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.

Sunday 29 December 2019

29th December 2019: Annual Ride Statistics

This time last year, I compiled some statistics about the number of rides and mileage since the club was started in April 2008. I have now updated it for the 2019 Club Year.

This year featured 84 rides and their blogs covering 3947 miles over 52 Moderate/Leisure rides along with 32 Brisk rides. 

There appeared to be only one week when No Ride was reported and this was in early March.

YearMileageBlogsAv Miles/Ride


In addition, I have analysed the blogs to find out who were the authors and their frequency (highest number first). CA, SH and DH  wrote up half of the total  blogs.

And  ID, ST, KP, JD,TC, KB, JM, BM, MG, DP, GW, NT, NH  all led and wrote up at least one ride.

It is great to see more members offering to lead rides and write up the blogs.

We also welcomed some new members this year and look forward to them adding to the blog write-ups for 2020.

Should any member want to have any of the route gpx files, then they are stored via Dropbox and can be downloaded via a link upon request (email me). We have "saved" rides from August 2017 right up to end 2019. In addition, there are 180 odd rides covering the period Jan 2009 to Nov 2013. After that date through to July 2017, we lost all the gpx files when "bikeroutetoaster" website suddenly stopped working and we were unable to access the site and retrieve them.

Today, all the current routes are stored on PlotaRoute and are backed up on a shared Dropbox account (SH, ST and CA have access to this)

So, if you fancy leading a ride from a particular start point, you could select from over 350 gpx files and lead a route that we may have done before but probably will have forgotten - or ride the route in reverse which makes it a "new" route - after all, I have often heard "we haven't been down here before" when we patently have!

Have a great New Year's Eve and Best Wishes for 2020


Thursday 26 December 2019

26th December 2019: Shocklach (mod)

It wasn't a great forecast, and many CER riders were tied up by family commitments at this festive time. I wasn't sure that any other riders would be turning up as I approached Cleopatra's in Holt. Thankfully, the strange sight of a bikeless frontage was changed by Steve Haywood's timely appearance. Helen provided a warm welcome, and informed us that Boxing Day was usually one of their busiest days, but the weather.....! Steve had read my e-mail, so knew that he would not be alone if he turned up. Actually, the weather forecast was not too bad, and it was likely to become drier as the day wore on. Over ten years, I can only recall three other rides with only one other rider turning up. One was when Colin Watson was a club member, and I turned up at Ness Gardens with about three gears working. We finished up having lunch at the atmospheric cafe upstairs at the Woodside Ferry terminal. Another time was last winter with George, when it was pretty icy, and we finished up at Overton, without going near treacherous looking untreated side lanes. The third occasion was when Clive had recently joined the club, and we braved an unpromising forecast to ride to Great Budworth for lunch. On our return Clive, who was just getting into cycling, struggled slightly up the steep rise past The Goshawk. I was never to witness such a sight again, as Clive went from strength to strength.

Steve, as ever had three planned routes. We needed to miss some likely flooded lanes close to The Dee. I had checked  the Hanmer Arms the night before, which was open, but probably needed booking, and pubs in Whitchurch were a mixed bag, with one of our favourites closed. We didn't want to get back late, with families keening behind the back door anxious for our return at this family time. Or perhaps they were too inebriated from their continuing Christmas celebrations to be able to drive to the supermarket for a bottle of milk and a packet of Rennies. So, a modest ride to Overton was decide upon, via the B5130 to Cross Lanes and the A525 to Bangor on Dee.

The roads were delightfully quiet. We were early at the White Horse, and it was closed. Just as we were planning our next move, a bloke came out and said he had just lit the fire for the hotel, but there would be no food. He suggested The Buck House, but that was back at Bangor on Dee. We knew that we could get lunch at Cleopatra's if all else failed, so we fettled a quiet route north west to Shocklach via Worthenbury.

To avoid running into a big group booked in at Cleopatra's, Steve suggested The Bull at Shocklach. The last time I was here was with George and Steve, at least, near the end of a  long summer ride. It was like being on the set for an episode of Midsomer Murders. Someone eventually took our drink order on that occasion, and we never saw him again!  Although we did see two ears sticking out of the bin at the back when we returned to our bikes. This time it was quite busy, with some customers believed to be involved with a Boxing Day Hunt. We had passed vehicles apparently engaged in hunting activity on the way. I have to say at this point, that I have no evidence of foxhunting taking place, as it is illegal. The dogs are now allowed to chase a lure, but the evidence appears to indicate that foxes are sometimes killed “ unintentionally”. The food was fine, and it was good to be able to catch up properly with Steve, and discuss a range of issues.

When we finally returned to Cleopatra's, we didn't stop again, but returned to our doting families as soon as possible. It hadn't rained properly all ride, and it was a nicely paced, relaxed outing. Another day that had appeared unpromising, but turned out well worth the effort. Short and sweet. Many thanks to Steve for his faultless leading.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 19 December 2019

19th December 2019: Barton (mod)

(I've had reported that the smiley emojis :-) in the report below are not showing and appear as "J"s instead - please read accordingly - SH)

What do you mean, I have to write the blog for the day's ride? That was not part of my plan when I volunteered to lead a route. Don’t blame me for the following illiterate diatribe:

So, there we were at Rose farm café, pondering the threat of heavy rain coming from the south (due after 1pm), on top of already flooded roads all over the countryside; Dave H – Steve H – Peter- Bob – Steve T – Dave M – Trevor -Clive - Elwyn – John W and yours truly. We were clearly minus a few regulars, one  notable was Fiona. However, Elwyn informed us that she had a better offer and was riding with MGVC- ooh! “Get her” J J
Other missing notables were, most of the fast boys, so Elwyn and John elected to join us (rumour has it that they wanted to experience a real ride, instead of all that macho speed stuff, I could be wrong of course, but rarely am J)

As I discovered, I wasn’t the only one  interested in a mud free ride for a change, with the hope of relatively dry lanes (in the grand scheme of things of course) Hence, It was quickly decided to follow my route ( Dave H & Steve T that is - something about being tired of always carrying the group and getting no recognition for all their efforts or did I miss hear the chuckle brothers J)

Our destination was Manor Wood cafe, not visited before by some of the group, but a favourite of mine, especially in the summer with its outside seating, beside a quaint landscaped Mere and strange looking folk, in camouflage gear, dangling poles in the water   (almost as strange looking as us lot of course J)

Again, to be different. I head out right from Rose Farm and immediately we were in trouble with confusion over the number of riders, as I thought we were 11, however, Dave M did his usual and went the other way. Steve H was also missing, to which I was then informed, by one of the chuckle brothers, that Steve was suffering a bit and decided to head home. So, after a bit of a discussion we head off again with 10 in tow- well 8 and a couple of fast Klingons J

With the first 2 losses under our belt we head toward Oscroft on a few fast open lanes and quickly spread out with Peter doing the duties of “tail end Charlie” on his E-bike. The ride was going well (nice and mud free) until Clive decided to hijack the route and lead us down the back lanes of Aldford. This was shortly after I had stopped to admire the lovely wild meadow noted on the left, just before Aldford bridge. So it may have been that the group was temporarily rudderless and that Clive used his initiative (what a load of crap J)    

On we trot toward Churlton, where we lose Trevor, who headed off toward Coddington and home. No sooner had we lost Trevor, when John decided he needed to head home, something about dropping his bike off at AJ’s however, we all knew the real reason, as he was spotted at the rear, somewhat flagging, chatting to the green party (clearly his legs had gone - totally underestimated the pace of this group JJJ)

