Welcome

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.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Thursday, 26 January 2023

26th January 2023: Alyn Waters (mod)

There was a good turnout of riders today. Prior to setting off on Alan's “nearly’ guided ride there was a standing ovation for Dave H and Roy last week's Dancing On Ice finalists. It was a two horse race as other contenders Steve T, Clive Steve Ha and Dave M had the sense to turn around and go home in their cars. See the 19th Jan ride report for their intrepid adventures. 

At the Gallery Cafe Steve Ha bid us farewell as he planned to experience some joyous Welsh lanes before returning to Kelsall to take up his role as visitor exclusion officer. A brave troupe consisting of Alan (occasionally) ride leader, Dave H, Clive, Mike G, Richard, Steve T, Andy B, and Ray set off towards Wood lane. At this point it was apparent that Ray was pressing buttons faster than a teenager texts, and no power was being elicited from his mighty steed. At the foot of Col du Wood Lane Ray removed and re fitted the battery. Sparks resumed, electrons did their bit and motive power was resumed, so much so we rarely saw him the rest of the day as he was always at the front. 

A number of small lanes took us to Penymydd, prompting Clive to remark I could have had another 30 mins in bed as we cruised past my gaff. Lower Mountain lane took us via Town Ditch Lane through the charming hamlet of Golly, Burton Green then onto Lavister. We then followed the classic route to Holt only for Alan to have introduced a new lane Park Lane which with a few junctions led us into Gresford. Not a good winter option as the lane is more farm track than lane.

Leaving Gresford we passed under the railway arch and took a left fork on to Pentre Lane. Clearly Alan had decided it was time to sort out the peloton into walkers and riders. It was not so much the steep gradient, but more the relentless pulls upward. 

Oxygen was duly consumed at the top as weary lactic acid filled muscles recovered. Revitalised we joined the busy Llay road before tuning right towards Bradley and our lunch stop Alyn Waters Country Park Cafe. This venue was a CER starting point for a number of years until the winter early closing of 4pm necessitated a relocation. The most popular meal seemed to be “Welsh breakfast” which with a pot of tea came to a very reasonably £6.60. 

It was at the point that Mike G advised his free hub had given up (on the Col du Pentre Lane)  and he chose to limp back to Hawarden, hope you got back with little drama Mike. 

Photo by Steve Hu

Fully replete we set off re tracing our journey some 500 yds before plunging down through the woodland to climb up a suitably named “Blast Hill” I can assure no one blasted up it, it was tough on a stomach full of aforementioned Welsh breakfast! The route then wound through Abermorddu and into Hope. At this point Clive declined my offer to provide him with an “Alps style climb” back to “flat “ Kinnerton!  Choosing a more suitable route he and Richard set off for Kinnerton and then on to Chester. 

The remaining group circumnavigated Buckley before dropping down into Ewloe when Alan left for home and the remainder returned to Hawarden. 

A pleasant January ride on mixed roads that were new to a number of riders. 

Thanks to Alan for researching and planning the ride

SHu

Monday, 23 January 2023

19th January 2023: Arley Hall & Comberbach (mod)

Not for the first time this winter, the environment for cycling was what Frank Lampard may have called “challenging”, when most would have a shorter, more coarse word to describe the situation. Recently, we have had two rides from Chirk, that have included a dismount into a deeply flooded road on a stormy day, and viewing or navigating more water on the fields and lanes to Llanymynech, than most cyclists will ever experience in a single day. Perhaps paradoxically, the latter ride was also sunny, scenic and enjoyed by all (the excellent pub stop with an open fire helped). Wet is one thing, snow and ice something else. Our situation now, at Delamere, was more comparable with our -7°C Chancers' Ride to Pant-yr-Ochain in December, or the time a handful turned up at the Ice Cream Farm in the snow, but only Keith and Steve Tan were daft enough to risk a shortish, hazardous ride. 

So, here we were: Dave Matthews, Clive, Steve Tan, Ray Baird, Steve Haywood and myself. Steve Haywood wasn't 100%, but had hiked from Kelsall, and everybody else had arrived by car. Clive had found his car sliding on turning into the Station Cafe car Park, and it was unanimously agreed that riding conditions were probably dangerous, or “challenging” at least. Nevertheless, Ray, Steve Tan and myself decided to by-pass cycling the busy, dangerous looking Delamere Road and icy downhill lanes to Crowton, and to drive cautiously to “The Horns” before making a decision to ride or abandon. I drove down Norley Lane with Steve as my passenger, and Ray following. At Town Farm there is a wiggle in the road, and we pass a red BMW with its emergency flashers on. It looked like the car had just slid straight on into the grass bank. Steve said the airbags were inflated; this should have been a warning sign to us. 

We crossed the river on the A49 and stopped to inspect the surface. Steve was pretty sure that riding would be too dangerous. I was still keen to give it a try, aware that Ray had driven from the far end of the Wirral, and also wanted to ride. In the end the three of us set off gingerly. We reached Crumleyheath Farm having had a few slippy shimmies, but still in one piece. Steve decided to head to Runcorn from here on white roads before reaching the black asphalt of the A533 and sent a text to us to that effect, when he arrived home safely at noon. I had rung the Golden Fleece in Lymm on the Wednesday, and fancied it as a change, so Ray and myself continued in that direction, through Comberbach, Gibb Hill, Budworth Heath, and heading for Knutsford, before tuning north at Bate Heath. We had avoided Great Budworth, because of visions of sliding down the bank at the A599 and not being able to stop. Certainly Budworth Lane had looked treacherous from Comberbach. 

Our progress had been slow because of the conditions, so I decided to forget Lymm, stop short of crossing the M56, and cut back through the grounds of Arley Hall. I hadn't tried the official bridlepath and 'cycleway' for sometime, so gave it a go. I won't be doing it again, but with the sun out it was a lovely place to cycle and walk. Ray thought that he had lost his helmet, and retraced his steps for a few minutes, but had to give up. I thought it was a bit strange for his helmet to fall off, and both of us not to notice at the time. We walked down to the pond at Arley Green for a photo (you're not supposed to cycle here) then rode again across the cobbles on Back Lane to the entrance on Arley Road. If any surface should have been beyond the pale in the ice and snow it should have been cobbles, but the snow made the surface more level. The straightest way to our new lunch destination at Comberbach was via Crowley Lodge, Grandsires Green and Pole Lane. 

Photo by DH

The Spinner and Bergamot was friendly and warm and the food was of the usual high standard. It was a pleasant opportunity to get to know Ray and his 'backstory' as we sat in front of the fire eating thick cut chips. Any notion that the road conditions would improve as the day warmed up a bit were now binned. I guess that there was now some water on top of ice, which gave all the grip of wet plate glass. We needed to concentrate to the end as we headed for Little Leigh. There were plenty of cars arriving at the primary school for us to navigate around, but none, thankfully, on Leigh Lane as they must have thought it too dangerous! At one time on the way back the back of my bike slid right around. It was like driving a seventies BMW three series on Deeside Ice Rink. At the back of our minds today was that with the overwhelmed NHS, and a nurses' strike day, it was not the best time to risk falling off your bike and breaking something. We got away with it, and had an enjoyable, if 'challenging' short day out. We arrived back at the cars at 3p.m., taking care not to fall dismounting at the icy last. It had been even more risky for Ray - his helmet was in the car!

