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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, 24 September 2021

23rd September 2021: Norton-in -Hales (mod)

I’ve been wanting to go to The Hinds Head at Norton-in -Hales for a while now as it’s more than five years since my last visit and I remember it as one of our ‘favoured’ lunch stops. But I had called several times on Wednesday to check if they were open for lunch on Thursday, but could get no answer. Consequently, I’d concluded that we’d have to go elsewhere. That was until Ivan told me that he’d been past on Tuesday and that they were open – hurrah!

So the mods (Daves H & M, Alan, Andy B, George and myself) set off from Alison’s bound for Norton-in-Hales. Our first challenge was to get up and over Harthill. As we approached the hill there were ‘Road Closed’ signs which, of course, we ignored. It turned out that they were clearing drains on the hill and the JCB driver was kind enough to raise his front bucket to allow us to get by. Near the top of the hill, a truck was parked across the road and the driver made no effort to move it for us, so we had to walk the bikes past it.

Onward then, with a following wind, past Cholmondeley Castle and Chorley Bank to Wrenbury cum Frith, where the bridge over the Llangollen Canal was raised to allow a narrow boat through. George reckons that it’s the first time he’s seen it up in all the time he’s been with CER! Thankfully, we went past The Bhurtpore in Aston at 11.30, which meant that it was closed. Otherwise I doubt that we’d have got Dave H to go any further!

At Royal’s Green Dave M left us, as he’d decided to go into Audlem to see Jane at The Old Priest House café to talk about arrangements he wants to make for a Special Ride he’s planning from there on October 7th, so watch out on the blog for details in the near future.

Having gone through Adderley, we arrived in Norton-in-Hales and the Hind’s Head about 12:15. The car park was almost empty, but the door to the kitchen was open and the chef was working inside, so I was optimistic. But my hopes were dashed when I tried the front door, where that was a notice to the effect that whilst they are open in the evenings, they are only open at lunchtime at the weekend. Thanks, Ivan!


Photo by AO

After a discussion about where to go to find sustenance, we adopted ‘Plan B’ and set off for the five or so mile ride to Audlem where we knew that either the Old Priest House or The Lord Combermere would satisfy our needs.  As soon as we cycled up the lane at the side of the pub, the strong northerly wind was evident, and we wondered if it was going to be a long ride home. We arrived in Audlem just as the church clock was striking one and plumped for The Lord Combermere, where we sat in the sunshine and enjoyed a fine lunch.

As we were preparing to leave Alan found that his front tyre was very soft, so he set about mending yet another puncture – his third in a week.  The problem turned out to be a slight leak from a patch where a previous puncture had been repaired. So, after a slight delay we set off for home using the normal route via Sound, Ravensmoor and Brindley, finding the wind much less strong as the afternoon progressed. A stop was made at Tilly’s in Bunbury for ‘kafee und kuchen’ before heading out on the final leg of our journey.

When we reached Beeston, George left us, heading for The Shady Oak and Waverton, where he’d left his car and at the end of Newton Lane, Andy headed off for Mold. That left a trio of Easy Riders to run the last couple of miles into Tattenhall after a very pleasant day in the Shropshire lanes at a surprisingly perky average  speed of 13.5 mph.

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Thursday, 23 September 2021

23rd September 2021 : St Martins (brisk)

Those of us who lead rides find it increasingly difficult to devise a route which is not a wholesale repeat of a previous ride. As time passes, and it's more than 12 years since the inaugural ride to Frankby in April 2008 and 900+ rides, the unique permutations of start point and lunch point reduce. So when Ivan asked “have you a route for Thursday" as he had a “complete loss of suggestions”, I thought, so have I! So I looked through previous rides but not with much conviction. I then consulted the advertised wind direction and wind speeds. It was perhaps going to be north westerly and quite strong. So the decision was made - let’s go south westerly then the wind will be across us and perhaps behind us at some stage.  So that’s how today’s brisk ride towards Oswestry came about - no magic and a lot of autorouting on PlotaRoute.

The Brisk group today had five riders - a 66% increase over the last month’s usual duo or triplet. John W, Ivan, Ray and new rider Matt, were happy to be lead astray from Alison’s towards Oswestry. Out via Barton and Wetreins Lane, we ride the Wrexham Industrial Estate ring road at some speed to skirt Bangor on Dee to get into the tiny lanes towards Dudleston Heath via Lightwood Green. I can’t remember the last time I took this lane to Hindford, but it was a joy to ride despite the twists and turns and sometimes rough surface. John’s now running low on fluid so the Premier mini-mart in Whittington was a lucky find for a top up.

