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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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Friday 12 July 2024

11th July 2024: Aston (mod)

 Despite the distracting sunny countenance of Carol Kirkwood, nobody in our club was likely to miss the forecast of rain for Tattenhall. Some riders were away, others, like Kevin, a possible recruit, had concluded that cycling in the rain wasn’t much fun. There were just three of us at Alison’s willing to give it a go: Alan, Steve and myself.


Whitchurch was the agreed destination, and we set off climbing to Brown Knoll. I wanted a change from the Broxton Old Hall route, so after a bit of muddle not helped by a wilting wet map and wet specs, we slid down past Mad Allen’s Hole (really!) then headed for Cholmondeley.  At the Cholmondeley Arms we felt that a slightly reduced route to the Bhurtpore at Aston would be preferable, as we were already becoming quite wet. Actually, Steve told us later that his bargain new waterproof had at least kept his torso bone dry. At Wrenbury we diverted toward Pinsley Green, and then turned left for Aston in order to avoid extensive roadworks on the normal route to Aston. We received a warm welcome at “The Bhurty” and we enjoyed the ambience of the cosy wigwam. Evidently, the big tent is rented only until the pub’s refurbishment is completed. Our food was well up to scratch. I can’t remember if the rain ever went off, but it was not  torrential or properly cold, and we set off on an attractive back lane to Marbury before turning north west to Buckley and on to No Man’s Heath. Before Malpas we headed up to Ebnal, Kidnal and Tilston. At Tilston our route was pretty direct through Carden, Clutton and Chowley. Alan managed to capture some of the heavy flooding we encountered on camera, and we agreed it was as wet as some of our very wet winter runs. 


Were we glad to get back to the warmth and dry of our cars? Yes! Were we glad that we had made the effort to ride? A unanimous “Yes!” Having been away and not cycled for three weeks, I was particularly in need of a ride, and grateful for the company and patience of Alan and Steve. A reasonable thirty-four miles covered given the conditions.

DH

See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday 5 July 2024

4th July 2024: Cholmondeley (mod)

I think it is Plato who is quoted as saying that the first requirement of any leader is that they have no desire to lead.  This was certainly true, in my case, as I found myself leading six Easy Riders out of Meadow Lea.  We were bound for the café and farm shop outside the gates of Cholmondeley Castle.  Why? I hear you ask.  Good question.  It was, as with many things in life, as a result of a chance remark.  In this instance by Dave M while we were sitting outside Maggie’s last week.  He had remarked that he had heard good reports of this café and so I thought, why not.

My band of brothers consisted of Andy B; electric Ray; Dave M; Andy W; Neil and Steve Haywood.  It was good to see both Andy W and Steve neither of whom I have seen for some time.

We cycled through Waverton and alongside the Shropshire Union canal.  Turning through Huxley and Brassy Green.  Steve left us at Huxley so not as to aggravate a tweaked Achilles.  Down to six riders we cycled around Beeston Castle and on to Bunbury where Andy W couldn’t resist the call of Tilley’s.  Thank goodness I didn’t lose any more of my “chosen men” as the five of us headed south to cross the A534 at Brindley.  Here we turned south west through Larden Green and crossing the A49 we arrived at the café.

There were tables outside and we decided that would do nicely as the weather was dry.  However, while ordering our food we espied a trestle table with comfortable seating in a cosy alcove indoors and immediately sat ourselves down.  The staff were welcoming and friendly and the quality of the food was very good.  The crockery from a bygone age. However, a couple of caveats.  The menu was limited to sandwiches and cakes so no full meals.  Also, Neil and Andy W had mentioned that their opening times can be variable.  So best to check by ringing as their website is not always accurate.  That said for us overall we were well satisfied.  The only negative comment from Andy B who considered his sandwich on the small side countered by Dave M who informed the staff his sandwich was the best he had eaten in a long time.


Photos by Neil T

Suitably replenished we said farewell to Dave M who was taking a more direct route home as he had hoovering and dusting to do before his good lady arrived back, from a holiday in Devon, later that day.  Now down to four we continued our tour of rural Cheshire.  Climbing up past Egerton Hall we turned right at Hampton Post.  I had intended cycling through Bickerton and Harthill.  Although I was acutely aware that Andy B and Ray had been over this ground with me on last week’s ride.  Thankfully Neil came to my rescue by offering an alternative route through Brown Knowl and circling around behind Bolesworth Castle.  He then continued to lead us along a honeycomb of narrow lanes before arriving, as if by magic at the Ice Cream farm.  Once a favourite of the club but now, for various reasons, consigned to history.  I had intended re-crossing the canal and going back to Waverton through Hargrave which, would again have meant covering some ground we had traversed on the outward leg.  Again, Neil offered us a better alternative.  We cycled through Gatesheath and crossing the A41 arrived at Bruera before turning north.  Neil, his sheepdog work over for the day, had left us at the A41 to head for home.  And thus it was the last three men standing who trundled into Waverton.  Here Andy said adios leaving Ray and myself to cycle the last mile or so into Guilden Sutton.

45 miles covered at an average speed of 11.6 mph.  The same average speed as last week.  I have no idea how that happened.  My thanks to my fellow riders for their good company throughout and particularly to Neil for his route guidance, his spells of leading and the photographs.          


GW          

Thursday 4 July 2024

4th July 2024 : Church Minshull (Mod+)

What a good turnout at Meadow Lea today. A great mix of riders and members. It was good to see Steve Ha following his self-inflicted confinement in the beer tent at Kelsall Show. It was great to see he had escaped such thirsty period relatively unharmed. 

The mod+ group had three rides: Steve T proposed Church Minshull,  Neil T had a subterranean ride to the Elephant at Parkgate and last, Clive had a circular route to Honey’s in Caergwrle. On realising the Church Minshull ride would entail riding into a headwind for close to twenty miles, Neil T dropped his spinnaker and defected to the mods to embrace George’s route. 

So the merry quartet of Clive, Alan, Steve T & H set off from Meadow Lea. Leaving the estate roads of Mickle Trafford, we headed on the busy Warrington Road through Bridge Trafford before turning right onto quiet lanes to Manley. Here we joined Ashton road a popular parking area for CER’s Delamere starts. Soon Hatchmere and Norley were quickly despatched as the full effect of the tailwind could be felt. 

The small lanes through Cuddington and Sandiway gave way to the slightly more built environs of Winsford. Steve route took us right through the centre which today was remarkably traffic free. The fast - flowing Swallow Lane soon welcomed us into the village of Church Minshull and the lunch stop of The Badger pub.

Sitting outside in one of the Alpine Huts, we quickly digested our wraps and varied poached egg meals. Within metres of restarting, we felt the brunt of the headwind. However due to the route Steve had chosen which passed through Cholmondeston and Wettenhall, we seemed to be shielded by the high hedges. 

Courtesy of AO International Photos Inc
The drag through and up out of Eaton was just that, a combination of headwind and uphill that challenged even the mighty Clive. Now as we crossed Tarporley Road, we were on Neil T’s “flat ride” from last week. The plunge down to Utkinton road and the short lanes brought us to the welcome sight of Walk mill, where it was unanimously agreed we needed a coffee stop. 

Alan O kindly provided coffees for everyone; thank you for your generosity Al. Now with only five miles to go, we set off for Meadow Lea farm. Pausing only to bid farewell to Clive in Christleton who was returning to Chester. Steve T had a wind-assisted leg to Runcorn, and Steve H and Alan plodded home on the greenway dodging the wind. 

A very pleasant 42 mile route in excellent company and pleasant albeit windy conditions.


