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.

Sunday 30 November 2014

27th November 2014: Whitchurch

I thought it about time I led a ride after being away so long, so cribbed a route from 2011 but reversed the direction.  Dave M and Trevor met us for coffee at Hildegard’s, to see off 14 riders: Steve H, Andy, George, Liz & Dave P, Dave H, Paul, Steve T, Martin, Ivan, Ray, John, Tom and me.  Was this a record number for a winter ride?  I chose an anti-clockwise route to lunch at Whitchurch, as 40 miles is an advisable mileage with the shorter days.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

We rode south to Bangor then east to Malpas, where we regrouped at the medieval market cross. (photo 1)  As lunch time was pressing, we took the direct B-road south into Whitchurch, where The Black Bear P H beckoned (tel: 01948 663 800). I’d advised them last night that about 7 or 8 riders should be there for lunch, but when 14 turned up, it did not seem to faze them.  As usual, the food, beer and service was very good.
Afterwards, we continued our circular route back, via Wrenbury, No-Mans Heath, and Malpas. Together with Whitchurch Parish Church opposite the pub, we passed 3 or 4 huge ancient churches, dominating their surrounding settlements.  This whole area must have been very prosperous at one time for funds to be found to build these magnificent buildings.  A very pleasant, easy-going, incident-free 40 mile ride finished with afternoon tea at Hildegard’s.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

20th November 2014: Aston (mod)

We were in Keith's big black van when we spotted a rider on a black and white bike striving up Wood Lane. The cyclist wasn't George, the Boardman flash of yellow told us that, but he was heading to Rose Farm in order to join us. His name was John and he had already, inadvertently, completed a Tour de Delamere in trying to reach our meeting place. John was made very welcome, and I hope we see him again. On hearing our estimated average speeds he chose to give the fast group a try. Jim and Dave M. had turned up but were not riding with us today. 
The moderate group consisted of Dave & Liz P, Brian Mac, Andy, Keith, Steve H and myself. Dave Pipe was delayed at the start; I think it was his wardrobe manager demanding a productivity bonus before signing up with the tandem for the winter season. We were soon wafting down to Cotebrook and then Rushton on the southern, crumble-brick boundary of Oulton Park. The roads are pretty flat to Nantwich via Wettenhall and Rease Heath, and it was great to chat and take in the scenery without any pressure of pace. Welsh Row has such a delightful variety of historic architecture that I often find myself wandering which house I would most like to live in. We peeled off to go through the park and avoid the lights, crossing the River Weaver in doing so. Shewbridge Road then took us alongside Nantwich Lake, and we were now on a leg of the route that I had little or no experience of. However, once we had turned left off the A530 onto Coole Lane, everything was relatively straightforward. The route in my head remembered from my paper map, and a reasonable sense of direction, had us turning right at Back Coole Lane and again at Sheppenhall Lane without the need for checking. Andy was trying to be useful, but with the limitations of his GPS and his lack of local knowledge, I may as well have asked Ed Miliband the way forward. 

Photographs by Brian MacDonald

We reached Aston at a brisk rate, with the tandem easing off to avoid breaking their thermostats. The curries at The Bhurtpore Inn met with approval and the battered fish were huge. 
Andy led us out in the afternoon in the direction of Bunbury via Ravensmore and Brindley. We decided to ride to The Fire Station Café in Tarporley for afternoon tea and cake, where we received a warm welcome. It has to be noted that it was exceedingly difficult to pass Tilly's, and head for Tilstone Bank instead!  On reaching Rose Farm, fresh tarmac was being laid right across the entrance, and Keith had to use his charm!!! on the workmen in order to retrieve his van. A very relaxed, true easy ride, and another good turnout. About 40 miles return from Utkinton. Let's keep this up throughout the winter if we can.       

Sunday 23 November 2014

20th November 2014: Barthomley (brisk)

There were a lot of us at Rose Farm today, so with Dave H leading out the Moderates, I lead out the Brisk Group (Ivan, Ray, Tom, Colin and myself) to the White Lion at Barthomley. John W joined us for his first CER ride today as we headed out via Cotebrook and Wettenhall bound for Church Minshull where my chain drops off (Event #1). Briefly on the A530, we turn off to skirt Warmingham before turning south to Winterley. With a winter’s sun in our faces, the run now is down small lanes. Somewhere around here Event #2 occurs in that my iPhone jumps out of its normally secure clamp (due to the appalling road surface) and bounces down the road behind me where the local 41 bus is following us! No phone to be seen on the road, so Ray rings it and it is found safely working right by his feet in the hedge. There was only a slight dent on the side of the case! 
We head now for Oakhanger through more open countryside before taking the lane to Smith’s Green. At the rail crossing, Ivan predicts that the 11:53 from somewhere will be coming by soon and it will be a green train. He was correct on both accounts! Up the lane Event #3 occurs as John W christens his first ride with a front wheel puncture just 5 mins from the pub. 
The White Lion was last visited by CER in Aug 2010 so a return visit was well overdue. We pack into the small bar and ogle a bar’s length of decent ales. The Steak and Ale pie was an instant hit with all of us - quite the best flavour I have tasted and plenty of it. Heated lunch time discussions surround the architectural definition of “folly” and the date of the introduction of glass (see below). 
Lots of small lanes once again on the return route via Wybunbury taking us around the SW side of Nantwich and on to Radmore Green and Bunbury. Here the usual "smell of home" madness infects nearly everybody but I decide to stick to a pedestrian 20mph and let the youngsters tire themselves out. This route was essentially the same as that in Aug 2010, and it manages to miss most of the mess that is Nantwich and Crewe yet takes in some beautiful lanes and countryside and I would recommend it to anybody as a quintessential CER route of 49 miles. For us Chester-bound riders, then 75 miles was a good day’s ride with a wintery sun and no rain!

