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.

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Monday 27 May 2013

23rd May 2013: Lloc

This posting should be subtitled "Cym again-maybe!"  now read on.
Keith, George and Roy were already at the Gallery as I arrived around 10:00. It had rained on the way out and the NW wind was strong. Soon the "Prophet of Doom" arrived; Jim was in civvies since he predicted a wet, windy and hilly ride and he didn't fancy three wet rides in a row. Well Jim was right, as we departed it started to rain again as we left bound for the Blue Lion at Cwm. I had chosen this as a lunch venue after the positive November 2012 blog. Up towards the Brantwood pub, we turn around Mount Pleasant Lane headed for Buckley. The plan was to circle around Mold towards Loggerheads and take the main Ruthin Road passed the Clwyd Gate. Just as we reach outskirts of Padeswood there a shout from behind and Keith is laid out in the road. Thankfully nothing broken or a major hurt, except perhaps his pride. Having recently taken a phone call, Keith decides to return to his car to attend to matters at home. So the "Four Riders of the Apocalypse" are reduced to three. We maintain a steady pace with the rain and wind hard in our faces. Out past Nercwys and Loggerheads, we head for the Clwyd Gate and the fast run down to Llanbedr and the turn to Bodfari. Picking up speed down the pass, the rain stings our faces and we concentrate on staying upright. We make the turn without incident and take the B5429 to Llandyrnog. 
After a slight deviation through Gellifor, we bash on through heavily rain lashed lanes. We have to stop though when the hailstones arrive - just too painful. A blue horizon appears at the back to the clouds and we push on to Bodfari. From here to Rhuallt, the lane rises and falls and thankfully the rain stops and we get fine views of it dropping all across the Vale of Clwyd. Cym arrives at 30 miles and we arrive at the Blue Lion to find it firmly shut! The website suggests its open every day- so why phone them! After apologies to Roy and George, I suggest we head for the Rock at Lloc. This means a very stiff climb to exit Cwm and onto the top - just what wasn't needed at this point. So at 35 miles before lunch and around 14:00, we arrive at the Rock to find the food is on and there a fire to dry out our gloves etc. The food is served promptly and was very welcome and tasty. 
With the wind now thankfully at our backs and the sun shining, we take the conventional way back to Northop over the top, and here George learns of the prohibited entry Buxton Lane shortcut which bypasses Pentre Halkyn and avoids the drag up Halkyn Hill to the Bluebell pub. At 900ft at the Windmill, we just stay upright with the wind at our backs ready for the fast descent into Northop. George turns for home in Northop, and Roy and I have a fast run back into Hawarden. With 50 miles completed the "Prophet of Doom" was only half right in that from 13:30 onwards, the rain stopped and the sun came out. As ever, each CER ride is memorable, and as I turn for Chester struggling to stay upright crossing the Blue Swing Bridge, I feel thankful that I bothered to get all my winter and wet weather clothing on and made the effort, as did Roy and George, to get on my bike for these enjoyable 66 windy miles.

Monday 20 May 2013

16th May 2013: Jodrell Bank

How lucky we were today with the weather - a few showers were forecasted to mar the sunshine but we only had a few minutes of half-hearted rain. A big crowd set off bound for Jodrell Bank. There was Dave, Paul, Petar, Keith, Ray, George, Brian Mac, Dave & Liz P, the re-spoked Stephen and myself - quite a lot to negotiate successfully 32 miles of outward journey to Jodrell Bank radio telescope. 
As ever the route was slightly unconventional starting out towards Aston and Kelsall before turning out to Utkinton and Cotebrook. Oulton Mill pond looked beautiful in the sunshine as we continued on passed Oulton Park. Taking in Little Budworth village, we also pass by Budworth Mere on our way to Whitegate Way. Here the bridge was closed off explaining the lack of traffic on this usually busy country road. Exiting off Whitegate Way, we escape Winsford via Clive Green making for the outskirts of Middlewich. Skirting through miles of suburbia, we finally exit Middlewich on the 71 cycleway. Here I plan a route-shortening manoeuvre to ensure we get to Jodrell by 13:00. The original plan was to swing west and north sounding through the Davenport Estate and Swetenham but legs were getting tired and stomachs empty! More suburbia through Holmes Chapel we take the thankfully quiet main road through Twemlow Green heading for the big dish.

Photograph by Clive Albany

The car park is not too busy so there is hope that there are inside tables for us in the café; and there were. I have eaten here before and just as then, today's menu did not disappoint. Many riders commented on the good cuisine. The route back is flatter and we set off by circling the biggest Sky disc bound for Goosetrey. The lanes are flat and the traffic light as we zoom through Lach Dennis and Davenham. Along the A556 Chester Road counter-direction cycle path, the rain comes down for a short while until we get to Cuddington. The hills to Norley warm us up and dry us out as we enter Delamere forest that is finally coming to life. At the farthest crossroads, Stephen heads for Kelsall as half of us head down to the bottom of Mouldsworth hill, and the rest take the shorter incline on the official route back to Manley. Not quite 56 miles and no one got dropped - quite a successful day to an unusual destination and excellent lunch stop.

