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 25 November 2016

24th November 2016: Goostrey (mod)

The day was forecast to be cold, clear and sunny – ideal for late autumn.  We assembled at Rose Farm Tea Room, which had been refurbished since my last visit – maybe they’d heard we were thinking of going elsewhere.  We were quite a large group (Chris, David M, Ray, Andy B, Dave H, Dave P, Paul, George, Trevor, Mike G and myself), and for once all were out for the day’s ride.

I wanted to try the ‘other pub’ in Goostrey. I’d been a couple of times on CER rides to the Red Lion and never been really satisfied with it, so today we were going to try The Crown.  We travelled out through Winsford and took the main road through Middlewich before heading NE towards Goostrey. The pub had no problem accommodating 11 unexpected cyclists, though we really needed a bit of organising over what was ordered and when it was paid for. Ordering complete, we settled down with our drinks, while a large pot of tea was brought over for Paul and Dave H, who had decided to improvise their own tea ceremony by sitting at opposite heads of the table, requiring tea and milk to be passed up and down. Next we were given linen napkins with the cutlery – not a luxury we Easy Riders are used to.

The food was regarded as being very fine, though it took us some time to complete the lunch as two of us had ordered starters and another two had ordered puddings. So it was that after a long lunch we hit the road again, with the fine weather continuing.  Our return took us through Lach Dennis and Davenham, before dropping down the rough track to cross the Weaver Navigation.  I’d been down this track only a week or so earlier and the pot holes had grown immensely since, probably helped by the heavy rain earlier in the week.  
Photos by Mike G
From there we took the Whitegate Way and continued in the direction of Little Budworth, before being forced to a stop when I got a puncture. Dave P took the lead in changing the tube, something I and probably the others are very grateful for, as he took at least half the time I would have done.  By the time it was fixed the temperature had fallen and the sun dropping close to the horizon.  Ideas of a café stop on the way back were abandoned and we pressed on to our start point at Utkinton. 

Overall 41 miles travelled on a very fine day, sustained by a good lunch.  Maybe The Crown should be added to our list of favourite lunch stops.


Friday 18 November 2016

17th November 2016: Gwaenysgor (mod)

Seven members turned up in uniform at the Gallery Tea rooms.  Kate was there in mufti as it was the last day for paying for our Christmas meal.  However, only four declared themselves for today's ride, the other three having only cycled to the start before returning home, a fledgling third category for the club I mused.

The promised rain had duly started as Dave H, Clive, Ray and myself retraced my route through Ewloe and Northop Hall to enter my home village of Northop crossing for the first time today the A55, a road which dominates much of our lives in North Wales.

Leaden skies surrounded us as we steadily climbed up through Pentre Halkyn and on to the "Mountain".  I was beginning to regret my throwaway comment as we left Northop that it seldom rains all day in North Wales.  Crossing the Mountain the rain eased but we noticed for the first time the strong south westerly wind, which was forecast to increase in the afternoon.  Something to look forward to then.

After recrossing the A 55 we scooted down past Pantasaph Priory, home to the Capuchin Friars, and free wheeled most of the way to Whitford.  However, what goes down soon has to go up, or certainly in N Wales.  We climbed out of Whitford on narrow lanes festooned with leaves and mud.  Clive pointed out the remains of a Roman lighthouse (a pleasant walk from Whitford and worth a visit ) and we passed the early Celtic cross near Berthengam.  Our final descent of the morning took us through the village of Llanasa where I noticed a pub we have used regularly in the past, the Red Lion, is still closed.  We followed the valley floor for the last two mile run in to Gwaenysgor.  Uneventful apart from encountering two motorists driving 4 X 4s (what else) hammering it along these narrow country lanes.  What can you say that hasn't already been said about such crass driving.

