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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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Wednesday 30 August 2017

24th August 2017: Ruyton XI Towns (mod)

It was a select group of four Easy Riders who met at the Castle Bistro & Tea Room in Chirk. This was to become even more exclusive when it became clear that Dave M, having ridden from Tattenhall, was merely passing through Chirk on his way to Llangollen, the Old Horseshoe Pass and points Welsh on a recce for an Audax that he was preparing. So Ken, Trevor and I were left to decide where to go. Both Ken and Trevor had a 41 mile route to Ruyton XI Towns on their Garmins, so that became our destination, with Trevor leading and the Talbot Inn as the lunch stop.

We crossed the aqueduct over the Ceiriog valley and followed the tow path alongside the Llangollen Canal. Leaving this at Rhoswiel, we were soon negotiating the busy A5 roundabout and heading off on the B5068 towards St. Martins. Soon off this, we passed some very grand looking holiday lodges  at Henlle Hall after which we were down the quiet Shropshire lanes running through Hindford, Tetchill and Hordley, where the simple but pretty Norman-built St Mary’s church dates back to at least 1160. It’s hard to see where the congregation comes from in this sparsely populated area, but services are held here on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Pressing on through Lower Hordley and Bagley, we could see rain across the Perry valley. This was in spite of the BBC weather forecast insisting that the day would be fine and dry. Trevor made a great attempt to steer us around the rain, but entering Weston Lullingfields, we got caught by a heavy shower. A complaint to Carol Kirkwood seems to be in order.

By the time we were approaching Baschurch, the rain had stopped and the roads were dry, no rain having fallen here. Before entering Baschurch, we swung right along the B4397 through Brownhill, arriving at Ruyton XI Towns and the Talbot Inn soon after opening time. A man followed us into the pub with two full-sized poodles. He was clearly a regular and he recommended the Scotch Eggs which are home–made at the pub and have a great reputation. When it became clear that these were in short supply (only one was available) there was some good natured banter about who might have it. Being good natured souls, we chose other dishes from the menu, leaving the Scotch Egg to the local.

The food was good - the Talbot is on the list of favoured lunch stops. Over lunch, Ken gave me a short tutorial on the Viewranger app which I have just downloaded on to my phone. It’s clear that I have a lot to learn, but it looks as if I will finally drag myself into the 21st century and start using ‘emaps’.

Photo by Steve T
Much has already been written in previous blog reports about Ruyton XI Towns, so I will not say more here. But there is a board in The Talbot which lists the other ten towns that Ruyton banded together with to fend off invasions in the 12th century by the Welsh, something I had not seen before – the list that is, not the Welsh.

Suitably refreshed, we started for home, leaving up Park Bank in what was now warm sunshine (better late than never!). The lanes through Wykey and Eardiston were quiet and we even managed get back across the A5 without difficulty. Harvest time is in full swing in this part of the world and combine harvesters could be seen in several fields. We passed several large tractors and parcel delivery vans along the narrow lanes during the day and all of them either stopped or gave us plenty of room. We had to dismount at one point to edge past a slurry tanker, but this proved to be no difficulty. Pressing on through the Maesburys and Aston, we approached the ‘Oswestrian suburbs’ (© Trevor). These were navigated with supreme confidence by our leader and we soon emerged on the road past the Old Oswestry Fort which took us on to Hengoed and Weston Rhyn. Then it was just a matter of gliding down Chirk Bank and back along the canal tow path to the aqueduct, where we had to squeeze past a few pedestrians. The sting in the tale was the short but steep climb from the end of the aqueduct on to Castle Road. Ken threatened to deduct points from the ride score for this, but, personally, I think this would have been a bit harsh. After all, we did ride down it at the start of the ride.

So 41 very pleasant miles in good company. Thanks to Trevor for leading and to both Trevor and Ken for their excellent company.

See route map and/or gpx file download


17th August 2017: Audlem (mod)

Buoyed up by last week’s 100+ ride and further encouraged by Carol Kirkwood’s promise of a fine day I was enthusiastic to do another high mileage today. And so I set off to cycle to the Ice Cream Farm thinking that a ride from there in excess of 50 miles would get me past the 70 mark. As I was enjoying my pre-cycle snack I looked through some past routes and soon found one of 51 miles to Audlem. Ideal (or so I thought) and when I mentioned it to the others they were happy to go along with it.

As we were getting ready to leave we were pleased to see Dave P turn up and gave him a round of applause as we realised he was wearing his cycling gear. In recovery mode following his recent operation he was out for a little gentle exercise. He made the moderate group up to seven for the start of the ride, the others being Dave H, David M, Keith, Mike G, Steve T and myself.

