It's CER's January Sale - so two blogs for the price of one!
The long-range weather forecast for today's ride was pretty rubbish. Switching on the BBC news to listen to weather forecast this morning to view national and local conditions enabled me to decide if I want to travel to Chirk and ride. It was not a good view with continual showers and wind all day. WhatsApp was used to consult brisk riders revealed all systems go and meet at Chirk.
I met Steve T at Chester station where there was no train service to Wrexham due line blocked - fallen tree or crossing failure. However, a good friendly coach driver was happy to put our bikes in the storage hold and we set off for Wrexham at normal train time 09:26 arriving Wrexham 10:00 with a train expected at 09:12. All went well and we arrived at Chirk ready to ride.Ken had ridden out to Chirk from home and was already finishing his coffee and ready to ride. A brief hello to the mod riders gathered we set off with a ride returning back to Holt and Chester.
The weather was blue skies and sunny so let's get cracking but unfortunately my Garmin had received an update and my route was direct over the fields! Never mind I had a reasonable idea which direction I was heading and we set off. Turning right onto Colliery Rd heading towards Ifton and the old coal mine. The roads were littered with debris ; we arrived at the only climb of the ride leaving Ifton Heath up to the Plough Inn at the Cross lane (B5068). I remembered this route as Clive led a ride several years back whilst en-route to the Plough and parts of it must be 25% gradients and were muddy and very slippy but we three got up to the top very grateful that the remainder of the ride is "all downhill"!!!
I was without Garmin route navigation and a couple of detours led us passed Dodleston Heath and Threapwood before arriving at Holt where Ken was leaving us to return home to Rossett. Steve and myself decided jointly that lunch at the White Horse might be preferable to Cleopatras.We were the only customers but the food was ok. Whilst getting ready to leave on looking out of the window to the side, it was now raining yet the front of the pub was very dry!! Is that localised weather?
We set off for Chester with blue skies passing Alford to Huntington then Guilden Sutton and joining the A56 for Frodsham and Runcorn to get Steve home. I carried on to the traffic lights near the Helsby Arms and said farewell to Steve. On arrival home with 29.5 miles recorded on Strava but an actual of 38 miles it had turned out to be a fine day to be out cycling although it will take the same amount of time cycling to clean the bikes. Very wet and dirty roads but a nice ride was achieved. Thanks to Ken and Steve who had more confidence in their own predictions than I had.
A WhatsApp check on Tuesday suggested that the only brisk riders likely to be out this week were Ken, Ivan and myself. Ken said he was just riding out for coffee. Ivan said he was going to catch the train there and ride back (with Ken) and he further suggested that I do the same.
So it was that I found myself riding down the A56 into Frodsham at some ungodly hour in half light and driving rain – not an ideal start to the day and the BBC forecast was pretty dire. Why do I do this? When my train arrived in Chester, I heard an announcement saying that the 09.26 to Shrewsbury had been cancelled due to a crossing problem between Chester and Wrexham and that there would be a ‘replacement bus service’. On checking with Customer Services, they told me that the driver ‘might’ allow bikes on the coach – things seem to be going from bad to worse! When Ivan arrived at the station we asked the driver who happily loaded the bikes into the luggage space beneath the coach. On reaching Wrexham, our luck was in. The train to Shrewsbury was also running late so we were soon on it and arrived at Chirk station only 30 minutes later than we would have done had our train from Chester not been cancelled
We arrived in bright sunshine just in time to see the ‘mods’ leaving the café. We found Ken inside the Tea Rooms waiting for us. He needed to be home by 12 to 12.30, so we set off straight away, heading east from Chirk towards Pon’t-y-Blew. Ivan’s Garmin was playing up, so we had a wrong turn here and there along the way, but eventually he took us down into the Dee valley at Ddôl and up the other side. The climb up must have been 20% (there are two chevrons showing on the OS map. The lane was littered with branches and twigs that had been blown off in the previous night’s high winds and was quite muddy, making the ascent even harder.
The wind had dropped by now and we continued to cycle in bright sunshine – really lovely conditions. After a brief spell on the B5068, we dropped down to Dudleston Heath from where we struck north-east to Holly Bush. Here, we crossed the A525 and pressed on to Worthenbury (via Mulsford). Then on to Shocklach and Farndon, where Ken left for home – I hope he made his deadline. This left Ivan and I to push on to Churton, where we stopped for lunch at The White Horse.
This isn’t one of our usual lunch stops as it’s too close to Holt and not on the normal routes we take from other starting points. Whilst the food and service were OK, I don’t think we’ll be adding The White Horse to Steve Haywood’s list.
The afternoon ride, still in dry, sunny conditions, was straightforward, taking us via Aldford, Boughton Heath and the delights of the cycle path next to the A41 to Piper’s Ash and Guilden Sutton. Passing the end of Ivan’s road he said he’d go a bit further to show me the premises of an upholsterer in Mickle Trafford that he knew about (we’d discussed re-upholstering a suite over lunch). So he came along and actually carried on with me until we reached The Hornsmill (a.k.a . The Brown Cow) at Helsby. This left me with the short, but boring leg along the A56 through Helsby and Frodsham to ‘the edge of’ Runcorn and home. I’d clocked 45 miles at an average of 15.7 mph on a day when the BBC weather forecast was again wrong…. until 10 minutes after I got in and then it p***ed it down!
Thanks to Ivan for the brilliant idea of the linear ride and for the route and to both Ken and Ivan for their excellent company.