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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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Monday, 28 March 2022

24th March 2022: Audlem (mod)

Todays meet; Rose Farm and normally I am 1st there but this week I arrive to see George already tucking into his 1st bit of cake for the day-Lol. 

Despite the incredibly good weather, the gathering was smaller than usual, approximately 10 I think. Only 2 fast boys ( Clive & Nick) The rest of the Mods became my responsibility for the day, as I was the only one with a route option (2 in fact, but nobody was going to go for my hilly one- Lol)

Our esteemed leader declared he had no ideas, although I think he just wanted a day off- Lol. 

My plan, mainly due to the gorgeous sunshine and more importantly, very low winds, was Audlum Marina. A cracker on a day like today ( later echoed by most, including the Doppleganger Nick- Lol)

 

Off we trot, all 9 of us, once we managed to get George away from licking his cake fork to death- Lol.

So, ‘the 9’: Andy ( sporting another new day glow jacket) what’s come over him, he’s looking very dapper these days-Lol. Allan, George, Dave H, Trevor, Mike, Mike G & finally the other Dave (M), who of course went his own way after only a mile or so I was told. 

 

I forgive you Dave for abandoning without letting me know, after those fantastic tickets to the ‘Planet Earth 2’ concert. Both Paula & I thoroughly enjoyed it ( the orchestra was over 100 strong- stunning sound)

 

As usual, I digress, but the story is always more involved than one first thinks, however, I will endeavour to stay on track- Lol.

 

Our first departure from the main drag was up my favourite little short cut ( over the A49) This was to avoid riding through Tarporley, which didn’t go a miss with Andy.

However, my main reason for heading this way was to introduce the group to a very quaint cafe in Eaton, which virtually nobody seemed to be aware of (Dray’s) Lovely little place, although small, but the outside seating has a fabulous view across the vale.

We moved on and head toward Wettenhall, on a very open route with great views across the county and apart from a few pot holes, is a good route to be fair, even the stretch around the outskirts of Nantwich, following the canal, is not bad. Nantwich done and now heading for Aston, via , Ravensmoor, we meander through some lovely lanes and cross the canal yet again, which was the intent of my route. I believe we cross the canals at least 8 times on this route.

Not long before we hit Aston where we pass DH’s beloved Bhurpour Inn ( I’m sure I heard a faint cry of disbelief at the fact we weren’t stopping there-Lol)

Anyway, not far from our destination and the usual queries start coming as to how far is lunch, “couple of miles” was my response, but beware as the drive way in to the Marina is not far off a mile-Lol. However, it’s one of the nicest bits of tarmac in Cheshire. 

 

The majority, if not all of the group had not been to Audlum Marina before so they all got a pleasant surprise, as it is a little gem. The food choice and quality is very good and then there is the view.

No sooner had we got there, when we noticed Nick sat with his mates - Lol ( already finished his lunch) He had ridden there on his own, after Clive left him almost immediately to head home. Some say Clive was never with him from the start and that he simply rode off on his own choosing not to lower himself by riding with the feeble moderate group -Lol. Not being prejudice and feeling brotherly warmth toward Nick, as he was all alone, we decide to split in to 2 tables and keep him company, despite his snub- Lol.

 

With the stunning weather and scenery, conversation was not short and a lot of it was to do with the food. The majority of the group going for a breakfast, including me, although veggie. However, there was strong praise for the savoury oat pancakes from at least 2 of the group ( correction, 1 of the group and the interloper-Lol)

Once all posed in front of the bikes, a friendly bystander took a team photo, which hopefully I remember to include in the blog- Lol

Photos NT 
 

After an extremely enjoyable lunch we set off again for the 21 mile return journey, immediately heading for Bunbury, via Ravensmoor ( the only repeated village on our route)

We settle into a very easy pace with plenty of complimentary comments being banded around about our lunch venue. It wasn’t long before the discussions started about where to bail out for home and so it was that Andy bailed first, just outside Bunbury, as he headed for Mold and 100 miler no doubt (chapeau).Then surprisingly, I heard a shout of “we’ve lost Dave, George & Mike”. Turned out they stopped at Tilly’s ( apparently the rest of us weren’t invited-Lol)

Anyway, we press on around Beeston and across the canal again, down past the Shady Oak. 