The original ride (which now most of the riders have on their Garmins) is showing a run down to Sainsburys in Oswestry, but I decide to change the route to cut this bit out. So they are all riding blind and playing follow-my-leader as I take them through The Park towards Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital. A right and a left passing Derwen College, finds us nearly back on track riding towards the St Martins road. This road is ever upwards and it’s a relief when Stans Superstore comes into view at the top of the hill. 

Ivan and John have used Stan’s before but the last time they couldn’t gain entry as a serious crime had taken place and police were everwhere. This time there was no such problem except for the personal problem of choosing what to buy in the “£3.50 meal deal”. Across the road, there is a small memorial park to the miners of St Martins who worked at the nearby Ifton coal mine - the last one to close in the area in 1998. We sit in the sunshine enjoying the facilities in this surprisingly busy area.

Time to go again and a very pleasant ride to Overton, despite the very nasty dip with it’s 10% gradient at the border between England and Wales. Equally the ride back to Worthenbury is enjoyable despite bad road surfaces. With this in mind, I eschew the rat-run back to Holt in favour of Chorlton and Tilston with the pleasure of Carden Hill. This part of the ride back was slightly difficult for Ivan as his Shimano Di2 Ultegra gear train had run out of battery and thus little opportunity to change gear, nevertheless he didn't seem to slow down at all!

We were back in Tattemhall about 1445 after almost 58 fast miles (16.5 mpg avg). As Alison’s was due to close, we head for home. John, Ray and Matt split off as I persuade Ivan to seek out the Tattenhall Marina cafe. We arrive to find the road barred but sidle around this to seek out the cafe. It looked shut and as it was getting cold and the sun had gone in, we decide to give it a miss.

Arriving back in Chester environs, I remark that I will have about 86 miles on the clock. Ivan encourages me to add a loop to at least ride 90 and maybe 100 miles. However sanity (and aching legs) prevails along with the thought of a hot shower, a hot coffee, a comfy chair and the Times crossword "chez moi”.

So once again, many thanks to the group for shepherding me around, and for Ivan’s kind comment that it he didn’t think it would be possible to find a route which brought quite so much enjoyment.


Ifton Miner statue

Explantory Plaque

Link to Ifton Colliery info here

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos : JW

Friday, 17 September 2021

16th September 2021: Coddington (mod+)

 Meadow Lea, as usual, had a good turn out, in lovely sunshine. Nice to see Keith & Mike, who we haven’t seen for some time, which brought my rough head count to 18, could have been more.

Unusually, ride groups seemed to naturally form, which seemed to revolve around perceived pace of the proposed rides on offer. The usual fast group of Ivan, Clive & John rode off.

Dave H rode off with the easy rider group and I lead the moderate group of 7, which was 8, but we lost Dave M before we even got out of the car park. Apparently he only rides south from Meadow Lea, so when we turned North, he jumped ship to Dave’s group- Lol.

So it was Fiona, Elwyn, Steve T, Steve Hu, Alan and the new man (Tony) all heading to Manor Wood (Lakeside Cafe), great spot on a nice sunny day. The plan was for a slightly higher pace than norm, but all staying together, on a virtually flat route, except for Chapel Hill ( shock horror- Lol) I did inform the group before agreeing to follow me that Chapel Hill peaks at 16% and averages around 8-9% for 1.4 k - a piece of cake really- Lol. Several of the group had not ridden Chapel Hill before, which provided some conversation as we set about some of my favourite lanes.

We quickly got to Aston, which entailed a minor U turn, as it would appear the road had moved since I last rode through there- Lol. On up to Kelsall, when I heard somebody shout out “ how far to Chapel Hill”, “ 1 mile” was my response. After a couple of groans, Fiona piped up “can you let me know when we are about to turn into said hill” Just as I was about to inform Fiona, there was a shout of “puncture” from behind, which was not ideal, right at the foot of the climb.

Alan was having his second puncture of the day, as he had one before getting to Meadow Lea, I believe. After finding a small scrappy hole in the tyre, it was decided to apply a patch to the tyre before replacing the tube.

