Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Friday 26 June 2009

25th June 2009: Shrewsbury to Chester via Ellesmere

Photographs by Glennys Hammond

A train assisted ride from Shrewsbury back to Chester was the plan for today. With a hot sunny day in prospect even the early start didn’t seem to matter as I arrived at Chester station in time for the 08.22 train to Shrewsbury. Glennys was already there and we got our tickets and checked the situation re the bikes. It appeared that there might already be one bike reservation but this didn’t seem to be a problem to the clerk. Graham T and Dave P joined us on the platform where there was indeed another cyclist waiting to board. As it turned out, our four road/touring bikes easily fitted into the allocated bike space designed for two bikes and even with the fifth one stowed there was plenty of room. Relieved we took our seats pleased that we could all travel together.
The journey to Shrewsbury was uneventful and before long we were drinking coffee in the station buffet awaiting the arrival of Brian travelling from Wirral on the Bidston line. There is clearly something important about Shrewsbury station: first a specially chartered Leeds to Aberystwyth train pulls in packed full of rail enthusiasts followed by an “Orient Express” luxury excursion train heading south. Brian arrives on a standard service but still no sign of Dave H until my telephone rings and its Dave ringing from Wem. Resisting the temptation to ask why he is in Wem when we are in Shrewsbury we arrange to meet up by the church in Baschurch en route to Ellesmere. And so we make ready to leave.
Across from the station is a sign for the road we want and within minutes we are leaving Shrewsbury behind and heading north through open countryside following the river Severn. By Fitz we are on delightful back lanes, with almost no traffic, and the intention of sticking to them for the rest of the day. Dave H is waiting for us in Baschurch, and with the group united we head through Lower Hordley and on to Ellesmere where we make a short diversion to view the lake and the new information centre/café due to open in August. Graham T suggests we walk along the lakeside, which we do before we remount to follow him through the centre of Ellesmere to the courtyard of the Black Lion Hotel. Here we relax in the sun with Marstons Ale on tap and a huge choice of lunch time meals. On the advice of one of the patrons most of us opt for the small size meal which proves to be more than enough. A great choice of venue Graham.
Once out of Ellesmere we are immediately back on the quiet lanes to Penley with a couple of hills to add some variety to the ride. From here it is more back lanes until we reach Brynhovah Bank with its wonderful view across the Dee valley then down to join the B road past Bangor on Dee race course and into Bangor on Dee itself. On home territory now the groups splits into two as we head to Bellis’s for afternoon tea and cake. Once refreshed we make for home with Graham T and Dave P heading to Pulford, Brian and Glennys to Chester via Alford and Dave H and me to Tattenhall where Dave has parked up.
A truly delightful and easy route in wonderful weather. Shrewsbury to Holt 38 miles. Shrewsbury to Chester 56 miles.

14th June 2009: Cheshire Cycleway Rides

What a wonderful day. Everything about the rides was first class: the route, the weather and the organisation. We left Waverton right on cue at 9am with about 20 hardy souls in for the 100 mile option. The group split into two fairly quickly with the racing snakes tearing off into the distance although we did see them again briefly at the coffee and lunch stops. After the coffee stop we were an even more select group of four: Graham & I on the tandem and Janet Gregory and Alan Mort on their formula one singles. We managed to strike some sort of balance with them dropping us for dead on the climbs and us pulling them along the flats. Suffice it to say the whole ride was done at a far faster pace than I had envisaged. This year all the climbing came before lunch and boy was I looking forward to the lunch stop. I was sorely tempted to stop at last year's lunch stop and beg a crust. Janet and Alan missed the turn at the Bull but we managed to shout them back. As we rounded the hairpin Graham said can you see them? Janet was storming up the hill and soon overtook us. Alan caught us near the top. So onto lunch which was excellent: generous portions of beans on toast and a freshly baked scone and jam washed down with as much tea as you could drink?
We arrived at the canal centre in next to no time and bought ice creams. The next 20 miles are a blur and then we were at the Jessie Hughes Institute where the WI did us proud. We left there around five with Janet saying "only 13 miles to go. I finished at 6 last year so I'd like to do the same again this year.” We finished with 15 minutes to spare!!
I regard this event as one of the highlights of our cycling year as it was one of the first events we entered when we started cycling "seriously". This year's edition did not disappoint and I've already pencilled in next years on my calendar.

Saturday 20 June 2009

18th June 2009: Cilcain

I check my email and Twitter this morning to find that Mike has suggested what appears to be a tough route down to Pontcysyllite Aqueduct and back along the old horseshoe pass. I decide to give it more thought on the way out to Caergwrle where we meet for elevenses. The new pedals feel fine after the trouble experienced last week and before long I join up with Brian for the final few miles. Graham, Jim and Mike soon join us at the Tudor House Café. Brian is enthusiastic about Mike’s suggested route urging us to “go for it”. Then he announces that as he has to be home early today he will leave us at one of the stations and get a train back!
In the light of a pronounced lack of enthusiasm on the part of the others an alternative of Cilcain is eventually seized on and agreed. And so it is we set off across the shoulder of Hope Mountain to Pontybodkin, through Treuddyn and Nercwys following the contours above Mold before descending to the Alyn over the river and up the stiff climb to Cilcain.
The White Horse Inn isn’t exactly buzzing today but the welcome is genuine and as Mike quickly notes the Brakspear’s Hooray Henley bitter must have been provided in my honour: excellent. The filled baps provide the sustenance while we chat and sort out the route back. A nice easy descent takes us down to the A541 where we cross and ascend the Halkyns to Moel-y-crio and then down to Rhosesmor. From here we take the Buckley route but instead of crossing the A55 to Bilberry Wood we take a right towards Hope dropping off Jim and Graham before Mike and I head back to Chester through Kinnerton.
A great day out along beautiful untrafficked lanes with a few hills for good measure.
Distance from Chester and back 50 miles.