We turned out of the Ice Cream Farm and set off cycling with Beeston Castle ahead of us. After passing the castle Dave P bid us farewell (Hope you are fit and well enough to do a full ride soon, Dave) leaving the rest of us to carry on across the A49 and on through Bunbury. Past Bunbury we turned left into Long Lane but instead of taking our usual right turn off it we carried on to the end. The problem with following a route straight out of the Garmin without a chance to study it beforehand is that you never quite know where it is going to take you. Unfortunately it deposited us on the sometimes busy Wrexham – Nantwich road and we had no choice but to turn on to it. Fortunately it wasn’t too busy and we got off it as soon as we could and headed down the much quieter Tally Ho Lane.

As we turned out of Tally Ho Lane I heard a pinging sound and I soon realised that my wheel was catching on the brakes. We stopped outside the Farmers Arms at Ravensmoor where we discovered that I had a broken spoke. David M produced a spoke key out of his bag and Dave H took charge of it. He seemed to know what he was doing and after a bit of jiggery-pokery (or should that be jiggery-spokery?) the wheel was straightened up, albeit still missing a spoke. I suggested that maybe I should turn for home but the others assured me that I would be ok carrying on, so carry on we did passing through Broomhall Green before reaching the Whitchurch Road for the final run in to Audlem.
Photos by Mike G

Despite being a small town Audlem has two main features to recommend it, at least as far as our cycling group is concerned. The first is the number of eating establishments with no less than three good pubs and a cycle-friendly café to choose from. Our first choice is always a pub and since two of them are adjacent to the canal and likely to be busy during the summer holidays Dave H suggested the Lord Combermere. A good choice and the food was excellent and served in good time.
The second feature is a cycle shop and I am indebted to the good people at Audlem Cyclesport for fitting a new spoke while we had lunch.

I was puzzled by the fact that we had only done 20 miles in reaching Audlem and wasn’t sure how we were going to achieve the other 31 on the way back. Another look at the Garmin and I realised that the 51 mile ride included my ride home. Mike came to the rescue by suggesting a loop around Audlem that would give us a few extra miles in the afternoon so instead of turning right back the way we had come we turned left and after leaving the town we turned right to make a pleasant loop through the countryside to the south of Audlem.

Then we headed back north re-joining my original route just before Aston and continued up to Wrenbury. After crossing the canal we turned left to throw in another loop. This took us through Bickley and round to the back of Cholmondeley Castle. We headed towards Bickerton and turned right down David M’s ‘secret’ lane. (Not much of a secret now, David, since we all know about it). A dash down the main road to the Bickerton Poacher then it was back through Peckforton to Beeston. David M left us here for his direct route home while the rest of us retraced our outward journey back to the Ice Cream Farm for a well-earned cake. Our loops had brought us back up to a 46-mile round trip. As for me, well I didn’t make 70 but 65 miles isn’t bad. Even more for Mike who cycled on to Shotton!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday 19 August 2017

17th August 2017 : Bradfield Green ( briskish)

I had to be back by 1600 latest as I had a 240 mile drive later in the day. Accordingly, I cobbled together a medium length ride to Minshull's Garden Centre cafe in Bradfield Green. As the rest of the riders all but one, were either going to Ellesmere or Audlem, Nick took pity on me and offered to ride shotgun for us both.

So off at a briskish pace, we soon leave Beeston Castle behind and cross the A49 at Tilstone Fearnall onwards down quiet lanes to circle around Eaton and Oulton Park. I decided that the Whitegate Way would be a little agricultural after the recent rains, so we dipped down Martonsands to enter the "prettier" side of Winsford. There was now an urban section only relieved by getting onto the A530 Nantwich Road going south towards Church Minshull.

At Wimboldsley, we hang left and down onto a thankfully resurfaced road through Occlestone Green. Hanging right, we motor through Warmingham and onwards towards Coppenhall Moss. There is a little rain in the air now. Moss Lane brings us out by "The Coach and Horses" at Bradfield Green and a stone's throw from the cafe. It was moderately busy, but the waitress service was little slow but the food worth the wait.

Nick is interested in Iron Age Hill forts and other such enigmatic ancient structures. I share his enthusiasm, and we chat about why they are there and where are they in the landscape. After a pretty brisk ride to the cafe, the return is a little slower after lunch.

