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 30 June 2017

29th June 2017: Tattenhall to Market Drayton

The day started with steady light rain and wasn’t forecast to get much better, so it was unsurprising that only 5 riders turned up at the Ice Cream Farm: Dave H, Steve T, Ken, Andy B and myself. David M had made the sensible decision to join us in civies just for coffee. Andy was out on his new bike - a Van Nicholas Yukon - what taste! Both Dave and myself had thought of Joules’ Red Lion Inn at Market Drayton for our destination, and after a few doubts due to the weather, this is what was decided.

We headed out by Beeston Castle but due to a definite rattle I stopped to discover that the bracket for my tool bag had snapped and it was only hanging on by a Velcro strip – this turned out to be the first of three equipment failures.  Stuffing it into my other bag we continued south east through Brindley and Ravensmoor, saying goodbye to Ken who was only out for a short ride. Arriving just outside Audlem, our mental maps got decidedly foggy and I powered up the satnav, but the wet touch screen conspired to prevent my wet fingers from activating the app. Luckily I had paper maps with me, and so we headed through Audlem to pick up Route 552. We cycled through the continuing rain to Norton-in-Hales, where one of our members (lacking moral fibre) suggested we could stop at the very good pub there instead of continuing to our agreed destination.  Ignoring such temptation we pushed on to Market Drayton.  Now, none of us really remembered where the Red Lion was, so after riding straight through the town centre we had to ask four residents for directions before we eventually arrived. For next time we noted that it was close to the church. We parked our bikes outside, and here I found that my rear light had fallen off during the ride.

The Red Lion is one of our favourites and didn’t disappoint.  The radiators were on so we draped our sodden gear over them and enjoyed the food and drink.  During conversation Steve T enlightened us about Chinese names, as in Mao Tse-tung. Apparently the first name is the family name, the second name is the generation name and the third name is the individual’s. Other topics discussed included Singhbury's and Morrisinghs, the materials and shape of modern dinner plates and linear eating!

Thankfully the rain was easing off as we left and soon stopped completely, allowing me to use the satnav for the return. We headed north west out of the town, through Calverhall and into Whitchurch.  Here we lost Steve T as we took a crafty short cut – a loss of one is an improvement on recent rides, maybe we were being more disciplined – no, that’s unlikely!  Soon rejoined, we cycled through Marbury and Harthill to make it back to the ICF just before they closed at 5pm.  We agreed it had been well worth persisting through the rain and clocking up 57 miles on a good outing.

Before I set off on the bike for home, I checked out another rattle that developed and found the bracket holding my rear mudguard to the frame had snapped off. Three equipment failures in one ride!


Sunday 25 June 2017

22nd June 2017: Special Ride: Conway Valley

Eleven of us met at Nino’s for our special ride: Steve T, Dave H, Keith B, Bob, Steve H, John M, Nick, Paul, Trevor and Clive. George couldn’t make it for personal reasons. We thought Andy B might cycle across from Mold, but as he knew the area we decided to set off and he could catch us up. At 10:30, having had our breakfast fill, we set off for Penrhyn Bay with rain jackets on as it was thick cloud, a light drizzle and westerly wind.

Arriving at the hill out of Penrhyn Bay taking us over the Little Orme, Paul’s inner tube blew. Regrouping at the top 20 minutes later we dropped down to Llandudno and cycling along the prom saw two sailing ships and the tops of all the surrounding hills covered in cloud. As we were climbing the Great Orme Paul felt our progress was too quick and decided to have another puncture. Whilst eight of us observed Paul expertly repairing the slit in his rear tyre and replacing the inner tube we reminisced how we missed our travelling technician Dave Pipe. 
Photos by Mike G
Eventually we reached the Orme Café in thick mist and rain with views the ‘blind’ would have experienced. Our brisk members were very proud of the pace, 6 miles in the first hour. Trevor after having recently returned from holidaying in America for over 6 weeks was struggling and despite our assurances that it would get easier, opted to cycle to Prestatyn and return home. Dropping into West Shore Llandudno, Trevor departed and we continued on, then Dave H decided to join Paul’s puncture club. He also discovered that he had lost his wallet probably at Nino’s allowing some poor Welsh pensioners to benefit from his English generosity.

