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.

Friday 28 June 2013

27th June 2013: Llanymynech

Rain and hills were forecast today - and neither disappointed. I had texted a few people (i.e. those not in the Alps, or off to the TdeF or on yet another foreign bike holiday) to see if there was any interest. Six said "Yes" and a further two turned up as well. Ivan and I had taken the train out as had Brian Mac, with Liz, Petar, Steve, Roy and I think Mike G, coming by car - so it was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" today. Dave H had advised finding an alternate to the Plantation café so the recently opened Chirk Tea Rooms, next to the Hand Hotel, were duly sampled and gained a gold star (it had a toilet, railings outside to fasten the bike to, decent coffee and very pleasant service).
The route to Llanymynech was "agreed" upon, although no one, except perhaps Mike, knew where it was. The sheep were duly lead out via the back of the town on the Glyn Ceiriog road. A few miles of rough main road found us turning left and up past the site of an ancient Henry II battleground in 1185***. The lane now ran high above the Ceiriog valley before coming down at Dolywern. Up the inclined road past Glyn Ceiriog and on to a left turn in Tregeiriog. The next one kilometre plus was a 15-20% gradient with a couple of false summits before we all took a rest at 1200 ft. From hereon in it was a swooping ride of hills, vales and ridges through lots of "Llan" prefixed villages. "Llan" means "place of" or "church of" by the way! We arrive at Pen-y-Bont and take the lane to Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain*. Here the Lion pub seems to be assumed to be the lunch stop, but no, we ride on to the Bradford Arms Hotel in Llanymynech**. 

Photograph by Brian MacDonald

The patron here makes us very welcome even offering his garage as a rain-free bike park. The fare is good as is the beer, and as we hear the rain thundering on the conservatory roof we rue the fact that there is 15 miles back to Chirk. We leave bound for Maesbury and thence through Oswestry. Up and out past the Iron Age hill fort we slosh through the rain bound for Weston Rhyn and the canal aqueduct access to the back of Chirk. As we arrive back in Chirk, Brian Mac heads for the station and I look for Ivan, but by the time I find him, we have missed the train by seconds. Reluctantly, we had to "dry out" in the Hand Hotel bar for an hour. Only 40 miles, but quite a lot of hills and a lot of rain post lunch
The weather forecast was unfortunately spot on today. Light rain started about 12:00 and increased as we traversed the Berwyn foothill south and westwards. It became heavier in the afternoon as promised.
*Meaning: Llansanffraid means "Church of Saint Bride" in the Welsh language and ym-Mechain refers to its location in the medieval cantref of Mechain.
** Llanymynech: The name is Welsh for "Church of the Monks". The village is on the banks of the river Vyrnwy, and the Montgomery Canal crosses through it.
*** The Battle of Crogen took place in the Ceiriog Valley, Wales in 1165, between the vanguard of the forces of Henry II of England and an alliance of Welsh princes led by Owain Gwynedd. Although outnumbered, the ambush tactics and valour of the Welsh aided them in their defeat of King Henry's army. Some sources report that adverse weather conditions also played a major part in Henry's defeat. Those weather conditions however were endured by both sides

Friday 21 June 2013

20th June 2013: Overton

The week of 17th to 21st June was overall quite warm and sunny-with the exception of our cycling day, Thursday.  So it was with some trepidation that I planned a route that, in true mountaineers fashion, had a couple of escape routes if all went pear shaped.
Despite the threatening forecast a sizeable group met at The Ice Cream Farm, including Bryan in civvies looking brown and healthy, Dave M, Ray and Andy just out for a short ride. The main group of Dave H, Dave R, Brian Mac, Martin, Liz, George, Paul, Ivan, Clive, Jan and Jim (joined by Jan’s husband Dave) set off in dry but muggy conditions to climb over the Mid Cheshire Ridge. Going via Bolesworth Castle allowed us to miss the slog up to Harthill, but we were soon donning our waterproofs before continuing through Brown Knowl, where Brian Mac left us. We crossed the main A41 at No Mans Heath with the rain recurring from time to time throughout the morning but we soon dried off in between the showers. Cycle route 70 was followed to the south of Malpas and down through Threapwood, and then south to Tallarn Green before heading west to Holly Bush. The group split here to allow the staff at the White Horse time to take the orders, and by the time the last ones arrived the early group was all sorted. The meal was very tasty and economical, and about an hour later we were heading back up the road towards Worthenbury. The threatened rain had ceased to be replaced by quite a mild afternoon for the route back up to Shocklach, Tilston, Tattenhall and back to the ICF for afternoon tea. 
A total of just over 40 miles, or 60 plus for those from Chester.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Monday 17 June 2013

