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 27 August 2010

26th August 2010: Coton

What a grey day!  I had taken the scenic route to the Ice Cream Farm through Brassey Green and up to the back of Beeston Castle so had a brisk 13 miles on the clock when I arrived to find Dave Heath unloading his bike.  Tempted by a slab of fruit loaf I sat down to enjoy a large pot of tea and was joined by Dave whose cake resistance had also crumbled.  In no time Ivan, Liz & Martin and a little later Liz & Dave Pipe arrived to be regaled by Liz and Martin’s tales of what sounded like a particularly grueling North to South JOGLE – mainly against the prevailing winds and incorporating practically every hill in the UK (According to Liz!).
No one had a route planned so I suggested a trip to the newly refurbished Bull and Dog at Coton near Whitchurch.  As Clive can attest there are obvious dangers of trusting Morley with a map or indeed any sort of directions but the first part of the route was very straightforward – out through Chowley Oak, Clutton, Tilston, Malpas and the Wyches to Painters Green.  All went swimmingly despite Dave Heath’s sabotage of the Pipes by having them heading off up a right turn that was not part of the route thereby causing the loss of any momentum they may have had for the approaching hill.
Once over the A495 the land is very flat and part of the NNR Mosses of Whixall and Fenns Bank – not terribly scenic on such an overcast day but good territory for making progress on two wheels.  We crossed the canal and pressed on through Whixall arriving at Coton in good time. The Bull and Dog is now resplendent following its refit and we were shown by Max to a large oval table presided over by a portrait of Max’s Grandfather, Sonny, who was married to Liz’s mother’s best friend – it’s a small world.  We achieved a hat trick of good food, service and beer and also Lime & Soda only £1.00 so a very good pub to put on the agenda to join those visited in the previous two weeks.
Time to leave and although no actual rain the atmosphere was very damp and what wind there was seemed against us whatever direction we were headed.  Over to Prees and under the A49 thence over the A 41 to Ightfield and up via Royals Green to Aston and Wrenbury.  I had elected then to have change from the Spurstow/Bunbury return route electing instead for the Cholmondeley and Egerton Green that would furnish us with a couple of decent hills to keep us warm in the increasing chill.  Just leaving Wrenbury by the scenic route along the canal we lost Dave & Liz – on seeking them I found them both searching the grass verge  - the Bike Computer had jumped off its mount bounced on the road and disappeared, sadly never to reappear!  The rest of the journey up the back of Harthill passed uneventfully and we just made it back to Newton in time for a large pot of tea, courtesy of Liz and Martin and cake courtesy of Ivan – thanks for that you guys.  A round trip of 51 miles that gave me a door to door mileage of 74 miles – a good grey day after all!
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Saturday 21 August 2010

19th August 2010: Peak District Ride

An early start today to join Clive and Kate at Ivan’s house for the drive over to Waterhouses in the Peak District.  Once the bikes were loaded we were off, with Ivan driving and retelling his recent motorbike test experience.  Not enough lifesavers seemed to be the problem: and I thought lifesavers were found on the beach or swimming pool!  Well there was no need of lifesavers today and we arrived at 9.50am, having made good time despite the density of speed cameras.  Within half an hour we were all assembled and ready to ride: Jim, Dave H, Mike M, Clive, Ivan, Kate, Dave & Liz P and me.  Jim promised us a lovely day out although with a couple of steep hills to start and about 1500 ft of ascent (more on that later).
With Jim leading it was out the back of the car park onto the main road and the start of a steady climb, easy at first, then left onto a minor road and the climb steepened.  This was only the start and we were already strung out, but the view as we reached the top made it worthwhile.  Another climb followed, until by Blore we were ready for the exhilarating descent down to Ilam to take morning tea at the beautiful Ilam Hall.

Photographs by Ivan Davenport
After a refreshing break, with time for photographs, it was time to continue on to Dovedale and a brief diversion to see the famous stepping-stones.  Then retracing our steps we left Dovedale for the climb up to Thorpe.  Halfway up the climb it was suddenly apparent that our numbers were somewhat diminished.  Ivan headed back down to find that the others had been separated from the advance party by a large tractor blocking the lane.  Once all together again the going got easier as we headed to Tissington to join the Tissington Trail.  Here we joined the many families making use of the old railway track for a family cycle ride through the most beautiful of scenery.  What a great way to get the kids cycling!  In a few years time they may even be joining their local cycling club.

