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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, 21 January 2022

20th January 2022: Goostrey (mod)

We seem to have had quite a few very cold and frosty starts recently and today was no exception as we gathered in the Station Café at Delamere.  Nonetheless it was a good turnout of both brisk and moderate riders, plus David M in civvies having made his way from the frost hollow that is Oscroft. While we supped our coffee, I spoke to Clive about the navigation apps we use for rides.  Some of you will be aware that Viewranger is our preference but that this is being migrated to OutdoorActive and switched off at the end of February. This would leave us with a much inferior solution, and it seems from Clive’s investigations that our best solution in future will be the plotaroute app to plan our rides and the PocketEarthPro app to follow the routes and record them.

The mods comprised myself, Mike, George, Andy B, Dave H and Keith making a welcome return to one of our rides. Our destination was to be The Crown at Goostrey. In view of the cold, I repeated much of the outward route we took from Delamere when we last met there: following the larger roads that were less likely to be icy.  We headed for Kingsley passing a part frozen Delamere and Hatchmere.  From Kingsley we picked up the road to Acton Bridge, then on to Weaverham and into Northwich. Instead of riding through the centre we took the service road beside the River Weaver at the back of the new commercial developments in the town.  This led us to the big roundabout from where we took the road to Higher Wincham.  Then we followed our familiar crossing of the A556 by Smoker Brook and on to Lower Peover.  Here we decided to try the lanes and came across a mix of big potholes, mud and some ice. It was a relief to reach Townfield Land and soon after that Goostrey itself.

The Crown was suffering from a shortage of staff, as many hostelries are at present, and could only offer a restricted menu. Light bites were off so we made our selection from a handful of main courses.  Nonetheless the food was good with fish and chips being very popular. Having warmed up, it was time to leave.

Our return was on familiar roads through Lach Dennis, Davenham and on to Hartford. It remained cold, so it was warming to climb up Norley Bank and on to Hatchmere.  Here we split, with some heading back to Delamere station, others to their cars and a couple cycling back to their homes.

Another good ride in dry conditions with lots of sunshine, though later in the day almost blinding us.  A total of 41 enjoyable miles travelled, and nice to see the days starting to get longer.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHa


Thursday, 20 January 2022

20th January 2022 : Dunham Massey (brisk)

Meeting for today’s CER ride was the railway station cafe at Delamere. John W and I decided to ride out and it was pretty chilly but better climate conditions than last Thursday ride. At the cafe there was a good number of moderate riders and also Clive and Nick to join the brisk group. Tea and tea cakes finished, the four of us venture out into the chill and ride.

The road from the cafe to Hatchmere must rank as one of the worst surfaced roads in Cheshire although writing that there are several others we have to ride also. Today’s ride is a longer route to Dunham Massey and a shorter return leg to cater for the excellent selection of home made pies and a £2.00 pint we expect to eat at The Vine pub. So after taking the junction at Hatchmere, we head to Norley and Sandiway.

Taking an unusual route into Winsford, my Garmin got us completely mixed up and also a resulting puncture. Not sure if it was the debris on a cycle path or too many pot holes, but a snake bite was evident. Tube replaced and were off and head to Bostock and into Davenham. Taking the usual lane past the Davenham small theatre and the church, we continue the usual route towards Bucklow Hill and Rostherne. 

I now suffered a second puncture at Lostock Gralam, and whilst carrying out repairs, a white van man slowed and enquired “Did I see you guys at Winsford fixing a puncture”. I wish I could have thought quick enough for a suitable response.

At the Tatton Park gates, John comments that he knows this road and a reply was its a good sprint road to Ashley. Nick was first to unleash his power and up the watts and I tried to follow thinking John will pass in a minute. Sure enough at 27mph (my speed), a rider passes me but not John, then, the whoosh of rubber and John’s on his wheel both hunting Nick down and gone into the distance so Clive and I just try and pace the others only to be passed by another chasing Peloton, give up!! They were probably a third of our age though.

The road runs into Hale, but there is a detour on the Garmin again at Ashley Hall. We are routed along a pathway cutting a large corner off, if heading towards Bowden which we were, so we stop and search the oracles on our phones. Consensus achieved, we take the path and are pleasantly surprised by the quality of surface except at a farm entrance which changed from tarmac to cobbles, so okay if riding a Rubaix!

After two punctures, we arrive at The Vine but oh dear, Covid must have struck hard as its shut and well locked up. Best made plans!!! To the "Rope and Anchor" we go arriving at the same time as a second funeral party; so Plan C is the Dunham Massey Farm cafe. We enjoy a quick snack and considering its now 14:00, we’re keen to get on our way. No other incidents deter our progress back to Delamere but, being slightly later than expected, on dropping down the hill from Anderton into Winnington it is now manic with many vehicles desperately trying to go faster than us to get the kids home for dinner and homework. 

