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.

Friday 31 July 2009

30th July 2009: Wrenbury

As I sat with my coffee and fruitcake at the Ice Cream Farm and 11.00am passed I began to question whether I had the right venue but just as I was about to ring our beloved leader Bryan to see if I was in the right place, Brian arrived and I relaxed. Only the two of us then and as we had a delayed start, thanks to torrential rain just as we were about to set off, we decided to keep things flexible and to "play it by ear". Although I had sketched out a route to Market Drayton that began to look a bit optimistic as Brian had an evening Wedding Reception to attend and on balance the weather threatened to be less than favourable. Equally unfavourable was my lack of map reading skills and having intended to head for Audlem via Harthill and Bickley we had soon missed our first target and were crossing the A41 heading for Clutton! A rapid recalibration and a route via Tilston and Malpas seemed most attractive.
Rain was imminent and it was definitely going to be a COCOA day (Coats On - Coats Off). No real downpour and we reached Malpas in fine spirits and set out for No Mans Heath in bright sunshine. Having crossed the A49 we then missed a further turning but, more by good luck than good management, arrived at another crossroads clearly signposted to Wrenbury. As we approached the village we caught up with a heavily laden lady cyclist keeping up a spanking pace despite her extensive array of luggage and later learned that she had cycled some 800 miles up in Scotland during the past fortnight. Having wheedled a passage over the canal bridge before it was raised we found the enticing smells from the Dusty Miller too attractive to resist and were soon enjoying very pleasant pints of Dizzy Blonde. Lunch was splendid with Brian's Beef Sandwich accompanied by chips and salad covering a large dinner plate and my own beef and ham salad equally impressive. I have previously always used the Coton Arms but now discovered that the Landlord of the Dusty Miller is an old acquaintance.
As we left the pub after our excellent lunch we found a family struggling to master the intricacies of the mechanism operating the bridge so Brian, a veteran of narrow boat holidays, rushed to their assistance. As I approached the bridge I was stunned to see that the trainee bridge operative was a Dutch lady whom I had met with her family on the beach at Llanfairfechan the previous week when I was staying nearby and she and her family were staying in Betws y Coed. She had actually told me that they were going on to hire a narrow boat from Ellesmere - I have not calculated the odds of our then meeting again - must do the lottery this weekend!!
After Brian had provided further assistance with the bridge to another family we set off again heading for Ravensmoor but more dodgy map reading meant that we missed a turning and ended up in Nantwich. We headed back up to Acton and then along the A534 before turning off to Haughton and back through Spurstow and Peckforton around Beeston and thence back to the Ice Cream Farm for a refreshing pot of tea. Brian departed for his wedding reception and I set off back home via Huxley and Waverton. A very enjoyable ride where the rain threatened far worse that it actually delivered but judging by some of the flooded lanes it looked like our luck had been in for the day. Just 37 miles covered to and from the Ice cream Farm and a round trip of 60 miles door to door from Ashton.