DH

Saturday, 14 January 2023

12th January 2023: Llanymynech (mod)

There were but nine CER members – 4 brisk and 5 mods - who gathered at The Castle Bistro in Chirk; perhaps others were put off by weather forecasts over the last few days which promised rain and high winds. In the event the sun was shining and the wind not too strong as Dave H, Steves Hu and T, Alan and Andy set off down Chirk Bank.

Our destination was The Bradford Arms at Llanymynech, a venue visited only now and then, but one which always gets a good review. To avoid the dirty lanes around Henlle and Hindford, we struck out through St Martins and took the lanes through New and Old Marton. However, although these were not too muddy, they were, in several places, totally flooded (see photo), but were passable with judicious use of the pedals to avoid getting wet feet.

The climb up to Perthy and Welsh Frankton got pulses racing, but the drop down to Lower Frankton gave us the chance to get our breath back. This was needed as the wind was getting up as we rode alongside the Montgomery Canal, over what must be one of the sharpest hump-backed bridges anywhere.

Having made the long climb up to Hordley, we now turned south-west and directly into the ever stronger wind, which made progress somewhat difficult. Running through West Felton, we eventually joined the B4398 at Maesbrook.  But as we did so, Andy suffered a punctured back tyre, which called a halt to our progress. At this point it we were only 5 miles or so from Llanymynech, so Dave, Steve Hu and Alan went ahead to the pub while Andy swiftly replaced the punctured tyre, helped (watched, really) by Steve T.

At the pub the fire was lit and the cat asleep on a bar stool. The friendly staff soon took our orders for food and drink and these arrived swiftly.  The locals were telling us that the A483 which runs through Llanymynech was flooded and impassable just south of the village, where it crosses the River Vyrmwy. Extensive flooding in the fields around the village had been evident as we arrived.

Photo by AO

Fed and watered, we re-traced our steps towards Maesbrook, but soon turned north-east through Crickheath and Morton. We now had a side or tail-wind, which made life easier, but still had to pass through a couple of sections where the road was completely flooded.

Photo by AO

Somewhere along here, Steve Hu suffered a puncture, but he sent a message forward that Andy, Dave and I should not wait for him and Alan, as he had the route on his Wahoo. So on we went, crossing the A5 near Aston and threading our way through the housing estates around Oswestry, emerging on the lane past the Old Hill Fort.

From there it was along the lanes through Hengoed to Weston Rhyn and the sharp descent into the Ceiriog Valley. The climb up the hill into Chirk provided the last challenge of a day.

As Dave and I were loading bike into the Berlingo, Steve Hu and Alan arrived, having given it ‘full gas’ all the way back. Good to know that everyone completed the 37 miles safely on a day on which the rain held off (mostly) and the wind provided a greater hazard than the flooded roads.

https://www.plotaroute.com/route/2127072

See routemap and/or gpx file download

ST

 

Thursday, 12 January 2023

12th January 2023 : Whixall Marina (brisk)

Today, it is a January Sales offering – two routes routes and blogs for the price of one!

Last Thursday, Ivan had suggested a route to Whixall Marina from Tattenhall. So we set off and a few miles out it became clear we were not going to Whixall but were enjoying Ken's offering of a ride to Welshampton! As enjoyable as that was, I really wanted to go to Whixall Marina so decided that this is where today's ride would take us.

Ken had kindly offered a partial car assist for me from the end of Lache lane near Rough Hill (with no hill in sight). So we arrive at the Castle Bistro along with Steve T, Alan and Dave H. Ivan and John W had taken the train as usual from Chester and arrive shortly afterwards.

The Brisk group was down on numbers this week – only four of us – so we set off down the Ceiriog road as far as Castle Mill where there is a memorial to the Battle of Crogen in 1165 (see Wiki link) then take the short sharp hill towards Bronygarth. Ever upwards and down tiny lanes, we now have bypassed Weston Rhyn on our way to Gobowen and Whittington.

The weather was pleasant and bright at 14C but rather windy as Ken leads the charge down the old A5 towards Queen's Head. At West Felton, we now take 10 miles of small lanes and B roads through Ruyton-XI-Towns and Baschurch to Myddle. A left towards Burlton finds us sliding right up the long lane, with the wind now well behind us, towards Loppington.

Up until now, the small lanes had been quite passable with the occasional water bath, but the lane to bypass Loppington was very wet and agricultural so we head into Loppington passing the Dickin Arms pub. Was that a great DH sigh that we hear, or was it the just the wind?

We arrive at Whixall Marina around 1230 after 33 miles. A very modern cafe beckons us in and we ordered our food just in time before a dozen or so canal boat owners turn up for lunch. The food was very enjoyable as was the view of about £10 million of canal boats in their neat rows off the pontoons.
 
Looking very relaxed at Whixall Marina

Ivan and John had decided to ride home from Whixall at only 27 miles, rather than riding back the 16 miles to Chirk (see blog below). So John and Ivan ride north with the wind behind them as Ken and I ride westwards with the wind definitely not behind us. 

Ken bravely takes the lead as we head for Welshampton thence in and out of Ellesmere bound for St Martins. It is a long grind up to St Martins with the wind now gusting quite considerably making headway more difficult. We make the 16 miles back in little over and hour at arriving at 1430. Bikes on the car, I suggest a coffee at Caffi Wylfa which could be an alternative meeting site in Chirk if the Castle Bistro should be closed at some time.

So with this route at 49 miles all round and in surprisingly good weather conditions given the recent long spells of rain and some sunshine, in all it was 62 miles today for me and home by 1530.

CA

Ivan's Route Home from Whixall Marina

Starting from Chirk the route to Whixall was a great route and I’ll leave Clive to describe the route in detail. After a good lunch at the café we bade farewell to Clive and Ken to enjoy a struggle with the head wind back to Chirk whilst John and I should!! have the prospect of a good tailwind for our ride back home. 

Not quite – but not bad as a lot of tacking was involved but overall the route up via Fenn’s Bank and Whitewell via Dymock's Mill was with the wind behind us then across to Threapwood to Shocklach the wind was everywhere.  Several flooded lanes but nothing impassable and not as muddy compared to the morning route for the downhill MTB track to the mill pond.

At Dymock's Mill

In no time we’re passed Farndon and along the B5130 to Alford and Huntington, again blessed with a reasonable tailwind. Back in Chester, John and I take our separate ways home and enjoyed a good split ride. Thanks to Clive for the morning route which explored a few new lanes and also revisiting lanes not been over for a while. 
Overall John and I covered 65 miles on the bike. Had a train on time from Chester to Chirk and an enjoyable 16mph average on a dry but windy day.

ID

Photos JW and ID

Friday, 6 January 2023

5th January 2023: Aston (mod)

For the first ride of 2023, the plan was to ride from Alison’s at Tattenhall to The Park Café at Wrenbury.  Eight mod riders gathered at Alison’s (Dave H, Steve Hu, Alan, Andy B, Pete, Trevor, Ray and Steve T) and it was also good to see Jim out for coffee before his holiday in warmer climes.

