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 31 October 2015

29th October 2015: Gronant (brisk)

The rain caught me just before arriving at the Gallery where six of us (Brian M, George, Ken, Tom, Martin and myself) ended up in the warm but a bit wet. Liz D was also out “breaking in” her healing fractured foot on the bike. I proposed a ride over the Halkyns to Gronant via St Asaph, 51 miles around. So we set off under leaden skies with the rain clearing going the usual way towards Northop. Down Magazine Lane, we espy an enormous waste lorry slowly making its way down the very narrow lane towards us. After we managed to get past via the stinging nettles in the verge, we find out why the lorry was going slowly. It was acting as a branch slayer. We had to stop many times to remove broken branches off the roadway. Out through Northop, I elect to take The Green up towards the Bluebell pub. We sensibly agree to go at our own pace and further agree to meet at the Bluebell pub. Ken, Martin and I arrive to find Tom already there! He had been at the back and hadn’t heard the routing instructions, but nonetheless had figured out where we would be. We wait for 15 minutes or more, and Ken goes back down the lane (twice) to try to find George and Brian whilst I send George an explanatory text. After 20 minutes, we four decide to ride on to Rhuallt via Babell.

Photographs by Clive Albany

The sun is out now and the visibility is extensive. At Pant, I decide to go off-piste by taking the lane to Sodom. This lane is almost level with a kick up to the top of the hill outside Tremierchion. A few more turns takes down the tiny dead-end lane to overfly the A51 and down into Rhuallt proper. Running parallel to the A51 we fly down to ride the wide footbridge over the A51 and up into St Asaph. Here we follow cycle route 84 northwest towards Rhyl, before going through Rhuddlan bound for the “Bells of St Mary” at Gronant. The castle built by Edward I in 1277 is magnificent in the sunshine as are the “Three Knights of the Road” posing by the Medieval homage sculpture at the bridge over the Clwyd river. 
The pub is heaving as it is Half Term week but service is brisk as we tuck in after 32 miles. The return is along the coast road with a few shimmies to get us running parallel but not actually on the road. Coffee and cake is at the cafe behind Sainsburys. A few more wiggles and we are in Connah’s Quay where we four go our separate ways home. So, not a spectacular routing, a mystery as to where George and Brian got to, but nonetheless an enjoyable, almost dry, bright day over the Halkyns to 900ft and back.

Sunday 25 October 2015

22nd October 2015: Cholmondeley (mod)

After the excellent turnout of the last two weeks, a total of 8 riders braved the wind and met at Manley Mere this week. With a strong westerly forecast for most of the day, Dave’s plan to visit the hanging gardens of Grappenhall was abandoned for a route south to Cholmondeley, with the wind on our right for the outward journey and on our left for the return. At least no rain was forecast, so Ray, Steve T, Keith, Dave H, Tom, Jim, Brian M and Dave M meandered along the back lanes towards the Motor Museum and Ashton. A quick sprint took us across the Kelsall by-pass and up onto the Utkinton road. Here Dave M departed on grandchildren duty and the remaining 7 skirted Tarporley to the east to cross the A51 at Tilstone. The autumn sun appeared briefly from time to time and the wind appeared to be suspiciously behind us as we continued south through Bunbury, even passing Tillys coffee and cake emporium, much to Dave’s disappointment. 
Just north of Brindley we came across a couple of fellow riders whose journey had been interrupted by an incursion of hedge cuttings. Fortunately an alternative route was available and despite a short section on main road we were soon heading south again towards Larden Green. Here we turned to the west and into the teeth of the wind, but fortunately for only a short distance before we reached our lunch stop at the Cholmondeley Arms, a pub/restaurant using the former village school building. The prices were a little above our usual budget but acceptable for good quality food. However, Ray was decidedly underwhelmed by his steak, which would have made an excellent seat cover, but to the credit of the management, a refund was agreed. 
Skirting Cholmondeley Castle Deer Park we steadily turned northwards and here Ray and Tom decided to sprint ahead, while the rest of us made our way towards Beeston. The wind showed no sign of easing off so we took the lane to the east of the ridge to gain some shelter, and from Beeston continued downhill to the Shady Oak and the Shropshire Union canal. After a brief climb we were into the wind again, but generally the hedges gave us good protection as we went through Burton, and to the rear of Okells Nurseries.  Crossing the A51 at Duddon took us into Tarvin and then over the A54 towards Barrow, where we passed to the east of the Barrowmore Estate and the last lane back to Manley Mere.
Total distance 42 miles or about 60 for those from Chester and Runcorn. Considering the strength of the wind a good day’s riding.   

