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 25 October 2013

24th October 2013: Whitchurch

A couple of thank you: first to all those who gave me their £5 Xmas Lunch deposit, bringing the total number of diners to eighteen.  Secondly to Jim who led today’s ride back in March, but in the opposite direction.  As the pub then was such an excellent choice, it just had to be revisited: more of that later.  I simply copied most of his route onto a very high-tech page from a 3”: 1 mile road atlas. 
It was good to see both Mike M & Dave M at the cafe, even if it was only for coffee.  A new rider from Utkinton “Tish” also joined us for the first 10 miles to Malpas, where she had to turn off; after having read the CER Blogs over recent weeks, she decided to give us a try.  Hopefully we’ll see her again.
George (finally recovered from his SECOND End2End ride), Lizzie, Paul, Ray, Roy, Dave R, Steve and I set off on what promised to be a warm & sunny autumnal day in an anti-clockwise direction through Clutton, Malpas and The two Wyches.  These two villages are said to be named after medieval “wych-elms”, while their larger Roman neighbour “Whitchurch” had a white stone church.  Lunch at The Black Bear, Church Street (01948 663800) opposite the big parish church, again lived up to expectations. On the plus side, drinks and food were both served quickly but a minus point was given to the all-time rip-off £3 for a lime and soda.  £3 was much better spent on a pint of Shroppie Gold, which really was the VERY best pint all year.

Photograph by Brian MacDonald

Shortly after re-starting, we passed the town cemetery that displayed a plaque for “The Commonwealth War Graves Commission”.  I thought that these peaceful places only existed where battles had raged, but here were buried WWll airmen who had died at a Polish hospital to the west of the town.  Continuing NE through Wrenbury, we paused & posed for a photo-stop in front of an unusual mill at Acton.  After 16 miles we adjourned for afternoon tea & cake for the princely sum of 80p at the Metropolitan Knitting Centre Café at Aston-juxta-Mondrum.  Continuing NW through Wettenhall and Eaton, we dropped Lizzie back at Utkinton after 46 miles, George and I stopped at Duddon, while the rest continued to Chester.  All in all, the usual high standard CER day, with sun, gentle wind, good company, fine food and excellent beer.  What more could you ask for?

Friday 18 October 2013

17th October 2013: Handley

Well, here I am writing my first ever blog report, which means I have finally led my first ride. (About time really since I have been cycling with the group for over 3 years.)  I’m still not sure how it came about, though, because when I left home for the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden I had only intended to cycle up to the venue to pay my fiver deposit for the Christmas Lunch ride then wend my way gradually back home through the Cheshire countryside. As I arrived Jim was locking his bike to the railings and said that he only fancied an easy ride and since we live in the same village we decided that we would plot a route home and leave the rest to head off into the hills.
We went in to find Clive, Martin, Bryan, Brian Mac, and Colin already there. Brian Mac was the first to say hello followed quickly by ‘get your wallet out’ and he had soon parted us from our £5 deposits. Jim and I set about plotting our route home and it soon became apparent that several others fancied an easier/shorter ride and suddenly I found myself nominated as the leader. We just had to decide on a suitable lunch stop and the Calveley Arms at Handley was decided upon. Dave P and Liz had arrived on their tandem by this time and just before we were about to leave Dave M turned up but said he wasn’t riding with us and was going to ride straight home. As we climbed onto our bikes Bryan Mac suddenly announced that he had a hospital appointment and promptly rode off in the opposite direction along with our Christmas lunch deposits. (Did anyone get a receipt?). 
The remaining eight of us set off down the Wrexham Road before turning left onto the small road that would take us up the back of Bilberry Wood to the footbridge across the A55. It is quite steep in places and a long gradual climb but I knew that once we reached the top we would have finished climbing for the day (except for the riders returning to Hawarden). After crossing the A55 we turned right then left into Chester Road and continued into Lower Mountain Road by-passing the village of Pen-y-Mynydd. Then a left and right into Sandy Lane and Dave P announced that we were about to pass ‘Jimi Hendrix’. Sure enough in the garden to our right was an old tree trunk that had been carved into the shape of a rock guitarist. No one knows who it is supposed to be but Dave had christened it Jimi Hendrix and I must admit there was a certain resemblance.
From there we turned into Shordley Road and dropped down Cobblers Lane into Burton passing under the A483 and over the railway to emerge in Rossett. At this point several riders expected me to turn right and head up Marford Hill towards Hoseley Bank. I had always turned left here and so I had to assert my authority as leader and we turned left before bearing right towards the Holt road. A quick right again took us down a quiet country lane to emerge onto the Holt Road near the Griffin Inn. I had thought of this as a suitable lunchtime stop but we were far too early. Maybe that’s for another day when we start our ride from the Little Roodee. Another unexpected turn then, when I led them off the Holt road to the right. Someone pointed out that we were now heading away from Holt. Well, yes, slightly but we were heading towards Hoseley Bank which is where they had wanted to go ten minutes before.
At the T-junction on Hoseley Lane Martin turned right to head home and the rest of us turned left. It was then that disaster struck. I had turned round in my saddle to say goodbye to Martin and as a result I think I was in too high a gear for the incline. I tried to change down but in doing so my chain broke. Closer inspection showed that the powerlink had broken. A fairly easy thing to replace - except that I didn’t have one. Up steps Jim to the rescue. He has one for an 8-speed bike. Mine is a 9-speed but the consensus is that it should work and at least get me home. However after placing one half of it in one end of the chain I manage to drop the other half where it disappeared into the fallen leaves. Another disaster! So now I have a power link made up of half 9-speed and half 8-speed but at least we are moving again.
We turned left back towards Holt through Commonwood and arrived in the village close to Hildegard’s. We couldn’t pass Hildegard’s without going in and time was getting on. We solved that dilemma by turning just before the café and took the back road down to the bridge to cross the River Dee into England. We turned left towards Churton then right to Coddington and left again towards Handley. Final we arrived in Handley – a delightful village spoilt only by the fact that Scottish Power seemed to have most of it dug up.
At the Calveley Arms we found that we were behind a large party and had to wait half an hour for our food but the conversation flowed and the time passed quickly. Three of the group had cars parked back at Hawarden so rather than have to cycle through the middle of Chester Dave, Liz & Colin decided to retrace our route back to the start. The four of us remaining made our way back towards Chester via Tattenhall and Waverton. Bryan and Clive peeled off at Christleton and Jim and I made our own way home. A pleasant slow-paced ride on a pleasant sunny autumn day yet we still managed a round trip of 43 miles. 

