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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Monday 29 September 2014

25th September 2014: Tattenhall (mod)

With other commitments in the afternoon I hadn’t intended to go on the ride, far less lead it. When I left home for the Gallery Coffee Shop in Hawarden I had only intended to cycle up to the venue to start collecting deposits for the Christmas Lunch ride then wend my way gradually back home through the Cheshire countryside. George didn’t want a hard ride into the Welsh hills and asked if he could tag along and when I mentioned that I would be going through Farndon Dave M said he would join us as he had left his car there. Before I knew it there were five of us, so by default I became the leader. George, Dave M, Dave H, Steve and I set off with the intention of lunching at Hildegard’s in Farndon. (We were briefly joined by Mike who soon disappeared into the distance as he had somewhere he needed to be.)
We 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. We then took a left and right into Sandy Lane before turning 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 I surprised several riders by turning left (They had expected me to turn right and head up Marford Hill towards Hoseley Bank) before bearing right towards the Holt road. A quick right again took us down a quiet country lane to emerge onto the Holt Road. A long straight road (fortunately with the wind at our backs) and a left turn brought us into Farndon where Dave M was reunited with his car. As it was not yet mid-day the remaining four decided to continue on to Tattenhall for lunch.
From Farndon we crossed the River Dee into England. We turned left towards Churton then right to Coddington and left again towards Handley. Then it was up to Chowley Oak and across the A41 to Tattenhall where we stopped for lunch at the Sportsman’s Arms. After lunch I took off my leader’s hat to make my way straight home for a 43-mile ride leaving the other three to explore the Cheshire countryside. 

Photograph by Steve Haywood

It had been a long lunch break at The Sportsman's Arms, but the food was good and the service friendly. The back room was filled with what appeared to be a local old buffers' gathering, which no doubt delayed our service. We appeared to be sitting in an area that had been a butcher's shop, but faux bookcases now replaced pig's heads. This didn't stop Trevor giving us the chop! He had not planned to ride today, and needed to return home. His morning route had been idyllic. 
For the afternoon we were grateful for Steve taking the lead on a sort-of-agreed route. Near to Beeston we met Mike who had been doing his own extra loop, but rejoined us as we headed for Bunbury. At Bunbury we inadvertently disturbed the filming of a new ITV Second World War drama called Home Fires. Mike's raucous laugh disturbed their sound track, and then he had a little chat to one of the female actors! To be fair, four cyclists brainlessly pedalling through a 1940's scene wasn't our cleverest moment, regardless of Mike's unwitting insouciance. The cast seemed friendly, perhaps too nonplussed to be angry!  Anyway, we were soon spinning along to Wettenhall via Alpraham, and then briskly to Rushton and Cotebrook. The four of us agreed that we had forgotten how demanding the climb was to Utkinton. This was partly due to the brisk pace that Steve was setting. Many of the roads in the area had been resurfaced since last year, making progress smoother and faster. 
At Willington Corner we decided to try and make the cafe at the Mickle Trafford end of The Greenway before it closed. We really had to go for it, swooshing down through Oscroft, and moving properly fast down the A51, and then tore through Guilden Sutton. We were dripping, but made it!  We enjoyed our well-earned coffee and cake. Steve headed back to Kelsall and Mike, George and myself cruised down The Greenway back to Wales. A great day in excellent company: easy riding in the morning and some pacey training in the afternoon. 62 miles Hawarden to Hawarden, 70 or so for George, more for Mike and Steve.