Getting the group started was, to quote Steve Hu, like juggling jelly, but we did eventually get going, heading out towards Chowley. Here we turned into Dog Lane, provoking a complaint from Steve Hu about rough roads.  This was entirely unjustified as Dog Lane itself is quite smooth and we were not destined for Pump Lane as, at Coddington, we veered south for Stretton and Tilston.

This struck fear into Dave H as it seemed that we might be headed for Malpas, his least favourite town in Cheshire. But no, at Kidnal we turned eastwards, crossing the A41 at Hampton Heath, passing the fisheries at Hampton Springs before reaching the gates of Cholmondeley Castle, where the group photo was taken.

Photo by Steve Hu

Arriving at The Park Café, we secured the bikes and headed in, only to find that there was no food available today, only toasted teacakes. So, Plan B was enacted and a quick phone call to The Bhurtpore at Aston elicited the news that they were open and serving food. Whilst the rest of us headed the two or so miles to Aston, Pete decided to do his own thing and left us.

At The Bhurtpore, food and drinks were ordered and paid for (as is the practice there nowadays) and contrary to a previous visit, they arrived quickly. The small fish and chip and chicken curries went down well and we were soon gathering in the car park for the return journey. This meant going back to Wrenbury where, after a small mid-course correction, we headed for Ravensmoor, Gradeley Green and Brindley.  We were soon passing Tilley’s, but there was no time to stop today, so it was on to Bunbury Heath and Beeston and then the stretch up Tattenhall Lane, which was directly into the wind and an unwelcome rain shower. Trevor peeled off up towards the Ice Cream Farm and Andy continued to Mold while the rest of us returned to our cars at Alison’s.

Once again, a winters day on which the wind was fairly light and the rain held mostly off, allowing us a pleasant 37 mile ride around the lanes of the Cheshire plain.  Although many of the roads were greasy and muddy and the bikes got dirty, the company and scenery made it all worthwhile.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST


Thursday, 5 January 2023

5th January 2023 : Welshampton (brisk)

Today's ride to Alisons was 15 degrees warmer than my last visit in December when we were undertaking the ride to the CER Christmas lunch. However the recent heavy rainfalls were reflected in the high river levels in Farndon and an indicator that the lanes would be choked with debris and standing water. So it was  of little surprise that on reaching Aldersey I met Nick in the process of repairing a puncture. This required two pairs of hands to remove and refit the stubborn tyre before we were able to  carry on to Tattenhall.

There was a good turnout today with everyone obviously eager to burn off some of the Christmas excess’s.The moderate group seemed to be heading towards Wrenbury once Dave H’s saddle pack was repaired. The Brisk group comprising of Ivan, Clive ,John W and myself  headed out to The Sun Inn at Welshampton. Nick was joining us for only part of the day as he was required to be in Cheltenham later.

The route over Harthill warmed us sufficiently that a brief stop was required to remove our rain jackets . Nick left us at Cholmondeley to head home and we continued on a southerly heading through Norbury and Marbury to briefly enter Whitchurch before exiting on Ash Road and continuing onto Prees Heath.
It was here, after passing over freshly cut hedge cuttings, I picked up my first puncture of the day which was fortunately in my front wheel and quickly fixed. The predicted showers duly arrived meaning rain jackets were once more donned and stayed in place until lunch.

After crossing the A5 at Prees the rest of the morning was spent  weaving swiftly through the lanes that  link the villages of Tilstock, Quina Brook and Northwood before joining the busy B road that led us eventually to the The Sun Inn. The 58 km morning section of the ride plus the delay in repairing my puncture, meant it was  after 1 o’clock  when we arrived at the pub, so we were thankful that  our food and drink orders were taken quickly by a very efficient  barman.

Fed, watered and with rain jackets stowed away, we set off with a nice southerly breeze pushing us along all the way into Hanmer where we stopped for a photoshoot.

At Hanmer Mere

A kilometre further on and I picked up another puncture which unfortunately took slightly longer to fix and involved  Ivan donating a spare tube. (Many thanks Ivan.) Back on the road we continue our journey through Tallarn Green, Threapwood, and Shocklach, where Ivan, Clive and John turned off to follow the route back to Tattenhall  whilst I carried on towards home. 

The route today was 83km with 723 mtrs of ascent ridden on very wet and dirty roads; my ride today was over 100km with Ivan and John recording nearer 120km.

Thanks guys for all your help and patience today.

See route map and/or gpx file download

KP

Friday, 30 December 2022

30th December 2022 : Annual Statistics

Cyclists tend to like statistics - fact and figures about rate of climb, cadence, watts expended, calories expended, distance ridden and of course, average speed. Some cyclists use these figures to help them better their performance and make year-on-year comparisons. 

So here are the 2022 statistics - firstly, you are a year older now and all those cycling performance stats are harder to better year-on-year. I know this from reviewing my own simple statistic of miles ridden per ride - it's going down year on year!


YearMileageBlogsAv Miles/Ride
200811372447
200928945355
201026405350
201134956157
201236157648
201330255753
201437087252
201542168152
201643258352
201738327452
201844728950
201939478447
202020304743
202136007747
202243579347




So after 14 years of club riding, the average ride length looks like it has peaked, perhaps supporting the premise that we are all older and not out to ride for longer and longer distances. What was that famous saying? Wiki explains thus:-

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a phrase describing the persuasive power of statistics to bolster weak arguments, "one of the best, and best-known" critiques of applied statistics.[2] It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent's point.

The phrase was popularized in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli.[1]However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli's works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. Several other people have been listed as originators of the quote, and it is often attributed to Twain himself.[3]

An interesting statistic however is to be found in the analysis of who the blog rider has been. Usually this is the ride leader, but not always so. 

The top blog author was none other than Ivan with 19 credits followed by Steve Ha on 15. Of the 12 blog authors, 79 of the 93 were written by just six riders.

So in the New Year perhaps a few more riders will avow to lead a ride or two and write a blog or two?

Finally, can I thank Dave H, on your behalf, for his unstinting attention to detail and quiet cogitation of potential issues that might befall us going forward. It is good to know that he has our backs covered on matters cycling.

So enjoy your New Year's Eve celebrations and see you all some time in 2023.

CA


29th December 2022: Brimstage (mod)

There was an excellent turnout of CER members for the last ride of 2022. The weather had been especially kind with a dry forecast for today sandwiched between two rainy days. Whilst most of the members shared stories of their favourite presents from Santa , Alan Oates was wrestling with a “king of thorns” puncture outside. This happened literally within 50m of Meadow Lea so hot coffee supplemented his spannering duties and he was ready to go again. 

Alan & Steve T both had a previous route from Mickle Trafford to Brimstage, Steve T fired up his trusty Wahoo computer and loaded the route first time, in fact a first time for Steve T as he normally has to ring the Wahoo helpline. So the mod group consisted of Dave M, Electric Pete, Steve T, Steve Hu, Alan, Ray, Andy B and Dave H.  It was particularly nice to also have Matt along on his recumbent. After a short time, Dave M and Pete went to do their own route and the intrepid 7 - all 15 wheels - set off for the Wirral.