With heading West, we’ve ridden most of the afternoon with a very bright sun rendering us with limited vision. On such busy roads, I make a wrong turn so we decide to re-route and pass Hartford station before the sharp righthand bend heading away from Sandiway. Back on course, we are only a few miles from Hatchmere, where John and I continue back to Chester and Nick and Clive to return to their cars.

Having an issue of two punctures is a much happier situation to be in with so many willing hands to help; so thanks to the group and to Clive for donation of his spare tube. 

Home a little later than planned!

The route is a 63 miles round trip but the extra mileage to Chester gave John and I 84/90 miles ridden on a lovely sunny winter's day and our bikes much much cleaner than last week's Shropshire mud ride.

Home before dark, and many thanks for another good day out

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photo JW

Friday, 14 January 2022

13th January 2021: Edgerley (brisk)

Our second meet of the year was the Castle Bistro in Chirk. John W and I travelled out from Chester on the train. These are getting busy again but we had room to put our bikes in the cycle storage area. Arriving into Chirk, it is chilly after sitting in the warm train. We cycle from the station to our cafe start and are swiftly joined by Clive, John M and Nick, so today’s peloton is 5 brisk riders. After a coffee and tea cake, we get ready to brave the expected low temperature with frost and fog predicted. 

Our route is to the Royal Hill Inn at Edgerley which is located on NCR 81 between Pentre and Melverley. 

Leaving Chirk, we cautiously head down Chirk Bank which feels icy but no frost is visible. Ray had had a crash on his bike Tuesday when riding with J W to ride a 200k audax route. This incident heightened our concentration and senses and we descend carefully. At the A5 roundabout, we continue to St Martins along the B5070. We head right off and along Church Lane and pass St Martins parish Church.

The lanes are wet and dirty with some flooding and in a fine fog. At one point we brake the surface ice on flood water making us even more alert. Although the sun was bright it restricted our views of the countryside. Arriving at the A495 at Welsh Frankton, it’s a quick right and left thankfully as the main road was busy with some big lorries behind us as we cycled up the bank. The first 8 miles of the route is an uphill ride but we are now over the most and dropping down towards Tetchill the roads are getting drier. At 15 miles, we stop to remove a layer of clothing and it’s a little surprising that we’ve only ridden a short distance as it feels we’ve been out all morning such is the concentration.
 
Our pace is now picking up as we approach Rednal and skirt around the airfield and the numerous adventure parks dotted around the disused areas. The sun is now burning away the fog and with little wind it is a pleasure being out in the fresh air. Through Ruyton XI Towns, we again have a little climb up towards Little Ness. We are on a lane which runs through Valeswood Wood and the road surface is very muddy and wet. Eventually leaving the trees behind, we run parallel with the A5 and into Nesscliffe and take a narrow lane to Pentre and our lunch stop at Royal Hill Inn.

The menu for light bites costs approx £4.50 and it is a good portion. A good slice of shortbread is served with our drinks of tea and coffee and our lunch is quickly served. We are seated in a small bar snug area with an open fire and have to open the window to let some cool air in; just no pleasing some!

Agricultural veneer
Ready to ride after lunch



















Leaving the Inn, we ride on NCR 81 to Melverley and Crew Green where we begin to head north and home. The sun is now very bright and in our face rendering us with blindness at times. We pass through Llandrinio the village which hosts the lunch stop of the CTC 100 mile ride.

Crossing the A483 at Llanymynech, we are heading towards Knockin. Not stopping at the shop today but continue on to cross the busy A5. We witness an unusual courtesy from a car driver who slowed the traffic behind him, to allow us to cross this busy road in short order.. 

Passing West Felton and Queen's Head, it’s the 4 mile slightly uphill straight drag to Whittington. Passing straight through the village, a shout of "flat" rings out and, considering the road conditions we’ve ridden on today, Whittington can boast relative good surface conditions. Nonetheless, John W has succumbed to the snake bite pinch and he is quick to release his front wheel and smoothly replace the tube. After 5/10 minutes max, we are again heading to our end of journey for today. Through Gobowen and the back of Lions Quay, we cross the A5 again for the last time then heading to Weston Rhyn and Chirk.

As we arrive at the bottom of Chirk Bank, the sun is illuminating the viaduct so John and I stop to snap the photo opportunity for the final blog picture and to act as a reminder of what a great day out on the bike it’s been. As always good company and after the first hour of our ride, great weather for January.


A total of 57 miles ridden with 2412 feet of ascents . Let's hope our next ride out from Delamere is as favourable. Thanks to all for making a great day out. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Photos JW

Thursday, 13 January 2022

13th January 2022: Llanymynech (mod)

As I drove out to Chirk, at one point the thermometer in the car registered -2.5C. Outside the car it felt like the coldest start we’ve had this winter, so it was good to see six mod and six brisk riders gather in the Castle Bistro. Welsh Covid regulations now require that groups of no more than 6 can gather indoors, so sitting on separate tables, we fell within that threshold. The mod group comprised Mike, just back from Germany, Andy B, George, Dave H, Steve T and myself.