25th September 2014: Meliden (brisk)

There were a surprising number at the Gallery this week, but six of us set off as the Brisk Group (Ivan, Ray, Colin, Tom, Martin and Clive) bound for Meliden. “Where?” you ask - near Dyserth and Prestatyn. Ivan had led a ride this way recently, but it soon became clear that my route was not the same as his. 
We headed for Alltami then the back lane to Sychdyn, taking the exhilarating run down to the A541. At Rhydymwyn, we turn right up a long climb to the edge of the Halkyns. A left takes us to Rhes-y-Cae, then up to top out at 923ft. A quick left and right down the hill takes on a straight run through Brynford and through to Lloc. On the A5151 to Dyserth, we turn left down a beautiful autumnal lane resplendent with pheasants launching themselves off at our arrival. This lane swoops up and down getting us to the top end of Dyserth. A quick left and right finds us diving down a tiny lane shadowing the old railway cycleway to Prestatyn. As we rise and fall and with a mile to go, Martin succumbs to a rear wheel puncture. After a short time, we descend rapidly down into Meliden for the Red Lion. 
Inside, the Red Lion is in need of a makeover, but there’s Brains bitter on tap and £6.95 two-course meal on offer. All bar one of us plump for the fish and chips main which comes surprising quickly given that the dining room was pretty busy with an 80th birthday party. The food is wholesome and good for the price as well. 
Leaving around 14:00, we make our way back to Dyserth and then take the long chevroned 20% climb up the hillside to reclaim 750ft of elevation. Across the hills we see the rain coming and it annoying lasts for about 15 minutes on an otherwise dry but cloudy day. The route back is the usual run to Babell, the Windmill and down to Northop. 
Martin’s super Garmin tells me that we have had 3,900 ft of accumulated climbing, with some 20% gradients, but my aching thighs told me that anyway! A fast ride today with many sections seeing madcap speeds, peppered with grinding ascents. The round trip to the Gallery was 48 miles, with 60+ for Chester starters.


Tuesday 23 September 2014

Monday 15 September 2014

11th September 2014: Ruyton-XI-Towns (mod)

Our last ride of the summer season from Chirk and the forecast was for a warm sunny day. Although not one of our more popular venues, Chirk does give us quite a variety of rides to look forward to. However, I was determined that I was not going up into the Welsh hills again, so scrutinised the map and came up with a relatively low level route around Shropshire. A message from Dave P the night before showed that he had similar thoughts so between us we chose the strangely named Ruyton-XI-Towns as our destination. A group of seven, consisting of Steve H, Steve T, Dave H, Bryan, Dave & Liz P and Jim duly set off from the café at 10:30. Ivan had plans to test his new bike against the hills and set off with Tom for the slopes. 

Photograph by Bryan Wade
We crossed the valley on the canal towpath and were treated to magnificent views up the Dee to the Welsh hills. The first real obstacle was crossing the traffic island on the A5 but we were soon safely on the lanes circumventing Gobowen and heading for Whittington. This seemed to have some potential for a more lengthy visit in the future, but for today we took the back lanes towards Maesbury and then east for West Felton. By and large the route was almost traffic free and we bowled along enjoying fine weather and the many unvisited hamlets, such as Eardiston and Wykey. The terrain was generally undulating with enough uphill bits to make us work reasonably hard at times, but soon we started picking up the signs for our destination. A quick check of the history reveals the correct title of the village “Ruyton of the eleven Townships”, referring to a time during the Middle Ages, when there were many small townships in the area, Ruyton being one of them.
The village itself was not particularly scenic, but the pub, The Talbot, was right in the centre, and served a good choice of local brews and a light bite menu. This was fine for us, as it is not easy pedalling for two hours when full of the pensioners three course special!
Special thanks to our friends at Camra and their website ‘whatpub.com.’ where I found the details and phone number of the pub.
After a pleasant break we set off back northwards through Stanwardine in the Fields, Bagley, Lower Hordley, and then the Franktons.  We were soon skirting round the east side of Gobowen and back to the café for coffee and cake. A very pleasant 38 miles in mostly uncharted territory.  A fine day out that will provide us with pleasant memories when we are splashing round the Wrexham Industrial Estate next winter.

