Thursday, 21 September 2023
Friday, 15 September 2023
Well, where do I start? Everything about the day was a tad strange, not least of which was the unexpected great weather. It should have rained but it didn’t and the wind didn’t blow either. However, what a group of misfits we had today & there were only 7 in total, ranging from the most burdened soles to the most shameless cheats on the planet- Lol Lol. More about that later.
Alison’s was the venue this week and rumour has it that most of the club were either on holiday or a bit under the weather. With no fast boys or Mod+ individuals, it left a single easy rider group of 7. Both Steve T and I had ideas on a route. However, DH needed to get back home to look after the broken elephant or was it a shaggy dog, the many conversations of the day are now a little confusing. There was definitely an elephant in there somewhere- Lol. Anyway, after a brief discussion about the pros and cons of each route and the expected rain at 2pm, my proposal for a shorter than usual, small hills ride, back to Alison's for lunch, seemed more appropriate and it really suited DH. The rest of us could then wing a few more miles after lunch, so everybody is happy. And of course, I had promised a lovely quiet scenic meander, with a few new lanes that I reckoned none of the group had ridden before. This was later confirmed, even DH had not ridden one or two of them.
So it was that DH, Steve T, Ebike Ray, George, Dave P, Andy and I set off on my all time favourite, small hill, local route. A favourite because of the general quality of the lanes, lack of cars and country scenary, not to mention a few small bumps- Lol. We set off left out of Alison’s and up the hill, over the A41, toward Carden Park and Tilston beyond. We were soon passing Old Castle Heath and heading up a slight incline when it became apparent that most of the group were wondering where I was leading them as we had turned left and right numerous times- Lol.
Just as we turned right, for the nth time into The Wychough (strange name for a lane) and a routine regroup, I informed the group that the promised hill, was just 2 miles away, where upon George piped up, thinking he had already climbed the hill- Lol. I assured him the hill (not a climb- Lol) was within his capable years - Lol. 5 minutes later after a quick plunge into Lower Wych, we were soon on Wigland Hall Lane and after a bit of puffing and blowing, ST claimed the KOM honours, as he crested the 1k bump in the terrain, with yours truly close on his tail (drafting- Lol). Ray was first up, but he doesn’t count of course, with his electric advantage - Lol, although that didn’t stop him commenting about his legs, which made ST & I chuckle.
We were in fact slowly circumventing DH’s favourite Malpas, although not many knew it - Lol. Hope he appreciated my efforts - Lol. It was about this time that ST mentioned that my table booking for 1 pm was a little ambitious, which led us to both push on without the others, but not before a few more miles around some very quiet lanes. Once through Bradley Lane, we cross the A41 at what is effectively No Man’s Land, but we now had a few miles of yet more favourite lanes. I deviate from my route, slightly and take Grotsworth Lane, as I was aware of a very wet muddy flood on the adjacent lane, only because I got caught in it the day before - Lol. This lane dropped us into the back entrance of Cholmondley Castle; queue, team photo from ST.
|Cholmondley Castle - Photo by Steve T|
It was at this point that the sneaky tactics of a certain older gent, who shall remain nameless, raised their head - Lol. George! Suggested we should try and make our lunch table on time and encouraged me to push on, the last 8 miles. Little did we know that this was simply a ploy to cheat the route, as I had explained the route now comprised Bickerton Hill, Brown Knowl and Harthill, before descending into Tattenhall. George’s response was that he knew the way to Alison’s
So it was that I pushed on, unbeknown to me that both ST & Andy had set off, a few seconds later, in pursuit. Before I left I reminded George to ride over Bickerton Hill (my name for my all time favourite small hill) meant a left turn at the Holy Trinity Church, with it’s slightly moody gothic revival architecture. However, George’s carefully hatched plan to mutiny the ride and drag the reputation of all into the toilet had succeeded, as they got to the cafe before we did, despite both ST & I busting a gut to get there, only to find them already enjoying their coffee. No doubt, the more honourable readers of this blog, can imagine how devastated both ST & I were, after such deceit. ST was inconsolable at the complete lack of shame shown by the rest of the group - Lol Lol Lol.
After a quick look at the menu, ST suddenly realised Andy was missing. Of course, the mutineers, hadn’t noticed, claiming that they thought he had ridden on with us (of course they would - Lol). 10 minutes later, in came Andy. It turns out he had set off, just after ST did, but neither of us knew. I had put my head down and max chat. However, when I looked back after a mile or so, I saw ST 100 mtrs behind. I sat up & waited, but there was no sign of Andy, so we cracked on together, not realising Andy was chasing us. He then missed us turning left at the church, in order to climb Bickerton Hill (Goldford Lane - Lol) He then added a couple of extra miles to the route in trying to catch and find us, unlike the rest of the mutineers, who simply rode straight on over Harthill, thus cutting out said hill and a couple of warm miles. There just isn’t any honour in cycling anymore - Lol Lol.
Once the shameless excuses were over, the lunch conversation continued in a rather frenzied fashion as Andy arrived 10 mins in and DH was into his customary phone call (the usual life baggage getting in the way of his day off - Lol). This did not go amiss with both Ray and George, who possibly coined the phrase ‘life baggage’ or was that me - Lol. Not sure I have seen such frenzied frivolity at a CER lunch before -Lol Lol. It was then no surprise to hear the group renege on my proposed follow on ride, offering to wing a few more miles, being as the rain had not arrived.