We were concerned about ice on the lanes, so initially we kept to main roads, crossing the A5 and heading up to St Martins. From here we struck out on minor roads through New and Old Marton. We could see frost on the pavements and one small stretch of ice on the road as we cautiously navigated these lanes. We passed near a trig point recording 138m above sea level, and hoped the surfaces would be less cold as we descended from here. We had noticed the tracks of some road bikes and thought perhaps the brisk group had taken the same route ahead of us.

After passing through Perthy we took a short stretch of A-road before descending to Welsh and Lower Frankton. We sped up passing through West Felton and Maesbrook, and shortly arrived at the Bradford Arms in Llanymynech. A friendly welcome and a warm open fire made us regret we hadn’t visited more recently – the last record I could find was from 2018. Welsh Covid restrictions need not be a reason for saying away because although the street outside is in Wales, the pub itself is in England. We speculated on why there is a Bradford Arms here and also nearby in Knockin, when the closest we were to Yorkshire seemed to be the Black Sheep Bitter they served.  It stems from the Earldom of Bradford and today “Bradford Estates stewards 12000 acres of land in Shropshire and Staffordshire”. 

Photo by SHa

Well fed and watered we left the warmth of the pub and headed NE through Morton and Maesbury. After crossing the A5, we had to decide whether to return via Whittington or Oswestry. Oswestry won and soon we were following familiar lanes past the Old Hillfort and into Weston Rhyn.  The temperatures had improved and the day had been sunny throughout, but Andy warned us about possible ice on the north-facing descent from Weston Rhyn to the Ceiriog Valley.  Indeed, he was right, but by this time in the afternoon it was limited to the side of the carriageway, so unhindered we descended and then climbed back up again to arrive back into Chirk and stop for a final brew.

Despite the cold start, it had been a great day out: sunny and with little wind.  The lanes had often been filthy, but we’d revisited one of our favourite lunch stops and travelled around 37 miles.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SHa


Thursday, 6 January 2022

6th January 2022: Whitchurch (mod)

Not many members gathered in Alison’s for the first meet of the year, just myself, Dave H, Steve T, Andy B, Ray and David M. David was in civvies reading out the day’s miserable weather forecast: temperature hovering around zero, brisk southerly wind and soon to arrive rain. Consequently, almost everyone had arrived by car. Steve T had a route in mind to Aston, but as soon as we stepped outside the café it started to rain heavily. These weren’t encouraging conditions, and the general consensus was to abandon the day’s ride, which I could understand. However, I thought that I would ride out a bit and see what developed.

So it was that I set out alone towards Harthill, hoping that the hill climb would warm me up. As I headed up Bolesworth Road the rain turned to snow and I abandoned the climb to Harthill, instead heading towards Brown Knoll. As I passed Bickerton Church the snow had stopped and the rain lightened, so I continued towards Bickley.  The surfaces weren’t at all icy, but very muddy and strewn with hedge cuttings. I got as far as Marbury without incident, so thought that I might as well continue into Whitchurch where I stopped for a coffee and a snack.  

This was far enough for the day, so to return I took the old Roman road past Grindley Brook, through Malpas and on to Tilston and Stretton.  With the southerly wind and virtually no rain this was an easy section. I continued through Barton and on to Coddington. A little sunshine had started to emerge so I forwent shelter at Manor Wood Café and continued on back into Tattenhall. Just before arriving back at the start there was a sharp shower with heavy clouds suggesting more heavy rain.  I was pleased to end my solitary ride at this point with 31 miles covered.

See route map and/or gpx file download

SH


Tuesday, 4 January 2022

31st December 2021 : Annual Statistics

About this time of year, I publish the ride statistics for our club rides - be they "leisure", "moderate" or "brisk".  Despite a second year of Covid restrictions, we managed 60% more rides and 80% more miles ridden than last year


YearMileageBlogsAv Miles/Ride
20081,1372447
20092,8945355
20102,6405350
20113,4956157
20123,6157648
20133,0255753
20143,7087252
20154,2168152
20164,3258352
20173,8327452
20184,4728950
20193,9478447
20202,0304743
20213,6007747




Totals43,33685451




Annual Avg3,1726351

Once again, there was an array of ride leaders and blog writers which is always good to see. In all, fourteen budding novelists offered to write up their ride recollections. However, just four bloggers accounted for 66% of the write-ups.

Once again, we must thank Dave H for his guidance and leadership during this second Covid year. Not an easy job given Omicron entering the mix with Wales still insistent on doing it’s own thing, which was often different from England.

Despite all these difficulties, we have managed to enjoy the best attributes of club cycling throughout the year. We wish Matt a speedy recovery from his accident and hope to see him back on two wheels soon.

Hopefully, the coming year will be a “back to near normality” for us all in cycling and in our family lives.

CA

BTW: If any rider wants to have a copy of any (or all) of the route gpx files ridden over the last few years, then just contact Steve T who has them safely stored away in annual folders.