The route took us along Salters lane and then joined Fox Covert Lane. This lane then pops you out by Chester Zoo. All was quiet there today, the animals probably sleeping off the excesses of Christmas Parties. The Dingos and Wolves having just celebrated Feliz Navidog. A quick dash across the A41 at Backford and down Station Road; this delightful lane meanders past the “5 Villages Hall”. A sharp right on to Demage Lane provides a lovely cycleway across the fields parallel to the railway line. A number of gates have to be traversed before ending at Bridle Lane and dicing with the Boundary Mill Traffic. 

A quick ride past Capenhurst and onto Ledsham Lane means the Welsh Road is soon in sight. From here a gentle spin into Hooton and then past Bromborough Golf club provides the first stop at Raby Mere. A quick zip tie bodge sees Dave H saddle bag re acquainted with his seat and we head for Higher Bebington. At the Storeton turn everyone is riding together, however by Brakenwood Golf course the peloton has put the hammer down, leaving Dave H, Matt and Steve Hu in the Autobus. Taking our life in our hands we approach Clatterbridge Roundabout. Matt and Steve take the cycle route whilst Daredevil Dave joins the cars to circumnavigate the roundabout. Unfortunately, Dave’s navigation sans paper Garmin is not up to the task and he finds himself outside Clatterbridge Triage gates, only 180 degrees out. A quick phone call from Steve gets us all to the Courtyard Cafe at Brimstage for lunch. 

Following an excellent array of sandwiches and drinks we leave Brimstage en route to Thornton Hough. Crossing a very busy Chester High Rd we cruise through Neston, Ness gardens and then plunge down to Burton Marshes. We were all delighted to see that the path had been cleared of agricultural effluvia seen by Alan 10 days earlier. With the sun setting over N.Wales, a group photo was hastily arranged. 

Photo by Steve T

At the junction with the Greenway, Andy and Steve H set of for N.Wales and the remaining team headed back to Meadow Lea

Thanks to Steve T and Alan for jointly leading the ride. 

See route map and/or gpx file download 

Steve Hu


29th December 2022: Nantwich (brisk)

Midweek between celebrations, on checking the weather forecast for today there was a good chance of a fine day to ride. The usual WhatsApp message was broadcast to the brisk group elicited only two responses, John W and Ken. A route was created to start and finish at the café and allow Ken to drop off at Rossett as he was riding out to Chester in the morning. Route posted to both and Ken also proposed a very similar route at the same time as I posted my route!! Great minds! 

Meeting at Meadow Lea cafe, there was a good turnout of riders wanting to enjoy a festival ride and try and shift a few pounds as well as the gears including Matt – very welcome back into the club and riding again. We had the addition of Ray, who decided to join us, so four of us set off along Station Lane to Waverton and the grind from Duddon up to Utkinton. 

There would be no exploring new lanes today as there aren’t any between Chester and Nantwich so it was the usual meandering of lanes via Wettenhall and Cholmondeston to Nantwich. With 27 miles covered, we arrive at our lunch destination, The Leopard Inn, which we have used previously. This is a Joules establishment, so we knew the drink would be good but didn’t expect the pricey menu. After ordering and sitting at our table, we had omitted to notice the "lunch bite" menu posted at the side of the bar so paid nearly double for our main course lunch. It was quickly presented and, although we commented on the price, the food was excellent. 

As it is still Christmas Holidays with decorations adorning most premises, we discussed the many Christmas lunches we have enjoyed being part of the cycling club and the locations and weather we have happily ridden to over the years. I have been chauffeured over the last couple of years so must make more of an effort for 2023 to enjoy the ride to wherever we go. That is myNew Year's Resolution sorted. 

Back out and getting ready to depart, it is very sunny in Nantwich as we made our way out of the town to Wrenbury. Passing the Dusty Miller pub, we are stopped by a canal boat crossing and the bridge up. When the drawbridge is lowered, we roll over to the utter annoyance of a car driver on the opposite side impatient to be on his way; zero Christmas spirit from him to cyclists – same old tales going to hamper us in the New Year no doubt! 

We are all to soon rolling through Tilston heading for Farndon, so we decide to call at Lewis’s for coffee An enjoyable interlude and festive cake devoured, we re-join our steeds and roll down the hill to wait at the lights. The Dee water level is high and fast flowing, but lights change and we head up the hill and on towards Rossett where Ken leaves us for home. Our route is via Dodleston and Bretton before joining the cycle way along the Dee back into Chester and the café. 

A round trip of 62 miles and today ridden on relative clean and dry roads and only minor water at the side of the road in places. Along the greenway though a different tale as at the bridge under the M53 motorway, the path is flooded again but passable on a bike or wellies. 

Thanks to John, Ken and Ray for an enjoyable day out.

A Happy New Year to all CER riders and our blog readers

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Friday, 23 December 2022

22nd December 2022: Overton (mod)

The weather forecast had been changing almost by the hour, so it was difficult to predict what we would face as Dave and I drove down to Holt. Whatever, it seemed that we’d get wet at some point. However, by the time we got to Cleopatra’s the rain had stopped, so perhaps things were looking up.

I’d planned a ride down to Overton, based on one I’d done with Ken 5 years ago. It would be only about 30 miles, but it was overcast so it would drop dark early. The mod riders would be Dave H, Steves Hu and T, Alan, Andy B and (only to Tilston), Trevor.

I ran into a problem loading up the route onto my bike computer which even our resident Wahoo guru couldn’t solve, so we fell back on Dave’s ‘paper Garmin’ to guide us. Almost as soon as we set off Steve Hu had a mechanical. He’d just fitted a new chain, but there was a mis-match with the cogs on his cassette, which made the chain jump as he pedaled. So he had to use the small chain ring and put the cassette into top gear to stop the chain jumping. He rode the whole route in that gear!

We took the usual route through Farndon and down Wetrains Lane. When we reached the end of the lane we stopped to take a photo at the gates leading to Stretton Hall. As we did so, a Range Rover came speeding towards us from Tilston. As it drew up we thought that we must be blocking access to the hall, but the lady driver wound down her window and offered to take our group photo – but we’d already done it.

Photo by Steve T

Onward then to Tilston, where Trevor left us and thence up the hill to Malpas, where a discussion raged about the elevation of the town (328 ft, according to Google). In Malpas itself, the road out to Worthenbury was closed, so we went a little further before taking Mastiff Lane to Oldcastle Heath and Threapwood where we re-joined the B5069. It has started to drizzle in Malpas and, as we reached Worthenbury it came on harder. By the time we got to Bangor-on-Dee it was, in Andy’s words, ‘proper raining’. But we pressed on past the racecourse and up the hill into Overton which was so steep that ‘top gear’ Steve Hu had to get off and push.

The choice of lunch stop was either the White Horse or the Two Doves café. We decided to see if the Two Doves had room for us - in fact we were welcomed in with open arms. No only did we get a good table, but the larger than life waitress insisted on taking our wet gloves and coats to put them over the radiator!

After polishing off their all-day breakfast, or in the case of Steve Hu, the Christmas Special, we retrieved our gloves and coats for the return journey. By now the rain had pretty much stopped and there was even a glimmer of sunshine, so the short route back through Bangor, Worthenbury and Shocklack was covered easily and quickly. We arrived back in Holt well before dark and just before the rain started again.

