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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Thursday 29 September 2016

29th September 2016: Holywell (brisk)

A beautifully sunny but very windy Autumn day was in prospect as six of us left Hawarden bound for Holywell. Tom, Ivan, Ray, Steve T, and Dave P were on a magical mystery tour today as the route I had planned wasn't the most obvious. Now read on.

We start conventionally by clambering up to Buckley and then out via New Brighton (why?) to Sychdyn. We drop down fast onto the A541 Mold to Denbigh road riding its rough surface to Rhydymwyn. Branching left, we stop briefly at the Mendelsohn memorial plaque, before continuing along the very narrow and hilly lane around Nant Alyn and its quarry. Turning North, we hit the A541 again and charge up to Nannerch. The first left finds us wheezing our way up to the car park at Penycloddiau Iron Age Hill fort at 950ft. One mountain north of Moel Arthur, this magnificient monument has spectacular 360 degree views of the Welsh countryside. It is a popular walking site, which I have used several times – highly recommended!

The road down has been re-tarmacced and it is a fast descent down to the Kinmel Arms pub at Waun. Ivan's convinced we are going to the Wetherspoons in Mold, so I obligingly head north to Bodfari where we hit the A541 again and motor back towards Mold. At Afon Wen however, we turn left to Caerwys and Ray ominously says “It's a long hill” and he is right! We rest outside the cafe in the centre of the village – popular with cyclists as it turns out.

Taking a tiny right lane out of the town, we bowl along tiny “un-ridden” lanes via Pant to Pantasaph. I can't resist a mini-diversion around the back of the Friary up over one more hill before lunch. It's now a short downhill run through Carmel and into the “Market Cross” Spoons pub for lunch. After 31 miles and nearly 1000m of climb we are ready for it. As ever, Wetherspoons is busy but delivers fast and effectively as I down my pint of 6% Quagmire ale - one will do today.

I promise the lads that it was all downhill now – well it is for the most part, except for the slow climb out of Holywell running parallel to the A55 before sliding down the lanes into Flint and out towards Oakenholt. Here, Steve T unfortunately has to ride (uphill) alone along Papermill Lane towards Northop Hall and Hawarden. He has ridden 45 very hilly miles but has seen some new lanes today and some memorable countryside. The rest of us run back down the Greenway and home for an early shower.


Monday 26 September 2016

22nd September 2016: Macclesfield (brisk)

Meeting up at Manley Mere today the weather is still warm and wearing of shorts still obligatory although sleeved shirts an option.There were a large group of riders already assembled at the café so two groups available. Three riders had felt the tarmac at the entrance to Manley today and Clive was one of them so he was going to join the Mod’s. The Brisk group were Tom, 2 x Johns and myself. Always looking to try new locations and roads, a route to Macclesfield via Alderley Edge was proposed and accepted. When discussing the route with the team, Dave Mathews, who was enjoying a coffee morning after his French cycle tour, made reference to the Wizard Inn. I had never heard of the place but our group captain Clive had.
As our determined time for departure approached, all riders left the café and the Mod’s were taking a route to Gt Budworth to stir the locals up with loud chatter and boyish behaviour, whereas the Brisk group had a delay in departure as Tom had a rear flat. After nearly ripping his nail off fighting with a tyre lever, we were ready for off 10 minutes later and headed off towards Mouldsworth turning left onto Delamere lane, another location where Clive has felt the tarmac but with no serious injuries to note.
We ride the usual roads running parallel to the main Kingsley – Crowton B5153 which are much quieter, and continuing through Hartford to Davenham. It is then to Lach Dennis and Lower Peover before we venture on the lanes to Alderley Edge. On the Strava app there is reference on the approach to Alderley as “lets go waggin” although passing through the town we didn’t spot anyone famous although a comment from John W was “Now there's a real car” as some silver streak went by!
It is here that we had our only ascent of the day which I now know as Wizard Hill, and, after puffing up this 6.8% stretch of road, we pass “The Wizard Inn”; so now I know where another ride will be heading in the future. From the summit, it is a great down-hill run into Macclesfield and we really burn the tarmac in our haste to get to "The Society Rooms" which is a Wetherspoons hostelry.
We cycle through the town and arrive at our lunch stop. As usual this establishment is up to the mark with two steak and kidney puddings, chips, peas and gravy lunches for £7.99 and a free pint of golden ale from Tom made a really good meal. Our food is quickly served and devoured, and we are ready for the off again. I did mention to the group that as it was down hill to the town it is probably up hill to get out but, after a good lunch, it was nothing to worry about.
From Macclesfield, we rode on new lanes passing through the villages of Lyme Green, Gawsworth, and Marton before arriving at the outskirts of Holmes Chapel. We were heading along a lane and could see the end was a farm yard. A car was heading towards us so we flagged the driver down to enquire if there was a continuous route – although she lived on the farm, she advised there was a right of way through, but had no idea where it lead to as she always drives! Very pretty though, and a blonde driver. Making a U-turn, we retraced our sat nav route and did the usual Right and Right and within a mile we were back on track and riding again through Davenham completing the figure of eight circuit.

