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.

For more information see the About Us tab.

Saturday 25 October 2014

23rd October 2014: Hough (brisk)

The weather forecast for today was to be better than expected. After a week of rain and high winds I set off for the Ice Cream Farm passing Jim and friend on Hare Lane. As I was early I intended on doing a little extra before coffee at the farm.
On arriving there were already a collection of bikes including Jim's. I offered a route to Hough (past Nantwich) and Ray, Tom, Colin, Paul and myself set off.
We took the route to Beeston taking the turn via Peckforton. The satnav route was taking a diversion through Cholmondely estate along Cholmondely Lane but when we came to the end of the road it was decided to return back to the main road. We spoke to some estate workers who advised that there is a route to the castle but with the recent wet weather probably not suitable for a road bike. Perhaps a dry summer ride! Turn round and plan B!!
We set off along the main road turning left and passing the Bickerton Poacher. The connection of the two pubs either side of this hill is the Pheasant!! at Burwardsley. 
Riding along at a good pace we were soon into Wrenbury passing the Dusty Miller. Round the corner to Aston and passing the Bhurtpore Inn and only 11:40 so too early for curry yet! Continuing along good dry lanes although we had passed a couple of tractors busy in their duties of hedge management we were racing through Audlem passing another stop the Shropie Fly. Then on to the road to Bridgemere and Wybunbury when the cry is where's the pub. Not far, just round the corner, and another 8 miles we were pulling up at the White Hart at 12:30 with 30+ sunny miles covered. The menu was good and the three beers to sample. We all selected the hearty lamb casserole with suet scones. Excellent choice.
Feeling refreshed the return journey was via Weston and Shavington before heading into Nantwich. Going through the town and Welsh Row we were soon in the lanes again (Marsh Lane). Using Dig lane to Swanley and continuing to the Wrexham Road then enduring the busy traffic until turning left again for Brindley. 
After a reasonable pace all day the brisk riders decided that on passing Beeston along Stonehouse Lane, Wickson Lane and Tattenhall Lane and with the ICF only 4 miles to go, to sprint. I was shown clean wheels with Ray and Colin topping 30mph on the stretch with Tom and Paul in hot pursuit. I can honestly say it was very fast and glad when we got to the cafe. Hot chocolate and cake needed to put calories back and we bid farewell to Colin who was going MTB riding over Moel Famau in the dark.
A good ride on dry lanes in about 16˚ C at an average of 16.7mph over 60 miles (81 to home). 
The ride home to Chester was a little more sedate, at Huxley I had a rear flat but as it hadn’t gone down fast I pumped it up and it lasted home. Too many farmers cutting hedges I think.
Thanks all for an excellent day out    

Monday 20 October 2014

16th October 2014: Lake District (Special Ride)

Trevor had let me know that he couldn't make it. He had felt all right the first two times, but when he had stretched across the table at home for a third piece of Victoria sponge, his hamstring had twinged.  So, Dave Pipe had joined Keith and myself in the big black Renault for the drive up the M6.  Steve H had stayed overnight at a Grange B&B, and met us in the car park at 9:20 a.m.  Dave was polishing off his Full English in the Coffee Pot Cafe "with Bay Views", when we received communication, that Ivan, Tom and Clive had left Chester later than intended and would be arriving after 10:00.  It was good to see Clive, as we thought he would be sailing, but the skipper had called it off.  
We were soon cruising down the promenade alongside Morecambe Bay, and then breathing heavily as we steeply left sea-level for the first hills and Cartmel.  We wended our way through the attractive square, and out alongside the picturesque racecourse.  More climbing on sheltered, quiet lanes led us to an exhilarating plunge down from High Gate to Low Wood.  We crossed the A590 at Haverthwaite, turning right at Causeway End and up the lovely Rusland Valley.  Hard toil through Grizedale Forest led to a splendid vista, before a steep drop and a rare flatish stretch alongside Esthwaite Water took us into the popular village of Hawkshead.  A bit of hummocky climbing soon ended at The Outgate Inn, on the dot of 12:15: exactly the time that I had booked for. The food was really good, and the beer seemed to go down well.
Photographs by Ivan Davenport