A modest ride of 31 miles on a day that promised little, but delivered through the company of the group and the people we met along the way.

See route map and/or gpx file download 

ST

Friday, 16 December 2022

15th December 2022 : Gresford - Christmas Lunch Ride (brisk)

I'd offered a little while ago to lead a brisk Christmas ride from Tattenhall to the Pant. Not knowing how the weather would be on the day, I had prepared three routes – a direct run of 15 miles, a longer loop of 35 miles, and one in the middle at 22 miles. So this is the one in middle at 22 miles.

I wasn't altogether happy with riding all the way out to Tattenhall, thence to Pant, and thence to home after lunch in the gloom as this would have been 50 miles in sub-zero temperatures – but this is what John W did of course! Under some pressure about being careful on the roads, I hit on the idea of asking Ken if I could park at his house and then ride out with him to Tattenhall for coffee at Alison's. This would mean that on the ride out to coffee from Rossett, Ken and I would each have a ride-buddy in case anything untoward happened. Ken was happy to oblige me.

So I arrived at Ken's at 0900 with -7.5C showing on the car's outside temperature gauge. Ken offered a cuppa so that we could defer starting out for 30 mins or so to allow the weak sun to “warm up the air”. We set off out of Rossett to Farndon then to Churton where we decide to take Pump Lane towards Coddington. There was little evidence of serious icing; the real problem was the deteriorating road surface of this lane. So riding cautiously, we end up a Chowley Oak, crossing the A41, and thence into the warm arms of Alison's cafe.

There were quite a lot of Mods already there – some in civvies who would join us at lunch. John W arrived at 1100 after the Mods had left, now making the Brisk Triad for the day. Ivan was hoping to come, but a nasty chesty cough prevented him from joining us on his bike.We set off back towards the A41, then running south on it for a mile or so before taking the shortcut up the Old Coach Road and then up the hill to Duckington. We were glad of the hills today to warm up our legs. The roads were actually surprisingly clear as we enter the gridlocked Malpas High Street. Out on Wrexham Road, we decide to just take this all the way to Bangor-on-Dee as it was well salted with extremely light traffic.

A burn along the A525 to the new road into the Industrial Estate finds us riding the long uphill road around Caia Park. It's now 10 mins from lunch and we take extreme care over the icy footbridge onto the Old Wrexham Road and the Pant. The pub is very busy but there is already a Brisk Formation drinking team at the bar aka Ray, Nick, Ivan and John M. Richard was planning to come but the lure of a dental appointment back in the Lakes was too much for him to ignore.

You know what it is like in crowded restaurants when the adjoining table is being loud and boisterous. There were 18 of them! - some in fancy dress of cycling attire! Good to see some “old” faces that we haven't seen for a while though.

The Pant looked after us royally with the food being very good indeed considering how busy the kitchen must have been. Time was marching on as the the Mod group were now leaving around 1500 with certainly three of them riding back to Tattenhall. Our brisk group decided to leave around 1545 with a certain electric trike, piloted by Matt, taking up the rear as we zoomed down Marford Hill towards Chester. John W and Matt pedalled onto Chester as Ken and I broke off in Rossett heading towards his house.

It was only -1.5 C now, but I was glad to be driving back to Chester as the sun sunk below the horizon. So only 22 miles from Tattenhall, but 40 miles in total ridden in sub-zero temperatures; nonetheless a very enjoyable experience all round especially the warmth of the Pant and that first pint of Titanic Plum Porter. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

BTW: If the Mods were wondering what happened to their inclusive mince pie at the end of the meal, the Brisk Group had to decide how to dispense these out - and it was achieved!

Thursday, 15 December 2022

15th December 2022: Gresford - Christmas Dinner Ride (mod)

There were five moderate riders at Alison's willing to give it a go in risky, icy conditions. Alan was recovering, but still game, and it was great to have Big Roy back. Mike's hardiness had been honed in the Welsh hills, Steve Tan was positive as ever, and I was wearing my old helmet in case my new one was scarred by freezing tarmac. Ken and Clive had already been for a cold spin and were waiting for John Wilkie for further forays. Dave Matthews was in civvies, as was Neil with his wife, Paula. Dave and Neil would be driving over to join us for Christmas lunch, later. Trevor was a bit under the weather, so he had sent us his route the day before, and Steve had downloaded it. I had one of Mike's maps from the bundle that he had kindly donated to me the week before, so between us we were unlikely to go wrong. It was a bit of a wrench to leave the warm and friendly hospitality of Alison's for the face-cutting cold air outside.

Photo by Mike G

We headed in the direction of Huxley before turning north-west alongside the canal to Waverton. We were riding steadily, with reckless overtaking by the odd driver causing more concern than the road surfaces. Steve was sure that his Garmin's temperature reading was too low, but my dentist, who lives at Tattenhall, told me that her car registered -7°C on Thursday morning. Farndon via Saighton was our next target. We stopped at the toilets next to the ancient Dee bridge. In this sheltered spot we briefly enjoyed the warmth of the brilliant sun, set in a clear, cold-blue sky. The road from Holt was straightforward, but we were not sure if the smaller lanes up the hill would be rideable. Some of the surfaces looked threateningly slippery, but we made it to Pant-yr-Ochain on schedule. It was good to see Matt on his tricycle continuing his recovery from being smashed off his bicycle by a turning car many months ago.

Our hopes of a prompt start to our meal, in order to ensure we had time to return to Tattenhall before dark were undermined by a couple of still- empty seats after a quarter-past-one. A misunderstanding about the time of the booked meal I believe. Never mind, we were served promptly when all had arrived. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and the socialising. It was good that our hosts had managed to accommodate the brisk group in the library, adjacent to the originally booked main table. I was pleased to see Jim again, who has now ordered his electric bike from Ribble Cycles. Trevor had also made it, but I apologise for not chatting to some people at all, because I needed to pay the bill, and join the fabulous five as quickly as possible at the end. It was a really good turnout, so I hope everyone was pleased that they had made the effort to attend, even those who had to suffer Roy's jokes at our end of the table.


Photos by Steve T

The ride back was as direct as possible. We retraced our steps as far as Churton then headed east to Coddington and Chowley. Steve and I like this route, but many think that the road surface is too rough. The thin coating of frozen mud and  patches of ice needed some care as twilight advanced. Roy yelled a warning at one stage as his vintage steed had a slippery moment. It was a relief to cross the busy A41 and reach the car park at Tattenhall before it became properly dark. As so often, were all glad that we had ridden, and enjoyed the challenge. Three courses, and thirty three miles covered on a memorable day in very agreeable company.


DH

Thursday, 8 December 2022

8th December 2022: Bangor on Dee (mod)

Despite Alan going to the trouble of preparing a route, and Steve Hughes checking it out on his bike, neither were going to be at The Gallery Tea Rooms. Alan has Covid, and for some unfathomable reason, Megan Hughes preferred having Steve in one piece rather than enjoying his insurance payout. The ice and cold forecast was indeed concerning, but we had a very good turnout on the day. The group consisted of Ray, Steve Haywood, Mold Andy, Mike Gilbert, Clive, Ken and myself. With the Lone Ranger and Tonto of the back alleys of Queensferry and beyond unavailable, we decided on a simple route to Bangor on Dee.  This decision was made easier, by the fact that Ken had arrived on his bike from Rossett without ice issues, so we could retrace his route towards Holt with some confidence. We left with more than a passing thought for Spiros, and a word or two with Alison, who I know appreciates our support.