After a few miles on the flat we left the trail and rejoined the lanes, uphill at first then down to Heathcote.  This was perhaps the pattern for the day: a stiff climb, long but not too steep, with the double reward of beautiful views from the top followed by fast swooping descents.  And with perfect cycling weather and practically no traffic what more could you ask for?

After the gradual climb through Long Dale we eventually emerged at High Needham for the descent down to our lunch stop at Crowdecote.  Jim’s choice of the Pack Horse was truly inspired: a friendly welcome, great ale, good food, fast service and lime and soda at £1 a pint.  The bar staff even stopped serving to listen to Ivan recounting the adventure of his lost wallet and a night spent drinking!
After leaving the pub we crossed the Dove for the second time to begin another climb up to Sheen Hill ridge followed by the last descent of the day down to Hulme End where we joined the Manifold Way Trail back to Waterhouses.  With just over two miles to go Dave H, blazing our trail at the front, disputed the right of way with a dog and ended up on the trail.  With no harm done we pulled in at the next tea place for a well earned tea and scone before completing the ride as a light drizzle descended to remind us how lucky we had been with the weather.
What a wonderful day out: only 40 miles done but everyone truly enjoyable. And the climbing: 3,383 feet of ascent!  A great ride Jim.  Thanks for all the work planning it.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Saturday 14 August 2010

12th August 2010: Street Dinas & Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

We were meeting today at Bellis’ Garden Centre with rain first thing and a mixed day forecast.  Turning to the map, some of the lanes to the east of Chirk looked quite interesting and worthy of exploration.  Combined with the added bonus of being able to try The Greyhound Inn at Street Dinas I was hooked.  The others soon arrived Clive, Ivan, Mike, Jim and Dave H although sadly Jim wouldn’t be joining us for the ride today.  Ivan had to get back early so my proposed ride of lunch at Street Dinas then the lanes round Chirk before heading north to cross the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was ideal.  With luck we should be back in time for afternoon tea.
Setting off just after 11.00am we headed south through the lanes down to Bangor on Dee, over the bridge and on through Overton.  With very little traffic on the roads conversation flowed and we made good time on the familiar roads: even the rain held off with just a few spots now and then.
South of Overton we were back on the lanes, a descent to Shell Brook and then the lovely winding lanes requiring extra concentration to keep on the planned route, finally skirting Dudleston to join the main road 100 yards north of the pub at 12.30pm.  Although not the most attractive of places on the outside, the Freehouse sign was most encouraging.  Inside The Greyhound Inn provided everything a cyclist could ask for.  Good ale (Stonehouse Cambrian Gold) and if you are reading this Ray, lime and soda at 50p a pint!  A great choice of food, from which I chose the OAP’s plaice, chips and peas at less than £4.00.  Having had a discussion of prostate cancer on the ride down we quickly dispensed with the cholesterol issue and moved on to reminisce about bread and dripping and Camp Coffee!  No youngsters out today, you will note.  The excellent service (another plus here) meant we were back on the road by 1.30pm.

 Now the interesting bit: lots of unsigned narrow lanes until we reached the top of the descent down to Afon Ceiriog.  Not having done this before I led the way down somewhat cautiously; a narrow, windy, gravel strewn lane (two single chevrons on the map) with the occasional pothole, which seemed to go on and on.  Half way down Ivan flew past before reappearing in a field gateway having failed to make a very sharp right-hand turn.  From here it was plain sailing up to Halton before joining the A5 for a couple of miles to the canal towpath and cycleway.  Crossing the aqueduct was easy today with very few walkers about and we were able to take our time and take in the views while Ivan recorded the ride for posterity.
Photographs by Ivan Davenport
At this point Dave had a puncture and with a band of onlookers used a somewhat unusual technique to remove and replace the whole tyre and inner tube simultaneously.  Say no more: it worked and with two thorns removed we were back on the road to Ruabon.  Onto the lanes again, north to Farmworld, Sontley, Kings Mill (where Ivan skidded on loose gravel) and finally Erlas lane and the road back to Holt.
We arrived back at 4.00pm in plenty of time for afternoon tea having done a very enjoyable round trip of 42 miles from Holt and with 60 miles clocked by the time I arrived home in Chester.  Another great day with Chester Easy Riders.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Saturday 7 August 2010