Steve Hu

Friday 28 June 2024

27th June 2024: Burwardsley (mod+)

Maggies was the venue for today's meeting and at least a dozen turned up. It soon became apparent that nobody had a route bar me, as there was no SHa or DH today, due to holiday packing or something like that for the latter. However, it sounds like we may get SHa back this summer. This meant the minority of easy riders were left looking at each other for a while. However, I did see George with an OS map in hand (obviously been to the school of DH cycling leadership- Lol).  Elec Ray arrived, somewhat late, perhaps he saved the day- Lol.

Unusually, the majority of the meet were Mod+ enthusiasts. However, there were a few fast boys, also without a leader it seemed. Anyway, what I thought was likely to be a lone ride for me,  became a group of 8 - what!- Lol. I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned that my route was specifically aimed at negating the very strong SW winds, which inevitably meant small hills. This led to everybody jumping on my train-  Lol. So that’s how my group of 8 formed, although I would quickly realise there was a maveric undertone within the peloton - more about that later- Lol, Lol.

Once upon a time in a land, not so far away,  there were 8: Steve H, Steve T, Allan, Ray (non Elec) Shane, Clive and Nick. We headed north up to Aldford with a lovely tailwind start, but as usual with me, I throw in a few little back lanes so we can all admire the scenery and sites in some cases. After slipping around the back of Churton, we then head onto the back of Aldford for our first unusual site, which was the Gnome garden, belonging to a house that also has some of the finest gable end decoration I have ever seen. In fact most of the village have similar decoration, as most of you probably know, although this particular house  seems to have more detail. Most of you are probably well aware that Aldford village is the jewel in the crown of the Duke of Westminster's village estates and hence, the immaculate up keep of these houses. (Never seen the likes in any other village, not to this standard- see photo)


We head out of Aldford, over the Dee bridge, turning right to Bruera and Platt’s Lane beyond. This allows us to get across the A41 via the pavement and keep the tailwind of course, which continues as we turn left toward Tattenhall, although we are by-passing the village via Old Ma’s (alas no more, but the sign is still up)

It was not long before we were passing the ice cream farm, which prompted me to deliberate on a route change, as I realise the tailwind is slightly more westerly than originally thought. Thus we turn left toward Beeston, which not only provides more tailwind, but eventually sets us up for a right turn on to Peckforton Lane, after swinging around the back of Beeston. Our right turn, at the stunning white and red cottage on the corner, is where I consider is the start of the southern end of the Sandstone ridge and the start of a gradual uphill tap- Lol. 

The ridge line doesn’t really end until after Carden Park, somewhere near Tilston in fact, as that’s where one reaches the flat land again. However, the ridge line was now providing surprisingly good cover from the now diagonal headwind, that we were barely experiencing. What we were now experiencing was the steady uphill tap, which led Clive to remark about the burn in his legs, as we bear round another corner and up toward the Bickerton Poacher. 

As I was saying to Nick, later on at lunch, unfortunately the short stretch of the Nantwich / Wrexham road is the only way to traverse the local area of Bulkley (not without at least a 7 mile diversion via Bunbury that is). No sooner are we passing  Copper Mine lane, we head up again on a nasty little drag, which is where the ‘Maverick 5’ decide to show their cards and form their own group, by not turning left to Bickerton with the rest of us, which was now just 3 loyal group members intent on finishing the full ride- Lol.

Clearly the previous few miles of gentle uphill riding had got to the legs of our maverick 5, to the degree that they felt they couldn’t endure the real climbing to come and decided on a short cut over Harthill. Although to be fair, I don’t think we can blame Shane for his part in the desertion. As the newest member of the club, he was probably just following the group. No doubt he was informed, by their ring leader,  that this was how CER ride. I can imagine the conversation; “don’t fret Shane, we often split into groups if the cycling gets a bit tough and take the short cut to our lunch destination. This has the added advantage of us getting our orders in first”- Lol, Lol, Lol.

So!  The loyal remainder of Clive, Allan and yours truly turn left down to Bickerton and then up over my favourite hilly lane (Goldford Lane), which Allan agreed was now his favourite lane as well, once down the other side. We now turn right for another upward haul on Old Coach Road toward Brown Knowl. After a very quick short descent we turn right into a lovely little farm lane that gets us back on course for what I call the easy way around Harthill (still up - Lol and called Bolsworth Hill road)

Not far from our lunch destination, I again deliberate on a left or right turn, deciding on the hillier way to the Poffee cafe. This would be our last climb and the steepest, with an extra kicker in the tail, off Harthill (Ridding Bank). No sooner done and we’re  cruising down toward the Poffee, only a half mile away.

Surprise, surprise, we find the Maveric 5 comfortably seated, waiting on their deserts, well maybe not quite their deserts - Lol, Lol. We greet the rest of the group, who were all providing a different excuse for not completing the ride, but we knew the truth- Lol. Somebody tried to make out that they had missed the turn because they were ahead of the ride leader, who I might say, was feeling the hill in question, after being on the front for the whole ride. Not that it bothered the loyal few, as we still experienced the FULL glory of the FULL route- Lol, Lol.

Lunch, not surprisingly had plenty of conversation and banter, too much for me to remember, although there was one enlightening moment when Steve H demonstrated a new sign language that had us all bewildered as he shook his middle finger in the air (somewhat like the posh folk with a cup of tea). He was apparently trying to order a fish finger sandwich. I’m not sure who was more confused, us or the waitress- Lol.



Photos by Neil T

Mind you, that was not the most enlightening moment of our lunch. I dared to comment on SH’s attempt at sign language, being a northern dialect, when I got a defensive barrage (stronger than the England Euro team) from,  no less than, the maverick 5 - Lol. Who knew ST was such a staunch defender of the North, after suggesting that I should have my lights punched out - Lol.

Lunch over and still with a straight nose, we set off for a relatively short final leg back to Holt, although only a few were going all the way back. We head down in to Tattenhall, via a little unknown lane to most, eventually turning left up the small hill to cross the A41 via Holywell lane and up to Carden Park, which provides excellent cover against the headwind. At the back entrance to CP (Stretton Mill lane) I depart the remainder, as we had already lost Clive & Ray in Tattenhall.

Steve H (aka- maverick 5 leader- Lol, Allan and Nick, I think) head down Stretton lane and I head through the golf course and home via Coddington and Aldersey.

I got home with 74k on the clock and 575 mtrs of assent. Hopefully the rest all made it home safely.

A lovely day out with some great company and even better  banter. The route worked out really well for the wind conditions and one to save. Worth doing a second time, for the maverick 5 of course, so they can enjoy the FULL majesty of the route- Lol, Lol, Lol,Lol.

See route map and/or gpx file download

Till next time, Neil (alias - Lady Whistledown- for those in the know🤪🤣)


27th June 2024: Malpas (mod)

A goodly number of members congregated in the sunshine outside Maggie’s enjoying their refreshments served by the friendly and efficient staff.

With his usual thoroughness Neil had a comprehensive route for the Mods+ meticulously planned to avoid, as far as humanly possible, cycling into the prevailing WNW wind forecast for the day.  In contrast, I had no plan.  In our usual courteous and civilised manner we sub-divided into our groupings and we were off.

Andy had kindly offered to keep me company and just as we were leaving electric Ray appeared.  He had gone to Alison’s in the mistaken belief that it was today’s starting point.  I did overhear some dark mutterings of duff information provided by Trevor but I couldn’t possibly comment!

I had grabbed an OS map on my way out of the house as Dave H had thoughtfully let me know that he wouldn’t be riding today.  A cursory glance at the map and I vaguely suggested a loop south and then east stopping for lunch when we were hungry.  Crossing the river we headed south.  Through Shocklach and Worthenbury to Bangor on Dee and thence to Overton.  Turning east and then north, with Andy helpfully leading the way, we cycle through Tallarn Green and Threapwood as he safely navigated us to Malpas.  Here we decided to have lunch at the little café Dave H and I rediscovered a few months ago.  Lunch topics ranged from a detailed description of Ray’s recent dental work, not for the faint hearted, to the UK housing market.