Anyway we make it to the café (at Barton) with no further losses. On arrival I discover that I hadn’t paid for the bag of coffee beans, I thought I had paid for on my last visit – oops! Clive commented, at our table, that we had only completed 20 miles, which didn’t stop the majority ordering the “full monty” ( 33 miles for yours truly J)
The lunch conversation seemed to revolve ostensibly around property and in particular our 1st mortgages. It was then we discovered how old Bob was, as his thatched cottage in Oxford cost him £1000 can you believe, back in year dot- well, maybe a bit more than £1000 J
The rest of the conversation was about how useless Elwyn was with electronics and bikes- to which Clive then demonstrated how easy it was to plot a route home on his Garmin (think Elwyn said “show me again and again” JJ)

So we finally get going, after the “last supper” and still with no rain, but the worst of the lanes, in order to get across the A41. At Tattenhall, I decide to change the route slightly to avoid the really mucky marina area, due to the building site. This also provided a much needed tailwind for some. So we head out to Beeston castle and down to the Shady Oak pub, once I had corrected Clive on his poor sense of directionJ

At Brassey Green, with 4 miles to go, I leave the remaining 5, and head home, they turned right to Tarporley and on to Rose Farm. I got home after 45 miles with only a bit of drizzle in the last 2 miles. Hopefully everybody else made it the last few miles to Rose Farm (33 total for the ride). I kept my fingers crossed as I rode home, as up until that point Elwyn had not fallen off his bike – still getting used to those clippie things on his pedals  J   

So, all in all a pretty good day for all, to which we all have to thank the ride leader for stepping up with a fabulous route with very little mud (as predicted) - exceptional lunch stop - and finally, amazing leadership.

Yours truly – Alias; lies R us JJJJ

PS;  Merry Xmas to you all and a Happy New Year 

See route map and/or gpx file download


Sunday 15 December 2019

12th December 2019: Gresford - Christmas Lunch Ride (mod)

I can't believe another year has gone by. Time for the annual Christmas Lunch ride again. Dave H kindly volunteered me (Thanks Dave!!!) to lead the moderates so on a damp wet morning which was destined to get worse I met up with Dave, Jim and Steve T for the ride up to Hawarden. We cycled into town, down to the river and along to the Old Dee Bridge. I will start my narrative at this point as we were to return here later in the day to complete a circular route.

We continued alongside the river skirting round the Little Roodee car park and then the racecourse. After passing the new flats we were forced onto New Crane Street for a short distance before cutting through The Cop back to the riverside. We followed the river now as far as the Ferry Lane bridge where we crossed over into Wales. Here we turned right onto the main road and passed the back of the Airbus factory. At the roundabout we turned right and then left up Rake Lane before turning right again for the final run up to Hawarden.

Although we were early we weren't the first to arrive and eleven riders had turned up by the time we had to leave. The brisk riders had planned their own ride and Steve joined them while we were joined by Andy B, Mike G, Peter and Brian. The seven of us set off down the Wrexham road then turned left up towards the A55 footbridge. As we neared the top we could see snow on the hills to our right. The question was would we get the promised rain later or would it be snow? It was certainly cold enough.

We turned right and then left into Old Hope Road and followed familiar lanes below Hope and Llay. As we crossed the Rossett – Llay road the weather worsened. The snow kept itself to the upper levels but it was raining by the time we reached Gresford Road. Here we dropped down to cross the bridge over the dual carriageway and turned into Springfield Lane. This took us to the bottom of Marford Hill. Peter wasn't able to join us for lunch and left us here while we climbed our way up into Gresford. At the lights we turned left and right into Old Wrexham Road. Only a mile to go to lunch now and shortly after passing The Flash we arrived at the Pant-yr-Ochain.

We had arrived cold and wet but that was soon forgotten as we headed to the bar for some pre-lunch drinks. We were first to arrive but we were soon joined by the brisk riders and those who had taken more notice of the weather forecast. We have been to the Pant-yr-Ochain for our Christmas lunch on several occasions and for good reason. They always put on a good lunch and today was no exception. Mercifully the conversation topics over lunch did not include politics or the day's general election.

All too soon lunch was over and we had to head back out into the cold and rain. Maybe it was the warming lunch or maybe it was good selection of ales that were on offer. Either way it helped us to forget about the wet weather. Even so we opted for the most direct route back. Andy, Mike & Brian went their own separate ways while Steve returned to us along with Clive for part of the way. We headed back through Gresford, down Marford Hill and then straight on through Rossett and Pulford. After the Grosvenor Garden Centre we turned right to pass through Eccleston & Handbridge before crossing the Old Dee Bridge to complete our circular route. Only 31 miles but 38 in total to get back to our starting point.

A big thank you to Dave H for organising the lunch again this year. Not an easy task as I know from experience. Happy Christmas to all our blog readers and all the best for 2020.

See route map and/or gpx file download


12th December 2019 : Gresford - Christmas Lunch Ride (brisk)

The Met office prognosis for today was  dire - low cloud with heavy rain forecast for most the day; this, adding to the accumulation  of several days of very heavy rain,  probably meant that  pedalo’s rather than pedal cycles should have been our vehicle of choice. 

Nick joined me on ride from home for today's ride with both of us hoping to burn off a few calories in advance of the CER Christmas lunch at the Pant yr Ochain. A good dozen CERS turned out for the pre-lunch ride  meeting at the Gallery coffee shop where we were  given the sad news by the owner that from March next year he would be selling the business due to ill health.  He will be sadly missed as he has been an excellent host over the years.

Today's ride suggestion was via Buckley, Summerhill, and Wrexham to the Pant Yr Ochain ; a route of 40km. Three brisk riders took up the offer i.e. Clive, Ray and  Nick  but then we pressed-ganged Steve T  taking our group total to five including myself. Departing promptly, we  headed off towards Buckley on wet roads but at least it wasn’t raining. A good start, although one malcontent was heard to comment that if you concentrated really hard you could just about see your front wheel disappearing into the mist.

Navigating our way through Buckley, we were caught up in slow moving traffic caused by people queueing for the polling station, eventually we exited onto Padeswood Road  passing the deserted golf courses on our way to Hope and Caergwrle. As we left Caergwrle, on Ffrwd Road towards the only hill of the day, the rain arrived along with the only mechanical of the day. Steve dislodged his chain at the start of Bellan Road hill and, in the true spirit of Christmas, the rest of the group rode off to wait for him at the top.

With Steve’s chain problem solved, the going was all downhill  along with  the weather. The heavy rain  spurred us on down the aptly named Top Road and with a quick zigzag to cross the A483 we entered Wrexham. Here the  time and weather forced us to shorten the ride, and take a more direct route through town which brought us out onto Borras Road and into Gresford  arriving at the Pant just after 12:00. 
The moderate riders had already arrived along with another dozen CERS who had  opted for  a warmer  and drier form of transport.

A fuzzy photo - just like today's view through cycling specs!

Thanks to Dave H, who was in full headmaster mode, for producing a wonderfully organised event, everyone was issued with pieces of paper listing their meal choice and, of course, to The Pant who performed to their usual high standard. A perfect end to the day and after a pint or two of Penny Porter the wet weather of the morning faded away quickly.

Today"s route was cut short from the original 40km to 33 km with 320 mtrs of ascent and was  ridden on very waterlogged  and muddy roads in heavy rain,  hopefully it was enjoyed as much as it was endured.


Photo KP

Saturday 7 December 2019

5th December 2019 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Meeting at Delamere Station café was today a festive location with more Christmas trees than bikes in the car park. All that was missing were the elves, but with a good turnout of mam(w)il’s in splendid colours, we managed a reasonable substitute for a short while.

The brisk riders today were minus Clive, but a couple of routes were proposed, but with a wet and windy pm in prospect, a shorter ride was agreed and the Vine at Dunham Massey was our lunch destination. Finding our bikes amongst the Christmas trees, the brisk group today consisted of John W, Ken, Ray, Elwyn and myself.

Leaving the café, we head towards Hatchmere on probably the roughest tarmac surface in Cheshire and turning right at the cross roads for the B5153 and Crowton. It’s a fast descent from Norley and the pace is maintained to Acton Bridge before crossing over the blue bridge then the uphill via Willow Green Lane aka a very mucky lane!! With a tail wind and a reasonable pace, we arrive at Lymm and join the A road to Warburton where we head towards Dunham Massey.

We’ve arrived at the Vine at 11:58 and by the time our bikes were secured to the garden furniture, the doors were open and we were inside to be greeted to an open fire in full fury. A pint of Sam Smiths golden beer at £2.00 and a delicious lunch of pie and seasonal veg was very welcome. Our route out covered 25 miles, but the return was only 20 to Hatchmere and as it was now starting to drizzle, and we were keen to get started.

Riding along the track adjacent to Dunham Massey Hall, the car park was very busy with cars probably due to the big Christmas light switch-on which had signs boasting a sell-out. Passing the Swan with Two Nicks, then crossing the A56 and stopping for a photo shoot under the M56 bridge at the John Wesley monument. Reading in Wikipedia later, one of his quotes was “Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry” but today we are, so off again up Booth Bank and with the recent rain and hedge trimming, another mucky road. Passing High Legh garden centre, it is a different day to the recent Special Ride which started from here.

Underneath the M56  - John Wesley Memorial
Riding towards Great Budworth, I suggested that if the village was festive a better location for a photo opportunity but not a tree in sight! Must be filming again. Passing the mere on our left, another suggestion for a shoot was also declined and, to keep the locals happy, a gate stop opportunity taken.

From Comberbach, it was then following the usual route via Anderton and the Boat lift dropping down to Winnington. There are so many new homes built around here now it is very different area from just a couple of years ago. As mentioned in an earlier comment, from Delamere it's down hill to Crowton, so the return must be uphill and our last push up Maddocks Hill is felt.

Into Norley village and then back to Hatchmere crossroad, we continue along the roller coaster road through Delamere after parting with Elwyn riding back to the café and Ken who had parked up in the woods. John, Ray and I ride back to Chester and, as we arrive back, the wind has whipped up and were grateful to be back on local territory.

For the three Chester riders, we’ve ridden 65+ miles and an undulating 3000ft of climb at 15mph. The round trip distance returning to Delamere café is 45 miles. Although my bike had full length mudguards, I was a very spotted with mud and my overshoes thick with road slush. Bike is all very dirty – the joys of days out.

Thanks to my fellow riders for a good day out with no incidents 


Thursday 5 December 2019

5th December 2019: Bunbury (mod)

“And then there were none”

The team were greeted by some festive music on arriving at the Delamere café, and a good sized group set off for a steady moderate ride to Bunbury. A short stop in Kelsall gave Dave P the opportunity to ring ahead to the pub and check that they were happy for the group consisting of Dave and Liz on the tandem, Dave H, Steve H, Bob, Fiona, Andy W, Neil and myself to arrive at lunchtime. Having cleared that hurdle we set off along Willington Lane, and past Willington Hall. If you’ve ridden this bit of road you’ll know that the surface is as rough as anything Clive takes us on, so the last time I went down there I filled in a repair  report for the Cheshire Highways. Some days later I got a call from the local engineer to inform me that he’d looked at the surface and it didn’t fit the criteria necessary for a repair! Perhaps they need to lose a few local Range Rovers in the holes before action can be taken. However, the next section has been re-surfaced and a pleasant downhill took us to the A51 where traffic was briefly absent allowing us a quick crossing onto Corkscrew Lane.

The farmers had thoughtfully sprayed most of the surface with a fine layer of post-glacial mud, which makes a change from the usual blackthorn I suppose. The rain that was forecast for 3pm made a preliminary appearance but generally we stayed dry. Past the entrance to Beeston Castle - not many visitors there on a gloomy December day - and on to Bunbury and the Nags Head. The open fire was a welcome sight and we were soon perusing the menu. The meals were good quality and well –priced, but it was soon time to head back out into the gloom.

Dave and Liz set off to retrace the route out, Fiona and Neil felt the need to add on a few extra miles, which left the rest of us to head back to Beeston. Andy then peeled off direct for Chester and the remaining 4 continued down to the Ice Cream Farm and over the twin peaks by Tattenhall Marina. Here Dave and Bob took a right up to Huxley and back to Delamere. Steve and myself continued along Greenlooms Lane where we parted as Steve went right to Tarvin and I continued left to Guilden Sutton. The wind was beginning to pick up now with twigs and leaves blowing across the road, so I was quite relieved to get home to a mince pie and cup of tea. Just 40 miles for me, perhaps a bit less for the group, but a pleasant ride well up to moderate standards.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 29 November 2019

28th November 2019: Nesscliffe (mod)

Once again the forecast was ropey. The added deterrent was a start at Chirk, deep into the territory of potential natural disasters. Steep, muddy lanes with torrents of water and treacherous icy bends. Wet and shivery cold on  quickly darkening days, dreading a puncture in remote and exposed  territory. Welcome to cycling in winter Wales! Ask Steve Haywood about his debut ride with us, some time back, from this venue in a “challenging” environment.

The committed (or those who should be committed) arrived in the welcome warmth of  the Castle Bistro and Tea Room. I had knackered my back, but was deluding myself that hours vibrating it on rough roads was just what the doctor ordered. Dave Matthews had ridden out, and was returning home after coffee. Ken was also on his bike, but would be cycling to visit his dad, and had an appointment later. The moderate group consisted of Andy Barber, Steve Tan, George, Peter and myself. The conversation was wide-ranging: from a consensus that carbon offsetting was of very dubious merit, to Steve's interesting history of The Cresta Run. Steve and his wife, Lesley, have actually been passengers on the Cresta Run, proof that he was keen to risk his neck long before his aerial gymnastics with us. I failed to persuade with my vague and  conservative plan to circle down in the direction of  Bagley and up to Ellesmere for lunch. My idea was that if the weather really turned sour we were never too far from Chirk. Also, Andy wasn't keen on returning late as he would have another 22 miles to ride to Mold in fading light. Nevertheless, we decided to “go for it” and ride to the Two Pigeons at Nesscliffe, a route which Steve had on his phone from a previous Steve Haywood ride, which George, Andy and I had enjoyed.

The start was fine, and had the distinct merit of avoiding the mountainous wild west climbs into Wales. We headed in the direction of Hindford, but missed the turn, so finished up reaching Welsh Frankton via Whittington. We then fairly licked along on some lovely lanes to Weston Lullingfields, and out of Baschurch via Little Ness and Great Ness. We had made good time to lunch, and the friendly service, fine food and chiselled sandstone walls of The Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe made for an agreeable break. This, however was going to be a ride of two halves!

As soon as we came out for our return we were met by wet saddles and steady rain. The route back was shorter, and still scenic, and enjoyable up to a point. We were facing a light headwind most of the time, and by the time we reached Maesbury thoughts began to wander towards how long it would take to reach the warmth of Castle Bistro. Alas, it was not to be! Peter pulled over on reaching Maesbury Road Industrial Estate. When I caught the others at a busy junction it became obvious Peter had not just stopped to make adjustment, as there was no sign of him as we waited. When I cycled back, Peter was still struggling to force a very tight fitting Schwalbe off his front rim. The puncture was hard to find, but Peter eventually had everything back together, I had phoned  the others to carry on to Chirk without us, but then Andy appeared at the other side of the road! I must admit Peter dealt with the puncture with admirable insouciance. Mind you he has had plenty of practice lately: this was his third puncture to my knowledge! I, on the other hand, was wet, bothered about the building traffic, the failing light and my need to go to the toilet. The spirit of Scott of the Antarctic was definitely not with me. I was thinking more of “Beam me up Scotty!”

Forty minutes later we started on our route to the Old Fort. I'm afraid I wasn't much use to Steve, as I was heading for the Cumbrian Railway Museum as a viable approach, while Steve was correctly following the route on his phone. I think he was wanting to tell me where to stick my soggy paper map! It was a relief to leave the town traffic and climb past the fort. The remaining ride was on a familiar and direct lane to Weston Rhyn, and then we were soon at Chirk.

There had been plenty of thick mud tractor tyre lines and thick wet clumps of leaves to safely navigate. It was nice to reach the warmth of Castle Bistro, but I was conscious that Andy hadn't the time to stop, as his ride was far from over. We had volunteered to drive him back, but three people and three bikes is very hard to accommodate in my car without my rack. Also, he would  probably have had to be anaesthetised to get him out of the saddle! The cold had got to Steve with his low body fat ratio, but I think we all agreed that we were glad that we had made the effort. Good company, cake and hot coffee made for a positive perspective on the day. I hope Peter and Andy felt the same sans the cafe ending! Many thanks to Steve for a really good job leading, once again.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday 23 November 2019

21st November 2019: Whitchurch (mod)

It was an excellent turnout at Alison’s Kitchen of mods and briskers.  DaveH not having his maps, requested suggestions. It was quickly agreed we would go to the Black Bear in Whitchurch following a route DaveM and myself conjured up some time ago on a previous visit. Jim, DaveM and SteveH were out for morning rides as ten of us set off (Mikes D&G, SteveT, Fiona, Neil, Trevor, Bob, George, DaveH and electric Peter). Neil had raised concerns about mud on the road towards Clutton. As it had recently been dry, I decided to take the risk.

With Trevor leading we were soon in Tilston. With no one volunteering to try the stocks, we quickly made our way onto Threapwood following the CTC Spring 50 route. Only one incident so far, we had the rare experience of local hedge trimmers sweeping up their messes. Whilst DaveH was thanking them, those behind nearly piled into him on a muddy surface as he forgot to advise he was stopping.

Onto Hanmere area and whilst making our way to Bronington, we encountered the epi-centre of muddy roads where we stopped, allowing Bob, Fiona and Neil to remove the accumulating mud from their mudguards. I was accused of trying to emulate Clive A. Where were those stocks?
Photos by Mike G

As time was getting on and it would take about an hour for all of us to be fed and watered at the Black Bear, we headed for Whitchurch rather than divert to Whixhall Moss area as originally planned. The temperature by now had risen to a tropical 3.9 degrees C.

Lunchtime conversation covered ISharing apps/Life 360, BBC Four programmes and other issues, yes including politics as we thawed out and enjoyed the lunchtime food and drinks (Salopian Gold was excellent).

We departed Whitchurch at about quarter to two and because if any of us got a puncture, I decided on a straightish route back via Marbury, NCN 45, Harthill finishing with a lovely run down to Tattenhall. Arriving at three pm we had covered about 36 miles. It left sufficient time for those from farther afield to return in daylight and the café hoppers, a further opportunity for some light refreshments. On a positive outcome, with us all having muddy bikes it enabled us to gain greater familiarisation with our trusty steeds.

See route map and/or gpx file download

Mike G

Friday 22 November 2019

21st November 2019 : Audlem (brisk)

This brisk ride today could be given the nickname of “Tu Be or not Tu Be, that is the question” Now read on!

There were a dozen or more of us at Alison’s Country Kitchen cafe in Tattenhall this week. It is proving to be a successful change away from the Ice Cream Farm. I was one of the last to arrive and I was eager to get inside away from the cold SE wind that would dog us all day today.

Although Ivan had prepared a route to Barthomley, he was happy to defer to my route of similar length of 48 miles to Audlem. Both groups set off together with the Mods turning left out of the car park, and the Briskets surprisingly turning right!

We had not gone but  a few hundred yards when “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers” stopped because Elwyn’s rear tyre was a little soft. While the rest of us stood around i.e. Ivan, Ray, John W, Nick and myself, Elwyn tried to reflate the tyre to no real effect. This was apparently a new tubeless tyre put on by the bike shop at the top of Marford Hill whilst Elwyn’s bike was being serviced there. Both Ray and I were dubious of the valve stem as it doesn’t look like a tubeless tyre version. A shot of Carbon Dioxide did the trick, and we were on our way now to Bickerton Hill via Brown Knowle. Here, John wasn’t feeling 100% today so decided to head for home, which he reached without incident.

We arrive at Hampton Post crossroads and Elwyn’s tyre needs another gas transfusion. Down the hill and via a short stretch of the A41, finds us on our way to Wrenbury. By the Dusty Miller pub, the tyre needs reflating yet again and we are now running low on gas cylinders. Just over the Wrenbury railway crossing is a small industrial estate where I thought I remembered that there was a cycle business; however I was wrong. Now Elwyn’s tyre is flat yet again. Faced with getting on the train to go back home, he decides to put tube in it, and Ray and I are not looking forward to doing this due to the 50 mls of latex sealant in the tubeless carcass - a right messy business.

The tyre is off and, to our astonishment, the tyre is not tubeless but tubed, and the inner tube is not only too small for the tyre size, but has a massive tear in it! We stand around in the lee of the workshop building whilst we struggle to get the tyre back on the rim. Now all sorted, I decide that I need to cut the planned route down as we are all cold and have lost 45 mins due to the comedy of errors brought about by the “competent” cycle workshop.

We now head directly for the Shroppie Fly where, apart from one other punter, we are the only customers for lunch. We bemoan the current political climate as we edge closer to getting back on our bikes into the growing gloom of a late November afternoon. We head back towards Nantwich with the wind behind us now, and onwards to Swanley Lane canal bridge and Brindley. Cutting left down lonely Cappers Lane, we pass Bath House Farm which used to serve the Spurstow saline spa pool in the adjacent woodland - definitely not today though!

We cut across to Peckforton where Ivan and Elwyn power ahead as Ray and I take it more sedately at only 20 mph. There is no sign of Ivan at the Ice Cream Farm turn, so Ray and I head homewards assuming  that Ivan has gone back to Alisons for a warming coffee and cake session. Ivan hadn’t gone back to Tattenhall, but if he had, he would have completed the 45 mile route at 16mph average.

By the time I am home, the darkness has set in as I find my front light is just about flickering and in need of  battery transplant - just as I do.

So “Tube or Tubeless, that is the question” today  - a salutary lesson for us all!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Tuesday 19 November 2019

14th November 2019: Parkgate (mod)

Being the closest to Chester, Meadow Lea is one of the more popular starting points on the CER calendar. Particularly for me as I can have a good lie in and still have time to cycle down to the start. Five brisk riders, seven moderates and two non-riders turned up but some were less pleased than usual with starting point. Not with the café itself, I must point out, but with the journey to it. They had ridden along the greenway, found it flooded, and decided they would be able to cycle through it without getting their feet wet. Wrong! And when I arrived there were already a number of socks and shoes hanging in front of the fire in an attempt to get them dried out before the ride started.

A discussion took place as to a suitable place for lunch. It was cold and windy with the threat of rain. No one was too enthusiastic about a long ride and the Carden Arms was suggested. However the wind was from the north and I suggested a ride onto the Wirral which would give us the wind behind us on the way back. So as the brisk group turned left out of Meadow Lea, the moderates (Andy B, Dave H, George, Jim, Mike D, Peter and me) we turned right and headed through Mickle Trafford.
I didn’t have a map but I have ridden these roads so often that I didn’t need one. We zigzagged our way over the M53, past the back of the zoo and over the canal. We were forced into a short diversion because of road works at the top of Chorlton Lane but were soon crossing the A41 at Backford and heading up Demage Lane towards the railway. The Sustrans path alongside the railway slowed us down with all its gates but we put up with it as the alternative is to cycle up main roads. Then it was on through Capenhurst and Ledsham, across the Welsh Road and on to Willaston via the ‘missing link’. We avoided the centre of the village by turning right into Mill Lane but couldn’t avoid a short trip along the busy B5151.

I had intended to stop for lunch at the Wheatsheaf Inn in Raby, which I had visited a few weeks before, but as we approached it was only just past mid-day. A short committee meeting resulted in agreement to carry on and we passed through Thornton Hough and dropped down to the Boathouse at Parkgate. Despite there not being many people in the pub the service was slow but we were warm, not particularly in a hurry and we found plenty to talk about. When the food did eventually arrive it was good and soon devoured.

Soon it was time to re-emerge into the cold and wind but at least it was behind us as we headed along the front at Parkgate and on to the Wirral Way. After a short stretch to Neston we headed down through the houses to Quayside where we passed the Harp and Nets café to reach Burton Marshes. The going was much easier now with the wind behind us and we were soon across the Marshes and through the industrial estate, now with dedicated cycle lanes.

Andy and Peter left us before we headed down the greenway back towards Chester. Jim and I were cycling together while the other three gradually eased ahead. The route back was pretty straight forward and when we approached the flooded area (now fenced off by the council) the three out in front were nowhere to be seen. I was happy that they had found their own way back to Meadow Lea so Jim and I made our own way home. Only 36 miles today and an early finish but a timely one as we made it back just before the rain started to fall.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 14 November 2019

14th November 2019 : Middlewich (brisk)

There were a fair few CER members in Meadow Lea cafe huddled around the roaring fire. Some were in civvies, and one had his boots and socks steaming by the fire. Apparently the Greenway was underwater at the M53 underpass, and at least two riders found out the hard way that it was deeper than they thought! Luckily, I had ridden to the cafe by a different route today.

I’d already planned a ride to Middlewich carefully taking the wind direction into account, as it was advertised to be gusting to 30 mph from the north. The route was vaguely a rectangle where we would have the wind behind us for a few miles on the way out and against us just before and after lunch in Middlewich. 

So the Brisk group set off with Ivan and John W committed for the full route, and John M and Nick committed to somewhere convenient to break off and head for home. Out via the usual lanes of Waverton, we turn off at Handley on our way to Bunbury. Just short of here John M and Nick peel off for home as we three continue on towards Church Minshull via Alpraham. We are going West to East now and John bravely takes the lead to shelter us

We kiss the edge of Coppenhall and ride north through Warmingham to Middlewich. I couldn’t find a record of a ride to Middlewich per se, but I had been to the White Bear in Wheelock Street before with Harry Watson’s group quite a few years ago. It was quiet inside and warm. There was a decent range of beers, and the hot food came pretty quickly and was much appreciated. We sit awhile contemplating the world - as you do - but I know we have 22 more miles with the light fading and the northerly wind as strong as ever.

We head north to Bostock Green and Davenham then cross into Hartford. We clip Cuddington and climb up to Norley and thence out through Delamere Forest and Ashton Hayes arriving back in Guilden Sutton at around 1530. I head for home as it has just started to rain, and get in before it really starts at just before 1600 with 66 miles all round. Today's route was only 54 miles but at a 16 mph pace. It was cold and with that wind we were glad we had plenty on. As I arrive home I notice it has warmed up to 5C!

Thanks go to John W for his sterling service in taking the lead on the front today. A tiring ride as my achy legs attest!

See route map and/or gpx file download


PS : The problem of deep water on the Greenway had been solved as John rode back home - it has been closed!

Photos by JW

Saturday 9 November 2019

7th November 2019: Hanmer (mod)

For CER riders looking out of their bedroom windows the main question was, “If I turn up to ride today will I just get reasonably wet, or insufferably wet, as in having to endure miserable, cold hours of driving rain ?” Those who have rich and full lives, urgent household task to tackle, or stimulating company at home, sensibly chose to “give it a miss”. Clive, Ken, George, Nick and myself turned up. To be fair, Nick was multi-tasking in terms of a need to get to Screwfix in Wrexham before the end of the afternoon, then he was going to hang curtains, and later practise his karaoke! That's the energy of (relative) youth for you. I suggested Hanmer or Ellesmere, and I reckon Ken had calculated that at my pace he'd be returning home in the dark if we went to Ellesmere, so the Hanmer Arms it was to be.

I sort of led, but although I have pioneered some perverse routes in this area, mainly to avoid hilly and rough-roaded Malpas, the help of the rest of The Crazy Gang, who ride these lanes more frequently, smoothed things along. When I don't know my north from my south, George can always take bearings from his beloved distant Welsh hills in order to keep us on track. The route out was via Churton. At Coddington the Caravan Park cafe was recommended to those who hadn't yet partaken. We continued through the mazy little lanes of Cuddington Heath and Oldcastle Heath. We passed Peacock Farm where my Clio RS happened to be in the capable, specialist hands of Steve and Andy of Birchdown Motors. At Eglwys Cross, Clive, perhaps surprisingly, suggests the main road in order to miss the super muddy back lane to Hanmer. George and I remember well using sticks here to poke the muck from between our tyres and mudguards. It was by leading us on back lanes like this that Clive literally cemented his reputation. The Hanmer Arms is full of chatting ladies, one of whom nearly knocks me over, chuckling over her view that my yellow “safety jacket” was the only thing that saved me from demolition. Service and food were very good, and it is nice to see this long time CER favourite returned to top form.

The conversation was interesting, but as I strayed onto the political, George, quite rightly mentioned out our informal concensus on avoiding the risk of heartfelt arguments over politics.  Of course, George may have just been on Civil Service autopilot after decades of ensuring Political Purdah before elections!

Our return was via Little Arowry, Three Fingers, Threapwood and Shocklach. The pace of the fast lads was considerately turned down, but progress had been good all day. Nick peeled off for home. We, amazingly, felt very little rain until the last few miles to Farndon; even this was only light. We decided to give our custom to Helen, back at Cleopatra's. We had a very pleasant coffee and cake session before departing. I suspect Ken, and definitely Clive, will have hit real rain riding home. Only 31 miles, but very enjoyable despite the gloomy forecast. I am sure that we all were glad that we had not “given it a miss”!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday 2 November 2019

31st October 2019 : Norton in Hales (brisk)

Asked if I could provide a route from Rose Farm, I consulted the CER bank of past routes, looking for somewhere to the south, so that I could cut across to Tilston on the return leg. So, Utkinton to Norton in Hales was duly selected. The choice was narrowed when I found I couldn’t download pre-2018 routes. However, it proved to be a good choice, even though the brisk riders were down to just two, me and Ken.

We opted to take the A49 road crossing along Heath Green to cut around the back of Tarporley, as opposed to negotiating the car madness of downtown Tarporley. The route took us along the quiet and scenic lanes past Beeston Castle, through Bunbury to Audlem, where we corrected a missed right turn.

Commenting on the strong headwinds, coming from a generally south direction, we were feeling smug in the knowledge of a return tailwind. While keeping up a good pace we were relieved to get to the Hinds pub in Norton in Hales. We arrived at about 12.15 when it was quite empty, but pretty busy when we left. Food was good, as was the beer, but an even better looking white IPA came on tap as we were leaving.

The return leg took us along very quiet and fairly direct lanes to Adderley, Aston, Wrenbury and Bickerton. It was fortunate it was dry because the roads around Adderley and Aston were covered in a smooth, dried mud road surface (resulting from farm vehicles cutting of the maize crop), that in the wet would turn into an ice rink. Staying upright still required concentration, especially with the odd kamikaze pheasant and stoat.

At Bickerton, I left Ken to negotiate Harthill and the very lumpy road surface of Wood Lane (Utkinton), and instead turned left at the church. After a small climb, three miles of blissful downhill landed me in Tilston. We had a great day out on an excellent route covering 57 miles. We completed this at an average of just over 15mph. Oh, and that tail wind of course never materialised!


Friday 1 November 2019

31st October 2019: Aston (mod)

There was a good turnout at Rose Farm, with nine riders (Clive, Daves M and H, Mikes G and D, George, Trevor, Keith and myself) who were up for a 40 mile ride to The Bhurtpore at Aston, along a route that I had picked up from previous CER ride. As we were about to set off, Dave M offered to take us along a ‘country route’ to Aston rather than the route I had planned. I gladly agreed, as it would take the load off me having to lead.

Turning left out of Rose Farm we ran down the hill and then turned first right into Wood Lane – not our usual route. We then followed Dave through Clotton and Hoofield and across the Shropshire Union Canal at The Shady Nook before heading for Beeston and Peckforton Castles. At Peckforton, we went left into Peckforton Hall Lane and thence on to Spurstow. Here came the only ‘non-country’ bit – a half mile dash down the A49 until we reached the safety of Badcocks Lane from where we followed a winding route to Brindley, where we crossed the A534.

At Lardon Green, I heard a shout from behind and turned around to find Clive at the side of the road with his bike upside down, looking for the cause of the puncture in his (tubeless!) rear tyre.  Soon all nine riders were standing around in the cold (it had started to drizzle a bit – as predicted by Carol!). Rather than everyone getting cold, Dave M took four ‘softies’ off to the pub whilst the ‘hard men’ stayed to help Clive.

The repair took a while, as the ‘goo’ inside the tubeless tyre didn’t seal the hole as it should. So Clive had to resort to putting a tube in, but this meant extracting the tubeless valve first. Eventually all was well, helped along by Keith’s CO2 cylinders (21st century technology, Clive) and we soon covered the remaining 7 miles to The Bhurtpore.

The advanced party had ordered but were not yet eating and the rest of us soon ordered and were served with curries, Balti, pies and other tasty food. Talk around the table covered the forthcoming Rugby World Cup final and how you’d never see Steve Bruce shed a tear however many Newcastle let in!

As we’d already covered some of my return route on the way down here, Clive did some routing on the fly (or rather his iPhone) and offered to lead back to Utkinton. This took us back to Wrenbury and then to Sound, Ravensmoor and Acton. Some wiggles down the lanes led to the Venetian Marina using NC551. At Cholmodeston, Dave M said that he’d take over to avoid going through Bunbury. So we headed east, wiggling down the lanes past Calveley Primary School, which seems to be a long way from the village. More wiggles down the lanes took us past Oulton Park, where the sound of racing cars could be heard; a track day, perhaps.

Crossing the A49 at Cotebrook took us into Utkinton Lane and so back to our starting point with 46 miles covered at an average speed of 13 mph – quite brisk for a mod ride! My thanks to Clive and Dave M for leading a great route down some quiet lanes and to the other mods for their company on a day when the rain held off yet again.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday 26 October 2019

24th October 2019: Special - Marton (mod)

There was a surprisingly good turnout for the last Special Ride of the year - a cyclist's dozen of thirteen riders met at High Legh garden (and everything else) centre for the 1030 off.  The weather was not promising in that there was light rain on the way to the cafe, but it improved to grey cloud cover for most of the morning.

The Moderate group consisted of Andy B, Mike D, Peter, Dave H, Steve T, Trevor and myself. I had already prepped the group that there were lots of twists and turns on this ride as we set off bound for Rostherne and its impressive natural mere (48 hectares and 30m deep). We wiggle our way through Mobberley where, detecting a loud noise, I pull to the side expecting a larger tractor to pass, only to find that a Virgin Atlantic 747 was taking off in the next field. Mobberley airport is in fact Manchester International Airport!

We are now on our way south east towards Nether Alderley and the start of Artist’s Lane aka Wizard Hill lane. We each grind our lonely way up the mile plus lane and rest outside the  "Wizard of Edge” pub. It’s now largely downhill now through Birtles to Henbury. School Lane, down through Gravelhole and Hunt woods, is definitely downhill and as the road flattened out, a double cyclist nemesis greets us - two tractors hedge cutting! We gingerly pass by then turning into Bearhurst lane, I hear the plaintiff cry of "Stopping -puncture"! Andy has a front wheel flat and, as it is nearly mended, I espy a rather large thorn in his rear tyre. To add to the situation, Peter then owns up to a front wheel puncture as well. After about a 30 mins delay, we are off again for the 5 miles or so through Gawsworth to Marton and the Old Barn cafe arriving about 1330.

The cafe had reserved two tables for six for us but no Brisk riders were in evidence as yet. They had a longer and hillier ride to the same cafe. We quickly sit and order our repast. The Brisk group arrives complaining of a minor piece of off-road transfer and that the route was rather steep! We all agree that the repast was of excellent quality. Outside it is looking a little dark and I wonder if the we were going to get rained on. So we set off for the return route and I “decide” to make an instant minor route alteration on our way to Goostrey. The sun has now come out and a little bit of warmth is in evidence.

We are now heading north east bound for Knutsford where Steve has suggested we use the Tan Transfer to get us across the the very busy A556 at Tabley. This works a treat  and it is now a 5 mile run back to High Legh. The Brisk group have supped and gone, as we arrive back around 1630 with 51 miles and 1800ft of ascent.

For me, there were miles of new lanes through beautiful and affluent Cheshire Life countryside; however, Dave and Steve seemed to know quite a few of the lanes today. So, paraphrasing the Morecambe and Wise Andre Previn sketch  “ I was riding all the right lanes but not necessarily in the right order"

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 25 October 2019

24th October 2019 :Special - Marton (brisk)

With Nick for company, we headed by car to High Legh Garden Centre for our caffeine fix and rendezvous for the 58 mile,  brisk  ‘special’ ride.

As both groups gathered for the ‘grand depart’,  Nick got the zip of his Gore jacket jammed in the fabric but in freeing the zip, he somehow managed to break the zip on his seat pack rendering it useless. Meanwhile, John M, John W, Ivan, Ray and myself waved off the moderates while Nick organised his gear.

Finally we set off in pursuit of Clive and the moderates, the first part of route being  shared by both ride groups. We caught up with them just before Rostherne Mere and continued our brisk pace through the quiet and very flat lanes of East Cheshire until the first and only advertised mile climb of the day up towards Alderley Edge and the Wizard Inn. The 7% gradient slowed us down but eventually we pressed on towards Prestbury. Just before reaching Nether Alderley ‘Plotaroute’ directed us through a private property fortunately the error was spotted and we continued on the posted route into Prestbury and onto horrible cobbled speed bumps .

Leaving the town, we headed south of Bollington along Dumbah Road to meet the A523, where we had to go on two hundred meters of dual carriageway before branching off over a heavily brambled steep embankment to drop down to a minor road, Clarke Lane. As you can see by the photos John W and Ivan enjoyed breaking the trail through the nettles and brambles!

Clarke Lane led us directly up Kerridge Hill,  a climb of about 1.5km with 100 metres of ascent, the first of 4 significant climbs before lunch which were a surprise as they were omitted  from Clive’s advert about the ride!

After the descent of Kerridge Hill there was a cry of “glass“ but the warning was too late for us to avoid. The next long climb, to Tegs Nose, started almost immediately but inevitably by the time we reached the top Nick had a puncture. At this point we had  4 riders at the top of hill, 2 having already descended. No sooner had we remounted and shouted we were on our way, John M suffered the same fate as Nick. Meanwhile, Ivan and JohnW, presumably fed up of waiting for us rode back up the back up the hill to rejoin us. 

Ivan indicating that they had had 2 punctures today.

The rest of route through Sutton Lane Ends and Gawsworth to Marton was incident free but it was nearly 2pm before we arrived at the Old Barn Cafe where the mods were already seated and awaiting their food. It seemed  their arrival was only 15 mins before us as they were delayed by punctures.

The lunch chat of both groups  was mainly focussed on the ride route and punctures and filled most of the lengthy wait time we endured for our food - it took almost an hour to be served which was strange given we  were the only customers . 

Finally fed and watered, the mods left first and then the brisk group shot off like a dogs after a hare, chasing the mods and wanting to make up for the time loss. The mods were caught at Swetenhams Heath where they turned right and were followed by most of the brisk group who then had to be recalled as our route took a different trajectory. Shortly after ‘Plotaroute’ tried once again to send us through private property, but fortunately the error was  spotted in time to avoid the turn. The remaining journey along the flat lanes through Goostrey and Wynscham was uneventful.

The route today totalled 93km (58miles) and according to Garmin contained 880 mtrs (2887ft) of ascent. A great route that is worthy of a revisit.

Thanks Clive for your planning and to the brisk lads for their company.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 18 October 2019

17th October 2019: Bickerton (mod)

There was a fine turnout at Delamere Station Cafe. It was good to see Steve Haywood, who is hopefully on the mend. There are a number of us who have had an enforced absence from club rides for medical reasons, so we can empathise with the frustration felt by Steve. We are missing Steve's major contribution in not just posting all moderate ride write-ups, as he continues to do, but in his willingness to seek out routes and new pub stops, and to so often lead and write up the rides. As well as missing his usefulness, we just miss his company. 

The route was great, originally created by Ken, with Paul Rose and Steve Tan in tow. Steve led with Fiona, Andy, daft Andy, Bob, George, Mike the voice, Dave Pipe and myself.

We turned left at Hatchmere, and left again toward Kelsall, and right down the delightful, little, leafy Grange Road to Ashton Hayes. Unfortunately, Bob was ahead and missed the turn. Eventually we were reunited, and passed through Oscroft and Waverton. Andy B. had a puncture before Saighton. Mike kindly offered to chase Bob and George who were off the front. Andy's rear tyre was as thin as a wafer of graphene, and I think he realised that it needed to be junked when he got home. In the tradition of true farce the lead three returned, as we unwittingly missed them on the Churton to Coddington back lane. As the main peloton were now running late we lunched at the delightful Mannerwood Country Caravan Park cafe. The young women serving were friendly and efficient, and the food was very tasty.

Our route back was through Tilston, Bickerton and Bunbury. Dave Pipe and myself were severely tempted by Tilly's, but we all ploughed on to Eaton via the tough Tilston Bank. I needed to get back home, so I haven't yet found out what happened to the breakaway group. I hope their lunch at The Bickerton Poacher was enjoyable! The weather was ideal, so I am sure we all enjoyed the day despite the unintended split. When I returned I found that I had lost one of my new flashing heel clips. Ah, well! They were half price! 43 relaxed miles in excellent company. Thanks again to Steve for resurrecting this picturesque route. 


Thursday 17 October 2019

17th October 2019 : Goostrey (brisk)

A chilly start this morning as I set out via Manley for Delamere. Just outside Mickle Trafford, I espy Trevor and Jim fixing Trevor's puncture - they are OK, so I soldier on passing Manley Mere on the way to Delamere. This starting point is as popular as ever with about a dozen or so Easy Riders taking morning tea or coffee. A welcome visitor was Steve H who had travelled over Kelsall Hill to the station cafe by the oldest transport system available i.e. Shankys's Pony. Good to see him and he is making progress, it will be a little while yet before he is back in the saddle.

At coffee, I had cobbled together a route to Goostrey directly into the phone but realised that I would have to reverse it as it was longer on the homeward leg than the outward to lunch. So Nick, Elwyn, John W, Ray, Ken and I set off for Fishpool Lane and Cotebrook. The low bright sun made reading the road surface quite difficult, but thankfully there were no surprises as we head for Wettenhall.

We now take the long lane to Church Minshull and out on the Nantwich Road towards Middlewich. Turning off into Chapel Lane, we can now run northwards with the stiff breeze behind us into Middlewich proper. A quick right and left finds out on the road to Cranage, and we follow the lane to Twemlow Green. Jodrell Bank telescope dish looms high over the countryside as we turn into Goostrey bound for The Crown pub.

We have visited this pub quite a few times and it doesn't disappoint today either. We learn that Boris has just concluded a deal with Brussels and all wonder whatever is going to happen next. Whilst a few of us are waiting for apple pie and custard, I realise that, in reversing my hastily constructed route, we shall now have all the hills to climb on the way back. I decide that I need more practice on route plotting and hastily create a flatter route back.

The return takes us to Lach Dennis and Davenham and onwards to Hartford. After Cuddington, we take my favourite lane, Gallowsclough Lane, back into Norley. I find out later that we have passed a megalithic round barrow half way down this lane. Read about it here.

It is now a short ride back to Hatchmere where John, Ray and I head back for home via Delamere  with about 75 miles under the tyres. The remaining riders go back to the cafe with only 45 miles ridden but at 16.5mph average.

So thank you to my domestiques who took the wind off the front for me a few times during the ride today. I enjoyed the ride on my new Hunt wheels with tubeless Conti Grandprix 5000 tyres - they did actually feel quicker - but will it be a lasting reality or just an illusion!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday 14 October 2019

10th October 2019: Baschurch (mod)

After Clive's Beatles Tour a few weeks ago the moderate ride today turned into something of a Mystery Tour although we were as far away from Liverpool as we get on our normal rides. I had gone to Chirk on the train along with David M and Andy W, but David was scouting out part of a route for an Audax ride he was planning and Andy was going with him. I was pleased when Andy B and Dave P turned up at the cafe as until then it had just been me and a group of brisk riders there.

The brisk group had got themselves organised and promptly set off on their ride while the three of us hadn't even thought about where we might go. Dave and Andy didn't have any maps but I had my Garmin. However it was my first ride back after a trip to Europe and unfortunately I hadn't reloaded my British maps. I managed to find and load a route but all I had on the screen was a red line on a blank background. All I knew was that the route appeared to head down onto the Shropshire plains and was about 40 miles, two features which were acceptable to the others. And so our mystery trip began.

We turned left out of the cafe, then right and dropped down onto the canal towpath to cross Telford's aqueduct. At Rhoswiel we left the canal, crossed the A5 and found ourselves heading towards Hindford. Then it was on through Tetchill and Hordley to Bagley.

About 15 miles into the ride we started to see signs for Baschurch and I realised that we were probably heading for Ruyton-X1-Towns and the Talbot Inn. Sure enough as we approached Baschurch we turned right onto B4397. On the previous ride from Chirk, Clive had said that the Talbot Inn was closed on Thursday lunchtime and had taken us instead to Moor Farm cafe at Baschurch. Not wanting to arrive in Ruyton to find that we couldn't get any food we opted for the same alternative and ate well from the hearty menu. The pies in the farm shop looked good too (Note to self: must bring a bigger saddle bag next time!). After lunch we continued along the main road into Ruyton and noticed that the Talbot Inn appeared to be open. (Perhaps we can use it again on future rides).

If football is a game of two halves then today's ride was certainly a ride of two halves. The morning ride out had been dry but for the most part into the wind. The afternoon was just the opposite and the rain started as we headed to Wykey and Eardiston.

Now that I knew where we had been, I had a good idea of the route back. Which is just as well because as we approached Maesbury the screen on my Garmin decided to freeze. Not only was I without the maps but now I had no red line to follow either. However we found our way to the A5 crossing near Aston and then turned left towards Oswestry. I was confident that I knew the route around the suburbs of Oswestry and soon we were climbing up the road past the Old Fort.

Shortly after that we came across a car stopped blocking the road. Apparently, a herd of cattle were on their way towards us and we were advised to wait. We had to wait longer than expected and Dave decided that his light rain jacket was no longer up to the task. So he changed into his rain cape – at which point the rain stopped. If only he had decided to change earlier!

Once the cattle had passed we carried on along the top road, turned down through Weston Rhyn and found our way back to the canal for the return to Chirk. Just the three of us to complete a pleasant (despite the weather) 40 mile ride. A bit of work to do when we got home though, to wash the Shropshire mud off our bikes.


Thursday 10 October 2019

10th October 2019: Ruyton XI Towns (brisk)

I had 10 minutes to spare before setting off by car to Chirk, so I rapidly put together a route that could be used as a brisk or moderate ride. The problem was it was only 42 miles. I thought “never mind, someone will have a suitable route”. I arrived in the car park and it was clear that the weather could do anything today, so I had a ride around to warm up the legs before going to the Castle Bistro for a coffee.

There was a reasonable crowd of CER riders there and it polarised into a brisk ride ( yes, my route) consisting of John M, Nick and a dragooned in Steve T. I explained the length dilemma and explained we would just wing it when we got as far south as I had originally planned.  I didn’t catch where the Mods were going though. So we set off down the Ceiriog Road and up and around the back lanes of Weston Rhyn and in and out of Oswestry. 

The first part of today's route was a steal from the recent Mod ride to Baschurch as we continue south and east to Melverley. My original route for today then turned north for Montford Bridge and Ruyton. So after a quick conflab, we slide across the River Severn and take the long and undulating “main” road east through Ford on the A458 to turn up to Montford Bridge. The weather is threatening now and light rain and drizzle now accompany us all the way to Ruyton XI towns with 31 miles up. 

Believing that The Talbot did not open until 1400, we stop at Cafe Eleven where I am told it will be 25 minutes at least before we can hope to get some food. I ask John to ride down the high street to check if The Talbot is open - and it is! It now opens at 1200 except on Mondays, but after the ride I check their website which states food service between 1800-2100 only. So, somewhat confused now.

We go in and food is on, and as its a Joules pub, there is delicious Slumbering Monk ale to be had. We all order Eggs Benedict (in various forms) and some excellent chips.  We talk about our ancient memories and our ailments ( do we need an Ailments tab on the website perhaps?). Warmly ensconced in the bar, it is difficult to leave knowing that the rain is all around, and my original cobbled together route is a very short run back. So I look again and plot a slightly longer route back via St Martins. 

So up Grug Hill and onto Gimpo, it seemed like the lanes have all been hedge-trimmed or tractor to death, so we have mud and thorns and debris everywhere. We hit Welsh Frankton and I remember that the obviously direct lane to St Martins is in appalling condition so we circle Perthy and onto New Marton and St Martins. It is now only a quick dash down to the A5 roundabout, then onto the canal side by the Poacher Pub to end up back at the cafe after 48 miles and 2500 ft of climbs at around 1515.

It had rained all the way home, and the temperature had dropped, and the bikes were covered in Shropshire countryside debris - so we all decided to head for home rather than take a coffee on the cafe. So thank you for being patient with my route planning today, but as ever, an enjoyable day out on the bike

See route map and/or gpx file download


Saturday 5 October 2019

3rd October 2019: Whitchurch (mod)

There was a fine turnout for our first club visit to Alison's Country Kitchen. The staff were very friendly and welcoming, and we were accommodated in the back room. We had plenty of space for our bikes and no problems parking our cars for the day at the back. John Adam and his friend were welcomed. John decided to go with The Fast Lads, after I explained how slow I was going to be, whilst waving two coffee stained, disintegrating maps in my hand. I did have a complicated route to Ellesmere vaguely in mind, but Steve Tan, thankfully, had a former route to Whitchurch on his Garmin.

The moderate group consisted of Andy Barber, Mike Dodd, Fiona, Steve Tan, Mike Gilbert, Neil and myself. Our route took us toward Wrenbury via Beeston. There are many little lanes you can choose in order to drift down to Whitchurch, and Mike and I became concerned that every obvious right turn was being spurned. Steve was sticking to the route he had downloaded, and we were so far south-east of Whitchurch in the end, that we were close to Calverhall. Surely this hyper-loop gives the clue that this must have been a Clive route originally! Although, we never passed through any deep mud surrounded by Saddlebacks, so perhaps not. Neil thinks that my rear tyre is soft, but I am able to assure him that it is just the visual result of my rubber squashing weight perched on the saddle.

After thirty miles, The Black Bear provided the usual friendly and characterful environment for lunch. The Fast Lads made a surprise appearance outside, having finished their own lunch elsewhere in the town. They had just stopped to tweak their afterburners.

The return starts with a surprisingly stiff climb to Wirswall, and as we briefly stop, the view is smashing. Looking out from this quiet leafy lane across Cheshire, the moment encapsulates the essential experience of riding with Chester Easy Riders: quiet, scenic routes, and a relaxed pace in convivial company. We cross the A49 at Bickley and take on Harthill before whooshing down to Tattenhall and just beating the expected rain. Unfortunately, Alison's has stopped opening all day, so no coffee and cake. Never mind, about forty-five very enjoyable miles. Many thanks to Steve for an excellent lead.

See route map and/or gpx file download