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!