We stopped for a photo on the bridges over the Weaver before heading on to Whitegate and Little Budworth then the uphill lane passing Rose Farm café and the familiar route back to Manley. We turn left at the cross roads and head home for Chester and completing 79 miles to and from Manley or, for Tom, 110 miles to and from Shotton.

A comment was made at the start of our ride today that we should enjoy the ride and stop racing around the country side. Speaking on behalf of the Brisk group today, we have all ridden in excess of 80 miles and enjoyed every mile. 

We still enjoy banter as we ride. Not racing around, but riding at an average today of 16mph, and all within our comfort zone. John M, since joining the Brisk group, is now a rider who enjoys a more consistent pace and exploring more countryside.


Photographs by Ivan Davenport and John Wilkie

Saturday 24 September 2016

22nd September 2016: Great Budworth (mod)

It was a good turnout at Manley Mere on a warm Indian summer’s day in late September when 5 lucky souls followed Dave H on the Moderate ride - Andy, Clive, John B, Jim and Macca.  Prior to their arrival there, three riders all came off separately at the same corner as they turned into the cafe entrance.  Trevor was nursing his blooded wounds and decided to go home, Clive has a huge scrape on his thigh which he insisted on dropping his bib to show everyone, while I hardly had a scratch.  Going out we all examined the road surface but could see no reason for a fall to occur, gremlins maybe.  Bryan and Dave M had joined us for coffee as well. 
Photos by Macca
It was thankfully a completely uneventful morning after that early drama as we meandered through the warm countryside over Acton Bridge and Arley Hall to the Great Budworth Ice Cream Farm.  We all sat outside for lunch, probably for the last time this year, with the highlight being a marzipan milk-shake (not recommended)

The afternoon cycle back was a classic easy-ride through the crops being harvested and along the canal towpath to bring us out near Kingsley.  Then it was across the hills in the forest, down to Ashton and back to Manley having covered 44 miles from the cafe.


15th September 2016: Chirk to Ruyton XI Towns

It promised to be a fine day for our final visit to Chirk of the year and when we arrived at the café there was a good group to meet us. Six of us (John, Jim, Dave H, Chris, Brian Macca and myself) were interested in a moderate ride but no-one had a ride prepared. So I looked through the past rides on my Garmin and came up with 41-miler. It looked vaguely oval with Chirk at one end and the village of Baschurch at the other. But ‘what is the pub for our lunch stop?’ came the question. ‘Haven’t a clue’ I answered and no-one else could recall a pub we had been to in Baschurch either.
Photos by Macca
And so our ride became a bit of a mystery tour and we set off blindly following a thin red line on a tiny screen. The route out of Chirk took us down to the canal and across Telford’s viaduct, dodging the pedestrians along the towpath. Then we were dodging the traffic as we crossed the A5 roundabout before we reached the relative safety of the Shropshire lanes. We headed south through the villages of Hindford, Tetchill, Hordley & Bagley and approached Baschurch with lunch on our minds. However it soon became apparent that we weren’t going to pass a pub in Baschurch. So I expanded the map on my Garmin and discovered that the next village was Ruyton-XI-Towns. Mystery solved – our lunch stop was to be the Talbot Inn.