Sunday 14 September 2014

11th September 2014: Llangedwyn (brisk)

On arriving at the tea rooms in Chirk there were already a group of CER riders ready to enjoy another Thursday of sunshine riding!  Jim had a ride sorted and I offered an alternative that was accepted by Tom.
Tom and I set off turning right and riding along the Ceiriog valley which was bathed in sunshine with the odd tree already changing and turning golden/brown.  We took the old road to Llanarmon and kept left through the town going up and over the good single-track road to somewhere!!  This was a steady climb and the decent was fast.  We arrived at a brown sign pointing to Radyr waterfalls so set off to view.

Photograph by Ivan Davenport

We returned along the same road to Llangedwyn arriving just after midday.  Although advised three good inns in the town I had looked at the Green Inn at Llangedwyn so decided to stick with the plan.  Our route forward out of the town was blocked with a large HGV struggling to turn round so offered my assistance to the driver and we duly turned him around and received hoots and thanks (all in a days ride).
Arriving at the Green Inn, Tom and I were not disappointed with the choice and sat out in the garden letting our limbs relax in the sunshine.  Topic of conversation to hot for the blog but informative!!
We had enjoyed some good climbing to this point and Tom was tucking into his large lunch when I advised him we still had two lumps to get over yet so he decided to put knife and fork down.
Leaving Llangedwyn we set off at a fair pace and were soon climbing again through Trefonen and on to Oswestry.  Through the town which was as usual busy, going up hill again to Selattyn.  We cruised down to Western Rhyn and were lucky to miss a fast motorist heading in the opposite direction and arrived back at Chirk at 15:00.
Tom put his bike in the car and we retired to the Hand to watch the final 20k of the bike race.  A total of 44 miles, 1,100+ meters of climbing and 20˚ C average temp.
Enjoyable day and wish it had been longer.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

4th September 2014: Audlem

We were sitting in the sunshine by the canal outside the Shroppie Fly in Audlem having enjoyed a good lunch, when Dave Matthews, our leader, asked for a volunteer to write-up the ride.  As is common, no one leapt to volunteer, and so in the absence of others I stepped forward.
Now, writing the report is a lot easier when you know about it at the start.  Otherwise there are several problems.  It’s easy to note the names of those currently with you on the ride – Dave M, Tom, Paul R, George, Dave H and myself, Steve H.  But who had turned up at the Ice Cream Farm and didn’t join us? This required some prompting to remember it was Jim and Trevor.  And then wasn’t Ray with us?  Yes but he peeled off early at Bunbury as he was preparing for his trip to the Pyrenees.
The next problem is the route, especially as I was missing my satnav.  Some landmarks get fixed in your mind, while others get muddled or maybe lost altogether.  We did set off from Tattenhall towards Bunbury, and then I remember a longish stretch travelling south on the A49 before turning left and ending up travelling through Brindley and Ravensmoor.  We headed more or less due south after that to join the A525 heading into Audlem, turning off by the canal to the Shroppie Fly (apparently a fast boat used on the canals).

Photograph by Paul Rose

Aware of my responsibilities, the return journey fixed itself better in my mind. We left Audlem by the same route, but veered more to the west.  We sped past our regular haunt, the Bhurtpore Arms in Aston, but instead of using the level crossing in Wrenbury, we passed through Marbury and Bickley.  Soon we reached the perimeter of Cholmondely Castle grounds and turned left to Bickerton.  We joined the main road and passed by the Bickerton Poacher, Peckforton and Beeston Castle where Dave M left for the quick route home.  A brief conference among the remainder agreed that tea and cakes were needed, so we returned to the Ice Cream Farm.
A good ride overall in very pleasant September weather with good company - we wondered how many more fine Thursdays we had before autumn would set in properly.  How many miles? Maybe 45-50.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

28th August 2014: Hildegard's Holt

Three members turned up at the Little Roodee: David M, Andy and Tom.  Rode over to Kinnerton via Bluebell woods---then Hildegard's and home.  Stiff wind on road from Rosset to Hope.