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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 31 January 2014

30th January 2014: Chelford

It was a raw and a very grey day but dry: a rare event, being dry that is, this January. I’d been looking for ride inspiration and found the May 2011 ride to Little Warford. That day, I recall, had been very wet indeed. I looked at the route and modified it to go to Chelford, and added in a few twists and turns to skirt the edges of Northwich, Middlewich and Winsford. So eight of us set off (Paul R, Ray, Paul W, Roy, Stephen, Dave H, Ivan and myself) for the 26m outward leg via Little Budworth village. The road bridge at Whitegate Way was closed off, but we squeezed through to take the right at Marton into Salterswall. Here we skirted the town through drab suburbia to exit at Clive Green bound for more suburbia at Middlewich. Paul R peels off, needing to get back in the early afternoon. Finally, we are back into countryside along the Dane Valley Way towards Goostrey. Here, Dave decides we are not going to get back before sunset, so peels off. He needn’t have worried since we get back to Rose Farm by 15:30. More fresh lanes find us arriving at the Egerton Arms on the main road East of Knutsford. What a find! They allocate us a table, by a radiator, take our food and beer order at the table, and bring it all in double quick time; and it was very good and it was a busy pub to boot. Worth a re-visit in the summer, methinks. 

Photograph by Clive Albany

It hasn’t warmed up (about 3˚C) as we travel towards Knutsford, and at Ollerton, turn SW on the run to Lower Peover and Lach Dennis. It’s a fast run to Davenham, and then a ride along the side of the busy dual carriageway towards Sandiway. Here the only excitement of the day occurs as Stephen repairs a broken chain link. Along Cuddington Lane, Roy points out Gary Barlow’s former stately pile - is this the second piece of excitement I ask myself? No reply comes back. At the Vale Royal Abbey Arms, Roy peels off bound for Runcorn, and Ivan heads directly home for an early shower. Soon Stephen heads up Heaths Lane hill bound for home, and we remaining three get back to Rose Farm at 15:30 after 50 very cold, but dry miles. Ray and I motor for Chester, and arriving back home an hour later, I find I’ve clocked up a satisfying 77 miles.

Friday 24 January 2014

23rd January 2014: Cilcain

Ray led out Dave H and Brian (who agreed to do the write-up) from The Gallery through Northop, over Halkyn Mountain and down to Lixwm.   The village was said to have been given it’s unusual name by miners who moved to the area from Derbyshire; in their dialect "likesome", or "licksome", was an adjective meaning "pleasant”.  At 3˚C temperature and 22 mph westerlies today, "pleasant” was not how I would describe the area. After a brief sprint along the A541 Mold road, we turned south into the hills for Cilcain, It was only a short ride to the White Horse Inn at Cilcain arriving at the pub for opening time, where we were able to relax over a pint and a cuppa and a choice of hot food and babs.  And superb ginger sponge and custard.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

Over lunch, Brian tried his David Bailey skills – the results are attached.  Beer & Lunch was served quickly, unlike last week.  The Smithy House opposite dates from 1572 and the lintel was a log that had solidified like marble.

After an hour in front of the log fire, we reluctantly continued south to Llanarmon, before joining the Corwen road at Rhydtalog for the very fast descent down to Penyffordd.  We turned back north through Bilberry Wood, across the footbridge over the A55 for the final run back to Hawarden, where Dave H left us.  Gallery afternoon tea completed, Ray and I continued with the wind behind us down to the Queensferry Bridge, where we went our separate ways.  Well, we may not have covered many miles but with the wind against us on the way out we deserved some treats!  A round trip from Hawarden of 34 miles on a dry and sunny winter’s day.

Saturday 18 January 2014

16th January 2014: Bickerton

I’m glad I phoned the intended lunch pub on Tuesday night to warn them about us coming today – I said I would confirm definite numbers at 10:30 on Thurs morning, which I did.  The Cunning Plan was to ride a giant O, clockwise to The Bickerton Poacher, but we ended up as a Capital D.  But more of that later.  All my recent rides as leader have had sunny weather and today was no different.  With a large cash win at Christmas in my local pub quiz, plus a sunny dry day forecast, I felt on top of the world today.  The prospect of some of this (sun, not cash) rubbing off onto the others resulted in eleven turning out, which I think is a record for this time of year.  Andy, Clive, Borneo Dominic & his Pop, Dave’s M & H, Jim, Ray, Steve, Trevor & yours truly. 

