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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Saturday 27 February 2010

25th February 2010: Hatton Arms

The weather is a bit warmer this morning and although there is no sign of the sun it promises to be a good day.  We meet at the Manley Mere Windsurfing Centre and what a difference the new Greenway extension makes to the journey out.  Liz and Dave Hill are already there when I arrive and we discuss Dave’s forthcoming Vietnam/Laos travelogue and slide show on the 19 March.  See C&NWCTC website (a few places remain).  Ivan and Ray soon make up the numbers and we get down to discussing today’s venue.  East or northeast are the favoured direction: Norton Priory, Daresbury, even Knutsford is mentioned.  We decide on Daresbury via Acton Bridge and set off for Delamere Forest where Dave Hill leaves us for a bit of off-road riding.  The remaining four of us continue on through Norley and a fast descent down to the Weaver Navigation to cross Acton Bridge where we make use of the lanes to take a circuitous route to Daresbury via Preston on the Hill.  We don’t do these lanes very often, partly I suspect because they are tucked away on the corner of four OS Landranger maps but with Ray leading that’s not a problem. By Daresbury, birthplace of Lewis Carroll, we still have time in hand so we push on to the Hatton Arms for lunch.
Here we are rewarded with a good choice of ales and food served quickly while we chat.  We discuss some of the proposed special rides with Ivan asking for dates.  Bryan agrees to come up with some suggestions for further discussion.
Ray plans the return journey to take in more lanes: past Cogshall Hall and on to Little Leigh where we must do all of one mile of the outward route before taking the Weaver Navigation path to the locks by Dutton Viaduct.  This is fine but I’m thinking ahead to the climb up Norley Bank.  Once the climb is out of the way it’s back through Delamere Forest and Ashton Hayes to the Windsurfing Centre where Liz leaves us while the rest continue back to Chester.
Distance from Chester and back a good 58 miles.

Sunday 21 February 2010

18th February 2010: Bangor on Dee

With my central heating boiler back in action again I start today’s ride reasonably warm.  But hey, yesterday evenings snow has already disappeared and it’s really quite pleasant outside.  I arrive at the Tudor House Café in Caergwrle to find a couple of bikes parked outside: always a good sign.  Omry introduces himself.  He’s ridden out from Chester on Ray’s recommendation to join us for the first time today and is already enjoying his tea and teacake.  Ivan and I order ours and then Jim and Dave H arrive.  After more introductions you would think that Dave and Omry were lifetime buddies given their mutual contacts and friends.  Brian Mac has texted to say that he won’t be with us today as he is off to the Royal Liverpool to see his wife Pauline who has just had a hip operation.  We wish her a speedy recovery.  Liz, and Martin (joining us for the first time) make the numbers up to seven before Dave P arrives just as we prepare to leave.  Ivan fancies a ride to Llangollen over Worlds End but I’m not sure what the roads will be like up on top today and with low cloud we won’t get any views either.  After considering the options we decide to go up “the steps” to Minera before taking the back lanes to Penycae and Ruabon returning somewhere round the other side of Wrexham.  Martin suggests The Buck at Bangor on Dee for lunch and with that we are off.
I miss out the climb to Cymau across the shoulder of Hope Mountain and we reach “the steps” the easy way via Cefn-y-bedd.  Then it’s the usual slog up to Minera down to the bridge and up the other side.  Its lovely on the lanes to Penycae until suddenly cries of “ICE” as we descend, but it’s a false alarm and what looks like ice turns out to be slush.  Its 12.30pm when we reach the Wynstanley Arms in Ruabon our first possible lunch stop but the majority view is to continue until 1.00pm.  We take the minor road north before turning east on to the B5426 past The Plassey and as Liz points out a field of newly born lambs to arrive at Bangor on Dee just after 1.00pm.
The Buck always serves up a good lunch and today was no exception.  Hot pot with bread and pickles was the popular choice together with Stonehouse Station bitter: a very nice pint indeed!  Ray would have approved of the price of lime and soda, at least at the favourable rate achieved by Dave H.  Ivan announced that he had joined the CTC and even had the card to prove it, while Dave H let slip that he had bought a new bike but it was still in its box.  Next week then Dave!
It was well after 2.00pm when we left.  Back over the pack horse bridge, up to Cross Lanes and eventually left into Redwither Lane to skirt the industrial estate on the way to Marford.  Then, with the sky darkening, we negotiated the lanes through Burton with Omry and Dave P leaving us for home while the rest of us continued back to Shordley where we finally spit up with Dave H and Jim returning to Caergwrle, Liz and Martin to Hawarden and Ivan and Bryan to Chester.
Distance from Chester and back an enjoyable 53 miles.