The last time I visited the Talbot it was under new management. It appears that the new landlords are intent on the place becoming a bit up-market from the village pub that it used to be and this was reflected in the cost of a lime & soda – a whopping £2.40!!! However the sandwiches proved to be good value and we each tucked into one as we sat out in the sunshine.

Our return journey started with the short sharp climb up towards Wykey which got our legs working again. We passed through West Felton and Maesbury criss-crossing the A5 three times to enter the outskirts of Oswestry. We avoided the town centre and headed up past the old hill fort, then following the contours to Weston Rhyn. Finally we dropped down to Chirk Bank to re-join the canal where we retraced our route back into Chirk. Another great day’s cycling – good weather, good countryside and, above all, good company.


Monday 19 September 2016

15th September 2016: Lake Vyrnwy (brisk)

On arrival at Chirk station, we made our way to the Tea Shop café and were soon joined by several CER members.The moderates were contemplating a route but Brisk already knew where they were going - upwards and onwards! Lake Vyrnwy was a 60 mile round trip with 1600 metres of climbing.

At 10:30 Ray, Tom, John M, Steve T and I set off heading down Chirk Bank turning right and passing over the canal. Taking the route out of Chirk via Weston Rhyn and Sellatyn following the prepared Garmin route, I was heading for the B4580 but missed the right hand turning then decided to continue into Oswestry. On arrival in the town, I turned left thinking I knew where I was going. Unable to pick up the route as my Edge was not responding, we arrive at the far side of town and on the busy A5. Time to review route properly and get back on track. I have to re-boot the Garmin and finally get the required info to get us back on track so its reverse and ride back through town and finally find the route. Had we turned left at the end of the Oswestry road (Ye Olde White Lion jnc.) we would have immediately been on course and avoided the extra 4 miles!!

The road now taken is the circuitous route round to Glyn Ceiriog and was the start of the up and up ride. We continue along the B4580 to Llansilin before turning left and heading for Llanfyllin. The day's weather was forecast as warm with high of 26C and we were all pretty warmed up now. Riding the lanes was great, but we were still in a poor visibility due to light fog spoiling of vista views. Through Llanfihangel, an old railway town, it is still upwards cycling. We have ridden some big hills and after 20 something miles we are at the top of Llanfihangel Hill (1100meteres of ascent completed) and ready for the descent to Lake Vyrnwy – hooray!!

Arriving at the lake, it is photo call on the only bridge over the reservoir and we are fortunate to have a fellow cyclist to take a well-earned group photo of the complete worn out Brisk riders. The reservoir was built in the 1880s and was built to supply water to Merseyside. The dams were built and the Vyrnwy valley flooded submerging the village of Llanwddyn. The lake was full today and with the now blue skies was an ideal cycle venue. It is 12 miles to cycle round the lake so I gave this idea a miss and headed for the Tower restaurant and some well-earned lunch.
Smiling through the pain!
The Lake!

We are eating at the Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa sitting outside on the sun balcony enjoying the splendid views across the lake. A really good lunch was delivered to our table in approx. 5 minutes of sitting down, so service has to be congratulated on. My four colleagues all went for the lime and soda at £1.60 but I could not resist a pint and enjoyed the full flavour of a local brew.

Unusually, we were not really looking forward to the return ride and were considering getting our other halves to come and pick us up, but we get back on the saddle and retrace our route back to the Vernwy hairpin bend turning left onto the B4396 and now will remain on this road for approx. 13 miles.

It is only a 7% climb out of the valley and we are soon at the top and enjoying a relative flat ride for the first time today. We arrive at a “Road Blocked” sign but choose to pass as you can always get past on a bike!- but, on arrival at the blocked site, it is a river bridge that's out!! A big JCB is working and 4 guys on shovels standing along side.As there was a little road surface showing, a polite “Please may we pass" was asked.The response was “No, go round the diversion”; oh dear, we don't fancy that alternative! We stood our ground and after a couple of minutes hard staring at the workers, they called a stop to working with the JCB and thankfully allowed us to pass.

