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.

Saturday 29 May 2010

27th May 2010: Ruthin & Graham’s bench

This must rate as one of the best CER rides ever, but was enjoyed by just four members: Bryan, Clive, Ray S and Dave P.  Yes, it was one of Bryan’s hilly rides from Caergwrle, but no we didn’t start by going over the summit of Hope Mountain, although it might have been easier if we had done so!  The ride itself was a modest 56 miles at an average speed of just 10 mph but included some 2,000 metres of ascent.  Highlights: a significant section along lanes none of us had done before, hail as we descended down into the Vale of Clwyd (in what was otherwise perfect cycling weather), the lunch stop pub (White Horse at Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd) closed on Thursdays, Clive and Ray’s favourite recipes discussed over lunch at the Anchor Hotel in Ruthin (the nearest open hostelry), the tranquil setting of Graham’s bench where we reminisced about past rides, the climb up Bwlch Penbarras, the view over the Vale of Clwyd from the top and the 40 mph dash down the other side to Loggerheads, bara brith and coffee at Caffi Florence, more hills on the journey back through Cilcain, Soughton before the descent to Broughton.

Photographs by Bryan Wade

The day had started with a look at the map when I noticed a road down to Llanfair Dyffryn in the Vale of Clwyd from Llanarmon-yn-Ial.  “Was it doable?” I asked myself: the middle section was a white road but it was worth a go I thought.  The alternative would be to go up “the steps” across to Llandegla and then down from there.  I’ll put it to the group over elevenses at Caergwrle and see what they say.  At Caergwrle he weather was good but there still only three of us having tea by ten to eleven.  Brian texted to say he had a cold and wouldn’t be joining us and then Dave P arrived.  None of us had done the Llanarmon route but it looked a lot more interesting than the alternative so we all agreed to give it a try.
Bryan led off over the shoulder of Hope Mountain to Pontybodkin crossing the main road and up the climb (two chevrons) to Treuddyn.  By this time we had settle into the pattern for the day: as each hill came I changed down to the lowest cog while the others surged past and we regrouped at the top.  We continued on the narrow lanes down to Cae Gwyyd and up the other side (two chevrons) before emerging at Eryrys for a quick check of the map.  It was southwest from here but with another climb (two chevrons) before dropping down to the River Alyn and into Llanarmon-yn-Ial.  The new lane lay straight ahead and we climbed gradually up to the pass with a photo stop at the top looking over the Vale of Clwyd with dark clouds gathering overhead.  Then within 50 yards we were descending on the white road (a rough track), great for mountain bikers but testing the bike handling skills of us roadies to the limit.  Safely down the steep rough section we were soon back on a surfaced lane for a fast descent through biting hail to the valley bottom – great!  A short ride to lunch at the White Horse in Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd was followed by bitter disappointment when we discovered the pub was closed on Thursday lunchtimes.  No problem; with Ruthin just up the road we set off at top speed and made for the first hostelry we could find.  The Anchor Hotel did us proud with a wide range of meals for £5 a head and Young's ale on tap.

Photographs by Dave Pipe

It was already late when we set off into the town centre so that Clive could refill his wallet while the rest of us admired the townscape.  Then we were back riding northeast on the lanes to reach Llanbedr Hall for another track up to the Woodland Trust site of Graham’s bench, a little quite contemplation and some photos.  Leaving the tranquillity of the woodland behind we were soon struggling uphill on the lower slopes of Bwlch Penbarras where there were too many cars coming down for comfort.  Two of us chose to walk the hairpin (only one chevron) before remounting round the bend to continue on to the summit at a steady pace.  More photos at the top before Caffi Florence at Loggerheads beckoned and we started the fast descent.  After coffee Dave decided to make his own way back “staying in the hills” he called it while we went up the nearest hill (one chevron) towards Cilcain.   I had planned to cross the river at Maes-y-groes but my shouts from the back of “take the track on the right” went unheeded and it was Cilcain before we gained the other side with a climb up from the valley floor (one chevron), and the first sign of complaint from the troops.  In truth it was all over: Gwernaffield-y-Waun, an easy climb up to Soughton, Buckley, Bilberry Wood and a nice descent down the Warren to the Cheshire plain at Broughton.  It was getting on for 18.30pm when we arrived back in Chester after a superb day: it just doesn’t get better than that.
Nine chevrons of ascent (if you’ve been counting) but no doubles today.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Monday 24 May 2010

20th May 2010: Audlem

Arriving early at the Ice Cream Farm I was surprised to see three riders already inside: Jim and two others I hadn’t seen before.  New members I thought but it wasn’t to be, at least not for today, as Keith and Mike had just come out for a chat.  By the time I had blagged some sellotape for emergency bike repairs and ordered the regulation tea and teacake the rest of the group had appeared: Ray, Ivan, Brian, Dave and Liz on the tandem and Mike Gilbert whom we hadn’t seen for a while.  Then Kate appeared for a chat and to give us the once over.  We look forward to seeing you again Kate.
Discussion turned to today’s destination and the edge of the known world as defined by OS Landranger sheet 117.  Today the big earthers prevailed and Audlem (Sheet 118) was agreed, with a route via Harthill and Wrenbury.
Bryan led off steadily over Harthill, passing Cholmondeley Castle and on to Wrenbury where we waited while a canal narrow boat negotiated the drawbridge.  Once over, we had the road to ourselves and Ray shouted, “which way are you intending?”  “Right at the junction, past the station then onto Aston” and with that, if I’m not mistaken, the pace miraculously picked up.  With time in hand we looped south through Wilkesley and Kinsey Heath to enter Audlem from the south.  The Shroppie Fly or Coffee Lounge Café for lunch?  Ivan was insistent on a pub, so The Shroppie Fly it was with a table(s) by the canal to enjoy the fantastic weather.  Timothy Taylor Landlord and Wells Bombardier along with other cask ales, together with good food and service made for an excellent relaxing lunch stop. There was even a history lesson thrown in for free.  Now who can remember the importance of “Fly” boats?
An afternoon tea stop sounded good so with that in mind we set off to Brown Bank before turning north towards Nantwich.  I was thinking of the Venetian Marina café but Ray suggested the Metropolitan Knitting Centre café which none of us, other than Ray, had tried before.  Ever willing to try something new we made for the Knitting Centre, via the Secret Bunker at Hack Green, Ravensmoor and Nantwich, where we enjoyed the hospitality and seemingly unlimited quantities of tea at 50p a head.  After an all too brief stop we remounted and pushed on past the Boot and Slipper to Alpraham, Bunbury and Beeston to reach the Ice Cream Farm with time to spare.  There was nothing left to do but to sample the ice cream and relax!  A day to remember and a great ride.
Distance from Chester and back a good 74 miles.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Sunday 16 May 2010

