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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Thursday, 8 April 2021

8th April 2021: Ironbridge and Shifnal Special (brisk)

I was out with Ivan on Tuesday battling the strong NW winds when riding around Wirral. I mentioned that the original Rides Calendar for 2021 had today’s ride down as a Special Ride. Neither of us fancied another Wirral ride, so I suggested an out-of-area Brisk ride starting from Newport, Shropshire. Ivan was keen on this and produced a superb 62 mile circular route taking in new countryside and a re-visit to Ironbridge and a lunch stop in Shifnal. 

This found six of us ready for the off at 0945 in the Mere Garden Centre carpark, which is just off the A41 Newport Bypass. Ivan was leading John M, John W, Nick, Ray and myself down lanes anew as we headed due west out of the town and into a strong westerly wind. Although only around 10C, the sun was out and the fresh green countryside vista was good to behold. At Higher Ercall, we now head due south passing through Longton-on-Tern and the Tayleur Arms pub, which we have club visited in Oct 2016 and August 2017.

Uppington is true to its name as we steadily climb around the shoulder of The Wrekin. Once at Leighton, it was a pleasant fast downhill run towards Ironbridge. The former power station chimney comes into view. Ivan waxes lyrical about his train driver days delivering thousands of tonnes of coal to the now defunct power station (now looking for redevelopment). Passing the road up to Coalbrookdale, the town centre is relatively busy with tourists as we stop (longer than envisaged) for a coffee.

All the shops and food establishments are champing at the bit for April 12th grand opening. Time to go again, so we run along the river eastwards heading for the delightful Jackfield and its Tile Museum (worth a visit says Nick). On the opposite bank is Coalport with its chinaware museum.

The Ironbridge

River Severn at Ironbridge

Coffee (after a long wait)

Aiming for the Jackfield and Coalport Memorial Bridge, we have to ride a short section of the Severn Valley Way to access this bridge. Crossing the bridge, Ray remarks that there is now a kilometre of a 12% hill to get up and out from the Severn river valley onto the top by the Telford golf course. After this, it is relatively easy to get to Shifnal, which Ivan recalls that there is a hight level train viaduct running straight through the town – and he was not wrong. At 33 miles out, Shifnal was chosen as the only place locally where we could buy a lunch for al fresco partaking. The high street had an array  of food shops which served us well. 

"Al fresco in Shifnal" featuring The Viaduct

After lunch, we rode a very pleasant north easterly track through Church Easton to Haughton. Long lanes now with a welcome wind assist. After Haughton, we start an anti-clockwise track back into the wind via Ranton towards Woodseaves. It’s then into the wind again to Weston Jones via Foston to skirt Aqualate Mere back to Mere Garden centre car park. It was nigh spot on 100km or 62 miles at a 15.4 mph. I was surprised that it was not faster given that a lot of the lanes were at 20 mph but I guess the 2900ft of climbs had something to do with that.

We all felt refreshed by riding in a new area with our cycling club friends. Interestingly, the roads and lanes were in just a bad shape as those around Cheshire that we are used to. Many of the countryside lanes were in a very poor state often with a lot of debris. I was glad it was a very dry day otherwise the bikes would have been caked up with mud.

So, many thanks to Ivan for a truly enjoyable route and for those riders who took the front during the windy road sections.


Photos JW and ID

8th April 2021: Nantwich (mod)

 Awaiting ride report

See route map and/or gpx file download

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

1st April 2021: Kelsall (mod)

After many months of no club rides, we are back, all be it limited, but what a good turn out it was (possibly 15?) and that obviously didn’t include our Welsh residents, due to the boarder restrictions still being in place. It was good to see Jim despite not planning to ride, due to a leg problem. I suggested that I could lead the moderate group to Kelsall bike repair and cafe, which many have not been to before and one of the few currently open for take away (the plan was roughly 40 miles with 600 mtrs of ascent on easy hills). 

I believe 5 or 6 set off in the fast group, leaving 5 remaining for the moderate group. This was mainly due to Peter deciding to do his own ‘E’ thing, Steve H had other unknown plans and Dave M fancied Bunbury earlier in the ride and not at the end, so he turned off after 3 miles, which coincidently is when Keith got his puncture, just below the castle. Puncture fixed and Keith decides to turn back, leaving just 3!  (Dave H - Mike & me). At this rate I could be the 1st ride leader to arrive back at base with nobody left in the group Lol. Ironically, we passed Peter going the opposite way and then passed Keith 10 miles later, after passing through Waverton, so he could of carried on with us Lol. I guess he didn’t hear me say Waverton was on our route and I didn’t know he was parked there (what comms).

