We sat outside the station drinking in the sun. George, Bob, Stephen, Dave Matthews, Steve Tan and myself. This was the moderate group for the day. Obviously, Steve “pocket rocket” Tan, and David “audax addict” Matthews, were choosing a less challenging ride today, for their own good reasons. The fast lads were heading for Little Bollington. Bob had received surgery to his face in the week, but was still game to go. Stephen and I agreed on a vague plan, keeping the troops largely in the dark, with few facts or figures, and open to the likelihood of u-turns. Who needs Lynton Crosby?! It was good to see Jim turn up for a coffee looking well. I thought we had lost him for the summer in Caravan Nirvana, buried deep in the countryside with the fragrant Diane. It turned out this was close to the truth, they had only returned for essential appointments, e.g. court summonses.
Stephen fancied down by the river, so we headed past Hatch Mere, then turned right down Forest Lane, and continued onto Beech Lane. We were soon drifting along the side of the Weaver Navigation. It was a beautiful natural environment to be in, on a lovely early summer day. The route out was standard but pretty: through Comberbach, Great Budworth, Pickmere and Higher Wincham, before negotiating the Roman Road (the A559). Just before crossing to Plumley Moor Road, Stephen's back wheel spat out a piece of black plastic. I checked back to make sure it wasn't off his bike, the lights changed, and we never saw the front of the group again for over two miles. I can sometimes empathise with David Moyes. It is difficult to lead a rabble, when they show no respect, and just carry on doing their own clueless thing. Ray Hardman would definitely not have approved!
We turned left, past Smithy Green along the B5081, before a short stretch along the A50, turning off at Radbroke Hall. I must admit, that given more time to plan the route I would normally give busy sections a miss if at all possible. On our return the obvious route from Mobberley to Knutsford was also a quite busy road. I will be checking out possible alternatives this summer. Anyway, we were now back to quiet Cheshire lanes as we trundled through Over Peover to The Dog.
For well over twenty years this pub was called the Gay Dog, but just as Manchester gays were coming out of the closet, this particular Gay Dog was firmly put back into its kennel by new owners in 1988. According to The Penguin English Dictionary “gay” before the 1960's meant “bright, attractive, carefree”. It would be sad to totally lose this uplifting interpretation. In my imagination, I am running through the lush fields around Peover Heath in the late sixties, with a young white dog sporting a bright red collar gambolling alongside: The Gay Dog of Peover! The pub was friendly, and they gave us a table to ourselves in our usual spot. It was too hot to sit outside in the sun. The food was spot on as ever. On the way in we had passed the New Hall Polo Ground, and to further reinforce that this is an area favoured by the rich, there was a vivid orange Lamborghini in the car park attracting the attention of Steve Tan.
Our return was by a more northerly route on back lanes to Mobberley via Marthall, Noonsun and Knolls Green. We managed to find the side road down to the lake and park in Knutsford, and so bypassed the busy junctions around the station. I am familiar with the route out of the centre linking us with the lane to Tabley Hill, so we were soon out of the traffic and cruising. Our next stop was the Ice Cream Cafe at New Westage Farm on the edge of Great Budworth. It was great to relax with a double cornet in the shade. We returned via Frandley, with Dave briefly checking on the house of an old friend. Our return was past Cogshall Hall, and along Ash Tree Lane, before reaching the river, where they are still working on the swing bridge after many weeks of disruption on the A49. Our climb from the Weaver was up to Acton Bridge, and through the desirable little hamlet of Onston. There was the usual big effort required to reach Norley Bank, but we were now as good as back. The Delamere Station Cafe owner was friendly, and some of us found shade at a table around the side to have a cool drink, just before five o'clock. It had been another very enjoyable easyriders day. We had covered 52 miles on a very hot day at an average of 13m.p.h. Obviously, those who had ridden to Delamere would have clocked near seventy or more. I was grateful for the route assistance from Stephen and David Matthews. It was good to have David along for the full ride and in good shape.
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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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