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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, 31 December 2021

30th December 2021 : Goostrey (brisk)

Unfortunately today I had to take my car into the garage and it’s at Ellesmere Port so I seconded John to pick me up and get a lift home. After having an excellent ride on Tuesday with all bar one brisk riders, today there was only John W and I venturing out on a final ride. Clive and John M would be riding today but doing their own thing.

With the start changing to Oscroft, John and I decided as the bikes were in his car the we'd have an assist and we decided on Stretton. This location has been our starting point for several rides and I'd mapped out a long and short ride. The short was selected as the weather would turn wet around midday. Parking at the Premier Inn, we set off at 09:30.
 
At the lights, we turn right along the London Rd. and pass over the M56 and to Lower Stretton. Turning off the main Northwich Rd, we go along lanes that are awash with floods and branches but nonetheless new lanes being covered. We exit these lanes near Aston by Budworth and riding familiar lanes to Bucklow Hill. 
Our CER inn stop here now boarded up and another housing estate to be built

Taking the sharp left turn behind the pub, we head towards Rosthern which must look very pretty after dusk as all the houses in this quaint village have lovely decorations up. Passing through Mobberley, we follow the main railway lines to Goostrey passing Jodrell Bank which perhaps today is closed I assume following the delicate unfolding of the latest satellite in orbit.

Arriving in Goostrey, we stop at the Trading Post and enjoy warm pies and cake accompanied with a good coffee and tea. Chatting to a fellow cyclist from Church Minshull,  he said had ridden 60 miles already.

Departing our stop we head to Boot Green and Lostock Gralam then a welcome down hill sprint to Gt Budworth taking a left to push up the bank. Comberbach and Higher Witley soon pass. And we're back at Stretton for 13:00. 
The last 8 miles were wet with heavy drops falling on us but happy to report it was only our outer layers wet as underneath we were dry and spirits good for a lovely chilled ride over several new lanes. 

Another good day out on the bike and apologies to CER riders who gathered at Rose Farm today for not starting at the scheduled point. 

A very happy New year to all CER members and look forward to seeing you all again soon and hear about Trevor’s new bike.

All The Very Best

The Brisk Group


ID

Thursday, 30 December 2021

30th December 2021: Ravensmore (mod)

 It was an inauspicious start to our final ride of the year from Utkinton – Rose Farm Café was closed, from 24th December to some date in January. Gathered outside with me were Alan, Andy B, Clive, Dave H, David M, and Keith who it was good to see, but who was only there to say hello. We discussed our options – basically finding another café that would be open. Tarporley seemed the best bet, likely to offer several choices. We waited to see if any other members arrived, but it had started to rain, so at 1015 we set off in search of coffee. Just into Tarporley High Street we found our first café, which was good enough – “Ginger and Pickles” opposite the bakery of the same name. We squeezed into what was a more upmarket establishment than we are generally used to, but this was Tarporley. 

Our needs met we left, saying goodbye to Clive and a short while later goodbye to David M. Our destination was The Farmers’ Arms at Ravensmoor, which I had previously confirmed would be open and serving food. We headed through Eaton towards Oulton Mill, turning right to head for Wettenhall and southwards into Nantwich. The southwesterly wind gave us little trouble and although the early rain had ceased, it started again as we passed through Nantwich, but by then we had only a couple of miles to reach our destination. 

A sign outside announced “under new management” and we were served fairly promptly. We chose from the light lunch menu, but Dave H and I were disappointed that the liver and onions had run out.  Nonetheless we enjoyed decent meals, although the lasagne choice we deemed to be a little small. Overall I quite liked the place. We checked the weather forecast and confirmed there would be rain for the rest of the day, though of the ‘light’ variety so the forecasts claimed.

The route back took us past Swanley Bridge, then Brindley, Bunbury and Beeston.  After the Shady Oak we split, with Dave H heading into Tarporley to rejoin his car, while the rest of us made for Huxley where we bade farewell to Andy.  That left Alan and me to follow the twists of Corkscrew Lane to Clotton and then past the turkey farm to Utkinton. In total we had travelled 35 miles.

So we ended 2021. A Happy New Year to all members, and a hope that Covid will be less of a constraint on our rides in 2022.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Thursday, 23 December 2021

23rd December 2021: Overton (mod)

There was a good turnout at Cleopatra's by both the brisk and moderate riders, considering the closeness to Christmas. It was good to see Ken in fine fettle, and have a brief catch up. The moderates consisted of the three Steves, Alan, Andy, Dave Matthews and myself. Steve Haywood had looked up the White Horse Inn at Overton on tinternet the previous evening, and it appeared to be operating normally. Although most have us have forgotten what used to be 'normal', and where the latest 'normal' has got to. Had Boris or Mark Drakeford intervened since I left Naga and Charlie at breakfast? Can you trust a website to be up- to- date, particularly around Christmas? Are Kwik Fit really open for an oil change the day after Boxing Day? I'd had similar thoughts to Steve around Bangor-on-Dee or Overton with regard to not going too far on a short winter's day, because I'm scared of the dark.

So it was, that we set out on a contrived detour to Overton. It was a conservative detour: no sane person wants to grapple with the pock-marked, lumpen terrain of Malpas, just for the hell of it. There was also little point in doing the hokey cokey with the A49 and its whizzing wagons, just for the sake of a few more miles. The little lanes south of the A525 have little allure in their branch-strewn, slithery, shitty winter state. Many will remember being led by Clive, in his early Farmyard / Exploration Period, into the Bermuda triangle of glutinous mud between Three Fingers, Eglwys Cross and Arowry. Wheels had to be removed, as mudguards jammed and big sticks were used for cleaning. Fiona, Neil and George, to name but a few, know that I exaggerate not. Also, one has to allow time for possible punctures on very short winter days, so the untoward stretching of boundaries was not on our list of essential criteria for our moderate meander on this particular day. From Farndon we headed for Tilston, passing some hedge-cutting, which claimed Andy for our first puncture of the day. Dave Matthews had already made his planned exit for home at this stage. We do usually lose Dave, one way or another, but it is often unintentional! Andy was very efficient in dealing with the puncture, as befits a man who has been known to take very long rides on (sometimes) exceedingly thin tyres. Practice makes perfect. Next up, we passed Nick's house, I think, and headed south through Chorlton Lane to Cuddington Green. From Threapwood, we crossed Sarn Bridge and, unusually, turned right for Mulsford and Holly Bush.  A little challenge was then taken on, by not riding the most direct route into Overton, but choosing to cross the dismantled railway and doing a steep little dive and climb at Cae-Dyah before joining the B5069.

