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.

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Friday 23 October 2020

22nd October 2020: Marbury (mod)

A small group of 5 riders met at Lewis’s in Farndon, to be joined by Ray and Dave M who were out for a short ride. The five, Neil, Eric, Keith, Dave H and myself decided on a meandering route to the Swan at Marbury, and we duly set off towards Churton. Turning south we followed the lanes down to Barton and Tilston before skirting the eastern edge of Bickerton Hill. Here we turned south for Cholmondley, crossing the A49 towards Wrenbury. After a few miles we turned right onto an interesting little lane, well up to Clive’s standard. In fact we were very pleased that the weather was dry or there might have been some ‘incidents’ in the inch deep soil covering the whole surface. However, we reached Marbury unscathed and soon arrived at the Swan, almost exactly 20 miles from Farndon. 

There was ample room on the patio but little sun to provide warmth, and we were left musing how much longer we could go on eating outside. Perhaps we need a change of plan fairly soon. The service was excellent and the food very welcome after only a short wait. It was a pleasure though to go inside to the Gents for a warm! Back in the saddle for a shorter return journey, we crossed the canal towards Bickley, then No Mans Heath, before skirting the edge of Malpas along Mates Lane. The long downhill back to Tilston was very welcome and we were soon on Wetreins Lane  heading for Crewe. Back in Farndon Eric and Neil continued on for home, Keith took some time to inspect a very interesting field of grass, and Dave and myself returned to the café.

Regular readers of this blog will know that most ride reports feature an incident where Dave loses his car keys, hat, gloves ,glasses or map. No such thing happened today. However, Dave did have a little trouble locating his credit card in the café and did a quick circumnavigation of the premises to try and track it down. Fortunately a kind member of the public had found it on the floor and handed it in at the till. Another problem solved then!

Not a long ride - a touch under 35 miles, but very pleasant, and at least we kept dry.


Monday 19 October 2020

15th October 2020: Bunbury (brisk)

I seemed to have landed the top job again, even though I turned up at Delamere station cafe just to say hello and do my own thing, due to a heavy ride the day before.
Only 5 of us turned up today, no doubt a lot couldn’t make it due to the latest ‘lock down restrictions’.
No complicated counting, this week. Dave was able to quickly come to a decision, of 2, including himself, in the moderate group and yours truly to lead the fast group or shall we say; they simply followed my less than brisk pace, because there wasn’t a better offer. I always had a plan of an easy 50 mile round trip, from home, so the 2 fast lads were simply tagging on (I did raise my pace a little bit, even though they probably didn’t know it)
Anyway, we set off, once I managed to get my Garmin rebooted again ( the on/off button has fallen out and after the cafe stop, it had shut down. That meant I had to find a suitable stick to switch it on because I had lost my Bic biro top - lol)
So, after a minor false start, we hit Norley and head for Sandiway and Little Budworth beyond. After that we head around Oulton Park race way, so we can take in my favourite series of smooth lanes, leading to Bunbury, via the lovely little lock at Tilstone Fearnell.
We arrive at Tillies, where we find we are not allowed in, because we 3 were not of the same family of course (pandemic controls had changed the day before)
We were offered a seat outside of course, which was fine for about 15 minutes and then it got chilly, as we cooled off. So, I threw down my Eggs royal, which was lovely and off we trot, through Spurstow, avoiding the heavily mudded lanes on the other side, of Bunbury, which I had ridden the day before hence, my specific route change. 
Didn’t take long for us to reach the turning for the ice cream farm, where my faster companions turned right to head back home to Chester & beyond.
I got home 5 minutes later after a lovely day to be fair-  no rain, a bit of sunshine, good company / conversation and 49 miles all in all, for me that is.

Saturday 17 October 2020

15th October 2020: Comberbach (mod)

