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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Saturday 29 March 2014

27th March 2014: Hanmer (mod)

A good-sized group of 15 assembled at Hildegard’s for the usual effusive welcome. Dave M was in short ride mode and set off for home the long way.  Clive, Ivan and Paul set off for a brisk ride southwards, while the remaining group of Mike G, Bryan, Ray, Andy, Tom, Steve H, Dave H, George, Dave & Liz P, and Jim set off for a moderate ride to Hanmer. We were a little disconcerted to be informed that the Hanmer Arms had recently undergone refurbishment and might not be open. However, plans had been made so we set off optimistically down the lanes towards Ridleywood, Sutton Green and Bangor on Dee. The weather was chilly but dry and we looked forward to a reasonable day. However, we had overlooked the fact that after a very wet winter the local farmers had all set out to get the spring ploughing done while the weather was dry. Consequently, the lanes were covered with a layer of glutinous mud that found it’s way into the gap between tyre and mudguard, and quickly became an irritation in both noise and drag terms. The first of a number of stops took place while we poked around with bits of stick to clear away the offending material.
Leaving Bangor on Dee, we continued southwards to Penley and Hampton Wood. Turning too soon out of Penley, we had to cross the very steep little valley by Brookmill, but pressed on regardless through Hampton Wood towards Bettisfield. 
Turning back northwards we soon reached Hanmer Mere and the Hanmer Arms. To our relief the pub was open for business and offering an exceptional choice of ales and reasonably priced soda & limes. The food was well cooked and priced, and we were soon back on the road, after once again clearing huge gobs of mud from our machines.  We crossed the A525 at Eglwys Cross, and followed the signs for Higher and Lower Wych: always a grind crossing the valley.  Keeping to the west of Malpas, we passed Cuddington Heath, and Chorlton Lane before entering the last part of the journey through Shocklach and Farndon. Ray, Mike G and Andy left us here and a few minutes later the heavens opened!  We had a tasty coffee and cake back at Hildegard’s before setting off home.  A mainly dry ride of 37 miles, or 60 for those from Chester.

27th March 2014: Ellesmere (brisk)

Is it that I’m getting lazy as I get older, or, is it that I am applying the wisdom of advancing years? It was obviously the latter as I selected on the fly, a May 2010 Bryan route to Ellesmere. It was Bryan who introduced me to this myriad of Shropshire lanes and every time I ride them I am content: whatever the weather. The "Three Cycleteers”, a.k.a. Paul R, Ivan and myself, set off via the dirty lanes to Bangor on Dee. Up and out we head for Cloy and Sandy Lane. We then cycle through the quaintly named Cricketts (new and old) via Dudleston Heath, then onto the Franktons via Perthy, and finally into the Red Lion in Ellesmere. 
As ever the Red Lion does not disappoint. I decide to amend the route back so we set off bound for Welshampton and veer off left proceeding NE to the Hanmer Arms. It’s just past 14:00 and we espy an unruly crowd of cyclists discharging from the pub. Oh no, it’s the Moderate Group! After exchanging pleasantries like “ How was the food” we decide not to hang around and head off north, bound via Little Arowy for the outskirts of Threapwood. A right down Back Lane then finds us at Cuddington Green. If we had taken the route back to Holt via Shocklach we would have ridden 45 miles, but we decide to head for Chorlton and Edge Green ready for the slow climb up to Brown Knowle. At Bolesworth, the rain and hail arrives with a vengeance, and we hammer away with it stinging our faces on our way to the Ice Cream Farm for a cuppa at 15:30. It tries to rain a little more as we exit Christleton bound for our homes. 
The Three Cycleteers managed 70-75 miles each at 15mph, and the rain held off for most of the day, and the Shropshire lanes remain attractive whatever the weather.