Suitably replenished I showed my fellow travellers a possible return route.  All agreed.  This was immediately scuppered as I took the wrong road out of Malpas.  Andy made several attempts to politely point out the error of my ways but I ploughed on regardless.  I thought I knew the road.  I was on the road I had in mind, it was just not the right road.  I eventually had to admit defeat and again take the OS map out of my back pocket.  The loop to the east now became a loop to the north.  We visited Bickerton, climbed Hart Hill and bumbled (as Brian Mac used to say) into Tattenhall.  Turning south and crossing the A41 we turned right at Chowley, through Coddington to Churton to pick up the B5130 back to Holt. 

40 miles covered at an average speed on 11.6 mph.  A good ride.  I must thank Andy and Ray for their patience and unfailing good humour on this mystery tour.  The modern day Easy Rider is nothing if not flexible and adaptable.         

GW


Monday 24 June 2024

20th June 2024: Aston (mod)

It was a pleasure to see Steve Haywood at Rose Farm and witness the real progress he is now making on his journey back to fitness. We look forward to his company on the lanes before too long. Dave Matthews was very busy organising the imminent Bob Clift fifty-mile ride, so was only accompanying us for a short distance. Our bunch of take it very easy riders consisted of Mold Andy, Dave Pipe, Big Ray, Trevor and myself. We headed out via Cotebrook in the direction of Nantwich but diverted east to Aston juxta Mondrum just to explore unknown little lanes for the hell of it. The village name means ‘Aston near the forest’ and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book. There was one massive farm complex but also a sprinkling of lovely properties down quiet lanes including Aston Hall, and Poole Old Hall as we returned west. We joined the A51 briefly at Henhull Bridge, but were soon back on little lanes at the back of Dorfold Hall estate. Dave had kindly rung The Bhurty to secure our lunch booking.  At Wrenbury large roadworks on the lane to Aston slowed our good progress. We enjoyed a warm reception from the family and their friends who have taken over the Bhurtpore and integrated the ‘18 The Park’ operation from up the road. I didn’t quite catch the start of the lunchtime conversation, but I gather that Trevor must be going on a cruise, because Ray was gleefully telling him that he would return a lot heavier with a big fat face. This was odd because Ray is always trying to convince us that taking a cruise is a wonderful experience, that does you the world of good. We have noticed, mind, that Ray normally returns from a cruise with a big fat head, although that is probably because he started out with one. Dave was in his element being invited to try three different types of beer before settling on one that was acceptable to his veteran boozer’s palate. It felt like going back in time to be in the garden of the Bhurtpore with Dave ordering a curry. Back in 2008 he may well have followed up with a traditional pudding swilled down with another pint.

Our intended direct return was soon extended by missing the roadworks, and working out a delightful diversion to Pinsley Green, Marbury, and Gaunton’s Bank before meeting our normal route to Chorley and on to Bunbury. It was a lovely day, but we were unaccustomed to the heat. Dave and I were going fine but were fancying cake and coffee to restore our energy with climbing to Utkinton ahead. I had drunk too much wine, and had too little sleep the night before, and Dave was feeling it in his legs as he approaches his ninety eighth birthday.  Trevor was easily persuaded, as he could view the stop as acclimatising to eating when you don’t have to in preparation for his cruise. It didn’t seem natural to be filling our faces late afternoon without Andy shovelling it down on the other side of the table. Andy had headed for home earlier, but no doubt would have cycled the extra miles for coffee and a thick,moist cherry and almond slice at Tilly’s, if we had made the decision to stop earlier. Ray didn’t have much choice, as he had no idea how to get back without our presence.   

We arrived back via Tiverton. In my sun-frazzled mind I had entertained Steve Tan bringing the Berlingo down from Rose Farm to pick me up. It would have saved him more waiting time, and give me a better chance to view live the England versus Denmark game kicking off at 5p.m. It seemed like cheating: avoiding the last climbs, but this choice was dashed anyway by my realising that I hadn’t given the car keys to Steve! It was a fast, but not reckless, drive to Runcorn. I needn’t have bothered, because England were as underwhelming as a Costa egg sandwich.  A lovely day on the bike in relaxing company, with about forty miles covered (considerably more for Trevor and Andy).

DH

Friday 21 June 2024

20th June 2024: Audlem Marina (mod+)

There was a good turnout of CER members at Rose Farm café. It was especially good to see Steve Haywood, who had cycled from home to join us for coffee. He’s making slow but steady progress and hopes to join us again for coffee the next time that we’re on this side of Chester.

I’d planned a mod+ ride down to Audlem Marina (or Overwater Marina, Touring Park and Glamping, to give it its official but lengthy title). My companions for the day would be Steve Hu, Shane, Neil and (once he’d scoffed his scone, jam and cream breakfast), Alan.

Turning left out of the car park, we ran down the now smooth hill before turning right into Wood Lane, which, as Neil was soon to complain, is anything but smooth. Crossing the A51 at Clotton, we were soon whizzing down Corkscrew Lane, heading for Huxley and Brassey Green before dropping downhill to cross the Shropshire Union canal by the Shady pub. (Does anyone know why they dropped ‘Oak’ from the pub name?)

There then followed the long drag up past Beeston Castle and the pleasant lane through to Bunbury Heath, where we crossed the A49. Riding past Tilly’s Neil suggested that the business is up for sale, but Dave H and the mods stopped there on their way back today and no mention was made of this.

Pressing on, we crossed the A54 at Brindley and swept on through Larden Green and Chorley, heading for Wrenbury. On the way there, we came across ‘Road Closed’ signs but were allowed through by the bored-looking watchman provided that we got off an walked the bikes through. This turned out to be unnecessary as they were just patching potholes using a fancy machine which finished off the repair using chippings which would soon be worn away.

Passing through Wrenbury and Sound, we soon arrived at Audlem Marina and headed to the Bridge 80 Café for a spot of lunch. This was soon ordered and bacon and egg barms, scrambled eggs on toast and other delicious offerings arrived, including a full breakfast for Alan, who must have been starving, having not eaten for….two hours! The food was good and it was delightful to sit in the sunshine watching the barges pass by on the canal.

Lunch over, we headed north along Cool Lane, past the (not so) Secret Nuclear Bunker at Hack Green, heading for Nantwich. Skirting the town via the lakeside park and housing estate we emerged on the north side of the town and picked up Welshman’s Lane to cross the A51 and run past Rease Heath college. Crossing the Shropshire Union canal (again) at Venetian Marina we continued north to Cholmondeston, where Neil and Shane peeled off to head home. The three musketeers pressed on to Eaton and up the steep incline to the summit at Tarporly Road. Taking the little lane towards the A49 by-pass, we realised that we had not taken the traditional group photo, so, with apologies to Neil and Shane, we stopped for a selfie.

Photo by AO

Having nipped across the A49 to reach Utkinton Road, it was now a short stretch back to Rose Farm. Alan and I headed there for a well-deserved ice cream, but Steve Hu was on a promise in Denbigh, so he headed to Waverton, where he’d left his car.

44 miles covered at a typical mod+ pace of 14mph. Today, it really felt like summer had finally arrived…..on the longest day of the year. Thanks to Alan, Shane, Neil and Steve for their company and encouragement on a day when I was testing to see how my now permanent (?) AF might affect my cycling.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST

Friday 14 June 2024

13th June 2024: No destination (mod)

Jim and I had been keeping an eye on today's weather forecast all week and it looked like Thursday afternoon was going to be wet, wet, wet! By Wednesday afternoon it didn't look any better so we decided that we would cycle up to the Gladstone Library at Hawarden for coffee and then cycle home by whichever route would get us back before the rain came. Dave H was in two minds as to whether to venture out or not but eventually decided to join us.

