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.

Thursday 30 November 2017

30th November 2017: Loppington (mod)

Six Easy Riders assembled at the Tea Rooms in Chirk – Bob, Ken, George, Keith, Dave H and myself.  Not as many as in recent weeks, but it was very cold and Chirk is a long way out for many. What was to be our destination?  A north wind was blowing, so an easterly or westerly direction was preferred.  We wanted to avoid any icy roads, so climbing the hills to the west was ruled out.  This meant an eastwards route of not much more than 40 miles given the short days.  Surveying the map, the village of Loppington seemed about right and previously we had enjoyed its Dickin Arms, although we had never ridden out from Chirk.

We headed out through Western Rhyn and passed by the Oswestry Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital. (In case you had ever wondered, these two were pioneering orthopaedic specialists: Sir Robert one of the first surgeons to focus on fractures and Dame Agnes the first orthopaedic nurse. Forty years ago I was treated with a Robert Jones bandage when I fractured my patella.)

We then took to east bound lanes through Welsh and English Frankton before arriving at the Dickin Arms. Two incidents ‘enlivened’ our morning.  On a little back lane we found the road blocked by the work of a ‘white-lining’ team – they were very apologetic for causing us to carry our bikes past on the verge, but we did wonder why it was worth painting white lines on such a narrow road.  A little later, Bob suffered a puncture and mended it while we all shivered.

The Dickin Arms was especially welcome on such a day with a large fire, a friendly barman, good beer and good food – a little more pricey than our usual, but well worth it – the Italian meatballs were a favourite. It should go on our favourites list.

Our return took us through Lyneal, Colemere and Ellesmere and several lanes before hitting the main road at St Martin’s. On our route we were surprised to see a dog being taken for a walk by a woman driving her car alongside it!  The main road from St Martin’s took us quickly back to the Chirk Tea Rooms, except for Ken who still had to cycle back to Rossett.

It had been a very good day. Despite the cold were had lots of blue sky and great views, and but for a few muddy spells, we rode on smooth clean quiet Shropshire lanes, and we lunched at a great pub.  Overall about 37 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 24 November 2017

23rd November 2017: Aston (mod)

It was another good CER turnout, with 14 taking coffee at the Ice Cream Farm.  Clive was in civvies suffering from some aches and pains, and Jim and Trevor were just out for a local ride. This left a decent number of riders and for only the second time since August that we had both a moderate and a brisk group. 

The moderates consisted of myself, Ray, Bob, Dave H, George and Bryan.  Dave had unfortunately left both his jackets behind and purloined a bin bag from the ICF, modified it for wear and was proudly modelling it, until Brian spoilt our fun by offering his own spare jacket. So now properly equipped we headed off towards Aston and the Bhurtpore Arms. 

The last couple of days had been wet and stormy, and had left some very mucky roads and a gusty WSW wind.  Fortunately the conditions were leavened by some decent sunshine. Our route out passed through Churton, Tilston and Cholmondeley.  We also passed three lanes where the tractor were out cutting hedges and leaving a trail of sharp thorns behind. We nonetheless arrived at the pub without incident.

Another excellent lunch at the Bhurtpore with good food and a bewildering array of real ales.  Dave recollected another pub with a similar layout – but was that the Wheatsheaf, or the Greyhound, or the Piccadilly? We couldn't be sure and generally confused we moved on to the budget, then housing and planning in Cheshire, but these didn’t prove to be cheerful topics. Fed and rested we prepared to saddle up, when the effects of the morning’s hedge cutting were seen in Bryan’s rear tyre.  He efficiently replaced his inner tube while the rest of us stood around unhelpfully.

Photo by SH
Back on the road we passed through Ravensmoor, Swanley and Bunbury before returning to the ICF.  Some made direct for home, while the others couldn’t resist tea and sweet things – though not cakes as Dave complained – these seemingly having disappeared from the ICF counters.  A good day, and good to have Bryan with us.  Just over thirty six miles covered in total.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 23 November 2017

23rd November 2017 : Audlem (brisk)

I had uploaded the route from the ICF to Audlem that Trevor led in August, thinking that this might be a sensible route, given the wind direction (southwest –ish). During coffee, Ken asked if I had a route and when I told him, he said he’d got the same route on his phone. So Audlem it was for the brisk riders, who were Paul, Ken, Andy B, Nick and myself. This is the first time that I’ve had the route on my phone in front of me (as opposed to in my back pocket), so I had the challenge for the first time of following the route on the map as we went along. (Clive makes it look so easy!) For the most part, this was successful, although we did deviate from Trevor’s route in one or two places.