Saturday 22 March 2014

20th March 2014: Aston (mod)

A hardy group of five, consisting of Dave P, Dave H, Mike G, Bryan and Jim, assembled at Rose Farm, despite the strong winds and forecast of heavy rain.  With no respite promised from the SW wind all day, a route was planned to mitigate the worst effects by heading south towards the Bhurtpore Inn at Aston for a fairly stiff morning, but followed by a wind assisted return-maybe!
The route out took us through Rhuddall Heath, and Bunbury, and to the east of the A49 to Brindley. Heading towards Nantwich we then went south through Ravensmoor, Sound and Wrenbury Heath. The direct route to Aston took us past Woodcotthill Farm, a lane that has in the past proved somewhat muddy. We were fortunate that the track had dried out a fair bit in the last few weeks, and after a short walk, we were back in the saddle and speeding over the last 500 yards to lunch. As usual, the curries were tasty and some of us enjoyed the local brews.  Dave P, not wanting to waste any remaining Poppadoms, cleared the plate, and we set off north-eastwards for the return. The rain started soon after leaving Aston, but as expected it was mainly behind us. Skirting Chorley Bank and Larden Green, we soon picked up our outward route back to Bunbury, and a brief stop at Tilly’s.
Mike and Dave P went their separate ways from here and the three of us headed back to Tarporley in steadily increasing rain.
Back at Rose Farm we loaded up the cars, fortunately in a brief dry spell and set off for home. 
35 miles, or about 60 from Chester.

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Mike Morley 1944 to 2014

It is with great sadness that I must report that Mike Morley, a founder member of Chester Easy Riders (CER), passed away peacefully on Sunday morning.  Mike had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer last summer and yet in a manner so characteristic of him he continued to join the group for morning coffee whenever he could; his ready smile and humour brightening our day.  Mike’s humour was also in evidence on his Twitter feed with his last tweet just days before he passed away.  
Mike spent his life in Chester; he attended the old Chester City Grammar School before joining Nationwide where he worked for nearly 30 years, was a Partner with Yates & Co and finally spent the last few years working part-time with Cestrian Financial Planning Services.  His passion though was for Chester FC and he still managed to attend the occasional match throughout his illness.  
Mike Morley, Swettenham ride May 2009
He was a lifetime cyclist starting at an early age.  He rode with C&NW CTC, led rides for the Chester Section, led groups on the annual Vets’ 100 and contributed regularly to C&NW CTC Link magazine.  He helped run CTC and charity events, encouraged others to take up cycling, and over the last five years was heavily involved in Bikeability training to local school children.
Within CER I remember Mike for his humour, unchallengeable knowledge of local hostelries, and great rides.  When Mike was leading you knew you were in for an interesting day.  Mike led two of my all time most memorable rides: first his ride to Goostrey on 29th April 2010 exploring all the lanes he could find to return cold, wet and sodden but still smiling with 70 miles clocked and second his Pistyll Rhaeadr hilly epic on 2nd September 2010.  Both were superb.
Mike was above all a great friend to all who knew him.  Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.
Thanks for everything Mike, we will certainly miss you.
Bryan Wade

Mike Morley's funeral will be on Friday, 28 March at 13:45 pm at St Oswald's Church, Church Lane, Backford, Chester.  Then on to the crematorium and finally for a glass or two in celebration of his life.  Josie and her family have said that they would like it to be a celebration of Mike's life and have asked that people wear bright clothes.  Donations to the Pancreatic Cancer Charity.

Saturday 15 March 2014

13th March 2014: Gronant (brisk)

A crowd of CER met at The Gallery where I had planned a fast ride to Denbigh.  So I set off west on a cold foggy day looking for the sun, along with Clive, Ray and Steve, also looking for a faster ride.  Once on top of Halkyn Mountain, the cold mist was blown away to reveal a sunny 15˚ C.  Glorious weather, the warmth made up for the fast pace.  
Unfortunately, for the third week in a row, after an hour my gears refused to move from the top two cogs, despite repeated visits to C O C to adjust/fix/cure it. Delayed now and as both Clive & Ray did not want to be too late home, it was agreed Denbigh was miles too far, so Plan B was started.  Past Babel, we crossed over the A55 on a footbridge at Rhuallt Hill, before dropping down into Dyserth, where the fog arose again.  
A fast descent on the old rail track which now doubles as the northern end of Offa’s Dyke path, took us into the CBD of Prestatyn.  It seemed to be closed, save for a car-boot sale in the old goods yard.  Continuing east along the North Wales coast, we crossed the links golf course and exited onto the old coast road at Gronant for our lunch stop.  Cheap & Cheerful was best way to describe The Bells of St Mary’s Carvery at LL19 9TB.  They don’t take bookings as its pile it high and sell it cheap.  The one real ale was dearer than the carvery + all-you-can-eat veg & spuds.