The route back is unadventurous going via Church Minshull and skirting Calverley to run parallel to the A51 eventually riding a little of it towards the traffic lights at the Red Fox outside Tarporley. A left here then a right through Tiverton, enables Nick to bear left towards the Shady Oak and Tattenhall thence home to Tilston, and for me to wend my obvious way back to Chester via Waverton.

So only 47 miles around, but at almost 16mph, and much gratitude to Nick for supporting my ride today.

See route map and/or gpx file download


17th August 2017 : Ellesmere (brisk)

Unusually for me I took the car today, not enough miles in the legs for a full 90 mile ride.The forecast though looked really good; dry, clear and sunny with the temperature  at  22c. Around a dozen riders arrived today with Dave Pipe making an appearance - nice to see you back  cycling  Dave, sorry I didn’t have time for a chat before we all left.

A route to Ellesmere was offered and  duly taken up by Tom, Ray and John W. My rationale for proposing and leading the ride being I could control the pace; but, as we headed out past Russia Hall to cross the A41 into Bruera, Ray went off like a bullet quickly followed byTom and John, so much for my strategy. We detoured through Aldford village to miss the main road and again at Farndon as road closures dictated another detour via a small lane past St Chad's church.

Heading out to Cross Lanes, we took the back road to Sutton Green which was quiet but very wet  which thankfully led to the  the pace easing slightly. Cross Lanes lead us into Bangor-on-Dee where we stopped for John to refill his water bottle and me to catch my breath.

A rather unusual topic of conversation (for CER’s) about mattress selection and testing preoccupied us as we head out towards Lightwood Green where we were met by another road closure sign. Decision time, do we detour or carry on regardless? We opted to carry on which proved to be a good choice as we easily skirted around the road workings that were  on the main road and not on our route. At Dudleston Heath we joined the B5068 for the final quick sprint on a lovely smooth road surface into Ellesmere.

The Red Lion was quiet, so food and drink were quickly ordered and consumed over a conversation about  varying ailments and bikes. Ray’s new Colnago is having its electronic gearing investigated by SRAM while his 2nd bike is waiting for a new wheel after an incident in Pulford. John’s new bike sounded like it was in pieces after it fell apart on an Audax and one of his Boardman bikes was having drive chain issues. Modern engineering at its best!!!! Fortunately there was not problem with the Pensioners Specials; 2 course’s for £7.50 and Lime and soda for £1.00, which topped up our fuel tanks.

Comfort break with a view
The return  journey was  easier as a  helpful tailwind  pushed us past Ellesmere Lake with it’s manmade island - this was later named Moscow Island as Napoleon was forced to retreat from Moscow that same year. Carrying on  through Breadon Heath and into Hamner, a comfort break  was taken at Tallarn Green allowing time for us to enjoy the views over to N Wales which were spectacular thanks to the clear skies.

The rest of the ride passed very quickly on a fairly standard route through Chorlton, Bickerton and Burwardsley where we all parted company and headed home. A total of 87 km  were  covered  in perfect cycling conditions, a good day out.

Thanks to Tom, John and Ray for your company and entertaining conversation. 


Monday 14 August 2017

10th August 2017: Holt (mod)

Meadow Lea was the alternative meeting point for those not on the special, long ride.

Only one rider turned up--- David M, absent from the long ride due to a mild leg strain. Weather was good with a north breeze---this dictated a westerly ride down the Greenway followed by a quick turn south over the Saltney bridge at Blacon.

Wind now came in to play to blow me at good speed through the boring strech between Lavister and Holt.

A quick cuppa at Cleopatra's was followed by  riding home to Oscroft via Aldford and Waverton.  40 miles in total with no further damage done to dodgy leg.


Saturday 12 August 2017

10th August 2017 : Special Long Ride to Longdon on Tern (brisk)

As I cycled the few miles from home to Waverton, I looked forward to a gentle albeit long meander following Stephen to Longdon on Tern. On arrival, I learned that I had been elevated to joint leader of a brisk (more like elite) group comprising John W, Andy B, Tom and Paul by reason of the fact that I had Steve H's original route on my Garmin. I won't attempt to describe the route as Clive has done an admirable job in his report of the moderates ride.

Before I could draw breath we were off, with John W leading the way at a “steady” 20mph, obviously taking it easy to allow us to comfortably complete 100 miles! Tom thought the pace might slow eventually but mused that if not we might arrive back at Waverton for lunch. After several miles, I proffered the suggestion that perhaps we make a full day of it! The pace dropped from super brisk to merely brisk which got us to our first stop at Sainsbury's in Whitchurch in no time at all. Bacon and eggs and drinks were consumed and as we set off again the Mods arrived. Paul spotted that I has a front flat which was my first puncture in years so it took a while and assistance from John W to get me rolling again. 