Folly ex Wiki: In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting through its appearance some other purpose, or merely appearing to be so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or the class of building to which it belongs.

Glass ex Wiki (extract):  The history of glassmaking can be traced back to 3500 BCE in Mesopotamia. Anglo-Saxon glass has been found across England during archaeological excavations of both settlement and cemetery sites. Glass in the Anglo-Saxon period was used in the manufacture of a range of objects including vessels, beads, windows and was even used in jewellery. The 11th century saw the emergence in Germany of new ways of making sheet glass by blowing spheres. The spheres were swung out to form cylinders and then cut while still hot, after which the sheets were flattened. This technique was perfected in 13th century Venice.

Saturday 15 November 2014

13th November 2014: Maeshafn (mod)

With a mixed forecast for the day: dry in the morning but windy in the afternoon it was somewhat surprising to find a good turnout of members at the refurbished Gallery coffee shop, increasing as each minute passed.  At half past the hour we had 14 members present: more than any of the recent summer rides.  Even Brian Mac made an appearance after some three months of absence, many in foreign parts, although sadly he wasn’t riding today due to a bad cold.
Jim suggested that we head south so that the wind would be behind us on the return and suggested Maeshafn as a possible destination.  With no other suggestions Jim and I sketched out a route and 14 of us comprising Ray, Steve H, Jim, Dave H, Keith, Steve T, Clive, Tom, George, Ivan, Dave & Liz P and myself set off for Northop.  A short loop through the lanes brought us to Soughton for a fast descent down to the edge of Mold followed by the drag up to Gwernaffield.  Here the brisk group broke free and headed off for Four Crosses.  The remaining nine of us followed the original plan heading to Cadole and Maeshafn at a more leisurely pace.
We arrived at just gone 12:00 noon to the usual warm welcome and being the first customers of the day were quickly served with drinks including the excellent Theakston’s Old Peculiar.  Meals were ordered and the Landlord/Chef retired to the kitchen while we made ourselves comfortable.  Cooked meals were the order of the day and in surprisingly quick time we were all enjoying an excellent lunch.
Over lunch Jim planned the return journey with options of Hope or Buckley depending on the weather.  It had been warm and dry this morning but on venturing out of the pub after lunch it was clear the weather was on the change.  The temperature had dropped dramatically and a light rain was falling.  Undaunted we mounted up and set off before a cry from the back announced a puncture.  Wisely we headed back to the warmth of the pub while Dave H hunted for thorns on his deflated tyre.  Once repaired we started off again uphill this time but in significantly heavier rain.  By the time we reached the road down to Nercwys the wind had increased and was gusting across the road driving the rain like hail directly into our faces.  The descent down to Nercwys is always exhilarating but even more so today.  Hunched over the bars for protection from the stinging rain I tried to stick to the middle of the road for safety but in practice traced giant parabolas down hill as each successive gust of wind swept the bike across to the side of the road.  At Nercwys we thankfully turned right onto more sheltered lanes and then eventually left down to Leeswood Hall gates abandoning the Hope option.  George left us at this point to make his own way home while we headed for Buckley, Bilberry Wood and Hawarden by a roundabout route due partly to the Chinese whispers effect of relaying messages from the back to the front of a group of eight riders.  Sorry about that Jim.
We arrived back at Hawarden at 15:30 still smiling with 28 miles done (44 for those riding back to Chester), although it felt like more, after what was a most memorable day. 

13th November 2014: Cefn-y-bedd (brisk)

As there were a surprising dozen or so of us at Hawarden, the Brisk Group (Ray, Ivan, Tom and myself) decided to be lazy and follow the Moderates out from Hawarden as far as the edge of Gwernaffield. It was clear that any pub would struggle with a dozen orders, so the Brisk Group coalesced and shot off towards Cadole. The idea was simple i.e. just to follow the main roads in a big anticlockwise circle arriving at the Moors Inn at Four Crosses. 
So it was past Loggerheads, Llanferres and onto Rhydtalod; then up over the moors to the Moors Inn. Well the wind was only worrying us a bit as we started the circular route but over the exposed moorland it was full storm force coming across the road as we literally battled to get to the pub. The lights were on and the door was open but the pub was shut for the day. So onwards up the hill to one of the highest points around (1026ft) we turn left down to Bwlchgwyn to another closed-up pub. The Hollybush says Tom, so down the Minera Steps we hurtle to the warmth of the Hollybush at Cefn-y-bedd. The 2 for £12 menu satisfies us all, as does the range of ales. 
Just as we are leaving the rain starts and the wind gets up even more as we head down to Llay and onto the ominous Dark Lane thence Sandy Lane near Kinnerton. Tom turns left and up along Lower Mountain Road back to Bilberry Wood and then Hawarden to complete a measly 35 miles. The remaining trio heads NW to Kinnerton and Bretton. The wind seems to be in all directions as we are blown all over the place. The Dee footbridge is especially dangerous as we cycle hunched over and at quite an angle to stay on the bike. Cycling down the river is not on with such a gusting gale-force wind, so it’s up Ferry Lane and back to our homes with about 50 miles for the day’s ride. As ever the CER rides are not just about distance, but also about banter, a decent lunch stop and good company.