With the ever increasing restrictions on CER members travelling, a small number of moderates and brisk riders gathered in the feeble sun outside the station café in Delamere. As I had not ridden with the group for some time I had already decided on a shortened version of Daves ride to Little Bollington, but as there was only myself and Dave H riding we both decided to head towards Comberbach and the oddly named Spinner and Bergamot. (must find out what that means sometime) We set off along Station Lane and as we turned the corner towards Norley Peter was waiting for us, which made us a threesome. We took the usual route down Norley Lane and through the farm lanes to Acton Bridge,up the hill and over the canal to Little Leigh. Cumberbach is only from here, but not the way we went! It was such a nice pleasant sunny day that we meandered through the lanes enjoying good riding on quiet lanes through Antrobus and the suburbs of Little Budworth. Eventually the speedo was creeping close to 19 miles so we set off for the pub. Dave had rung ahead and we were expected, but as it was warm enough (just) we opted to sit outside. Service was good, we had our temperatures taken and were passed suitable to serve. Food was good and wholesome, but the intermittent cloud meant we didn’t want to lounge around too long. We chose a more direct route back, mainly as I had another 10 miles to do from Delamere. From Acton Bridge we followed the track along the weaver and then up towards Norley. Back up Norley Lane to the crossroads at Hatchmere

Where we parted company. Dave back to the car while Peter and myself set off through the forest to Ashton and the Greenway. 

40 miles for me, 30 or so for Dave, but a memorable day at a leisurely pace in good weather. 


Saturday 10 October 2020

8th October 2020: Aston (mod)

Sadly, all our Welsh contingent were confined to their own council areas due to Covid restrictions. Nevertheless, it was a very reasonable turnout at Meadow Lea, our chosen alternative to Chirk. It was great to see Steve Futcher again, and he and Erik chose to ride with the Fast Lads. Clive had been delayed by a puncture, but Ivan and John appeared around 10.30 to collect Steve and Erik and rejoin Clive for their ride.

Mike Dodds was making a welcome return to the group after living in Germany for a while, and then quarantining. The moderate group consisted of Steve Tan, Trevor, Neil, Mike and myself. Dave Matthews rang to say that he had been delayed by a puncture, but he intended to join us, so we arranged to meet at Waverton. I had planned to have lunch at The Farmer's Arms at Ravensmoor, an old favourite of Mike Morley's. I discovered that although the bar was open, the kitchen was still closed, so, instead, I had pre-booked The Bhurtpore, a bit further on. There were a couple of groans about a so, so familiar destination, but Neil had never been, and it is a reliable venue in uncertain times.

My intended route had some quirks. Firstly, we went out past Ivan's house to Vicars Cross, and then crossed the canal and A41 to Rowton before  reaching Waverton by Moor Lane, which surprised Dave Matthews, who then met us at the primary school. We made good progress alongside the Shropshire Union Canal, before heading for Beeston via Huxley and Brassey Green. Dave Matthews had his second puncture of the day before we reached the A49, and as he had his car to pick up later, decided to sort it out and return home. Our route was then familiar, riding south-west of Bunbury. But we took an unusual excursion to Haughton Hall, and south of Brindley headed east before crossing the Llangollen Canal and turning right for Ravensmoor and Sound. We had clocked up a good few wind-assisted miles by this stage, so headed for Wrenbury and Aston, instead of trying to do the Hall o'Coole loop. Neil was interested in taking a left straight to the pub as we approached Woodcotthill Lane. I explained that you needed paddy-field waders and a big shovel to cross the River Weaver half way down. Clive enjoyed it in his Brown Period, but the last time I used it as a “short-cut” I was ten minutes behind the others at the end, and my machete was blunt.

We were a little late for our booked reservation at the Bhurtpore. Not that it mattered, as we were given the usual friendly reception, and the choice of where to sit. We chose two tables in the deserted back room. The food was fine, and the conversation ranged from the pub's connection with the British Empire in India, to the importance of circadian rhythms (Mike), and conjecture about who could possibly have managed the coronavirus epidemic worse than Boris? The young staff were very pleasant, but seemed inexperienced: I think something was nearly thrown over Neil, and we had to work out our own bills from the till slip. I finished up paying for two “1/2 Squashes” with my curry, and I don't think any of us ordered a Squash! Anyway, I did have a drink, and nobody appeared to feel “ripped-off”.

