I had volunteered to lead a ride from The Gallery Tea Rooms and had a number of uneasy feelings beforehand. No 1, would it be open two days after Christmas? I arrived at 09:45 to find it still closed for Xmas, so parked my car outside to act as a refuge from the cold for those early CER birds. Andy, Dave M and Paul arrived at 09:50 and we decided to cycle to Hildegard’s for coffee, which we knew never closes. Uneasy No 2 was would anyone turn up at all? That was soon dispelled when five others arrived, all feeling equally bloated after over-indulging: Dave H, Jim, Ray, Martin, Andy and myself. I thought “Golly”, this is a good turnout, just as we cycled through that appropriate named hamlet. It was a straight and uneventful ride southeast past Hope through Rossett to Holt.
Hildegards had even opened on the 25th to serve 28 covers for Christmas Dinner; so serving eight cyclists was nothing. Dave H, Jim & Dave M all peeled off then as the rest of us decided to head SE to see if we could find food in Malpas. My spy in Malpas phoned me with news that all the pubs there were only serving drinks and she even phoned Bellis’ in Holt, who were serving food. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that we had just left Holt. Stopping on the edge of the Malpas metropolis, the lunch committee decided that we’d head for The Ice Cream Farm on spec. Turning north, we passed Broxton and Beeston. As we neared the ICF, I have never been happier to see the car park so packed. Food at last!
After lunch, we all headed back for Chester, via Christleton, but here it all went downhill for Martin, who picked up the first of three punctures, just as dusk was falling. As my car was parked at Hawarden, I stayed with him to help, to save all 5 of us catching frostbite. The two of us returned via the Greenway and Sealand and arrived back at the start in the dark, having completed 54 miles.
It was good to see 1 or 2 younger people taking their holiday leave to cycle with us (I believe that they are called workers, but it all seemed so long ago)
One lesson learned today for the CER ride on Thurs 26 Dec 2013 is that the only places that seem to serve food are Hildegard’s, Bellis’ and The ICF. You have been warned.