At the next junction we lose Trevor, heading for Guilden Sutton via Huxley, which left 3 of us heading up through Tarporley for Rose Farm, which was in fact a slight short cut on my route, but Mike thought we were getting close to closing time and I needed my choc cake fix, which is one of the best at Rose Farm.


So, from 9 down to 3, which is not my worst, as I returned to Cleopatra’s once with just Allan in tow-Lol. We made it for 3:15, so loads of time and there was 2 slices of cake left-Lol, as George was not with us.

According to Allan he had 44 miles total.


Time to set off for home and I decide to accompany Mike G to Waverton, after leaving Allan loading his bike into his car. Mike decided he hadn’t had enough for the day and decided to push the pace up a bit, so it didn’t take us long before part ways and I head down the canal road to Tattenhall & home. I arrived with exactly 70 miles on the clock, but I couldn’t help feeling for Mike with possibly a 100 miler still to finish & a train to catch to Conwy ( again Chapeau, rather you than me- Lol)

What a fab day out for all!!!!!

 

PS: not so fab later that night, when I got a chronic cramp in my hamstring that had me yelping for 10 minutes trying to shake it off. 

I think the last 10 miles with Mike did for me-  Lol not!

 

Neil.

Thursday, 17 March 2022

17th March 2022 : Kinmel Bay (Brisk)

Where to ride to? - that is the question. After a 65 mile fast run to Whitchurch and back on Tuesday, Ivan advised he would be excusing himself on Thursday. So I decided to look back through old rides to find some inspiration for today's ride from Hawarden. H is for “Hawarden” and inevitably for “Hills". I remember Bryan Wade remarking that “This is why we start in Wales” when I was complaining of yet another hill on one of my very early rides with CER in 2009.

So today's ride does involve hills, but crucially only for the first 10 miles, then a further 10 miles of slight ups and downs (except for near Cwm) and the rest downhill or flat for 31 miles – bet you'd wished you had come now! 

Nick had excused himself preferring the dentist to hills today. So Ray, John M and John W follow me out of Hawarden bound for Northop. Surprisingly there is a very stiff breeze about and it's going to plague us all the way to Kinmel Bay. Just before we join the short section of the A55 west of Northop, I notice a front flat. It takes me far too long to sort it out but at least we have had a rest. 

Onwards and upwards to Brynford, the strong wind is a force to be reckoned with as it strakes across the golf course making us lean the bike into the wind to keep upright. Just before Pentasaph, there is the hamlet of Calcoed where there is a roadside monument to the “Horse's Leap” where a horse leapt 22 ft across an open mine shaft way back when – strange monument really!


Leaping horse monument Calcoed

At Gorsedd, we turn for Lloc and the road to Dyserth but turn off due west towards Rhuddlan. It is a pleasant slightly cross country downhill run towards Cwm with some protection from the wind. There is a steady climb up narrow muddy lanes to arrive at the fierce single chevroned drop with right angle bends into Cwm and the Blue Lion pub. Back in May 2013, I led a ride to this pub along with Roy and George. Although it advertised to be open all hours, it was firmly shut. We then had to climb out up the road we had just come down today to find a lunch venue back in Lloc 6 miles away. At least we didn't have the hailstorm today that we had back in 2013.

It's an easy run now to Rhuddlan Castle. I can't ignore such a magnificent building which has been there since 1277 and all down to Edward I. There is an earlier motte and bailey castle at Twthill, a stone's throw away started by Willam I. We now leave Rhuddlan along the Clwyd river path bound for Rhyl. There is a very strong crosswind, and we have to lean into it to stay upright. Exiting into the west of Rhyl, we cycle through the miniature railway park and boating lake to cross the bridge into Rhyl Yacht club marina and the Harbour Hub cafe in Kinmel Bay. 


At Rhuddlan Castle

The cafe is quite busy, but we find a table inside to get out of the wind for lunchtime. The attaching bike shop is called the “Bike Hub” but is not connected to the Chester cycle shop of the same name. After savouring a hot drink and hot meat-filled bap, we start to savour the possibility of a wind-assist ride back to Flint. This is so as we speed along the recently upgraded promenade all the way to the Pontin's Holiday park, and thence the golf club. Onwards through the massive Presthaven Sands holiday park, we arrive via a newly gravelled path to Talacre and the Point of Ayr. 