Our return ride threatened to be mostly into a headwind. Mike had a sniper's shot puncture near Chorley, and too many cooks managed to sort it, but with some difficulty, and not enough distancing. Short of the beautifully bricked Old School House, we deviated left down the tiny lanes near Spurstow Lower Hall, and approached a deep flood. We all managed to plough through it and shortly after were applauded by two ladies. Not that Neil was too impressed with my sock soaking choice of route.  At Spurstow, Mike's tyre made a loud noise again, and was instantaneously flat. I found a large hole in the cover, and on proper examination the tyre had the strength of ancient papyrus. Steve magicked up two tyre patches, which were doubled up. Neil has nine discarded tyres on his garage floor, so he has had plenty of practice changing tyres, and gave a You Tube demonstration of how to do so, slickly. He just needed persuading, that perhaps less air pressure than normal may help avoid another high-pressure explosion. Mike was very apologetic, but most of us have been there, sadly, sometimes more than once, in overlooking a tyre that was too worn. Sure, sometimes it's old git meaness to get our moneysworth, but often it's just that bike tyres haven't been one of life's priorities recently. The remainder of the route went well via Peckforton, Beeston, Newton, Greenlooms, Waverton and Stamford Heath. Neil peeled off for home along the way. 56 miles covered, more for most. Quite a stretch for a moderate ride at this time of year, but it will have done us good.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday 8 October 2020

8th October 2020 : Knutsford (brisk)

The day didn't start off well - riding around the back of the zoo towards Meadow Lea cafe I had that rear end sinking feeling! The rear tubeless tyre was well down. So I try a CO2 cylinder and can see the cut spewing out a white mist like Etna. I tried a plug, but the tear was too big - so a £40 tyre needs replacing. A quick call to the AA (my wife's initials) and a spare rear wheel set is despatched by Tiguan. The brisk group wait patiently for me at the cafe, and I meet up with them after 30 minute delay.  Thanks for your patience boys!

There are six of us today - Ivan, John W, Nick, Erik and Steve F.  The route is to Knutsford and "somewhere" for lunch. The weather is supposed to be rainless but the dark clouds at the horizon might belie something else. So out the usual way to Oscroft and the long drag up to Willington. Ivan guesses where we are now heading and I offer a re-route but he says Chapel Lane hill is fine by him! We grind up it and along the ridge down to Cotebrook through wet lanes - a feature today. More familiar lanes take us to Whitegate and the off-road transfer to Davenham, thence to Lach Dennis.

We then head north for 4 miles up the delightful Back Lane and Pinfold Lane to emerge at the massive roadworks at the M6 Knutsford junction. Where to eat? - I suggest The Courtyard cafe introduced to me by John when the sun was shining and it was dry and warm. So we sit outside being reminded by the waitress that if it rains there is no room inside - I look heavenwards and see the black skies above and just hope! It is also the Pennyfarthing Museum - well at least you won't get a puncture with solid wheels!

Ivan can't resist trains - with his next bike in the window behind him!

It's time to go as we are all getting cold and lunch took a while to come. So we use the Tan Over Tabley transfer to get us over the roadworks and the M6, thence the Great Budworth bypass and pass through Comberbatch. Eschewing the Acton Bridge route back, we head for Sutton Weaver and the fast run down into Frodsham. A left into Fluin Lane perplexes a few riders who see the "flat" route back via Helsby to be in prospect - but No, we head for the hills again! Grinding up Manley Road it is a cruel option after 50 miles, but the fast route down to Mouldsworth is exciting  - for all the wrong reasons - that is, a very poor road surface hidden by puddles. 

In Mickle Trafford, it is only Erik and I who head for a coffee at the cafe as the other four riders head for home. Erik and I sit in the sunshine (it didn't rain today) reflecting on the 59 miles and 2800ft of climb at 15.5 mph average. So thank you one and all for your patience at the start of the ride, and at the top of the hills!


Photo by CA

Saturday 3 October 2020

1st October 2020: Wrenbury (mod ride 2)

 After numerous recounts by Dave (to be fair people kept coming and going), which did make it difficult, however, he cracked it, once he took his shoes and socks off.

One pair of cold feet later, Dave decides on 2 moderate groups, due to the pandemic restrictions :-( By this time, the fast boys were already leaving. I therefore offered to lead one group, as I had a route ready (to the Dusty Miller pub in Wrenbury)

So, off we pedal: - Fiona, Alan, Eric, Steve & a tearful Elwyn (surplus to requirement, from the fast boys)- he’ll gain some mates, one day -lol.

Photo by Alan

Photo by Alan

“Where are we heading to?” (from over my shoulder), to which I therefore enlightened my little ‘posse’ on our deliberate outward loop from Bunbury toward Oulton Park race circuit and back to Bunbury again, not repeating any lanes, which are some of my favourite bits of smooth tarmac.

