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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Sunday 28 December 2014

26th December 2014: Hanmer

Manley Mere was to be the meeting point but it was closed, so the ever-reliable Hildegard’s was chosen. I arrived just after 10:00 to find John waiting outside.  Hildegard opened up shortly after and gave us a warm Christmas welcome.  A little later Dave M arrived, and we spoke about our Christmases and cycling.  Both John and Dave were only out for a brew and made their ways home.  I needed a bit more exercise after too much Christmas cheer, and followed an old ride southwards out of Holt to the west of the Dee to Bangor, then on to Penley and Bettisfield before looping back north towards Hanmer.  The return was via Cuddington Heath, then northwards east of the Dee to Farndon.
Despite bad weather warnings the ride out was dry though muddy and cold.  After a quick stop at the Hanmer Arms (always a good choice) the return was wet and murky.  A lone walker flagged me down just north of Shocklach – she was lost and wanted to know how to get back to the Carden Arms! I put her on her way and my good deed done, headed back to Farndon and then on to home increasingly wet.  The snow started after my return. 
One of those days when it was well worth the effort to get out.  The round trip from Holt to Hanmer would have been about 40 miles.

Sunday 21 December 2014

18th December 2014: Overton

I’d emailed around to see who might venture out to Alyn, and the few positives duly arrived at Alyn Water. Colin and I had ridden out from Chester to find Steve H already there. The Tandem Two duly arrived near to departure time. I’d original planned a big ride as my last ride of the year, but with inclement weather promised, and the certainty of high winds, the Horseshoe Pass would have to wait!  
We set off bound for Ellesmere into the teeth of a south easterly gale. Just passed Sainsbury’s, the wind really got up as we struggled up to the Maelor Hospital. In theory I had found a short cut to the Erdigg road via the Puleston Industrial Estate and, in practice it actually worked. A useful shortcut for the future methinks.  Erdigg was in the Christmas mood and the ice-decorated gates looked quite realistic.

Photograph by Clive Albany

We go through the various Sontleys and here the hedge shearers had been out. So, as I was thinking, “one of us is bound to succumb to a puncture”, my front tyre goes down. The puncture was not due to a thorn however, but a nasty piece of shattered windscreen. Two punctures in two weeks - enough for a season that is!  I divert down to Erbistock and the Dee is swollen but not too high. We slog up the main road to Overton fighting the incline and the wind. Stopping outside the White Horse to allow the tandem to catch up, there is a presumption of “we’ve had enough and this pub will do”. So solely in the interests of heading off a mutiny, and at only 14 miles from coffee, I readily agree it’s time for a warm bar and a pint. As ever, the White Horse offers friendly service and decent Joules beer. 
As no rain arrives, we decide we can’t stay any longer so I modify the route to connect into my planned return from Ellesmere. We set off bound for Ellesmere but soon take a delightful lane (well in summer it will be) to Lightwood Green. A right and left takes on the lanes to Cloy bound for Bangor. A short section of A525 takes us up to Cross Lanes and thence onwards to the outskirts of Wrexham. I decide to take a distinctly un-pretty direct route through the acres of housing estates bound for the Llay Road. The Tandem miss our left turn, although we see them behind us as we turn.  I chase after them but to no avail.  A voicemail tells us not to worry, so we motor on back to Alyn.  Only a paltry 28 miles and one of the shortest rides I’ve lead in 5 years of CER membership. Although the weather forecast was warning of showers, we barely had any rain all day - the Met Office really does need the £100m computer upgrade.  Colin and I motor back to Chester down Marford Hill and through Dodleston to clock up 60 miles.
Enjoy your Christmas festivities, and I hope Santa buys you that lightweight carbon exotica you’ve always drooled over. See you in 2015.

Saturday 13 December 2014

11th December 2014: Overton (brisk)

A wild day in prospect as four “Briskers" set off bound for The White Horse in Overton. The reason for the lunch location was to head into the stiff westerly winds on the way out and get blown home after lunch. The Moderates decided that they would also go to the White Horse and plotted their own route. So Ivan, John, Paul and myself set off on a non-obvious route up to the Pheasant at Burwardsley and over the top to Peckforton. This "footpath come cycle path" route is cyclable and is a useful shortcut. We have to share it with two white Discos today as their drivers practice their controlled-descent skills - why were they in white cars? - they probably won’t be at the end of the off-road training! At the Bickerton Poacher, we turn towards Bickerton and take the lane that shoulders Larkton Hill. Ducking down past Duckington, we cross the A41 at Edge Green bound for Kidnal. 
In Chorlton, I pick up a rear wheel puncture and don the latex gloves to effect the tube change. The wind is blowing now and the rain is in our faces as we try to make up time. At Cloy, I decide to cut out the experimental loop through Lightwood Green and go straight to the pub into the westerly winds. I’d phoned the pub earlier and was told that they had a Christmas party in but could accommodate us, and it would be OK. True to their word, we all were.
The Moderates were ensconced in one corner of the bar with their food order about to be delivered. We take the other corner and order the food, and Ivan and I sample Joules “Slumbering Monk” ale. The food comes quickly and a further two pints as well. Well it was soon time to get outside into the cold again and hurtle down Overton Hill, Wrexham-way bound. Ivan breaks off to go to Connah’s Quay to pick up his now mended Disco, as we three wend our way back to Holt via Cross Lanes. Eschewing the prepared ride, we now head for home. The route would have been 50 miles, but on a cold, wet, and windy December day the 60 miles I managed from home was quite enough today. The bike looks absolutely filthy - a jet-wash day tomorrow is in prospect.