We would never have attempted Bilberry Wood in these conditions without Ken's assurances. As it was, only the central metal drain grid on the walkway over the A55 gave any particular cause for concern. It was good to see relative newcomer, Ray, turning out so regularly in winter conditions. It was also pleasant to share a rare unified ride with Clive and Ken onboard.  It was cold, but nice and bright as we proceeded via Higher Kinnerton, Dodleston,and Lavister, before reaching Holt. Clive peeled off at this point. I'm not sure if he was getting cold at our gentle pace, or perhaps he fancied a coffee and chat with Helen at Cleopatra's!

We proceeded around the outskirts of Wrexham Industrial Estate on the B5130 before a left down Talwryn Road, and passing the familiar Maelor Creamery. There was the usual short stretch on the main road before heading for the old bridge over the river to the High Street at Bangor on Dee. I was wary of the shiny looking stone setts on the bridge, but we all arrived safely at the back of The Royal Oak. Last time we passed here we were not sure if it was open, or serving food, so we carried on to Overton. Today the cold and short daylight meant that alternative was not on the agenda. I think Ken broke in through the back door like a gunslinger in a western, because the doors were open, without being unlocked, and Ken had disappeared inside to track down the guy with a black Stetson.

We settled down on a couple of tables, Andy cannily grabbing a seat next to the radiator. Food and drink soon appeared as we talked about the difficulty pubs are currently facing and how we were lucky to find one open on a midweek lunchtime.  Before long we had to take our leave and pose for our group picture – a passing cyclist was kind enough to take the photo for us, and then we were on our way.

Photo by Mike G

Ken used his local knowledge to guide us back through the western edges of Wrexham Industrial Estate to emerge near the bottom of Marford Hill and on to Rossett.  We left Ken as we passed by his house and rejoined our outward route at Higher Kinnerton. Crossing Mold Road was challenging due to really blinding December sunshine, but we climbed back up to Bilberry Wood, said goodbye to Andy, and descended back to the car park in Hawarden.

Our expectations at the start of the day were poor, but we ended up with an excellent ride in sunny cold conditions, a good lunch stop, and 36 miles covered. This write up is a joint effort by Dave and Steve Ha – you may guess who wrote which bit!

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH/SHa

Thursday, 1 December 2022

1st December 2022 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Five of us had been out on a 60+ mile loop out from Chester and back on Tuesday. This started off cold but crisp and in the sunshine along the river path. Around Wrexham, the misty gloom came down and the temperature dropped as well and never got above 5C. It would be the same today without the sunshine though.

Ivan had put together a 50+ miler out-and-back from Delamere to The Vine at Dunham Massey. I suggested a modification in that we wouldn't need to go back to Delamere (as all the riders had ridden out) but make it a 70+ miler as if we had all started from Mickle Trafford. So if you are looking for such a ride - then here it is!

The station cafe was busy as I joined Ray, Steve T and H for coffee – to warm up! It soon became much busier with a dozen or so CER members. The Brisk group consisted of Ray, John W, Richard, Ivan and myself as we set off along with the Mods, up the bumpiest road in Cheshire heading for Acton Bridge. Down Norley Lane, hedge cutting was in progress and Ray picked up what he thought was a problem with the thorns – but it was just a large thorn twig wrapped around his front brakes – a narrow miss then.

The other side of Acton Bridge, we divert westwards down Heath Lane crossing to Higher Lane. This manoeuvre we would repeat on the way back as it was the cross over point of the figure-of-eight shaped ride. Hatton comes and goes as does Walton Hall Golf club. I notice here that a lot of the trees are still in full golden autumn leaf. Now we are wiggling through Appleton and Grappenhall towards Lymm.

We arrive at The Vine soon after opening time and 36 miles from Mickle Trafford, and inside there are already two formation drinking tables in evidence. Service is brisk as we take the window seat with a view of the Primitive Methodist Church across the road. Prices have risen here I noticed; however, the food was quickly delivered and of good quality, although the “smaller plate” option was quite small..

Conscious of the gathering gloom, we set off for High Legh via the “Swan with Two Nicks” bridge transfer. We work our way around the old airfield and the Arley Airstrip towards Antrobus. The old airfield was the Royal Naval Air Station Stretton (aka HMS Blackcap). Wiki details here. As we approach the centre of the figure-of-eight transfer, I worry that the Garmins will interpret the need to go back down the outward route – but it works fine without a blip.

The rest of the route is straightforward once we get on the A56 in and out of market day Frodsham and Helsby all the way back to Chester. So another good day out with 70+ miles ridden at 16mph average – not bad considering the cold and the many lanes we rode down today and fortunately no incidents to report on. Back home by 1530!

So, thanks to Ivan for the original route idea and lunch venue and to Richard, Ray and John W for dragging me around the lanes.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA


1st December 2022: Tilston (mod)

It was overcast and grey as I left home to ride to Delamere Station Café, but, unlike last week, it was dry with almost no wind. At the café, there were 14 CER members, who eventually shook out into 5 ‘briskers’, 6 ‘mods’, with Electric Pete doing his own thing, Dave Matthews attending to some pressing family business and Andy B going home to attend an appointment with his wife.

My plan was a run down to The Carden Arms at Tilston, but I was slightly perturbed when Clive said he thought it might be closed. However, Steve Ha reassured me that there were a number of ‘Plan B’ options if that turned out to be the case. I was also anxious to ensure that we got back to Delamere in good time, as the light at this time of the year is falling very soon after sunset, which was due at 4pm.

So, the ‘super six’ (Steves Ha, Hu and T, Alan, George and Ray) set off to Hatchmere, where we turned left. Turning left again at Brines Brow Lane, I was confused to see that my bike computer had turned itself off, so we had to stop and re-load the route. Later on, Steve Hu explained to me that, in addition to loading the route onto the device, you have to ‘start’ the route, otherwise the thing just assumes that you don’t need it on.  This piece of information was added to the long list of technical support that Steve Hu has given me about my Wahoo computer and I will need a very large mortgage to pay off his invoices.

Things then went well and we passed quickly through Ashton, Oscroft, Waverton and Aldford. At Churton, we turned left into Pump Lane, which Steve Ha had warned me has a very poor surface. This turned out to be the case and it prompted a vocal complaint from Steve Hu. His ire was further inflamed when we lost him and Alan at the end of Aldersley Lane. They had stopped for a comfort break and didn’t see us turn left into Mill Lane, so they turned right into Coddington Lane. A quick phone call led to an agreement to meet up at The Carden Arms.

While they reached there via Barton, we went through the grounds of The Carden Park Golf Club, something we had done with Neil a few weeks ago. Steve and Alan were at The Carden Arms when we arrived at 12.10, but, although the sign over the door said ‘Open’, the doors were locked and the lights inside were not on. So ‘Plan B’ was put into action and we rode half a mile down Stretton Hall Lane to the Lost Barn Coffee Roaster café, which was a first for everyone except Steve Ha and T.