I don't usually describe our journey to the starting cafe – it's not part of the ride – but the reason for writing the following will soon become clear. The three of us set off towards Chester eventually reaching the River Dee at The Groves. From here we followed the river, round the Roodee racecourse and along to Ferry Lane bridge. We crossed the bridge turning right to go past the Airbus factory then left up Rake Lane. At the top we turned right for the climb up to Hawarden.

There were more members at the library than we had expected (we hadn't expected any) but all had an eye on the afternoon's weather. As a result no-one was going to lead a moderate ride and therefore our ride out became the moderate ride. Hence the route description thus far. David M had driven to Holt and ridden up from there so joined us for part of the ride as we left Hawarden. We turned down the Wrexham road then up to the edge of Bilberry Wood before crossing the A55 via the footbridge. Lower Mountain Road took us south before dropping down to Lavister. Here we decided to turn left – a wise decision as it turned out – to return via Eccleston and in order to avoid Handbridge I navigated a route through the houses to cross the river by the Queens Park bridge.

Now it was simply a matter of retracing our route back to the start. No lunch out this week but just over 31 miles ridden. The rain started just as I cycled onto my drive.  

TC

Sunday 9 June 2024

6th June 2024 : Ruthin (Mod+)

An outstanding turnout for our latest special ride; just about filled the library carpark. After much deliberation of how many layers we’d need, most riders opted for the (slightly) less demanding mod ride, with just Clive and myself on the superior ‘plus’ ride. Not sure how my name got to be on the ride planners list though. All I did was ride it with the Hughes’s last year, so a big thanks to them.

After a nice flat wind-assisted run up to St Asaph, we started to climb up to Cefn, past the impressive and isolated St Mary's church, and down to the Elwy valley. Conscious of the fact I was riding with an avid history buff, I just had to point out the Neolithic caves in the cliff face.

Then the lane ramped up sharply, and found that surprisingly Clive didn’t disappear from sight. Luckily for me Clive had not been out riding for several weeks, so, was off ‘brisk’ for the day! The hills just kept coming after Henllan, but was still enjoyable on mostly well-surfaced lanes and stunning Welsh countryside.

Our main objective was to push on and beat the mods to the lunch stop. This we achieved as neither of us wanted to be behind Dave H ordering his 3 course luncheon!(lol). They arrived soon after, and thanks to Megs, shepherding at the rear, no one was missing! 

The return leg along the Clwyd valley was thankfully flatter, albeit into a cool headwind. A few more climbs took us up to Rhuallt and on to Cwm with cracking views to the west. Here we took a diversion and dropped down into the valley. Just had to show Clive the ‘bridge to nowhere ‘. Pont Dafydd is a four hundred year old bridge that is now land-locked due the river being diverted during the construction of the A55.


Sitting on the side of the Pond Dafydd

By Eirian Evans, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25541593

A challenging 3900ft of climbing over 43mls, and thanks to Clive for his always interesting and pleasant company.

See route map and/or gpx file download

AO

CA: Many thanks Alan for leading this ride and especially pointing out the churches, cliffs and for the interesting diversion to Pont Dafydd. 

Friday 7 June 2024

6th June 2024: Ruthin (mod)

 Alan, Megan & I have previously ridden this route, and, with pressure from Steve Tan to try it as a special ride, Megan changed the route to afford two options . A mod plus ride of forty miles with 3800 ft climbing and a moderate route of 38 miles with 2600 ft of climbing.

 It was with delight that a total of fourteen CER faithful tuned up including our planner and tail gunner Megan.

 After refreshments and cakes at Baileys Cafe, the group split into a Mod+  group led by Alan and a Mod group led by Steve Hu. The Mod group consisted of Megan & Steve Hu, Keith, Dave H, Fiona & Elwyn (newly married, congratulations) Trevor, Jim, Andy, Mike, Mike Gilbert & George.

The route out of Rhuddlan is by a cycleway which dives under the A55 and into St Asaph. Leaving the busy roads behind we struck off Glascoed Rd and started a long slow climb to Bont Newydd. Here the road plunges down negating all our climbing to a small bridge over the River Elwy. The road is attractively called Lon Jack Ffrwn but it might as well have been called “killer hill” as its a 0.4 mile hill with an average gradient of 14.5%

Those of you who study statistics will know averages are deceptive, If I sit with my feet in the freezer and my head in the oven (switched on, not gas DH) I’m averagely warm!  Such was Lon Jack F, very steep in parts with little respites. However, 100% of folk got up and all were pleased with their efforts. From here the road levels off and we descend into the small village of Henllan.

We now enjoyed the roads along the bottom of the valley which wound their way into Denbigh. Stopping only for a quick photo stop outside the rambling Denbigh Sanatorium where incidentally Fiona worked in the past.


Photo by SHu


Taking Prion road we dropped into the tiny village of Llanrhaeadr. By now stomachs were a rumbling and the cry of “are we there yet” was heard more than once. A swift descent to Telpyn, stopping only to let cars trucks and tractors by, saw us arrive at Ruthin and Cafe R.

It was great to see Clive and Alan who had achieved their objective of doing more climbing and mileage yet arriving before us. A glitch on Alans computer announced that their average was 9.5 mph compared to our 10.5 mph implied either the computer was wrong or they had caught a bus!

Full of Quiche, Sandwiches Cakes and many other savoury dishes we set out on our return journey. Using the cycleway we quick passed Rhewl and LLanynys. from here the route turns east to follow the shoulder of the vale of Clwyd towards Llandyrnog. Crossing the main road at Bodfari we started the gentle, and not so gentle climbs up to Tremeirchion and lastly Rhuallt. By now the views over the valley rewarded our efforts and had it been clearer we could have seen Snowdon.

 At Cwm everyone was delighted to hear all the climbing was done and the plunge down into Rhuddlan was a lovely three mile blast.

 A great day out for a special ride, no rain, great company and a lovely route planned by Megan and Alan. Thanks to everyone for coming along and for Alan who led the Mod plus group. 


See route mapand/or gpx file download

Monday 3 June 2024

30th May 2024: Loppington (mod)

Steve Tan, Keith, the two Welsh boyos and I turned up at Chirk in the expectation of improving weather. It turned out that the Dickin Arms at Loppington was the luscious lunch destination for both rides. Once again, the slow group consisted of just two riders, in this case Keith and me, as George had a sore knee and Big Ray was missing. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had a short, circular ride with Keith southeast of Chirk with very wet weather known to be approaching from the south. At least on that occasion, we didn’t have far to go when the rain duly swept in, and we dried out over lunch back at Castle Bistro.

