester environs, I remark that I will have about 86 miles on the clock. Ivan encourages me to add a loop to at least ride 90 and maybe 100 miles. However sanity (and aching legs) prevails along with the thought of a hot shower, a hot coffee, a comfy chair and the Times crossword "chez moi”.

So once again, many thanks to the group for shepherding me around, and for Ivan’s kind comment that it he didn’t think it would be possible to find a route which brought quite so much enjoyment.

Ifton Miner statue

Explantory Plaque

Link to Ifton Colliery info here

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photos : JW

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