We had been there before, but only for a drink or ice cream towards the end of a ride. Their food menu was not huge, but their ‘Farmers Bap’ was popular and the service was rapid. Following, the traditional group photo, we left the café at 1.15 pm and re-traced our steps to Tilston. Ironically, the pub lights were on as we passed it and it looked like it was open – another time, perhaps.

Photo by Steve T

We turned left into Duckington Lane and ran through there to Bickerton, joining the A534 Wrexham Road for the short run down to the Bickerton Poacher, where we peeled off left onto Stonehouse Lane. This runs in the shadow of the Peckforton Hills which, by this time, were shrouded in mist, emphasizing the need to press on before darkness came. So on we went, through Spurstow, Bunbury and Alpraham. Here, it seemed that we might have lost Steves Ha and Hu, but it turned out that a ‘mudguard clearing’ exercise had been necessary, delaying them for a few minutes. It’s that time of the year, isn’t it?

The last miles took us through Eaton and Cotebrook to Delamere, where we arrived at 3pm, having covered 45 miles at a brisk (for the mods) speed of 13.4 mph. No rain and mud-free dry lanes made for a pleasant day out with great company.

ST

Monday, 28 November 2022

24th November 2022: Lee (mod)

 Travelling from Runcorn Steve and I found the A55 completely backed up, and just about manoeuvred our way out, and head toward Cheshire Oaks. Fortunately, our running calculations on the quickest diversion route to put us back on track for Chirk worked out perfectly. On arriving at Castle Bistro we met an impressive turnout of the Fast Lads. It was very pleasant having a chat with them and Dave Matthews, who needed to ride back to Oscroft to feed his goats (or did I get this wrong!). Anyway, Dave had made a big effort to be at Chirk, and paid me for his Christmas Lunch, and this is appreciated. The guys showed us pictures of Nick on a winter training holiday somewhere warm and exotic. Unfortunately, unlike Nick, we had a very fierce wet front to deal with today, instead of decisions about whether we needed factor 50 or less. Andy had arrived from Mold, so there were just Steve Tan, Andy and myself riding as moderates. Steve Hughes, Steve Haywood and Alan had considerately given me advanced notice that they would not be riding. After a very wet, flooded return ride from Loppington last April, I had decided to do a short south east loop, and have lunch back at Castle Bistro in an attempt to miss the forecast heavy rain due to arrive, hopefully, around 1p.m. Unfortunately, I should have looked at Carol's moving weather map properly, or listened to Andy, and I would have realised that the rain was likely to pass quite quickly. Plan A should probably have been: pick a lunch stop for about 12.30, and dine while the rain passed. I sensed that was the plan for the Fast Lads, but don't you usually get showers behind a heavy band of rain, and have even more chance of flooded roads, particularly on the small lanes the moderates frequent? Anyway, we started out towards the dodgey A5 roundabout, when Ray Baird, unexpectedly, caught up in his vehicle with his bike on the back!  He had also been held up by the A55 incident on his long drive from far west Wirral. He quickly parked and sorted himself out in order to join us on the ride,

 We took a familiar, quiet route out, past Ebnal Hall to Hindford. We then headed for Old Marton, and past the attractive old railway house at Crickett, nestling down on our right. We curved down to the B5068 where I lost us ten minutes by heading back toward Dudleston Heath instead of into Ellesmere. The ride to Ellesmere took us past Beech House used by Thomas Telford when building the Llangollen Canal. The lanes had been enjoyable and the weather dry so far, but we had ploughed through a few floods already. We passed the college and started back at Lee. Our return was via Tetchill, Onston, New Marton and St.Martins. Passing the Hardwick estate I managed to get stuck in deep water, and had to walk out, rather than ride. It would have made a good photo! At this stage we had forty minutes riding to go, and the storm had arrived. Back at the cafe we were so wet that we left large puddles where we had sat. I told a waitress that our seats were wet before I left, and she was fine about it. Lunch was very good, the cafe was warm, and we were able to have a chat and a laugh.  I would, however, like to apologise to my comrades for selecting the strategy that resulted in their extreme wetness. It does make me think why we had Chirk as a summer only destination originally.  The drive home was all sunshine and clear blue sky.        

See route map and/or gpx file download               

DH


Thursday, 24 November 2022

24th November 2022 : Shrewsbury (brisk)

John W and I took the train to Chirk to meet Clive and Ken at the appointed coffee start of Castle Bistro Tearooms. Already seated and drinking, the Brisk group today outnumbered the mod riders = 3. Weather was going to be heavy rain showers around lunchtime with tropical sunshine for the remainder!!! 

We departed at the regular time of 10:30 heading down Chirk Bank then up the grind to Weston Rhyn and taking the Old Chirk Road to cross the A5 and on  to Gobowen where we were held up by the crossing gates to allow two trains to pass. Out to Whittington and to Queens Head, we are heading southerly and it’s a good headwind we are riding into. Skirting Oswestry and going through a new housing estate we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac. I blame the Garmin as too slow to catch up but I may have missed our turning. Passing the Queens Head pub, we continue Wykey then head towards Baschurch. 

We now have 8 miles of straight roads and lanes to take us into Shrewsbury via Coton Hill. Approx. 20 minutes out, we stop to don our rain jackets and arrive at Wetherspoons Montgomery’s Tower just as the rain starts to get heavy. We had abandoned the planned ride around by the riverside park to dash directly to the pub. Quickly seated and lunch ordered, we enjoy the ambiance of Christmas décor in the establishment warm and cosy whilst it's duly raining hard outside. 

Raining hard outside: Hydrating inside

Completing our lunch coincides with the rain stopping, so we again get our gear on and ride out via Shelton along the Holyhead Road. Arriving at Montford Bridge, we encounter the first serious flooded road but we are able to surf our way through. The rainfall whilst we were indoors must have been heavy as there are several more lanes that we had to navigate our way through. 

Passing through Ruyton XI Towns we ride through familiar haunts of Knockin and Newbridge. Fortunately, we are riding with lights and at 15:00 the sky is dark from Morda to Oswestry. Here it is dark enough to enjoy the Christmas lights and had we not been riding through the rain and having to continually wipe the drops from our glasses then we might have enjoyed them even more. We continue to Weston Rhyn exiting on to the Ceriog valley road and return into Chirk. 

John and I head back to the station with 10 minutes to spare, and Clive and Ken head to the car park to retrieve their cars. We’ve not had a long ride today. The route was 53 miles and just the usual climbs of most rides. 

The rain wasn’t too bad as we all have good weatherproof clothing and completed our ride relatively dry and warm. A good day out and excellent lunch with good friends on a club ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photo JW

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

17th November 2022 : Tattenhall

No ride this week - just three riders and a lot of rain!