Given my reservations about the veracity of websites, as mentioned earlier, it did not come as a shock to find that whilst the White Horse was still a goer, it was closed on Thursday lunchtimes. Fortunately, The Two Doves Cafe around the corner was excellent: friendly, clean, and with very good quality light bites. A young couple kindly moved so that we could sit together, but be reasonably spaced. Steve Hughes was maintaining his behaviour of not eating inside to ensure the protection of an elderly relative. The cafe did have perspex screens, and he could have sat apart behind a screen. In fact, if the situation vastly improves, it would still be preferable if he sat behind a screen in the corner, so that we could eat in peace. As it was he sat outside on a cold corner. Alan popped out with a drink and stuff to help as much as he could. I appreciate that Steve makes the effort to come out on a Thursday, despite missing our scintillating company over lunch. We all respect the decision he has made, and it would be wrong for us to try and persuade him otherwise.  Unfortunately, Steve Tan's tyre was flat when we returned to our bikes for the ride back to Holt. The offending thorn was soon dug out, and Steve was quite quickly up and running with the help of Andy's impressive pump. The quickest return route was probably via Bangor on Dee and then alongside Wrexham Industrial Estate, but we took the pretty direct, but quieter route through Holly Bush, Worthenbury, Shocklach and Farndon. Somewhere before Shocklach, Andy, Alan and Steve Tan started to wind their speed up and disappeared from site within a couple of miles. Although it doesn't exactly fit the Chester Easy Riders commitment “that no one gets left behind”, the blast by some up to Farndon, where they wait, has become a regular tradition in recent times, and is just a bit of fun. Steve Hughes dropped back to accompany the two “leaders” myself and Steve Haywood. I could imagine some straight-laced CTC stalwarts disapproving, but we are far too tolerant for that, thank goodness! We got back in good time, despite the punctures, and once again we were lucky with the weather. A shortish, but enjoyable ride in relaxing company.       


Photos by AO

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

23rd December 2021 : Home (brisk)

The Brisk Group ( aka John W, John M, Ray, Ivan and myself) had ridden a very cold 55 miles from Guilden Sutton to Middlewich and back on Tuesday. The temperature was 3.5C when we started and it rocketed to 4.5C by the time we had finished. It was largely overcast with the odd ray of sunshine but the roads were all dry and the bike didn't need a wash when we got home.

We said we might meet up on Thursday at Cleopatra's and we did except for Ivan who was on domestic duties. We were joined by Ken who was out on his Christmas ride from Burton to Cleopatra's. The Mods were off Overton way, and, as I didn't fancy riding home from there in the gathering gloom, I joined the Brisk group on an extended route back to Home.

We were going right passed Ken's door from whence he had just come, but he was going on an outwards loop in the opposite direction. So just the four of us headed for Marford Hill. In Rossett we slide passed Burton and thence to Lower Kinnerton. 

Down to the River Dee at Saltney Ferry, we extended the ride by heading towards Deeside on the riverside path. Before the blue bridge, we turn off to access the Greenway and Home. Only about 35-40 miles all told but we were all home early enough to start to become organised for the coming festivities.

So less than two days to go now, and I wonder if Trevor will get his new bike.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

CA

Friday, 17 December 2021

16th December 2021: Christmas lunch ride to Gresford (mod)

We've had to wait two years for our 'annual' Christmas lunch ride thanks to Covid and even now the pandemic has had an effect. Many venues have put a limit on the size of any one group and our usual venue of Pant-yr-Ochain at Gresford was one of them. So for the first time the moderate and brisk groups had separate lunches, although we were able to meet up together for coffee at Meadow Lea before setting off on our separate rides. Eight moderates (Andy B, Alan, Dave H, Mike, Roy, Steve Ha, Steve T and I) assembled for the ride and lunch with Fiona, Elwyn and Neil joining us just for the ride.



It was a dull cloudy day and mild for the time of year, but no rain was forecast and with little or no wind we set off towards Guilden Sutton and the A51 beyond. The shortest route was reserved for the return journey which only left one option that would get us to the Pant-yr-Ochain in time. Crossing the A51 we cycled through Waverton and then crossed the A41 to take us through Saighton and Bruera. At Aldford we avoided a section of the main road by taking the back road and did the same at Churton. We carried on along the main road to Farndon and dropped down to the bridge which took us over the River Dee into Wales.

In Holt we turned right to pass Cleopatra’s and followed the road straight through Commonwood to Borras. From here we were following the road signs to Gresford but Neil advised us to avoid the left turn into Vicarage Lane and instead we took a short diversion via Hillock Lane to reach the village. From here it was a short run along the Old Wrexham Road to arrive at the Pant-yr-Ochain.

Photos by AO


Jim had cycled straight from home and we had expected to catch up with him along the way but when we arrived he was already well into his first pint. Also with him was our special guest, Bryan, the founder and Honorary President of Chester Easy Riders. Nice to see you again Bryan. The arrival of Dave & Liz on their tandem made up a round dozen and we settled down to our meal. Dave had chosen ‘The Pant’ as it has always provided us with a warm welcome, good food and good service. Despite the difficulties faced by the hospitality industry during the pandemic it did not disappoint. Clive and Dave M joined us from the brisk group as we were waiting for our puddings as they wanted to say hello to Bryan.

After lunch Andy B, Mike and Steve Ha went their own ways home. They were replaced by Clive, Dave & Liz for the return journey. We headed through Rossett and Pulford and turned right towards Eccleston and Handbridge. Several riders left us along the way as they made their own ways home and by the time we had cycled up Hoole Lane and through Guilden Sutton only two were left to make it back to Meadow Lea. Only 32 miles ridden but managed before darkness fell.

It only remains for me to wish all our blog readers a Happy (and safe) Christmas with the hope that you all get what you have asked Santa for. Me? I've asked him for a new bike...........Fingers crossed!


TC



Thursday, 16 December 2021

16th December 2021 : Christmas Lunch Ride to Holt (brisk)

This is Christmas Ride of two halves – from Mickle Trafford to Holt and then to Gresford.

In the good old days of pre-garmins and smartphones, a rider leader would either remember the plotted route, or, if mis-remembered, carry on anyway as the peloton was none the wiser. This was Harry the Bike’s favourite ploy. When I started leading rides, I used photocopies of OS maps crammed into my pocket. Dave Heath has the up-to-date version – a carefully folded OS map. I have succumbed of course and use a smart phone now.

So for the ride out to Cleopatra’s, our Christmas lunch stop* today, I had only shared my gpx with Ivan. 

So the six of us set off – Johns M and W, Nick, Ray, Ivan and myself. Ken was wisely self-isolating ( from us that is). It was a retro riding experience as Nick and Ray were asking “is it left and right now”. Of course, they shouldn’t be ahead of the ride leader! One or two appeared to know where the route was – probably due to unprotected Garmin intermingling at Meadow Lea before the ride started.

So we started out on this 50 miler by going up to Dunham-on-the-Hill and then a long run down to Ashton Hayes. Crossing the A54, we shimmy through the edge of Kelsall and slide through Willington towards Corkscrew Lane in Clotton. Up and around Beeston Castle and via the Shady Oak, then comes the long and badly surfaced Stonehouse Lane into Bickerton.
 
Long Lane takes us to Hampton Heath and the outskirts of Malpas where we turn right in Ebnal towards Tilston. Wetreins Lane completes the loop into the back of Holt and thence Cleopatra’s for an early lunch after 31 miles. 

The cafe was well populated with cyclists. Neil, Elwyn and Fiona were already there at 1230 as was Dave M, who was an honorary member of the Brisk group for the day. We all order various “breakfasty” type hot snacks but I went for the full monty English and very good it was.

All the brisk group decided to return home (for various reasons); however Dave and I decided to ride to the Pant which was about 5 miles away – and so we did at our own pace. The Mods were awaiting their sweet course as I arrived with my pint of Plum Porter soon to be joined by Dave M. 

It was a pleasure to see Bryan W after such a long time. I reminded him of good times and rides past all through his good offices of establishing Easy Riders way back in early 2008. Many of those riders who were around in the early days were around the table today – a testament to the easy riding ethos of CER and our physical stamina after 10+ years.

Trevor led us all back into Chester via the most direct route as the gloom was descending. I split off at Eccleston and was home with front and rear lights ablaze after 55 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

*: The Brisk Group have largely eschewed pubs throughout 2021 (and 2020), preferring small cafes or al fresco facilities if available. This was why we were at Cleopatra's today.

