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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


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


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


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!


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!


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


*: 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


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


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