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 18 February 2017

16th February 2017: Little Bollington (mod)

We parked in the small, free car park the other side of the line from Delamere railway station cafe. Beware, getting back safely on the road on your return- cars appear at speed over the bridge on your right.

There was a very good turnout at the new venue of both the committed, and those who need to be committed. John Beavis was a welcome returnee from winter hibernation. Dave Matthews was in civvies. John, Jim, Stephen, Andy Whitgreave, Trevor and myself were the initial moderate group. As we prepared to ride, Liz and Dave Pipe arrived. We arranged to meet Dave at Acton Bridge, because he didn't want to hold us up unloading the tandem. Our route to the swing bridge was via Norley and Crowton. As it was all downhill we made briskish progress, and when we arrived at the Leigh Arms, guess what? Dave had still not had time to unload the tandem! Anyway, no sweat, we were soon on our way again. A moderate ride is not as complete without Dave and Liz, and we didn't happen to have any Strava targets for once. Our route took us past Cogshall Hall to Antrobus, and along the lovely lacework of little lanes north west of Arley. Little Bollington was finally reached by way of Booth Bank.

John wanted to know where Macca was, and we were certainly going to miss his enterprising photography. You can see a snowy picture of the Swan with Two Nicks on the cover of the Winter 2016 edition of the CAMRA 'Out Inn CHESHIRE' magazine (although we're not on it!). My edition was acquired for me from The Bhurtpore by my daughter, when we went with the dog for lunch last weekend. This mag. makes interesting reading for CER regulars. For instance, it informs readers that the potential demise of the Wheatsheaf at No Mans Heath is being fought against by the Pub Protection Group. An application to the Parish Council has been made to list the pub as an Asset of Community Value. Anyway, lunch was really good at the Swan with Two Nicks, and the staff were very friendly, encouraging us to move tables as we wished.

The ride back retraced our steps until nearing High Leigh, when we turned left to avoid the busier B5159. Unfortunately, the little bit of the busier road we did go on had a hedge-cutting tractor flinging thorns across the carriageway. South of the garden centre we took a quiet left loop, before heading directly south to Bate Heath. Jim sorted a puncture at Moss End. We looped around Great Budworth, and headed for Liz and Dave's car via Comberbach and Little Leigh. They will be happy to have missed the usual steep climbs from the Weaver to Delamere. My chosen route was via The Cliff and Cooksongreen with a deviation around Norley Hall. At Town Farm we had a friendly chat with a local couple while we waited for those struggling up the demanding Norley Lane. We were soon back to Hatchmere. I had worn shorts, no gloves and a summer cap, but it had been warmer than recently rather than really warm. I need to concentrate on Carol Kirkwood's pressure charts, rather than being distracted by her daily hot front. Tanny had returned from the fast ride some time ago, when we reached Delamere station. All had had a good ride. Us moderates had covered 40 very sociable miles in classic CER style.                           

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 17 February 2017

16th February 2017 : Goostrey (brisk)

There were a dozen+ riders at the new start venue today. All the Briskers had ridden out, whereas others had come by car and one by train! So with a large Brisk  group of seven, consisting of Andy B, Ray, John M, Paul R, Steve T, Tom and myself, we set off bound for The Crown pub in Goostrey. It had rained a little on the way out to Delamere and as we set off via Norley, the roads were distinctly wetter. Within 2 miles we had “lost” Andy. After 15 mins of re-tracing our route by three of the group, we decided to press on as no phone message had been received from him. So we plough on through Bryn and Whitegate to “enjoy” Winsford on our way to circumnavigate and “enjoy” Middlewich.

Out on Highway 71, we are now free of the industrial towns and riding towards to Brereton. Here we avoid the local section of the 71 as it is very rough farm track and arrive at the drive of the Davenport’s ancestral home. Ivan wasn’t in today, otherwise we would have complained about the depth of pea gravel on the approach making cycling difficult. The Dane River Valley is picturesque as we ascend out of the valley passing through Swettenham. I decide to take the forded lane and, as the river is running quite high today, we take the pedestrian bypass on safety grounds. It’s a short blast to Goostrey and The Crown pub. There are a lot of white vans on the carpark, and I fear that it is closed for renovation, but the lights are on, and there is a cheery welcome from within. So we take over the conservatory being glad of the rest and the warmth.