Sunday 18 October 2015

15th October 2015: Ruyton-XI-Towns (brisk)

I hadn’t seen so many riders at a previous CER meet, especially one from Chirk, which is always more of an effort to start from.  Clive volunteered to lead a brisk ride into Shropshire again on what was his 6th Anniversary as a member of CER.  On the promise of small hills, I joined him along with Darren, Ivan, Steve T and Tom and agreed to write the ride up.
As we rode in a giant figure of eight, it was not long before Clive suffered a p@@@@@@@ due to the seasonal hedge trimming.  He was then supervised by the others while changing his tube.  (See photo)

Photograph by Brian MacDonald

Passing the Queens Head PH, we continued south, skirting the shop at Knockin and headed along unfamiliar lanes around the north side of The Wrekin escarpment.  Turning back north, we completed about 60% of the ride before searching for the only pub in Ruyton-XI-Towns to have lunch but found it was closed for renovation.  We then stopped at a lovely place on the old A5 at Cafe Eleven, Ruyton-Xl-Towns, SY4 1LA, tel: 07976 024 654. 
The day, as promised, stayed dry; always a blessing at this time of year.  As the brisk pace continued after lunch, after skirting Ellesmere, I decided to veer off at a more sedate pace & arrived back at the Chirk cafe with 56 miles at 15 mph on the clock.  A pleasant final ride from Chirk till next year.  

Brian Mac, now known as Macca, so as not to be confused with the new member Brian M

15th October 2015: Burlton (mod)

A large group of Easy Riders plus two guests met at the café in Chirk, for our last departure from here this year. We were also honoured by the presence of Dave M who had ridden from Holt to join us for coffee but had to return home to Oscroft for a prior afternoon appointment. The ten moderate riders of George, Trevor, Dave H, Keith B, Bryan, Brian M, Petar, Dave & Liz P, and Jim, were joined by guest riders Chris and Dave R. 
The plan was to depart via the attractive Ceiriog Valley and then descend into Shropshire for some pleasant ‘lane riding’. Prospective member Dave R used his skill to winkle out a lunch stop at Burlton and all went well until we got to Whittington, where we followed the B 5009 south to West Felton. The road was wide straight and boring: clearly the old main road downgraded after the opening of the A5. To the local drivers this was an opportunity to make good progress without much traffic. For those who enjoy main road riding, fine, but not for us. I would recommend a change of route in future. However, we were soon onto the lanes after the village, and began to make good progress until Bryan picked up a puncture. This was soon repaired and we continued eastwards towards Wykey and Stanwardine in the Fields. The chilly autumn weather was briefly relieved as the sun came out for part of the route to Marton and our lunch stop at Burlton. 
The Burlton Arms turned out to be a real find: newly re-furbished with a range of beers and good choice of food. Soon we were back on the road again, this time to the north and Loppington, where we took a sharp left to English Frankton and Colemere. Continuing westwards, we passed the sailing dinghies on White Mere on our way to Welsh Frankton. By the time we got to Hindford we had another puncture, this time to guest rider Dave R. While this was fixed Brian M spent some time talking to the owner of the land we had stopped on and he learned that the owner is in the process of constructing an outdoor snack bar and food area for canal boaters and cyclists. A stop to look out for in the future.
Soon we were back in Gobowen and the road to Chirk. The traffic island on the A5 was an experience, but we all survived to reach the village car park at about 16:30. 
A total distance of about 43 miles on mostly pleasant lanes and above all another dry day. How long can this go on?          

Sunday 11 October 2015

8th October 2015: Whitchurch to Shawbury Special Ride (mod)

With the promise of another dry day our biggest group yet met at Sainsbury’s café in Whitchurch for a day out in Shropshire. The CER members of Dave H, Dave M, Keith, Bryan, George, Trevor, Andy, Dave & Liz P, Petar and Jim were joined by two guest riders, Jane and Keith M.
The most difficult part was finding Alkington Road out of town, but Andy and Dave M skilfully led us in the right direction (by following the signs!) and we were soon heading south towards Whixall.