I take the trio via the cycle path around the remains of the coal mine so that they can enjoy the view of the gas plant which takes gas from the Irish Sea, “sweetens” it, and pumps it off to the power station at Connah's Quay. It is here at Point of Ayr, where we admire the info board relating to how busy the Dee estuary was in shipping of yesteryear, that John M succumbs to a slow rear puncture. He assures us that just re-inflating it will work as it is a tubeless tyre – and it does! I now cut out the remaining cross-country bit of this cycle path to spare his tyre anymore grief. 


Puncture repaired and ready to go.

John W had suggested an ice cream at Talacre, but I offer a coffee and cake stop in Flint – which wins out. So it's a 18-20 mph, 10 mile dash to the Flint shopping park for coffee and and cake. We set off again, but eschew the Papermill Lane route back up to Hawarden and set out for Shotton and the Greenway. Along here near Oakenholt, John W manages to pick up a puncture and the culprit is in plain sight. A ¾ inch brass screw can be seen screwed into the tyre!. The tyre is expertly repaired and we blast off again bound for home.

So after nearly around 70+ miles all round to home, and 2600ft of up and three punctures later, we arrive in Chester still battling the wind but having enjoyed a great, if very windy, day out over the hills. So thanks to John W for acting as a wind-break for a good part of the ride, and to Ray and John M for their company today.

As Bryan W remarked all those years ago about Wales and its hills -”It's why we come here!” - but we could have done without the three punctures.

See route map and/or gpx file download

CA

Photos JW and JM

17th March 2022 : Leeswood (Mod)

There was a good CER presence at the studio cafe with a rough 50:50 Mod Brisk group. The mod group consisted of Trevor, Dave H, Andy B, Steve Hu, Keith and ride leader Alan. 

As we were in Wales the consensus was let’s do some hills. Alan had developed a nice circular route with panorama views of Beeston Castle, Moel Fammau and the built up areas in between. 
A quick depart from Hawarden saw us cursing into George’s manor of Northop, where we caught up with the fast lads. A nice diversion up “The Green” avoided a lot of the heavy lorries on the Northop Mold road. 

A quick skirt into Soughton saw us plunge down to the Ruthin Mold road by Synthite. From now on the roads took a decidedly uphill aspect with a series of climbs peaking at Gwernafield . Again a plunge took us down to Gwernymyndd where our esteemed ride leader decided to do some chain stretches and impossible gear choices. 

Now leaderless, the group carried on to the Nercwys road, where our esteemed leader caught up again. We then followed a lovely ridge with commanding views to the left before stopping at Leeswood Hall, in front of the “Davies Bros” white gates ( see photo) apparently there are black gates elsewhere on the estate. 

Leeswood's White Gates

From now it was a short stiff climb up to Leeswood and our lunch stop “The Old Stores Cafe” 
Once replete with “Old Stores” burgers and baps we tackled the climb up to Pontybodkin and then left up Tir Fron Lane. Again stunning views were possible due to the clear and warm day. 

A quick dash across the Mold road took us onto classic easy rider roads to Burton Green and Rossett. Trevor left us at Pulford as he carried on to Chester and the remaining troupe continued to Kinnerton and then finally to Hawarden. 

A pleasant day with great company, a modest 35 miles but a commendable 2,300 ft of climbing


SHu

Photo AO

Saturday, 12 March 2022

10th March 2022 : Lower Stretton (brisk)

The brisk riders were definitely a minority at Delamere Station Cafe. Ray and John were bolstered by the welcome return of Colin but other regular briskers were unavailable. Ray was recovering from his 200k Audax ride a couple of days earlier and had in advance signalled his desire for a shortish ride. So it was that we readily agreed to his suggested 40 mile loop with a couple of options for lunch or coffee. The other selling point was that if all went to plan we would mostly avoid the predicted southerly headwind.

In summary the route took in Norley, Weaverham, Anderton, Comberbatch, Lower Stretton, Hatton, Daresbury, Sutton Weaver, Frodsham and Helsby. 