Friday 12 February 2010

11th February 2010: Little Leigh

It's been -3deg C overnight but there's hardly any frost, the sun is shining, no wind and 4deg C for the rest of the day.  I meet up with Ivan the Rocket just to see if he can get me totally wasted before the ride starts - from the Ice Cream Farm.  We're there first and soon we are joined by those who have travelled at less than warp speed: Brian M, Dave P, Liz, Bryan and Clive.  Bryan's got a crook heating boiler and crook fitness (note that two have just returned from Oz) so "I won't be riding today."  Which generates the equivalent of the standard Harry the Bike response of "Well shove off then."  Brian (proper spelling) pulls out a laminated OS with a mess of orange marker on it, "This is where I thought we could go, but I couldn't find my way round unaided."  No more offers, "What about you, Ray?"  "Well, I thought: Huxley, Hoofield, Clutton, Kelsall, Yeld, Brines Brow, Hatchmere, Norley and Crowton.  If we're early at the Hare and Hounds we'll carry on to Little Leigh.  Then return via Acton Bridge, Cuddington, Oakmere, Oulton, Rushton, Tilston Fearnhall, Bunbury, Beeston and back here."  "Can you do it without a map?"  "Yep!"  "DONE," in barber's shop five harmony.
Out into the bright sunshine the day is warming - more like Spring.  Ease the pace before the Yeld so we don't get clammy on the climb and then watch Ivan treat it like a ski jump - must put him on a lead or let his tyres down.  Delamere is lovely and then it's all downhill from Hatchmere.  We arrive at Crowton at 12:30, the gang can still breathe without sounding like sludge gulpers, so it's too early to interrupt the enjoyment.  We take the lane opposite, which leads us down to the banks of the Weaver where we continue through the glorious scenery to the Acton Bridge bridge at Little Leigh and the appropriately named Leigh Arms.
Over lunch, Clive is airing his thoughts on acquiring a proper bike but has little experience.  "Tell you what, Clive, Have a ride on mine on the way back.  Then try Ivan's to check out a rocket."
After a lovely meal (pub is recommended) we change route slightly so that we can take in the route along the Weaver again.  Then up Bent lane and head towards Cuddington - a new route for me but I think I can remember it.  We end up in Cuddington.  "Hey Brian, we should be further west."  "You're leading."  "You've got the map."  We have 'constructive talks', as the expense fiddlers say, and agree on a 1 mile retrace whereby we're bang on route and I'm on home ground.  By Tilston Fearnall Liz, Brian and Clive are dropping back a little and I think the latter is not just being sociable - significant.  So I promise a 'dawdle' back to the ICF.   Now, on entering Moss Lane coming out of Bunbury we stop while Clive mounts my stallion and I mount his Percheron.  "We'll swap again at the bridge after Beeston."  "Right-ho!"  And he disappears into the distance with no sign of his former fatigue.  In the appointed pits he takes the Rocket and Ivan the carthorse.  Ivan manages to take his wheel as Clive burns rubber.  As we reach the ICF they are waiting, "I've told Ivan not to wrap it: I'll take it as it is."
Then it's a drink and reflection over a pleasantly spent day going round in circles.  47 miles from the Ice Cream Farm.  But I still have to suck the Rocket's wheel, with Dave taking mine, as we hang on for dear life back to Chester.  Total distance 69 miles at 13.1 mph average.