As time was getting on, and we didn’t have Dave P, Dave H and Keith B decided they would sort out the puncture and cycle direct to our lunch stop the Old Ship in Trefriw. What we didn’t realise is they ended up entertaining the locals imitating Laurel & Hardy, showing them how to change an innertube twice, and as a reward they were offered tea.

The remaining eight went on to Deganwy then Conwy Quay taking the estuary path/cycleway. It was here some decided to have a comfort break and we lost Paul, John M and Nick as they admired the toilet’s stone work and views from the quayside. After some frantic phoning, garbled messages and backtracking; we decided to meet up at Trefriw. The remaining five following the route I had planned.

Following the scenic route through Rowen we were suddenly joined by the missing trio as we dropped down to the B5106 near Dolgarrog.  Also, the cloud was lifting and the sun started to shine. No further incidents on the way to the Old Ship, but we were half expecting Dave H and Keith B to be enjoying a pudding when we arrived, but were disappointed. Lunch of baguettes and chips was had with some pleasant ale. Steve T reported that Dave H and Keith T whilst changing the tubes discovered Dave H’s pump didn’t work and Keith had run out of the four gas cylinders he had. We also awarded Ray of the brisk group, the most organised CER member when it comes changing inner tubes.

Following a relaxed lunch, we set off for Llanrwst taking in the suspension bridge crossing of the Conwy. It started to get warm as we climbed the A458, the ‘Strava Boys’ deciding to have a race to the top, where views of Snowdon, Moel Siabod and the Carneddau range, plus the Conwy Valley were had. Bob said he was struggling and his legs were gone, so allowing him plenty of rest and taking our time, we enjoyed cycling the B5113 towards Colwyn Bay. As we cycled, to the east we had lovely views of the Clwydian Range, Denbigh Moor and intervening countryside. Shortly after the Holland Arms we turned right and followed some narrow lanes, dropping down to Dolwen, Rhyd-y-foel and the seafront near Llandullas. Sustrans Route 5 took us back along the coast to Rhos on Sea returning to Nino’s just before 5 pm covering about 51 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing.

Shortly afterwards the intrepid duo of Dave H and Keith B arrived after visiting Conwy and other parts in the locality including a beach I understand. Dave H was finally reunited with his wallet (still full) so it all ended happily. As John M said ‘This was a ride of two halves’.

See ride video (courtesy of John M)

Mike G

Friday 16 June 2017

15th June 2017: Loppington (mod)

The turn-out at Cleopatra’s was significantly higher than last week at Rose Farm, but then again the weather was much better and it was no longer half term. So it was that seven Easy Riders (the Magnificent Seven?) gathered for coffee and toasted teacakes. As ever, Helen did her best to accommodate us, even moving tables and providing us with tap water to make us comfortable.  John Wilkie was only here for coffee prior to returning home to take up his grandparenting duties, but it was good to catch up with him and hear more tales of his long distance rides.

The remaining six (no longer magnificent?) comprised Dave H, Steve H, Bob, Nick, George and yours truly. Steve H was brandishing his new Trek Domane S machine which he told us has rear suspension.  We asked how it works, as it was not obvious from the configuration of the bike. Steve replied that it is ‘very clever’ and ‘magic’, but some of us think it’s the Devil’s work.

Dave opined that he had a route in mind down to the Dickin Arms at Loppington, which he understood to have changed hands recently. In days gone by, this had been a favoured lunch stop  for CER and Dave had actually stopped there on Monday with George and Keith B on one if his ‘Tuesday rides’ (don’t ask!). Sadly the place does not open on Mondays so they’d had to go on to The Raven at Tilley, where they’d dined on two plates of chips between the three of them (again, don’t ask!). Anyway, Dave had rung the pub and told them to expect about six cyclists at about ten to one.