 Today was pleasant as we crossed the busy roundabout on the A5 and turned down the small, quiet lanes to Hindford and Welsh Frankton. We had expected some flooding, but despite some big dips there was very little water loitering from previous rainy days. Swooping down to Lower Frankton always feels both exhilarating and relaxing. The little cottages alongside the lush green lane look to be very desirable residences to retire to. But, where is the nearest Indian? The little bridge over the Llangollen Canal is incredibly steep, as witnessed by the gouging of car exhausts in the tarmac. After Keith’s recent adventures in America and northern Spain, he seems to enjoy being on his bike again at a steady Eddie pace which gives him some moderate preparation for next week’s Special Ride. At Lower Hordley we chose the little lane route to Cockshutt, passing Kenwick Lodge and crossing the A528 before reaching Loppington via English Frankton. We reach the pub seconds after Steve Hughes, Steve Tan and Alan. The food was “a cut above” as always, and it’s a pleasant change these days to be altogether for lunch. When I reached the till I found that Keith had paid for my lunch, which was very generous of him. We returned by way of Colemere, Spunhill and Lee. This may well have been the end of our journey as a large Audi SUV came barrelling down the narrow lane from Tetchill at an incredible pace, and we were in the firing line. The young driver seemed to be losing control, and we had no time to dismount. Despite what I presume was heavy braking, he shot past us with inches to spare, and then sped on. Having crossed the road at Welsh Frankton we followed our outbound route, before crossing the disused railway and turning right for New Marton and St.Martin’s.  Our return ride had been hilly, and although generally sheltered, we had been against the strong wind which had wafted us to lunch. Nevertheless, the sun was now hot, but we were without a Dave Pipe costume change pannier in which to stow outer layers. My sellotaped map was falling apart in the breeze when opened, and only fit for the bin when we finished. Not surprisingly, the waiting Steve Tan, basking in a chair outside the café, had just beaten the Yorkshireman record for making a cup of coffee last,( to save putting your hand in your pocket again). It would be too late for me to do Harry the dog’s afternoon walk, so we persuaded Steve to join us for a final coffee before driving home. Many thanks to Keith for being such an agreeable companion. A very relaxed day, and a welcome return to Chirk. About thirty-seven miles covered.

  DH 

Friday 31 May 2024

30th May 2024: Loppington (Mod+)

The weather first thing was awful and, given the strong north-westerly forecast for the day, it wasn’t surprising that only five members appeared at the Castle Bistro in Chirk. I’d planned a mod+ ride down to The Dickin Arms at Loppington; by coincidence Dave H had also planned to go there, but at a more leisurely pace. The mod+ group would comprise myself, Alan and Steve Hu, whereas Dave would be chaperoned by Keith, now returned from sojourns in Spain and Las Vegas.

It was dry but cool as the three musketeers sallied forth from Chirk, taking an outward route which took us towards the A5 roundabout, but turning right at The Poacher to pass through Chirk Bank before reaching Weston Rhyn. From there the conventional route was followed towards Oswestry, but along the way, we had to negotiate passage past a ‘Road Closed’ sign near Upper Hengoed. It was quite easy to wake up the guys who were ‘guarding’ the road from inside their truck and they let us through without any problem.

Weaving our way through Oswestry town, we were soon on Weston Lane, which popped us out near the Mile Oak industrial estate, where we crossed the A483. We were now on Maesbury Road with the wind behind us, so we flew through Maesbury and Maesbury Marsh trying to catch up with Steve 'Filippo Ganna' Hughes who had clearly recovered from his issues of last week.

The lanes through Wykey and Western Lullingfields were dry, smooth  and mostly traffic free. The occasional steep climb reminded us that this part of Shropshire is not The Cheshire Plain. Emerging onto the B-road at Marton, we followed it through Burlton, arriving at The Dickin Arms about 12.30.

Just as we were securing our bikes outside, Dave H and Keith arrived having taken a shorter route (or maybe the X43 bus?). All five of us were ushered to a table inside and food and drinks were soon ordered. As usual, the food (lamb tagines, steaks and beefburger) were excellent, although they did take a while to appear as the pub was busy.


Pausing outside St Michael and All Angels church for a photo, we set off back. By now the sun had come out and it was pleasantly warm as we made our way through English Frankton and Tetchill, although we now had the strong north-westerly in our faces as we went along, which made progress slower than our pace before lunch.

Crossing the A495 just outside Ellesmere, we made our way through the beautiful Shropshire countryside towards St. Martins and thence to the busy roundabout at the A5. On reaching The Poacher pub we diverted to pick up the tow path along the Llangollen Canal to avoid the steep climb into Chirk, arriving there at about 3.20. Steve and Alan headed off home while I waited at the café for Dave and Keith.

42 miles covered on a day which started with little promise, but delivered an excellent ride and great company.

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Tuesday 28 May 2024

23rd May 2024: Aston (mod)

The early morning view from my bedroom window was discouraging; every surface was soaking wet. This was not untypical in recent months, when contemplating a Chester Easy Riders Thursday outing. Only ridiculously positive personalities like Steve Tan could expect that a dry ride could be possible. Apparently, not many others fancied a wet coldish day on the bike. Apart from Steve Tan and myself, only riders conditioned in slate grey wet Wales were comfortable with attempting to enjoy a bike ride on such a day. So it was that George, Alan and Steve Hughes met us inside at Alison’s, as we wistfully recalled how we had all enjoyed a beautiful warm day earlier in the week. Steve Hughes was thinking of joining George and myself as he said that he wasn’t feeling too frisky. I discouraged him, thinking that he would become frustrated and cold at our leisurely pace. Of course, normally his company is always welcome (as welcome as a hornet getting inside your Lycra ). 

Without Megaphone Ray, the moderate group then, consisted of just George and me. Not for the first time over the years. I recall one enjoyable but icy ride to Bangor-on-Dee a few years ago with just the two of us. As far as George is concerned, you could not have more interesting and easy-going company. We headed out towards Beeston Castle in the hope of missing a hard climb or flooded roads on other routes from Tattenhall. The tactics sort of worked overall, but by Castleside Farm the road was well flooded, so much so that we stopped to allow the car behind to pass and test the depth. The lady in the car didn’t move as she was waiting to use us as her depth gauge. Anyway, by staying tight to the castle side of the road we ploughed through without incident. After Bunbury came Brindley, but the little lane to Gradeley Green was likely to be flooded, so we turned  left for Swanley Bridge, right to Ravensmooor, and south to Wrenbury. Then, quite a surprise! I had tried to contact 18 The Park a few times without success in order to book lunch. As we turned in at our intended venue a helpful, short, round man walking a small black and white terrier told us that it was no longer operating there. The good news was that it had relocated at the Bhurtpore  in nearby Aston. When we arrived at our old favourite, we had this wonderful hybrid of real ales and curries as of old, and the staff of 18 The Park doing their thing in the dining room at the end. A pleasant guy greeted us as the new owner. He had been a local dairy farmer and long-term customer. They were doing some renovation in the old bar area but had a high quality wigwam /marquee in the garden with a bar and tables. We settled for lunch in the tent, which had an attractive ambience, and really nice staff. The takeover had evidently been a friendly affair with the previous owner advising on beers.  They hadn’t got soda on draught in the tent yet, and in a true Dave Pipesque, north-east reaction, George immediately turned down his first choice of drink, because of the possible extra five and six required to buy a bottle of soda to go with his blackcurrant .   This from a man whose pension is rumoured to be comparable to that of the nearly eighty Tory MPs currently retiring. I can’t remember much of our amiable conversation, apart from discussing  a suitable small car for George to purchase next year to go alongside the Yeti in his stables.   

The ride back was direct as it would be largely against the wind, and Alison’s closes at three so if we arrived long after the mod plus threesome, Steve Tan could be stuck in the car park waiting  for his chauffeur. So, we headed for Cholmondeley Castle via Chorley Bank. The stretch up to Bickerton Hill is not my favourite slog, but the escarpment appeared to eventually shelter us from the wind. After the Harthill climb and welcome fast decent, it is easy to forget that there is a further sting in the tail up the road. I remember Bryan Wade cruising past me on his electric Cannondale on this steep bank. George recalled Mike Gilbert (the Irish Scouts Orienteering Champion circa 1899) of all people, once being caught out, having overlooked this low-geared last little challenge. We kept up a decent pace on the descent and run in. I only had ten or fifteen minutes to wait for the Aspirational Group, as they had adjusted their distance because Steve Hughes was more concerned about expiring than aspiring  this week. I received an email from him this morning, so he is still alive, and hopefully will soon be back to his best. Many thanks to George for his valued contribution to a relaxed day out. And Steve Tan, sometimes labelled as a deluded optimist, was right to be positive, because we were neither wet nor properly cold all day.  About 33mls. Covered. 