All fixed we set about the climb, which everybody seemed to enjoy, even Alan, who was the most anxious about it, but got up it without too much difficulty. After pointing out the llama’s in the adjacent field, we head along the Sandstone ridge for the fast descent to Cotebrook, which put a few smiles back on most faces.

We swiftly get through Eaton and on beyond Tarporley, with the sun still shining. At Brassey Green we turn left, down to the Shady Oak pub and my favourite hump back bridge. This leads us into our last little uppy bit, to the foot of Beeston Castle. Right turn takes us off toward Tattenhall, which we bypass by taking a couple of lovely narrow lanes ( or at least most of us did) We catch up with the offending individuals, just a mile down the road, thanks to Tony chasing them down and guiding them the right way. No names, but one of them was female and the other is tall with bonce like a bowling ball- Lol Now across the A41, the next shout from behind was “ how far to lunch”, which I think was Steve T, who was feeling peckish and to be fair, so was I. With the group informed that we were 2 miles away from our destination, we motor on past Aldersey Golf Course, Cuddington and arrive at Manor Wood, Barton, after 28 miles.

Surprisingly, we had the place to ourselves, which is very unusual, for such a nice spot by the water, complete with pink water lilies


Photos by AO

Lucky old me managed to bag the last Welsh rarebit, which I did offer to Fiona, after she was told she had missed the last portion. However, she turned down my magnanimous offer ( well that’s how I remember it, she probably tells a different story- Lol) Food all served and conversation in full flow, I find myself feeling like the odd one out, when the conversation turns to divorce. After a query as to why he had moved home, from a cracking spot by the Pheasant Inn, Tony informed us that it was due to divorce and that it was his second one ( still smiling though) This lead to  Fiona / Elwyn revealing they were both also double divorcees. There’s me, having recently celebrated our 38th Wedding Anniversary anniversary hence, the odd one out- Lol. However, I was to learn that I haven’t apparently learnt anything in life, as Fiona pointed out. Whereas Tony accepted his 2 ‘errors!’ in life ( his words) Fiona considered hers a fulfilling learning experience, inferring that my 38 years has taught me nothing about marriage- Lol.

                           

All joking aside, lunch was now finished, even Elwyn, and the conversation went to who was heading back and unusually, nobody was. This lead to a lengthy discussion on possible routes home.

4 headed right toward the Cock ‘O’ Barton and onward to Wetreins Lane and Holt, in order to get across the River Dee and head home to Lavister & Chester for some. I turned left with Steve T & Tony, who I left only a mile later, as they went left for Bumpers Lane ( Churlton) and me to Tattenhall. I ended up with a total of 47 miles and less than 500 ft of ascent, despite Chapel Hill.

Great day, with some good banter amongst friends-Lol.

By the way, the Welsh rarebit wasn’t actually that good ( to much mustard cream-Lol)

Cheers all.

Neil.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

16th September 2021 : Knutsford (brisk)

The Brisk group was thin on the ground again today at Meadow Lea - just Ivan, John W and myself. We set off in sunshine bound for Manley then upwards over the hills to Kingsley. Here, I learnt via Wiki, that one famous local was Paula Radcliffe! Off to the Weaver Navigation, the path is a bit muddy but OK. At the lock transfer, Ivan becomes engaged in conversation with some silver walkers i.e. older than us! There is a massive tracked crane in the Weaver sitting on a large metal raft and more hardware up by the swing bridge, so maybe the rotting boats and barges are going to be removed at last.

Comberbatch comes and goes as does Antrobus, until we arrive at the Tabley Interchange at J19 of the M6. We fly over the M6 via the farmer’s bridge to take Moss Lane. This has to be the worst “surfaced" road in Cheshire as we bump away along it. We now run down along side Tatton Park and into Knutsford proper. I had selected Booth’s Supermarket cafe for luncheon and it didn’t disappoint on price, quality or quantity.

The route home is south out of Knutsford down the quiet Sudlow, Pinfold and Back Lanes before turning west to Lach Dennis and into Davenham. Here on Tuesday, I nearly become a cyclist sandwich between a parked car and a moving car which had overtaken me extremely closely. The elderly lady driver had no idea what she had done when I caught up with her a little further up the road.