So it was that we set off over the Dee and into Farndon. Steve H was speeding up the hill through Farndon on his Trek, but it wasn’t long before his exploits in Scotland last week, where  he’d bagged his 118th Munro (out of 282), began to be felt and his pace returned that of a normal ‘moderate’. We threaded our way through Crewe-by-Farndon and Tilston, heading in the general direction of Malpas. Now Dave H has a pathological hatred of Malpas, which he claims is at the top of a very steep hill. The OS map shows it to be at an elevation of 118m – a giddy height indeed, given that Tilston, only a couple of miles away, lies at 40m. Consequently, we diverted at Tilston along Church Road to go via Horton Green and Chorlton Lane to reach Cuddington Heath and then Oldcastle Heath, avoiding Malpas completely. Pressing on to Lower Wych, we crossed into Wales, whereupon George felt immediately relaxed and at home.

Crossing the A525 at Eglwys Cross we took a small lane towards Arowry.  About half way along the lane there was a sudden a sharp hissing noise behind me as Bob’s rear tyre deflated. It’s only two weeks since Bob had to return home after suffering a puncture and cut tyre, so his luck is clearly out in this area. After replacing the inner tube without finding the cause of the puncture, the tyre was successfully inflated using a pump that Bob had bought in a French supermarket – who needs fancy gear! However, all was not well, as someone spotted a bulge in the side of the Michelin where it had become split; whether it had been cut by a sharp stone or the split was due to a manufacturing fault was not clear. In any event, the outer was new, having completed only 165 miles, so Bob will be taking it back to the shop to complain. Dave H sprang into action, furtling, Dave Pipe-style, in his saddle bag and coming up with a section of an old outer tube which was quickly glued inside Bob’s defective outer (tyre, that is). Bob gingerly inflated the tyre, stopping when there was enough air in it to bear his weight but before the sidewall bulged out too much.

We pressed on, crossing the A495 at Bettisfield Park and heading to Bettisfield where we crossed back into England and the lanes of Shropshire. How is it that the lanes here are almost devoid of pot-holes or traffic? Compared to our own Cheshire territory, they are a sheer delight. After a zig-zag through Lyneal, we arrived, approximately on time at the Dickin Arms, and very pleasant it looked.

I got an inkling of how things might be when the waitress removed the wine glasses from the table in the corner that had been reserved for us. Wine? For cyclists? Initially I thought I’d need a mortgage to buy my lunch as the ‘mains’ seemed to be priced at ‘teens’ of pounds and there was a 28 oz steak on offer for £45. However, the reverse side of the menu offered Italian meatballs and pasta for £11 and ‘Wrexham beer battered’ fish and chips for only £10, so we placed our orders. Some concern was expressed that Steve H has been away from his Rotherham roots for too long, as he asked that his mushy peas be replaced with a salad! The food, when it arrived was of a very high quality and quantity, so it was suggested that Steve adds the Dickin to our list of favoured stops. He said he’d put it on the ‘waiting list’ pending another favourable report from a second visit. When Bob went to pay his bill, he was told that ‘the system’ did not allow for individual settlement of bills and that we’d have to pay as one. So we all slid our notes and coins towards Bob and he pulled it all together and went off to pay. Have we found a candidate for the post of Hon. Treasurer?

Suitably refreshed, we gather outside the church of St Michaels and All Angels for the photocall. The church dates back to 14th century and Loppington was recorded in the Domesday Book as Lopitone.
Photo by Steve T

The route back took us, west, directly into the strong breeze that had been blowing all day, but the lanes are set within hedges which gave us some protection. After crossing the A528 at Cockshutt,  we turned north, heading towards Ellesmere. There seems to be an unwritten rule that, if you pass by the mere at Ellesmere you must stop for an ice cream/cake or some other calorie-laden sweetmeat. Given  that we’d only just left the pub, this seem like over-indulgence, so Dave concocted a route through the town which avoided said mere and took us out via the oddly named Coptiviney, through the dip down and up to Hampton Woods to Penley. Here we followed the A539 for a short distance before turning right along Hollybush Lane.

Crossing the A525 at Holly Bush, we made for Threapwood and Worthenbury before picking up the familiar route back to Farndon via Schocklach. Round about here, Nick picked up the pace and the two Steves went with him. Then at Crewe, Nick went into full ‘brisk’ mode and flew at 25 mph towards the A534. This proved too much, even for a Domane S (with rear suspension), but Steve T’s Boardman was able to keep up – just. Pausing for breath at the crossing of the A534, we saw Dave H flying by into Barton Road. Clearly, the pull of cream cakes had given him second wind. Whilst the ‘Famous Five’ paused at Lewis’s of Fardon for the aforementioned tea and cakes, George forged onward, as he’d left his car at Broughton, so had another hour in the saddle heading into the wind before he could make use of an internal combustion engine.