13th June 2013: Woodside

I arrived at Ness Gardens and pulled up alongside a cyclist unknown to me. We made friendly acknowledgement through the car windows, rightly guessing that we were both there for the scheduled CER ride. I already knew that half the club was elsewhere, and that Brian Mac our Wirral Wizard was in the North-East. It was Colin’s second week, but we hadn’t met because I’d been in Spain. We went inside the café where Martin was in civvies on a rest day from his Wigginsesque training week.
Colin and I decided on a straightforward coastal route rather than Wales via the new Burton Marshes path with its bunny-hopping humps. Colin led confidently out, but immediately my gears were slipping. I had replaced the chain, but not had chance to road test it, and under pressure it was useless. A new cassette was called for, but what about now? Well, if there had been more of us, I would have cut my losses and driven home to the gym.  However, it didn’t seem in the fraternal spirit of Chester Easy Riders to leave a new guest to fend for himself having made the effort to join us for a social ride.  As I rode along I realised that I could probably manage on the least worn outside cog at the back and middle and outside chainwheel. I had two gears for the day: quite high and very high. It was going to be a Ray Hardman cadence ride! Just as well we hadn’t chosen the Welsh hills.
We were soon cruising down the Wirral Way from Neston to West Kirby. After a little miss-ferreting here and there, we were soon bowling along the coast east of Hoylake, stopping briefly to stroke a young lady’s cute puppy. The wind was strong, but nicely behind us. Colin happens to be the son of Harry the Bike, and he recalled taking a day off work to accompany his dad on his sixth hundredth ‘Unique Ride’. He lived in Birkenhead as a child and pointed out where his granddad, a master joiner, used to have a cabin on the dock. Colin would sometimes visit at dinner-time for beans on toast. 
We passed the former site of the One O’Clock Gun, which I could clearly hear when cycling back to school in West Derby, Liverpool circa 1960. The forecast rain had arrived, so we decided to take lunch in the listed building of Woodside Ferry Terminal. The café was called “Home”.  The food was fine; the setting full of character, and there was a great view of the Liverpool waterfront across the Mersey.
Plan ‘A’ had been to head for Eastham, but it was raining, there were only the two of us, and Colin was mountain-biking at World’s End later.  Plan ‘B’, to cut-and-run, was undertaken via Birkenhead Priory, Port Sunlight, Raby Mere and Willaston. The rain stopped, it was pleasantly warm and we were soon swooping through beautiful Burton and back to Ness. Not many gears, not many miles and only two riders, so not a typical CER day. But in other ways it was a typical CER day: lovely views, relaxed riding, interesting and easy company, and the weather better than expected. Roll on next Thursday! 

Saturday 15 June 2013

8th June 2013: Corwen Audax Rides

With CER members taking part in each of the three audax events the first thing to say is we were very lucky with the weather.  Warm and sunny with light winds was perfect for a great day out.
200k riders at the start
Looking back at Barmouth on the Boulevard

Barmouth Boulevard 200k: 3500m ascent
There was a small entry for the original, very difficult, version climbing to Cross Foxes Inn after Dinas Mawddwy, with one rider from C&NW CTC successfully completing the course in 11h 30min.
Ten riders entered the mega difficult Vyrnwy Variant from Dinas Mawddwy taking in the hard side of the Bwlch y Groes after 150k of very hilly route and then the Northern Hirnant from Lake Vyrnwy.  Times varied from 9 hours (beat that Bradley Wiggins!) to 13h 15min.  All commented that this is a fantastic ride and deserves to be widely known.
To appeal to a larger number of riders the event may be moved to the last Saturday in July before the school holidays. The original finish via Cross Foxes is to be abandoned due to new road works and increasing traffic so the route is to take the Vyrnwy variant in future - 204k and 3750 metres of ascent - one of the most scenic and challenging 200k's in Britain.

Brenig Bach 107k: 2000m ascent
Bird Rock near Abergynolwyn- Barmouth Boulevard
A large entry of over 40 riders for this Graham Mills' classic included one tandem which successfully navigated the steep and narrow, hilly route.  Seven riders from C&NW CTC took part.  Everyone had a great day out and I have had much feedback as to the quality and enjoyment of the route.  (The fame of this route is spreading to the extent that a number of requests have been made to ride this as a "Permanent" audax ride.)
The final section of this ride down the A5 from Cerrigydrudion will be examined prior to 2014, to find the safest route back to Corwen on a summer Saturday.

