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.
*: 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.