No doubt, readers, you can guess who lead that revolt, yes, good old George - Lol.
So it was, that DH headed home to baby sit the elephant and the rest jumped into their cars except Andy of course, who had his customary trek home to Mold. I had a mile to get home, not before DH tried to frighten the life out of me with his Postman Pat car horn- Lol.
A most enjoyable day with a good bit of banter. However, only 34 miles on my Garmin and even less for the mutineers of course (roughly 29 miles- Lol).
Till next time gents, Neil.
Friday, 8 September 2023
When I write up a ride report I usually start at the beginning but today I'm starting at the end. After we had turned into the car park at Ness Gardens at the end of the ride Alan, who had been leading the ride, asked if someone could write it up. He was off on his holidays on Sunday and needed to pack, so wouldn't have time. George hadn't a clue where he'd been and Ray was busy putting his bike on the back of his car. Clive offered to do it but pointed out that he was off on his holidays on Monday. I was going away too, but not until Wednesday. I wasn't sure of all the places we had ridden but, with the benefit of the route recorded on my Garmin, I offered to do it. So here I am, map in front of me and I'll try to do my best.
I've managed to mention all five riders already but we were also joined by Steve T, only out for coffee. The cafe itself at Ness Gardens was closed but they were serving on a takeaway basis from the doorway. Apparently during the heat wave we have been having recently the cafe had been getting very hot and several people had fainted as a result. Fortunately it was warm enough to sit outside and the rain that had been around early in the morning had mostly disappeared.
The weather forecast was good. Not much in the way of wind, maybe a little rain early on but starting off warm and getting warmer throughout the day. Temperatures in the high twenties were expected by late afternoon. The unusual feature of the weather, however (and one which the forecasters missed) was the sandstorm! I had ridden through a short shower on my way out and had seen small spots appearing on my bike as the droplets dried out. It happened again shortly after we started our ride and one of the other riders said that he had seen an orange glow in the sky looking towards Chester. Occasionally a desert storm far away in the Sahara Desert will whip sand high up into the atmosphere where it is blown by the wind and eventually falls onto clouds below. It will then fall with the rain and that is what we were experiencing today. We have ridden in many weather conditions over the years but I think this was the first 'sandstorm' we had ridden in.
Enough of the weather. What about the ride? We turned left out of Ness Garden then right towards Raby, managing to cross the busy A540 without too much trouble. At Raby we turned right and headed towards Willaston but by-passed the centre of the village by turning left into Mill Lane. Another left took us towards Hooton and then we turn up Eastham Rake where we crossed the equally busy A41, this time with the help of traffic lights. We were heading for Eastham Country Park but, as Alan admitted, by a longer route than he had planned as he had missed a turning earlier on. Here we expected to follow the Wirral Circular Trail, albeit for the first time (for me at least) in an anticlockwise direction. However just before Bromborough we turned inland and found ourselves cycling along the route of a disused railway which none of us (apart from Alan) had been on before. Eventually this brought us out in front of the Unilever factory and then into Port Sunlight, the village originally built by William Lever to house the workers in his soap factory.
After cycling through Port Sunlight (another first for most of us) we regained the Wirral Circular Trail and followed it through the Cammell Laird Industrial area passing Birkenhead Priory, tucked away among the modern industrial units. From here we dropped down the aptly named Monks Ferry Lane to the spot where the first Mersey ferry service was started by the monks in the 12th century. We were now following the banks of the Mersey, pausing briefly for a photo and to admire the 3400 passenger Celebrity cruise ship (other cruise ships are available) visiting Liverpool. Then a final dash along New Brighton's brilliant promenade to our lunch destination.
|Photos by Alan O|
Our first choice of lunch venue when we visit New Brighton is the Seaside Cafe and it was warm enough today to sit outside. The 'Fishy Special' was the most popular choice with three of us tucking into fish, chips and peas with bread and butter and a drink. I can't remember the last time they put the price up so great value for less than £9.
After lunch we set off on our return journey, ignoring the promenade this time as we were soon turning inland towards Bidston. Alan took us onto a network of paths, some getting overgrown, that got us under the M53 motorway and out to Bidston Station. I'm not sure I would have ventured in there on my own – I doubt I would ever have found my way out again – but Alan knew his way through. After a short distance by road he disappeared up another path and we skirted round Bidston Village. Then he found us yet another off-road path that we hadn't ridden on before. This one was sandwiched between the railway and the M53 followed the River Fender eventually emerging into the Woodchurch Estate. Not a place to linger too long, we hurried through and crossed over Woodchurch Road.
This took us into Landican Lane. An unsurfaced route to be avoided when it's wet but on a dry day such as today a useful short cut to get us up to Storeton. Now we were back onto quiet lanes that took us down to Brimstage. A short dash along the busy main road through the village and we turned off again to cycle through Thornton Hough and a return to the small village of Raby. From here we followed our outbound route through Neston to arrive back at Ness Gardens having completed 38 miles. Alan's hopes of getting an ice cream before setting off home were dashed by the fact that as early as 3pm the cafe was already closing down. Anyway thanks to him for leading the ride and for managing to find good off-road routes that we have never been on before. It amazes me that after 13 years riding with Chester Easy Riders it is still possible to find them.