Friday, 10 December 2021

9th December 2021: Brimstage (mod)

Another good turnout at the Cafe in Hawarden despite the thermometer reporting a cool 2 degrees Celsius. The brisk group replete with Buckets & Spades were enroute to Prestatyn, we trust you had a nice day gents. 

The mod group consisting of ride leader Alan, Trevor, Dave & Liz , Dave H Steve T, Steve Hu and Andy. Clearly Andy isn’t finding riding a 20kgs bike heavy enough so today he arrived complete with panniers. I suspect he is trying to outdo Roy (lets do a 90 miler with bricks in my panniers) Forster. 

The mod group plunged down Gladstone Way and used Alan's cunning route to ride over the A55 roundabout and get on the Shotton road. At this point instead of “Where’s Wally “ it was where’s the tandem!  A full five mins later Dave & Liz appeared , the combination of bollards tight turns and steep inclines had hampered progress some what. 

All back together again the group made their way along the river and towards the Toyota Park. At this point Alan regaled the group with his tree planting and Willow felling expertise. Sustrans have adopted a large triangle packet of land and are replanting native trees and controlling the woodland from the fast growing Willow.

The route then meandered until we approached Dunkirk on the Shotwick road. We now navigated numerous road closed signs and observed the busiest folk this week, are tree surgeons. Looking at the damage the Wirral took a real pounding by storm Arwen. A brief stop at Raby Mere then the route took us  past Brackenwood golf course and descended from Storeton hill towards Brimstage through another road closed sign. 

A fellow cyclist coming the other way advised the road was impassable, clearly he was not aware of Dave ( Indiana Jones) Heath's ability to cross roads. The underpass ( pictured) turned out to be a bit more of a challenge. Liz made a management decision and whilst 7 men debated if we could get across with a low engined Tandem , she was 400 m down the road going back the way we had come! 

Photo by AO

Suffice to say Liz’s decision was the right one and we braved the M53 roundabout to eventually arrive at out lunch stop the Mouse Inn in Brimstage. However the Mouse lived up to its name and was deemed too cosy for a Covid distanced lunch for eight of us. So we dropped into the Courtyard Coffee shop which provided a lovely fare for our hungry stomachs. 

Replete with Sausage Panninis and Cheese sandwiches plus 10 litres of tea we set off for Parkgate, the temperature had now dipped to three degrees and it had started to rain. Road captain Alan made a quick decision to re route us through Thornton Hough and Willaston. Another plunge to Burton brought us out by the marshes.

From here various members started to peel off leaving the committed to ascend the 300 feet back to Hawarden just as the drizzle started to get serious. 

Thanks to Alan for scoping out and leading the route. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHu

9th December 2021 : Gwaenysygor (brisk)

Hawarden usually spells hills in Wales and the first twenty miles of today’s ride will confirm this. Meeting at the Gallery tea rooms, my brisk colleagues today were John M and Ray. Weather forecast was a fine morning and rain approaching from the west from 15:00. With drinking cups empty, the three of us set off just as Dave and Liz arrive, it was only 10:25!

Heading on Wood Lane to Burntwood, we take the junction for Mount Pleasant and we're only half way up this roll knowing the next twenty miles is of similar terrain. Cutting across Buckley Mountain, we cross the A494 (Mold Rd) at Altami then continue towards Northop and The Green. Another upward climb maxing 18% To Rhosemor. It was quite spectacular up on the Halkyns today, blue skies and little wind and no traffic. Just up hills. Continuing on, passing Rhes-y-cae and Lixwm, then passing an old watering hole The Crown inn.

Crossing over the A55, we pass Pantasaph and the Franciscan Friary. At the end of the road it’s right to Lloc, Sarn and Trelawnyd. Although riding on the A5151, it’s quiet of traffic but any approaching cars from the rear is picked up by Ray's new Garmin Varia and the call goes out “car rear, car rear” and whoosh it’s passed safely.

The final little roll uphill is to our lunch stop the "Eagle and Child" at Gwaenysgor. We were well greeted and rear doors opened so we had quick access to the outside but the warmth inside was more inviting. So Hot Pot and tea all round with a little dismay from the landlord. He thought we'd arrived for Christmas menu and a few beers. Those were the days.

The peloton  - somewhere! 

Clive had sent a WhatsApp message to the brisk group to say have a good ride but be careful down the steep 33% hill down to Gronant (as this was the original route). This put a little nag in our lunch time chat and a look on the map showed a lane cutting across the ridge to Gronant. So we changed the planned route to the new lane.

On leaving the pub, we immediately take a lane opposite the inn and enjoy super flat tarmac for a quarter of a mile before the grass starts in the middle of the road then this gives way to ruts then follows the deep ruts filled with water. If you've ever looked up at Gronant hill you would notice a huge mast, this is where we are. A walker is happily meandering towards us and we ask if the "road" is passible on a bike. Answer was an E mtb bike would or may make it and that did it, we continue on regardless. My thoughts this morning “We’re to get back to Chester for 15:00 and here we are at 13:30 walking a by way for a mile negotiating fallen trees after the wake of two recent winds and the clock is ticking”.

The lane to Gronant

Arriving at a spec of tarmac, Ray drops his rear wheel out and clears the mud from his brakes and John untangle branches from his wheels. Oh dear! Clive would be proper proud of this track. Back on a road we soon descend into Gronant and arrive on the A548 Prestatyn road and we’re again peddling at pace.

It's an enjoyable sprint on the coast road sharing the lead as we now have a strong head wind to battle. Passing through Flint and Shotton, we head up to Hawarden rail bridge and the Greenway home. Not today though as they are still renewing the deck. Not perturbed, we cycle up to the workers at the Chester end but the over-zealous worker wouldn't let us pass, 5 decking boards require fixing. So we turn around and back to the coast road and Queensferry. Our route now is the Blue bridge and the cycle path along the river all the way to Sealand Rd.

The head wind was strong and we were down to 15/16 mph and it was hard going, plus we had a light rain and the forecast was actually correct as it is now 15:00. Joining the Greenway on the Sealand Rd it’s not to long before we all go our own way home but the rain had eased and we were dry.

A good day out I hope, speaking for the others, and a route of 65 miles ridden although we didn't return to Hawarden (which would have been 45 miles all round) . On this occasion we climbed 3154 feet and only descended 2996 feet so we was robbed of a little. Probably the route after lunch!!

Thanks to John and Ray for no grumbles.

See you all at Meadow Lea next Thursday for our Christmas lunch ride.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos ID

Thursday, 2 December 2021

2nd December 2021: Pickmere (mod)

I cycled with great care to Delamere Station as the temperature had fallen below zero in the night and by 10 o’clock it was only forecast to have risen to 2 degrees. The roads were largely dry, though patches that looked wet were possibly icy and puddles on the verge were iced over. Others were aware of the risks, with some members staying away and David M coming in civies.  In total we had six riders: myself, Steve T, Clive, George, Dave H and Ray.  

I had looked for a route that would keep to the busier roads where gritting and the passage of traffic would reduce the ice risk.  This took us along B roads, northwards to Kingsley and then easterly past Acton Bridge station, through Davenham and into Northwich. As we travelled east, it seemed to get colder with more frost on the paths. We passed a queue of people waiting for their Covid vaccines. We then crossed the Town Bridge over the Weaver Navigation, one of many listed structures on the waterway, this was built in 1899 and was one of the first electrically powered swing bridges in the country. We avoided the dual carriageway by taking to shopping streets surrounded by more mundane structures, and emerged at the roundabout where we took the B-road to Marston.  We stopped for a quick time check as we were running early for our destination. We decided to extend our ride along Budworth Road towards Arley Hall.  Here we were onto country lanes for the first time and we noticed more frost, so caution was called for. We reached the security of the B road heading towards Higher Wincham and soon turned right into our destination at around 1210.