We sailed on without event to Longdon on Tern and the Tayleur Arms – a fine lunch destination. It's a cracking pub and for future reference the so called light bites were pretty substantial. Ordering and service was at the usual country pub pace and as we were scraping our plates the Moderates arrived. 
Proof positive of arrival
After about an hour we were off again, enjoying lovely lanes and glorious sunshine. This leg was a little hillier than advertised and, from Clive's report, I now realise it was the uphill run towards Marchamely that began to drain my legs of any power. Lacking his extensive knowledge of the area, we did not have the option of ducking The Hill and it was half way up that I decided I had no choice but to answer a call of nature! Of course no one believed that excuse for a minute, but the pace was adjusted for a few miles so that we arrived together for our third stop of the day at Sainsburys, Whitchurch. We must try Café Bon Sol next time!

Anyway we are soon motoring along familiar lanes only stopping at a railway crossing barrier (no idea where) and later at the raised canal swing bridge next to the Dusty Miller, Wrenbury. As I watch the barge sail serenely across out path I ponder the attractions of cruising at 3 mph from pub to pub. Chester Easy Cruising anyone? 

We'll wait awhile.
We arrive at Bunbury at 4:45 but Tillys are just closing so we call at the Co-op for water. John W introduces me to Frijj, a cold chocolate milkshake which is the official drink of the GB Athletic Team. It was heaven and had the effect of propelling me past Beeston Castle and up the hill after the Shady Oak with relative ease. Hardly surprising as a recent campaign against sweet drinks named Frijj as the 3rd worst offender containing 50 grammes of sugar in a 471 ml bottle. Who cares after 100 miles of cycling!

We arrive back at the start at about 5:40 where Andy B decides he needs to add a loop so as to complete 150 miles on arrival home in Mold! Paul, Tom, John and I settle for direct routes home and just under 120 miles completed, averaging 16 mph. Not bad I think, but next year don’t expect me to have the route on my Garmin!

If you wish to "re-live" the route then follow  https://www.relive.cc/view/1126937568


Friday 11 August 2017

10th August 2017: Special Long Ride to Longden on Tern (mod)

A text from Our Beloved Leader at 0645 advised that he has touch of “Olympicitis” and wouldn’t be straying far from the smallest room, so would Steve T and I pick up the reins. We were all present and correct at 0750 in the Waverton carpark. The Two Johns would now lead out the Brisk group and meet us Moderates in Sainsbury’s Whitchurch cafe. So the Moderate peloton was Steve T, Keith, Dave H, George, Trevor, Mike G and myself. Jim was along for the ride to the cafe stop, and thence returning via the chippy in Waverton! The ride down country was unremarkable taking in Churton, Barton, Tilston, Chorlton, Malpas, Higher Wych and the enigmatic Agen. We arrived in Whitchurch at 1000 after 24 miles. The Briskers were just leaving!

Suitably refreshed with energy tanks refilled, we set off via a planned deviation to the published route. This brought us out in Ash Magna via Edgeley but back on route to Calverhall. There is then the long 4m lane to Market Drayton. Sliding through dubious architecture, we end up crossing the River Tern. The Tern rises near Baldwin’s Gate and flows into the Severn via the NT's Attingham Park near Wroxeter Roman City. The Tern Valley will feature on this next leg to Longdon on Tern.

Sutton Lane out of Market Drayton, skirts the curiously named Salisbury Hill and passes the Sutton upon Tern golf club. I espy a sign to Colehurst Manor (17C) and tempted by a narrow lane diversion, we ride lanes anew. Crossing the A41, we now run on an unauthorised routing yet parallel to the planned route joining up in Ollerton. Through Eaton upon Turn we cross the River Meese in the Tern valley at Great Bolas and slog up the incline, before running down to the “Tayleur Arms” at 1300 and 52 miles ridden. It was last October we were here, although this is  a “new” pub after the original one burnt down. A group of us first went here on a very wet ride in Nov 2011. There are some very interesting historical facts about the Tayleur on its website; it has links to Warrington Bank Quay. See http://www.tayleurarms.co.uk/history.html 

Photos by Mike G

The Briskers are just finishing their lunch as we order up. As we sit down they are getting ready to leave! Our meals come pretty quickly as we chat about the usual subjects. My iPhone needs a recharge but refuses to do so from my charger, so Trevor’s charger gives my phone a much needed boost; as we all need from our repast. All too soon it is time to leave knowing that there are 53 miles left to tick off. So a gentle climb back up the hill and a dive left and right finds us in tiny lanes heading north towards Muckleton. At last the sun is out as it had been a little reticent throughout the morning. The weather was perfect in that it was not too hot with a gentle breeze and sunshine.