The five of us set off down Newton Lane and followed the usual route via Beeston Castle and Bunbury. At the far side of Bunbury, Trevor’s route had followed Long Lane through Haughton and Radmore Green, but we took the earlier turning south via Capper’s Lane and Brindley. In any event, both routes converged at Ravensmoor and we made our way to Audlem via Sound, Brown’s Bank and Copthorne, arriving in Audlem at about 11:55. 

The choice of lunch venue was either The Lord Combermere, where we ate last time, or the Old Priest House Café, where we haven’t been for some time. I suggested the latter and when we walked in there was absolutely no-one else there. Bingo! we’ve struck lucky, I thought. Then the nice lady asked if we were with the party who’d booked for lunch, which, of course, we weren’t. Oh dear!

But not to worry; “ I’ll put you in the front room”, she says. “Would you like beans on toast?” This was more of an instruction than an offer, so we all said ‘yes’ and also agreed to wholemeal toast. We did, however, get the choice between tea or coffee, so it wasn’t all bad. Lunch soon arrived, as did the party of cyclists in the big room who seemed to be celebrating someone’s birthday.

Wrenbury Canal Bridge - KP Photo
Beans on toast don’t take long to eat, so we were back on the road by 12:45, this time following Trevor’s route more faithfully. We left Audlem, initially on the A525, but quickly turning off for Swanbach and Wilkesley before turning north towards Aston. We passed the Bhurtpore Inn (and the moderates eating their curries) at 13:10. From there, it was up through Wrenbury and a stop at Wrenbury Mill for the team photo – except nobody had told Nick, who flew ahead up the road towards Chorley Bank. After what seemed like light years, Nick came back for the photo and our onward journey via Gaunton Bank, Norbury and Cholmondeley Castle. 

At Clay Lane, Nick peeled off for Tilston and home and the rest of us enjoyed the run down the A534 to Bulkeley, Peckforton and Beeston, from whence we retraced our steps to the ICF. Ken took his leave at the end of Newton Lane, which left Andy B, Paul and myself to avail ourselves of refreshments there.

46 miles at an average of 15 mph on a day when the blustery wind seemed to be in your face, whichever direction you were travelling. An additional insult was the state of the roads; although we never strayed from tarmacadam, I have rarely seen bikes more muddy that those which were parked outside the ICF at the end of the ride.


Friday 17 November 2017

16th November 2017: Mickle Trafford to No Man's Heath (mod)

Anyone who stuck their head out of the window this morning to check the weather would have been forgiven for leaving their cycling gear in the wardrobe. However the forecast led me to believe that it was going to be a good day and by the time I was down to Meadow Lea the heavy rain had already given way to drizzle. Thirteen other members had also checked the forecast so the café was already busy when I arrived. Three of us had rides in mind but a few people expressed surprise when I suggested a trip to the Wheatsheaf Inn at No Man's Heath. We had been there in January when the landlord had told us that the pub was closing in February. However on a recent ride down to Grindley Brook, Dave P and I had noticed that it was open.

Ken decided to do his own thing and Jim wasn’t riding, so twelve of us (Dave P & Liz on the tandem, David M, Dave H, Keith, George, Andy B & Andy W, Clive, Bob, Steve H and I) emerged from the café to find that, as promised, the rain had passed and the sun was trying to push its way through the clouds. We set off through Guilden Sutton and out along Wicker Lane. We crossed the A51 and headed down to Waverton where we turned left to take the Martins Lane route towards Tattenhall. After passing through Tattenhall we started to go up round the back of the Bolesworth Estate and it was here that the whole group thing started to unravel. Dave P, still recovering from his operation earlier in the year was struggling up the hill and the group soon got strung out. Dave H and Keith volunteered to stay with the tandem and offer encouragement, George and I ended up together in the middle with the other six somewhere up ahead. I wasn’t too worried as everyone knew where we were going and so we crossed the A534 to Brown Knoll. Here we joined the Old Coach Road  and followed it all the way to our lunch stop, crossing the A41 just 200 yards from the Wheatsheaf Inn.