We’ve visited the Red Lion at Pickmere before, but this time it was busier despite the early hour, possibly due to the approach of Christmas.  We settled ourselves on a large table near to one of their fires and began to warm up. An indication of the cold day was that 4 of us ordered hot drinks. After a bit of a wait our food arrived, mostly reasonably priced bagettes with chips and salad garnish. 

Photo by SHa

Soon it was time to leave. Over lunch Clive had told us of a café at Pickmere Lake and as we cycled through Pickmere village we saw it signposted by two bright yellow bicycles on our left: somewhere to investigate on another occasion. Our return route assumed that ice on the lanes would have largely gone, and so we took the familiar route through Great Budworth, Comberbach and Little Leigh. Steve T left us to head home at this stage, and the rest of us took the steep hill above Acton Bridge. We passed through Crowton and climbed up Norley Bank, and before long we were at Hatchmere crossroads. Here we split with Clive and Dave heading back to their cars at Delamere Station, and the rest of us making our various ways home.

Despite the cold it, we had made the most of a fine and sunny day. The total distance travelled from and to Delamere was 33 miles.  

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHa


Friday, 26 November 2021

25th November 2021 : Edgerley (brisk)

Today’s ride starts from Chirk so, for the first time since lockdown, I travel to the town by train. Unfortunately, the service was 20+ mins late and arriving at the cafe it was only to say hello to the other moderately brisk riders. I was the only Brisk rider out today due to various reasons.

My route was planned to be as flat as possible and a round trip 55 miles and 2400 feet of ascent. The plan was ok but you can't remove undulating roads. Leaving Chirk dropping down Chirk Bank before taking the right turn to Western Rhyn, I brake and reduce speed as Dave’s parting words were "Have you seen any frosty roads!" No problem it’s brake, indicate and then up hill. Flattish; not yet!

Passing Gobowen, I am on the long straight through Whittington and Queens Head. From Chirk to this point is only 8 miles, we've had rides only out to the pub here in the past. Taking the left fork avoiding the A5,  I ride down to Elbridge and on towards Knockin. It was only a couple of weeks ago Clive ,John W and I stopped off at the Knockin shop for a coffee, but as I’d only ridden 14 miles it's non-stop today. Onwards via Maesbrook and through Llanymynech passing the village hall used for the Vets 100.

Today the roads are dry and not much traffic. Blue skies and a moderate tail wind is taking me out to Four Crosses and passing over a very calm river Severn. Admiral Rodney's Pillar is on my right and I seem to have passed this monument so often of late.

My lunch stop was going to be the Butty Shack or The Three Pigeons at Nesscliffe but on passing The Royal Hill inn at Edgerley and, being solo, I make a management decision to stop here. Fantastic result :-pheasant, leek and bacon pie, mash and veg and two coffees all for £10.00 ! Also, I was on my way again in 20 minutes enjoying splendid lanes and never out of the big ring so for now my plan is good as a flattish route. Passing through Nesscliffe, the Pigeon looked shut but the Butty Shack had customers waiting.

Royal Hill pub
Canal and Rail by bike


Through Little Ness and en-route to Ruyton XI town, I took a wrong turn and headed up hill, oh dear after lunch -  not welcome. I pass a big white BMW minus a back end then realised I’m going the wrong way. Clive would have advised that he took this direction just to view the car. Back into the town, and passing the only cafe in this location, it is very popular with cyclists as there were probably in excess of 20 bikes outside. Hopefully their wait not too long as my past memory was it was very very slow service.

Now 38 miles into the route, it’s the Rednal airfield I’m skirting round before heading up to Tetchill, Welsh Frankton and St Martins. This last 10 miles had all the bumps and was uphill to St Martins but then into recovery by rolling down the hill, and round the A5 roundabout which takes you back to Chirk.

Arriving back at the station for my ride home it's 14:40 and my decision was if there was a train within time then catch it: had I missed 14:49, I was riding back to Chester. Another lucky break. All done and a very enjoyable day out with my own company and a relatively clean bike after 55miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

25th November 2021: Burlton (mod)

It was very sunny but cold as we gathered at The Castle Bistro in Chirk. ‘We’ consisted of Steves Ha, Hu and T, Dave H, Alan and George. We were drinking our coffees and debating where we should go when Ivan arrived, having come out by train. He was the sole representative of the brisk riders, the others variously being away or unwell. Ivan was heading for Nesscliffe and was soon on his way.

Steve Ha had a route to The Bradford Arms at Llanymynech and I had one to the Burlton Inn at Burlton. As there was some doubt The Bradford Arms would be open, we opted to head for Burlton. We set off along Castle Road and down into the Ceiriog valley. To avoid the steep climb from Pontfaen into Weston Rhyn, I chose to go further up the valley to Castle Mill before heading uphill. What I had forgotten was that the first 200 metres of the road here is very steep, even though the OS map shows no chevron. Whilst several were equal to the challenge, one or two chose to dismount. Dave H reminded me that it was on this very hill a few years ago that Keith Barlow’s rear mech broke and he had to abandon the ride.

We soon reached Bronygarth and skirted round the edge of Weston Rhyn to pick up the road out to Hengoed. From here we zoomed down the hill to cross the A5 at the roundabout which leads to the Orthopaedic Hospital at Gobowen, where I spent several weeks three years ago. At Whittington, we joined the A5009 and a long run down to Queens Head. Steve Hu was quick to score me 0/10 for this section of the ride as the road was quite busy and the traffic was going past us at high speed.

The roads were now quieter and more to Steve Hu’s liking as we passed through Eardiston, Wykey and the PGL Centre at Boreatton Park. PGL have been running adventure holidays for children since 1957 and my brother and I had a holiday with them more than 50 years ago, canoeing down the River Rhone and camping on the shores of the Med near Marseille. A memorable experience!

We were soon through Weston Lullingfields and Marton, arriving at The Burlton Inn at about 12.15. Unusually, this establishment doesn’t offer ‘light bites’ or sandwiches, so most people had fish and chips or soup. I wonder if it still deserves a place on our list of favoured lunch stops?

Photo by AO

Leaving the pub, we headed to Brownheath. This meant that we were going into a headwind, which was already feeling very cold, even though the sun was still shining. But the countryside was looking beautiful and the lanes were smooth and quiet as we rode around Colemere and White Mere, so Steve Hu was scoring the route more highly now. On reaching Welsh Frankton, we decided to avoid the rough and dirty lanes at Hindford by diverting via Perthy and New Marton to reach St. Martins. I held back here to wait for Steves Ha and Hu, whilst the others headed for Chirk via the B5070. When we reached the A5 roundabout, Steve Ha wanted to go back via Weston Rhyn, so we finished the ride by dropping down once again into the Ceiriog valley before climbing back into Chirk.  

44 miles covered and 2447 feet of climb completed as we got back to The Castle Bistro at about 4 pm. Although the sun was still shining, it had already dropped cold (~ 3°C), so it would not have been wise to be much later back. Winter is truly on its way.