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

The morning ride of 24 miles went without incident, travelling clockwise through Delamere Forest, Cotebrook, Oulton Park, Wettenhall and dog-legged the A51 to Bunbury.  We then crossed the A49 at Spurstow and continued SW to arrive at the pub just a few minutes late.  
I had cribbed this route from a previous one of three years ago that I had not ridden and simply reversed the direction.  Likewise I chose The Bickerton Poacher as I had often heard of it but had never visited.  If the landlady had told at 10:30 this morning that there were going to be 25 – 30 “poachers” in front of us, I would have chosen elsewhere on the day.  A 70 minute wait for our food when winter daylight is limited, was simply met with more beer drinking.  When the food came, comments I heard were “small portions for the price” and “fish & chips in the fryer too long”.  I for one will not be returning.
Leaving at 14:20, I upped the pace back in a northerly direction, shedding riders left & right as we passed Peckforton & Beeston Castles, Huxley and one of 2 Cheshire Burtons, Gowy as opposed to Burton in Wirral. 
Continuing North through the Tarvin Metropolis, we passed both the Great & Little Barrows (I couldn’t see any difference in size).  Finishing back at Manley, we still had time to ride home in daylight, having clocked 39 miles at an average of 12.9 mph.  And riders thanked me with a smile on their face, which makes it all worthwhile.

Friday 10 January 2014

9th January 2014: Overton Bridge

It’s been wet and miserable every day this week but the forecast for today is that it should clear up and stay dry from mid morning onwards.  It was probably this forecast that encouraged eight of us to turn out for a hilly ride from Alyn Waters Country Park where we met for tea and toast.  By 10:30 the numbers were complete: Steve, Brian Mac, the two Pauls, Ray, Clive, Andy and myself.  Being the only one with the outline of a route, albeit short and hilly, it was agreed that I would lead although mainly from the back on the hilly parts!  At this point Clive and Paul R announced that they wouldn’t be joining us, as they needed to get back early and would do a short ride back to Chester.
It was still overcast when we left the Country Park to cross the main road and start the climb up Windy Hill.  By the top of the climb a layer of clothes had been shed and we joined the long drag up “the steps” to Minera under a brightening sky.  After a short rest to allow me to recover from the exertions of the climb we continued on to New Brighton to start the lovely downhill run along the winding lane with wonderful views across the Cheshire Plain to the Peckforton/Bickerton hills.  A sharp right just before Talwrn puts us on the road to Penycae with the sun shining and practically no traffic.  In Penycae we take the Ruabon road and before long find ourselves navigating a sea of thorns strewn across the road from recent hedge trimming.  Then just past the Wynstanley Arms in Ruabon Andy punctures.  While Andy works to change his front wheel inner tube the rest of us stand around discussing the pros and cons of different tyres.

Photograph by Brian MacDonald

At this point we decide to shorten the ride by heading directly for our planned lunch stop at the Cross Foxes pub at Overton Bridge arriving at about 12:45.  There’s a good choice of ales, although not all are “on”, necessitating a visit to the cellar before we are all served with our respective choices.  The pub is popular and it takes a while for the food to appear but whether it was a sandwich, wrap or “main” all were well received.
By 14:00 we were ready to leave, taking the main road towards Overton before turning off to Bangor on Dee and then Cross Lanes.  Here Ray leaves us to head back to Chester via Farndon and Holt.  The remaining members of the group continue on towards Wrexham skirting the town before crossing the A483 on the footbridge and thence back to Alyn Waters for coffee and cake.
A short but hilly ride with friends clocking up just over 30 odd miles but with 800 m of ascent.