I initially kept the pace down, as Fiona had informed me that she was still tired from her 100 miler on Sunday (well done by the way & Elwyn, who apparently took the wind, on the front, for 80% of the ride (that’s 80 miles for those still thinking) - Dave put those socks back on- lol

After a couple of minor overshoots, which, would you believe, were due to a Crane Fly! Landing on my Garmin screen. I had swatted it away, whilst maintaining my balance and not disrupting the rhythm of the ride-lol. That said and unbeknownst to me, a single leg got left behind on my screen, which looked just like a road on the map, as it would of course (could happen to anybody, I thought - not sure anybody bought that one)

Anyway, we arrive at the Dusty Miller pub. After a brief spell of musical bikes, involving 3 or 4 tiers of steps, we finally settle on an acceptable spot for the bikes and entered the pub. Somewhat disappointed, we discover they only had a ‘Pandemic sandwich menu’, of limited choice, but to be fair, they were good.

Lunch conversation was varied and understandably with a ‘pandemic’ slant, although the initial conversation was from Steve & Eric? Regarding the lengthy, slight incline, but directly into a wind. Suffice it to say, it took a bit of effort, despite Fiona calling Elwyn forward, in order for him to slice through the wind with those incredible legs (not really jealous of his power)

The most memorable conversation was the story about the annoying phone calls, during a recent visit to the ‘Lake District’. Apparently, somebody has a mother who is somewhat ’koo koo kachoo’ or words to that effect (something about, hearing voices in the laundry basket- sounds perfectly normal to me) So! no intellectual political conversations on this ride- lol.

After that sobering revelation, it was time to set off again, once the canal bridge was lowered of course, which gave the slow starters more time (no names-lol).

No sooner had we got started, when I realise I am ‘Billy no mates’, after only a mile. I turn back to find ‘the posse’ having a smoke break, while pretending to fix a puncture and basking in the sun. Elwyn proceeded to show us how not to use a gas pump (I believe I heard “bless him” from a concerned bystander guess who-lol))

To be fair he did have a crap gas pump, as was proven when Steve? eventually came to his aid, with a descent one, much to Fiona’s astonishment, although I had offered mine, but it seemed to go right over Elwyn’s head, much like his own gas pump - gasp! horror!-lol.

So! We finally get going for our 10 mile leg back to Alison's. I tap out a little bit of pace, as I was aware of the impending threat of rain, due at 3pm, which, unfortunately (I later find out), F&E caught in Holt, after leaving us at the top of Harthill. The rest of us went right to Burwardsley, just to provide a last little sting in the legs before the downhill run into Tattenhall-lol.

We arrived at Alisons, nice and dry, dead on 3pm, just in time for closing -lol.

Finally: well done all, as the average speed was unexpectedly quicker than normal moderate pace, at 15.5mph (Alison's, door to door at 45 miles)

Not sure the pace was my fault though, as I was simply trying to keep a safe distance from the bike behind- lol. Fiona must have been bluffing about being tired- lol.

Cheers everybody - Neil.


Friday 2 October 2020

1st October 2020: Whitchurch (mod ride 1)

The turnout was surprisingly good at Alison's, and the service was friendly and efficient. Despite Wednesday's awful weather, and impending additional lockdown restrictions, riders appeared to have had faith in the much-improved weather forecast for Thursday. And they were not wrong! We sat in the open air with the sun on our faces supping our coffees. We had about four spaced tables, and were careful to maintain reasonable social distancing, but a couple of riders stayed on the outside of the fenced patio, and Ivan and John arrived later for a brisk ride, having decided some time ago, to give the group gathering a miss. Oh, for the carefree times of only a few months ago! It was good to meet up with Jim again, although he was not able to join us for the day. Anyway, thanks to the usual goodwill, we managed to organise ourselves into three groups with three leaders and three different planned destinations. 

My moderate group consisted of Steve Tan, Andy Barber, Dave Matthews and Mike Gilbert. It was great to have Mike back, and in good nick. Dave was trying to stuff jam teacakes down as it was time to go. We headed for Beeston Castle before turning south alongside the Peckforton Hills, and then left to Spurstow. Dave suggested a tiny lane route to Brindley, which initially required a short dash down the A49, but was then a quiet, delightful change. We were on familiar lanes to Larden Green, Chorley and Wrenbury, but it is unusual for us to ride them on the way out. At Wrenbury we turned right and headed south through Pinsley Green, then left under the railway, and stayed east in this hummocky topography. Dave Matthews caught a puncture, but Steve Rocket Robin Hood Tan and Barber The Beast had forged ahead, well beyond hailing distance by this time. This would never have happened in Ray Hardman's day! I rang the pre-booked Black Bear to tell them that we were five not four and were going to be a little late. Our split quintet managed to, eventually, make phone contact with each other, and I met Steve and Andy riding back from the edge of Whitchurch, with Dave and Mike behind, now on their way again.