Thursday, 31 August 2023
Is this a first, I wonder? A week with only a brisk ride? Read on to find out.
The weather forecast wasn’t encouraging as it was going to rain sometime on the ride. Should I stay or should I go now? I went, as Ivan had sent me “Monday's Ride“ and I said I probably would be out. Arriving at Maggie’s cafe, I found Steve Hu into his coffee. Soon after Ken and Trevor turned up but both just out for the coffee today as it transpired. Then Mike arrive along with “El Presidente” arriving just after Andy B – but no Ivan.
I mentioned that I had Ivan’s ride to Dobsons Bridge if any one was interested. Four of us were happy to ride it if I could transfer it to Steve’s Garmin - but despite a few magic spells being cast, it just wouldn’t upload. Ken offered me his Apple phone case to enable me lead the ride, but in the nick of time Ivan arrived, somewhat breathless after a busy morning apparently.
So the Famous Five set off bound for Dobsons Bridge and Whixall Marina for lunch. Ivan led us out via the bypass and then down on Worthenbury Road towards Shocklach. Here we meet Trevor again who was just out for a local ride today.
Along this road we had split into a leading three and a rearguard two. A local “Chester Recycling” car overtakes Mike and I (the rearguard two) and tries to overtake the leading three (Ivan,Steve and Andy). Just at that moment a car comes round the bend towards us making the Chester Recycling car end up breaking hard and “parking” alongside the lady driver of the other car. A robust remonstration ensued ensuring that the Chester Recycling car driver was in no doubt how stupid his actions had been.
We motor on down turning left in Shocklach now bound for Chorlton. Mike is finding the pace a little too brisk so he elects to make his own way to Whixall Marina and will “see us there”. So we proceed via Old Castle Heath, Lower Wych and Higher Wych to Isycod Park to the A525. A few shimmies here takes into Bronington and onwards to Bettisfield.
|At Bettisfield station|
Turning back for home out of Northwood, we arrive at Dobsons Bridge and thence to Whixall Marina cafe (a firm favourite of mine now). It was quiet today so our repast comes in double quick time allowing us to leave after 30 mins. We set off again at 1300 wondering where Mike has got to – the answer presents himself riding towards us from the north. Apparently Mike had arrived at 1215 and did a few lanes getting “lost”in the process. He is happy to continue riding solo so we set off for Coton.
We have a long blast through to Coton and Tilstock then onwards to Whitchurch. It’s then out via Marbury and on to Bickley Crossroads. As Ivan’s “Monday” route then continues northwards, and after a quick conflab, Steve and Andy head off for Malpas and Tilston back towards Holt. Ivan and I head via Harthill back to Tattenhall and Christleton where the bikes mysteriously veer into “The Ring of Bells”.
So, I haven't mentioned the rain – and it did sporadically after about 1330 until the edge of Chester – not too wet really just a nuisance, so you should have come out today.
The official route ends up at 49 miles and I managed 73 miles at 15.5mph all round and Steve almost likewise, with no doubt Andy a few more than that. Hopefully Mike made it back OK on his solo ride today.
Saturday, 26 August 2023
There was a good turnout of moderate riders at Rose Farm. I welcomed a short catch-up with Ken and the fleeting visit of John Wilkie, but Clive was the only Brisk Group rider available for a club ride today. Trevor and Jim joined us for coffee, but not for the day. The moderate riders were Alan, Ray, George, Mike Gilbert, Dave Matthews, Mold Andy, Matt and myself, with the addition of Clive. Cafe at Bridge 80 was to be our destination.
We made brisk progress to Rushton, by Oulton Park, and onto Wettenhall, passing the lane to Matt's brother-in-law's auto-electrical business. If you have intractable electrical problems with your car, this is definitely the guy to go to! I was intending to go through the park at Nantwich, but we were likely to arrive a little early for lunch; a Clivesque loop was called for. From the edge of Nantwich we headed to Acton and then took a double left past Madam's Farm at the back of Dorfold Hall estate. This lovely quiet backwater becomes Tally-ho Lane before it hits Marsh Lane, and we turn right for Ravensmoor. At Sound we cross the A530 to Broomhall Green and head down to the moated Hall o'Coole, and ten minutes later we arrive at Overwater Marina and Cafe at Bridge 80, with a respectable twenty-four or so miles covered. Marquees were being erected on the canal side ready for the approaching Bank Holiday we presume, and, after ordering, we decide to eat in one, sheltered from the cool wind. The food is very appetising as usual, and it turns out that this is the first visit for Dave Matthews, as well as Clive (and Matt?). Of course, Dave Matthew's much-loved Priest House cafe, his normal port of call in the Audlem area, has ceased trading.
