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.

Thursday 31 January 2013

31st January 2013: Bangor on Dee

The weather was forecasted to be very windy and I had a little niggle that the day may turn out not as expected.   I met Ray at the Old Dee Bridge at 09:15 and Ivan arrived shortly afterwards. As they were slightly unsure of the route to Alyn Waters I led them out via Lache Lane to Dodleston and Pulford. We turn towards Marford and take Springfield Lane running parallel to the bypass. Here Ray is leading and knows that it is a right turn over the bypass then slightly downhill then a left turn at Pentre Lane ready for a sharp single chevroned grind up to Llay.  At the Pentre turn, Ivan comes off his bike as Ray starts up the lane. I'm at the rear and manage to miss Ivan who is on the road and the bike is elsewhere. It is immediately obvious that his injuries are more than road graze.  A call is put out to 999 for an ambulance. Several cars stop and soon there is a queue of young ladies proffering blankets and a cushion for his head. Ivan clearly is in great pain but wants to know if his bike is alright. After what seems hours, a paramedic arrives and quickly decides not to move him and get some morphine into his bloodstream. Another car stops; it is a local doctor, but he agrees there is nothing more to be done right now. After what seems another long time, the ambulance finally arrives. They get him into the ambulance and start to make him comfortable. Meanwhile I phone Marilyn to tell her the bad news and suggest she goes to Wrexham Maelor A&E. By this time Dave and Liz arrive in their car and collect his bike. Martin and Roy also arrive from the Alyn café. There is nothing to do but to ride to the Maelor A&E where we find Marilyn and her daughter. Once we know Ivan is in A&E we decide to make a short ride out to the Buck at Bangor on Dee. We decide to return to Holt via the back lanes and I notice that the fields near the Dee are well flooded. There is a short section of flooded road soon followed by a long section that Roy bravely offers to check it out. We three see that as he fades from view, the water is over his boots. We turn back to ride the B road and meet up with him at the Holt bypass. The water was only half way up his calves apparently!  We decide to stop at Hildegard's and take a hot drink - and wholly underserved, two of our number take cake as well. Roy and Martin head for Pulford and Ray and I head for Chester. Only 45 miles but what drama - a day we shall not forget easily. "There before the grace of God go I" comes to mind.
PS: It’s 16:23 and I'm at home and a text comes in from Ivan!  Have fractured my hip, shoulder and hand - being operated on soon and home next week sometime; will be out of action for 4-6 months. If you have his mobile number, I'm sure he will appreciate a text from you to wish him well.

Friday 25 January 2013

24th January 2013: Calverhall

Would the lanes be rideable? That was the question on my mind as we sat at the Ice Cream Farm. Ivan had helpfully brought some samples of the proposed team garments and we "oohed and aarhed" just like a ladies lingerie party. Trevor and Dave M were in four-wheel mode, and Dave H and Jim were in "Jim recovery mode"; so Roy, Ray, Ivan, Paul, Martin and myself plus the tandem duo set off on time bound for the Old Jack in Calverhall. As we rode towards Beeston Castle through the snow covered fields, I wondered what it would have been like to be on sentry duty 350ft up on a raw day back in the 1220's when the castle had been built. No performance fabrics in their medieval attire - just woollen cloth and skins. At Peckforton, the tandem sanctions the pack to ride ahead and "we will meet up later on". So we dodged our way down a rutted Stone House Lane turning left towards Spurstow. Here the first diversion from the planned route was executed having seen the icy state of the side lane. So through Bunbury and towards Faddiley via Capper's Lane. I suddenly realised that something was different - it had gone deathly quiet. Everyone was concentrating on keeping on one of the black strips down the lane and avoiding the numerous cavernous potholes with ice to the right and left. Dodging right down Brindley Hall Road, we hit the dry A534 and take a left and right towards Swanley. Here the transfer lanes are even worse! Edging towards Ravensmoor, we motor on dry roads towards Wrenbury Station and slide past the Bhurtpore pub. Across the A530, we head south bound for Ightfield via Burley Dam. The outskirts of Ightfield are quite bad and we walk for some distance, but the turn left to Calverhall is dry. As we arrive at 12:30, a text from the tandem indicates that are safely tucked up in the Farmers Arms at Ravensmoor.
There is always a warm welcome at the Old Jack and there's a real fire as well as a good selection of beers. We all order and in dribs and drabs the hot meals arrive - some of the best chips as well! We chat about the cheery Danish crime and US terrorist TV programs as well as the specification of Ivan's new bike (with a triple no less). The return journey is re-planned given that going back via Wirswall and Marbury might be a bit ambitious. So it’s straight down the road to Whitchurch and then the B road to Malpas. Here the clouds part and a watery sun appears and stays with us all the way back to the Ice Cream farm via Duckington and Brown Knowle. We all take a hot drink and, as Martin heads back to his car, he notices that the tandem duo haven't returned as yet since their car is still in the car park. Roy zooms off bound for Runcorn and will have cycled nearly 90 miles today - well he is half of most of our ages! The circular route is around 46 miles but those from Chester will have chalked up nearly 70 miles in the balmy 1˚ C weather.
Well, the ride was thankfully incident free, and we were lucky that the tiny lanes were passable with care.