Sunday 7 February 2010

4th February 2010: Delamere

Another grey, overcast winter's day, with rain forecast.  Why am I here at The Roodee, I ask, when I could have stayed another month in sunny Australia?  Clive and I set off for Delamere, via the new extension to the Millennium Cycle track and Manley.  The cafe at Delamere Station was surprisingly busy, considering the rather uninviting day.  The portions served were HUGE, which probably explained why it was so popular.
After lunch, we headed south past Roses Tea Rooms & then through the lanes to join the canal path at Waverton and on to Chester.  A pleasant 38 miles, despite the greyness.  Roll on summer.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

28th January 2010: No Mans Heath

With a dry day initially in prospect, although accompanied by a stiff NW cold wind, Brian, Dave, Dave and Liz (on their tandem), and myself set out from Holt down the Shocklach Road towards Threapwood.  The sun started shining for once!  A quick left and right on the Malpas to Bangor road took us through Threapwood, Sarn and Tallarn Green.  The plan was to head NE toward High Wych and make for the Wheatsheaf at No Man’s Heath.  This was the lunch stop a week earlier and once the group knew that a bangers and mash lunch was in prospect, there was no stopping them.  After a minor diversion to Lane End Farm: to see the farmyard and pond (I am sure there was not a  “No Through Road” sign!) we took in a short stretch of the Whitchurch/Wrexham A525 before swinging left along lanes to High Wych.  The name should have been a giveaway and the climb out and up onto the Whitchurch Malpas B road kept us warm.  Ignoring the Road Closed signs we went in and out of Malpas to No Mans Heath, via a series of further hills and valleys, until the Wheatsheaf came into view, just as the weather threatened rain.  After a full house of bangers and mash and with slight rain in the air, the return journey was back towards Malpas as far as Ebnal Lane then to Tilston.  Brian and Dave peeled off down Wetreins Lane back to their cars at Farndon whilst Dave and Liz and myself headed for Chester via Barton, Coddington and Churton.  A 26 mile loop from Farndon plus the 28 mile Farndon to Mollington loop made a worthwhile 56 miles and no rain!

21st January 2010: No Mans Heath

After a pretty frigid 4 weeks or so, 5 hardy souls, Mike, Dave, Clive, Ivan and Jim met at a rather chilly Rose Farm to discuss tactics. We thought of Brian and Bryan, struggling with sunburn and mosquitoes, but this was our first day out since mid December. Having been caught out once before without maps there were enough maps to rival Waterstones.  However, we didn’t want to spend the day stopping at every corner so we chose a route that we were familiar with, broadly speaking, that is.
We set out for Tarporley, and then motored downhill past the Shady Oak to Beeston Castle. Then on to Peckforton where we turned east to Spurstow and crossed the A49. Bearing south away from Bunbury we reached Brindley and Faddiley without too much trouble. However, we were getting close to falling off the world at this point (well, the edge of sheet 117 anyway) so we took a westerly direction towards Chorley and Cholmondley. County have obviously been on a cost cutting mission round here as only every other junction was signed, but they couldn’t confuse us as it was getting close to lunchtime and Ivan’s feet were cold.
We crossed the A49 again and skirted the edge of Cholmondley Castle estate, then first left towards No Mans Heath. Lunch was taken at the Wheatsheaf where lime and soda came in towards the bottom end of Ray’s price range.
Duly fortified we had a short run up the A41 before turning north towards Bickerton Hill, where the farmer was making an excellent job of spraying thorns all over the roadway. By careful navigation we avoided picking up any unwanted passengers, or so we thought!  Keeping to the east of Tattenhall we passed the ice cream farm and reached the Junction for Huxley. Mike and Dave left us here, while we took the road through Greenlooms. It wasn’t long before Ivan reported a flat, but as we were nearly home we pumped it up and Ivan set off at speed. By the time Clive and myself had reached Waverton Ivan was at the side of the road with his bike upside down. A new tube was duly inserted and we set off again.
No mishaps this time and we got home still in good daylight. Distance from Guilden Sutton, just over 50 miles. Then as I set my bike up to be cleaned I noticed the flat tyre!!!