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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Friday 30 August 2013

29th August 2013: St Asaph

Another lovely summer's day - when will it end? Paraphrasing Bryan's explanation of why we start in the Gallery Café "Hawarden means hills" and so it was. Jim and Bryan were riding out for coffee only so I lead out Ray, Ivan, Martin, Steve and George on a 50 mile circular to the Plough at St Asaph. I figure that the main roads will be quieter just now so this is a chance to go on a few rather than duck around all the lanes. The idea was to follow the A541 out of Mold to Bodfari. Apparently this is the most dangerous road in North Wales but I only find this out the following morning! So off via Buckley and Altami we head for Sychdyn. Here Martin's front tyre goes flat; this being the second of the day as I had found my own tyre flat in the garage at home before I set out today. No more flats I instruct the group and they comply! Up towards Gwernaffield, we exit right down a delightful lane to Rhydymwyn just touching the A541 before climbing out to run parallel for a mile or so then back on the A541 for two miles before exiting through Nannerch. A similar approach here finds us back on the A541 just before Ddol. Now we have nearly 5 miles of a slightly downhill run at 20mph to Bodfari. A quick right takes us along to Tremerchion where the locals seem to be celebrating, in tableau format, various aspects of breakfast (and PG Tips + monkeys).  (Bryan: cue picture and no comments pls!)
Photographs by Ivan Davenport

Taking the B road into St Asaph, we arrive at the Plough after 27 miles. Although it is a bit pricey (£1.50 for a L&S), the food is plentiful and enjoyable. Martin correctly predicts the return route will be using Rhuallt Hill Old Road. We exit the back way out the town to start the 3 mile uphill climb as we run parallel to the A55. The route back is predictable from here via Babel, but I add a twist by taking in Lixwm and Rhys-y-Cae before the fast run down to Northop. Here George splits for home as the rest of us run back into Hawarden where Martin drops off home. A 50 mile circuit with "only" 2,242ft of climbing but it felt considerably more to my legs! So as the four of us take the Dee path into Chester we will have 65 on the clock and I wonder if this the last summery day's ride? - next week will tell.

Friday 23 August 2013

22nd August 2013: Lymm

Another lovely summer's day in prospect at Manley Mere.  Relaxing in the sun as I arrived was Bryan, Dave M and George. Dave M was in "not on my bike for some time" mode, but the good news was that Bryan was in CER cycling strip and had cycled out for coffee. Having been given the "you can get back on your bike" medical approval he was taking it steady for a while. Another pair of lost souls then arrived - Jim was out today as was Ivan back from his motor home summer peregrinations. "Where are we going?" is the cry – “50m to Lymm or 60m to Croft” - George decides on the basis that he is unsure where Croft is. To be honest, I hadn't prepared a ride today but just downloaded two routes from summer 2011. So with the Pike Pair completing the group of five bikes I lead out for Delamere. At Hatchmere Jim turns for home and we cut through Forest Lane and down the lovely Beech Lane bound for the Weaver. Out via Acton Bridge, we head for Antrobus and the winding lanes towards Lymm. A quick diversion to the koi carp pool in the centre of Lymm then finds us at the Crown Inn's beer garden tucking into "2 for £10" repast-and tasty it was!

Photographs by Clive Albany

The afternoon is warming up to the high 20s as we take a modified route back since I wanted to explore a short cut in Grappenhall. So we take the cycleway past the cricket pitch and circle Grappenhall Heys Garden to Fox Covert Cemetery. Down the third "No through" road, we exit at Appleton reservoir bound for Moore.
Runcorn has a maze of cycleways but I stick to the canal side complete with herons and canal boats. Out via Weston we decide to take a Costa Coffee in Frodsham. Here Ivan splits for home, then George and I do the same leaving Liz and Dave to wend their way back to Manley. So 50 miles in glorious sunshine with some panoramic views on the way and a recycled 2011 route to enjoy.