Sunday 20 January 2013

17th January 2013: No Mans Heath

Rising early to ride required real resolve on a stone cold day.  Ivan, Ray, Bryan, myself and the recovering Clive arrived at the Little Roodee Café.  Martin turned up tanned from his skiing at Chamonix. He was resting today, his quest for fresh snow not quite stretching from the lower slopes of Monte Blanc to those of Larkton Hill. 
A route in the direction of Malpas was agreed, partly because any chilling breeze was likely to come from the south east and so assist our passage home.  Clive led, as his intimate knowledge of these lanes would be of benefit, and, being Clive, he obviously would incorporate some interesting extra meandering loops.  We headed out along the river, behind The Boathouse, past Huntington Hall toward Aldford via Saighton. Clive was supposedly not 100%, but his pace was, by my moderate standards. A lone approaching cyclist had shouted an ice warning. Reasonable caution and good gritting meant that ice wasn’t a real worry for the rest of the day.
Unfortunately, a tractor on Chapel Lane was cutting a hedge and sprayed thorns all over the road. I duly picked up a puncture and we all had a very cold 15 minutes, as I double checked my tyre and replaced my inner tube. Ivan earned a pint for being particularly helpful. We were soon turning left at pretty Churton. Peaceful little lanes took us south east through Coddington to Clutton, where we became semi-detached. Ivan did his usual eager sheepdog-on-a-bike act, and soon we were together making steady progress south to Cuddington Heath. A straight route left to Malpas was shunned for a nice, quiet detour to Oldcastle Heath and north east along Bishop Bennet Way.  Bryan wasn’t feeling like a spring chicken, and it was a little hilly and a lot cold. Ray and Ivan went ahead, partly because Ray requires a good toasting every two hours in order to survive the cold. (And Ivan needs two pints of beer every two hours to survive, period).       
We finally made the familiar Wheatsheaf after 26 miles, more than ready for food and warmth. Sausages in Yorkshire puddings were no longer on the menu, but the food was fine. The new owners were very friendly and our conversation was convivial.  Circulation was a theme: Ray prays every Thursday that winter can be turned into summer because of his perceived poor circulation, Bryan’s fingers go white in his own living room, and we discussed the theory that continually circulating train routes may reduce the need for more lines.
We were a little late heading back, and with light, cold and possible wintry weather considerations, took the fast way back via the Old Coach Road to Broxton Old Hall. We reached Tattenhall and considered a coffee, but we had already been riding through some fine, snowy precipitation and it was becoming a little murky. We crossed the A41, and at Saighton the frisky three took off, and Bryan and myself cruised into Chester via Boughton. 
A thoroughly enjoyable day, which despite the natural speed differentials was managed without a problem. Winter brings both its stark and sparkly charms to our beloved Cheshire lanes. I for one was glad that I made that early morning effort to get up and out. Many thank to Clive for leading.

Friday 11 January 2013

10th January 2013: Hanmer

What a difference to last week’s balmy weather!  At 9:00 as I left home for the ride to Hildegard’s it was cold, grey and with a touch of fog.  A relieved Dave H was already there, having arrived early and then been concerned that he had gone to the wrong venue.  Hildegard made a large pot of tea and within a few minutes two of the tables were full as Ray, Ivan, Dave & Liz P and Paul also made an appearance.  With the weather outside being so cold there was some reluctance to get out and our start was a little delayed.  No worries though as we were following my route to Hanmer and I could always cut a bit out if necessary.
We were soon out in the country riding south on the back lanes between the Dee and Wrexham Industrial Estate, which if it hadn’t been for the state of the roads would have been perfect.  Unfortunately this set the tone for the rest of the day: beautiful, almost traffic free, lanes thoroughly covered in gunk and with the occasional flooded section.
Through Bangor on Dee we went, past the racecourse, and then just as Paul swept past to attack the coming hill, a left turn up Brynhovah Bank.  Continuing south through the lanes the sun made an attempt to show itself and it did seem a little warmer although Ray was still complaining about the cold.  At the southern end of Lionlane Wood Ray spotted a sign to Hanmer “not much further to lunch then”.  Sorry Ray but “we’re going further south to Bettisfield before we turn north to Hanmer”.  So ignoring the signs we continue south: after all we still had a few more chevroned hills to pull in before lunch.
After Bettisfield it was a straight run north to Hanmer and the group fragmented as riders made off for the warmth and comfort of the Hanmer Arms.  The Hanmer Arms Hotel was packed with a large funeral party but we found a space by the fire in the front bar and while Ray warmed himself we ordered food and drink from the bar.  The food was excellent as usual and the range of ale more than enough to satisfy the drinkers amongst us.  Talking to the barmaid it appears that the existing lessee has just put up the lease for sale.  Let’s hope that the new management maintains the current standards.
By 14:00 it’s time to make a move but a reluctance to leave seems to have gripped the group with half the group claiming they were just waiting inside for those already standing ready to depart outside in the cold!  To warm up we retrace our steps up to Arowry and then turn north to cross the A525 to eventually drop down to Lower Wych.  Once up the other side we take a meandering route through the lanes to Shocklach and on to Farndon.  Here Andy and Paul leave us to ride straight back to Chester while the rest of the group continue to Hildegard’s for coffee and “nice” cake (pineapple and coconut).  Suitably refreshed I leave at about 15:45 for the ride back to Chester in the gathering gloom with the fog thickening.
Yet another great day out covering some 39 miles or just over 60 miles for those riding from Chester.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Monday 7 January 2013