|Photo by Alan O|
For the return journey we retrace our route for a few hundred yards and then carry on toward Audlem before taking an acute right turn at Brickwall Farm, and heading to Aston. The route is then a familiar one: Wrenbury, Larden Green, and onto the narrow lanes, that normally take us across the A534 at Brindley. For a change, we ignored the normal left turn, reaching Burland and then carrying on up Long Lane in the direction of Haughton and Bunbury. This option is too perverse for Dave M, who made his own way north. At Radmore Green, I wanted to show Haughton Hall to those who hadn't seen it, so turned right at Hall Lane. This option was too perverse for Clive who made his own way north! I did have doubts about leading Matt on the trike, in particular, up this lane as it's a bit rough in places. Haughton Hall would be an idyllic place to live, and did have rooms to let. By chance, we then caught up with Dave M near Spurstow Hall. At Bunbury, Mike, Matt and Ray had to push on, while Dave M, Andy, George, Alan and myself enjoyed coffee and cake at Tilly's. The last leg had just myself and George heading back to Rose Farm. Tilstone Bank, followed by Sapling Lane and Heath Green out of Eaton, were challenging climbs as ever, but we steadily pegged away reassuring ourselves that it was doing us good. Overall, we had enjoyed a proper little lanes Easy Rider relaxed day with friends. About 45 miles covered. Many thanks to Alan for, once again, taking the photograph.
Friday, 18 August 2023
The Gallery is now called ‘Pursuit Café and Kitchen’ and is being run by a cycling enthusiast, so that bodes well for us.
The turnout was good, with Dave M and Ray S doing their own thing. That left Dave H, Every Ready Ray, Andy, Neil, George, Trevor, Jim and yours truly for the mod ride for the day. The plan was to ride down to The Two Doves café in Overton using the route pioneered by Alan last October.
We set off down the hill past the car park and up Tinkersdale climb, bearing left to take the steep road/track up to the A55 bridge. Trevor and Jim were at the rear and, going into the track, Trevor had a problem with his gears and came off, bringing Jim down with him. It all happened in a flash at almost no miles and hour, so no major damage was done to man nor bike.
Once over the A55, were set off along Old Hope Road then zoomed down Lower Mountain Road, crossing Kinnerton Road and soon found ourselves in Golly. The lanes around here and down to Rossett were quiet and smooth, but the railway crossing at Rossett was bumpy enough dislodge my rear mudguard, forcing a short stop to put it back on.
We only climbed part way up Marford Hill, before turning left down Hoseley Lane, where Andy complained that there were no apples to scrump this year. Again, the lanes were lovely and quiet down to Borras as were the lanes that skirt Wrexham Industrial Estate. It was here that we missed Trevor and Jim. After waiting five or more minutes, Andy set off back to look for them. After about another 10 minutes, Dave H returned to the junction where Neil, Andy, George and I had been waiting (he’d gone on ahead with Ray), to tell us that Jim and Trevor had told him that they had decided to bail out and go to Holt. A text later from Trevor confirmed that this was because he was feeling the after effects of his tumble earlier.
So, the six of us continued on via Cross Lanes to Bangor-on-Dee, where we took the group photo on the bridge. From here it was only a couple of miles before we reached Overton.
|Photo by Steve T|
As usual the offerings and service at the Two Doves was excellent and an eye opener for Neil, who had passed the place numerous times, but had never been inside. Suitable fed and watered, we were soon back on the bikes for the return journey. This took us back to Bangor and then up Creamery Road and along a series of lovely lanes to Holt.
From here, we headed for Lavister, but part way along Rossett Road, Ray suffered a flat rear tyre. He was confident that the ‘gloop’ that he’d already put in his tyres would solve the problem and that all he needed was to pump it up a bit. How wrong this turned out to be! After another stop near Trevalyn, where Neil, used a gas cylinder to pump up the tyre, another stop was needed as Ray approached Dodleston.
This turned out to be a very prolonged affair. The idea was to put in a new inner tube, but removing the rear wheel from Ray’s ‘leccy’ bike turned out to be a nightmare and it was over half an hour before we were moving once more. The loss of this time meant that we were unable to indulge DH’s desire for a cake stop in Kinnerton, so we headed directly back to Hawarden via Rough Piece Wood and the roundabouts at Dobshill, before plunging down Tinkersdale back to the car park.
46 miles covered on a day which had started cool, but which had turned out sunny and very warm. A ride not without incident and challenges, but one with great company and some superb lanes. Thanks again to Alan for planning such great route.
Friday, 11 August 2023
There was a good turnout on a warm morning outside Delamere station cafe. Andy, Peter and Jim were having to return after coffee, and Dave Matthews would be peeling off early. It was good to hear that Peter was riding more and making progress with his recovery, and also to see Ray return from injury. The rest of the group consisted of Ever Ready Ray, Steve Tan, Trevor, Alan, Clive and myself. I suggested The Rope and Anchor as a lunch stop. I had led a group there in the past, and ridden out to lunch with Keith to this destination adjacent to the Trans Pennine Way. There was a very pleasant outside area, and the food had been fine.