PS: We were all in red club colours today except for one exception who FINALLY is wearing a helmet! You know who you are - and many thanks for the East Anglia OS 1946 map!

Tuesday 14 May 2013

9th May 2013: Llansilin and beyond

Our first foray into the countryside around Chirk was supported by Dave H, Roy, George, Jim and possible new member Steve. The cafe was friendly and reasonably priced but the absence of any facilities meant that our first stop was back at the car park!
I had planned a route that didn't look too bad on the map, going south skirting Oswestry on the west and then sweeping westwards and northwards towards a return down the Ceiriog Valley: a very reasonable 37 miles.
We left Chirk and almost immediately set off uphill towards Weston Rhyn. The wind was gusting fairly strongly and any flattish lanes seemed to be due south direct into it. Soon we turned west with the wind on our left but this meant uphill. Well, it is Wales. We meandered round the back of Pant Glas, crossing the B4580 near the Old Racecourse. By now the wind had dropped but it was beginning to rain thus spoiling any views that we might have had of the approaching mountains.
We skirted part of the Offa’s Dyke ridge to Creoesau Bach and then north west to Llansilin. From here on the route climbed steadily (Clive would have been proud of us) past Moelfre lake -probably very nice on a sunny day - following lanes that became narrower and dirtier as we gradually made our way over the ridge into the next valley. The rain was heaving down and cries of 'how far to the pub' began to emanate from the happy band. To make us even more cheerful, Steve then gained two broken spokes but as the nearest cycle shop was probably in Wrexham we descended very carefully towards Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog. 
We pulled up outside the Hand Hotel with relief and anticipation-would the fire be lit? After all it is May. We were in luck being met by a charming landlady who was not at all fazed as we squelched in through the door. We left our wet kit over the chairs in reception and made our way to the tables next to the fire. We were very kindly provided with towels to dry off with and soon served with very tasty lunches. 
All too soon it was time to head out into the wet Welsh afternoon but with only 15 miles to go we were feeling almost cheerful. One mile later we were brought to an abrupt halt with the news that Steve had a puncture. It was decided, due to the conditions, that Steve should walk back to the pub and Roy would drive back up in his van to collect him. The route I had chosen down the valley, following some quieter scenic diversions was abandoned in favour of expediency, which cut the journey down to about 12 miles, and mainly downhill for a change.
We swept down the B4500 with our rear LED's blinking in the deluge, soon to arrive back at the car park. Roy then set off back to collect Steve who had been sitting by the fire drinking tea - much more sensible than freezing at the side of the road mending a puncture.
With 1558 metres of ascent, not a typical Easy Riders day out I have to say, and I hope the experience won't colour Steve's thoughts of the club: next week it'll be sunny - maybe!

Wednesday 8 May 2013

2nd May 2013: Hartford (brisk)

As the promise of a sun-filled day brings out the caravans on the roads, so it also does CER riders.  There were obviously too many for a single ride so, as I needed to back in Chester by 16:30, I offered a brisk ride to the Hartford Hall Hotel.  Jim took the sedate group Audlem way.  At first there was just Brian Mac and myself on the starting line, but soon Ray, Paul, Liz D and Martin ensured we were not a "Billy no mates" pack. 
We set off bound for Tilstone Fearnall via Beeston and the Bunbury bypass.  Then out via the quiet lanes to Wettenall, where a left turn took us into Glebe Green and then the Winsford suburbs.  The bright sunshine was enough to even make Winsford look good!  Approaching Foxtwist Green, we take the downhill road to Whitegates. Here a right up the incline takes us into the Vale Royal Golf club entrance.  Here we employ the reverse "Mathews Golf course traverse" route along the lane beside the Weaver Navigation.  The "road" here is now in a poor state after the severe winter, but just rideable in the dry.  Across Chester Road, we are at the Hartford Hall Hotel at 12:00 with 20 miles completed. With the spring sunshine continuing we partake of a promptly delivered and tasty repast in the garden.  Lunchtime conversation covers all the subjects that should not be discussed in a pub i.e. sex, religion and politics.
An hour up, we're off via the windy estate roads to take the old Chester Road westwards from Hartford heading for Cuddington and Norley.  The run back to the Ice Cream Farm is now straightforward via Delamere Forest, Kelsall, Willington and Huxley.  We arrive at the ICF by about 15:30 with 39 miles completed with no incidents on a fairly brisk, warm and dry ride.  Post refreshments, Ray, Paul and I make our way Chester bound as Brian Mac, Liz and Martin take to their cars.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

2nd May 2013: Audlem (mod)