All in all, an excellent ride in the superb lanes of Shropshire. Good food and amusing company combined with dry and sunny (if a bit breezy) weather to make yet another great day. 53 miles were registered at an average speed of 13.5 mph, the latter helped, no doubt, by the sprint home at the end.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Sunday 11 June 2017

8th June 2017: Overton (mod)

I arrived early at Rose Farm, the A55 increasingly problematic these days had been benign, and was relieved to see that the cafe now opens at 9 am.  Soon settled in with tea and tea cake I await my fellow riders.  I had a premonition (I am sure that you can get tablets for it these days) before I left home that there may not be too many moderate riders out today, I knew that Dave H was on a beach in some foreign land and Steve H was bagging another Munro, so I stuck the relevant OS map in my pocket.  A wise move it proved to be.

As 10 am approached Bob and Jim arrived together.  We chatted about the merits of caravans as opposed to camper vans and awaited our fellow riders.  By 10.25 am it was evident that the good turnouts of recent weeks had come to an abrupt end.  Jim was only out for a short ride as he had grandparent duties later in the day.  So it was just Bob and myself.  I had a déjà vu moment.  Several years ago on a similar wet day in June I found myself at Rose Farm and as 10.30 am approached the only other rider present was "big Roy" from Runcorn.  For our more recent members Roy was our "Arnie".  Built like the proverbial brick ****house he was thirty years younger than me and was formidable on a bike.  The thought of trying to keep up with Roy filled me with dread.  He must have seen the fear in my eyes and he very diplomatically said that he didn't fancy getting wet as he was cycling with a Runcorn club that evening and would give it a miss.  My relief was palatable.  Fortunately no such fears today.

Looking at my map I decided on the White Horse at Overton for no good reason other than I recalled it did good bar food at reasonable prices and was usually quiet.  The three of us turned south through Duddon to cross the A51.  I had chosen a circular route to avoid cycling directly into a southerly wind. We therefore turned east and cycling through Hoofield headed for Beeston castle.  Jim left us at this point, which left just two surrogate Welshman wandering aimlessly around Cheshire.  I had to grit my teeth cycling past Tilley's in Bunbury.  I will never fill my loyalty card with this behaviour.  From here we headed for Brindley and then to Cholmondeley castle via Chorley.  Turning left just past the castle we cycle past Michael Owen's racing stables and down into No Man’s Heath (what a great name) and up into Malpas.  Dave H is right there is no flat route into Malpas or not one I am aware of.  Down the Main Street we turn right and onto a great stretch of road.  A good surface, virtually traffic free and going west slightly downhill.  We soon make Threapwood and thence to Worthenbury.  Here we turn right onto those "fiddly" lanes around Hollybush before rolling into Overton.

The landlord of the White Horse was friendly and efficient and as I had hoped only two other tables had diners.  We had donned our waterproof jackets several times, as the weather brightened and then darkened again, and wholesome hot food was very welcome.  I had chosen a more direct return route as the need to tack into the wind, I believe that is the nautical term (happy to be corrected) was not necessary with the wind at our backs.

Our return route was through Bangor-on-Dee, where there was actually a race meeting taking place a first for me, and back to Worthenbury.  Picking up the Cheshire Cycleway we headed north through Shocklach and then Tilston, where I noted the Carden Arms is open all day, and crossing the A534 at Barton we follow familiar welcoming lanes to Tattenhall.  As Bob and I had both parked in Waverton we made our way back to the cars via the usual route through Hargrave and Greenlooms.  We note that the bridge over the canal just beyond Hargrave is closed to vehicles but helpfully they have a sign out informing cyclists they can get through.

My thanks to Bob for his excellent company.  His gizmo informed us we had covered 66 miles at an average of 12.5 mph.  A classic Easy Riders day but where was everyone else I mused.  You missed a treat.


