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.

Friday 28 June 2019

27th June 2019: Hodnet (mod)

We gathered at the Ice Cream Farm on a day forecast to be warm and sunny throughout – what a change from recent weeks. It was good to see a couple of faces who hadn’t been around for a while: Andy W and Bob.  Also, there were David M, Andy B, Trevor, Neil, myself and a new member Graeme. On such a lovely day it was surprising to see no brisk riders, and none of the usual suspects among the mods. David M and Andy W went their own ways, which left a riding group of six.

Given the weather, I had in mind a longish ride to The Bear at Hodnet. This met with approval from Bob and Trevor as preparation for their upcoming Bert Bailey ride, and Graeme, on his electric bike, was interested to see how his battery power would hold up. We set out for Tilston, and then to avoid the hill into Malpas (in honour of the absent Dave H), we used Cholton Lane to approach the town from the west. Continuing through Higher Wych, we arrived in Coton which was to have been an alternative destination in case of any difficulties.  All were happy to continue, and so we continued through Prees and up the hill to Marchamley. We sped downhill into Hodnet and The Bear, having covered 32 miles and most of the day’s hills.

The Bear calls itself “an unpretentious gastro pub”, and as usual we received a good welcome and decent food and drink. There were questions about the pub’s history, which we couldn’t answer at the time, but the following comes from the Bear’s website:
“The Bear at Hodnet is said to date back at least 500 years and is said to still contain the passages used to hide the monks as they came from the church. These tunnels, ending in what is now called the bear pit, may also have been used to transport ale underground in order to avoid tax levied on ale transported over land. Today’s modern bear pit was created by an enterprising publican in the 1970's and contained two young bears until common sense allowed their release. It is believed, however, that during the 16th century the Inn may have had its own bear pit in what is now the car park. The owner allegedly kept the bears in a pit below the bar. It is said that that regulars fed the bears food and drink and some of the bears are said to have died from alcohol poisoning.  Apparently bears are infamous for their love of beer but cannot process it to quite the same effect as some of our regulars. The modern bear pit is now contained in an area known as 'Jaspers' named after the ghost of Jasper Neilsen, a Scandinavian merchant, who died of hypothermia in around 1590 after becoming intoxicated and having an argument with the landlord.”

It was time to leave. Graeme had used 2 fifths of his battery so would probably be OK for the shorter and less hilly return. We headed towards Market Drayton and used pavements to avoid the busy Ternhill roundabout, before striking off through quiet lanes and the villages of Longford and Longslow. Then we headed northwards past the impressive gatehouses of Shavington Park, continuing through Aston and into Wrenbury. In the absence of any cafes on the return route, we paused at Wrenbury Village Stores, and enjoyed our drinks and food sitting on their forecourt. Here it became clear how hot the sun was.
Photo by Steve H

The way was now by Cholmondley Castle and Bickerton.  Graeme decided that it was time to head directly for home in Malpas with concerns that his battery would not take him back via the ICF, and Andy left to take the A534 and head towards Mold.  The rest of us took the route by Brown Knowl and Bolesworth Castle to avoid Harthill, and so returned to our start.

We’d covered a total of 61 miles on a beautiful summer’s day.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 21 June 2019

20th June 2019: Special long ride to Stone (brisk & mod)

Brisk Ride

The skies were ominously dark as we all set off from Waverton at 0800. There was a brisk ride led by yours truly, and a moderate ride led by Steve H. However, as there was no rush to get to Cafe Bon Sol in Whitchurch, we all set off together towards Tattenhall. It became clear at the back road to Bolesworth Castle that we should formally split up. The Brisk Group consisted of Ivan, Ray, Ken, Steve T, Nick, and myself. Mike G decided to joins us as well just as John W appeared (he had not turned up at the start due to bike issues). So up and over the various hills with very black skies, we duck and dive our way to Bon Sol just before the rain starts. The cafe had opened up a little early to accommodate us and bacon baps were very much in evidence. 

As we are ready to leave, the Mods arrive ready for their protein top up. Mike G decides to swap teams as we head out to Ightfield and on to Market Drayton. Nick gets a rear wheel puncture as it starts to rain, but tyre fixed, we seem to outrun the rain. There is then a long run down quiet lanes to Eccleshall. Out through pretty Eccleshall, it is now a long loop north passing HMP YOI Drake and Swynnerton Training camp (a WW2 former munition factory, now Army training camp) via Cold Meece and Yarnfield (where we have ridden to in April 2016). It’s really downhill now into the suburbs of Stone at 51 miles, 1230 and The Poste, a Wetherspoons pub. 