My thanks go to my companions for their company, support and general banter.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST


Thursday, 18 November 2021

18th November 2021: Wrenbury (mod)

 It was a shame Neil wasn’t present when we decided on a route to his much-recommended café: No 18 The Park at Wrenbury.  We were starting from Alison’s in Tattenhall, where we had a good turnout of 12 members.  David M was resting, while Dave P was only riding out with us for part of the route because he had no lights and wanted to get back before dark.  That left 10 riders: Steve T, Steve Hu, Alan, Roy, Trevor, Andy B, George, Clive, Mike and myself. 

We set out south-westwards towards Barton and then Stretton and Tilston. To avoid Malpas we turned eastwards before the hill, towards Cholmondley, at least most of us did. The follow-my-leader system broke down and Trevor and Andy carried on to Malpas.  Assuming they knew our destination and hoping they would meet us there, the main party continued from Chorley Bank, over the Llangollen Canal and into Wrenbury.  We cycled slowly through the village looking for our destination. We found it on the left beside the Primary School, just before the turn to Wrenbury Station.  We had arrived at noon having covered 18 miles in a “moderately brisk” pace.

It looked smart as we entered and they found space for the eight of us, just before the missing two, Trevor and Andy turned up.  Pleased to be re-united, we reconfigured our seating with three sitting outside and the rest around a large table. The food was a hit, with most ordering the Eggs Benedict. There was some disquiet inside when the outdoor party were served well before us, but we passed the time with reminiscences of earlier days in the club and George’s memorable first ride. Food was hungrily consumed and we thought that this café deserved future visits.  The only downside was when I got locked in the lavatory, only to be released by brute force. 


Photos by SHa

Our return took us to Ravensmoor, Swanley and Bunbury, where we decided not to stop at Tilley’s having only covered 10 miles after lunch.  We said farewell to some riders on the return journey and arrived back at Alison’s by 2:30pm, early enough, for once, to take refreshments.

Our total distance was 35 miles, which we had covered in mild, dry conditions.  Something about the day encouraged a relatively speedy ride: the surfaces seemed smooth; headwinds negligible and hills slight. An excellent day out on generally familiar lanes, with a new lunch stop discovered.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHa


Friday, 12 November 2021

11th November 2021 : Audlem (brisk)

Today we met at Meadow Lea cafe and, as usual, a good turnout was evident but only three brisk riders available for today's ride to Audlem. John W, Ray and I set off along station lane to Waverton. We head along Guy Lane passing the Crocky trail and then pass the original “50p shop” at Burton.

We have a call to stop by John, who promptly advises us to remain quiet. It’s 11/11 @11:00 and we pay our respects to our serviceman.

On the way again, there is nothing unique of our route either out or back , so I won't bore you with left or rights as you all know this route, but the autumnal colours of the countryside were fantastic.

Autumn colours 

At 24 miles, we arrive at Crewe Queen’s Park and the splendour equals Central Park NY albeit a little smaller. Gifted to Crewe by the LNWR railway company, it was designed by Edward Kemp and F. W. Webb, chief mechanical engineer and Richard Moon, the Mayor of Crewe in 1888. He also donated a very large house opposite the park which became an orphanage for children after both wars and orphans of the LNWR railway employees killed in action or died at work. Known as Webb house, it later became a railway training venue and one I was fortunate to attend several times during my career on the railway. 

We enjoy a quick coffee overlooking the lake. For reference, it supplies hot and cold food and a large outdoor covered area. Cycling through the park is allowed but, be aware during busy times can be very busy with walkers and children running around.
 
Leaving the park we head to Willaston, Shavington and the leaning tower church of Wybunbury and then into Audlem. The popular Old Priest House is our lunch stop and as usual very welcoming. After our lunch we leave Audlem along the Whitchurch Rd before the right turn at the top of the hill onto Coole Lane. The lanes today are reasonably dry and clean and quiet so not to long we're at Sound and Ravensmoor. Along the A534 through Burland and then Long lane into Bunbury. 

A good day out covering 68 miles as a round trip and as flat as you can have on Cheshire's rolling roads.

Thanks to John and Ray for their company.

ID

11th Nov 2021: Comberbach (mod)

 The starting point for today’s ride was Meadow Lea, and a good number of members turned up.  I think three rides set off: a brisk one, a moderate one with Neil, Fiona and Elwyn, and one I led comprising Dave H, Andy B, Alan, Steve T, Trevor, Peter and Andy W. Daylight hours are shortening now we are in mid-November and there were concerns that we completed our route before dusk.  Andy B, who has the longest ride to our starts, was well-prepared with a new jacket featuring 6 LEDs front and back.



Photo by FOK

I had planned a route to the Salt Barge at Marston, a pub where we had enjoyed many good lunches, but which we hadn’t visited since the start of the pandemic. Our route out took us east up the A56 and then past one of our old start points, Manley Mere.  The road past here was as rough as ever, but it was good to travel the old familiar lanes: the Sugar Lane bend and the climb up past New Pale. A steady drizzle began to fall but then passed on. We sped down into Kingsley and took the quickest route to Acton Bridge. We said goodbye to Peter and Andy W and then we rode on through Comberbach and into Great Budworth. Then we took the lane to Higher Marston and finally crossed the Trent and Mersey Canal to arrive at our destination. Regrettably, we found the Salt Barge had stopped serving Thursday lunches, though the landlady suggested the Spinner and Bergamot in Comberbach. Although we had passed by this earlier, it was not far off our return route.

We passed through Marbury Park, exiting right onto Marbury Road and detouring by just over a kilometre we arrived at our new pub. We were efficiently served and were soon tucking into lunch – the favourite being the small fish and chips. I don’t believe we’ve ever been disappointed by this pub.

Photo by SHa

We continued back down Marbury Road, past the Anderton Boat Lift, over the canal again and the River Weaver, and right at the lights through the new estates of Winnington. Our route out passed several roadworks, none of which particularly inconvenienced us.  Now temporary traffic lights, combined with lots of traffic (and angry drivers!), slowed us and separated us. We finally cleared the congestion by turning off onto Hodge Lane. Then on to a dog-leg crossing of the A49, and a familiar return through Norley to Hatchmere. We sped downhill through Delamere Forest and on to Ashton Hayes. Soon we were on our outward route along the A56. We arrived back at Meadow Lea before 4 o’clock with 46 miles covered and in time for last orders.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHa



Friday, 5 November 2021

4th November 2021: Bridge Trafford (mod)

Well a chilly November day brought out a fair few mod riders. Trevor, Jim, Dave M, Dave H, Peter, Steve Ha, Steve Hu, Steve T, George, Andy B, Bavarian Mike and of course Road Captain for the day Alan O. 

Having braved the sheep muck section of Burton marsh Alan O presented a route from Ness towards Chester taking in the stunning sights of the Stanley Oil refinery. 

When everyone was refreshed Steve Ha advised he had an appointment with hills in Wales, Jim and Trevor planned their own route and Peter & Dave M did their own thing. 

Within five minutes of leaving the warmth of the cafe the intrepid crew were riding through Ness and skirting Neston via Little Neston on lovely small lanes. The leafy lanes of Raby were soon dispensed with as we approached Eastham. At this point George was regretting riding so close to Steve Hu who insisted on regaling George with a blow by blow account of all buildings points of interest and history of Eastham. 

A sharp right off ferry road took the group down Bankfield drive and onto the service road which parallels the start of the Manchester ship canal. 


Photos by AO

At Ellesmere Port road captain Alan led the group down to the boat museum and a glance at the Manchester Ship Canal. From here the ride took on a very industrial setting as we rode through the old Shell Stanlow site now owned by Essar. We were surrounded by fuel pipes tanks and some interesting smells. 