    Photos by Steve T and Mike G

Lunch was great with The Black Bear being very well organised on the sanitiser, spacing and mask front. The food was really good, (my hake and mussels dish was mouth-watering), and our reserved table was large enough to enable comfortable social distancing.

The route home was planned to be a few miles shorter than our morning meandering. We headed out the usual route - the wrong way down a one way street! Past the hospital we wound our way up to Wirswall. Mike took a picture of the lovely views across the countryside from the top of the climb. We crossed the A49 to Bickley, then, unusually, took the small lane through Hetherson Green. Dave “I don’t need maps” Matthews and Mike, a former orienteering star, were invaluable in ensuring we went the correct way at strange junctions, whilst exploring. We swooped past Egerton Hall and battered up the bank to Hampton Post, before turning right and making the long climb to Broxton Old Hall. Dave had taken his leave by then to cut across for home. Earlier, Steve and Mike had joked that we should call our group Team Farmacia, because of the amount of medicines stored within our bodies (and because we liked pasta?). Actually, I was the only one of the five of us not having to manage a serious medical condition. It says a lot that Mike has not finished his course of treatment, but has for weeks been building up his mileage alone, in order to regain his fitness, and Steve was in hospital during the week, prescribed beta blockers, and still turned up to ride strongly a couple of days later. I really respect the positivity and determination of my four friends. We completed the ride via Brown Knoll and the climb to Bolesworth Castle, with the “patients” outpacing me. Plenty of sunshine, relaxing company and a downhill finish. A bonus, a bathe in the last light and warmth of a summer thought over.                                           


Thursday 1 October 2020

1st October 2020 : Hanmer (brisk)

A bright autumn day was in prospect, and so it was except for an occasional black cloud that thankfully did not rain on us Brisk Six. Ivan and John W arrived last at Alisons, and Nick, Ray and John M made up the sextet today.

After a 100 mile ride on Tuesday (see below) four of us were happy to address the 46 miler to Hanmer that I had proposed. So off via Huxley we head down through Peckforton and Bickerton on our way to Bickley Moss. Marbury comes up quickly and soon it is in and out of Whitchurch heading for Alkington to Hanmer via Fenn Bank.

Try as I might not to do so, I seemed to have picked the very best of the worst road surfaces today. At Bronington , the lanes get worse in that they are plastered with wet field run off. Nearing Hanmer, I deviate north to get onto the dry and smooth A roads to enter Hanmer.

The Hanmer Post Office is busy especially as only two are allowed in at any time. So it takes a while to get our lunch purchased - also there wasn't so much of a choice today. So we sit looking at the mere topping up the calories and fluid levels. 


The route back is going to be short at 16 miles as we have already ridden 30 miles. So we set off riding more badly surfaced roads towards Worthenbury. None of us want to actually go back to Tattenhall, so I suggest "Let's go to Cleopatra's as we probably will not be able to do this again for a while". So we plough along the familiar road to Shocklach where Nick heads home for Tilston.

We sit in the sun with our hot drinks outside Cleopatra's cafe and then John suggests we head home via Rossett, Dodleston and Saltney Ferry bridge. A good idea as this tops up the out-and-back mileage to a respectable 70 miles today.

So apologies to the Brisk group today for loading up their bikes with excess mud, but this is likely to be the norm going forward now as Autumn starts to turn to Winter.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Photo by JW

Southport Ride

Ivan designed and led this ride which started via car assist in Stretton. After a cold and foggy foray through several suburban landscapes, we arrive in sunny Standish for a late breakfast. After a necessary detour via Rufford (a bridge was being removed over a river) we plough across the fenland and ride the whole length of Southport prom. We then grab cake and a drink at the MeCycle shop in Ainsdale.The route back is shorter, but we now have the going-home traffic to contend with in Warrington. A great day out for Nick, John W, Ivan and myself with 102 miles ridden at 16 mph average speed. Thanks Ivan!

See route map and/or gpx file download