11th December 2014: Overton (mod)

When a shaven headed guy from Runcorn gives you a steely stare you know it is time to step forward and "volunteer" to write up a ride.  Only kidding Dave.  Not that I am averse to the written word.  I am from the educational era where writing was taught sitting in rows in wrought iron desks bolted to the classroom floor.  Most of the teachers had taught your parents if not your grandparents.  Writing implements consisted of a piece of wood with a bendy metal nib in the end.  Ink the consistency of watered down boot polish was held in a ceramic pot in a hole at the top right hand corner of the desk lid, the least useful place for a left-hander.  Lifting said desk lid revealed the names of the majority of the people who lived in the village, scratched into the wood.  I was related to most of them, we were a close-knit community.
However, I digress.  The weather forecast was for the westerly wind to ease to a moderate gale and the torrential rain to reduce to the occasional hailstorm.  Good enough then.  Eleven of us assembled at the Ice Cream Farm.  Dave M and Bryan had other matters to attend to and Jim looking very fit and tanned after his two weeks in the Canary Islands was off to the Gym where it was warm and dry - sensible fellow.  After a "debate" reminiscent of Prime Minister's Question Time but without Mr Speaker to referee we decided to split into two groups.  Both would head for the White Horse at Overton.  The "brisk" group, which consisted of Clive, Ivan, Paul and John, were going to take the long way round to get the miles in.  The "moderate" group, Dave H, Steve H, Liz & Dave P and yours truly, who just wanted to get to the pub were going to take the direct route.  So out of the Ice Cream Farm and left into the wind.  Then left again heading south through Tattenhall, across the A41, through Clutton and across the A534.  The long sweep past the golf course, through Higher Carden and Lower Carden took us into Tilston.  Still heading south we skirted Horton Green before turning west into the wind again to reach Shocklach.  Turning south again we made Worthenbury before one last adjustment on the compass took us southwest through Holly Bush to Overton.
A friendly greeting from the landlady and a warning that two Christmas groups had rather overwhelmed them and our food could be delayed.  This is a Joules pub with a fine selection of excellent ales so we weren't too disappointed.  In the event the food orders were taken after approximately 15 minutes.  The food arrived after a further 15 minutes just as the "brisk" quartet, who had been wrestling manfully with a puncture, clocked in.   Fully replenished we left our fellow club members to their puddings and the five amigos headed out.  Aware of the weather forecast foretelling of Armageddon after 3:30 pm we decided that retracing our steps would ensure the maximum benefit of any tail wind.  Steve H left us after Tattenhall to head straight for home and the remaining four amigos were enjoying afternoon tea and mince pies back at the Ice Cream Farm before 3:30pm.  A round trip of 35 miles largely dry, we all agreed a bonus ride on a deep winter's day.

Sunday 7 December 2014

4th December 2014: Christmas Lunch Ride

The first Thursday in December is traditionally our Christmas Lunch Ride and this year was no exception. In a moment of madness I volunteered to organise it. However, it did give me the opportunity to choose a venue which would leave me with a fairly short ride home after a large lunch - so maybe not so mad after all! I chose the Stamford Bridge Inn near Great Barrow. Apart from it being close to home it is also a sister pub to the Boathouse at Parkgate where we had enjoyed our Christmas lunch the year before so I anticipated that the food would again be good.  

Photographs by Trevor Coates

Seventeen of us had signed up for the lunch. Unfortunately one of us was taken ill overnight (hope you get well soon, Brian Mac) and with 5 riders choosing to make their own way to the lunch 11 of us set off from the Little Roodee. These were Andy, Bryan, Clive, Dave H, David M, George, Ivan, Ray, Steve H, Tom and myself. We headed out along the banks of the River Dee and skirted round Grosvenor Park to emerge on to Boughton. A short dash along the main road took us past the impressive new Waitrose building before turning left into Hoole Lane, which would take us in the direction of the Stamford Bridge.
Now since the Stamford Bridge is only 6 miles from the Little Roodee a bit of a diversion was called for to avoid arriving at 2 hours too early. So, after crossing the A41 we turned right into Hare Lane and headed past the rugby club and across the A51. Then we headed into Christleton and on into Waverton. From there we took the Martins Lane route towards Tattenhall. After turning on to the Tattenhall road we immediately turned left again and cycled up to Huxley. Here we turned left again and in Hoofield turned right into the aptly named Corkscrew Lane. Back across the A51 here and then it was on to Willington & Kelsall.
From here we followed Hollands Lane towards Mouldsworth and from Mouldsworth we headed towards and past the Windsurfing Centre at Manley Mere. A left and right turn took us into Barnhouse Lane, which is the quieter back road into Great Barrow. A short stint down the B-road brought us to our final destination where we met up with Martin & Liz D, Dave & Liz P and Mike.
Here we tucked into an excellent Christmas Lunch thanks to the Stamford Bridge Inn, washed down with one or two selections from their great range of beers. After lunch we all made our own ways home. Thanks to a fairly flat ride we managed 25 miles before lunch. Anyone making their way back to the Little Roodee would have had a 31-mile round trip.