The repast arrives pretty promptly and all agree it is of good quality as is the service overall. As we are tucking in, an apparition in yellow arrives on a bike. It's Andy B! Apparently way back in Norley, where he was the back rider, he had stopped briefly to check his bike and then couldn’t see which of the three roads we had taken. He’d already lunched at Jodrell Bank, which is a short ride away. Soon it was time to ride the remaining 25 miles of this 53 miler which takes us on a non-obvious return. I was definitely missing John W today, as he is often very generous in taking the pole position to provide some respite from the freshening NE wind.

So we take an upmarket estate agent’s cruise through the villages of Goostrey, Peover, Plumley, Wincham and Pickmere to take the Great Budworth cyclist’s northern bypass. Through Comberbach, we're on track for the Anderton boat lift and the chemical wasteland known as Winnington. Here there are a myriad of new houses being built with panoramic views of the chemical works. Passing by the rear of Hartford Golf Club,  we are now in Weaverham and soon crossing the outwards ride in Sandiway. A couple of more hilly slogs finds us back in Norley where we “lost” Andy. Steve T peels off back to Delamere Station as the rest of us wearily ride the 15 miles back to Chester.

So a 53 miles circular ride through some of the high and low spots of Cheshire countryside but, by the time we’re all back in Chester' it is 80+ miles today and the bike needs a wash again.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Sunday 12 February 2017

9th February 2017: Ruyton XI Towns (mod)

Having watched the Countryfile forecast promising freezing temperatures and strong easterly winds, I was not too enthusiastic about our chances of a ride on Thursday. Nevertheless I planned two routes in case they had miscalculated and sure enough, Thursday morning began a bit chilly but almost windless. Over our tea and crumpets at the café in Chirk we discussed the preferred direction and chose Ruyton XI Towns - down to the south east - and should the wind pick up after lunch we would have a tailwind for the return leg. The brisk group did not appear, so the group of myself, Dave H, Keith B, Steve H and Andy who had already ridden from Mold set off down the hill to cross the Dee on the old A5. Following the B road toward St Martins we turned east onto the lanes for Hindford and Welsh Frankton.  It had obviously been peak ploughing time in Shropshire and almost every gate we passed produced a layer of sticky mud along the lanes. Clive would have been proud of us!  It wasn’t long before those with low mudguard clearance needed to stop and have a clearout, despite speeding through the occasional puddle in an attempt to dilute the red post glacial Gorilla glue.  Things improved when we turned south towards Hordley, Lower Hordley and Stanwardine in the Fields, where PGL have a large outdoor pursuits facility. We were pleased to reach the Talbot Arms and the warmth of the open fire about 19 miles and two hours after setting out from Chirk.

As is often the case, hardly had we warmed up than it was time to set off again. Still no sign of the threatened ‘Beast from the East’ though the temperature hadn’t increased much - it didn’t rise above 2⁰ all day. The route back took us through Wykey, and Haughton, round the old airfield and back to Welsh Frankton. The lads commented on how much they had enjoyed the crap encrusted countryside on the way out so we followed the same route back, only to get as far as Mad Jacks at Hindford when Andy got a puncture. Despite dunking his tube into the canal we could find no fault with his tyre - whatever had caused the flat had obviously remained on the lane waiting for another victim. Pedalling again, we were soon dicing with death round the A5 traffic island and the last bit of downhill before the climb up to Chirk and afternoon tea.

Andy left us here for a short sprint (about 20 miles) back to Mold while Dave manfully resisted the urge to tackle the cake counter.

A total distance for us of about 36 miles - quite far enough on a cold winter’s day.

See route map and/or gpx file download

Tuesday 7 February 2017

2nd February 2017: Whitchurch (mod)

For those riding from Chester against strong headwinds, it had already been a bit of effort to reach the Ice Cream Farm at Tattenhall. In fact, due to various reasons, at least three riders were returning home after coffee. Jim hadn't any domestic slavery excuses left, but was still recovering from a cold from many weeks ago. It was great to see Bryan, but he had enjoyed so many weeks on his back, lazing and reading in the Caribbean sun, that his legs no longer worked.  At least they had managed to get to the cafe! I wonder if some of our members, as school kids, used to take a note from their mum to excuse them from outside games in the winter. Chris had a proper doctor's note, having recently endured a knee arthroscopy. Brian Mac had plucked up the courage to travel past Neston Marshes this week, making the moderate group a slightly sad threesome of Macca, Keith and myself. Steve Tan took pity and decided to join us. Whitchurch was our destination.