Bala Parade 60k
Tal-y-Llyn in the shadow of Cader Idris - Barmouth Boulevard
Riding the Bala Parade
A super day out was had for around 25 riders with great service from the pub at Llanuwchllyn.  Seven riders from C&NW CTC took part including two vets whose combined age was well over 140 years.  Congratulations also to Geraldine Goldsmith of Peak Audax who determinedly struggled round the course with the handicap of a partially healed broken leg.
It is intended to re-route this ride next year to avoid the main road alongside Bala Lake and the town itself: too much traffic in summer.      

Saturday 8 June 2013

6th June 2013: Cockshutt

The Met Office must have run today's forecast through an old BBC micro instead of a Cray Supercomputer because the promised wall-to-wall sunshine was wall-to-wall cloud and it was cold! Anyway, there was a plethora of CER riders at Hildegard’s cafe.
Photographs by Brian MacDonald
I had met up in Hoole with Ray and Ivan who was on his first CER ride since his accident. We had taken the long way round to Holt notching up 18 miles before the start. It was good to see Bryan's happy demeanour as he surveyed his brood. Trevor had a proposed ride to Ellesmere and mine by coincidence, was in the same general direction but going a bit further south. We agreed to ride out together and then see who wanted to lunch at the Red Lion as opposed to the Leaking Tap in Cockshutt. So I led out via the back lanes to Bangor a disorganised "peloton" consisting of Jennifer, Liz and Martin, Liz and Dave, Trevor, Dave M, Andy, Jan, Brian Mac, Ray, Ivan and new rider Colin.
Fooling them all in Bangor, we head out and up the hill towards Worthenbury before turning down to Holly Bush. We take the flattest route using the tiny lanes via Sandy Lane to access Ellesmere. Here Andy and Dave M decide to bail out, so the rest of us cycle through Ellesmere on the Tetchill Road. Turning left over the canal we swing off through Lee down new lanes bound for Cockshutt. As last week I had rung the pub before we set off and they assured us we could be accommodated for lunch. So after a modest 23 miles we arrive and were expected, in fact I think we were the only lunchtime clients!  Third time lucky this week. The table was set for us and mainly we opt for the good value two-courser of standard pub fare. 
Anyway unbeknownst to us there was a surprise in store as we left at 14:00 - the clouds had cleared and the summer sun was out. The ride back was quintessentially English countryside riding down the tiniest lanes I could find via English Frankton, Lyneal, Hampton Wood, Street Lydan, Mulsford and Shocklach.
Approaching Holt and Farndon, we run on the new road surface at 20mph with Ivan and Martin leading the way. Here after 45 miles, we split up into those with cars and those riding home.
Back home after 76 miles, I reflect upon the idyllic afternoon's riding in warmish sunshine down wild flower bedecked lanes. It's what cycling is all about, for me anyway.

Saturday 1 June 2013

30th May 2013: Norton in Hales

It was "Ladies Day" at Rose Farm café with three new female riders (Jan, Jennifer and Alison) riding out with Liz D and the rest of us (George, Paul, Andy, Trevor and myself) for a run down to Norton in Hales. The weather was going to be showery and not very warm as we set off via Tarporley bound for Bunbury. We then go via Cappers Lane to Faddiley and turning westwards, head down via Chorley for Wrenbury. The Bhurtpore pub is passed by in Aston as we head further south. After last week's fiasco with a non-opening pub, I had rung ahead before we left and "booked" ten places at the Hinds Head in Norton in Hales. All sorted then! 
South of Aston, we head for Wilkesley down beautiful Royal Green lane past Combermere, Dogkennel and Bawhill woods. A swift right and right again in Adderley takes us into Norton in Hales. We find the pub after 29 miles and enthusiastically enter only to be told that, despite booking two hours ago, there's only one chef on, and they can't accommodate us. The troops took it well as I suggested we head for the Bridge pub in Audlem. Despite turning up mob-handed the Bridge's "Two for a Tenner" order is quickly placed; and good it was with Hobgoblin bitter to wash it down. 
We have now sunk 34 of the 55 miles, so the run back to Tilley's via Sound, Ravensmoor and Haughton, is not too arduous. At Tilley's, Jan, Paul and Alison head back home as someone mentions they are going out for a run at 18:00! We remaining six meander back to Rose Farm via Tilstone Fearnall. Almost 55 miles, and the weather was not as bad as forecasted. Well done to the new ladies, especially Jennifer who enjoyed 37 percent "extra free" miles over the 40 miles expected. My round trip was 83 miles, the furthest so far this year.