My Garmin was flashing Chirk Bank 1.5 miles and I knew this was our last climb of the day to speak of. We turn off the B4396 and head up hill and we are soon at the top - exhausted except for flyer Tom who seems to give the impression he is now on a Sunday ramble. Our route now passes through Treflach and the route into Oswestry. No going wrong now we turn left onto the Chirk road and Hengoed road passing for the last time Weston Rhyn and Chirk Bank. Arriving back into Chirk at 16:10 we are to early for the next train back to Chester so ice cream and refreshments are taken after covering 63 miles and 5030ft or 1600 metres of ascent and managed an average of 13.5mph. Although the route out was given as hilly the ride today was a challenge. Very rewarding for completing and the company was great making a memorable day for CER.


Photographs by ANO Cyclist (on Ivan's phone) and Steve Tan

Friday 9 September 2016

8th September 2016: Norton-in-Hales (mod)

I’d been very tempted by the write up from the brisk group for the Hinds Head at Norton-in-Hales a few weeks ago. It was a place that demanded a repeat visit, and starting from the Ice Cream Farm it was a manageable a ride of around 50 miles. I had copied most of the brisk route but reversed it.

Our group included both brisk and moderate riders: Steve T, George, John M, Andy from Mold, Ray, Tom, Paul, Dave P, Dave H, myself and Bryan who was only joining us for the first few miles. The early rain had stopped as we left and troubled us no further. We started through Tattenhall and over Harthill, before passing by Cholmondeley, Wrenbury, Aston and Adderley. Lovely quiet lanes were traversed under a little cloud and some sunshine, and by 1230 we had arrived at the pub.

Photo by John M
The key question was whether the Hinds Head would live up to the reputation of the earlier visit. We had a friendly and efficient welcome from an Aussie barman, who served us good quality beer and lime & soda at 60p a pint.  The food followed and was good: my steak and ale pie was full of tasty meat and accompanied by excellent chips and gravy. The group’s collective view was positive and so the Hinds Head will find its way on to our list of favourite lunch spots (an updated version will be on the blog shortly).
Photo by Steve T

The benign weather continued as we cycled back on more fine lanes. We skirted Audlem and then passed through Sound, Ravensmoor and Brindley, to emerge in Bunbury for an obligatory stop at Tilly’s. Then it was the usual route by Beeston Castle, where George left us, and on to the Ice Cream Farm. A total of 49 miles in good September weather.  Let’s hope we have a good many more days like this before winter.


Sunday 4 September 2016

1st September 2016: Hale (mod)

It was a very good turnout at Ness Gardens for Macca’s annual Mersey Meander, but where were the fast lads?  I’ve heard that riding the Wirral from Ness isn’t always the most popular day, but 1 or 2 of today’s riders could easily have coped with the fast group’s pace. .

A relatively lucky 13 ( Bryan, Dave H, Garnett, George, new John B, Jim, Mike G, Petar, Steve T, Tandem Pipes, Trevor et moi) set off to circumnavigate the Mersey Estuary – Bryan suffered one puncture, not bad considering we cycling a total of 800 odd miles on the day.  A good pace along The Greenway had us meeting the Mickle Traffford crew spot on 1130.  Onwards past Manley Mere, upwards past Alvanley Hill took us to Frodsham where Garnett’s greenhouse construction called him home. We were then guided safely through the usual impassable Runcorn jungle by Dave H.  As the tandem was slower negotiating the street furniture, I split the group at The Bridge to allow the faster riders to order their lunch sooner at “The Childe of Hale” (L24 4AX, 0151 425 2954).  The meal was average; would be interested to see if it makes Egon Steve’s list. 

The usual return route saw us pass through Speke and Garston to join the Mersey at Grassington.  Once on The Esplanade, the way is idiot-proof all the way to Pier Head.  At Dingle, as some were understandably anxious about my plans to foist 12 bikes on Merseyrail Underground in the rush-hour, 3 or 4 of us sped ahead to catch an earlier train under the river.  Mike and I were enjoying afternoon tea at Hamilton Square and were eventually only joined by Bryan for the simple 12 mile ride back to Ness.  Phone calls made elicited that some stayed at Pier Head to catch a later ferry, some trained all the way through to Chester and Liz caught a bus home (had they had a domestic??).  A sunny 60+ miles of urban and country riding was covered at 12.5 mph average.  Special thanks must go to Steve T for sticking to his back-marker duties, as 13 riders are a handful to count when leading.