After passing Keith, going the other way, we head for the top of my favourite ‘Sandstone Ridge’ via the easy steady assent, thus avoiding Chapel Lane, but still passing the rather loveable Lamas at the top of said lane. We head along the ridge toward Kelsall and again avoid another tough climb (Yeld Lane) and turn left at the bottom in order to take Quarry Lane around to the Kelsall bike repair & cafe.

At this point, during our coffee, I suddenly realise, that it was the 1st time I have been at the top and bottom of Chapel lane, but never ridden it Lol. There were a fair few other cyclists also taking a breather at the cafe, despite only cake & fluids being available. We didn’t stop long, at which point we lose another from the group, as Mike headed for home, leaving just me & Dave.

Sticking to the theme of avoiding Chapel Lane, which Dave was very grateful for, we ride straight past heading for Bunbury, however I missed my planned turn (not looking at the Garmin), which meant we had to back track a few hundred yards to get back on track, as the A51 was not an acceptable option. I take the opportunity to pass through Tilston Fearnal, which is one of my favourite canal crossings (simply a gorgeous spot), with a lovely series of little hills and bends, leading to and from, before arriving at Bunbury.

The last 7 miles to Alison’s were uneventful, with Beeston Castle looking splendid, in the sunlight. We arrived at Alison’s with 43 miles on the clock and 630 mtrs assent, but Alison’s was closed. Dave then refused my extremely generous offer of coffee, at my house, thus he missed the best bit of the ride Lol. At least I made it back with at least 1 left in the group Lol.


Thursday, 1 April 2021

1st April 2021 : Audlem (brisk)

We’ve been waiting since the start of the year for our first club ride - a long 13 week’s worth of solo or two-handed rides now behind us, and an opportunity now of meeting up with faces old and new on April Fool’s Day. So it was that we met at Alison’s in Tattenhall as we still aren’t allowed into Wales to meet a the planned venue of Cleopatra’s. My granddaughter, who occasionally works at Cleopatra’s, tells me that they have however been very busy with lots of cyclists stopping for coffee and cake!

Ivan had put together today's brisk ride and kindly informed me that I was to write up the blog. I had asked if we could go to Audlem to re-sample the fare from the Village Chippy - so I suppose his request was only fair. The weather was cloudy, fairly windy and distinctly chilly.

We had a five rider peloton comprising of Ray, John W, Ivan and myself with a potential new rider, Matt. Off and out to Barton, it is was pleasing to be able to chat away to friends old and new. We pass Nick’s door in Tilston and motor on to Oldcastle Heath bound for the border gulch of Lower Wych with its steep descent  then ascent towards Higher Wych; then down and up a similar valley towards Whitwell.  The long run to Fenn’s Bank takes us eventually to the A41/49 roundabout at the Raven Pub and the hazardous dual carriageway crossing that takes us onwards to Ash Magna and Ightfield. 

Audlem comes up at 35 miles with the welcome site of the busy "Village Chippy". Ivan has chosen well here as the food is good and there are public loos on hand along wth a convenient bike park and seating area - a patch of grass and a low wall. As the sun has hardly shown itself today and its a little windy, we cool down quickly despite the hot food.

The next section takes us north east to Wynbunbury followed by a north westerly track straight through Nantwich. It is now a “straight” track to Bunbury along disintegrating road surfaces. In and around to Beeston Crag, the bikes know their own way back now. Matt peels off for Kelsall and has apparently has enjoyed the route and banter. 

We four split for Chester on the outskirts of Tattenhall. It would be 58 miles round back to Alison’s but about 80 miles all told for us Chester bound.  A quiet ride with no incidents except fo two drivers who obviously haven’t read the Highway Code recently - especially the Harris Pie delivery van which we catch up with and pass by at the village shop in Tilston.

A memorable ride today, expertly crafted by Ivan with a classic 60% of miles and hills before lunch, and a relatively flat return.

Plotatoute metrics are 58 miles with 2350 ft of climbs and 3223 kcal i.e. we needed the fish and chips!

See route map and/or gpx file download