The first six had already ordered food when George and I arrived and it wasn’t long before the other four arrived. We were all back together again. It transpired that the pub had in fact closed in February but had reopened in May run now as a community pub, an arrangement that has saved many country pubs from closure.

We split up again after lunch with Dave & Keith opting to keep the tandem company again and David M heading straight home. The plan for the rest of us was to cycle up into Malpas then on towards Tilston. Dave H had suggested a detour which would avoid the hill up into Malpas and the inevitable littering of parked cars through the village. So halfway up the hill we took Dave’s Detour and turned right to pass through Ebnal before regaining the Tilston road at Kidnal. Why had we never done this before?

We continued on our return journey passing though Tilston and crossing back over the A534 at Barton. At Coddington we turned left towards Churton then back through Aldford, Bruera and Saighton to Waverton. From here we retraced our morning's route back to Meadow Lea having covered 40 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 10 November 2017

9th November 2017: Street Dinas, St Martins (mod)

A total of 15 Easy Riders crowded around the table at Cleopatra’s, the largest turnout for some time, though Macca and David M were not out for a club ride.  I had in mind a route to The Greyhound at Street Dinas, just outside St Martins, which seemed to find favour.  We were slow to get started and I wasn’t sure how many would be joining the moderate group, so I set off and waited across the bridge in Farndon to see who had followed me: Dave H, Keith, George, Bob and Ray, plus Dave & Liz P.  Good to see this pair out on the tandem again, and though they didn’t follow our route, we did meet up again at our pub stop.

A forecast of a dry day, was betrayed initially as we left Holt by rain. The route took us out through Threapwood and Penley, then around Dudleston Heath.  Too many rough, potholed and muddy lanes were traversed, but at least the rain had ceased. We arrived at The Greyhound luckily just before a large party of 15 placed their orders. The Greyhound is a favourite of ours, with good value food and drink: George was almost overwhelmed by a massive baked potato, and the ‘light bite’ fish and chips were a plateful.

The return took us direct to Overton and on via Holly Bush to Worthenbury and then a return by our outward route. As George, Bob and Keith made their way back to Holt, the rest of us enjoyed the comforts of Lewis’ in Fardon.  A good November outing with 39 miles covered and a fine dry afternoon with some blue skies.

See route map and/or gpx file download


9th November 2017: Calverhall (brisk)

Fifteen CER members gathered at Cleopatra’s on an overcast, blustery day. Too many people for a single ride, in spite of the fact that Dave M and Macca would not be joining us for a ride today. So, after some discussion it was agreed that there would be a brisk (ish) ride for John M, Andy B, Nick, Clive and yours truly. But where to go? John M had a route to Maesbury and both Audlem and St Martins were mentioned, but by the time we were leaving, no decision had been made. The weather had turned for the worse whilst we were having coffee, with fine drizzle coming down – so much for the Met Office forecast! Finally, it was decided that we should go to Audlem and Clive led off along Wrexham Road. But Andy was nowhere to be seen! After some hesitation we decided that he must have gone with the moderates and we pressed on, taking Francis Lane down to the A534 via the muddy track and turning east on the main road. As we turned off on the B5130 towards Shocklach, Andy B appeared right behind us! He’d set off with the ‘mods’ thinking it was the brisk ride. Keith B put him right as they crested the hill out of Farndon, so Andy figured that the ‘briskers’ must have headed out this way and he’d legged it down to the junction to catch up with us. Sherlock Holmes would have been proud of him!

The route took us via Tilston, Bickerton and Cholmondeley, across the A49 and into Wrenbury and Aston. Due to the drizzle, the roads were greasy and in many places muddy, where the local farmers had been dragging the muck from their farmyards and fields into the road. Somewhere along here (I’m not sure where!) we came across a ‘Road Closed’ sign which, of course we ignored. As usual the ‘hazard’- a small but deep hole which was being examined by several workmen- was passable on a bike. In order to pass the hole, we had to ride between some narrowly-spaced traffic cones, which we all managed to do without either falling off or knocking one over. Cycling on passed the Bhurtpore Inn, we eventually reached Wilkesley, where a turn to the left would have taken us to Audlem. But Clive felt that, given the wind direction and the fact we hadn't done that many miles, we’d be better going in the other direction. The options were Market Drayton (7 miles) or The Olde Jack Inn at Calverhall (direct 4 miles or 7 miles). The latter got the vote, since it was after 12:00 and ‘lunch time’ according to Andy.