We exit Davenham via Moulton and via the gravel track down under the railway and over the Weaver Navigation. Here at the locks, there are “fishermen” using strong magnets on lines to drag the canal to ensnare metal artefacts - strange hobbies these days! Up the road we take the Whitegate Way and stop at the community cafe for a well-deserved Magnum ice cream.


Real fishermen!


Weaver Locks



                                                       Whitegate Way

In and out of Little Budworth and Cotebrook, we then take the very familiar route back to Christleton via Utkinton. At Duddon, we notice a farmer flailing the hedge. In Christleton, I notice John’s back tyre is looking decided flat. A massive thorn is extracted from the tubeless tyre and John plugs it and re-flates and off we go again. However at the other side of Christleton, the tyre is slowly deflating once more. Upon inspection there was a tiny hole in the side wall where the large thorn had been extracted. Luckily, the tubeless sealant was persuaded to do its magic and get John home with unfortunately now a useless £40+ tyre.

 The culprit cf to a Garmin

Once again my thanks to John and Ivan for dragging me around the official 59 miler which turned out to be exactly 70 miles when I got home.


CA

Photos JW and ID

16th September 2021: Aston (mod)

A good turnout at Meadow Lea this morning generated at least three separate rides.  The main mod contingent comprised myself, Dave H, George, Peter and Mike, just back from several weeks in Germany. We were also joined for the start by David M and Dave & Liz P. I had in mind a trip to the Bhurtpore at Aston.  I know the club regularly visits this establishment, but I hadn’t been there for some time, and as usual Dave H was keen on the destination.

We took the route out via Waverton, then Hargrave and Huxley.  We descended past the Shady Oak, up to Beeston Castle and into Bunbury, where Mike was nearly “van-doored” by a negligent driver.  From here the core contingent of 5 continued and took a suspension testing ride past Haughton Hall. Next it was Swanley Bridge and through Ravensmoor as we followed two cyclists with heavily laden paniers, before turning right before Sound to enter Wrenbury (which according to The Sunday Times is one of the 50 best villages in the country). We were back on bad surfaces as we rode past Wrenbury Station, but then were soon at our destination. 

We chose the outdoor seating and ordered a mix of curries and other food.  The pub has restricted opening hours due to the widespread lack of staff – something we also heard about last week at Cleopatra’s and would hear again later today. Another customer kindly took our photo. We were quickly served and, refreshed, we took to the road again. 

Photo by SH

The return route took us over the Shropshire Union canal via the lift bridge, and then on to Chorley. Crossing the Nantwich Road at Brindley, we carried on to Spurstow and then Peckforton. Touching our outward route at Beeston, we headed for Tattenhall Marina.  We made for the Marina Café, but their usual cakes were not available – staff shortages meant there was no-one to bake the cakes. We made do with hot drinks with the odd chocolate bar and ice cream, but enjoyed the view across the Marina. We tried to exit via the gate next to the railway bridge but it had just been locked.  Dave applied his charm(!) and persuaded the gate guardian to unlock it.  

The rest of the route was straightforward – along Long Lane to the hump back canal bridge, into Waverton and back onto our outward route. You could say it had been a ‘Goldilocks ride’: not too warm and not too cold, not too windly, not too hilly.  In fact, a 'just right' 55 miles,

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Friday, 10 September 2021

9th September 2021 : Ellesmere (brisk)

Today's brisk riders are the dynamic duo called John W and Ivan. The remaining brisk riders are all enjoying leisure pursuits North and East of the country. So John and I ride out from Chester to Cleopatra’s at Holt. Not too many riders congregating probably due to forecast of rain and thunderstorms.

Undeterred, John and I set off leaving the moderate riders and head towards Bowling Bank and Cross Lanes. Across to Eyton and there the start of 5 miles of steady climbing. There are no algorithms to the ride today except ride easy, so it’s steady onwards and upwards chasing zero KOM points. It was my intention today for a different route to Ellesmere and John was convinced we were heading Llangollen way.

From Pen-y-cae we are enjoying a long descent to Trevor before the uphill to Pontcysyllte. Crossing the Dee we stop for photo opportunity of the aqueduct and a rider visiting from Norfolk offers to take photos of us and the views. Advised him we only wanted a scenic shot but had a good chat with him. Clive wouldn't have departed as quickly! 

