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 27 December 2015

24th December 2015: Churton

I swung by Ivan’s new abode to ride out with him on his first CER ride post his “Christmas Lights” incident. Wincing on and off as each bump aggravated his healing process, we made our way out to Rose Farm in the gloom. Arriving on time we found the cafe firmly shut. However a very nice man had left a message with the staff that any riders should go on to The Old Fire Station in Tarporley. We found Andy tucking into his toasted teacake and set about doing the same. John soon turns up; once he had realised it wasn’t Manley today. Dave M completed the motley numbers, but he was in the VW and not the bike. 
We took our time over coffee and the teacakes, but eventually we all departed: Andy and Dave for home, and “We Three Kings” for a round about route to the White Horse in Churton. So swinging around the town, we ride through Tiverton taking the right back towards Huxley. Down past the Shady Oak, we ride steadily on through Tattenhall bound for Chowley Oak and Cuddington. The rain clouds are gathering as we make it into the White Horse before they can drop their load. The weather improves and, after an abstemious single pint, we head for home. The sun is out now, but it was not shining on John today. Twice we stopped to try to fix a very dodgy bottom bracket with the bolt holding the left pedal on was coming loose. John waved us on just outside Huntingdon, as he no doubt proceeded slowly into Halfords for repairs. So only 32 miles out and back but we were at least out!

Friday 18 December 2015

17th December 2015: Holywell (brisk)

I was surprised to see so many riders at the Gallery given the definite chance of rain and hills. I offered a 40 mile round trip via Wetherspoons in Holywell, which was accepted in the time-honoured fashion i.e. an absence of any other offers. It rained a little as we slid around Buckley on our way to Sychdyn and then the lanes ever upwards to Rhosesmor. This route was used as a change from the usual way out via Northop. At a catch-up stop at the highest point of 923ft at Moel-y-crio, Dave H suggested an alternate ride to the Red Lion at Llanasa to minimise the ups-and-downs of my round about route to Holywell. So after the majority accepts this, Ken and Mike McC sped after me down the hillside towards Rhes-y-Cae bound for Holywell the long way round. The route is via the lanes of Lixwm, Babell and the edge of Cerwys towards the crossing point over the A55 at the top of Rhuallt Hill. 
Then I realise we could join and “surprise” the Moderates by getting to the Red Lion ahead of them, so we re-route via Trelawynd. There’s just one single chevroned hill left to go now as we all are flagging after 25 miles. However the “surprise” is on us as the Red Lion is shut! I try to call Steve T to advise them to change their lunch venue, but the telecoms are a bit flakey. So we three grind out of the vale and on around Whitford to Holywell and into the busy Market Cross pub with now 32 miles completed. A text from Steve tells me they are actually in Caerwys for lunch! The Moderates must have been psychic, or realised Llanasa was a long way to go. We set off back in clearing skies along the old Chester A road before diving down into Flint and along the coast road to Shotton. Mike and I peel off for the Greenway, whilst Ken powers on via Hawarden completing 46 miles with 2900ft of climbs, before passing through, still on his bike, back to Rossett.

17th December 2015: Caerwys (mod)

On a damp but very mild December morning we assembled at the Gallery Tea room.  Jim was only there to wish us Bon voyage and so Clive, Ken, Mike McC, Dave H, Steve T, Steve H, Keith, Bryan and yours truly set out.  Clive led us through Buckley, and on towards Northop utilising an ingenious set of back roads and country lanes, most of which even a local such as myself was unaware of.  As we approached Northop we all knew that the hard climb up onto Halkyn mountain lay ahead.  Undeterred we dug in and after 20 minutes or so of steady, occasionally testing terrain we got to the summit above Rhes-y-cae.  
A short team meeting concluded that we form two groups at this point.  Clive, along with Ken and Mike McC would push on to Holywell and the rest of us would aim for the Red Lion at Llanasa at a more leisurely pace.  This pace proved even more "leisurely" than we had planned and a further team meeting decided on a change of lunch venue.  Prompted in part by Dave H's rumbling stomach.  The Piccadilly in Caerwys was our chosen venue.