We headed out via the attractive backwater around Norley Hall, and diverted at Crowton down Ainsworth Lane. Surprisingly, Steve spotted a friend of ours from Runcorn turning his car around in this quiet lane. We think that he must have been visiting the home of Mick Miller, who had, sadly, very recently past away. Mick, in his prime, was a larger than life, big-bearded, blue-eyed Viking of a character with his own coal business, and was a master chimney sweep. R.I.P. Mick. From Acton Bridge we headed for Cogshall Hall, and turned into Comberbach along Senna Lane. We avoided the plunge down and up to Great Budworth, passing the Cock O' Budworth on our way to Bate Heath. We turned north and reached Little Bollington by way of Hoo Green and Booth Bank. All very scenic, lovely little lanes, time to cruise and chat to Ray S, about the culture of our club, and our experiences riding up Ventoux. I was also able to share with Alan the challenges of living with partners who are always keen to 'disappear' your stuff, and of maintaining family cars that are probably past their sell by date.
|Photo by AO|
Thursday, 3 August 2023
Between Maesbury and Montford Bridge, we began to notice the brisk tailwind that we were benefiting from and reminded ourselves this was a circular ride. This section of lanes is really quiet as you are rarely near any villages and really just out in the wilds. At Montford Bridge, we had arrived at our most southerly point and from now on we were heading back north. Just outside the village of Baschurch, to the west Clive showed us the correct way to enter the lunch venue “should you be arriving by horse”! A quick photo opportunity was taken by the Polo field and we sat down to consume our lunch.
Friday, 28 July 2023
The weather was pretty dire as we gathered at Alison’s, but by the time it came to leave the rain was down to a light drizzle, so waterproofs weren’t needed. Seven ‘mods’ offered themselves for a 40-odd mile ride I had planned down to Audlem, although a late counter offer from Mr & Mrs Pipe for a 30-odd miler to The Bhurtpore nearly saw Dave H defect from the group, which also included Steve Hu, Alan, Andy B, George, Mike G and myself.
Turning right out of Alison’s we’d only gone half a mile when a cry came from the back about some kind of problem. We waited at the left turn into Bird’s Lane and a few minutes later Dave H appeared having gone back to the car park to collect his water bottle.
After this hiatus, we moved on swiftly through Beeston and Bunbury, aided by a tail wind. We continued on through Haughton and Burland to Ravensmoor and Sound and we arrived in Audlem about 12.10, having covered 20 miles in warm and mostly dry weather. I’d planned to eat either at the Lord Combermere pub or the Old Priest House café, depending on how many riders we were, as the café has limited seating.
As we were a group of seven, I opted for the pub, which seemed eerily quiet as we arrived. Parking the bikes around the back, we got menus and then went inside to order. Well, to say it was slow was an understatement, the guy behind the bar not being able to work the card machine and writing down each order on a notepad. Steve Hu clocked this early on and ducked out of the queue to go and find an alternative source of lunch.
The rest of us ordered either a burger or a ‘flat bread’ and a soft drink. Andy and Dave had wanted a pot of tea, but that wasn’t available as ‘the machine was broken’. How difficult can it be? Kettle, water, tea bag, milk….
While we waited for the meals to arrive, Steve Hu came back to report that the Old Priest House was, indeed, closed. Having changed hands quite recently, the new owners ran it for 14 weeks before deciding to shut.
The food arrived about 45 minutes after ordering it. Whilst the beef/chicken burgers that George and I had were just about passable for £8, the flat breads were about six inches in diameter and covered with the ‘topping of your choice’ and cost £10. The pub isn’t on our list of favoured lunch stops and is not going to be added on the basis of today’s repast. In fact, no-one else came into the pub whilst we were there and the car park was empty as we left. The collective view is that it will be closed down when we next go to Audlem and The Village Chippy seems like the likely lunch venue.
We cycled past The Old Priest House along Stafford Street (which had ‘road closed’ signs across it) to take a loop around the south of Audlem. There were no signs of road works or other obstructions by the time we peeled off up Paddock Lane to go through Kinsey Heath and Swanbach, after which we turned north heading for Aston (and the Bhurtpore, where there was no sign of Mr & Mrs Pipe) and Wrenbury.
We stopped for a group photo as we crossed the Shropshire Union canal at Wrenbury and managed to hijack a passer-by to take the picture. It turned out that he was on a narrow boat and had come to lift the road bridge to allow his barge to pass through, so that provided us with a second photo opportunity.
|Photos by Steve T|
Our route then took us towards Gaunton’s Bank and The Cholmondeley Arms where we crossed the A49. Pressing on past the gardens and Egerton Green, we were approaching the crossing of the A534 when a cry came from the back to watch out for some ruffians on bikes who were tearing up the tarmac.
This turned out to be the ‘fast lads’ heading back from their trip out to Alsager (see Clive’s report), so a small race ensued to the top of Harthill. The result was a draw and all that remained was to roll down Bolesworth Road into Tattenhall to complete 43 miles on a day of mixed fortunes. Great company, reasonably clement weather, but an awful lunch.
For the first time since the April Special Ride there have been two consecutive Brisk rides. Last week it was Ivan’s ride to Crewe, and this week mine to Alsager. With a little WhatsApp prodding, five of us supped at Alison’s - John M, Richard, Ken, Ivan and myself - Nick was enjoying his birthday day out and Ray was “enjoying” a nasty horsefly bite to his thigh.
Sunday, 23 July 2023
Recent rides that I've been on have not been particularly well attended but today no less than 18 members turned up at Meadow Lea. I had a ride of 44 miles planned to the Wheatsheaf Inn at No Man's Heath. Four members were not riding, two set off on a brisk ride and four of the moderates wanted something a bit longer and set off with Steve T for Church Minshull. That left eight of us for my ride. I was joined by Dave H, Dave P, George, Jim, Matt, Mike and Ray as we set off south through Guilden Sutton, across the A51 and on to Waverton. Here we turned left, passing the Crocky Trail before turning into Martin's Lane.
