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.

Friday 26 June 2015

25th June 2015: Calverhall (brisk)

I wanted a “recovery” ride after Ivan’s fast 100 miler to Macclesfield at 16.3 mph on Tuesday. Ray was back from Spain and, after 10,000+ metres of climbing the Spanish hills in 30˚+C heat; he also wanted a recovery ride. So with John and Tom we set off out via Eccleston bound for the Old Jack at Calverhall.
A left in Rossett takes out to Holt and on, via Wetreins Lane, to Tilston. Grange Lane takes us back to the A41 that we cross back and forth via No Mans Heath. Onwards through Bradley to Oldhall Street to a run down to Grindley Brook. A saunter along the canal then takes us into Whitchurch town. Out on the Alkington road, we veer off to Prees then Prees Higher Heath. Taking Prees Road, we edge up to Calverhall at 39 miles, but not before my front wheel slowly deflates to spoil the otherwise idyllic cycle through lane after lane.
The Old Jack has never disappointed and we all opt for the generous plate of Steak and Onion baguette. The return is replotted since there were issues*** with the inner tube that I used to repair the front flat and it was a bit under-inflated. So a right in Ightfield takes up a truly delightful run to Burleydam via the Combermere Arms to Aston. I opt to go back via Marbury, Bickley, and Bickerton to get to the Ice Cream Farm for 16:00. Suitably refreshed we roll back into Chester via Saighton where I pick up a nasty sting in my neck, and Tom's front wheel has a slight buckle. Hopefully that's the end of issues for the day. A 75 miler through the cream of Cheshire and Shropshire lanes; you’ll not find better!
See route map and/or gpx file download.

*** There were two problems with Yak inner tubes. After Tom’s tyre blow out on Tuesday, he fitted one of my Yak tubes. In Winsford, 30 mins later, he replaces the worn tyre with new one at Cyclone bike shop. They then had to replace the Yak tube since the valve fell apart on reflation. On the ride above, upon reflation of my slow, I couldn’t unscrew the pump flexible tube from the valve stem. I had to snap the valve stem and the broken part of the valve stem remained inside my Topeak Race flexible pump connector making it unusable; yet the tube valve held for the 40 miles home. I phoned Merlin Cycles who immediately credited me for the 5 that I had bought, and not wanting me to return the unused ones. I then ordered some Contis from them. Good customer service from Merlin Cycles. PS: I managed to get the valve bits out of my pump head when I got home as well so it is useable again.

Monday 22 June 2015

18th June 2015: Whittington (mod)

This was our first visit to “Hildegard’s” since Hildegard had returned to her native Germany so we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t even know if it would be open. However the new owners had opened the previous Friday as a Bistro and Coffee Shop, now called Cleopatra’s. We were given a warm welcome and were soon tucking in to our usual pre-ride fare. I had come armed with route that we had previously done in July 2011 that, coincidentally, had been our first visit to Hildegard’s after it had opened.
Having been suitably fed and watered we assembled outside. The brisk group sped off (briskly) leaving eight of us on the moderate ride. We were Bryan, Dave H, George, Jim, Ken (joining us for the first time), Steve H and myself. We set off across the A534 and came to our first obstacle, a ‘road closed’ notice. Assuming that it applied to the main road and not the side roads that we would be taking we ignored it and carried on. Sure enough we turned off onto a side road and never came across the closed road. We did however come across our second obstacle. Someone had built a dual carriageway across our route. Fortunately they had also built a cycle path down to a nearby roundabout and back. After the short diversion we were soon speeding past the Industrial Estate before skirting around the south of Wrexham and heading out towards Ruabon.
After Ruabon we had the exhilarating run down past Cefn Mawr and the gradual climb up to the A5. A left and right off the A5 took us up past Chirk golf course and past the entrance to Chirk Castle. A shortcut past the caravan site proved disastrous for Bryan. As we dropped down an unmade path towards the Ceiriog Valley a piece of a tree branch shot up between his wheel and mudguard breaking the latter from its arms. A short period of head-scratching followed until a solution was found involving a zip-tie. How on earth did we manage before they were invented? We walked down the rest of the track then headed up the valley. The next left took us up a single chevroned hill right on the line of Offa’s Dyke and into England.  A steady climb took us around the eastern side of Selattyn, then down to Gobowen and Park Hall Camp on to Whittington.