Friday 2 June 2017

1st June 2017 : Llanarmon-yn-Lal (brisk)

A good dozen or so Easyriders gathered at The Gallery Coffee shop for todays rides.The weather forecast promised a good day with light winds, no rain and a sunny 20c. Perfect. I had cobbled together a route that headed out towards Ruthin before returning back over Llandegla to the flat lands of Cheshire, hopefully providing  an easier ride for the end of the day. It was this ride that the group consisting of Steve T, Andy B, Tom and myself embarked upon.

We commenced on the  standard route  up into Buckley, along Wood Lane, with the  sun warming our backs we soon settled into a steady pace.The steep descent down Padeswood Road meant we quickly left Buckley behind and entered the quieter lanes leading up to Eryrys.  At this point Andy had to stop to free off his seized front mechanism - a combination of dirt and a lack of TLC meant that front gear changes could only be achieved by a sharp tap with his foot.

After the long climb up to Eryrys, we turned right onto School Lane whose gradient allowed us to get our breath back before joining the A494. Heading towards Ruthin, we enjoyed the long fast descent before regrouping at the turn for Graig-Fechan. A short stop here allowed Andy to delve into his pack and try free off and lubricate his front gear mechanism once again. This pit stop also provided time for me to make use of his maps to check we were still on course.
 On the road to Graig-Fechan, we met a hedge cutter which gave us a few anxious moments, but luckily, we emerged puncture-free and then continued by following a “white road” before picking up the B road leading up into Llanarmon.

Unfortunately, Steve started to struggle  on the hill into the village and indicated  he was running on empty.  Luckily, the door to The Raven pub was open so we decided it was a perfect time for a lunch stop but were then informed the pub was only opened for a pre-booked pensioners lunch and directed to the next door  shop.  The shop keeper made coffee for us whilst we selected a mix of pies, crisps, and home-made cakes which we ate sitting at the tables outside the shop.

During our lunch, we learnt that the pub and village shop are now both run by the local community and, judging by the steady stream of customers, it appears well supported. There was also work being undertaken on St Gamon's church which dates back to the 13th century, presumably by the community group. Whilst munching the snacks, our lunchtime chat covered calories, BMI and the age of Andy’s maps- one of them is so old it doesn't even show Llyn Brenig!

Back on the bikes, our route now took us up past Graig Quarry towards the main A5104. At this juncture Steve  experienced severe leg cramp so we stopped to rest for a few minutes before continuing  at an easier pace. On reaching the main road, we carried straight on and enjoyed the  the long descent past the stone zoo through to Llanfynydd. This lovely quiet road is probably one of my favourites, with lovely views which were enhanced by with the beautiful weather. We then took the quieter road/lanes  route to  Dodleston where Steve’s cramp returned. As Andy delved into his pack again to reveal an assortment of energy bars for Steve, 
Mrs ‘Ken’ passed us on her bike but only stopped after being shouted at! (How she did not recognise me after living with me for 35 years  is a mystery!!)

After introductions were made, she advised that tonic water (without the Gin : -boring) was good for cramp as it contains quinine and then quickly departed to continue her ride. Back on the bikes, we quickly passed through Bretton and Broughton before having a coffee stop at Hawarden Farm Shop.
Plenty of good weather, quiet lanes and an unusual but pleasant lunch stop, made for an enjoyable and entertaining day out. Steve’s gizmo recorded 3,550 ft of ascent over 53 miles.

Thanks Steve, Andy, and Tom for a great day.

See route map and/or gpx file download


1st June 2017: Gresford (mod - short)

Among a busy CER gathering at the Gallery Tea Rooms, three of us, for various reasons, were looking for a shorter ride today.  Bryan, Jim and I decided to make for lunch at Pant yr Ochain, though our initial concern was to avoid arriving before it opened.  We need not have worried, for less than a mile out Bryan suffered a puncture. After close examination of tube and tyre by each of us, no reason for the puncture could be found, so fitting a new tube, we moved on.