Friday 24 July 2009

23rd July 2009: Bickerton Poacher

Elevenses today was at the Little Roodee car park Café and as most of the regulars were away on holiday or working I had planned an easy ride. Ray was already at the café when I arrived so at least I wouldn’t be riding alone. After catching up with recent events Dave Mann joined us for his first ride with Chester Easy Riders. Once the introductory formalities were complete the discussion turned to Twitter, blogs, Harry the Bike and Ray’s prestidigitation: all good stuff but it was soon time to leave.
We head off along the Dee Promenade and make good progress through Christleton, Hargrave and Huxley narrowly avoiding a van as we negotiated the canal bridge by the Shady Oak. Then with everyone happy with the pace we leave Peckforton behind and pull into the Bickerton Poacher car park for lunch. It’s quite a while since we stopped as early as this for lunch and almost as punishment for this misdemeanour we are forced to wait for our drinks while a large business group are served food. My phone beeps and it’s a text from Jim announcing that he’s just got to the top of Mt. Ventoux! Now that’s serious stuff: a little different to our efforts today. Outside we sit under cover just in case it should rain and sure enough it does just as we were about to leave. Dave queries Ray on sundry bike maintenance issues and chain life during the half hour we are forced to wait for the rain to ease. At least we haven’t got on to the average gradient of today’s ride; I think to myself.
After the rain it feels unseasonably chilly as we start off but by the top of Gallantry Bank we are warmed up for the circuit of Bickerton and Larkton hills passing Broxton Old Hall and on towards Bolesworth. Thoughts of tea and cake at the Ice Cream Farm begin to fill my mind but no carrot cake today so I make do with an excellent coffee cake instead. We settle down to a relaxing break with plenty of time in hand and somehow or other a debate begins with Ray asserting the pre-eminent nature of science in moving the world forward, which leads on to issues of communism, capitalism, religion, tribalism, greed and the cultural divide. This is not the normal Chester Easy Riders fare but who cares.
The final leg home is made via Saighton with a brief but fascinating stop at the architectural salvage dealer by New Russia Hall.
Distance from Chester and back, a short but enjoyable 36 miles.

Saturday 18 July 2009

16th July 2009: Mersey Estuary Ride

Photographs by Glennys Hammond

We had discussed today’s ride a number of times over the last year so I was thinking about how it would go as I cycled to the Cottage Café in Frodsham for an early 9.45am meet. I joined Jim sitting outside in the sun with tea and teacake before being joined by Glennys, Mike, Dave and Peter Williams (joining us for the first time). Once we had discussed the route it was time for the off with Dave leading us through Runcorn to the Runcorn Widnes bridge over the Mersey. Thank goodness we had Dave’s local knowledge to navigate us along the cycle paths through this bewildering landscape of flyovers and underpasses before being able to enjoy the views from the bridge. Once on the Trans Pennine Trial below the bridge Bryan took the lead before Glennys led us to Hale village church to see the grave bearing the inscription "Here lyeth the bodie of John Middleton the Childe of Hale. Nine feet three." After a photo opportunity by the carved giant it was time to continue through Speke before passing alongside the Jaguar Land Rover plant. How we avoided punctures on these glass littered cycle paths I don’t know but it was with a certain amount of relief that we joined the old railway line at Halewood Country Park for the ride up to Gateacre.
Leaving the Trans Pennine Trail Bryan led us uphill through Gateacre Village with the promise of a viewpoint in Calderstones Park which, I have to admit, seemed less and less likely as we got closer. Confidence in Bryan’s map reading skills then suffered a dramatic collapse as it turned out the “viewpoint” was in fact the OS symbol for a “garden”! Luckily the diversion gave us the opportunity to view the original Calder stones before we remounted, donned waterproofs, and set off in the rain down hill to the red bull on the Mersey Estuary embankment.
Once on the embankment, taking in the views across the Mersey, it seemed only a matter of minutes before we were relaxing in a café in the Albert Dock having a much needed lunch in the dry. Although a little behind schedule we took our time only to discover, on arriving at Pier Head, that we had just missed the Ferry and the next one wasn’t due for an hour and a quarter! A short diversion to James Street station was called for, where we took the next train to Hamilton Square negotiating both escalators and lift to get back to street level. Peter offered to lead us on the scenic route through Birkenhead pulling in Birkenhead Park and Bidston Hill before we joined the NCR 56 to Brimstage Craft Centre for afternoon tea and cake. Leaving the Craft Centre as the tearooms closed we headed back to Chester with Peter peeling off in Willaston and Bryan in Capenhurst.
What an interesting day this had turned out to be: a completely different ride to the usual exploring new territory and with four leaders covering different stages. Even the rain and missed ferry didn’t spoil the enjoyment of a great day out. Distance from Chester and back 66 miles.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

