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 31 March 2017

30th March 2017: Burlton (mod)

After a wonderful few days of sunshine, the weather had broken on Wednesday and travelling to the Chirk Tea Rooms was wet and miserable.  The forecast suggested little better for the rest of the day. The usual brisk riders were looking for something easier, so all eight of us set off together: Clive, Paul, Andy B, Steve T, Keith, George, Dave H and myself. I’d picked a destination and route off our blog which had been visited in 2015 to good reviews: the Burlton Arms in Burlton.
We initially headed up the Ceiriog valley and, just after the fish hatchery, turned left over the river and up a short but very steep hill.  Here disaster struck for Keith: the hanger for his rear mech snapped off. The damage could not easily be fixed, so sadly Keith decided to walk the couple of miles back to the café. The rest of us continued southwards on pleasant lanes, and then headed east between Gobowen and Oswestry before entering Whittington. Next we followed the long straight down to the Queen’s Head and into the southerly wind, though this didn’t seem to be a hindrance to the tandem that wizzed past at over twice our speed - obviously serious racers.
We passed through West Felton before heading eastwards again, through Wykey and Stanwardine, and then picking up the B-road to enter Burlton just before the rain started.  The pub was empty but welcoming.  We enjoyed reasonable priced good food from their snack lunch menu and some excellent Robinson’s beer for a couple of us.  A pub worth visiting again.
Photo by Steve T

The afternoon ride took us through Loppington, English Frankton and Colemere, and then I had gear problems with a jammed chain. A mix of brute force and cunning shifted it.  After Welsh Frankton we met a flock of sheep, a tractor and a wagon blocking a narrow lane. A couple of sheep dogs were rounding up strays – they came up to look us over, but decided we weren’t worth bothering with. With the sheep safely in the field, we were forced to carry our bikes along a grassy bank to pass the vehicles. From then the journey was uneventful through Hindhead and Gobowen to re-enter Chirk from the south, and back to the café for most of us.
Overall about 42 miles, though considerably further for Clive, Andy and Paul who had all ridden out to Chirk. The day was good: some fine lanes, a pub to return to, generally dry and mild and good company.


Saturday 25 March 2017

23rd March 2017 : Norton in Hales (brisk)

With a few members enjoying a cycling holiday abroad, briskers were in a minority despite a big turnout at the Ice Cream Farm.  Ken, Paul R and Andy B quickly agreed to set off with me bound  for Norton in Hales as I had the route on my garmin from a previous Easy Rider outing. Having climbed to  Harthill we cruised along uneventfully enjoying glimpses of warm sunshine. These were interspersed with chillier temperatures when dark clouds blocked the suns rays and the effects of the cool headwind  were felt.  In fact this weather pattern of sun, cloud and wind was set for the rest of the day. 

Our only minor hiccough came about south of  Wrenbury when garmin failed to signal a right turn which would have taken us through Aston.  We decided to ignore the eventual “Off Course” warning in the belief we would pick up the route a bit further on  Well we did but in fact it was the return route!   So it was that we headed north east to Ravensmoor rather than south east to Adderley .  At Ravensmoor we corrected course by heading for Audlem and from there on to Norton in Hales with 3 or 4 extra miles on the clock.

The sun was shining as we arrived for lunch at the Hinds Head where we rapidly warmed up in the conservatory.  We spent 10 minutes sorting out our return route deciding to ride initially to Adderley which we had failed to visit  on our outward leg. Over an enjoyable lunch we heard a bit about Kens recent holiday in Tasmania which sounded great although he seems to have been overwhelmed with DIY since arriving home.

From Adderley we swept west for a few miles along some very pleasant lanes, then roughly north crossing the A525. We continued to the A530 near Aston where Ken headed straight on to find a direct way home. We remaining three turned right along the Nantwich road. With Andy moving up front to take the role of  brisk “domestique” leading us all the way to Bunbury. As a result, we made fairly short work of the long run via Broomhall Green and Ravensmoor and  had a welcome pit stop at Tillys in Bunbury . 

With about 56 miles since leaving the ICF we decided not to return there and instead returned to Chester via  Beeston  Castle, Huxley, and Waverton.  I had 78 miles under my belt on arrival home. I suspect Ken had done similar and both Andy (to and from Mold) and Paul (with a 20 miles warm up pre ride!) had a much bigger totals. We can take satisfaction from riding most of the planed route even if not in the expected order!

A good day out with the definite feeling that winter is at last behind us.