The afternoon leg was a long one.  Cream teas had been booked in Cartmel for about 4:15p.m. The weather was incredibly mild for mid- October, and I had to remove my thin shell top, and drink plenty of water to avoid overheating. We reached the most northerly point of our ride at The Drunken Duck before conquering Hawkshead Hill and heading down towards the eastern shores of Coniston Water, past Brantwood, Ruskin's home, and onto a planned stop in order to walk down a jetty and take everything in for a few minutes.  Coniston Water was sun sheened and serene. 
Across the lake, Coniston village nestled at the feet of The Old Man with his head high in the blue sky.  Ivan persuaded a young photographer to take our photo, but decided it wasn't quite right and made him take it again!  
The road became faster and easier down to Lowick Bridge, a section savoured by Bryan Wade three years ago.  From Spark Bridge we were soon at Penny Bridge and then crossing the bridge at Greenodd, where the River Leven flows through the sands.  We then had a pleasant interlude, partly off tarmac, and then alongside the river to Low Wood, crossing our outward route.  Ivan spotted the steam from an engine as we headed towards the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, the route of which we roughly followed, before climbing above Great Haag, and then dropping down into Newby Bridge.  We had to carefully overtake a magnificent, large steam vintage road tractor at this point.  We took a quiet, narrow climb up Canny Hill to Seatle and eventually reached a welcome direct and fast road into Cartmel.  
Despite some of our legs beginning to feel the accumulation of many banks climbed throughout the day, we flew down to Cartmel, like Team Sky on a recovery ride!  The incentive of a cream tea, and a comfy chair awaiting certainly worked for me.  We arrived to a warm welcome and in good time at The Priory Hotel, with large pots of tea readily replenished.  The sting in the tail was the last climb of the day to High Fell Gate, before the descent back to the promenade at Grange, with a gorgeous view across the bay in the special, late afternoon light.  I was grateful for the support and convivial company of the guys.  We were so lucky to have a peach of a day. Approximately 49 autumn-tinged miles covered.     

Friday 17 October 2014

16th October 2014: Irby Mill (mod)

With most regular riders in the Lake District on Dave H’s special ride I wasn’t at all sure that there would be many, or indeed, any riders meeting at Ness Gardens.  On entering the tea room I was therefore delighted to find Ray already halfway through a cappuccino and eager to ride.  Interestingly we had both cycled out from Chester with a planned easy ride to Irby Mill with the aim of getting back early before the forecast rain arrived at a predicted 16:00.
Once the obligatory coffee/tea and scones were consumed we were on our way up to Ness to then take the usual lane bypassing Willaston on the way to Raby.  Determined to stick to the lanes as far as possible we continued on to Thornton Hough, Brimstage and Storeton enjoying the perfect autumn weather.  With the sun shining and clear skies after the overnight rain the views were stunning.  Entering Storeton we debated the pros and cons of the Landican vs Barnston/Pensby route.  I had heard that the Landican route had been improved, so what the hell, we’d give it a go and with time in hand we had little to lose.  Well, it had been improved: not perfect but no worse than the Wirral Way was our conclusion.  From here it was only a short ride to Irby Mill skirting the edges of Heswall and Irby.
Irby Mill was closed when we arrived at 11:45 but we chatted and relaxed at one of the outdoor tables soaking up the sun until 12 noon.  No wonder the pub is Camra recommended with something like eight cask ales to choose from.  I tried the Trojan Horse, a delightful black beer, while Ray went for a lighter summer ale: both superb.  To eat it had to be the lunchtime ‘small’ fish and chips that left us wondering just how big the full size version would be.  A great pub but after chatting for well over an hour it was time leave.
Determined to avoid the traffic we decided on a return route along the Wirral way.  From the pub we skirted Royden Park before dropping down to Caldy where we joined the Wirral Way for an easy ride back to Neston.  Here we decided to use the Burton Marshes route and the Millennium cycleway to return to Chester.
Halfway across the boardwalk section of the Burton Marshes route we were flagged down by a cyclist heading towards Neston but asking for directions to Garden City!  We invited him to join us rather than try to provide directions through the industrial estate and it emerged that he had arrived from Hungary two days earlier and had accommodation in Garden City.  As a matter of priority he had just bought a second hand bike and was out exploring while looking for a job.  At the Millennium Cycle Bridge he knew where he was and we directed him back to Garden City before we continued on to Chester.
Back in Chester by 15:30 we missed the rain, which started half an hour later.  A perfect day’s cycling in true CER tradition.  Only 25 miles from Ness Gardens back to Ness Gardens but 47 miles overall Chester to Chester.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Sunday 12 October 2014

9th October 2014: Queens Head (brisk)