Tuesday 20 August 2013

15th August 2013: Llanarmon DC

Only Roy, Liz and Martin arrived at the Tea Rooms in Chirk.  This, a rather upmarket cafe with good scones and coffee but a poor taste in piped music that even follows you to the toilet.  We decided to take a route SW to Llanarmon DC and a flatter return along the Ceriog valley back to Chirk.  On walking out of the cafe we met Dave and Liz P driving down the main street.  They pulled up and after a short discussion they decided to do their own thing in view of the hilly terrain with the possibility to meet up for lunch.  The three of us set out and immediately hit a short steep hill out of the town.  The hills continued with 15-20% gradients appearing frequently on the Garmin.  Roy, of course, led on the climbs but was happy to wait at the top for the oldies to catch up.  The further west we rode the wilder the countryside became with views to the left of the Berwyn summits.  Finally a long steep climb brought us to the highest point.

Photograph by Liz Donaldson
Outside The Hand in Llanarmon DC

From here it was down hill all the way to Llanarmon DC where we found a choice of two pubs.  A conversation with a group sitting outside The Hand made the choice for us.  In particular they recommend the steak sandwich.  Before even entering the pub we saw Liz and Dave riding towards us having followed the Ceriog valley - almost perfect timing!  The food was excellent albeit expensive (£8 for steak sandwich and chips). We all took the same route back along the Ceriog Valley and this was much easier but very pleasant. Liz and Dave decided to do some exploring whilst the remainder of us returned to our cars in Chirk having clocked some 33 miles, 850m of ascent and no punctures.
I think Chirk deserves to be a more popular starting point.  It is short drive in terms of time with the alternative of a train journey from Chester.  There is beautiful surrounding countryside with quite lanes, plenty of interesting hills, a good cafe and choice of lunch stops.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

8th August 2013: Aston

On yet another lovely summers day Ray, George, Dave & Liz P, Clive, Steve, Mike G, Trevor, Liz and Martin D gathered at the Ice Cream Farm.  Dave M also turned up for coffee but did not ride.  Martin, in the absence of any other contributions, suggested a ride to the perennial favourite - the Bhurtpore Arms at Aston.  We took a fairly standard route at a moderate pace over Harthill and then through Brown Knowl, skirting Malpas, No Mans Heath and Marbury.  With only a few miles to go there were two punctures in quick succession for Clive and Martin but we still arrived at the Bhurtpore Arms in good time for lunch.  The usual wide selection of excellent real ales and curries were on offer.  I think the curries produced by this traditional English pub are easily superior to those offered by most Indian Curry Houses.  All but two of us ordered the spicy fare.  In Clive's case this might have not been a wise choice as on the way back he had to drop off the back into the bushes for a call of nature and there was quite a wait before he rejoined the group.  The route back was in a northerly direction with a stop at Tilley's Cafe, Bunbury for tea/coffee and cakes.  From there it was a short ride back via Beeston to the Ice Cream Farm. A ride of only 40 miles but pleasant enough and still a reasonable distance for the majority of riders returning to Chester.

Saturday 3 August 2013

1st August 2013: Birkenhead

With the long ride happening today, only a select group was expected at Little Roodee. It turned out to be very select with just Brian Mac and Steve, though Bryan joined us for coffee at the start. 
Brian proposed a tour of the Wirral and we set off along the River Dee to Hawarden Bridge and then across Burton Marshes (PIC 1) before striking out NW for the Mersey shore by way of Port Sunlight. Passing the Lever Art Gallery our eyes were caught be the sight of a dozen new and shiny cycles, including a tandem, set out on the grass.  With a small detour we discovered a young guy who’d just launched a cycle hire enterprise (www.wirralcycle.weebly.com).

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

Shortly after we hit the shoreline and followed this on generally quiet roads and tracks to Birkenhead and a photo stop (PIC 2) with Liverpool and the Three Graces behind us. Just up the road was Gallagher’s Pub and Barbers. Yes a barbers!, though drinking and having a haircut at the same time don’t mix – you get hairs in your pint. It has the distinction of being a CAMRA Merseyside pub of the year. It served good beer, but unfortunately not food, although they were open to customers bringing their own from the café at 32 Market St. 
After our stop we headed for the seaside and the crowds, passing a pirate ship made from driftwood swarming with children (PIC 3), as we followed the Wallasey shoreline to New Brighton and loads of families enjoying the hot sunshine. Weaving carefully through the crowds we then followed the north Wirral coast to West Kirby, there picking up the Wirral Way and heading speedily down to our afternoon tea stop, Elephant Coffee in Neston, winner of the Café Society’s Gold Award (PIC 4).
Being on his doorstep, Brian headed home shortly after and Steve continued back until meeting the Greenway and heading home to Kelsall. If we’d returned to the Little Roodee it would have made a 62 mile round trip.

