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 23 December 2016

22nd December 2016: Gobowen (brisk)

This week’s blog is like a Christmas cracker - full of surprises! First off, it starts from the Old Dee Bridge and via Alyn and Gobowen, ends up back at the bridge. Ray and I had surmised that it would probably be just us two at Alyn cafe as we set off via Dodleston and Marford Hill for the 14 mile ride. I reckoned that Steve H would have either ridden over from Kelsall, or car-assisted to Alyn. Arriving into the park by the back door, we see Steve just about to saddle up. He warns us of an icy path report from a local. Testing the path rather gingerly, I quickly end up inspecting it rather too closely; so we three decide to walk the path to the cafe. The next surprise is that Andy B, Macca and Paul R are already there. Macca unfortunately had come off on the same icy path, and decided he would just ride homewards bound - nothing broken, but now nursing a sore elbow and thigh.

The next surprise really isn’t a surprise as no-one has a route planned. Steve decides he will drive elsewhere to find  non-iced up lanes, while I ponder a route out through Wrexham and then "Somewhere". So we four (Ray, Andy B, Paul R and myself) set off into Wrexham bound for "Somewhere". Inspiration comes as we skirt the hospital, then take the Foxwood Drive transfer to end up on the lane to Erdigg. The lanes are filthy and Ray is beginning to rue the choice of “mudguard-less” Titanium model today. We stop after Erdigg and I offer a choice of venues - mistake really - just do a "Harry Watson" and get them to follow you. So I announce we are off to Derwen College at Gobowen for lunch. 

The route is straightforward now through Ruabon, down and up the Dee Valley passing Cefn Mawr, and then the back way into Chirk via the marina, golf course and Chirk Castle. I elect to take the aqueduct, but the boys prefer the road, so with clear instructions to ride to Weston Rhyn, I find I am alone on the road! The boys took the canal path, so after a phone call, they enjoy the reverse route back to me. We are out now down my favourite, if very muddy, lane towards Gobowen. The next surprise has been that it’s been raining on and off since we left Wrexham, very much contrary to Carol Kirkwood’s sunny forecast using the new £99 million Met Office computer - no wonder the Met Office has lost the BBC Weather contract!

Another surprise is that neither Andy or Paul have been to Derwen College restaurant before. This time we are in early after just 20 muddy miles, so we get a table easily. The food comes to the table in five minutes flat after ordering, and we are all thankful for some hot fare. So 30 mins later, we are back on our bikes and in sunshine at last. I plot a narrow lane route back to Chester so we take NCN455 towards Threapwood since none of us needs to get back to Alyn. The tiny lane is absolutely filthy as we pass Hindford by. I decided a route upgrade is needed, and suggest we take the main roads back to Overton and thence to Bangor-on-Dee. “Yes, Please!” is the response, so exiting the lanes at Dudleston Heath, and on “clean” roads,  and we sail passed Gadlas Hall turning left towards Overton. Andy’s bike is making strange noises so he elects to carry on to Wrexham and home to Mold. 

We three take the Bangor road passing the race course at some speed, which has a meet on. Here, I recall that the road to Holt via Shocklach is very, very dirty due to farm vehicles, so suggest we go around Wrexham Industrial Estate and take the Borras road. Paul decides he wants to return via Holt, so he peels off, and Ray and I return much the way we came out down via Borras, Marford Hill and Dodleston. We arrive back with 65 very muddy miles ridden. 

The final surprise is that neither Ray nor I intended to ride so far today - it was just meant to be a ride out and back. So for my final ride of the year I managed 74 miles with nearly 1000m of climbs, and then spent 15 mins cleaning my bike when I got home - it must have been at least 500gm lighter after the wash! 

So Happy Christmas to all CER riders and I hope Father Christmas brings you all those presents that you have been hinting at all year. See you in January 2017!