I am more used to following this route to reach our starting point at Alison's but today we were avoiding Tattenhall and after passing through Hargrave we turned left towards Huxley. Here we turned right and before long we came across a very colourful verge where someone had planted masses of wildflowers. We couldn't resist the photo opportunity before turning down towards the Shady Oak, now reopened and renamed The Shady (for some reason best known to the new owners. The oak tree is still there). After skirting round the back of Beeston Castle we again turned towards Tattenhall. This time we avoided it by turning up Carrs Lane and taking the quiet top roads towards Bolesworth.
|Photo by TC|
Several of my fellow riders had expressed surprise that the Wheatsheaf was open although my searches on the internet suggested it was. However I thought it best to try ringing them but failed to get through. So a Plan B was discussed and Dave H suggested The Lion at Malpas. We rode round the back of Bolesworth castle and across to Brown Knoll. Here I had intended to turn left and take a loop round Bickerton Hill but in case we had to end up going further to reach Malpas I decided to turn right to head through Duckington.
At Hampton Green crossroads we stopped. Malpas was to the right and No Man's Heath straight on. I tried ringing the pub again and again I failed to get through. We turned right. As we rode up the hill into Malpas we found the road busy as the school appeared to be finishing early for the summer holidays. We soon arrived at the Lion and opted to sit at the tables outside. The weather was warm, the food was good and the conversation flowed as we tucked in to our various meals.
After lunch it was uphill through Malpas then the long downhill run to Tilston. Not the usual fast descent as a cool wind tried to force us back up the hill. In Tilston we turned towards Stretton then turned left into Wetreins Lane heading for Farndon. When we reached the centre of the village we turned up towards Chester but as we were leaving the village we realised that we were down to five riders. Jim and the two Daves were missing. They knew the way alright so we waited several minutes for them to appear. No sign of them so we tried ringing but without reply. Eventually they returned our call and we discovered that they had gone to Lewis's for a coffee. I should contact the secretary to have them thrown out of the club but unfortunately one of them is the secretary. Not for taking an unauthorised coffee break but for not inviting the rest of us.
We carried on without them (and without a caffeine hit) and before long George decided he was going to go back through Tattenhall. I'd done my best to avoid all morning but he was obviously missing it. Matt and Mike left us at Saighton leaving just Ray and me to continue on to Waverton where we returned to Meadow Lea on our outward route. Well, not quite. With a quarter of a mile to go I turned off myself leaving just Ray to complete 41 miles.
Friday, 21 July 2023
A larger than normal number of Chester Easy Riders gathered at Meadow Lea on July 20th, so we took the opportunity to make a record of this. A cyclist with another group offered to take the photo, but he got his finger over part of the lens - hence the image in the top left of the photo.
There was a huge turnout of CER members at Meadow Lea café on a warm and sunny morning. A cyclist from another club offered to take a group photo which can be seen elsewhere on the blog. The large number of riders brought its own problems, as managing Easy Riders is like herding cats!
I had brought a 42-mile route to Church Minshull and Trevor had a route to No Mans Heath, whilst Matt had yet another route to Buckley. Ivan and Clive looked likely to form the first fast group ride for some time. To forestall a prolonged discussion about who was going where, I corralled Steve Hu, Alan and Andy to make up a foursome for a mod+ ride.
We set off at 10.30 whilst the others were still getting organised, heading north and west passed Manley Mere, up Sugar Lane and down Dark Ark Lane before joining the humpy road through Delamere Forest. The run through Norley took us along Bag Lane at the end of which we crossed the A49 before turning towards Sandiway. Crossing the A556 we followed Whitegate Road which took us to Winsford. Getting through there was fairly straightforward as there was only one of the towns infamous roundabouts to negotiate, which we did without mishap.
From there it was a straight run along the B5074 to Church Minshull and The Badger pub, where we arrived just after 12.00 having covered 23 miles. As we were early, the pub was quiet and we were soon served with lunch, the battered haddock sandwich being the universal choice – and very nice it was, too. Lunchtime conversation revolved around tourism and poverty in the Caribbean islands, the Tour de France and other topics. Andy gave us a physics tutorial on fissile materials and Steve Hu made us recite the Periodic Table (which he knows by heart, having been made to learn it at school as a punishment for an unspecified misdemeanour).
| Background St Bartholomew's Tower, dating from 1702 |
Photo by by Steve T
As we set off from the pub, it became evident that our swift arrival at the pub had been at least in part due to the tail wind which we’d had the benefit of, but had not noticed. Our route back was north and west, directly into the wind. This became most noticeable when we left Wettenhall heading for Eaton. We relied on Andy’s passable imitation of Wout van Aert to shelter behind, with Steve Hu taking one for the team at one stage.
From Eaton, we took the steep hill up to Portal Golf Course, crossing the A49 and heading towards Utkinton. Turning left into Wood Lane, we headed towards Duddon. Just before we got there, my bike computer showed me the chequered flag and declared that we’d reach the end of the route! Fortunately, we knew the rest of the route without needing guidance, so we pressed on towards Waverton, pausing only for well-deserved refreshments at The Walk Mill Café.
The familiar route through Brown Heath and Guilden Sutton took us back to Meadow Farm Café, where we arrived just after 3pm. 42 miles covered at an average speed of just over 14 mph on a warm, dry and sunny day. Classic CER riding!