5th July 2009: Veterans 100 mile ride Kinnerton to Llandrinio

Photographs and slideshow by Glennys Hammond

The Bert Bailey Memorial Veterans 100 mile ride is the premier event in the Chester & North Wales CTC calendar so it was entirely appropriate that with Bryan Wade leading a group, six of us had registered to take part. Come the day, group leader Bryan, was joined by Chester Easy Rider stalwarts Graham and Vicky Payne, Jim Dale, David Heath and Mike Morley along with David Cane, Charles Collier, John Huddleston, Peter Williams, Stuart Roberts and Brian Crook.
With a start time of 8.40 a relaxed group E assembled for the first of many of Glennys’ photo calls and a send off from Mike Cross. We were soon heading through the lanes at a steady but sensible pace designed to make the day enjoyable whilst keeping to a reasonable schedule. Rosset came and went as we made our way towards “elevenses” at Overton whilst enjoying ideal cycling weather with only a light breeze, sunshine and very pleasant temperatures. Overton was reached at around 10.45 much in line with Bryan’s target of two hours per leg. All was going well and the Cocoa and Reading rooms provided excellent facilities for coffee and biscuits.
Leaving Overton things took a turn for the worse as “it’s spitting” turned into something of a downpour that ended any debate about whether or not a waterproofs stop was necessary. Of course, in its usual perverse manner the rain disappeared very shortly after we had all togged up; the rain ceased and another stop was needed to take coats off again. I had opted to leave my coat on as it was not too warm but before long the sun was out again and I made a solo stop, fumbled unsuccessfully with getting my coat back in my rack pack whilst still on the bike only for it to overbalance leaving me with a bruised and oily shin. More haste less speed!! I soon caught up with the group who were now heading out past Tetchill towards the lunch stop at Llandrinio – still keeping up a reasonable pace. We had caught up with and overtaken one group while they waited for some slower riders only to find we had been joined by three extra riders making counting heads a bit more of a problem. Queens Head and West Felton were left behind and then the sight of hills ahead indicated that lunch was not far away; Bryan having assured us that the route turns for home just before the terrain turns hilly. Just as well that Llandrinio Village Hall was reached for a very welcome lunch that certainly filled at least one corner!
It soon seemed time to leave and a much refreshed group were back en route for the return to Overton through delightful countryside made even more pleasant by occasional sightings of the Severn that was crossed on the way to Ellesmere via Knockin with its inevitable “The Knockin Shop” store! By now the sun was quite warm again and just as we were looking forward to afternoon tea Bryan did a great impression of Alistair Darling with an outbreak of unforeseen and rapid deflation - his rear tyre valve exploded. We were passed by Harry Watson’s group – naturally heading up a lane past a large “No Through Road” sign – Harry’s speciality! Having watched Bryan pumping away with his mini pump with increasing interest the support vehicle belatedly offered the use of a track pump but by now the tyre was sufficiently hard for the trip home.
A brief comfort break in Ellesmere and then it was up the A528 back to Overton for more tea, sandwiches and cake. By tactical error after a large slice of chocolate cake I seized on a delicious looking Bakewell tart – what a shock to find out that it was a caramelised onion quiche!
The last leg was soon underway returning to Kinnerton by way of Shocklach and Tilston with a final welcome drinks stop at the home of John and Sue Wright in Tilston. Back at the Scout Hut, after a reviving cup of tea, it was time for the final act; the presentation of awards and certificates by Arthur Miller.
Many thanks to Bryan for his steadfast and almost faultless navigation and very sensible pace setting – only two very minor diversions quickly rectified by his magic box of tricks that seems to whack a few volts up his arm if there is any straying from the authorised route. Thanks also to David Ackerley for a really well organised day that must have involved much hard work by him and many helpers. Will we be back next year in even greater strength – it certainly seemed that our Thursday “Easy Rides” are excellent preparation for the event.

2nd July 2009: Overton Bridge

Five riders met for elevenses at the Gallery Tea Shop in Hawarden and enjoyed an interesting ride to the Cross Foxes pub at Overton Bridge for lunch.