Friday 16 December 2016

15th December 2016: Overton (mod)

The forecast was miserable, not bad, just miserable: overcast and grey with a fair chance of rain.  That did not deter a reasonable attendance at the Ice Cream Farm: Clive, Ken, Dave H, George, Bryan, Andy B, myself, Jim and Trevor.  The last two were only out for coffee, but as we were setting off, were replaced by Dave & Liz P on the tandem.  Unfortunately they were late and not quite ready, so we left without them, agreeing to meet at our destination: The White Horse at Overton.
So the seven of us set off to pass through Clutton and on to Tilston, where shortly after Bryan left us.  We then headed SW towards Tilston, passing a pair of horse riders… then another horse… then another pair of riders… and the another pair of riders. What had drawn them all out today on these particular lanes?
Welcome assistance from Clive led us through Threapwood and Holly Bush to arrive at our destination. We settled down to enjoy the good Joules’ ales and food, though later I wished I’d ordered a larger portion of fish and chips as energy flagged during the afternoon. And what did we discuss over lunch?  Kitchen appliances believe it or not! The Pipes joined us eventually, but by then we were finishing off our food, and reluctantly left them to make their own return.
Our route back was again aided by Clive along some pleasant lanes towards Worthenbury.  George and I noticed two adjoining recently derelict houses complete with rotting cars – what story lay behind those we wondered.  From there it was on through Shocklach, Tilston and Coddington, passing two incredibly ancient oaks, before crossing the A41 and back into Tattenhall.
We were all surprised that the weather had stayed benign: no rain, relatively warm and even some glimpses of weak winter sun.  Overall 40 miles were covered.  We said our farewells and wished Merry Christmas to those we wouldn’t see again for a couple of weeks.


Sunday 11 December 2016

8th December 2016: Christmas lunch ride to Stamford Bridge

Quite early in the year Dave H had volunteered to organise this year’s Christmas Lunch and since I knew the roads well I offered to lead the ride. The forecast earlier in the week was for a rainy morning clearing up by lunchtime. Fortunately as Thursday drew near the forecast improved and by 9.00am the rain had just about stopped. I met up with Dave H, Steve T and Keith at Jim’s house and together the four of us (Jim wasn’t doing the ride – said he had to have his hair done!!) set off along the Greenway towards Ness Gardens. Despite some rather ominous looking dark clouds we arrived in a dry condition to find Brian Macca, Bryan, Steve H & Mike already enjoying their pre-ride drinks. George joined us soon after to make 9 riders and Kate joined us for a coffee. She would be joining us again later for the lunch. 
I was determined to avoid the ‘missing link’. On a day like today our bikes were certain to get covered in mud or something worse as we passed through the farmyard. So we set off towards the village of Burton and turned right into Mudhouse Lane which brought us out onto the busy A540. A quick dash down the dual carriageway and then we turned left into the relative safety of Badgers Rake Lane. Apart, that is, from our old friend Vanman who thought it would be a good idea to overtake us on a bend.
Photos by Macca and Mike G
We passed the bottom end of the missing link and took a right hand turn to cross the Welsh Road, heading through Ledsham and Capenhurst. Dunkirk Lane brought us out onto the A5117 and we crossed it to join the off-road cycle path alongside the railway. Having to stop to open and close the gates on this section can be a bit of a pain but is much safer than any of the alternatives. At the end we turned left, by-passing Mollington and crossing the A41 towards Backford.
At the bottom of Chorlton Lane I would normally have turned right to go past the back of the zoo but so as not to arrive at the pub too early a loop was required. So we turned left through Croughton and threaded our way under, over and around the M56/M53 Stoak Interchange. Then it was straight down Picton Lane through Picton and into Mickle Trafford.
The weather had been improving all morning and as we crossed the A56 the sun came out. We passed the café at Meadow Lea Farm, which will become one of our regular starting points next year. Jim joined us here and we continued through the village of Guilden Sutton. The final stretch was an unavoidable trip along the A51 but we kept to the safety of the footpath until we reached our destination at the Stamford Bridge Inn near Great Barrow. Here we were joined by Dave & Liz, Tom, Andy W and Kate.
We had been to the Stamford Bridge for our Christmas lunch a few years ago when we had been well fed and looked after and it was partly for this reason that Dave had chosen it again this year. Once again we weren’t disappointed as we tucked into an excellent Christmas Lunch, washed down with one or two selections from their great range of beers. 

After lunch we all made our own ways home. The whole round trip had been about 33 miles. Not a bad tally before lunch for those of us who had ridden out to Ness in the morning.
Many thanks to Dave for organising the meal. Not an easy task but successfully accomplished.


