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!