As ever Wetherspoons doesn’t disappoint and we are soon fed and watered and preparing to leave as the Mods arrive. The weather hasn’t warmed up and rain threatens as Ivan leads us onto Barlaston and the start of 12 miles of canal side riding. Both Ivan and I notice that there has been a lot of housing and offices built where derelict factories once were. We had both been on the June 2011 Long Ride to Stone (with Mike G) and really noticed the difference. We pose for a few photos along the way, ending up at the Harecastle Tunnels - one now working, the other closed but both 1.5 miles long.

Photos by Nick and Ken

It's a long pull up to the busy A34 roundabout at Talke, at 669 ft the highest point of the ride surprisingly. Downhill into Alsager, we are soon out and crossing the railway at Oakhanger, eschewing the White Lion at Barthomley, on our way into Nantwich. An unconventional approach via St Mary’s churchyard finds us at Costa Coffee ready at 81 miles for a top up. We are all ready for the final familiar leg of 21 miles back to Waverton. Steve T, who threatened to jump ship at lunch, is still riding confidently as 101 miles comes up at nearly 1800. Surprisingly, there were 4500 ft of climbs! The Mods are 90 minutes behind us and just leaving Nantwich, and, as Steve has Dave H’s car keys, he joins Ken, Ivan and me for a pint in the Ring o Bells in Christleton. 

So a great day out, and my thanks to an enthusiastic riding group who took turns on the front right to the end. We managed to dodge heavy showers (as had been in Chester apparently) and only picked up a little rain - it could have been warmer, but hey almost the Summer solstice so why would we expect it to be sunny and warm!


Mod Ride

The mods rode the same ride as described above, so I add here only a few incidents that demonstrate the slick professionalism of our mod outings. Both groups were to cycle as one to the first stop at Whitchurch.  Unfortunately heading up to Brown Knowl, Dave H's front mech slipped sideways and necessitated a quick fix, but delayed 5 of us arriving at the cafe.

The rest of the morning was uneventful and we enjoyed the lanes to our lunch stop.  There was good value fare at Wetherspoons and after we took the long canalside ride, though I think we joined it a little earlier than the prescribed route. 

Photos by Mike G
Everything was uneventful until we left the cafe in Nantwich. But somewhere before Swanley bridge, Mike at the front and me as the last man lost touch with Keith, George and Dave. After waiting and some phone calls, Mike, Andy and I continued on the planned route, eventually arriving at our start point to find the rest of our group already there.  They had taken the more direct A41 for part of their return.

I think we all enjoyed the diversity of the route, the well-planned stops and our luck with the weather.  Many thanks to Clive for his planning and organisation.


Thursday 13 June 2019

13th June 2019 : Whitchurch (mod)

There had been heavy rain and high winds the two days previously, so the Long Ride was postponed to the following week. Thursday's forecast was for yet more rain and all-day at that. I decided to ride out to Cleopatra's and see if anyone had decided to venture out; if not, I would have a Full English and ride home again. So I was somewhat surprised to see Bryan W, Keith and John W already there. Dave M soon turned up, but was out for coffee only.

The inevitable question arose, and “No”, no one had a prepared route. Did we want to ride?, “Yes”, but no too far. So I decided upon the Whitchurch area and used the new features of ViewRanger to plot a route straight over the OS map display. There were questions about how many flooded lanes we would find. I was reminded of a ride in Jan 2013 when Roy ended up riding calf deep in the lanes close to the River Dee at Holt.

So we set off up Wetreins Lane bound for Tilston and thence to Chorlton and Oldcastle Heath to emerge on the south side of Malpas. Brian explained that as his new electric Cannondale was “limited” to 15.5 mph under power, he would have to peddle hard just like the rest of us if we went much faster. The silent powertrain helped him up and down the vales of the Wyches as we peddled on to Iscoyd Park. A shimmy around Whitewell, found us on the way to Fenn Bank.

Up to now we had been through quite a few large puddles, but overall the roads and lanes weren't too bad. We turn left up a recently resurfaced narrow lane towards Alkington. Cresting the rise there is a large puddle. As leader, I venture through and proceed to have my “Roy” moment as the water comes up and over the front chain ring! The others are somewhat reluctant to follow and you can almost hear Bryan thinking about the water resistance of his power motor in the crank.

It's not me!
I shout instructions for a detour and head off myself to meet them about 2 miles away. We are soon into Whitchurch and now not going to the Wheatsheaf pub as I had earlier indicated. So we head out via the Tilston Road to Alderford Lake cafe. There are a surprising number of people here, and I find later on from Facebook that the lake had filled up alarmingly after all the heavy rain. You can wild water swim here and it was recently used for the swimming stage of a local Triathlon.