Thursday 23 March 2017

23rd March 2017: Audlem (mod)

There was an excellent turnout at the Ice Cream Farm, despite some of our colleagues cycling in Europe, or having their hearts serviced by the NHS. Our thoughts and best wishes were for Dave and Liz Pipe. David Matthews had his best reason yet for not joining the ride: he had just been fitted with a pacemaker! It was great that he had made the effort to join us for coffee, and to see that he was well on the road to recovery.

Stephen, as ever, had a ride planned, and I had a standby route if required – although 90% of my routes these days seem to include The Bhurtpore and a lunchtime curry. Then Andy arrived and said that he would like to lead.  As we may not have received such an offer again from Andy in our lifetimes, we bit his hand off.

Our group included some notable non-moderates, who were out for an easy ride on the day. In all, twelve of us set off for Audlem:  Nick (new to the group), Andy, Bryan, George, Steve Tan, Stephen, Keith, Bob, Jim, Mike, Martin and myself. The pace and conditions were very agreeable as we rounded the Peckforton Hills. The wooded hillside was studded with beautiful cottages and burgeoning spring colour. We crossed the A49 at Spurstow and headed for Brindley. Martin overshot the junction at Swanley Bridge and had a brief tango with a car, but we all made it safely to Ravensmoor and The Farmers Arms, where we had often taken lunch in the Mike Morley era. I seem to remember that it was the quality of the barmaids that had made this venue particularly attractive, and brought a twinkle to Mike's eye! We then tootled down to Sound, continuing south-east, until we hit the A525 and turned left down to Audlem Bridge. The last climb up to the village centre is always a demanding effort. I had tried to persuade the group, that The Lord Combermere was a friendly hostelry, with good food and reliable service. Fortunately, this remained so. Stephen had rung ahead, and they had reserved tables for us.
Photo by Steve T

The binmen come on a Thursday in Audlem, but we had anticipated them this time, moving our bikes well around the back on arrival. Last time we were here Keith Metcalfe's locked bike had blocked their way, and we eventually found Keith locked in a cubicle in the gents! The binmen had been remarkably relaxed about the delay.  This time, after a short wait for the bin lorry to exit the car park, Andy led us on a Clivesque loop, with the prerequisite of starting out in the opposite direction to home. We pedalled past some lovely character properties south east of the village centre. The next half hour was dreamy, drifting, easy riding nirvana. We looped clockwise in the direction of Royal's Green, via Wood Orchard Lane, crossing the Shropshire Union Canal and a long disused railway line. We passed Butterley Hayes with its moat, and continued on narrow, quiet lanes lost in a sea of fields. There were no landmarks, such as Beeston Castle; nowhere to strive to reach, just serene cycle surfing. We made our way towards Aston, heading north-west on Sheppenhall Lane. Andy was on good form, and it was good to have a bit of banter with him. Banter of course is considered uncool these days, but for ex-young men of the sixties and seventies, it is still part of our modus operandi. I suppose on a little lane in the middle of nowhere, or in the sealed cab of Keith Barlow's van, a little bit of banter isn't such a bad thing is it?  From Aston we returned home by way of Marbury, Cholmondeley and Harthill. Steve Tan was sprightly as ever despite many weeks away recently, zilch miles in the tank, and being on medication. Perhaps he gets his medication from Team Sky! It was good to have Jim and Bryan's company with us for the full day,  and having learnt a lesson from a couple of weeks ago, nobody was left behind over the last few miles.

Andy, had led really well at an ideal pace for the group overall. Around Audlem we had been on beautiful lanes, some of which were probably new to all of us. Back at the Ice Cream Farm, however, as I sunk my teeth into a boring tart, Andy asked if I would write up the ride. I asked why he couldn't do it. Was he going away at the weekend, or was he having a scan to try and find his moral compass? Quite sadly, he said he had no excuse, and, crestfallen, began to croon the following lyrics in the manner of Perry Como:
“Can the ocean keep from rushin' to the shore, it's just impossible 
If I could write, would I ever want for more, it's just impossible
And tomorrow should you ask me for some copy, I'd still duck it,
And look down into my coffee,
For to lead a ride and write it up too!?
It's just impossible
Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, impossible!”

Consequently, this ride was not written up by someone who was trying to remember the route or personnel on the day. I am hoping that you have become accustomed to the dubious status of “facts” (Benitez, Brexit, Trump, Roy Hodgson, et al) in this post-truth culture, because my account is likely to be part fiction. 