We now follow NCR45 towards Marchamley and The Hill! The uphill run through the dappled lane to the base of The Hill is delightful — but better in reverse. A popular re-routing around The Hill towards Hodnet is approved as we now head out of Hodnet for Wollerton. Through Prees, I deviate again to miss out a section of the B road and we are soon out through Tilstock. Approaching Whitchurch, we pass a curious bike — a three-wheeled tandem with electric motor drive and two happy elderly cyclists.

The “Cafe Bon Sol” is a welcome sight as we tuck in to cakes sitting outside European-style. However, I know there is 28 miles to go as we exit Whitchurch via NCR45 to Wrenbury. I’ve given up looking at the route as the biles know their way back to Waverton via Bunbury et al. It is now 1900 and 105 miles have been ridden and the sun is still out. Mike and Trevor take the canal route back to Chester as the rest of us pack our bikes into our cars and a welcome sit down on soft seats. So 11 hours from when we started out, we have cycled for 8 hours and rested for 3 hours — no accidents or incidents, excellent countryside and company, only so sorry that Steve H couldn’t enjoy it today and thank you for the route.

See route map and/or gpx file download.


Friday 4 August 2017

3rd August 2017: Burlton

Twelve riders set out from Cleopatra's in Holt: George, Steve Haywood, Steve Tan, Clive, Ray, Mold Andy, cheeky Andy, Tom, Keith, Trevor and Jim. It has become increasingly common, and sociably enjoyable, to go out on a united club run. Nevertheless, differences in pace will often mean that riding in two (or three?) separate groups continues in the future.

My route was intended to explore some lanes new to everyone. The weather was hard to judge, particularly in deciding what to wear. Dave and Liz would have had a wardrobe frenzy!  We headed for Tilston via Crewe-by-Farndon. From there we rode to Threapwood by way of Chorlton Lane. At Tallarn Green we cycled south-west to Drury Lane, and across to Whitewell, an unusual, but quiet and scenic route. It was soon time to ring either The Raven at Tilley, or The Burlton Arms to see if they wanted to cope with twelve old sweats in lycra. Clive thought that The Raven could get busy, and I agreed, so Burlton it was. Ray had to get back, so took his leave at Fenn's Heath. This was now prime Shropshire easy riding, wafting along in midsummer on well-surfaced roads meandering lazily through lush green countryside. Whixall, Waterloo and Wolverley were the way, and soon we were passing The Dickin Arms at Loppington. The staff at The Burlton Arms were friendly. The eating environment is attractive, and the food is consistently very good. It took a while to prepare, because we were such a large group, but this pub is certainly one of our favourites. We should have let the faster lads take off a few more miles out, in order to stagger the food preparation to everyone's advantage. On the other hand they would probably have got lost! 'Crossover Clive' would never get lost, but he was still under the impression that we were going to Tilley.

All things considered, a direct route home was favourite, although small, more rarely used lanes were still on the agenda. The weather after lunch wasn't as pleasant as forecast, but nobody got too damp. The route to Penley was through English Frankton, Lyneal, Welsh Hampton, Breadon Heath and Tarts Hill. Jim left us here for Malpas where he was cat-sitting. I may have been leading in theory, but at this point I had two groups of riders in front, and instead of taking time for a final map check, led a waiting group inadvertently south at the last junction before Penley. The next cross roads at Hampton Wood had signs left, right and centre, all to places we didn't want to go! We retraced our steps and eventually joined Clive and co., sheltering from a shower in Penley.

The rest of the route was a brisk, familiar ride north through Holly Bush, Worthenbury and Shocklach. Despite a semi-sprint by many over the last six miles or so, Lewis's were shut fifteen minutes early, or so I was led to believe, but I've just checked their website and they close at 16.30! We finished up at Cleopatra's at 4.52, and were accommodated by a friendly member of staff from the North-East, despite their official closing time being 5p.m. He earned a tip or two for his trouble.

It was good to have had Trevor and Jim properly on board again, and in great form. George was in notable good shape after his weeks away. I suspect some extra training miles have been going on, which bodes well for the moderate '100' next week. I think I'll pack a tow rope! 56 miles easy miles were covered in the usual agreeable company.                                                                       


See route map and/or gpx file download.