Let’s start with the weather - rain all day forecasted - not correct in fact. True that it rained all the way to Hildegard’s where we were to pick up Dave M. Instead we lost Martin as he took a “rain-check” and also Dave M who decided the warmth of the café was preferable. So we five (Paul, Ivan, Ray, Mike G and I) struck out straight for Ellesmere. The rain soon stopped. By 10:00, we were eating a late and welcome breakfast at the Corner Café in Ellesmere town centre, which is worth noting for future rides. It was “dry” as we ventured down new lanes towards Baschurch and crossed the A5 to pick up NCN81 towards Welshpool. We lost the route a bit due to malfunctioning software thus adding in about 7 miles, but thankfully Mike G’s hardware guided us through the maze of lanes in the hills west and parallel to A483. Here it was “not dry”, so the Raven Arms at the top of Welshpool high street was a welcome sight at just after 13:00.
Using the pub’s wifi, I reinstalled the software and the route mapping was working OK again. With over 60 miles on the clock, we struck out east and north in the rain to circle Breidden Hill for a route crossover at Four Crosses. In Llanymynerch, we turn east and then northeast to bypass the A483 northwards towards Maesbury. The rain has stopped and occasionally is in “on and off” mode for the rest of the day. In Oswestry by 17:00, we take coffee and cakes in Costa and reluctantly decide to miss out on Dave H’s kind offer of refreshments later in Wrexham. Refuelled, we leave Oswestry powering our way homeward via St Martins, Overton and circling Wrexham exiting down Marford Hill for a speedy 18 mph dash back to Chester by the most direct route.
Tired, wet, but above all happy with our achievement of 116 miles at 14.7 mph average speed – no mean feat given the on-and-off rain and increasingly windy conditions. My thanks go to the riders who stuck it out all day. We had the pleasure of 60 miles of new lanes, only two punctures, some good food, and the companionship of evenly matched riders with a combined age of about 300 years! As I cycled home at about 20:00, I added in a little loop to round off the day at 125 miles – the longest distance so far for me.