3rd January 2013: Aston

We met at the Old Fire Station in Tarporley as Rose Farm café was closed.  It was a good turnout: Martin & Liz D, Dave & Liz P, Jim, Bryan, Brian Mac, Dave H, Dave M, and Andy. In addition, Big Roy of Runcorn was a welcome returnee.  I don’t know if some of us were wearing new Christmas gear, but Dave M. was sporting a particularly snazzy top, and Brian Mac a daft Everton hat.
We meandered up Eaton road and bumbled through the village of Eaton heading out in an easterly direction with Jim in the lead, before turning right just past Townfield Farm towards Wettenhall.  The riding was easy, the atmosphere relaxed, and there was a chance to chat.  Liz’s description of her and Martin’s recent Vietnam cycling experience was both fascinating and disturbing.  Reaseheath College was soon passed and shortly after we were in Nantwich, along Welsh Row, noted for the variety, history and character of its buildings. We turned right shortly after Malbank School, through a residential area, right again over the Shropshire Union Canal, and then headed for Wrenbury Heath.  Some risked the short, muddy track through Woodcotthill Farm and over the nascent River Weaver.  A local man walking two dogs informed us that the water had recently submerged the bridge.  Some of us chickened out and rode the long way around on tarmac.  We all finished safely in the friendly and familiar Bhurtpore Inn, with its luvvely curries and strong ales.  Ray arrived shortly after having been delayed by punctures before he had even got to the start and hence being forced to make his own way to Aston.
Home was via Wrenbury, Chorley and Brindley to Bunbury.  Someone shouted “Left” at Larden Green, and thereby some of us were split from the main group, but we were soon reunited.  Jim punctured, and Dave Matthews kindly proffered ‘a proper pump’.  This was a vintage lightweight inflator of a particular length that exactly fitted his exotic, old cycle frame. Unfortunately, in trying to help Jim, I was too enthusiastic and destroyed it (see photograph).

Photograph by Martin Donaldson

Tilly’s coffee and cake in Bunbury was very welcome.  We then headed for Beeston, and most of us to Chester through Brassey Green, Huxley, Waverton and Christleton, with variations.  Roy, Martin & Liz D returned to Tarporley for their cars. It was getting dark, but it still wasn’t cold.  Jim and I started and finished at Guilden Sutton, clocking up over 58 miles; with just over 60 miles for those from Chester.  The Tarporley-Aston-Tarporley ride proper came in at an easy 38 miles. It was a very relaxing, convivial day. Many thanks to Jim for leading once more, let’s hope that he doesn’t break a leg skiing!

Wednesday 2 January 2013

1st January 2013 : New Year's Day Ride to Carden Arms

The official CER meet is at The Little Roodee (shut) with an option of The Blue Moon (open).  Ray made it to the official start and picked up Andy and David M on the road near the Blue Moon---shortly to be joined by Dr Martin.  The Blue Moon provided a warm recovery point to nurse our hangovers before setting off to the official New Year's Day meet at the Carden Arms in Tilston, via a welcoming stop at Hildegard's in Holt.
The day was dry, the temperature reasonable for time of year and the pace, set by Dr Martin, reasonable.  At the Carden arms 52 cyclists from all parts of Chester & North Wales received a warm welcome and equally warming meal from a giant stewpot (non-veggie or veggie to suit).  David Ackerley presented prizes to C&NW CTC riders who had won the CTC tourist competition yet again.
After the presentation we all left in dribs and drabs to follow our various ways home in the fading light.
Yet another excellent New Year's Day meet at the Carden Arms---Thanks to Harry for organising yet again.
Note: The Carden Arms is under new management and very keen to accommodate cyclists.  They will send details of opening hours & meal facilities for the website.