The Dee plus Aqueduct

It’s upwards again up Gate road running parallel to the canal before we join the cycleway and rejoin the road leading to Chirk. It's still feels like riding uphill passing through Chirk and traversing the busy roundabout to take us up to St Martins

A suggestion to stop at Stan’s for lunch was discounted as, passing the petrol station, it is very busy with police activity. Later we found out that a serious incident had taken place. Turning right, we head along Church Lane and the impressive St Martins church, and then ride 6 miles of lanes to Ellesmere.

We head to the Texaco garage and enjoy coffee and hot sausage rolls and cake. Quickly back on the saddle, it’s riding now towards Penley. Crossing the Whitchurch Road, then Sarn, Threapwood and Shocklach and we're back at Farndon before 14:00.

We decide to ride on to Chester. I enjoyed a overall ride of 66 miles in mainly very sunny 18/20C and 98% humid conditions and slight southerly wind speed of 4mph. This route round was 45 miles however.

Only a few rain spots fall when we were at our lunch stop but we are under the garage canopy. A good day out, and glad we were not put off by the weather forecast.

ID

Photo by ID

9th September 2021: Loppington (mod)

It was good to catch up with John and Ivan before they set off on their own trajectory. It was also a pleasure to have the company of super-slim Dave and Liz for a while. There was a  lower turnout than of late for various reasons. Undoubtedly, the likelihood of being struck by lightning and suffering torrential downpours, had led some to lily-liveredly buttering another round of toast and hunkering down at home. The moderates consisted of Steve Haywood, Alan, Peter and myself. Loppington was the chosen destination.  Peter was accompanying us only part of the way, as he too was running frit of forecast deluges.  It was difficult to know what to wear, as it was likely to remain warm even if we were soaked through. We drooled over John's neat GoreWear black jacket from their Rich City Slickers collection. Evidently, it remains totally waterproof in a tsunami, yet retains the ventilation comparable to travelling in an open Ferrari Portofino at a steady199m.p.h. Some would rather have the fluorescent yellow safety of a Decathlon waterproof jacket on a dark, wet day in winter, and put the hundreds of pounds saved in the tin marked, “Winter Holiday in Barbados.” To be fair, John covers more miles than most, and being soggy and sweaty for many hours is not pleasant.

We were a little late setting off as we inspected the Pipe's electrified tandem, which I thought smelt of burning. My route was through Tilston, Malpas and Higher Wyche. The sun had appeared and was pretty hot. I had left my helmet behind at home after the distraction of my daughter's dog escaping as I went to the car. Alan kindly lent me a cloth cap to spare my burning bonce, and we made good progress toward Whixall. Alan had hopes that if we could just make lunch before getting wet......Then, the heavy rain started, and we sheltered under some trees as it really began to pour down. It was time to forget further meandering on intricate lanes toward Wem. We cut across to the B5476 and rode south and straight to Wem and out the other side to Tilley. We passed the Tilley Raven where we once arrived late, but the chef left a good helping of chips for us as he left for home. We sped down the back lane to Nonely, as the rain eased off, and reached The Dickin Arms shortly after. We could have sat outside under canvas, but Steve preferred a wasp free lunch, and we agreed to eat inside. The food was very good and excellent value. The standard of the cooking, and the class of the clientele is definitely up a notch on most pub stops. We were the only plebs, and the only ones looking like drowned rats. 


Photo by AO

The narrow, well-surfaced lane to Lyneal was a scenic delight on the way back. Alan kindly took the photograph, and the sun was out again. The dirty little lanes towards Tart Hill were given a miss, and we headed for Hanmer via Northwood and Bettisfield. We continued to push on through Threapwood, conscious that a lot more wild rainfall was looming. Steve persuaded me that the direct route to Shocklach was a bit rough, and that he had a nicer little detour! So it was that we cycled down Chapel Lane to “The Holy Land” and then ploughed on north for Farndon and Holt. Thanks to Steve's cute diversion we failed to beat the next heavy rainfall, which hit us at Crewe-by-Farndon, minutes before reaching Cleopatra's! Steve may well have led us to the Holy Land, but, for me, he now still needs to find the Road to Redemption. Perhaps, I am being a bit harsh, perhaps, I am being that “typical Scouser” from home that usually blames others if things go wrong! At Holt, Alan headed for his car, and Steve and I had a last coffee and a chat to Helen. Steve reminded me of my once forgetting to bring my jacket to this venue, on a very cold day. I asked the staff if they could spare me a bin bag, and I then made a gilet from this. Helen took pity on me and lent me her partner's cycling jacket. Today, Philippe made an appearance from the kitchen to amuse us with some inane trick questions. If you don't know why Philippe left South Africa, and how he met Helen, read their 'Journey' on Cleopatra's website. The drive home, across country to Steve's at Kelsall, and then to Runcorn was extremely frought with deep, swirling floodwater everywhere, but fortunately the old Berlingo made it. Despite everything, we were never cold, the scenery was enjoyable, and I am sure that the three of us were glad that we had made the effort. We had covered nearly fifty miles, the majority of them dry, surprisingly.                                       