The landlord at the Eagle and Child offered us his usual friendly welcome, no doubt glad to see us as customers were a scarce commodity on such a day as this.  Over lunch we discussed whether in our collective experience there was such an item as a truly waterproof cycling glove, boot, overshoe, sock etc.  The consensus was that having road tested ours for two hours that morning we still have to find such an article of clothing.  We walked out of the pub to find that as forecast the rain had blown away and blue skies were on the horizon coming our way.  The bad news was that I had a slow puncture on the rear wheel.  New Gaterskins and inner tubes two weeks ago, would you credit it.  Dave finally located the offending sliver of metal and Ray finally wrestled the new tyre back on to the wheel.  My thanks to all three of my companions as I would have never got that stiff new tyre back on.  We retraced our steps to Llanasa where we hung a right, just before the village, and began the long climb over to Trelawnyd.  A right and left through the village and another long climb out of the valley to recross, yet again, the A55 at the top of Rhuallt hill.  We had lost 20 minutes on the puncture and conscious of a few hills still to come we turned for home at this point.  Running down the well surfaced track at the side of the duel carriageway we accessed the lanes heading east towards Babell.  North of Lixwm I decided to give the legs one more challenge.  We took the route through Rhes-y-cae which gives you a big pull, at least for me, Clive and Ray made light work of it, out of the head of the valley and over the ridge to Rhosesmor.  A gentle run down through the lanes brought us to Northop where I left Dave to cycle back to Hawarden at his own pace.  We had let Clive and Ray off the leash at the last climb.

So a little more challenging than most of our club rides at least for us "moderates" but a sense of satisfaction after a hot shower.


Friday 11 November 2016

10th November 2016: Marston (mod)

Seven of us turned up at Manley Mere: Andy, Clive, George, Dave H, Dave P, myself and Bryan who wouldn’t be joining us on the ride. This may well be our last meet at the Windsurfing Centre following the Great Café Conspiracy or the Café Improvement Plan – take your pick – and the debate over last month’s decisions rumbled on, complete with jokes about refusing to accept a democratic decision a la Brexit.

In the absence of any alternatives, I suggested a ride to the Salt Barge at Marston (or Wincham if you prefer). We had mostly cycled to the meet in the rain and were doubtful whether it would stop, but surprisingly we had a fine and dry morning. We cycled up towards New Pale, stopping on Manley Common to note an un-visited café for us – Stonehouse Farm (www.stonehousefarmbandb.co.uk) – one to investigate on a future ride. From there we had planned to travel through Gt Budworth, but Clive introduced a useful by-pass route for this allegedly cycle-unfriendly village, and in so doing we passed an interesting hostelry, The Cock at Budworth, a possibility for a winter ride.

We reached the Salt Barge in good time and enjoyed tasty good value meals, and beer for those indulging.  The conversation mostly centred on the big news of the week, Donald Trump becoming US President-Elect.  I didn’t detect any wholehearted enthusiasm, and our mood was further depressed by the sight of heavy rain outside the window.  Despite the waitress encouraging us to stay for puddings until the rain passed, we stoically strode out into the downpour and saddled up.

There were a few dry spells on our ride back, but not many. With lights flashing we passed through Marbury Park and then a roughly parallel route to our way out. At one point as we headed towards a large, very dark and ominous cloud, I was reminded of the scene in A Perfect Storm, when the Andrea Gail is sailing directly into the storm’s eye and disaster.  We had a luckier outcome, though we had to negotiate some heavily flooded roads.  

After Acton Bridge we detoured to look at Dave H’s perfect place to live – the tiny hamlet of Onston. From there it wasn’t far back to Manley Mere for final refreshments, except for Andy who obviously had plenty of energy spare as he peddled on towards Mold. Despite the weather, it had been a good ride with 41 miles covered.

Finally, maybe a warning to others.  When I came out of the Centre I found that my bike had been blown over in the cycle racks, the front wheel had bent and the rim was deformed in the two places where it had been anchored.  I’m not sure whether it was just bad luck or the design of the cycle racks, but it was a rather sour end to an otherwise good day. 
Photo by SH
Thanks to Dave H for driving me back. 