Thursday, 20 July 2023
Do you recall these "slightly amended lyrics" from yesteryear?
Where have all the Fast Lads gone?
Long time ago
Thursday, 13 July 2023
I sensed that today was not going to be straightforward. Steve Tan had to rush to meet me on time, as the early morning arrangements for dropping of his wife's car at the garage had resulted in the car being in one town and the lift home waiting at a different garage in a different town! John Mills had contacted me on Wednesday to say that Facebook seemed to indicate that “Cleopatra's” was not yet ready to open, despite their previous assurances to me. When I picked up his message it was too late to ring the cafe direct or communicate alternative arrangements for the morning. Two calls by Steve on the drive to Holt confirmed that Cleopatra's wasn't quite ready for opening, and that Lewis's of Farndon would be happy to have us. On passing Alan on his bike, we told him to turn back up the hill from the Dee bridge, and we would tell any riders at Cleopatra's to join him at Lewis's. I even had a notice with me to stick on the outside of Cleopatra's in order to redirect late arrivals. When we got to the triangle in Holt many of our riders were already sitting at tables outside “Maggie's”, supping coffee in the sun. Instead of phoning Alan we turned the Berlingo around, and went to tell him, but he was already eating and drinking. We finally parked at Holt a little late, as we had already had to wait at the traffic lights on the bridge three times. I think we all know that these lights are never on green when you approach them! We settled on my offer to head for the Red Lion at Ellesmere, but I didn't have a properly resolved route, there and back, in my head. Not very Bryan Wadeish!
Clive joined our moderate group of Steve Tan, Ray, Mike Gilbert, Andy Barber, Trevor, Alan, Dave Matthews and myself. Unfortunately, Dave Pipe had a saddle issue, so didn't ride with us. Nick and Andy Whitgreave had ridden out for coffee with us, but were not riding with the group. Understandably, we headed out a little late, for Shocklach, Threapwood, and Hanmer. Dave Matthews peeled off along the way. We ran into a little rainfall around Little Arowry, but it stayed warm and dry for the rest of the day. It was interesting to hear from Ray about his Scandinavian trip, but I couldn't be persuaded that a Cruise ship holiday would be my cup of tea. From Northwood we reached Lyneal, and then took the most direct route past Newton Mere before hitting the main road into Ellesmere, and arriving at the Red Lion. I was about to order food, when I realised that Mike was not with us! On ringing him, it turned out that he was in the centre of town, unaware that our destination was the Red Lion. We sat out at the back where it was warm and bright, and the food and service well up to scratch.
Our route back was via the very pleasant back lane which is the left turn after the cemetery, and heads up to the Penley road. Unfortunately for me, I was stung badly on the lip, by a wasp I presume, and for days after I've looked like someone who has spent fifteen rounds with Brian London. I then welcomed Clive's suggestion to head west of Penley on a lovely little lane alongside Lionlane Wood finishing up at Sandy Lane on the Overton Road. Andy's crank fell off , but he told me to carry on, as he would soon fix it and catch up. What dawned on me a little later, that neither Andy or myself knew at that moment where Clive was intending to go next! At Lightwood Green we turned right off the main road to Holly Bush. I started to receive phone calls, but was having trouble in trying to reply, and didn't want to hold the group up in order to speak to a house insulation firm, or the like. Then the penny dropped, and I stopped in order to get through to Andy, who had not caught us up as expected. Andy wasn't too far behind as it turned out, and he had heard me talk of returning via Tilston, so said that he would try to catch us up there.
Unfortunately, Mike and Trevor had already started north on our normal direct route back to Farndon, as I directed us to “carry on”on the Malpas road ( by now the day had become like a “Carry on Cycling” film). So it was, that the reduced peloton turned left at Cuddington Green, and eventually arrived at The Lost Barn just north of Tilston. I rang Andy, and he had decided to ride straight up to Farndon instead! For once we gave the Lost Barn a miss, as Andy would not be joining us, and Steve had to get back to the garage near Runcorn in order to pick up his car. Mike did well to turn out and complete the ride having to cope with a combination of serious issues. We hope he obtains successful treatment. Despite the Matt Hancockian feel to the day, the route was largely quiet, scenic and enjoyable. The coffee was very good at Maggies, as was the lunch, and the camaraderie was as enjoyable as ever when we were actually together! 42 miles covered.
|Photo by AO|
Tuesday, 11 July 2023
Rose Farm or should I say “Coffee House @ Rose Farm”, as it is now known, was the venue of choice today. It was a lovely morning, so we all sat outside, approximately 10/11 of us, I believe.I had a speedy mission in mind, which appealed to Allan and Steve Hu. We must have all had a wannabe moment, with no fast boys making an appearance today, although we briefly saw John. So it was that we three quickly became the Mod++ group- Lol. This left the others trying to decide where to go and who to follow. I did hear the Cock O Barton mentioned, which is a favourite local of mine in fact- Lol.