Photographs by Michael Gilbert

Our lunch stop was “Ye Old Boote Inn” at Whittington, a 16th century coaching inn, built to accommodate visitors to the 12th century castle opposite and for travellers heading into and out of Wales. Despite the eight of us turning up unannounced we were served quickly with excellent food, which we were able to enjoy at the outside tables in the warm June sunshine – a rare commodity this year.
The return route was shorter and less hilly and we were soon diving down the quiet lanes of Hindford, Crickett (old and new), Seven Sisters and Trench onto the broad lane to Penley. The route I had would have taken us back via Bangor-on-Dee but several riders didn’t like the main road section there so the majority vote was to return by way of Holly Bush and Shocklach. 
The north-westerly wind that had been blowing all day had not caused us too many problems and by the time we got back to Cleopatra’s we had completed a very pleasant 52 miles. Of course when we got back we felt it our duty to test the cakes. Several of us can recommend the delicious Guinness cake!

Saturday 20 June 2015

18th June 2015: Hough (brisk)

Arriving at the newly opened and renamed Cleopatra's at Holt were other CER riders already partaking in their pre ride drinks and munch. As there was a large group it would split into the brisk and moderate rides. I had prepared a ride out to Hough so set off with Tom, John, Dave P riding solo and Steve T.
Heading back down the hill to cross the bridge over the Dee and turn right to skirt the church and then out to Crewe by Farndon before turning left along Wetreins Lane. Onwards with a strong tail wind we were making good progress racing through Shocklach, Bickley, Wrenbury, Aston and Audlem. After turning onto the A525 at Coole Lane corner heading down hill into Audlem it is an awakening on how silly young drivers are in fast cars as two sporty cars try to pass us before the little bridge at the bottom and before going up into the high street. One passes down hill and one gets caught at the rear then squeezes past us as soon as we are over the bridge, lucky for them that they were not in the street when passing.
We are now on the main road for a couple of miles before turning right onto the lane for Hunsterson and staying on quiet green lanes of the country side in now sunny conditions passing Bridgemere, Checkly and turning north at Wrinehill heading towards our lunch stop at Hough. We pass the main line railway at Betley where I gave a little useless info of an occasion when the Royal Train was stopped at the signal box (circa 1973) when the signaller on duty had fallen asleep!! It was the early hours but he was moved out of the position as a result of his actions.
I had googled the local pubs and was looking for the White Lion that we have passed previously but ended up at the White Hart as the other hostelry was at Weston being informed by the postie!! 
It was the midday special for all and service pleasant but we were soon back into the saddle with a now head on wind to reduce our speed back home.
We passed Nantwich and taking the usual route back along Dig lane and Swanley and onwards crossing the A49 passing the Chomondeley Castle to Broxton and enjoying the down hill roll crossing the A41 and enjoying the last few miles through Coddington before we leave Steve at Churton who is returning to Holt where he was parked. 
The remaining four of us returned to Chester passing Aldford arriving back into Chester before 16:00 having covered 60+ miles from Holt but 80+ with the ride to and from Chester and Shotton.
A good ride and a pleasure to have Dave and Steve joining us.
No photos as too busy cycling!!

Wednesday 17 June 2015

11th June 2015: No Mans Heath (mod)

A fine sunny day encouraged a good turn out as we all gathered at Rose Farm Garden Centre, Utkinton to await the 10:00 am opening of the café.
The default position of two rides was quickly agreed and Clive had a venue in mind for the “brisk” group consisting of himself, John, Ivan, Ray and Tom with his knee heavily strapped a worry with only a few weeks to go to his inaugural End2End.
The “moderate” team decided that after the more demanding terrain of Mike’s excellent ride of last week through the Conwy Valley, a traditional Easy Riders route would be a good plan for today.  I suggested a run down through Malpas to the Wheatsheaf at No Mans Heath.  All were content.  Dave H, Steve T, Keith, Trevor, Dave & Liz on the tandem Mike G and yours truly therefore set out for a gentle ride south through the Cheshire Plain.  Crossing the A51 at Duddon we bowled along in the sunshine through Hoofield and Huxley before picking up the Cheshire Cycle Way to Tattenhall.   Here we continued south across the A41 before I suggested we swung west to add a few miles.  Through Coddington to Churton and then turning south again to skirt the eastern edge of Farndon to Shocklach, where we rejoined the Cheshire Cycle Way into Threapwood.  There was general consensus that these are the days that make cycling worthwhile and get us out on our bikes.  The sun on our backs, quiet country lanes and panoramic views across rural Cheshire to the Welsh hills in the distance, this is truly a green and pleasant land.
 Due to my indecisiveness and Dave’s eagerness to get to lunch we missed the right turn in Malpas and so did a slight detour before arriving at the Wheatsheaf at No Mans Heath (what a wonderful name).  On our previous visit we were competing with a large group of ramblers but fortunately we were the only sizable group today and had the undivided attention of the staff.  Drinks and food were quickly ordered and a 40p for a pint of lime and soda and meals for £5 you can’t beat it for value.  The usual eclectic mix of topics was discussed over lunch and then we were back in the saddle having already clocked up 30 miles.  To avoid the Pageant taking place at Cholmondeley Castle we continued eastwards re-crossing the A41 and then the A49 before turning north to Chorley and through the lanes to Bunbury, now basking in the reflected glory of its recent fame as a location for a TV series.  Our destination for afternoon tea was the old Fire Station café at Tarporley, which meant a climb up Tilstone Bank.  We had lost the tandem at Bunbury where Dave & Liz had succumbed to the call of their favourite afternoon tea stop.  The reminder of us arrived to a warm welcome from the staff at the former Fire Station.  Afternoon tea and cake were enjoyed in the warm sunshine of the rear courtyard accompanied by our usual gentle banter.  A little reluctantly we got back on the bikes for the final few miles back to Utkinton.  50 miles ridden and surprisingly 1800 feet of ascent climbed.  The Cheshire Plain is not as flat as it appears.