Photograph by Brian Mac

Suitably stuffed with food, we chose the easy option home along the monotonous A548 Coast road through downtown Mostyn, Greenfield and Flint.  Here we had a bomb burst as Ray & Clive went over the “new” Dee bridge (if you look close at the photo, you can just see them). Steve set off for Hawarden and Brian Mac to Wetherspoons.  A hilly, fast, hot and cold 48 miles in total back to the cafe.

Friday 14 March 2014

13th March 2014: Gwaenysgor (mod)

Brian Mac’s promise of a ‘fairly flat’ ride to Denbigh was greeted with some scepticism by the moderate group of Andy, Dave H, George (back in the fold after an extended Xmas and New Year), Mike G, Jim and new recruit Tom.
A shorter ride to The Eagle and Child at Gwaenysgor was agreed upon and we set off to follow the usual route through Ewloe, Northop and Halkyn.  The cold anti-cyclonic gloom stayed with us right across the top of the ridge and only a few minutes of sunlight graced the rest of the journey down through Brynford, Gorsedd, Whitford and Llanasa. 
The warmth of the Eagle and Child was very welcome as we perused the menu, and after a very pleasant meal set off for the return.
The usual route through Babell was discarded in favour of a less hilly alternative to the north of the A55 through Trelawnyd, past Llyn Helyg, through Lloc and back to Gorsedd and Brynford. We then headed south up to Windmill, Halkyn and Rhosesmoor to drop back down to Northop and retrace our route out. We arrived back at Hawarden just after the café had closed and had to set off home without the customary cake and coffee.
An undulating 43 mile ride, or 63 for those from Chester. Not much in the way of sun to speak of, but at least we didn’t overheat.   

Tuesday 11 March 2014

6th March 2014: Churton (mod)

The staff were friendly, and it was warm and comfortable at the Windsurfing Centre. Those favouring a less demanding ride were Jim, Petar, Keith, Liz & Dave P and myself. We decided that it would be easier not to ride in the direction of the Weaver for once, but to ensure a returning tailwind and fewer hills by cycling south. The provisional route was Jim's. Dave Matthews wasn't planning a full ride today, as he was breaking-in his summer shoes for Morocco. Evidently these shoes are made to order by Jimmy Choo using the specially selected scrotum skins of forty-four meerkats. They are then perforated by hand 1,500 times by Jimmy's Auntie Lill with a darning needle over a period of eleven weeks, and, finally, cured in conker vinegar. Nevertheless, Dave kindly offered to lead us until close to Tattenhall. 
We used the A56 to Mickle Trafford to avoid possible roadworks on the lanes. Dave left us at Waverton for Tilly's, and we were soon meandering around Greenlooms heading for Tattenhall via Hargrave. Liz pointed out a lovely, large circle of crocuses planted around a tree in a Tattenhall garden. We crossed the A41 turning right at Chowley and cruised through Coddington, reaching Churton in good time.
The food at the White Horse was very nice and the service prompt and friendly. The landlady shone a lamp down a very deep glass covered well for us. It was actually in the rear dining room where we were sitting. However when we came to pay some of us finished up paying more than we had thought. Perhaps VAT had not been added to the menu or the lager was really liquid gold! 
We returned by the back Aldford route past the lovely estate cottages with their tall and handsome chimney stacks. One was a work of art with its red bricks spiralling into the sky like sticks of high-class barley sugar. We turned right at Bruera and cruised back through Gatesheath, Huxley and Hoofield, then past the café at The Fifty Pence shop and the small nursery. I can recommend the café, I had a mountain of beans on toast and a pot of tea there earlier in the week for less than half a crown. From Old Moss Farm we circumnavigated Tarvin via Oscroft, and were soon humming along the excellent road surface to Hollowmoor Heath, Little Barrow, Long Green and Dunham Heath. Dave Pipe seemed happy that I had persuaded him that we didn't have to grind around Kelsall's lumpy terrain to reach Manley Mere. 
The lanes had been quiet, our pace had been pretty good, and we had been able to relax and smell the flowers. We had time to put the world to rights over cake and coffee, and then went on our separate ways.  Just over 40 easy riding miles.