Some of us belted the nine miles back to Guilden Sutton, clocking up 65 miles. Others, like Mike, will have done more. The actual ride was inclusive, sociable and an ideal spring saunter of 45miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 16 March 2017

16th March 2017: New Brighton (mod)

Ness proved popular today with nine riders turning out for coffee. Jim and Trevor rode home as the rest of us (Bryan, Andy B, Keith, Dave H, George, myself and new rider Bob) set off on a Merseyside ramble to New Brighton. It was a lazy choice but, as no-one else had a route, this was the default choice. So out via Willaston, we pick up cycleway 70 to Childer Thornton. Down New School lane, I unfortunately pick up a rear wheel puncture. It’s was due to an arrow-head of glass. Luckily as I had just fitted a new chain, cassette and rear mech, the wheel was not too dirty. So, with help from Keith’s CO2 pump, we were on our way quite quickly.

Sliding through Eastham Village, we are soon down to the Mersey and emerge out of Eastham Country Park into the Bromborough industrial wastelands. The Wirral Circular cycleway is well signposted as we pass Bromborough Pool and New Ferry. We are soon into Rock Ferry where the 19th century mansions overlook the Mersey. Some are sadly dilapidated today, but it must have been a very desirable address back in the late 1880’s. We bob across the A41 dual carriageway only to meet it again at New Tranmere. Passing Cammell Laird’s yard, we are soon ducking and diving along the Merseyside towards Woodside Ferry and Seacombe Ferry quays. It’s now a pleasant ride along the prom to the Seaside Cafe at New Brighton. 

The cafe harks back to the 1950’s with its wooden bench "ferry" style seating and honest menu. We are all served pretty promptly, with Fish and Chips being a favourite. The sun is out and the wind is up, but it’s pleasant sitting inside the cafe. As I’m relating why the Nice Boys (Ivan, Tom and John W and now sadly minus Dave P) are not out today, John appears in the cafe complete with two rather attractive young ladies, namely his granddaughters!

The Seaside Cafe with its repleted customers
Mindful that the weather forecast suggested rain at 1500, we set off for home in glorious sunshine westwards down the prom. I have amended the return route to now take NCN56 back to Neston. This is not a trivial navigating task, but it’s made easy by Pocket Earth Pro mapping in Cycling mode, on my trusty iPhone 4S.So we wiggle our way back southwards to Bidston Village via Bidston Moss under the M53. Skirting Woodchurch and Noctorum, we are now taking Landican Lane still on the 56. It starts off well with a tarmac road, but then we veer off down a farmer’s track to exit in Little Storeton. Bryan recounted that the surface was "much improved", and I’m glad I haven’t cycled it before now!

It’s now downhill to Brimstage and Thornton Hough. Crossing the A540, we eschew the final part of the 56 to run down into Neston passing the old windmill. It’s only a short run now back to Ness Gardens with 38 miles completed. A few of us decide to run for home in case the rain arrives, and a few take a final coffee in the cafe. So no rain until 1730, good periods of sunshine, a "new" route back down the 56, and very pleasant company all day.


Friday 10 March 2017

9th March 2017 : Oswestry (brisk)

As the sunshine brings out the caravans on the roads, so it does with CER riders as we took over half of Cleopatra's this morning. It turned out to be the best weather so far this year, and we all got a large dose of self-manufactured Vitamin D today. The wind was from the north-west, so I had planned a broad reach route to Oswestry. The Brisk group today was Tom, Ivan, John M, Andy B, Paul R and myself. Off via Tilston, we were fairly motoring to Chorlton and Threapwood. The lanes were largely dry and, in a couple of weeks, would be bursting with new Spring growth.

We are now running down to Three Fingers and Little Arowry to skirt Hanmer on the main road. A left down Sandy Lane ( it wasn't) and Tarts Hill ( it was) brings into Welshampton. After turning right towards Ellesmere, we gingerly take the now “white” road down to Colmere where there is a very pretty thatched cottage nestling in the woods. The lane has seen better days but in the summer it's a glorious cut-through to Spunhill. Pulling up the hill, there are massive modern earthworks all around – is it an extension of the quarry or a new golf course? - time will tell.

We now pass White Mere and Tetchill and then up the charming Frankton Hill which, at 500ft, is the highest point around. A blast downhill on the main road towards Whittington finds us turning left on a long curving lane to Babbinswood. We are soon into the eastern extremities of Oswestry and make our way to “The Wilfred Owen” one of Tim Martin's establishments. The pub is named after the poet Wilfred Owen who was born in the town in 1893 and was killed a week before the end of WW1. The town is supposedly named after “Oswald's tree” which is a legend surrounding the 7C Oswald, King of Northumbria who was killed locally fighting King Penda, the Mercian Anglo-Saxon warlord.