We headed for Harthill with Keith going well and Tanny flying. Opposite Cholmondeley Castle I turned left for Bickley Moss in order to cross the A49 for Norbury Common. I must have gone slightly wrong, because I think we landed at Buckley Town, and turned right by mistake. My adjustment was to head south east via Bickleywood and Bradley Common, or due south to Grindley Brook via Bell o' th' Hill. However, I followed Macca up a cycle path just before reaching the A41, so missing the intended turn on the other side.  I was, once again, leading worse than Corbyn, and soon riding the lumpy road to Malpas from No Mans Heath. I wasn't a happy bunny! Anyway, we made undulating progress down from Malpas, against the wind, belatedly now heading straight for Whitchurch along the B5395. The Black Bear was great, and we had a very convivial lunch.

My penchant for trying different little lanes, despite the high wind discouraging me from checking my map thoroughly, led us off route just once more on the way home. The route back was mainly wind assisted and drier than the morning. We travelled north past the hospital, and then took a more easterly route than normal to Marbury.  Norbury and Gauntons Bank followed, then Chorley and Larden Green. My new, quiet lane link heading for Radmore Green disturbed an intimate moment for a young couple in a car. Ah! Those were the days!

We were tucking in at Tilly's, when the fast group went past. We gave them a wave. Two minutes later Dave Pipe appeared, having decided he needed coffee and cake, and taken a u-turn! This gave us a laugh, because we had already predicted that he may well do this. From Bunbury we returned via Beeston. In time honoured fashion Steve and I put the pedal to the metal on the run in. No doubt Tanny had a gear or two in hand, but was being considerate to me. Brian was with Keith who had knackered his knee. Let's hope he's alright for next week. Thanks to Brian for the photographs. Thanks to all for their patience during my route befuddlements. 40 enjoyable miles, with two excellent sustenance stops, and good company.   


Friday 3 February 2017

2nd February 2017: Calverhall (brisk)

There were a surprisingly high number of riders out at the Ice Cream Farm considering the weather forecast for the day. High winds and rain were forecasted coming straight from the south. We split into two sizeable groups and the Brisk group today were Ray, John M, Paul R, Ken, Andy B, Dave P and myself. I had researched some old rides to south of Whitchurch and the Olde Jack pub in Calverhall. The Moderates had a similar idea of going directly south to Whitchurch to enjoy the wind on their backs for the return.

We set off bound for the road that borders Bolesworth Castle but a wrong turn took us up and around Burwardsley Hill before turning back towards Tattenhall down the Harthill road. Up to the top at Brown Knowl, we had now topped most of the local hills on the way out. Just after Hampton Post, we stop briefly and I'm surprised to find Dave P with us today. Given that he had arrived at ICF just as we were leaving, I had just assumed he was Moderating today.

My riding strategy was to find lanes that were protected by high hedges or cut deep down, and to minimise direct southerly lanes as the wind was pretty strong all the way to lunch. We bimble through No Mans Heath taking the old A41 road. Crossing it at Birch Pits, we cut across it again going west to Bradley Green. We are now on the Malpas to Grindley Brook B road and Dave P decides to head directly for the pub. After only a few minutes, we turn westwards again and down to Higher Wych. Here, in the hollow, we tack eastwards via Agden to get back onto the Malpas road again.

After Grindley Brook, we're into Whitchurch seeking out the Alkington Road and back into the southerly wind. A tiny lane left takes us to Tilstock. Here, I decide that, as with most of the planned route, I'll ignore the gpx track and head south to Steel Heath. We tack eastwards here, then south a bit down the A49, then eastwards again through Prees Higher Heath, through Millenheath and thence the turreted Calverhall church tower comes into view at 30 miles up.