11th June 2015: Barthomley (brisk)

What a gorgeous summers’ day it turned out to be. Ray met me on the ride out to Rose Farm - he was only out for a short ride, as he was getting ready for his Spanish cycling trip next week. So with a lot of us out, the brisk group of Ivan, John, Tom and myself set off bound for the White Lion at Barthomley. The route out was via the Cheshire lanes of Cotebrook, Rushton and Wettenhall. Here Ray peeled off at the now defunct Boot and Slipper pub. We motor on through Church Minshull to appear at Bradford Green. Through Coppenhall Moss we arrive at Ettiley Heath. At the roundabout, the access to the NCR5 is cunningly hidden. So we start on the Wheelock Line Trail, which runs down to, Malkin’s Bank locks. Ivan’s aunty used to live in one of the houses near the canal but, as he was only 6 at the time, he can’t remember which one!
Malkin's Bank Locks

Photographs by John Wilkie and Clive Albany

Steak and Ale Pie at the White Lion
On through Hassall Green, we go over the M6 and back under and then under again to access the next part of NCR5, the Salt Line. This skirts Day Green to enter Alsager via Lawton Heath End. Out via Foxley, we go over the A500 and via Audley to go over the M6 for the fourth and last time. The run into Barthomley clocks up 29 miles and the White Lion is a welcome sight. The range of ales is impressive and the historic steak and ale pie is as excellent as ever.
The sun is high and warm but there is still 26 miles to go so we set off towards Weston. I take a wrong turn to Weston, but correcting on the fly, we end up where we should be on our way via Shavington to Nantwich. Passing Bamford Hall on the way, Ivan remarks that it was here that he passed his BR Medical in 1970. Rather than the usual long drag up to Wettenhall, I choose to go via Aston and Brindley back to Tilley’s for a cream tea. The route back to Rose Farm runs up 55 miles, but we four head back to Chester knowing that we have 80+ miles on the clock. Only a rear wheel puncture at Tattenhall spoils my day. We averaged 16.2 mph on the hottest day of the year so far, and for me, not bad for a “soon to be OAP+2 years old".
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

4th June 2015: Colwyn Bay to Betws-y-Coed Special Ride (brisk)

Snowdonia Range
Arriving at Colwyn Bay station on time, I decided that we i.e. Tom, Ivan, Ray and myself needed to warm up our legs before climbing out of Colwyn onto the ridge above. Brian Mac was also with us, so we motored along the prom to Nino’s Cafe where the Moderates were getting ready for the off. Setting off promptly, we retraced our route right along the prom before turning up through Old Colwyn to access Nant y Glyn lane. This is a delightful ever-rising lane up a valley to enable us to get onto the Llanrwst road aka B5113, on which we would rise and fall for the next 18 miles. The Nant y Glyn has a vicious sting its tail and, with my heart monitor showing an alarming 173bpm, I decided a short rest was needed! Once on the top, we rise to 1250ft over the next 18 miles with magnificent panoramas of Snowdonia and especially Tryfan. The weather is perfect, there is little traffic, the road surface is good - what more do we need! 