Saturday 13 June 2009

11th June 2009: Overton Bridge

Riding out to the Ice Cream Farm with the wind from behind I decide on the Waverton route and make a note to use the more sheltered Greenlooms route on the way home. It’s a good decision and catching another cyclist we ride together for a few miles before he turns off with an invitation to check the blog and join us the next time he has a free Thursday. Arriving early I settle down to sort out a route as the others turn up. Graham arrives complaining of a slow puncture which he hopes will be OK and before long there are nine of us although sadly Glennys won’t be joining us for the ride.
My suggestion of a ride southwest to Overton Bridge with the return skirting Wrexham, to get assistance from the prevailing wind on the way back, is accepted without a murmur of dissent. Once outside Graham decides his rear wheel puncture requires more than just re-inflating which gives me an opportunity to investigate an abnormally large amount of float on the left hand pedal and difficulty unclipping. The verdict: excessive wear on the pedal release necessitating extra care today.
Once away we are soon bowling along at a steady pace through Tattenhall, Tilston, Shocklach and Worthenbury with superb views across to the Welsh hills on our right. This really is ideal cycling weather; later in the summer as things warm up the views will be lost in the haze but not today. Then taking the minor lanes to bypass Bangor on Dee we head towards Overton and the final descent down to Overton Bridge with the Dee valley laid out before us. The terrace of the Cross Foxes pub was designed for days like this and we take full advantage sitting outside in the sun looking down at the river below.
Is this to be another case of lime and soda over spec? I can almost hear Ray preparing to do battle but no we are spared the onslaught for today at least. Once Jim had reminisced about his school days as union rep. it was time for some admin. Do we seek organisers’ liability cover for the group in addition to our individual third party cover and if so how. With full agreement to opt for additional cover the only issue was how: affiliate to the CTC or become an “Informal Group” (IG) of an established CTC Member Group. Opinions were aired, views expressed and affiliation to the CTC chosen. With that out of the way we could settle down to enjoy the rest of the day.
The return journey took us further south to Erbistock before we turned northeast along the lanes through Crabtree Green towards Wrexham. My recollection of the roads around King’s Mills proved sadly flawed but once recovered we were soon skirting the industrial estate on idyllic lanes passed Erla’s Hall (wondering about the past Viking connections) where Dave P left us to make his own way home. The rest of us continued on to Holt where Ray suggested Vernon’s for afternoon tea and we took an outside table to enjoy the afternoon sun, tea and cakes. What more can you ask for? All the right ingredients today, good weather, lovely lanes, great views excellent lunch stop, great company and we even pulled in afternoon tea. Now that’s what I call a ride.
Distance from Chester and back 62 miles; Ice Cream Farm and back 42 miles.

Friday 5 June 2009

4th June 2009: West Kirby & Seacombe

A cooler day is forecast with plenty of sun and a light breeze; just the right stuff for the bike so let's see if we can make the most use of it. I catch Jim's wheel at Capenhurst and Graham (P) is just tying up as we sail into Ness. Tea and teacakes and a free top up for the tea (you've got to ask) and we're ready for decision time. Graham and Jim have the same idea, they think I have a route in mind - I haven't. 'Look, it's getting warmer, it's sunny and it will be nice at West Kirby - let's go there.’ 'O.K.' times two.
Down to the Wirral Way, it's dry so we're OK, and the day is improving. 'How about fish and chips on the sea front?' 'Sounds good to us.' The day improves a little more. Visibility is good and the views over the estuary to the welsh hills are stunning but we have to leave them for a while as we drop into West Kirby where Harry Kwok is preparing some fish and chips for our appreciation. Will the tyres need a little more air to cope with those chips? We risk it and are soon settled overlooking the Marine Lake, with the views restored and the sun also playing its part. Over-indulged, we continue through Hoylake to Meols where we can return down the Wirral or carry on to New Brighton. Graham fancies the latter so we continue along the cycleway, keeping the sea on our left. A small interruption for ice creams at Moreton - where the 'mill' turned out to be a lighthouse, doh! - and we enter New Brighton's cafe society. 'May as well complete the route to Seacombe and check out the Vale Park café.' Acquiescence. We enjoy the architecture at the ferry terminal and follow this with an enjoyable cuppa at Vale Park. Then, with a light wind on our backs, we head back to West Kirby, but this time we take the cycleway from Hoylake station to Riversdale Road. This is a good surface, pleasant and avoids the main road. After snacks al fresco we are back on the Wirral Way, only to come off at Willaston (Jim is our Garmin substitute) where we take the Missing Link so that we can leave Graham at Capenhurst Lane (to complete his 91miles) whilst Jim and I take the gated Sustrans offering to Backford. We part at Mickle Trafford for our 70+ miles for the day; a day with virtually no traffic, no hills and stunning scenery all the way. I think we made the best use of the day.