We set off left and straight into that nasty little hill to Tarporley, where we immediately turn left for the easier, but much longer climb up to Portal golf club. We bear left at the golf club, for the fast downhill into Eaton and Nantwich beyond. This made for a change to the normal club route, I believe, and a chance for Steve to point out a cafe I didn’t know about, which was at the traffic lights, just on the edge of Nantwich. We were skirting the very edge of the town, running parallel to the canal. I’m guessing the cafe was up on the canal bank ( can’t remember if he gave me a name- had a sleep since then- Lol.) We had cracked on at a fair pace, with me setting the rhythm. However, we now turned more into wind, in the direction of Wrenbury and full on headwind. So it was time for a bit of team work on what I consider fairly exposed lanes. Both Steve and Allan got there heads down and we all pushed on; almost reminiscent of a TDF team - Lol, although it was more like a minute on the front, as opposed to 10 seconds each -Lol. We briefly sat up to pay homage to the Bhurtpore Inn, at Aston. It was like a ‘rest in peace’ moment, as DH wasn’t with us of course- Lol, in fact he wasn’t with anybody today, but we did spare you a thought Dave, assuming you will read this-Lol.
This area of the county, around Wrenbury, is some of my favourite cycling, as it is more open and flowing, although not so keen when the wind is up like today hence, our teamwork, which paid off in the end. We were soon turning with the wind for the final approaches into Overwater Marina, which I always thought was named Audlum Marina- Lol.
No sooner done when, you guessed it, Steve asked how far to lunch. Although to be fair, he was on one of his 100 milers again. We found the Marina fairly quiet, although most of the tables inside were taken. Although no sun and windy, we still sat outside, after a little adjustment to the table and chairs- Lol. We all tucked into a full English, which was absolutely fab, probably the best I have had in any cafe, although Jamoleys comes a close second because of the value. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good and large, but the quality of the Marina breakfast is top dog, with the perfect triangular hash browns as well, which didn’t go down well with Steve & Allan, as it appears you only get them on the Veggie breakfast- Lol.
Suffice it to say, most of the conversation revolved around the awesome breakfast/ brunch. We also chatted over upcoming and past cycling endeavours, as Steve filled us in on his recent 5 day adventure with a mate, in Kent, putting in some good rides indeed. Upon the arrival of a very well ladened bike, I was prompted to mention the incredible LEJOG endeavour of my friends from Oz, who were starting it the following day. It had particular relevance as I planned to join them to Runcorn; Yes, that’s right Dave, I was going to brave Runcorn for the first time, as I always stop at Frodsham, when I head north on the bike. I have since completed that ride, in shocking rain as well.
Must thank Steve T for his confirmation of my route through to the Silver Jubilee bridge, where I was dropping off my friends. Next time any of you have a bit of a tough ride just think about this; One of my friends is a 70 year old type 1 diabetic and he, by all accounts, was far from the weakest in the 5 man LEJOG group, which saw the so called strongest drop out after the first Cornish stage. They rode 235k, with, get this, 3600 mtrs of total assent- incredible, but another 6 days to go.
Anyway, back to the story and lunch now over with a fly past by 2 Oyster catchers, which stole our attention and confirmed as such by our expert ornithologist- Lol ( Allan is a bit of a twitcher, but we won’t hold it against him in these modern times of LGBTZWPM or what ever- Lol,Lol). The Marina has now provided more bike racks and just as many signs, ordering you not to lean your bike against the ornamental rope fence, as we have all done in the past, which I still managed to miss, until gestapo Steve pointed it out, just as we were trying to get a team photo- Lol. By the way the ladened bike guy, turned out to be trialling his new saddle & frame bags as he was also starting LEJOG next Thursday ( small world). A very interesting lunch indeed, for many reasons and soon forgotten, as we set off on a slightly adjusted route, as we realised there was no need to return to Rose farm. Allan was parked at Guildon Sutton, so I set off for Ravensmoor, via the immediate Hollings Lane, which was supposedly closed- Lol. We came across several vehicles with people sat inside and nothing going on as usual and annoyingly still a cross wind, although only for a few miles, then all was good from then on.
|Photo by CER|
We were rapidly through Ravensmoor and up to Brindley, when Steve requested a drug test, inferring that the pace was a bit quick. I thought it was due to the tail wind, but then realised it must have been the veggie sausages Lol- Lol. We ease off a tad and carry on to Bunbury, still enjoying a lovely tail wind. We cruise through Bunbury, while waiting for Steve to catch up- Lol. To be fair, I shouted straight on when in fact we turned right into Bunbury. I think that was my only mistake of the day- Honest Gov- Lol. We soon pick up the pace again and heading down Moss Lane, we couldn’t help but admire Beeston castle, as the sun had just come out, which lit it up like a beacon. Past the little cafe in the field and main entrance to Beeston, we are zooming down toward Bates Mill Lane, where I leave both Allan and Steve, but not before stopping the Garmin to check our average speed, as a group and surprisingly, our initial wannabe ambitions were not that far off, as we averaged 16 mph - move over ‘fast boys’- Lol, Lol.
I say cheerio to them both ,heading West for my 6 miles home and now a cross wind leaving them two to their lovely tailwind back to Guildon Sutton. However, Steve would then have to finish his ride home into the cross wind (he’s a strong old boy though- well old at least- Lol) Seriously though, well done on another great ride Steve. I got home just after 2:30 with 58 miles on the clock and a little tired- Lol. Hopefully you guy’s made it home without incident.
Great day out again with a few good laughs, some on me as usual.
Till next time,