Friday 11 October 2013

10th October 2013: Shrewsbury

The weather was perfect; bright skies, lots of sunshine and a northerly headwind - an autumn day to relish riding down, for most riders, new country lanes - what's not to like about this ride! So a cyclist's dozen of bikes with 12 riders (Liz, Martin, Liz & Dave, Petar, Steve, Dave M, Bryan, Brian, Ray, Andy and I) congregated at the Sleap Airfield café overlooking runway 05-23. Bacon sandwiches and coffee set us up for a 47 miler calling at Shrewsbury for lunch at the Coach and Horses on Swan Hill. 

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

There were so many small villages and hamlets on this ride that I have chosen not to name them all including the blogger's eponymously named village that we cycled through, but the photo tells all. On an easterly loop out, I manage not to disappoint the group in finding a tiny lane to Stanton upon Hine Heath; it was metalled once about 25 years ago! The countryside is open and rolling with high-hedged lanes protecting us from the wind. Turning south to Ellerdine Heath, I deviate from the planned route to ensure we end up in Shrewsbury on time. We wiggle our way to Upton Magna and here, at the confluence of NCR 81 and 45, we take the 81 right into the town centre. My bike nav is playing up, but luckily Andy has been this way before so at Uffington he correctly accesses the former railway line towards the banks of the River Severn. We cycle right on along the river bank for nearly a mile exiting right by Swan Hill. 

Thanks to Clive for this one
The Coach and Horses pub was chosen on the advice of Brian's mate, who is a Shrewsbury pub aficionado. He wasn't wrong; a group table was laid up for us whilst we park our bikes behind an office block. There is a good choice of ale and food, and soon seated, the food arrives promptly. Back down Swan Hill, we continue a leisurely cycle along the river bank before walking across the bridge to begin our Shrewsbury exit route. There next follows quite a lot of thankfully quiet main road, although it is still the NCR81. At Montfort Bridge, we get back onto country roads bound for Baschurch. From here, the looping lane to Myddle sets us up for returning to Sleap café. The chocolate cake is demolished and Christmas Lunch deposits expertly extracted by Brian. A perfect ride to finish off the "summer" season.

Thursday 3 October 2013

3rd October 2013: Delamere

The weather forecast was dreadful, and the thought of being drenched in the hills above Chirk did not appeal. So given that there was a fine weather window locally, a modified Roodee ride was cobbled together this morning at 07:30. The idea was to meet at the Roodee but cycle out to the end of the Greenway to sample the new café at Meadow Lea Farm before then riding in a loop not too far from home, just in case the deluge came earlier than expected. The café is in a brand new building and the fare was good - perhaps an alternative start point for Roodee or Manley rides? So Dave H, Dave R, Steve, Ivan, Andy and I set off bound for Delamere station café for lunch. Liz and Martin were back from their high altitude training in Bolivia and Peru, but were only out for coffee today. 
It was not an obvious route out in that we went north to Cheshire Oaks Cycles then down the aptly named Oil Sites Road to Ince and Elton. "Are we going over the marshes" - "No, we're going to Manley!" So over the motorway we go, then up onto the Avanley Road past Manley School and onto to the Delamere forest road. At the junction at Hatchmere, I turn left to cries of "the cafe is the other way". All in good time! We now ride down two idyllic lanes (except for White Van Man!) towards Crowton, then back round the loop through Norley to Hatchmere again and, this time, turn left to the Delamere Station cafe arriving around 13:00 with 25 miles completed. 
Anxious not to push our weather luck, we leave before 14:00 bound for Kelsall via Eddisbury Hill. In Kelsall, Steve drops off to go home, while I notice that Dave H is missing. Apparently, he wanted to make his own way back to Mickle Trafford where his car was parked. We now head for Mickle Trafford via Oscroft (where Dave R heads for Waverton) and then Barrow. There was a little rain in the air now, but as Andy, Ivan and I enter Mickle Trafford on the A56, the heavens open and the promised heavy rain has now arrived. Andy presses on to take the Greenway whilst Ivan offers to run me home from his house where we are now bound. He was locked out (don't ask), apologies profusely, but there was nothing for it for me now to press on in the rain while Ivan headed for the Royal Oak to keep warm and out of the rain. The route was 39 miles and as I arrived home early at 15:00, I decided to wash the bike there and then - the first time in what seems months.

PS: Please ensure you have registered for the Shrewsbury Special Ride next week.