Originally advertised as 130 miles including the loop around Wildboarclough following the Cheshire Cycleway, had me wondering whether I was up for a full “200k hilly Audax”. However the rumour was that Colin had recce’d the route and found the Wildboarclough loop would take at least 2½ hrs and a shorter 104 ml relatively flat route would be more manageable.
With rain threatened and a no big climbs I opted for the fixed bike set up for winter with good tyres and guards. This was to be a mixed blessing on the ride!
Colin, Tom, Clive and Dave P met at the Station in Chester for an 8:30 start. I was defiantly the slowest, so with Tom well prepared after LEJOG doing 100 miles every day for 10 days and Clive and Colin regular brisk riders I was put at the front to set a pace comfortable for me. A steady ride out via Delamere where the descent and climb saw me catching up on the flat and finding a wheel to follow was the best option now the group knew my pace. With a slight tailwind we continued on to Acton Bridge, Great Budworth and High Legh Garden Centre for elevenses.
From here we were in “new” territory providing a splendid ride for the middle 50 miles in leafy undulating countryside on lanes not seen on our regular Thursday rides.
The second leg to lunch took us to Bucklow Hill, Ashley, Mobberley Station and Nether Alderley and up onto Alderley Edge where the 1 mile climb rising 300ft up Artists Lane to the Wizard where the geared riders left me wishing for a lower gear. After we regrouped at the top we were rewarded by flat roads then slight descent to the Blacksmiths Arms at Henbury to sample the local ale and pub grub.
After lunch the rain threatened with black clouds and a few spots of rain. As we dropped back onto the Cheshire Plane the group made good time and the weather outlook improved. The route now took us south to skirt Congleton and then bear west towards the motorway. Here an interesting choice of route for the Cheshire Cycleway saw us cross the M6 three times in 3 miles presumably so that the stony track over the second crossing could be included. (It can be avoided by an equidistant but less adventurous route omitting the first two crossings.) I shouldn’t complain though as this was the only section where I had to wait for the others to catch up (The benefit of good tyres and no bouncing chain – not my fitness). We were soon heading back into familiar territory with the afternoon stop at the Pillory Cafe in Nantwich where we got our usual warm welcome.
The last leg of the route followed the often ridden section of the Cheshire Cycleway via Wettenhall, Eaton, and up to the “Secret Path” over the A49 to Utkinton. I was now struggling on the hills but Colin true to his word would not push on without me in spite of me telling them to do so. Colin came back to find me and the group waited and escorted me back through Waverton to return to Chester Station at 17:30 after a thoroughly enjoyable ride and no rain in spite of very ominous black clouds .
Thanks to Colin for organising the ride.
See route map and/or gpx file download.
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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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