DH 

Friday 24 May 2024

23rd May 2024: Whixall (mod+)

The weather had been awful over the last couple of days and it was still raining as we drove down to Alison’s. Dave H had even thought of ringing me up to cancel as it was so bad. So, it wasn’t a great surprise when only five CER members arrived at the café – Dave H, Steves T and Hu, Alan and George.

Earlier in the week, before the weather had turned bad, I’d planned a ride down to The Sun Inn at Welshampton. Today the forecast for southern Cheshire and Shropshire suggested that the rain might subside, which it had as we took to our bikes. That left the concern about muddy or flooded roads for us to consider. Dave and George decided to head for Wrenbury and 18 The Park, so that left the two Steves and Alan for the ride to Welshampton.

We set off climbing towards Harthill, but turned right to make for Brown Knowl.  Pausing to catch our breath at the entrance to Broxton Old Hall (the residence of ‘Mr Iceland’), I was already getting complaints from my compatriots about how much climbing we were doing. At least we now had the run downhill to Hampton Heath and on to No Man’s Heath. Here we crossed the A41, passing through Bickleywood to re-cross the A41 to head into Bradley Green.

By this time the sun was peeping through the clouds and, to our surprise, the roads were largely dry and clean. We made for Higher Wych and Iscoyd Park, where we came across a small section of flooded road which we navigated without difficulty.

Crossing the A525 we paused at the other side. Steve and Alan asked if we could shorten the ride as Steve wasn’t feeling 100% and Alan was having some problems with his front mech and couldn’t get his chain on the big ring. So, we decided to stop for lunch at Whixall Marina and to figure out a route back from there. Continuing past Fenn’s Bank and Welsh End we soon arrived at Whixhall Marina where we were quickly served with a good lunch at a very reasonable price. After lunch Alan was able to fix his gear issue.

Our plan was to use the ‘Take me to’ feature of Steve Hu’s Wahoo computer to find a short route back to Tattenhall. However, the route that was offered seemed to be a combination of a canal bank and a very long stretch along the A41, which none of us fancied. In the absence of an alternative and missing Dave H’s ‘paper Garmin’ to be able to find one, we decided to use another option on the Wahoo which reversed the todays route. This was successfully achieved, so we set off for Tattenhall re-tracing the route we had followed in the morning.

To our surprise there seemed to be plenty of hills to get up; you never seem to notice them as you fly down them. The ride back was fairly uneventful, although we did have to pause for a photo at Higher Wych and also to adjust my gears as I was finding problems getting back onto the big ring.

Photo by AO

We arrived back a Tattenhall about ten minutes after Dave, so the timing was near perfect. 44 miles covered on a day when the weather turned out to be far better then we’d expected. As usual, we were glad that we’d made the effort.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST 

Monday 20 May 2024

16th May 2024: West Kirby (mod)

Despite a bad weather forecast for mid-afternoon there was a decent turnout at Ness. The sky had been blue and promising on the way to the venue, and the temperature was ideal for cycling. In order to save time this week, Steves Hughes and Tan were doing static warm up preparations using a MadMuscles App and café chairs.

Dave Matthews had cycled all the way from Oscroft for our meet, so not surprisingly was returning home. Trevor also was riding back but accompanied us for some miles; both, no doubt, had the threatened wet afternoon in mind. So, the slow group initially consisted of just Big Ray and myself, but Mike Gilbert changed his plans and kindly accompanied us in case of a likely attempted homicide. Mike was a valuable guy to have along, as he is the only one who had framed parchment orienteering certificates on his wall at home and could map read effectively as well as follow routes on a Garmin. Ray actually knows The Wirral well, so his subsequent bits of advice at rural junctions he no doubt felt were useful. It would have been more useful if he had led the ride and written it up! As I told him on the route, It was good to have an intelligent lieutenant at my shoulder, but Steve Hughes was with the other group.  

We gave the coastal route from Eastham to New Brighton a miss, and I thought we could have lunch in Hoylake at a venue perhaps recommended by “local boy” Ray. We set off on roughly the same route as a few weeks ago: through Burton, Oaks Farm,and around Willaston to Raby. Our intended route from Brimstage to Storeton was not possible as a big bruiser of a concrete lorry forewarned. We turned west to Heswall, and at Irby Hill skirted Royden Park and swooped through wealthy Greasby and into West Kirby. The possibility of rain had looked threatening from early doors, but it was not cold or windy and the countryside had looked attractively lush where we had managed to stick to back lanes. Mike had resisted an early stop at The Farmers Arms, but roaming around Hoylake for a lunch venue was a stretch too far if we were to avoid the worst  of the expected rain. Ray had fancied the café on the front a few weeks ago, but we gave it a miss as it was likely to be too busy in such a prime place. This time we gave it a go, and turned into the park on Banks Road, entering just before a group of old codgers even slower moving than ourselves. The service was excellent and the food was fine, but we only just made it, as the tables soon became full. As we left Mike pointed out the plants that had been ruined by seawater in heavy flooding just a few weeks ago. As widely televised, despite the fancy new sea defences Tanskey’s Bistro was flooded, and basement stock ruined. They have made an admirable new start.

It was spitting with rain from the moment we unlocked our bikes for the return ride. As we pressed on towards Neston on the Wirral Way the rain increased, as I unsuccessfully tried to avoid the mud from Ray’s back wheel. Mike set a strong pace at the front. Views across the Dee were blotted out by grey cloud down to river level. However, we were back to the Ness Garden’s Car Park in about fifty minutes and not too wet. Steve Tan, Alan and Steve Hughes arrived shortly after, as the rain stepped up to another level. Mike had already set off for Wales, and I hope Alan and Steve didn’t have too miserable a ride back.  Us “mods” had only covered thirty two miles, but as usual were glad we had made the effort.

DH

Friday 17 May 2024

16th May 2024 : Wallasey (Mod+)

A bumper crowd gathered at Ness Botanical Gardens on a morning warm and bright enough to warrant a liberal application of SPF50.  I'd elected to be lazy today and drive to the start, having picked up Clive on the way.  The en-route conversation was mainly around Clive's recent holiday in the Welsh micro-city of St David's, somewhere I often used to enjoy cycling when I lived in West Wales.

Prior to the meet up, I had dug out and shared on WhatsApp an old route that I used to cycle frequently around the year 5 BC [Before Covid]; a time when I was apparently more adventurous/cavalier/kamikaze than now - more on that later. Aside from modifying it to start/end at the Botanical Gardens and adding a stop at Stollies Cafe in Wallasey, I hadn't really studied it at all, assuming somebody else would come up with something much better.

Well nobody did and so it was that Clive, Alan, Steve Hu, Steve T and I (Matt) headed north on along Neston Road and up the hill on Mill Lane.  Considering he'd claimed earlier that he was only up for an "easy going" outing today, Clive was setting a cracking pace, pulling us along at 24km/h (that's 15mph for those amongst you still living in Ye Olden Days).  Despite the pace, conversation was rife and varied, although the only bit I can remember is Steve's encylopaedic knowledge of the mechanics of motorcycle tyres.