A sharp right heralded the return to country lanes as we bumbled through Elton, Wimbolds Trafford onto Bridge Trafford for a pub stop at the Shrewsbury Arms. 

Whilst most of the easy riders were trying to establish the provenance and make up of “Hunters Chicken” Andy B had removed his wheel removed a broken spoke, refitted a new one and re tensioned the wheel. 

At this juncture Jim and Trevor arrived and bribed the kitchen staff to serve them first, on seeing Andy’s plight they also served him first leaving the rest of the group wondering “what do I have to do to get served here” 

Replete with five portions of the aforesaid Hunters Chicken we rode the lanes into Upton Croughton to Little Stanney. This route provided many glimpses of Chester Zoo. A quick spin along the stunning section of the Shropshire Union Canal took us effortlessly to Blacon. At this time Bavarian Mike held the group transfixed with the design and history of the new Crematorium! 

Now all roads were left behind with a blast along the Millennium Greenway, only stopping to notice the improvement in road surface when we entered the privileged land of our fathers. 

As we approached the Toyota park the group finally split up with those returning to Ness Gds and others going further into Flintshire. 

Thanks to Alan for finding a great route and Mike for adding tweaks to keep us mud free and safe. 

Steve Hu

See route map and/or gpx file download


4th November 2021 : Brewood (Brisk)

Four of us were out on a quick 50 miler on Tuesday courtesy of Ivan, and dropped into the "Imagination Lane" cafe for a hot food and coffee. We’ve all been passed this many times on the long drag up Wettenhall Road from Nantwich to Wettenhall not knowing that this cafe existed (well I didn’t) and there is a bike shop! It is hiding in a small industrial estate well before the Venetian Marina Cafe.  Well worth a visit.

Whilst there, I mentioned that the Thursday ride was at Ness, and we all agreed that, given the prospect of a full day of sunshine, we should go somewhere else. I offered to find somewhere for the Brisk riders. So this is how Ivan, John W and myself found ourselves setting off from Market Drayton swimming baths car park bound for Brewood. Those who couldn’t come today missed a truly memorable ride - one worth re-riding at some future time.

Out around the golf club and up Salisbury hill, we run due south down very quiet and dry lanes in the sunshine to Child’s Ercall curving towards the edge of Newport. We ride passed the impressive Harper Adams University buildings. Their website states "it is the leading specialist university tackling the future development of our planet's food production, processing, animal science.”     Well, we definitely need more of this!

Onwards we climb the hill into delightful Lilleshall where John takes the monument’s photo. Full details here

Lilleshall Monument

East and south routing find us going through Sheriffhales, over Watling Street and into Shifnal after 21 miles. Time for a coffee and a short rest. The next section uses NCR81 and takes us around the edge of RAF Cosford airdrome where there is the RAF Museum.  We meander through attractive Albrighton and, at Codsall, head north through the curiously named Coven village and now uphill into Brewood at 38 miles ridden.

I had found a few shops or cafes for an alfresco lunch venue but Ivan though pointed out the Oakley Arms which is a Brunnings & Price pub;- I couldn't eat a meal there and then ride a further 26 miles back to Market Drayton! So the Village Bakery was selected and, although Ivan didn’t like the look of his hot panini, John and I were happy with our chosen fare (and it was ridiculously inexpensive)

Heading north now and back over Watling Street (aka A5), we have long, long lanes to ride to Church Eaton and on to Adbaston. Some of these we have ridden before when on our Special Ride to Wheaton Aston back in April 2019. After Cheswardine, it's a short main road ride back to the car park arriving around 1500 with 64 miles ridden.

We all felt thoroughly mentally refreshed by being out in the splendid countryside going through new areas in the November sunshine. My solar array at home produced an impressive 10 kWh of free electricity (about half the summer maximum level). So thanks to Ivan for chauffeuring us to Market Drayton and for John and Ivan for acting as windbreaks on the route back.

CA

Photo JW

Thursday, 28 October 2021

28th October 2021: St Martin's (mod)

 A forecast of strong southerly winds and an afternoon of heavy rain affected attendees at Cleopatra’s in Holt.  Neil had planned a ride, but dangerous side winds on his route to Holt had dissuaded him.  Dave M and Andy W were only out for the morning.  Others were present in civies, namely Elwyn and Fiona.  If I’ve missed anyone, apologies, but as part of our group were inside and part outside, I wasn’t too clear who was present.  The result was a party of six out for the club ride: Clive, Andy B, Dave H, Steve Hu, Alan and myself.

In the absence of other proposals, I picked a fairly short route off ViewRanger, the destination being The Greyhound at St Martin’s. We took the lanes to the west of the River Dee, or Afon Dyfrdwy I should say as we were in Wales. We were fairly sheltered from the wind for most of our way. Somewhere around Roden’s Hall we came up behind a largeish herd of heifers being driven along the road – the kind of thing you expect in the countryside. Without too much success we tried to avoid the cow plops they left in their wake. They continued their progress after we met the B-road and were still marching onwards when we left them for the lanes at Talwrn. We must have been behind them for a couple of miles, but there was no sign that they were heading for a nearby field.  They certainly reduced our average speed.


Photos by AO

At the A-road we dropped down the hill and across the old bridge into Bangor-on-Dee (Bangor-is-y-coed). From here we took the main road to Overton (Owrtyn), and then the main road to St Martin’s (St Martin’s), turning off at Shell Brook onto small lanes to Dudleston Church. Next it was a short distance to re-join the main road and follow it to The Greyhound.

It was mild and sheltered outside the pub, so we eventually decided to sit there, especially in the covered area to protect us from the expected rain.  A warm welcome was offered and a wide menu, but most of us went to the small fish and chips, except for Steve Hu who chose the standard size and received a whale of a fish!

Some rain had started to fall by the time we had to leave.  We turned right out of the pub, then stopped and turned around, then stopped again and turned back.  Our navigator was having problems with directions!  Eventually we worked out the right route and headed towards Dudleston Heath (Criftins), from where we took to lanes heading north eastwards with the wind behind us. We travelled on through Holly Bush. During our return Dave H (who seems to operate a permanent helpline for his family’s car problems) spent a lot of time on his phone.  Eventually, after waiting for him to appear, we left him behind on the understanding that he would meet us back at Holt. We followed the simple route back via Worthenbury, Shocklach and Farndon, to find Dave somehow already seated in Cleopatra’s waiting for us - puzzling.

The afternoon rain had been intermittent rather than heavy and we enjoyed a satisfying 35 miles.  We reminded ourselves that by next week the clocks would have changed and we would be ending our rides in encroaching darkness. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 22 October 2021

21st October: Waverton (mod)

 It was a glorious sunny day at Rose Farm Cafe if a bit chilly, as winter arrived last night, with some strong winds. 5 degrees when I rode out :-(

 Steve T and I figured the head count to be 16 strong, 5 of those being the fast group and the rest, all bar Dave M, being the Moderate group. DM decided he had to get back home, as he had another cycling meeting to attend, despite my proposed route going past his front door.

 So, today’s moderate group was 10 people, but only 9 bikes :-) Dave Pipe & Liz were joining us, on the E-tandem, which was a first for one of my rides.