Oh dear!
We were soon seated in the comfortable surroundings of the pub with a drink and food to replenish our energy stocks. The conversation ranged from a discussion of the merits of lead-acid, lithium-ion and sodium-sulphur batteries, how the toll fee system on the new Runcorn/Widnes bridge works (or might not) and how distracting touch screens are in cars compared to the simple switches we used to have years ago.

By the time we left the pub, the drizzle had stopped and we headed northwest from Calverhall, but now into the wind. The route took us through Ightfield, Ash Parva and across the A49 at Prees Heath. The A49 here is a dual carriageway and Clive negotiated it by cycling a short distance against the traffic on both sides of the crash barrier. The rest of us took a more conservative approach, walking the bikes across. We continued on through Tilstock, crossing the Shropshire Union Canal at Brickwalls. Climbing Fenn’s Bank, we crossed the A495 and A525 to reach Whitewell. From there we threaded our way through the lanes to Drury Lane before turning down an unmade road/track to Dymock's Mill, which lies at the bottom of a steep, but narrow Wych valley. Here, a lady warned us that there was a lorry on the road at the other side of the valley which was trying to reverse up the steep  hill. It had come down, ignoring two signs that the road is unsuitable for HGVs (see Clive’s photos) and was unable to turn round at the bottom, so he was reversing up the narrow lane. 

If only the driver had noticed the notice!
If only there was some traction!

We waited for a while to see if the road would clear, but eventually we pressed on. The lorry was sliding about on the mud and going nowhere. We walked the bikes passed it, through the smell of burning rubber and clutch and up to the top of the hill at the other side (this is where the photos were taken). I suspect the lorry is still there, unless they got a very large tractor to pull him up the hill.

Getting back in the saddle, we headed for Cuddington Green, Shocklach (where Nick peeled off for home) and the usual thrash back to Farndon where John M headed home. We’d passed Liz and Dave P on the tandem at Shocklach and they told us that the ‘mods’ were going to Lewis’s in Farndon for tea and cakes, but when we arrived, they were nowhere to be seen. When I finally caught up with Keith and Dave H in the car park in Holt, it turned out that some of the mods had not heard this and they’d all gone back to Cleopatra’s.

In any event, we had an excellent ride of 51 miles at an average of 15 mph in fairly reasonable weather and very convivial company. Thanks go to Clive for leading with much appreciated local input from Nick.


See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday 3 November 2017

2nd November 2017: Goostrey (mod)

Twelve Easy Riders gathered at Rose Farm, Utkinton on a grey, autumn morning.  Dave M was in civvies, John W was there for coffee, and the 10 others set off east ably led by Steve H.  Dave H true to form soon lost something, this time a £20 note.  He turned back scouring the undergrowth, not knowing that Andy had found it.  Clive went back looking for Dave, but not finding him returned. Mike G then took up the search and failed to return. Dave H rang to say he would join us at lunch. We assumed Mike and Dave had met up, so we carried on past Oulton Park.

The morning ride was otherwise uneventful and Steve T departed early at Winsford, with Andy B departing a little later, now leaving six: Andy W, Clive, Dave P, Ray, Steve H and yours truly on his first CER ride for 7 months.
Photos by Macca

With a mix of brisk and mod riders, the pace to Goostrey was slightly faster than normal, but that may have been due to me recovering from a broken rib from a crash on a NSW badly maintained cycle path.  Cycling through Winsford, across the M6, by 12 noon we safely reached The Crown, Goostrey (01477 532 128).  Shortly after arriving Mike joined us, making the numbers up to 7 again, but without Dave, whose whereabouts remained a puzzle.

Lunch time discussion was on the usual state of all our aches, pains, injuries and operations: plus ça change for CER then.  We returned via Davenham and Oulton Park to Utkinton, having ridden 74 kms at an average of 20 kph, so not particularly fast overall.

To add a bit extra here, I thought I would include a link to 2 cycle accessories recommended to me and purchased recently.  First, a Cateye BM45 Bar End Mirror, £11-69 from tredz.co.uk; I have found turning my neck increasingly difficult and this universal-fitting small mirror has been a god-send.  Secondly, I defy anyone to refit Continental tyres without pain, suffering, sore thumbs and much cursing.  They are all in the past if you purchase a Koolstop tire mate from SJS Cycles for £17-49.  I receive no commission for writing this.

See route map and/or gpx file download