As ever 'Spoons doesn't disappoint for a group of thirsty and hungry cyclists who want to get in and out quickly. I can't resist a visit to the two local “castles” - the Norman one is right in the town centre and the Iron Age one is just north of the town on our route out to Gobowen.

Knights of the Road at Oswestry Castle (ex ID's camera via a helpful local lady)

 From Gobowen we take cycleway 455 to Elson. We now go through Cross and Trench towards Sandy Lane. The way back is now clear to all being via Holly Bush, Worthenbury and Shocklach. As always, the Shocklach road becomes a race track as we motor back to Holt at around 1530.

So 60 miles around, some stunning countryside and the sun shone all day. Ivan and Tom motor back to Evans Cycles to get Tom's bike fixed before their trip to Nice, and the rest of us take another coffee in Cleopatra's. It'll be mid 80 miles for us when we are back home – and there's no need to wash the bike today!


Thursday 9 March 2017

9th March 2017: Street Dinas / St Martins (mod)

A sunny spring-like day was forecast and although it was sunny there was a cool wind blowing early on. This prompted several of us to wear too many layers for the day’s ride. The sunny weather produced a good turnout and despite Jim and me arriving early, Cleopatra's was already busy when we entered. Dave H had planned a ride to Loppington but had phoned the pub only to find that it was closed for refurbishment until Easter. Maybe one for later in the year. I had one planned that would take us to the Greyhound Inn at Street Dinas near St. Martins, and thought it would be prudent to phone and check that it was open. It was and they would be able to accommodate us.

There were twelve moderate riders at the café. Mike G set off to do his own thing and the rest of us set off across the 14th century bridge over the Dee into Farndon. Dave P & Liz on the tandem decided they would find their own way to the Greyhound (but later we heard they turned round and headed home) and Bryan left us at Crewe-by-Farndon having ridden down to Cleopatra’s. This left eight of us. The regulars, Andy W, Dave H, George, Jim, Keith, Steve and myself were joined by Rob riding with us for the first time. As we carried on through Shochlach and Talwrn Green it soon became apparent that the cool wind was not going to be sufficient to stop us getting overheated and several times we stopped so that riders could shed a layer or two. We continued through Horseman’s Green & Penley and ignored several ‘road closed’ as we skirted past Ellesmere getting through the closed road with ease. Then we turned back up towards St Martins, arriving at the Greyhound Inn with 22 miles on the clock.

We were greeted with a warm welcome and with our drinks in hand we settled at our table to study the menus. When the landlady arrived to take our orders there were the inevitable questions. ‘What do you get with ham & eggs’? Eggs & ham of course.  Andy’s was the best though. ‘What’s the difference between large fish & chips and a small fish & chips’? Size obviously matters to Andy. (In case you are wondering the definitive answer is £3.50). The service was excellent and our food soon appeared – and soon disappeared. Before we knew it, it was time to get back on our bikes.

We intended to follow the main road into Overton but were warned that this road too was closed. However with several places that we could make a detour we set off anyway. Again we got through the closed section easily with the added benefit that the road closure meant that we got most of the way to Overton with the road to ourselves. We then carried on through Holly Bush and Worthenbury before re-joining our outbound route. As we retraced our route back through Shochlach, Jim and I fell behind but everyone knew the way back from there so didn’t need my lead any more. At Crewe-by-Farndon we turned left to take the short cut back to Farndon. As we crossed back over the bridge to Holt we expected to find the others already tucking in to cakes at Cleopatra's but there was no sign of them. Nor were they back in the car park. Surely they could not have got lost! No. They had found their way back to Farndon and were trying out the recently opened café there before completing what had been a very pleasant 39-mile round trip.

See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday 3 March 2017

2nd March 2017: Whitchurch (mod)

Just riding the 3 miles to Rose Farm showed how wet it had been with flooding across the lanes and mud aplenty.  Still the forecast promised a day that would be dry from above if not below.  The moderate riders were Dave & Liz, Keith, Petar, Mike G and myself.  I suggested a ride to Whitchurch because travelling south and north would avoid heading directly into the westerly wind.
Photos by Mike G

We had an uneventful initial outward journey through Tattenhall, then stopping at Tilston, where we put Dave & Liz in the stocks. Approaching Malpas from the west, my bike suddenly went “wobbley”. This diagnosis of mine was improved by our technical experts who identified loose spokes, not a couple, but most of them, on the rear wheel. We called up Pipe’s Mobile Repair Workshop, who effected a transformation, allowing us to proceed. First through Malpas to Higher Wych and then east to Grindley Brook and into Whitchurch and the Black Bear.  We thought we may have lost the Pipes, but they eventually turned up. I think they may have been looking for more repair work.