We crossed the A55 and following Lower Mountain Road, skirted Penyffordd and stayed on lanes until just north of Llay where we crossed over the A483 and headed up through Marford.  Whenever I’ve passed through Marford I’ve noticed the unusual architecture of many buildings: strange roof lines, rounded shapes and Gothic windows. The web suggests that either these were built as part of the Trevalyn Hall estate in nearby Rossett or that they reflect a European style of building that came with an influx of refugees in the late 18th Century.

From Marford we cycled along the edge of the escarpment giving fine views of Cheshire’s sandstone ridge to the north and east, before meandering towards Pant yr Ochain. I believe we had last been here for a Christmas lunch some years ago. Today we sat outside in the sunshine and enjoyed decent beer and good food.

Bryan led our return into Chester, through Rossett and Doddleston, along Lache Lane and over the Grosvenor Bridge.  Here we said goodbye to Bryan, while Jim and I cycled past the river and through Boughton for him to reach Guilden Sutton and myself to stop at Meadow Lea café for coffee and cake.  Here the route recording ends: a total of 28 pleasant miles in good weather.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 1 June 2017

1st June 2017: Gwaenysgor (mod - long)

I was definitely going to be in “sheep mode" today. There were a lot of us at The Gallery cafe, so many in fact that three groups were set up. The Moderate group consisted of Dave H, Macca, Bob, Keith, John M and myself. It became clear that, after the suggestion of the old favourite lunch venue of the “Eagle and Child” at Gwaenysgor was adopted, I would now be a shepherd instead of a sheep! So off the usual way out towards Ewloe Green, and then we take Green Lane which leads to Magazine Lane. Here Bob succumbs to a puncture and a rather cut-up tyre. He wisely elects to withdraw, and go looking for some 25 x 700 tyres. I’ve now “lost” one rider.

So off to Northop the usual way, where we stop as I give the group three options of getting up onto the Halkyns. They take Option 2. So after a short foray along the A55, we turn ever upwards passing the Britannia pub and the grand gates of Halkyn Castle. Macca is feeling it today, and he elects to call it a day and protect his knee joints. Next time we will see him is in October after his stay in Oz babysitting!  So now I have “lost” two and feeling glad my name is not Ernest and that Lady Bracknell is not around!

We’re now up at nearly 900ft passing the Windmill on our usual way to Brynford. After a brief stop, I mention the Pet Cemetery cafe and, as no one else has visited it before, I suggest we stop there on the way back. So through the golf course at Calcoed to Pantasaph, we now pass the Pantasaph Franciscan Friary, which more of later. Gorsedd comes and goes as we take A5151 towards Dyserth. I like this road as there are fine views all round - OK there is a bit of holiday traffic but it is a wide road. A quick turn right soon brings us to the “Eagle and Child”. The food comes quite quickly as my pint of Hancock's bitter disappears quickly! The talk is varied as ever, but there is a useful discussion on man-sheds and decluttering.
Photos by John M

It’s soon time to leave after a modest 22 miles. I suggest we try the cafe at the Friary on the way back, or failing that, the Pet Cemetery cafe. We cycle up to the viewpoint over Prestatyn before running back down to Llanasa and onto Gorsedd. We are close to the cafe when the White Knight of the Road, aka Dave H, pulls up after seeing a car stuck in a driveway and a group of people milling around. The pungent smell is indicative of a burnt out clutch as the Range Rover can’t get up into the drive. We offer to push it up and into the drive, but clearly we haven’t eaten spinach for lunch and it stays just off the road blocking the driveway. So we leave it where it is and thence arrive at St Pio’s Cafe at the Friary. It is now open every day until 1700, so we reluctantly order cake and drinks, which were rather good. A cafe to remember.

Off again, we cross towards the Babell Road and are soon up at 900ft by the Halkyn Windmill. I suggest we go back via Rhosesmor, Sychdyn then Alltami, through Buckley and thence to Hawarden. In Buckley I miss the Burntwood Lane turn back to Hawarden, but no matter, as we speed down through Drury. As we speed down the A550, we pass Ken going in the opposite direction back to Rossett - so that means the Brisk group are back at the cafe.

So 22 miles, out and 24 miles back and nearly 3000ft of climb, it’s a bit careless of me “losing” two riders but, we four were happy enough in the sunshine with the magnificent views that the Halkyns afford to feast on all day.

See route map and/or gpx file download