However, hardly had we exited Alkington before we came across a ‘Road Closed’ sign. Mindful of our experience the previous week, we ignored it again and found ourselves faced by a raised canal bridge. AND, a canal bridge that looked like it was not going to be lowered for some considerable time. Fortunately, the canal narrowed substantially at this point, presumably to reduce bridge building costs, and a narrow boat, the Ottar, was slowly moving through the pinch point. Much to our delight, the ‘bargees’ Jeff, Jim and Peter suggested that we simply cross onto the barge and onto the bank opposite. Without further delay, we passed our bikes and bodies over the cut and in no time at all had defeated the road closure. Southwards we went, into Whixall Fen, an area with a very interesting WW2 history. The lanes were well-surfaced and coupled with the lack of traffic, the ride through Waterloo, Horton and Loppington was a delight. We soon arrived at Burlton, where the brisk group had gone south but we were heading east. A short stretch of main road led to us to Myddle where we got into a bit of a muddle on a hill and found ourselves ‘tandemless’. Keith retraced our route, and using the modern miracle of the wireless telephone we agreed to meet up further along the road. Passing through Harmer Hill and Yorton, we were soon all back together again, and continued eastwards through Grinshill and Acton Reynald.

Photographs by Andy Whitgreave and Bryan Wade

A short diversion found us posing for photos outside the sadly ruined Moreton Corbet Castle, and then skirting the boundaries of RAF Shawbury, we arrived at the ‘Elephant and Castle’ as the brisk group were finishing their meal. We were given a very pleasant reception by the hotel staff, who had even organised a ‘cyclists special’ menu for us, and were not at all put out by having a group of 13 appear for lunch mid-week. Service was good, and we were soon ready for the return. Dave M had set off in advance as he had matters of state to attend to, leaving the remaining 12 to the climb up Marchamley Hill. To their credit, most of the group rode to the top, though some of us took the opportunity to have a gentle stroll. From then on it was mostly downhill north to Prees Heath where we crossed the A41 and up to Ightfield, then Ash Parva and Ash Magna to the Whitchurch ring road.
45 miles on some of the best lanes we have ridden on for some time. An excellent route and great autumn weather: a day to remember.      
See route map and/or gpx file download.

Friday 9 October 2015

8th October 2015: Whitchurch to Shawbury Special Ride (brisk)

I hadn’t quite expected 21 riders out for the last Special Ride of the year, but the numbers kept rising in the last few days; some I knew were coming, and some I didn’t! - but all were well rewarded by quite the best ride of the year - but then I’m biased! Firstly, my thanks to Jim who kindly agreed to lead the Moderate group out. No doubt a mammoth job with 12 bikes and just an unfamiliar squiggly line on his bikenav.

The Brisk group, consisting of Ivan, Ray, Paul, Steve T, Ken, John, Tom and myself, set off around Whitchurch and out bound for Alkington. There is a steady climb out of Whitchurch over 3 miles before we dropped down through familiar villages before skirting Loppington and arriving at Waterloo. Then there is 7 miles of quiet tiny lanes before Myddle. Here as the Moderate group would go eastwards, we were turning south through the middle of Myddle just passing the middle of our outward ride. From thence onward it was all new lanes to all of us, and what lanes they were. Fourteen miles of tiny yet fast lanes with fabulous Salopian countryside to enjoy in the sunshine. The Garmin riders lead the ride for me here, eager to get to the pub.

Photographs by Clive Albany

We arrive in under two hours with 30 miles up. The “Elephant and Castle” were ready for us with tables set and stoves ready. Given eight orders went in, they came out quite promptly and were appreciated by all (I think?). A useful venue for future rides perhaps. Leaving at 13:30, we set off north and briefly stopped at Moreton Corbet castle ruins. What a site it must have been in February 1216 when William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, besieged it on the orders of King John. The Elizabethan additions were also magnificent in the sunshine. So we now head inexorably for Marchamley Hill, the only obstacle on the way back. Although most of the route back was familiar to me, the sunny countryside was magnificent in its autumn colouration. At Prees Higher Heath, a nip across the A41, sends on our way via Ightfield, back to Sainsbury’s for a drink and cakes by 15:00. For me Shropshire seems to be a cyclist paradise of quiet lanes and big views without too many big hills, so maybe more away rides will be planned there in the future. As we got into our cars, Paul was joined by John on his ride back home to Chester - a 100 up today for Paul. Hopefully Keith M and Jane maybe tempted out again with us in the future.
See route map and/or gpx file download.

PS: Thanks to Sainsbury’s Whitchurch store for allowing us to park at the store.