Before I get into the who’s who of our Merry band, I would like to thank my 2 volunteer ‘tail gunners’ (the 2 Steve’s) They made me feel almost important, as they kept insisting I carried on forward to lead the group, each time they took it in turn to bring up the rear. This happened with a synchronisation worthy of a Tour De France police escort :-)

 And so it was, that I became the Leader of the moderate group, thanks to that sly old dog (Dave H) He virtually press ganged me into the role, after he threw his arms in the air with a distinct look in my direction, proclaiming he didn’t have a clue as to a route and neither did anybody else- Lol.

Feeling the pressure (not) I therefore proposed a 40-mile local meander, stopping at Walk Mill cafe for lunch, as I thought it would be a bit different for most, which I later discovered was about right. Most had not been to Walk Mill before or at least, not since pre Covid.

 That said and bucking convention, my route, although largely flat, did have a bit of a kick in the tail, which meant the whole route should be roughly 2000 feet of ascent and mostly all after Walk Mill (shock horror :-)) That revelation produced a couple of frowns, but surprisingly didn’t deter Dave & Liz (I wonder why that was - Lol). I later found out that DP was only worried about the downhill bits, as his E-tandem, although good up hill, is a bit slow on the flat, as they struggled, during the first half, when the pace occasionally lifted above 15 mph ( his words by the way :-) For those who don’t know, all legal E- bikes are limited to a max of 15 mph, which means you have to really work hard to go any faster, hence DP’s worries.

 Another thank you too to Allan (one of the good guy’s it seems- Lol) for the unnecessary, but gratefully received, gas cylinder.  I had helped him out last month with a puncture, giving him a gas cylinder after he used the 2 he had. That said, I would love to have a fiver for all those I have helped and never as much as received acknowledgement, let alone a replacement item :-(

 Off we trot ( Allan, Steve T, Andy, Dave H, Dave P & Liz, Steve Hu, George, Mike & yours truly) Turned left out of Rose Farm and within half a mile left again into a mucky, but paved track, that shocked a few of the group. I took the short cut up over the Tarporley ring road that leads into a favourite series of lanes towards Eaton & Bunbury (as usual with my rides, it’s more about the journey than the miles or speed, which I like to think is ostensibly the ethos of CER’s :-)

 Only a mile into the ride and a couple of comments were hurled from behind about the nature of the cyclocross route- Lol. My little uphill track was thrown in purely to avoid Tarporley (rather like DH and his hatred for Malpas :-)) It wasn’t long before the comments became more complimentary about the lovely lanes we were now on, as they were smooth, dry and mud free, until Bunbury, as again I threw in another lane most didn’t know, after a brief detour via Alpraham (Garmin tried to direct me down a road that didn’t exist- Lol)

 Once around Beeston and down to a gem of a hump back bridge at the ‘Shady Oak’, we head left at Brassey Green towards Waverton. However, I decided to detour again, through Hargrave, in order to save the group from the headwinds of the exposed canal road.

 It was at this point I also decided to spend a few minutes at the back & provide encouragement to the ‘old codger’ (you know, the one with the Lilly white legs and a paper version of a Garmin on his handlebars-Lol) He was having a tough day, after the flu, which had robbed him of his legs.

The group didn’t really need me by this point anyway as they had sussed out where they were and knew the next turning to Walk Mill. By the time I got to sit down Liz was already eating, they must have flicked the turbo button on the tandem :-)

 Notwithstanding the admiration for the orangery we were sitting in along with the dulcet tones of the mill stones grinding out flour, the conversation moved on to solar energy/ heat pumps etc. On our table at least. Trevor’s story, from his working days, of an old gent who provided hot water to his house by simply painting an old radiator black and plumbing it from his garden lead me to regale about my days of desert camping.  We used to camp a lot at the Red Sea and showered using a 5 gallon Jerry can in a black bin bag, sat on the roof of my Land Rover (after only 2 hours in the sun, it would sometimes be to hot - Lol) The simplicity of this concept of solar power seem to surprise George (not been around much, bless him- Lol) The poor man would again surprise us later on in the ride :-)

                                                              Photo by AO

Lunch done, we set off heading West past DM’s house (Oscroft) and beyond past the Blue Bell cafe. Just a few miles further on we arrive at the junction near Manley Mere. At this point Trevor decided to bail out on us, realising the hilly section was not far away (some say he is in fact ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ in disguise, due to his wise decisions on when to bail our rides- Lol)

Now heading SW toward Kelsall, on another favourite lane, a few started to ask where we were going, clearly getting concerned about the promised climb of Yeld Lane.

However, just as we were getting close to Kelsall we had to stop as there was now growing concern, in the ‘peloton’, for poor old George. He was apparently saying “hello Steve” to random cyclists going the other way. No sooner had we stopped when George started to jibber about seeing Steve Hayworth, so I decide we better check him out with a few fingers waved in front of his face.  Turned out his eye’s were fine, he was simply having a senile spell, “bless him”. After a shout from the back “don’t be daft you old fool, SH is on holiday”, we set off again -Lol. After only a few hundred yards and true to the spirit of CER’s, I noticed Mike had adopted a riding position just behind George, clearly keeping an eye on the poor man-Lol.

 It wasn’t long before we arrive at said Yeld Lane and DP/Liz were off, showing us the virtue of an E-bike. I decided I wouldn’t challenge their efforts, as I had a few extra miles to do after the ride (kidding myself-Lol) At the top, I shout at everybody, as they go by (hiding behind a bush, admiring the view) to wait at the bottom crossroads while I waited for the ‘old codger’.

To my surprise, he hadn’t climbed off and was spinning that amazingly low granny gear of his. However, the grimace on DH’s face, on reaching the top caused me to day dream a little about what medical support DP might be carrying in that huge pannier - Lol Not sure where he got it from, although the large print down one side says ‘Dandy’s for Hire’ :-)

 The climb conquered, we set about the easy run in to Rose Farm, with just a couple of little uppy bits to go, after admiring the llamas in the field at the top of the infamous Chapel lane, which we promptly descended. Now at the bottom, Allan had a ‘deja- vu’ moment, when I pointed out that this was where he had a puncture last month. He then got off his bike and proceeded to roam around the trees, as though he was doing a rain dance or something. This prompted some inquisitive remarks as to what he was doing. “I left my mini tool behind when I had that puncture” was his response. The fact that it was at least a month ago, didn’t seem to phase his belief that it would still be there- Lol.

 I was now wondering what other eccentricities I was going to experience on this ride however, with only a couple of miles to go to Rose Farm, surely nothing else could surprise me :-) We arrive at Rose Farm with the whole group still intact, minus Trevor of course and just a tad under 40 miles and 2000 feet of ascent completed :-)

 Shortly after ordering  my usual decaf coffee and a lump of their cracking choc cake, George turns up at the table having ordered exactly the same drink & cake (starting to worry about him now, although it could have simply just been ‘Idol’ syndrome- Lol) However and despite me insisting on him having the bigger slice, he begged me to take it off his hands, as apparently he doesn’t eat desserts and as it was his 2nd! lump of cake that day, probably felt guilty about the big slice- Lol.

     Photo by ST

Just as we tuck in to said cake, I begin to realise Mike must have spent too long riding next to George, as he was starting to display the same sort of confusion that George was having earlier. DH mentioned a possible Xmas bash pub, which Mike then queried,  “where’s the Pant-Y-Ochain”? After a bit of a discussion we realised that Mike couldn’t even remember where his own local pub was located, at which point George tried to prompt his memory (couldn’t help but chuckle - it was the blind leading the blind - Lol)

 What a great day with 2 cafe stops, good company and some funny moments.