See route map and/or gpx file download

DH

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

2nd September 2021: Wrenbury (mod)

Good turn out at Rose farm (no head count today).

Lovely to see Mr. & Mr’s. DP complete with Tandem or should I say” E- tandem, after Dave had added a motor (nice one Dave- I wonder if  it complies with the 15 mph max rules? -Lol)Also nice to see Trevor there (1st this year!) By the way mate, you owe me a pint, after finding that £20 you dropped- Lol.

Well I never, 2 E bikes at the meet, as Peter turned up as well, all we need now is Paula and we have a group (unfortunately she is not interested in larger group rides). Notable absentees, were the Runcorn lot (rumour has it, they all had something more interesting to do, which can’t be true, surely- Lol). The fast group of 2? Set off to an unknown destination, Steve H lead out the main Moderate group, East.

My easy flat moderate ride, to the Dusty Miller, became a ride to ‘#18 The Park’ in  Wrenbury- Cum- Frith, after Dave M decided to join my group of Fiona, Elwyn & myself. However, there was a last minute desertion by F&E (turn coats, who decided to join Steve’s ride- what happened to cycling loyalty- Lol). So, me & Dave set off for a new cafe experience, which I might add was fab, more of that later.

We head out left on my original route, leading Dave up the steep-ish hill into Tarporley ( never thought I would ever see Dave grinding that tiny granny ring on his lovely Colnago, but I did). His feet were spinning so fast, I thought it was ET in front of me. Once through Tarporley, Dave came up with an alternative route, being as I had shortened my original plan and was winging it a little- Lol.

So Dave now leading, we end up on 2 main roads, instead of the easy, traffic free route through Bunbury (just didn’t get it, but I humoured him, as he is a bit senior to me, in many ways- Lol). However, he was forgiven after the cafe stop (bit more upmarket than most, could say posh even, with lovely knee blankets for outside. Good job Dave H wasn’t with us, we would have had to leave him outside- Lol.

They have a large covered decked area with plenty of tables and additional picnic benches on the grass, so ideal for large groups of cyclists (closed Mon & Tue, by the way, as we found out today, when I lead F&E there, much to my embarrassment- NOT- Lol). Wrenbury needed a cafe to be fair (no more stops at the post office- Lol). We discovered that it’s been there since late 2019, but due to the Pandemic, they have only really got going in the last month or so. Lovely looking carrot & coriander soup for Dave and choc cake for me, which was all good, apart from the wasps, as usual.

Lunch done, we set off again in opposite directions, as both of us preferred a route that took us home, as opposed to Rose farm. I headed virtually direct to Harthill via Bickerton and onward to Milton Green. Dave headed out toward ‘Sound’ & on up toward Bunbury & home to Oscroft.

I ended up completing 42 easy flat miles, after another nice day.

NT

Thursday, 2 September 2021

2nd September 2021: Spen Green (mod)

 There was a bit of confusion at Rose Farm as various cyclists seemed unsure of where to ride and who with – but then this is not unusual for CER. Eventually my suggestion of heading for the Rising Sun at Scholar Green, beneath Mow Cop, found a number of takers. The mod group comprised myself, Andy, Fiona, Elwyn and Peter.  Trevor, who it was good to see after a long absence (apparently due to the competing attractions of bridge), chose to join us for the initial miles.

We left on the usual route to Cotebrook and then past Oulton Park to Marton Green and along the Whitegate Way onto Winsford. We negotiated the big roundabout to then passed through Clive and on to Middlewich. We weaved our way through its estates to emerge into more open country. At some point I phoned the pub to see if they could accommodate the five of us. No, they couldn’t! It’s a good pub in a popular location beside a canal and the Gritstone Trail and they were having a busy time. The decision was made to carry on and in the words of Micawber, “hope for something to turn up”.