Friday 7 March 2014

6th March 2014: Wybunbury (brisk)

Earlier in the year I had downloaded all 180 CER routes (to end November 2013). Via the magic of 3G, Dropbox and Apple, and whilst drinking my coffee, it was easy to scan through any route starting from Manley Mere. It was obvious that two groups were needed so Brian, Ivan, Ray, Stephen, Dave R and myself set off bound roughly for the other side of Nantwich - details to be finalised as we approached the town. I was using, as a guide, the October 2009 route to Barthomley (all 83 m!). Out towards Mouldsworth, Brian realised he was minus a water bottle, so the route was adjusted to go to the shops in Kelsall via Ashton. We then take the Old Coach Road up Kelsall Hill and turn right by the Farmers Arms bound for Summertrees. Brian is struggling a bit, and it transpires that his gears aren’t working properly despite C.O.C. “servicing" them after last week's similar issues. So he heads for home as we continue along the top to Tirley Hill and then down through the lanes to Cotebrook. The way is then straight to Wettenhall via Rushton. To break the lane familiarity, at Cholmondeston we turn left, and then head south on the main drag towards Nantwich but hang a right through Aston-juxta-Mondrum to arrive eventually at Welshmen’s Lane a.k.a. the back lane into Nantwich town.  A quick pow-wow here establishes that lunch is needed sooner rather than later. So over the water meadows it is, then an easy run to Wybunbury. 
After 28m, we arrive at “the other pub”, the Red Lion - this is the pub Ivan intended us to go to when we came this way back in September 2013 but we went to the Swan instead! The food was plentiful with good ale, and, fortified with two courses, we head back onto the dry, cool but dry lanes bound for Hough. We turn west to run parallel back into Nantwich exiting over the water meadows to take the lane to Ravensmoor. Half way along we turn right up Dig Lane and onwards to Swanley. A left towards Larden Green finds us peeling off right and up Whitehaven Lane. A left and a right along the A534 takes us towards Bunbury. We decide to head for the Ice Cream Farm café and taking the first left we arrive on the A49 just south of Spurstow. Here it is a familiar ride back to the ICF arriving around 15:30. As no one needs to get back to Manley, we head back the usual way home. If we had gone back to Manley, it would have been a 63 miler with no rain and dry roads but little sun. Chester riders would have had 75 mile on the clock today.

Saturday 1 March 2014

27th February 2014: Llangollen

The ride from Alyn Waters was planned with the slower riders in mind with the intention of enjoying the views over the Dee Valley from the Panorama Walk with the minimum effort possible. Not an easy task as the gain in height to Panorama Walk is 700 feet. However selecting the steadiest gradients, avoiding any unnecessary descents, and limiting the mileage to a sensible 16 miles to lunch plus a flat return via the Llangollen canal path seemed a practical solution. 
Eight of us met at the Alyn Waters café. Not enough to practically split into two groups so the slow ride was accepted by all. Bryan W had ridden out from home just for the chat leaving Clive, Brian Mac, Steve, David H, Jim and Dave & Liz on the tandem to set out for the hills.
We headed through the western suburbs of Wrexham and Rhostyllen to cross the bridge over the A483 and emerge into countryside and start the climbing. By Penycae Clive was starting to feel the cold and decided to continue on a longer ride at a brisker pace, and shortly afterwards Brian Mac decided his slipping gears were too annoying and warranted a return visit to his cycle mechanic. 
The weather forecast was for a sunny morning and showers in the afternoon. As we approached Panorama Walk sure enough the sun broke out of the black clouds that had threatened all morning and left us with splendid views over the Dee Valley and Castell Dinas. A good excuse for a stop to admire the views and a quick photograph.

Photograph by Dave Pipe

The sharp descent down the 1 in 5 past Castell Dinas was covered safely and after 2 hours of hard but enjoyable riding we arrived at the Corn Mill in Llangollen. The table for five in the conservatory with splendid views of the Dee in full spate and good food and beer compensated for the above average pricing of this establishment.
The afternoon rain had started during our lunch stop but had cleared as we prepared to leave. Dave H spotted a shortcut to the canal that looked promising until we arrived at 20 or so steep steps to the canal path. Not daunted the bikes were shouldered and the tandem manhandled up the steps and the gentle ride commenced along the canal path and across the Pont Cysyllt Aquaduct to pick up the canal path again for the last mile to Pentre for the run back via the B5605 and the lanes by Erdigg to retrace the outward route around Wrexham for the last few miles.
A total of 32 miles with a 700 foot climb and splendid views.