Friday 2 December 2016

1st December 2016: Street Dinas (mod)

According to my radio, this was the first day of meteological winter.  It certainly was wintry, just the same as the last few days had been, cold dry and often sunny. Dave H and I were sitting in Cleopatra’s in Holt, preparing to join a ride with the fast boys, when Dave P arrived with Liz, making a welcome return on the tandem.  After not much consideration Dave H & I chickened out of a longer ride and decided to join the tandem for an outing to The Greyhound at Street Dinas, just north of St Martins.
We travelled out southwards along the western side of the Dee, and sped into Bangor on Dee, bumping into John M on the bridge; he had dropped out from the brisk group still suffering for his recent bug.  Our attempts to persuade him to join us failed and we continued on through Overton. Dropping into the steep valley of Shell Brook, we took a minor road to avoid the steep hill, and climbed up more gently, through some ice, to pass the church in Dudleston, where Dave H & I remembered encountering a funeral earlier in the year. I wonder how much our memory of routes depends on who we were with and what happened.
The Greyhound was just around the corner, and we appreciated their large fire and friendly welcome.  Unfortunately the food wasn’t quite up to scratch in this usually excellent pub. Over lunch the conversation extended over many serious topics from youth training and employment to recent political events across the world.
On our return route we encountered the only difficulties of the day, a sticky mud which jammed itself under my mudguard, operating as a very effective brake. After two stops to clear this, I tried to ignore it, maybe helped by some of the mud shaking free as we passed over the corrugations of Rookery Lane south of Worthenbury – is this the worst surfaced lane in our area?
As we headed back, Dave and Liz suggested we stop for coffee at Lewis’s of Farndon. For those, like me who hadn’t visited before, this is the rather smart, new coffee shop you pass on the right as you head down towards the bridge.  It was a good choice, cosy and well-priced with some tasty looking cakes. As we sipped our drinks we reflected on an excellent winter’s ride: 33 miles of decent riding in good conditions.


1st December 2016: Holt to Queens Head (brisk)

Thursday was advertised as a cold sunny day; and it was as I left home at -1C. Not as cold as Tuesday however, when Ray, John W and I froze our way out to Minshull's Garden Centre cafe at Bradfield Green - worthy as a lunch venue, as we had waitress service in a busy cafe. Ray was at Cleopatra’s just before me and then, Dave H, John M and Steve H arrived. I fancied a 48 miler to Queen’s Head pub at Queens Head - and this was agreed. Just as we were leaving, the Tandem Duo arrived, and we then instantly split into two rides:- one to "Whitchurch" way ( but actually Street Dinas), and a Brisk Trio to Queens Head. 

I planned to use the “main” roads to Overton to minimise the use of any icy lanes until the sun had warmed the air somewhat. Around Cross Lanes however, John was suffering from the after effects of a cold, so decided to call it a day and head for home. So Ray and I slid through Bangor on Dee to Overton. Out towards Ellesmere, we take the tiny lane to Rhewl and pass through another Cross Lanes before ducking and diving to Perthy. Most of the lanes were just wet, but a few had a thin icy veneer and caution was employed. 

Cresting the hill at Welsh Frankton, we were rewarded with a panoramic view of Maesbury marshlands and the hills towards Welshpool in their finest winter misty cloak. Arcing around to Babbingswood, it was a short run down the old “A5” road to the Queen’s Head pub at just after 1200. It was already busy with ladies-that-lunch and OAP groups, but Ray and I were soon served with  a very nice "soup and sandwich" combo. 

The route back was northwards, with the low sun out of our eyes at last, towards Tetchill and Ellesmere. After a while however, the sun was in our eyes again as I realised we were off course. So a minor course correction at Lower Hordley got back into Ellesmere via Lee .We then take my favourite route back to Holt running always northwards via Trench and Sandy Lane, and arriving back for a last coffee at Cleopatra’s for 1445.

By 1515 we are ready to leave for the drag back to Chester with 72 miles on the clock just as the sun was setting. Thanks to Ray for sticking with me today, otherwise it would have been a lonely and cold ride! Where were the rest of you then!

See route map and/or gpx file download.