1st August 2013: Eccleshall (2013 long ride)

The day promised to be the hottest day in the year so far (in fact since 2003 according to the BBC) so the obvious thing to do is to ride for 100 miles in the heat. Were we put off? - No! There were nine of us starting out at 08:00 at a chilly (18˚ C) Chester station - Martin, Dave P, Dave H, Mike G, Ray, Colin W, Paul, Roy, and myself. To get out of Chester quickly, we take the canal all the way to Waverton. Up Guy Lane we run apace since we are 10 minutes late in meeting up with Jan at Duddon. Out via Utkinton, we take the Tarporley "bypass" to Eaton and thence on to Calveley Lane running parallel to the A51. A quick dash up the A51 takes us off at Barbridge and down Wettenhall and Welshman's Lane to access, via the back streets, the Nantwich café stop. We arrive slightly before they open at 10:00 but we are enthusiastically allowed in from the rear "bike park" door and are soon filling up on calories. 22 miles done 75 to go. Suitably refreshed the route takes us out passed the Secret Bunker turn to the outskirts of Audlem. Skirting the town to the south, we access national cycle route 75 to Norton in Hales. Crossing towards Mucklestone we are now in uncharted territory. The countryside here is gently rolling and turning out of the pretty village of Ashley, we take a long narrow lane to Slindon and Sturbridge on the outskirts of Eccleshall. 
Stomachs are rumbling as we pass through Eccleshall with cries of " Are we nearly there yet?" Well we are, as the Star Inn comes into sight at Cop Mere. 52 miles done, 44 to go. A really welcoming pub this is, who have reserved us a section of the bar following my earlier call. The selection of ale is good, as is the service and the food. 
Although we haven't seen much of the sun until now, it is out in full force as we meander up the lane taking the Bishop's Offley "bypass" via Walk Mill, and then towards Market Drayton. Passing Chipnall, we enter a hidden vale growing elephant grass (for biomass use) in the fields around. I really like this vale and have cycled it a few times now. Into Market Drayton we pass enticing close to the Jules brewery but soldier on to take the long 5 mile lane that takes up to Calverhall. After Ash Magna, we take the back way into Whitchurch. As one café eschews our custom, we find Jacks Café where we are enthusiastically welcomed with waitress service. 
Which way to leave Whitchurch? Why go up the main road when you can take the canal; so the canal ride brings us welcome shade and we end up near to the Malpas turn at Grindley Brook. A few miles from Malpas there is a rifle shot sound and Ray's rear tyre explodes. There is plenty of advice on hand and a patch is applied to the torn side wall, which holds all the way home for Ray. The plan is to meet up at the Carden Arms, so we all storm off from Malpas to Tilston. On counting up, a few are missing as Martin succumbs to a puncture. Nonetheless as he arrives at the pub, we all take a pint in the shade. Jan heads for home via Carden Hill and Tattenhall. We decide to amend the published route to go via Cuddington and Churton back to Chester. Here for some unknown reason (probably the sun getting to our heads) we steam along at c 20mph all the way back to Chester. Martin and Dave Pipe however took a slightly different route from Tilston via Farndon. 

Photographs by Clive Albany

Only 96.5 miles back in Chester, but with over the magic 100 on the dial as I arrive at home after a memorable day's cycling. Oh, just to say that Roy had cycled from Frodsham, so set off back with 130+ on the clock! My thanks to Dave M for the initial route suggestion - some beautiful Staffordshire countryside on display.
PS: They say things come in threes, so I shouldn't have been surprised to find a flat front wheel on my bike the morning after!