Sunday 5 January 2014

2nd January 2014: Bangor on Dee

Happy New Year to all readers of the Chester Easy Riders blog. The New Year had started in Chester with the prospect of strong winds and driving rain – not the best conditions for cycling. But what a difference a day makes. Thursday the 2nd was a calm, dry day with the prospect of sunshine – a perfect day for our second ride of 2014.
I rode to the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall with an idea in my head for a 36 mile cycle to the Buck Hotel at Bangor on Dee. It was a ride we had done about 3 years ago and since only 4 members had turned up on that occasion I reckoned that not many would remember it. On this occasion 8 people turned up these being Clive, Martin, Ray, Roy, Paul W, Petar, Stephen and me (Trevor). Over tea and coffee (our usual fare of toast/toasted teacakes was dispensed with due to the over-indulgence of the Christmas festivities) it was decided that I would lead the ride. I suspected however that due to my lack of recent cycling I would end up leading from the back. (My excuse being that I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose anyone at the back).
We turned right out of the Ice Cream Farm and circled round the back of Tattenhall heading for the rear of Bolesworth Estate then right towards Brown Knoll. Then over to the Old Coach Road, following it until it turned towards the A41 at No Man’s Heath. From here we headed towards Malpas joining up with cycle route 70 down Mastiff Lane. At this point we realised that we would be arriving at the Buck Hotel to early so we turned left heading towards Lower Wych, Tallarn Green and Holly Bush before turning back towards Bangor on Dee.
The Buck offers a value-for-money “Over 55” menu: a two-course meal plus coffee and a real ale pint for under £10. However we were good again and all opted for something from the “light-bites” menu instead.
My plan was to head back to Tattenhall via Worthenbury, Shocklach, Tilston, and Coddington. However with the weather still holding up (we hadn’t seen so much of the sun since summer) we cycled beyond Worthenbury turning left towards Chorlton and Kidnal before crossing back over the A41 at Edge Green. It was on the hill up to Duckington that we had our only unfortunate incident of the day. On the mud-and-leaf strewn road Martin suffered wheel-slip and fell off taking Clive with him. Fortunately no one suffered any injury and after minor adjustment to Martin’s brake lever we carried on.
We crossed our morning’s route out and circled the south edge of Bickerton Hill to join the A534. We made a short dash down the main road to the Bickerton Poacher before returning to the Ice Cream Farm via Peckforton and Beeston. The extensions to my route added up to a 42 mile ride and made a great start to the year. Thanks to Clive for navigating the diversions on his fancy gadget that saved me from having to keep stopping to look at my map.  

Thursday 2 January 2014

1st January 2014: Tilston

It’s the start of the New Year and looking out of the bedroom window this morning I was delighted to see that, although overcast, the weather was dry and there was no frost.  The forecast was for some wind and rain from 11:00 onwards but it didn’t sound too bad.  That was it then, decision made; it was off to the New Year’s Day meet at The Carden Arms in Tilston via the Blue Moon Café.  By 10:00 as I was preparing to leave home it started spotting with rain.  By 10:15 on the way to the Blue Moon it was definitely raining!  With one bike parked outside when I arrived I guessed that I could at least count on some company on the ride to Tilston.  I joined David Mathews with a cup of tea and we chatted while watching the rain get heavier.  By 10:45 David decided that he was going home to get changed and then drive to Tilston!  I decided to cycle: it’s only rain after all.
Leaving the warmth of the Blue Moon I headed through Handbridge to take Lache Lane south to Dodleston and on to Pulford.  By now the wind was picking up, the rain was unrelenting and progress was slow.  A left in Lavister took me onto the exposed road to Holt straight into the wind driven rain, making riding distinctly unpleasant and leaving me wondering if I shouldn’t have tried an alternative route.  In Holt I resisted the temptation to stop for a coffee in Hildegard’s and crossed the swollen River Dee into Farndon to take the usual route along Wetreins Lane to Tilston in the continuing rain.
There were no more than a dozen bikes outside the Carden Arms this year, clearly demonstrating the effect of the adverse conditions.  In my case sodden gloves that when rung out released a waterfall of rainwater and “waterproof” cycling boots that squelched at the slightest movement.

Photographs by Sue Booth

Inside a goodly number of CTC Chester Section members had just arrived and were drying themselves out.  Numbers from the other groups: Mold, Wrexham, Two Mills and Wednesday were sadly few in number this year.  Food was limited to stew or stew but proved to be both appetising and warming.  Just right for a day like this.
After an hour and a half of chat catching up with the latest news and gossip it was time to leave.  By now the rain had stopped and I joined the Chester group for the ride back.  With Sue leading and the wind behind us we made good progress to complete a memorable first ride of 2014 with 35 miles done.