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.