Monday 5 October 2015

1st October 2015: Cefn-y-bedd (mod)

An impressive turnout of 13 Easy Riders met at the Roodee Café to be joined by guest rider Chris on a very chilly morning but with the promise of sun later.
The brisk group had had a long ride on Tuesday and decided to join us for the ride originally planned for Pant-yr-Ochain, but just as we were about to set off Brian M spotted a puncture: rear wheel of course! Then Ray noticed a broken spoke and set off home for a change of bike. Meanwhile, Martin, Dave H, Dave M, Trevor, Keith, George, Jim, Clive and Dave & Liz, helped fix Brian’s tyre. 
Several minutes later we set off for Handbridge, Kinnerton and Hope. Crossing the Alyn valley, we continued upwards round the flank of Hope Mountain and onto the Corwen road at Treuddyn. With most of the climbing done we sped down the Cegidog valley towards Ffrith. A ‘road closed’ sign was ignored and we continued to within a few yards of ‘The Steps’ to be informed by the workers that the road was indeed closed due to several large holes that had appeared: we couldn’t even walk through.  Reluctantly we retraced our route to the diversion through Ffrith: uphill naturally. Much to our surprise we met George at the junction. He had had a slight mechanical problem and got a bit off pace due to our rather enthusiastic downhilling. By now, time was also speeding away, and we decided not to head for our original destination, but to go to Cefn-y-bedd. There we found the Hollybush - ‘food served all day’. Ideal for us, and the staff were not phased by such a large group.  The meals were well priced and a good choice: will definitely go there again. Chris left us at this point to take up grandparent duties. I hope he enjoyed his first foray with CER.
Ivan's Corner, Llay

Photograph by Clive Albany

Martin peeled off a little later as we took the back road through Llay for a photo stop at ‘Ivan’s Corner’. Clive recommended a very nice lane parallel with the A483 that took us to Marford but without having to climb the steep hill up into Gresford. Here it really was all downhill and we soon reached the Cleopatra’s in Holt. Too soon for some, but the general feeling seemed to be for coffee and cake, so we reclined in the afternoon sun taking in the bustle of Holt Main Street. The return was through Farndon and the Churton and Aldford by-passes, before we split again at Saighton. The Chester group continued on to Sandy Lane, while the rest headed for Waverton and Guilden Sutton.
About 45 miles in total, and a very sunny afternoon. Met men right again!

Saturday 3 October 2015

24th September 2015: Ellesmere (mod)

There was an excellent turnout at Cleopatra's in Holt: Ray, Brian Miller, Dave Matthews, John, Clive, Jim, Keith, Dave and Liz, Mike, Steve Tan and myself.  John wasn't riding with us today, probably going to track down a car driver who had invaded his space in order to have a therapeutic rant!  Dave Matthews was able to make it today.  We did feel privileged.  It was like having Prince William agreeing to go with you to watch the rugby.  
Jim had a route to Ellesmere that I also had been thinking of, so he agreed to lead, and I offered to write the ride up.  The rest of the group was happy to go along with the suggestion.  It was a pleasure to have everybody out together: just like the good old days, before Jeremy Kyle and electric handbrakes.
 After crossing the river to Farndon we were soon bowling along south through Shocklach and Threapwood toward Hanmer.  We made steady progress.  The late summer scenery looked lovely, and there was only marginal slowing for dress adjustments.  I think Dave and Liz must have been practising their routine like the Mercedes pit- stop team.  It is that time of the year, in terms of cool starts that could stay chilly or become warmish.  Shorts or tights?  Long or short sleeves?  Shell outer or not?  Or, increasingly with our group, the burlesque-like unzipping and peeling off of sleeves from Aldi gilets.
Hanmer Mere looked attractive in the sun, then we climbed alongside Bettisfied Park.  The narrow, rolling lanes around Cole Mere and White Mere were delightful.  It is a great pleasure to pedal, buried in Shropshire's warm, late season lushness.
We decided on The Black Lion for lunch with Keith falling off in his eagerness to reach the back entrance. Steve thought that an attractive lady on the pavement had distracted him, not the first time he's fallen for a blonde, I bet! 
Lunch was fine for most, but Ray and I endured the most underwhelming chili con carne of our lives. Talk about no frills!  No real chef would have had the face to present this as an acceptable dish. Do you remember Vesta meals?!  And, they forgot my pot of tea!  Our return was via Penley, Holly Bush, Bangor on Dee and north up the B5069.  After climbing up from the River Clywedog, Steve and Keith took off for the now traditional last few miles thrash.  Mike waited to take to the little lanes up from Sutton Green with half the group.  I speeded up, with the pull of cake and coffee getting ever stronger. 
Clive and Ray caught up just before Holt, and a number of us ended the day relaxing in Cleopatra's where they treat us just fine.  Forty very scenic and social miles.