Lunch was as good as usual, substantial fare. The return took us east on Route 45, despite the “Road Closed” sign. Major works were underway on the railway and we passed under the bridge through mud and potholes as tracked vehicles crossed the road. From Wrenbury it was north towards Brindley, stopping only to clear mud from mudguards and make minor adjustments to machines.

The longer days gave us time for a café stop and we pulled into Tilly’s at Bunbury for refreshments. Mike left us here to catch his train from Shotton, and then Petar at Eaton to head home, while Liz and Dave chose to drop back, and it was only Keith and myself who arrived back at Rose Farm at about 5pm.  As well as café stops, longer days allow us to lengthen our moderate rides with 50 miles covered.


Thursday 2 March 2017

2nd March 2017: Audlem (brisk)

It was my first visit to the recently refurbished Rose Farm cafe, and very pleasant it was too. The coffee even tasted better as well. The weather forecast was spot on as the early morning rain had moved through leaving roads well hosed down. There were a lot of us to day, so the Brisk group consigned of John M, Ivan, Tom, Paul R and myself. Andy B would have joined us but he had rear mech problems and was directed towards Dave M, who was just out for coffee today. Dave offered to help sort the problem out back at his friendly bike repair facility in Oscroft. The route plan was to head for Woore for lunch, coming back via Audlem in a 50 mile ride. This with the 20+ miles out and back from Chester, would make a 70+ miler for those who had ridden out from Chester.

So we set off in glorious sunshine towards Cotebrook and thence to Eaton. We take the lengthy Winterford Lane towards Alpraham. It was awash in several places with storm debris still visible everywhere. At Calveley Farm, we take the eponymously named Calveley Hall Lane towards Wardle and the A51. Here it was a short run down to Barbridge and a left over the canal towards Wettenhall Lane and the outskirts of Nantwich. We are spinning along nicely in the cool but bright daylight. Hitting the A51 around the north of Nantwich, we circle around towards Bradfield Green, but soon cut right through Colley’s Lane to slide through Willaston. At the end of Wybunbury Road, there is a thoughtfully designed pedestrian bridge across the A500 to get us on our way via Blakelow to Wybunbury itself.

We are in and out of Wybunbury taking the Audlem road itself before turning left into new lanes, which will take us in a south easterly direction to Woore. So here we bimble through the small villages of Hatherton and Hunsterson. At Bridgemere hamlet we take Dingle Lane which looks dark and ominous with a “Ford” sign - just my type of lane! The ford thankfully had a bypass and the lane was very dirty but it's good to explore new lanes. Passing by “Threeper’s Drumble”  - which as everyone knows is a small wood - we hit the A51 again. There is now a mile of steady climbing, passing the enormous Bridgemere Garden Centre, to arrive in Woore at 500ft, which is the highest elevation of the day.

As it was only about 1200, I suggest we ride on for lunch in Audlem. So there are 5 miles of easy riding to arrive at The Bridge pub after 30 miles. There looks to be a private function planned as there is a lot of food laid out in the dining area. The landlord advises us of the private function area but says it’s normal service elsewhere. We decide to order up promptly, which was just as well, as very soon, a deluge of guests arrive and, judging by their dress, it’s a wake lunch. Tom and Ivan now repair Tom’s slow puncture, and thankfully the food arrives just as they return.

The route back is straightforward taking the 552 cycleway to Ravensmoor via Sound. The weather feels cooler than the 6C, but it’s still bright as we spin along the long lanes north eastwards. I opt to go via Burland and the A534 before turning north to Bunbury via Brindley Hall Lane. Tilley’s cafe calls and is as friendly as ever. We leave at school-turning out time in Bunbury and as no-one has to go back to Rose Farm, we head  towards Tattenhall and Chester. The route round would have been completed by going to Tarporley via Tilstone Bank to complete 50 miles.

Thankfully no incidents or accidents and we actually got to see the sun today. The bike needs a wash yet again as the 80 miles comes up for me.


Wednesday 1 March 2017

23rd February 2017: Storm "Doris"

Waiting for ride report - if there was a ride that is!