As we headed up Willaston Road, some concerns were voiced about whether we were going to tackle the "Killer Clatterbridge" roundabout.  Alan suggested a "short cut" along quieter roads and given the mood I went along with it, forgetting that Alan didn't have the route on his computer and was therefore unaware that we were supposed to be heading towards Brimstage rather than Bebington. It soon became clear that we were going completely the wrong way and we doubled back to find Clive - who'd sensibly stuck to the plan - waiting for us at the M53 roundabout.  More murmurs of discontent rumbled about the sheer idiocy of riding on the Brimstage Road, an argument slightly undermined by the number of solo cyclists heading the other way. A brief interlude along a quieter lane brought us to another A road (Barnston Lane) and prompted Steve Hu to give the ride the grand title of "A Tour of Roads Normally Avoided by Cyclists".

Somehow we survived the treacherous traffic and arrived at Thingwall [Old Norse: þing vollr = assembly field] whereupon Clive educated us on Viking politics and Henry I.  After passing through Irby and encountering a road sign declaring Greasby to be "one of the earliest settlements in Britain c.8500 BC" [Before Covid?], Steve Hu shared his thoughts on why a barren hill in Wirral would be first choice given a whole lush island to choose from, and thus be older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids. Given the old name "Gravesberie" I can't help thinking it wasn't a great choice.

Arriving into Hoylake, I realised my gears were only changing up and not down anymore, and we took a quick 'mechanical' stop while I figured out how to change the shifter battery whilst receiving advice on the benefits of old tech from Steve T. [Note to self: changing the battery requires a coin; remember to carry a coin next ride!]

After pausing on the seafront at Meols for a picture before the inevitable rain set in, we arrived at Stollies Cafe in Wallasey, fortunately bagging a table for 5 despite having not been able to reserve one over the 'phone. The popular choice of repast was the amply-proportioned Club Sandwich with chips. One end of the table discussed Steve Hu's "Ballast" role in an upcoming sailing event, whilst Alan and I, at the other end, considered the looming splurge of colours on the rain radar. A swift route replan ensued, aided by Alan's local knowledge.






In light drizzle, we set off again, along paths skirting Bidston Moss and, briefly, yet another scary A road, before climbing the B5151 through Prenton and down the still-terribly-surfaced-after-all-these-years Lever Causeway, to rejoin the original planned route through Storeton.  Sadly that didn't last long due to the type of road closure that repels even intrepid cyclists.  Another crossing of the dreaded M53 and Clatterbridge roundabouts was therefore in store for us.  Again, we somehow avoided not just murderous motorists but also the predicted deluge and returned through Thornton Hough and Raby, arriving back at Ness without getting a soaking.

A good day out in the end, though maybe more diligent route-planning homework is required for next time!


MT

Photos MT and AO

Monday 13 May 2024

9th May 2024: Ellesmere (mod)

Because I don’t wish to receive a contribution to petrol costs when driving to a start venue with Steve on Thursdays, he buys the coffees. But, where had he disappeared to? I wasn’t sure which  type of coffee he preferred. I guessed that he would have liked a cup of Camp Coffee, the one with a kilted Gordon Highlander on the label. It would, perhaps, have reminded him of his Yorkshire tyke childhood, but Maggie’s didn’t stock it, so I chose an Americano for him in his absence. It was probably cold when he turned up with Steve Hughes. Evidently, as highly tuned athletes they had require a twenty-minute warm up ride before the main event! I know, I ask you! You would think that they had been approaching Stage 8 of the Giro d’Italia.  

The non-athletic group consisted of Dave Pipe, Large Ray, George, Mike Dodd and myself. It was good to have George back who had been doing a helluva lot of walking recently including from Bologna to Florence. It was a beautiful warm day, so I rang The Boathouse at Ellesmere to reserve a table for lunch beside the edge of The Mere. I regretted that Dave didn’t cross the start line at Rose Farm last week but this time it took one mile before he became detached, with Mike keeping him company. I rode back near Crewe-by-Farndon fearing an accident or a mechanical, but it turned out that I had just taken off with a hint of briskness and they didn’t know where we had headed to. No harm done. Our route out was via Farndon, Tilston, Chorlton and Lower Wyche, crossing the A525 at Eglwys Cross. In the distant past we have used sticks to clear our mudguards of thick mud here, but this welcome hot and dry weather meant that the notoriously messy lanes to follow shouldn’t have been a problem. Well! The lanes were quiet, and I tried a route past Llyn Bedydd just to explore, but soil and potholes meant that I won’t be using it again. From Bettisfield we cut across to Hampton Bank on the Llangollen Canal, but before long realised that George, Ray and myself were on our own. We sorted things out on our mobiles, but unfortunately Mike and Dave missed the more attractive route via Lyneal, Colemere, and Spunhill, although we arrived nearly together at The Boathouse. It was so sunny, that we changed our table to one in the shade on the veranda. The service was friendly and efficient, the food was very good, and the setting idyllic. Dave didn’t fancy German beers, and his favoured Shropshire brew, ‘Black Frog’ or something, was only available in a bottle, and at a 2024 price (Dave still thinks in 1960’s prices when he was a young man). Nevertheless, after all the bad weather we have tolerated this winter, it was all exceptionally enjoyable in this company.  It was very tempting to just stay there drinking to slumber in the warmth with the gentle lapping of water nearby.  

Photo by DH

On unlocking our bikes we met about six male and female riders from the Wirral. I’m not sure if they were couples, a friendship group or swingers, but they were very pleasant and intending to stay overnight in Shrewsbury.  

The route back was direct, heading up left from just past the cemetery, crossing the course of the old railway before heading for Penley. At Penley we could just see the charred hulk of the Dymock Arms, set on fire in 2010. Part of the pub dates to around 1550, and the building has been Grade 2 listed since 1962.  Worthenbury was the next target, and then up to Shocklack and Farndon. Inexplicably, we managed to lose Dave and Mike again, but again having our mobiles on sorted things out, as the route was now obvious and familiar. I met Steve Tan at the car park in Holt, as Big Ray’s appearance had heralded our arrival.  Steve had been waiting some time, so I turned down Mike’s invitation to join him and Dave at Maggie’s for a late coffee. My leading had obviously been as unaware as Notts Forest’s defence, for which I apologise. I suspect that the situation was compounded by Dave deliberately not using his electric motor in order to strengthen his legs. Anyway, the inquest will probably be settled over coffee next week, but I think that we all had an enjoyable ride in great weather. I guess that we covered about forty-three miles.

DH 

Friday 10 May 2024

9th May 2024: Plassey (mod+)

A Thursday with wall to wall sunshine and no wind, what could be better for a CER ride? Following what seems like months of grey and dreary Thursdays a number of CER riders made the trip to Holt. There were sufficient riders to facilitate three groups. Neil threw his hat, metaphorically speaking into the rings with a nice lanes ride to Plassey. Little did we know Neil had not one but two routes up his sleeve. 

So the intrepid bunch consisting of Big Roy, Steve T, Fiona, Elwyn, Alan, Neil T and Steve H set off. In addition Fiona & Elwyn had invited Stuart a M&G rider to join us, welcome Stuart. So bading our colleagues in the mod group good bye we set off down Castle Street out of Holt past Bellis’s garden centre. At this time our esteemed leader Neil announced he had navigation issues and needed a re boot. Was it Neil or his Garmin that needed the boot, possibly the former LOL LOL!

Armed with an alternative route we retraced our steps and briefly rejoined the mod group, who were leaving Holt for the first time today, not the second like ourselves. By now we were on our way on this windless day, through Crewe in Farndon on out into the countryside. The sun was out the roads were quiet and the suggested vote of no confidence with the leader was long forgotten. 