5th August 2010: Barthomley

A good turnout today at Rose Farm in Utkinton – there is Mike, Jim, Ivan, Jane and Graham, Dave H, Bryan, and Omry.  Three routes are proposed; a 60+ miler to Mow Cop, and 52 miler near to Mop Cop and a 48 miler on the flat to the other side of Crewe – no prizes for guessing that the flat route was opted for.  The Mop Cop route will be attempted the next time we are at Rose Farm so you have been warned.  Ivan said it takes 6 minutes to get up the final 25% gradient, about the same time it would take to walk it.  Graham tells me it took him four visits to be successful!  Mike is not able to come today – he’s an appointment elsewhere – but he did tell us that he turned up an hour late for the start of the Bickerton challenge recently – hope you made your appointment on time Mike.  Just as we are leaving, Liz and Dave P turn up, so we promptly set off for Wettenhall via Cotebrook and the regular lanes on our way to Occlestone Green.  Turning south we skirt Warmington en route to Winterley.  Out past Oakhanger we take a very narrow lane down to level crossing and just get across before a train rattles by.  Omry makes two good suggestions The first is to go to a pub he knows in Barthomley (I had planned the White Lion in Weston, or the White Hart in Hough) so we go and have look-see. The second related to the potential source of a very annoying rattle on my Trek (see PS).  A couple of locals outside the White Lion say the beer and food are good so we de-bike into the al fresco dining room.  The locals were correct; the food was not only very good, but reasonably priced and very quick as well.  The route homeward saw us trying to avoid the main roads around Nantwich as far as possible and, with Bryan guiding us through; we were on the Ravensmoor Road in no time.  A shoot up Dig Lane got us to Swanley and a shimmy via Faddiley found us on the back lanes to Bunbury.  We are tempted by the new café in Bunbury called “Tilly’s”.  All agreed it was worth noting for future rides.  The usual route via Beeston Castle was taken to get Dave H, Dave P and Liz back to their cars at Rose Farm.  While Jim, Bryan, Ivan and I head for home with Dave and the tandem duo splitting off: meanwhile in some confusion, Jane and Graham and Omry go back via the Ice Cream farm.  We expect to meet them at Huxley but they are nowhere to be seen.  So we four head off via Waverton all bound for Chester.  The circular route from Utkinton was 48 miles and with the 25-mile extra from Chester environs made a 73 mile, rain-free, if somewhat cool, largely flat, pleasurable ride.
See route map and/or gpx file download.
PS Omry, you were right - it was a broken shim in the cassette – fixed on the spot at TBF!

29th July 2010: Holt

I set off from Chester without considering a route and cycled to the Gallery Tea shop at Hawarden.  On arrival I was surprised to be first as it was 10:45!!  Oh no I thought, wrong place again! Quick check on diary confirmed correct start so it was Ivan on his own.
No more ER's arrived so I bid farewell to the staff and decided to set off.  Again this was without map or any navigation so went with instincts.
Turn left through the village into Wood Lane - the only lane name I can remember and down to Buckley.  Carried on along a very narrow lane passing the Padeswood golf course to Pontblyddyn and the A5104.  A right hand turn put me on course for the A541.  I have now got accustomed to lane cycling and decided to get off and head into the rolling hills running alongside the road.  This was up to Coed Llai (Hope Mountain!!) which was a testing hill - the Mow Cop of the area as it has a couple of chevrons.

Photograph by Ivan Davenport

Photo shoot at the top and enjoyed a brief down hill but decided not to go all the way to the bottom but carried on below the top passing Waun Llyn Park.  This road ran all along the top and I came off at Cefn-y-bedd.  A great down hill to the lights, then took a right and left turn on route to Llay.  Now back on previous explored roads I was targeting myself to get home around 16:00 so carried on towards Gresford and another great down hill ride.  On arrival at Holt thought I would have early lunch as I was doing a BBQ on arrival home and went into a Black and White pub which sold real ale!!!  Never asked about lime and soda.  After replenishing myself it was out towards Farndon, then Crewe by Farndon and round to Bickerton and headed back towards Chester arriving home slightly early but enjoyed the ride.
Found out the following week I may have had company if waited a little longer at the coffee shop unfortunately Jim had a puncture that delayed his arrival.
All in all about 50+ miles and max speed of 47mph (Gresford bank).