The Olde Jack is open, although quiet, and no Dave P. Just as we have finished ordering Dave arrives ready for refuelling. The food seems to take an age to come despite only one other table. The barman admits they are short-staffed, but when the food comes it was worth the wait. I decide to ignore most of the planned route back and factor in as many N-S lanes as possible. So leaving with the wind behind us, we turn right in Ightfield bound for Burley Dam. This lane is a pleasure to ride and as with many lanes on the way back, they are long and wind-assisted.

We are soon in Aston, rounding Wrenbury, through Ravensmoor and briefly turn west through Burland. Northwestwards now, we motor through Haughton and into Bunbury. Dave P espies the Moderates in Tilley's, so he drops off as the rest of us head the familiar way back towards Chester.

I haven't mentioned the rain - well there was hardly any really. There was even some sunshine before lunch, and although heavy clouds in the afternoon threatened us, we all got home dry but with very dirty bikes nonetheless. So a 56 miler from the ICF today, but nearly 80 miles from Chester.

Finally my thanks to a few of the lads, notably Ken, for shielding me from the worst of the wind today.


Thursday 2 February 2017

26th January 2017: No Man's Heath (mod)

The forecast was for a very cold day and on top of that there was to be a strong southerly wind for our first scheduled start from Meadow Lea. Brian Macca had sent an e-mail offering to lead a ride up on to the Wirral but at the last minute pulled out. I had a ride in mind which would take us south towards No Man's Heath - a better prospect as we would be riding into the wind in the morning and have it on our backs after lunch.

The group had been to the Wheatsheaf at No Man's Heath last week but unfortunately, due to a wake, had had to go elsewhere. A quick phone call confirmed that they could accommodate us this week so six of us (Mike, Petar, Steve H, Jim, Dave H and I) set off through Guilden Sutton and out along Wicker Lane. We crossed the A51 and headed down to Waverton where we turned left to take the Martins Lane route towards Tattenhall. The temperature remained close to freezing and with the bitingly cold wind in our faces we soon began to feel the effects. Before we reached Tattenhall two of our number decided to call it a day and Steve & Jim headed off to the Ice Cream Farm to thaw out. The rest of us continued on through Tattenhall, up round the back of the Bolesworth Estate and across the A534 to Brown Knoll. Here we joined the Old Coach Road (the original route to Chester before the A41 was built) and we followed it all the way to our lunch stop, crossing the A41 just 200 yards from the Wheatsheaf.

We were grateful to step inside the pub and feel the warmth that it offered. We got our drinks and ordered our food and chatted to the landlord for a while. Unfortunately he gave us the bad news that the Wheatsheaf is to close next month and with no indication as to when or even if it will reopen, it looks like we are about to lose another of our favourite lunch stops. The landlord left to deal with other customers and our own conversation turned to cycling and its effect on the male reproductive system. Mike came up with a novel solution to the problem but I won't mention it here for fear of prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act.

Our food soon arrived and the focus of our attention rose six inches to our stomachs as we all tucked in to a hearty meal. All too soon we had finished but we still hadn't thawed out fully. Someone mentioned a hot drink and before we knew it we had ordered four coffees.............and four puddings! As we waited the conversation turned briefly to Mr Trump and the on to Sellafield and the nuclear power industry. Our puddings appeared and quickly disappeared and as we drained the last drops from our coffee cups we realised that we were fast running out of excuses to stay in the pub. So it was back on with our winter cycling gear and back out into the cold.

The temperature was still barely above freezing as we rode up towards Malpas but at least now the wind was behind us and the going was much easier. We climbed out of Malpas and started on the long descent towards Tilston. However we hadn't gone far when Petar's front brake calliper fell off. The nut had come loose and as we braked for a corner the calliper suddenly broke free. Fortunately we weren't going fast at the time and there was no accident or injury but it could have been worse. Dave and Petar set about taping up the calliper and the front mudguard so that we could continue while Mike retraced our route to see if he could find the nut. Not much chance of that, we thought, but amazingly he did and we were able to fit the calliper back on.

We continued on our return journey without further incident passing though Tilston and crossing back over the A534 at Barton. At Coddington we turned left towards Churton then back through Alford, Bruera and Saighton to Waverton. From here we retraced our morning's route back to Meadow Lea having covered 40 miles. For me it was straight home and into a nice warm bath. Bliss!

Footnote - We always check our chains and tyres before a ride. Following Petar's mishap perhaps we should be checking anything that could come loose on a regular basis.