Setting off from home to meet Clive in Chester for the ride to Holt we were both kitted out in wet weather gear and cycles with mudguards, as the forecast was a wet day. We arrived at
Hildegard’s for coffee without a drop of rain falling.  Already gathered and still arriving were Jim, Tom, Dave H, Keith, Steve, Colin, Trevor, Liz & Dave on the tandem, Clive and Ivan. The brisk group today would consist of Tom, Colin and Ivan. A route to Queens Head was agreed and we set off. 
Leaving Holt we crossed over the Dee and up through the town heading for the usual route to Shocklach and Worthenbury. After a short time it was the first and only call to stop and put on rain jackets, as the rain fell in buckets, but thankfully only for 15/20 minutes. This was the one and only drop!!  Otherwise a fine day in 14˚C sunshine - weathermen!!
We cycled on passing Lightwood Green, crossing the A539 to Doddleston Heath.  We then passed through our first flooded lane giving Tom a dirty bike and face as he was pushing up the rear keeping us together but suffering with spray from our wheels. Riding along Birghill Lane (no hill) was similar to a summer’s day in glorious sunshine, onto the B5009 taking us to Queens Head and the excellent Queens Head pub. We had a good lunch stop here although Tom would have preferred a pub with a bigger heater as he was wet and chilled.

Photograph by Ivan Davenport

We were soon back in the saddle and taking the left hand lane from the pub, Woodhouse lane, it was a change to have a flat ride for a few miles instead of a climb straight after lunch following the Montgomery canal and on to Hordley. Here we encountered Road Closed but continued to be greeted by nice tarmac engineers who only advised us to travel cautiously which we complied with. After leaving the very bumpy roads we were through Techhill and not remembering the hill after enjoying the sweeping downhill ride to be greeted with the steep climb as soon as you round the bend - wrong gear!
Passing through Ellsmere we were then passing Penley and Horseman's Green when Tom announced he had a mechanical problem - slipping gears. Ensuring Tom's continued progress we slowed our pace to Tilston and Crewe by Farndon arriving in Holt just after 15:00. 
Tom decided to carry on home and sort his bike out so Colin and myself set off for Chester and decided to stop at Aldford for a break.
Overall a reasonable dry day and enjoyed the lanes but they are now muddy with farmer’s tractors etc. The standard of road surface is certainly improving with only a few really pitted roads encountered but some lovely smooth lanes to allow a cranked up surge in pace. 
Thanks to Tom and Colin for a good ride. 71 miles total journey (51 miles from Holt) and 914 metres of ascent at an average 14.8mph.

9th October 2014: Gobowen (mod)

For a forecasted showery day, there were a lot of us at Hildegard’s cafe. A brisk group had coalesced and set off for Queens Head, and the rest of us (Dave & Liz P, Dave H, Jim, Trevor, the two Steves and myself) slowly assembled for a ride to Derwen College at Gobowen. Taking the back lane to the head of Wrexham Industrial Estate, we trail through smart and run down areas, mainly because I missed the cycleway turn into Red Wither Lane. Anyway, at Cross Lanes we were back on track, taking the repaired lanes around the back of Erdigg and Sontly bound for Ruabon. 
The Dennis brickworks looked more decrepit than ever, but still sells heather brown quarry tiles, for a price. Then we all enjoy the long hill out of Cefn Mawr towards Chirk. Taking the back lane, we pass the Marina and Golf Club, and the entrance to Chirk Castle before descending into Chirk proper. The canal path east brings us out at Chirk Bank on the main drag up to the A5 roundabout. A few hundred yards up the St Martins road, the right into Henlle lane guides us parallel to the A5 and into Gobowen town. 
The college is off the Whittington Road, and turning into it, we take a grand tour eventually finding the Orangery restaurant. As ever it’s busy, and the students are “off” today. The manager opens up a small dining room just for us eight. Within 10 minutes, we have chosen the main course and having it delivered to our table in double quick time. The hot puddings are even more quickly delivered. At under a fiver for two course and coffee, and of excellent quality, the college doesn’t ever disappoint. 
The sun is out briefly and we take a delightful lane off the 455 route circling back towards the big hill into St Martins. Onwards to Overton, there is a bit of rain as we meet up by the cafe crossroads. Steve H and I decide to take the run back to Farndon via Cloy, Hollybank and Worthenbury; whereas the others take the main road to Bangor. At the Shocklach turn, a "Road Closed" sign informs us that a bridge is being repaired at some place we can’t find on the OS map. The others then appear, and we set off assuming we will be able to get through. The bridge is just around the corner and we were able to walk the bikes over half of a new bridge. It’s due to be finished in three weeks: so they had better get a move on! I decide I need to get back to Chester, so I motor on leaving the seven Easy Riders to find their own way back to Hildegard’s cafe. 
A round trip of 46m at the start of Autumn with rain in the air, wet leaves on the ground and flailed hedges. It’s 65m from Chester, and it’s clear that the weather has turned and warmer clothes and lights, are now required.