We caught our first glimpse of Mow Cop as we crossed the M6. Then it was on to Brereton Green and Spen Green. Here about four miles short of the Rising Sun, we noticed the Blue Bell Inn. A quick check confirmed they could feed us and we settled on of their many outside tables. Orders were taken outside and we chatted generally about bikes and when Rose Farm gates would be locked for Fiona and Elwyn had left their car there.  The internet informed us that they were safe up to 6pm. Our food and drink had arrived and the consensus was that our lunch was good value and the beer drinkers appreciated their ale.

Photo by SH

We continued towards Mow Cop discussing various routes of ascent, but with no-one willing to take on the challenge. We passed through Scholar Green and Rode Heath, before entering open countryside again. Wheelock Heath came next, but we were brought to a halt by an extremely busy A534. It was only due to a kind motorist that we were able to cross. Next came Clay Lane, “the worst surface in Cheshire”, partly due to subsidence but there is no excuse for the dreadful surface.  At least, afterwards we appreciated smooth roads more. The northern suburbs of Crewe followed, then Church Minshull and Wettenhall, before we rejoined our outward route near Cotebrook. It should have been a straightforward return, but for major potholes near Utkinton Hall, but somehow we lost Fiona. Elwyn tracked her down using Strava on her way to Tarporley, and we all eventually made our way back to the start.

We had covered a total of 53 miles. The morning had been cool and overcast and we were starting to feel the chill as we left the pub.  But then, we caught a few rays of sunshine, and as we continued our ride it became noticeably warm. With very little wind it was a pleasant ride through a landscape that was largely unfamiliar to Fiona and Elwyn.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH



2nd September 2021 : Audlem (brisk)

Last week, I expounded my riding algorithm and used the Speed vs Hills formula - this week I am using Distance vs Speed on the ride to Audlem.

A good turnout on a grey day at Rose Farm, with the happy return of Trevor (he’s been playing bridge on Thursday mornings - Yes, I know - Why?) and the arrival of Dave and Liz on their now battery powered tandem. Dave has installed the system himself  - much impressed by his engineering skills.

Just a trio today for a Brisk Group - Ivan and John W were the outriders today on a very brisk ride to Audlem. The route was deliberately designed for maximum velocity i.e. few hills and long lanes. So we set off directly into Tarporley via Tilstone Fearnall towards Bunbury then down the aptly named Long Lane to Burland.

Ravensmoor came and went as we hustle through Wrenbury and Aston for the long run down Sheppenhall Lane.  We round a bend in a wooded section to find the road blocked by a contractors van - no warning signs but we were fortunate to be able to stop in time. Crossing the A525 Audlem to Whitchurch road, we run down Wilkesley Lane until Heywood Lane appears on our left. 

I can’t recall ever riding this pleasant lane, with a decent surface for once, which brings us to Swanbach just south of Audlem. It is before 1200 so will the Fish and Chip shop be open - it is, but Ivan remarks that he has had his fill of F&C meals this week (on grandchildren duty) so we head for The Old Priest House cafe on the corner opposite the church.

This is a well-known and tiny cyclist’s cafe with a built-in sweet shop at the front. The cafe part is small - only three tables due to Covid screening in place - yet it is welcoming enough with a range of typical cafe fare. John and Ivan take the All-day breakfast and I take the delicious Cheese on Toast. Very good food at economical pricing - but cash only!

Off again, the way back has the same formula of long lanes as we take Coole Lane all the way back to Nantwich. A wriggle through the water park and I amend the route on the fly to eschew Welshman’s Lane for a diversion up Chester Road and then Poole Hill Road to  access Wettenhall Road. We have 6 miles of dreadful road surface to endure now. We ride round the back of Oulton Park via Ruston for the drag up to Utkinton at Cotebrook.

So only 45 miles but at 17.1 mph average - we could have edged this up a bit but for the rapidly deteriorting road surfaces found on the long lanes we used today. We almost need gravel bikes over road bikes if they deteriorate further.

We were back in Chester with 70 plus all-round mileage by 1515, where the sun finally came out. Next week I plan to use the third algorithm of Hills v Distance but luckily I shall be away in “flat’ Norfolk. So I will have to forgo the pleasure of grinding up long hills - I’ll leave that to John W!

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA