Our route took us down to the River Weaver by cycling 'the back way' past Norley Hall, into Crowton, down Ainsworth Lane and past Mick the Coalman's house. We then headed alongside the river to Dutton Lock. I thought that this route would be a novelty to Malcolm, but it turned out to be familiar to him! We were soon heading through Little Leigh and Great Budworth. As we passed Pick Mere on our right, I realised that we could be soon en route to Steve's original destination suggestions. When we set out, The Ring o'Bells at Daresbury had been my suggested lunch stop, but now I felt that the Spinner and Bergamot at Comberbach would keep the wind behind us and provide an even more expedient return to Delamere. After a brief consultation, we stuck to Plan B. We turned north-west up the quiet Frog Lane, turned west to Moss End and then north up into Arley Park. I well remember being helped at the equestrian centre down here after an accident caused by my looking too long at four birds in a field whilst travelling fast! The rain was starting as we exited Arley by Arley Road, then turned left opposite Garland Hall, riding south past The Pole, an impressive c.1840 Grade 2 listed building, which was for sale. When we arrived at the C18th. Spinner and Bergamot we had managed twenty-two miles, and had largely beat the rain to lunch. Steve T. was, nevertheless, having a fit of the shivers, no doubt having a lower amount of body fat than the average person's little finger was a contributory factor. Over lunch, we learnt that Malcolm was originally from Denton, but had spent some time in the Isle of Wight. He now lived in Winsford and was recovering from a serious back problem by getting out on his bike for as many days as possible. The food was very good and the service friendly, but the pub gutters were overflowing with rainwater, as the predicted heavy rain properly arrived.
Our return was a brisk, wind assisted flight on water covered lanes by the shortest possible route: Cogshall Lane, Ash Tree Lane, Willow Green Lane, climbing to Acton Bridge, tearing along to Crowton, and then whacking up Marsh Lane to the last grind at Norley Bank. The rain stopped as we reached Delamere for a final coffee. Barely 32 miles covered, but another enjoyable day. I reflected on how we manage to consistently agree on a decent route within minutes, despite not knowing who is going to turn up and initially having differing suggestions, or none at all. We must write a paper for Theresa: “Flexible, Collective Decision Making, subject to frictionless review, resulting in the best outcome for all”. The trouble is, that it is the qualities of those who you choose to travel with that determines a successful journey. We have CER members, she has the ERG and DUP!