I decided to take the long way home and made it just before a heavy shower hit, having completed 68 miles and 2600 feet on my Garmin. I spared a thought for Andy, as I watched the rain, who as usual was riding back to Mold- ish :-) and even more miles than me.

 I hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did. Of course, there has been a little poetic license employed in this report, although, I still worry about George, bless him- Lol.

Just realised that there were no punctures during the ride :-)

 Til next time

NT

See route map and/or gpx file download

Thursday, 21 October 2021

21st October 2021 : Knutsford (brisk)

On a dry and chilly autumn morning, a good turn out of riders were already enjoying tea and coffee at Rose Farm when John and I arrived. A 60 mile circular tour was proposed and Clive had suggested reversing the route. John, Nick and Ray set about the task of reversing the route using smart phones and their garmins. Twenty minutes later with task completed, 5 brisk riders set off with 5 garmins all synced with same route. What could possibly go wrong?

Into Tarporley we ride where a motorist makes a right hand turn without indicating and nearly takes Nick with him; then 50 yards further on, a lady motorist opens her door as John is approaching:- lucky she still had the door attached as we all passed. Turning left at the garage and safely through the town we now head to Eaton. 

We're riding the usual lanes towards Middlewich passing Wettenhall and  Church Minshull and we skirt around Middlewich taking Cinder Lane to Brereton Green. Joining the A50, we continue through Holmes Chapel. Here John decides to ride back to Chester as he's having an off-day and his bottom bracket not sounding good, and after a 130 mile Audax at the weekend, it's not surprising. The rest of us are taking a lane called Wash Lane to pass Shakerly and Dovermere lakes. We again re-join the A50 into Knutsford for our lunch stop. 

It’s Booths supermarket cafe we're visiting and we all enjoy a full English. As we were on the A50 road coming into to Knutsford, we passed a garage advertising diesel at £1.499 per litre. This started a discussion of Tory climate change objectives ranging from boilers to vacuum cleaners!!

Lunch finished, it’s back outside with hats and gloves on and a ride through the town before heading out along Ashley Road and the mega mansions of East Cheshire. The building trade are very active in this area as we pass many white vans parked up along the road. We cross the A50 near Tatton Park for the last time and head for High Legh. 

Passing Comberbach, our direction is Northwich-bound arriving on the hill near the Anderton boat lift. For a change it's down the hill to the lights taking the left turn for Whittington. Ten years ago when we started riding this area it was all industrial buildings but it’s a massive housing estate area nowadays.

Towards Hartford we climb up Burrows Hill then to Whitegate and the last climb up Cinder Hill. As we approach Oulton Park on Park Road Nick stops and calls us to halt. An education highlight is to inform us of the best-kept cattle pen used in the past to hold livestock when roaming the area. It is a NT site. Clive missed the tutorial as he was in the lead and failed to heed the call but as we know he may know the facts anyway.*

Returning at the crossroad at Utkinton, we say farewell to Nick as he heads to Rose Farm to collect his car and the rest of us head back to Chester via Duddon and Waverton.

A good day out in the October sunshine on this 62 miler, and now 80 miles on our garmins to reflect our efforts.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

(* There is a 10th century pinfold ( a pound for stray animals) in Capenhurst)

Friday, 15 October 2021

14th October 2021: Rossett (mod)

Well what a sorry sight greeted Megan and I as we approached The Gallery Coffee Shop start point. Three fast lads and three mods with Alan bemoaning the fact The Gallery was closed due to holidays and “no ride can start without coffee”

 As we waited, Dave Pike’s other half brought news that the Gladstone Library was open and more and more CER riders started to appear.

The fast group departed and Neil who had ridden over also did his own thing. The rest of the group then de camped 100 yds to the library.

Photo by AO

So, having consumed beverages cakes and more than a little culture the 14 strong mod group set off. 

Herding cats/ juggling monkeys or herding jellyfish must be easier than keeping this group together.

Alan led the group out of Hawarden through Buckley and Mynydd Isa down Rose Lane to Llong leaving suburbia behind and into the Welsh countryside.

The lovely experience of whizzing along quiet tree lined lanes suddenly changed when the going went vertical. By the time the group reached the summit of Treuddyn comments such as “is that the climbing for today” and “boy, that was long and are we there yet” resounded from the group.

A quick plunge into Llanfynydd through Frith and then a further drop to The Ffrwd. In Cefn y Bedd we took the back road around Alyn Waters Country Park. Bordering on Llay we took the Gresford Road turning before the railway tunnel to take the old road to Rossett, paralleling the A483 on a road which the farmer was kindling cutting his hedge.

One man down, Andy B succumbed to a freshly cut thorn, prompting Peter to say “that was the fastest tube change I have ever seen”. Always the modest man Andy replied “I’ve had enough practice”

In Rossett we dined under a Teepee at the Golden Lion. Whilst the food service was slow, the food when it arrived was first class. Dave Heath you would have loved it there, and please get well soon.

At Rossett we bade farewell to Trevor, Steve Ha and Peter.

Crossing the railway line, we headed up towards Kinnerton. A quick spin along Lache Lane and tempting close to Chester we turned left again and headed for the The river Dee.

At one point we lost Mike and Andy and the intrepid groups went from seven to five and finally three as Steve T, Megan and myself returned to Hawarden.

Thanks to Alan for devising a not too hilly route from Hawarden.

 SHu

See route map and/or gpx file download


Thursday, 14 October 2021

14th October 2021 : Prestatyn (brisk)

Arriving at the Gallery tea rooms it was somewhat unusually locked. Soon, there were a good number of riders, but only John and I for the brisk ride. I knew Clive was out today and not like him to be late. Decision to go to the farm shop for coffee was discussed but then Liz and Electric Tandem Dave arrive and coffee alternative soon arranged by Liz across the way.

Clive now arrived but as John and I had been cooling down for twenty minutes plus, we were ready to ride so Clive forwent his much-needed coffee and we set off on our way.

Taking the usual route to Northop, it’s out to Ewloe and along Holywell Rd and into Northop village. Whichever way you depart Hawarden it’s uphill, but I think up the Green to Lixwm is possibly the worst as it’s 10 miles of gradients.

Once over the top we’re heading for another slog from Babell to the main road to Caerwys. We take a right on the B5122 and then left towards Pen-y-cefn. We start the steep down hill ride into Rhuallt with John showing no caution on a rough and mossy lane. Into Rhuallt, it’s along the B5229 into Rhuddlan. We then taking the Clwyd riverside cycleway route into Rhyl.

A55 from the Rhuallt footbridge

We were out on Tuesday and, although we picnicked outdoors at a Waitrose in Alderley Edge, it now gets a little chilly sitting outside, so I had looked for suitable stops around the area and the Cookhouse at Prestatyn got my attention with a carvery at £5.50; so it was to this hostelry that we visited. Plenty of sitting space for 3 but it was busy. Only John and I enjoyed the carvery with Clive sticking to panini and soup.

The route out of Prestatyn is through the golf course and camp sites and along the coast between Talacre and Point of Ayr where we stop for a photo shoot at the miner and pony wood carving. Onto the main coast rode it is head down and blast with a good tail wind taking us to Shotton before joining the Greenway and home to Chester.

Point of Ayr's coal mining installation

Although the start of the route endures some little rolls, i.e. 20 miles !!!, we covered 73 miles as a round trip with 2964 feet up and 2865 down. The route back to Hawarden would have been 54 miles.

Bryan always commented at the end of all rides that the elevation levels out; well said sir! 

A good ride, dry weather and excellent companions to ride with.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos JW