Tuesday 7 October 2014

2nd October 2014: Aston (mod)

Steve Tan was my passenger from Runcorn. Road works in Frodsham meant a u-turn and a diversion down the motorway, and another about turn was required for a blockage when trying to head up towards Kelsall from Helsby. We were running a little late by the time we arrived at Utkinton. It was an easy decision when faced with our admirably fit and fast comrades on their best bikes, to decide to just relax and do a familiar, pleasant route to the Bhurtpore at Aston at an easy pace. The reality was, that I was about 24kg. heavier than Ray, and Steve's hybrid was about 9kg. heavier than Ivan's Willier, and that's before comparing our relative cycling fitness levels!  A unified ride just wouldn't have worked. Although it did make me determined to lower my calorie intake, and up my training before the Lake District ride.          
It was yet another ideal cycling day, and the tinge of autumn colours added to the pleasing rural landscape unfurling before us. Our route took us to Eaton and Wettenhall, and on to Ravensmore via Reese Heath and Acton. I tried to use my map to direct a lorry driver to a farm, but accidently sent him the wrong way, and also lost my gloves. This was made worse, because they were two odd gloves, so I now have two matching, now useless, gloves at home!  
The Bhurtpore was welcoming as usual, but the curry wasn't cheap and was just below average in quality. I'd already got lost around Sound on the way, and a similar casual attitude had us turning west too early at Chorley on the route home. We headed briskly up the A49 from the Cholmondeley Castle entrance to Spurstow, and then rode to Tarporley through Peckforton, Beeston and Birch Heath. The service was exceptional at the Old Fire Station, and we enjoyed coffee and cake in the sun at the back. We also had a long chat with a very elegant old lady, with Steve exchanging stories of Yorkshire towns and Leeds University, with which they were both familiar. We soon whacked up the last climb to Rose Farm and my now clean car. We had covered a very relaxed 40 miles, savouring every mile of lovely Cheshire countryside and the blessing of an Indian summer.

Friday 3 October 2014

2nd October 2014: Timbersbrook (brisk)

Looking for a destination not visited before I decided on a trip towards Congleton.  Setting off for Rose Farm I was joined by Ray and we enjoyed the quiet but chilly roads.  We were the first to arrive but were soon joined by Dave H, Paul and Steve T.  Ray and Paul accepted my proposal for a ride to Timbersbrook.  
We set off promptly via Cotebrook and the route towards Winsford and Middlewich.  Along Cledford lane to Breton Green and the Bears Head Inn we arrived at 11:30 covering the 20 miles in a sprint time.
We now sauntered along the new lanes towards Congleton being rewarded with a lovely autumnal morning with very light traffic. No problems skirting Congleton but we were greeted with our first climb of the day and arriving at the brow of the hill we found we had arrived at the Coach and Horses at Timbersbrook.

Photographs by Ivan Davenport

The views from the garden were panoramic and I could watch the Virgin Pendolinoes crossing the big viaduct over the town.  Good beer and choice of food were ordered and we were soon served with our meals.

After 45 minutes we were back in the saddle and heading upwards again!!  We passed a field of Lamas with a wooden Giraffe and a bear in a tree: strange garden furniture!  We were now on the left hand side of the ridge leading to Mow Cop. Biddulph was the next big town we passed through and it was still looking very floral. Taking a right hand through the town we went up hill on Mow Cop lane, this was to be a easy ascent to the folly at the top and with such a sunny day and high cloud it was the perfect day to ride here.
A fast descent down hill to Church Lawton and Alsager coasting plus 20mph then on the route via Malkins Bank and Winterley stopping at the pool to see the geese, swans and ducks on the water.  It was then onwards to Bradfield Green and an afternoon cake stop at Tilleys.  Arriving at 15:20 we enjoyed cake and cappuccinos.  
After resting it was the Beeston Castle and Waverton route arriving back into Chester for 16:45 after covering 86 miles on some new lanes.  It had been a good ride and we wonder how many of these fine days we can experience before the start of the wet and cold months ahead.  It has been a great summer of cycling.