We quickly zoomed into Shocklach and took the quiet roads out to Chorlton and then onto Threapwood. As we crossed the busy Whitchurch road many of us recognised we were on the reverse route we use from Hawarden to Bangor on Dee. A brief zoom down the busy road from Overton into Erbistock saw us take the sharp left over the Dee and parallel the river. This section of the ride probably accounted for fifty percent of the climbing of the whole ride. As we left Twining Hill, Fiona’s dulcet tones could be heard suggesting we had lost some riders. Apparently Stuart's derailleur hanger had broken and fortunately just outside a pub. So Stuart had retired for some lunch and Elwyn had headed directly for Plassey. 

The lunch stop was excellent as normal and afforded an opportunity for a group photo. Talk over lunch was as per usual varied from wonder drugs to Phantom jet aircraft. Neil's route took us through Cross Lanes and then onto the outskirts of Wrexham Industrial Estate. Whilst as ride leader Neil had spent the day in the middle of the pack chatting, however at the industrial estate he chose to lead the group down to one roundabout and then back up the same way. I think he just wanted to witness the majesty of the athletes who were accompanying him today. 



Photos by Steve Hu

Not content with parading Neil then decided to take to the small pavement to avoid the busy road. However students of algebra and maths will remember the use of converging lines and the path certainly converged. When it was about nine inches wide with brambles tearing at our £200 cycling tops Steve T must have been thinking about Clyde in the Clint Eastwood film Every Which Way but Loose, and threw in a right turn, straight into the undergrowth! Other than surprise Steve T was uninjured and we carried on. A quick plunge into Marford raised the question of a coffee at Alf's, however the consensus was to carry on into Rossett where Elwyn and Fiona left us. There are two routes around Trevalyn and the peloton split. On joining Rossett Road it was clear Roy Philippo Ganna was using his time trial bike for its intended purpose. The feisty domestique Alan Pogacher O was quickly on his wheel and surfed Roys power all the way into Holt. The remaining peloton had in Phil Liggets words “burnt their matches” and dribbled into Holt.

The group assembled in the early afternoon sun for a closing coffee at Maggies before Neil caught a bus, sorry rode home to Tattenhall. Thanks for making it an enjoyable route Neil and enjoy Anglesey

See route map and/or gpx file download

Steve Hu 

Friday 3 May 2024

2nd May 2024: Beeston (mod)

Rose Farm was the cafe of choice this week and only my second ride in 3 weeks, due to the lurgy that seems to have affected half of the population. Suffice it to say I turned up to be sociable and to ride a lone, easy meander. However DH had other intentions - Lol. My short local meander, taking in some of the best local land marks, appealed to more than DH. And so, I gained  7 followers, who managed to follow me all the way home - Lol. The 7 were  DH, Roy, Ray 1 & Ray 2, Mike G, Mike D (he’s the one with the shirt on his head in the photo- Lol. I think he was doing magic tricks, entertaining the others on his table- Lol). DM was also in the group, but he left us early, somewhere around Bunbury.

Anyway, we set off left out of Rose Farm and straight into my first meander, which was to avoid the usual nasty little climb toward Tarporley by taking Fishers Green & Ridge Hill. No sooner back on Ukington Road, we turn left up Heath Green and  my 2nd meander. This well know CER short cut not only circumvents Tarporley, which I hate, but also gets us across the A49 and quickly on to the more interesting lanes. At McDonald Portal golf club we turn left toward Eaton and a nice little descent. Barely a mile or 2 under our belts and we are already passing Drays cafe, which I point out to Roy, which became a common theme-Lol. That reminds me; I was informed, by a Bunbury resident, who I was chatting to only hours after completing the London Marathon, that Tilly’s has been sold. However, it will reopen somewhere near the Co-Op- apparently!

We are soon on one of my favourite lanes, after skirting Oulton Park, which even if you didn’t know the lanes, you would have known where you were from the noise coming from the race track ( I believe it was practice for the British Superbike event over the coming bank holiday) The scream of the super bikes was diminishing fast, due to the very light headwind, as we track slightly upwards toward Bunbury on ‘The Hall Lane’ ( what a crap name) Anyway, you get a fabulous view of the comtryside through here, as the lanes are  very exposed, with no hedgerows. After a couple of miles we are descending down into our first photo opportunity at my all time favourite canal lock ( Tilston Fearnell.) I make no excuse for leading the group here again, as it is a gem of a spot, that most of us know, not just because of the scenic canal spot, but also because of the lanes that lead in and out. After a quick team photo ( included) we are soon in Bunbury, although not via the usual route. I take the group on another meander through a lovely little lane that brings us into the back of Bunbury. Not a lane that most cycling clubs are aware off and not one for winter. Even DH was unfamiliar, prompting him to ask where we were.


We exit Bunbury via Peckforton Hill Lane, as I wanted to get another group pic at the entrance to the stunning Peckforton Castle. I did suggest climbing up to the castle, for a quick look, as most people in the group have not seen it before. However, time was against us, as I knew we had to make the cafe before the lunch time rush. The castle is really worth a look and is a stunning luxury experience, especially if you stop over night and dine at their  triple A restaurant. The castle is not in fact genuine, despite its glorious facade. It was in fact built as a home by John Tollemache, who bought the 36,000 acres and became Lord of the manner, after he was made a peer of the realm for his services to agriculture. Many of the cottages in the surrounding area were in fact built by him for his workers, apparently more than 200. Most of that land is now part of the Bolsworth estate.



Anyway, back to our ride- Lol. It was only a mile later when we stopped again for another photo (Beeston Castle this time-Lol)


We now follow the lane around Beeston mount and turn right toward the ‘Shady’ pub, on the canal bank. 300 mtrs later we turn right towards the quaint village of Tiverton and our destination, now only a mile away. After a quick 300mtr descent on the A49, we arrive at the Lock Gate cafe and grab the remaining two outside tables. If there was any doubt as to the temperature going up, my Garmin was showing 36 degrees, although it was sat in the sun- Lol. Some of our food orders were a touch on the slow side but all very good though. I’m guessing Mike’s meal was one of the slowest, which might explain why he was doing party tricks- Lol.


There was so much conversation on our table that I have forgotten most of it, although I do remember Ray getting all sentimental about his beloved 18 year old BMW, despite the rusty wings- Lol. It was difficult to drag ourselves away from the cafe, due to the sun and scenery. However, after cracking the whip, we get moving, not before we all drool over the gorgeous Aston Martin Vantage parked by our bikes.

We set off in the opposite direction to our arrival and after a few hundred mtrs turn right up Beaston hill (that’s what I call it) Bit of a kicker straight out of the gate, but short. Only a mile or so later and we are swinging up past Beaston castle again, but the other way this time and heading for the Ice cream farm at Tattenhall ( a blast from the past) That reminds me. On my arrival home, I was sat out side the front of my place and got chatting to a dog walker, who happens to live on a barge in Tattenhall Marina. Anyway she informed me that the Marina cafe is finally open again, but not everyday at the moment ( Second time in a week that I chat to a stranger and learn something about a local cafe- Lol). 1 kilometre further on and I depart my little group, at the crossroads. Home for me was just 2 miles away and so I set the guys off in the general direction of Huxley and the optional routes to Rose farm from there on. DH was confident he could find there way- Lol.

As usual a pleasant ride and one of the shortest I have lead. I got home with 40 miles on the Garmin and I imagine the rest of my merry band of men got back to Rose Farm with a similar total, depending on DH’s maps- Lol.

What a lovely day, some cracking lanes and scenery along with great company, as usual. It was nice to see Mike D, after a lengthy hiatus away from CER. He was telling me that he had lost his Mo- Jo, but he’s found it again now ( I guess it was in his garage- Lol) We were blessed with the sun and low winds today, not to mention no mechanicals or punctures, although Roy did manage to snap one of his laces, during lunch, which he had to then cobble a repair- Lol.

Till next time gents.

Neil.

Photos by Neil T