13th May 2010: Little Neston

This should have been advertised as the "Easy Lunches - Not", but more on that later.  Ten of us set off from the Roodee, including George for the first time, plus Liz D, Dave & Liz, Clive, Ray, Ray(zor), Mike, Ivan and all led away by Brian Mac.  The ride was advertised as an easy one, finishing by 4pm, as some of us were off later to see Mark Beaumont, the lad who raced round the world, give a talk at Rhyl.
The route along the canalised Dee to Sealand was taken at a gentle pace, to break George in.  I hope we didn't give him a false sense of security, as the wind was behind us.  Turning inland towards The Eureka area, we were on a newish path alongside the widened A550, which a number had not seen before.  Capenhurst quickly arrived, only for Ray(zor) and Ivan to drop off the back.  North through Ledsham and back down to the Dee Estuary, passing through the quaint village of Burton.  (It’s hard to believe now, but on the 1801 Census, it was the 2nd biggest settlement on The Wirral.)  Along the dry marsh track, we arrived on schedule at The Harp, located alongside the old mining port of Little Neston.
Even though I had been in the night before to confirm numbers for lunch, the sole girl serving was completely unprepared for us "walkers".  When the Timothy Taylors finally arrived, all was forgiven.  Unforced extended lunches seem to becoming a habit, so leaving one and a half hours later left us no time for the promised Time Trial at Denhall.  This will be run at Ness Gardens when the weather is kinder.
A faster return took us via Willaston Mill, Hooton and Ledsham down to Sealand.  Here those going to the lecture later on, took the quick way along the Millennium Way back to the start, while four others went off to Connahs Quay, with George still smiling.  An enjoyable, if shorter, ride of 36 miles.

Friday 7 May 2010

6th May 2010: Ellesmere

Leaving home to ride to Holt this morning I checked the SatMap for the today’s proposed route only to find that the unit was completely dead.  Having sorted out a 46 mile route on the SatMap yesterday evening this was not a good omen but at least I would have time to check it out over tea at Bellis.  I arrive just as the rain was starting in earnest to find Mike and Clive relaxing over tea and teacakes.  By the time mine is ordered Jim and then Liz and Dave P appear.  I circulate a map of my proposed route while checking the SatMap battery to find a broken wire (vibration on last weeks tracks?) is the cause of the problem.  A fresh battery is fitted and with the route agreed it’s time to depart.
From Bellis we head south through the lanes to Bangor on Dee, across the bridge, past the racecourse and up Brynhovah Bank where, having warmed up on the climb, we stop to remove a layer.  Now we’re on the back lanes we enjoy the countryside as we make good progress through Dudleston Heath on lanes, I’ve never ridden before, to Perthy and Welsh Frankton until we are faced with the steepest climb on the ride, a veritable wall of a humpback bridge!  Safely over we turn into Hordley to join the Vets’ 100 route north towards Ellesmere.  Not far to lunch now but the sky’s darkening and what starts as light drizzle quickly turns to a downpour requiring a stop to cape up.  It’s then 15 minutes in the rain before we arrive in Ellesmere and make for the Black Lion for lunch.
Although the pub isn’t particularly busy we can’t get two tables together until one of the patrons kindly gives up her table so that we can sit together: then it’s decision time, large or small portion?  The meals are soon served but the small portions are almost as big as the large: only cheaper!  By the time we’re ready to leave the rain has stopped and we head to Hanmer through the puddles on the wet lanes.  We are still making good time as we pass through Drury Lane and Lower Wych on our way to Malpas so it’s just after 3.30pm when we stop at the Old Fire Station tearooms in the centre of Malpas.  Dave P promptly disappears to call in at the local bakery while the rest of us place our orders in the café.  Now the Old Fire Station is famed for its cakes in CTC circles so its more or less compulsory to try either the walnut or coffee cake.  I force myself to sample the walnut cake.  What can you say; absolutely perfect.  Conversation turns to computer problems (or to be more precise PC problems) as Clive first explains the myriad of software he uses to scan his computer for viruses, before we move on to discuss backup software and external drives.
It’s again time to leave so we tear ourselves away from the tearooms and head to Tilston where Jim, Liz and Dave P continue north to Crewe-by-Farndon and back to Bellis in Holt.  Clive, Mike and I take the longer route through Tattenhall and Greenlooms where Mike turns off leaving Clive and I to make for Chester via Christleton.
A great ride almost entirely on lanes (no tracks today) and very little traffic. 46 mile circular from Holt with the distance from Chester and back exactly 70 miles.
See route map and/or gpx file download.