Thursday, 10 November 2022

10th November 2022: Barton (mod)

Here we go again. Today’s starting venue was Meadow Lea (ML) on a day when the weather men were forecasting near record temps for this time of year. Another unusual fact today was that the total number at ML (15) was less than the total seen at our lunch destination, which will become evident later on - Lol. There was little conversation as to a destination and route, as I was asked to lead a route to a specific location, once we convinced DH to put his paper Garmin away- Lol. The sight of DH’s pile of disheveled maps, had Mike G feeling sorry for him, once we had finished laughing that is. I seem to remember Mike hoping to find some spare copies for DH (apparently Mike has a vast collection- each to his own- Lol)

The 3 fast boys had already left, although that wasn’t the last we saw of them. DM set off on his own, as he had a lawn that desperately needed mowing however, that wasn’t the last we would see of him either- Lol. So, the 12 of us Mods set off, via Mickle Trafford, ultimately heading for the Cock ‘O’ Barton (COB - one of the best pubs in Cheshire, in my opinion). However, after only a few hundred mtrs, we had to stop, in order to reboot my Garmin again! I can hear DH saying under his breath “never needed to reboot my map”- Lol.

Anyway, back on track and now in our stride, we turn off the A56 heading south for Great Barrow. I was trying hard to avoid any mucky/possibly flooded lanes this week -Lol. This meant a somewhat tricked up and now signature meander, for me at least, but with my trade mark tail wind finish, all the way back. Now past the Bluebell Cafe and crossing the A51 (my first deviation- Lol). I had intended to ride through Tarvin, but I forgot to look at the Garmin - Plonker! And that’s why we saw DM again, just dismounting at his house, in Oscroft, having gone his own way. This minor deviation added another mile to the route, which meant that Steve Hu would be asking “how far away is lunch?” A little earlier than usual (always him- Lol)

Regrouping again, just after Okell’s, before passing over the river Gowy, we turn right and head uphill past Walk Mill cafe and turn left toward Huxley. Our route now becomes more of a zig zag across the county, which meant there weren’t too many, full on, head winds- Lol. Now in Huxley, heading toward Beeston, we pass the absolutely fab, Huxley Inn, possibly the best pub restaurant in the county, for both style and food. Apparently it took the owner 8+ years to clear and build on the site, which I believe was an old pub, the Farmer’s Arms, although I have heard other stories as well. One thing for sure, he spent a fortune on it (lovely venue, worth a special dinner night) Consequently, it is not cheap (again I can picture DH groaning in the background- Lol)

On towards Grassy Green and my favourite little stretch, past the Shady Oak pub, over that gorgeous little hump back bridge and uphill to Beeston Castle (just love it and a perfect bit of tarmac as well). We regroup under the rock face of Beeston Castle and then head toward Tattenhall past a magnificent dahlia garden on the right, still in full bloom, this late in the year. We again regroup at the end of the road, after a 3 mile stretch from Beeston, with a diagonal headwind. Normally I would have led the group around Tattenhall, but I sensed that lunch was becoming more of an interest than the lovely scenery around here, so we pass right through Tattenhall and up the short drag to the A41 crossing.

Below Beeston Castle, photo Mike G

Bit of a nasty crossing however, today was easy and we were soon gliding down Dog Lane, which was the better option as opposed to Holywell Lane. Dog Lane can be very mucky, particularly around the farm (affectionately known as ‘gold fish farm’, by Paula and I) This is due to the gold fish in the cow trough of course- Lol, which we always check on, every time we walk past. The farm house here was built in 1601 and a Tudor gem (1601 is a common historical date around these parts it seems).

I think it was about this time when ‘Tail End Charlie’ asked me again, “how far was it to lunch”- Lol. “3 miles”, was my response- Lol. As usual Andy was roughly aware of our location and knew that 3 miles was perhaps a bit of a fib, the moment I announced we were going to ride through the centre of Carden Park yet we were only half a mile from COB. I thought CP would be a pleasant change and completely new for some. It was a first for me as well, despite it being my golf club (tricky to carry the clubs on a bike- Lol). Even if you are not a golfer Carden Park is worth a visit, not just for the scenery and the new mega Spa, but for the ‘Art Garden’ (in front of the hotel) which I pointed out, as we cruised up past the Spa. The owner, Steve Morgan, of Redrow construction, has spent more than £250,000 on some of the pieces in the garden and there must be at least 30.

Anyway, now through Carden Park, heading down Stretton Mill Lane, we are soon at the junction that delivered us to the COB. However, before I could inform everybody that we only had a half mile to go, Steve Hu piped up “how far was it to lunch”, for the third time I think- Lol. Apparently he was about to bite his arm off, if we didn’t get there soon (it was only 1pm and he had breakfast- Lol.). We arrived and there was no problem catering for 12, as I hadn’t booked, taking a risk because there was always the backup option of Manor Wood cafe, only 500 mtrs down the hill, which is a good cafe on the lake. Bikes all locked up, we eventually enter the pub, only to find Steve Ha sat down already, with a pint in hand- Lol. I didn’t know he had slipped off the front (crafty bugger-Lol)

Despite it being unusually quiet, our food took ages, although that was more to do with how long it took to take our orders (we surmised it was due to being mid week and therefore limited staff, as I pointed out it is busy in the evening and never any issues). Despite the slow service everybody seemed well happy with the food and at a fair price. It wasn’t just the Mod group at the COB, as the fast group dropped in to say hello and Fiona & Elwyn met us there as well (which surprised me, until I remembered she can track me on 360) - handy app to have in a cycling group, if you are not aware, not as good as ‘ What Three Words’ , for precise location, but useful on a day Iike today. Anyway the slow service didn’t seem to bother anybody, going by the noise we were all making however, it did lead to Andy making tracks before the rest of us were ready.

Photo by Neil T

We left the pub with only a short 15 miles (does that mean it was a shorter 15 miles than a normal 15 miles? - Lol) and with a tail wind all the way back. We head down Wetreins Lane and across the main drag to Wrexham, which leads us past Farndon (for some of us- Lol). We suddenly realised that Steve T, Ray & Trev weren’t with us as we by-pass Farndon. I simply thought they had decided to follow Fiona & Elwyn, wrongly assuming they lived on the other side of the River Dee. No sooner had we realised when we got to the junction leading us up to Churlton and Aldford beyond. As we hit the junction, who should ride past but the 3 amigos -Lol. Now we were 7 again and cruising along with a nice tailwind. 2 miles later we were crossing the Dee bridge at Aldford, which got badly damaged in the 2020? Floods.

At this point I expected to lose Mr & Mrs Pipe, thinking the tandem would go straight up into Chester and home. However, we were still 7 heading for Bruera, where I decided to leave the group.

I had intended to drop off at Waverton, but I wasn’t feeling that good to be honest, after 10 days off the bike and a stomach bug. This left Steve Ha / DH to lead the group back to ML (thanks guys). I got home with 55 miles on the clock, feeling a little tired in the legs, but more importantly a clean bike- Lol. However, I can’t help feeling my tired legs might have been due to the extra weight I was carrying. Steve Hu’s charity donation of £5, just before we set off, was £ coins can you believe. I reckon he was off loading weight on to me- charity donation my foot- Lol Lol. I promised a clean dry ride and I think I achieved that. I hope everybody enjoyed the COB and that it becomes a CER pub venue in future.

Great day out and no rain. I apologise for the incessant squeaky disc brakes from me, which I have now fixed, just needed the calliper adjusting, using the credit card cheat- Lol (rode today and it was whisper quiet)

Is it my imagination or is my occasional diatribe getting longer- Lol. Till next time,

NT

See route map and/or gpx file download