Photograph by Steve Tan

Despite a full car park the bar area was quiet.  Drinks were quickly served and at a £1 a pint for lime and soda the omens were good.  Friendly staff had our food orders sorted and our meals arrived speedily.  The only negative comment came from the potato chip enthusiasts amongst us.  The pub has succumbed to the latest affectation of serving chips in a small wire basket.  A cunning plot to give you less chips was the verdict.  While eating Steve T had a message from Clive to say that the Red Lion in Llanasa was closed.  The cycling gods were smiling on us today.
Suitably replenished we left the pub turning first north and then west.  This convoluted route designed to get us to one of the few crossing points over the A55.  As we approached the top of Rhuallt hill we noticed the field of commercially grown daffodils were well clear of the ground, a mild winter indeed thus far.  Over the A55 we turned east on quiet well surfaced, if a little "clarty" lanes.  I managed to achieve my objective of keeping us off the main A5151 as long as possible.
A short burst took us to the roundabout where the A5151 turns south to join the A55.  We carried straight on through Gorsedd to Pantasaph.  Re-crossing the A55 we cycled past Holywell Golf Club avoiding the suicidal sheep wandering freely on the common land and after a further steady climb regained the top of Halkyn mountain.  The weather had cleared and we bowled along the summit enjoying the fine views across the Wirral.  Retracing our steps down the lanes below Rhosesmor we regained Northop village where I left the five musketeers to make their way back to the start via Northop Hall re-crossing the A55 for the final time.  An enjoyable 42 miles to finish this year's forages into Wales.

Friday 11 December 2015

10th December 2015: Christmas Lunch Ride to The Pant-yr-Ochain

With another year coming to an end it’s the day of our Christmas Lunch ride to The Pant-yr-Ochain and although the weather leaves much to be desired only a couple have signalled their intention to drive rather than cycle.  I arrive at Manley Mere early to find a good number already assembled.  In addition to those already booked it’s good to see David M and Clive who will be joining us for the ride and lunch, together with Mike McC joining for the ride out only as he has to get back early.  Then Steve T introduces Sue who has come along to check us out before joining our rides in the New Year.
While I concentrate on collecting the monies due and advise the Pant of the additional diners the others enjoy a pre-ride coffee: not many toasted teacake orders today!  By 10:30 with the shortest possible route agreed it’s time to leave and I ask Dave and Liz on the tandem if they would lead the ride.  This proves to be something of a poisoned chalice, as I hadn’t allowed sufficient time for the journey: apologies to all, particularly Dave and Liz P.  With hindsight we were never going to make the Pant by noon.
We set off and, deep in conversation, we half miss our second turning necessitating a sharp U turn and from then on it's all downhill.  With new leaders up front the group is soon spread out as we go through Great Barrow.  I drop back to wait for the tail enders and end up with a small sub group but no sign of the tandem.  A call to their mobile gets no response so we decide to press on to Stamford Bridge to cross the main road and take the first left to Waverton.  At The Plough we meet up with the lead group who it turns out had taken the second on the left after Stamford Bridge: no sign of Clive and Andy though, although the tandem duo do report in that they will see us at the Pant.
The remaining eight of us continue on the original route through Saighton, Aldford, Farndon, Holt and Gresford before being joined by Clive and Andy who had been delayed by a rear wheel puncture after turning off the main road to Waverton.  All’s well that ends well and we arrive at the Pant just before 12:30 in time to join those that had made their own way there.