Photographs by Ivan Davenport and Clive Albany

Waiting for lunch
Dutch Pancake House
Out through Nebo, we rush down to Pentrefoelas. Turning right we have a 3 mile motor along the near-deserted A5 northwards. It would be easy to stay on the A5 since Betws-y-Coed is only 4 miles further on, but a quick left up over the River Conwy takes us up tiny lanes running parallel to the A5. We descend to cross the B road to Ffestiniog then take an unclassified metalled lane passing the Conwy river falls. Crossing the A road to Ffestiniog, we then take the back way into Betws-y-Coed to the railway carriage cafe lunch stop. It is a pleasant location, if you are into trains, but in reality, the food was mediocre - so next time, it is somewhere else for lunch. 
Most of the 5500ft of climbing is over and we wend our way along the B road back to Conwy town. I fancied a short diversion to Canovium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canovium), a Roman fort that controlled the Conwy river crossing around 1600-1800 years ago. Not much to see today, but the “modern 14C ” church built within the fort is delightful. Bryan had mentioned that at Rowen is the Dutch Pancake House, so a pleasant diversion to cycle by it is arranged. It turned out to be very “convenient” for me. As Tom and Ray waited for me, Ivan motored on oblivious to our calls. I wasn’t concerned because I knew where he was going to stop, the Liverpool Arms at Conwy quayside. So a little later we all arrive and enjoy a pint with him in the sunshine. Ivan was keen to get home for his grandson’s birthday party, so we leave him to catch the train, and we then motor on to the Great Orme. The cliff road is surprisingly high at 420ft but worth the fast run back into Llandudno promenade. Out via the Little Orme, I realise we are just a few minutes too late for the train, so reluctantly we stop at Nino’s Cafe for a drink and a cake.
Llandudno pier and bay
Very soon the Moderate group arrive in dribs and drabs having had an equally rewarding and enjoyable day. The only spoiler for the day was the guard of the 17:21 who wouldn’t allow three bikes on his train. We had to wait for the 17:43, which meant that Tom had to ride from Flint rather than from Shotton, but as he needs the practice for the E2E, it worked out well. The route round was 62 miles and 5500ft of climb. Perfect weather, countryside, vistas, and company - a grand day out!

4th June 2015: Rhos on Sea to Llanrwst Special Ride (mod)

As I cycled down to Nino’s restaurant in Rhos to lead the moderates on their cycle excursion of the Conwy valley I came across Jim contributing very generously to my local council tax. At Nino’s we were joined by Paul, George, Keith, Dave H and Steve T. All enjoying the rare fine weather we get in this part of the UK. After presenting Dave H with a copy of ‘Welsh with Ease’ so that he could learn some of the local language on his visit and he didn’t feel he was in a strange place, we were joined by Brian Mac, Darren and members of the brisk group Clive, Ray, Tom and Ivan.

Photographs by Brian MacDonald and Mike Gilbert

On time, nine of us mods set off in the direction of Llandudno and the Great Orme taking in St Trillo’s chapel and the Little Orme. We enjoyed the freedom of cycling on Llandudno promenade and were entertained by a Punch and Judy show prior to joining Marine Drive to take us around the Great Orme. At its Head we enjoyed fine

views across to Anglesey, these continued whilst dropping down to Llandudno West Shore including those of the north Wales coast and the Conwy estuary. We took the A546 to Deganwy and at the railway station joined the cycleway round the Conwy estuary that took us across the headland over the A55 road tunnel and onto Conwy harbour.  From the harbour we joined the one-way system and cycled past the castle, then onto the B5106 to Gyffin. From there we took minor roads to Henryd and Rowen joining the B5106 north of Tal-y-bont that took us to our lunch stop at Trefriw.  We lunched at The Old Ship (Yr Hen Long), where we enjoyed good food and fine real ales.
After lunch we took Gower Road from Trefriw to Llanrwst crossing the Afon Conwy via a pedestrian suspension bridge. In Llanrwst, Darren decided he would like to extend his ride so he went off in the direction of Nebo. The remaining eight of us took the A548 towards Abergele with two and a half miles of gradual climbing. At the summit we rested and took in the distance views of the Snowdonia mountains before joining the B5113 to take us back towards Colwyn Bay and Rhos on Sea. It was an undulating section of road with cool westerly winds. After about 6 miles we turned right and took some minor roads I knew eventually joining the B5381 at Dolwen dropping down to Llandullas via Rhyd-y-Foel. At Llandullas Jim incurred a puncture and we bade farewell to Brian Mac who was to take the train back home via Pensarn. From Llandullas the remainder took Sustrans Route 5 along the coast where we were able to observe fine coastal views on our travels back to Rhos. Overall we cycled 48 miles with about 4,000 feet of climbing.