Lunch comes pretty quickly but I am denied a second time as the Full English is not available after 1130. The food however is good and for my three co-riders, it is their first time here. I spend time plotting a near direct route home. So out back through Whitchurch and onto the A41where we shimmy our way either side of it to No Mans Heath. Out via Ebnal Lane, we are soon back to Tilston and Wetreins Lane. The loop around would have been 42 miles

We all wanted to go directly home, so continued via Barton and the very long corkscrew lane out of Coddington to Churton. John W whizzes off home as Bryan suggest a coffee at the village cafe in Aldford. I'm up for it, but Keith decides to head back to Christleton and thence Runcorn bound.

Bryan leads me back into Chester where I discover we have all ridden 60% of the planned 100 miler. You may have noticed I haven't mentioned the forecasted rain. Well, we did have light rain on and off all day, but it didn't spoil the adventure at all.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Tuesday 11 June 2019

6th June 2019: Aston (mod)

A reasonable sized group of riders met in the morning sunshine at Rose Farm, including prospective new member Graham who had ridden up from Malpas. In view of a promised wet afternoon the moderates decided to follow the tried and tested route to the Bhurtpore Arms and hopefully get back fairly dry. Led by Dave P and Liz on the tandem, and myself, we were joined by David M, Keith, and Andy B, and set off towards Cotebrook, Oulton Park and Reaseheath College. A slight hitch appeared in the plans in the form of a road closure on the lane just after the college but in true cyclist manner we decided to ignore it and hope we could push through. No chance - just prior to the canal bridge we were met with a barrier manned by a “jobsworth” who resolutely refused to allow us to push our bikes across his nice new tarmac. We eventually took the alternative which was to push our bikes across the nearby field [I’m sure the corn will re-grow] up some steps, under a line of barbed wire and onto the canal tow path. From there we went to the marina and back on route. Down to Acton, Ravensmoor, Wrenbury and arrived at the pub at a reasonable time.

Suitably refreshed David M set off early, hoping to get home before the rain and we followed some time later. Back to Wrenbury, Chorley, Faddiley, Bunbury and Beeston. The group split after the hill up from the Shady Oak, still in the dry much to our surprise, with the tandem and Keith going back to Utkinton and Andy and myself heading up through Greenlooms back to Chester. The rain started just as I got through Christleton, sadly promising a wet end to the day for Andy and probably Keith too.
About 40 miles for the official ride - longer for others!


Friday 7 June 2019

6th June 2019 : Alsager (brisk)

Would it rain – that was the question – answer later!

Ivan had finally put his paint brush down and rode out with John W and myself to Rose Farm for a “gentle ride”. Well most of the pace was at 20mph so this was going to be the order of the day!

There were quite a few assembled today, so I led a brisk ride out to Alsager with Nick, John W and Ivan accompanying me. We got off on time, or would have done if my rear wheel hadn't deflated during coffee time. It was quickly sorted by John W – no doubt plenty of experience care of those massive Audax rides. Thanks John !

So out we go down the usual dry lanes to Wettenhall and Church Minshull and onwards to Bradfield Green. We motor through Coppenhall and thence into a few new lanes around Maw Green. Ivan's local knowledge was invaluable here. We are soon out of Haslington and riding Holmshaw Lane to Oakhanger.

We head north on Nursery Road to run right by the M6 then crossing over to arrive near The Plough pub in Alsager. Again Ivan's local knowledge confirms that the Wilbraham Arms is a better choice. So a mile or so later we are in the pub ordering up.

The food here was fine but the service longer than expected. However we were out of the shower that wetted the roads. Lunchtime banter was as varied as ever, but it was time to go as a menacing large black cloud seemed to be heading for us. We exit via Bechton Lane on our way to Wheelock Heath. Then there is a 6 mile long run down small lanes to Wimboldsley.

We can't avoid Winsford, so I navigate through various housing estates to finally leave the town behind by going down bumpy Blakeden Lane; this runs behind the Cheshire Police HQ. It is now an easy run back to Utkinton via Oulton Mere. Here Nick peels off homewards as we three head up the hill towards Utkinton.

I decide to have a coffee at Rose Farm as it is only 1500. Dave M had kindly offered to sort out my rear mech so I meet up with him for what turns out to be a transmission transplant. As I leave there is that big menacing black cloud again. So I head off bound for the other side of Chester. At Christleton the roads are awash and so it was so all on my route home via the A41 but thankfully no actual rain.

So only 45 miles around today but at over 16mph, and mid 70's mileage for me when I'm back home. How we missed a downpour I don't really know! A very useful workout for next week's 101 miler to Stone.

See route map and/or gpx file download