Photographs by Mike Gilbert

Meals at The Pant are always a pleasure and, judging by the feedback, today was no exception.  A great meal, a superb range of ales and great company: and yes Dave and Liz P did make it just as the starters were being served.  Once the starters were out of the way it was time to raffle off a bottle of Silver Select Jack Daniels whiskey kindly donated by a group of cyclists from the USA as thanks for the help we were able to give them over the summer with the winner being Steve T.
For the record those present comprised: Bryan W, Brian Macca, Mike G, Dave H, Steve T, Trevor, Dave & Liz P, Andy, Steve H, Petar, David M, Liz & Martin D, Clive and Mike McC.
At 15:00 it was time to make a move if we were to get back in daylight.  The main contingent sped back along the B road through Rossett and Pulford with others heading for home in other directions. 

Saturday 5 December 2015

3rd December 2015: Overton (mod)

A handful of members gathered at Alyn Waters under ominous skies and a worse forecast promising heavy rain and strong southerly gusts later. Clive, Tom and Ivan had cycled out from home and it made sense for these ‘brisk’ riders to take a route that led them back northwards.  This left me, Mike Mc and Brian M to dream up our own route that returned us to Alyn.  I chose a personal favourite destination of the White Horse in Overton. 
We set out eastwards, turning at Ivan’s corner for the steep climb to Gresford. After a slight incident at Gresford church that left Brian with access only to his small chainring, we followed lanes south, past the anti-fracking camp on Borras Road, and skirted Wrexham Industrial Estate to pick up the Holt to Cross Lanes road. From here we sped down the A525 into Bangor on Dee and then out on the Overton Road. We arrived at the White Horse early and were treated with good Joules beer and substantial fare. I think this pub may also become a favourite with Mike and Brian.
With only short spells of the threatened rain, we headed onward past Overton Bridge and north to Eyton and then on towards Johnstown. A mix of minor lanes and B-roads led us northwards and into Brymbo.  From here it was a short run on minor roads towards Gwersyllt and back to Alyn Waters.
A relatively early return saw us back before the weather broke with just over 30 miles completed.

3rd December 2015: Northop (brisk)

As I left for Alyn on the 17 mile slog via the Wrexham Road, it was so dark that I had the bike lights on for the first time in ages. Ivan and I rode out of Chester straight up Marford Hill rather than chancing Davenport Corner in the wet conditions - it was mizzling on and off as we arrived at Alyn. There were six riders in total; three more than I expected given the weather forecast. I had put together a short, northern ride to Northop, mainly because I wanted to be home early in the afternoon. Steve H didn’t fancy the return loop into the strengthening wind, so opted for a meander Overton way. 

Photograph by Clive Albany

Ivan, Tom (aka “Jim” see last week’s brisk blog) and I set off up the eponymously named Windy Hill to cross the Minera Steps road towards Ffrith. It is beautiful countryside around here, even at the start of Winter. We motor on through Nercwys towards Gwernymynydd. We divert upwards to 980ft passing the lonely Owain Glyndwr pub and then onwards towards Rhydymwyn and, by this time, I’ve run out of “y”s to type the long Welsh village names. The lane down to R….n runs high up along the Alyn Valley and, in the village, I espy a wall plaque (see photo). Given Felix’s musical talent, we might have had “Rhydymwyn’s Valley” to listen to as well as “Fingal’s Cave” - but no, he wrote a piece about the Alyn river. And, perhaps Charles Kingsley was inspired to write  “The Water Babies” after his visits here. For more interesting facts about the village, Wiki is worth a read on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhydymwyn. The only way out now is up, and taking the tiny, leaf-strewn very steep lane by the limestone quarry, we arrive at Rhosesmor where we know the final part of the ride is all down hill to the “Red Lion” in Northop. 
We are the first punters of the day and relax after a surfeit of steep climbs over the 19 miles. Post lunch, we decide to run for home. Tom has to get ready for a holiday in Goa, and Ivan and I have things to do back in Chester. So the return route would have made a 31 miler, but today the climbs and advancing years and threat of wind and rain influenced us to go home for an early bike wash and hot shower.