Saturday 5 November 2016

3rd November 2016: Loggerheads (mod)

It was a cool, grey, gloomily dark and rather drizzly Welsh day when 7 hardy CER souls descended on Alyn Waters to test the Welsh hills. Erm, please do tell why we decided in our recent collective wisdom to dispense with Alyn Waters as a venue? But chose to include Delamere Forest instead? [For clarity: Delamere will replace Manley Mere, and Chirk will replace Alyn Waters for winter meets; effective only when blog is updated - SH] At Alyn the coffees and teas are great, the breakfasts are a joy and the prices are easy on the pocket. Yes, the hills are a bit of a challenge, but if you want to go to the edge of exultation you have to look the snake in the eye, don’tcha? Anyway, having garbed up against the cold (a soul-less 8 degrees!), clipped on the lights and donned the hi viz, Kate, Ray, Andy, Dave Pipe, Brian Mac, Steve H and Jon B set off.
Photos by Macca

Intrepid Andy led by default since it’s his home patch, but all were astonished by Dave Pipe’s choice of fixed wheel after recently returning from holiday and falling off his tandem!  Some people know only pain… It was an uneventful drift down a single-track lane to the day’s first semi-serious climb! No holding mountain goats Andy and Ray as they powered effortlessly away leaving lesser mortals to battle with the challenging gradient. But bliss came quickly as we turned right into a racy descent during which we were blithely informed, as everyone clung gingerly to their bars and brakes, had a narrow bridge at the bottom!! And yes, it sure did!

Rain fell steadily, although Macca was quick to tell all that since we were so high and among the clouds it wasn’t rain – it was merely water droplets condensing … but it sure felt like rain to us! There were many points of discussion about which way to turn to avoid the arduous hills and since it wasn’t a day for seeing the vista laid out before us we chose easier options. Or so we thought.

We sauntered gaily down quiet Welsh lanes until we came suddenly upon a very sharp, short but challenging hill, with a gentle s-bend and two descending walkers coming down the leaf strewn road. Most tried. Some succeeded. A few climbed off. And one fell off! It was at that point that I thought we had come to Little Switzerland! Apart from a brush or two with a couple of articulated trucks at narrow island points on a long uphill drag there was nothing else to report until we reached the pub for lunch … which blithely informed us they didn’t do food! Argh! [Note: Apparently the publican is selling-up.  This is one of our favoured lunch spots, so will need to be removed from that list. SH]

Thus the group split with several riding off to Loggerheads café in search of sustenance and others taking a welcome and well-earned draught at the pub. Conversation bounced around from crosswords to Kate’s six-year cycle of bike servicing! (Not recommended!) Etymology was also a point of interest on a somewhat wet day with the general agreement that the original word for an umbrella = a bumbershoot – should still be in use … a bit like Alyn Waters! The group compacted at Loggerheads where they do a mean curried parsnip soup and we rode gently home, assured by Andy that the “worst was over”.

Me, I’m always astonished at how much new building work is being undertaken as we ride around the countryside, often in the most remote and isolated places. We toiled up a few more hills and the “condensation” thankfully stayed away, although the gloomy darkness made lights a must-have on the wooded, wet lanes. But the best was yet to come with a thrilling Alpine descent, a real eyeballs out and bum firmly gripping saddle riot of a downhill into Frith. Scary but distinctly satisfying!

After which point the “locals” left and I marvelled still at Dave’s tenaciously gutsy performance on the fixed wheel machine knowing how my legs felt on a bike that offered 17 other options! Back to base then with just a last sting in the tail of a(nother) testing short, sharp climb.

We’d battled the condensation, beaten the cold, compromised over lunch, ridden gamely and been led wisely. We’d churned out 32 excellent miles at a steady 11.3 mph average, climbed 2,800 feet and thoroughly enjoyed the day and the company. Andy set off on his second lap and Ray went to find some harder hills. The rest of us went home stirred and fully sated by the day’s challenge.