It was almost the full contingent of members who met at the Ice Cream Farm on what can be described as perfect weather conditions for cycling.  Mike G took full advantage of the situation cycling from his home in Rhos on Sea.  Being such a large group we split into the ‘brisk’ led by Clive and ‘moderate’ who had decided a trip to the ‘Shroppie Fly’ in Audlem was appropriate. Brian Mac took advantage of the situation by collecting subs.
After a little discussion on a route Dave M led the group out joined by Dave & Liz P, George, Keith, Trevor, Jim, Dave H and Mike G. Bryan came with us as far as Beeston before returning to Chester. 
With such a large group you have a mixture of strengths and abilities so I asked Dave M to take a route that was gentle in climbs so we could enjoy the scenery and have a good chat. He duly obliged at a pace that satisfied most of the group.
From Beeston we cycled to Peckforton, turning east passing Bunbury, then south through Brindley, Stoneley Green, Ravensmoor and onto Sound. From there we headed almost due south through Hall o’ Coole joining the A525 about a mile west of Audlem. It had only just gone 12 noon so with Dave M’s knowledge of Audax routes we added a little loop. On the outskirts of Audlem we turned right with a climb to the A529, right and first right with a climb to Wilkesley with views across the Cheshire plain, returning from where we came. On the climbing Trevor at this point appeared to be suffering from the vagaries of his recent Red Sea cruise.
Our arrival at the ‘Shroppie Fly’ was met with shock horror, as it was under new management whose lunch provisions were sandwiches and chips. Short discussion ensued and we decided that overall we would put up with what they could provide as the setting was so good particularly with the warm sunshine and Timothy Taylor Landlord on tap. 
Following slow service (In the circumstances they did their best) we eventually got going just before 2:00pm and we travelled back via Nantwich using the A529, passing Henhull Hall, taking Route 75 to Cholomondston, then west across to Alpraham and on to Tilly’s coffee shop in Bunbury arriving after 4:00pm. Return to the Ice Cream farm we would have cycled 52 miles however the group split opting to make their own way towards Chester and beyond for which eventually they would cover 70 plus miles. 
In conclusion a superb days cycling. 

Thursday 2 May 2013

25th April 2013: Bollington and Above

The weather forecast was rubbish and some core members were unavailable.  Nevertheless, Martin and Liz, Brian Mac, Ray, George and David M were already on their marks when I arrived at Redes Mere with Keith.  Soon Mike G arrived from Knutsford, and the ride began bang on time. We undulated towards Gawsworth before a sharp climb at Oakgrove, and on to Sutton Lane Ends.  A very steep climb up a Quiet Lane set pulses racing. Some keen vintage riders acknowledged us as they flew by just after the Haddon Farm hairpin.  The Hanging Gate pub was prettily perched on the hillside. Then left, and more conversation-stopping steep climbing. From now to lunch was a long, uplifting dive down followed by the sheltered serenity of Wildboarclough. We arrived a little early at the Stanley Arms where two tables had been reserved for us. The service was friendly, and the food just the job.
It had rained whilst we were inside, and it was becoming cooler, but we soon warmed up on the slog to the A577. We hurtled past Lamaload Reservoir, most of us confronting a Land-Rover at the point you would least want to. A few more steep banks, and more fast downhilling with panoramic views, before heaving on the anchors just above Bollington and turning right to picturesque Pot Shrigley. The climb through The Brickworks and up Bakestonedale Moor was quite demanding, but our Premiership players, Martin and Ray were soon at the top.  A short, fast stretch around the hairpin at Charles Head was followed with a sharp left up the side of Reed Hill. Despite Mike, who knew the way having stopped, thinking that he had dropped something, the tail managed to miss the turn! Blame the leader. More shortish, steep ups then a long cruise down to the rocky track leading to the East Parkgate entrance to Lyme Park. Suddenly Dave M was revolting. To be fair it was like asking Sebastian Vettel to tackle a rally stage in his Formula One car. Dave’s smooth carbon fibre road shoes, hand-stitched by fairies from silver thread spun by a thousand specially bred spiders, are likely to land you on your arse if attempting one moist step. Dave played safe with his butt and kit by returning to the road and riding down to Disley and the main entrance. We continued with our poachers approach via a rickety wooden bridge to the gatehouse. The views are usually outstanding here. We noted The Cage on a hill to our right, but were now exposed to a very cold wind and some rain as we headed down to The Hall and some shelter. Dave appeared after a few minutes, and we all snaked down the teeth-rattling, wooded path to East Parkgate.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

The troops were restless for tea and cake, but I rejected the slow-serving Victorian Coffee House as we were booked in at Bollington for 3:30. There were fine views to our right over Manchester and Stockport. We passed Shrigley Hall, turned up round the corner and then into a delightful ‘secret lane’. We walked over the wet, steep cobbles on reaching Bollington’s stone houses, and cycled up to the Macclesfield Canal. Café Waterside was comfortable, friendly, and generous with its cake and drink. Forty minutes later we were climbing the tough little slopes out of well-heeled Prestbury, and soon speeding past Birtles Hall and Henbury Hall back to the cars. Mike turned down a lift and cycled back to Knutsford. 40 very hard, very hilly miles had been covered. Martin couldn’t believe how long we had taken, but was impressed with the 1,300metres of ascent that he had recorded. George and I conjectured if being nearly a year older was what made it seem harder than last time. Brian Mac was concerned about the amount of punishment he had taken! Ah well, ‘no pain, no gain’! Nevertheless, the ‘Championship’ riders did themselves proud, never really straggling. Limping, recently non-league Keith, with his reconstructed knee had been, indefatigable. I certainly enjoyed it and was grateful for the support.