Saturday 8 November 2014

6th November 2014: Winsford

The Met Office has asked the Government if it can buy a £90+ million supercomputer to take over from the £33 million one, so as to aid better forecasting. They certainly need it as it was forecasted to rain for most of the morning, and heavy at that. With this in mind I think all riders came dressed ready for a deluge. Unexpectedly no deluge came, except for some annoying light rain part way during the morning. So a little over-dressed Ray, Ivan, Steve T, Tom and myself set off from Manley on a non-obvious route for Winsford. Bryan tagged along for a few miles, but dropped off to travel solo.
The route was carefully “designed” to show off the best of the countryside as we headed out to Aston then up via Mouldsworth to Alvanley, and finally, the hill round the back of Frodsham to top out on the road to Kingsley. We then dived down towards the Weaver and along Cliff Lane (a No Through Road apparently with no cliff either) to exit at Acton Bridge. Here we said goodbye to the countryside and exchanged it for the suburban delights of Weaverham, Hartford and Davenham. We take the Bostock Green bypass and then enjoy the industrial delights of Road One of Winsford Industrial Estate (think Bumpers Lane x 4). Finally, we exit this wasteland via some green belt and then back into the edge of Winsford and the Old Star Pub on the Church Minshull road.
There’s a wake due in soon, so we are corralled into the snug with road-side cafe food coming via the attached Diner. The diner proprietor warms to us and soon the generous, tasty and inexpensive fare arrives quite quickly. We all celebrate Tom’s Big Birthday and Ivan and I venture a second pint. As Ivan entertains us with railway tales of yesteryear, Ray surprises us with his choice of music on the electronic juke box. Tom is somewhat quiet, no doubt contemplating life post 60!
The route back takes around Winsford’s western edge and out into the open countryside once again bound for Delamere via Norley. Only 42 miles and we were back at Manley at 15:00 so that Steve could collect his car. We four then head for home with 60+ miles on the clock. It hardly rained, which was a bonus for this enjoyable and entertaining ride.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Saturday 1 November 2014

30th October 2014: Llangollen

Only a very select trio today - not sure why, as a dry day was in prospect.
To quote Henry V, “ We few, we happy few, we band of brothers (and a sister)”, and so it was that Ray and I, after riding out from Chester and carefully past Davenport Corner, arrived at Alyn Waters soon to be joined by Liz D, and no one else! We set off bound for the Sun Inn at Rhewl - and here I should have remembered the rule - see below. Up to Summerhill and down to the aptly named Moss Valley, we duck and dive to get round Wrexham to Bersham, past the mill and Talwrn and up the hill to "Rhos…gog". Upwards from here is the back way to the start of the Panorama, and I haven’t been this way before and neither apparently has Ray, until he remembers the Prospect Cafe and various audax rides around here. Anyway the Prospect is now closed until Easter. Turning onto the Panorama proper, we find a lovely smooth road along with several road hog drivers coming the other way. The view is truly worthy of a panorama; especially in late autumn with Dinas Bran castle looking menacing in the distance.

Photographs by Clive Albany

We speed up and down and plan to exit onto the Horseshoe Pass main road just after Rock Farm. The good news was that the intended lane was soon to be very smooth; the bad news was there was no way past the tarmac-laying machine. So we go down the road and next left up the longish hill through the woods. Here a lady on an electric bike overtakes Liz and me - you can see the use for them if you lived around here though! We turn off bound for the Sun Inn at Rhewl - having checked the website, I surmise that its open for business - but no, its well shut - why don’t they just put a message on their website or close it down! The rule is - always phone. Anyway, we backtrack along the Old Coach Road, past the Chain Bridge Hotel (backup lunch stop) and take the canal path to the canal side cafe, which suits us just fine after 24 hilly miles. 
Quick and value service is on offer today. The cafe will now though only be open on Friday and weekends over the winter. We delay our departure to let the only rain of the day pass by and we are on our way on the canal path bound for Cefn Mawr. Here it’s the standard way back via Ruabon, Bersham, Sainsbury's and the Llay Road. While Liz goes back to Alyn and her car, Ray and I speed back to Chester via Marford Hill, Dodleston and Lache Lane. The roundabout route is 41m with 70m for Ray and I. Where were you all? You missed a real visual treat.