We briefly flirted with stopping at Anderton Boat Lift cafe but had hardly warmed up so pressed on to the swanky looking  "Fox" at Lower Stretton. We were made welcome and really enjoyed our light lunch consisting of toasted sourdough sandwiches and chips. Service was a bit slow so we had plenty of time to discuss the “special operations” in Ukraine which put in to perspective our worries about the plight of Everton FC (all three of us being followers 🙁)

Our return took in a few short stretches of gravel including a run alongside the Bridgewater Canal and a couple of diversions off the main road in Frodsham before emerging at Helsby to begin a climb up to Alvanley.  A bit further on Ray and I turned off the route to return to Chester via Manley whilst Colin headed for his home at Mouldsworth. 




As mentioned the route was 40 miles from and back to Delamere. Ray and I did 56 including our return ride to Chester. Not so short then but done at an enjoyable intermediate pace for the most avoiding  a headwind.  Clive may recognise the route as one of his and certainly the canal section and other enjoyable twists and turns were recognisable as his sort of thing! We had a fun day on roads not visited for a while which added to the enjoyment.


JM

Photo on Bridgewater Canal J&C

10th March 2022: Over Peover

It was overcast but dry and reasonably warm as I rode out to Delamere Station CafĂ©. I was grateful for this after last week’s sodden outing.  At the cafĂ©, I was joined by Dave H, George, Alan, Andy B, Steve Hu, Mike and Keith, who it was good to see out with us. Also there, but just for coffee were Dave M and Neil. In another corner were a trio of briskers (John M, Ray and Colin) who were out, but  only for a short ride.

The plan was to ride out to The Dog at Over Peover using a route I’d had on my phone for a while. Now that my Viewranger app has been turned off recently, I was trying to use the much inferior Outdoor Active app instead for the first time, so I wasn’t sure how this would go.

We set off on the usual route through Delamere on what must be the worst road surface in Cheshire – at least for cyclists. After a stop to fiddle with my phone to get the map centred, we continued to Norley, taking Gallowsclough Lane to Cuddington, crossing the A556 at Sandiway. A left into Dalefords Lane took us on to Foxtwist Green, Whitegate and Bradford Mill, where we crossed over the Weaver Navigation canal and under the Crewe to Liverpool railway line. The ‘road’ here is not metalled, but although it was quite rough, it wasn’t too wet or muddy, so we made it up the hill into Moulton and Davenham without incident or complaint from the peloton.

Now on better roads we reached Lach Dennis at which point I had to stop navigating using the phone as the battery was almost dead. This new Outdoor Active app was many faults and heavy battery usage is one of them, so a switch to trusty old paper was required.

As time was pressing on, I decided to miss out a loop via Swan Green to Goostrey continuing directly along the B5082.  Reaching Goostrey we turned left by the church, heading for Blackden Heath. Whilst most of us paused for a group photo with Jodrell Bank behind us, Dave H had disappeared up the lane and was nowhere to be seen.
Photo SHu

As we followed him, we passed a tree hugger…literally. There was a guy standing with his arms around a very large oak or sycamore tree with his face pressed against it. Every day is an eye opener with CER! By the time we caught up with Dave we were a bit off piste, but after some mid-course corrections we arrived at The Dog at 12.45, precisely the time our table had been booked for.

As usual, the staff at The Dog were first class and we were soon seated in the snug with drinks and food swiftly ordered. Fish barms, club sandwiches and other tasty dishes soon arrived to fuel us up for the afternoon. As we were eating, Keith noticed a fabulous looking sports car came into the car park. On closer inspection, this turned out to be a C Type Jaguar or perhaps a copy of one. Steve Hu and I spent a while trying to work out if it was genuine or not.

 
Photos AO

I looked it up when I got home and it seems certain that it was one of only 8 'Continuation'  XKCs built by Jaguar in 2021 using original parts and drawings to celebrate the 70 years since this type of car won at Le Mans. The cost of these cars was £1-2 million, depending on specification. Astonishingly, all are sold!

By the time we set off back, the clouds had broken up and it was now a lovely warm, sunny spring day – ideal conditions for the run home through the Cheshire countryside. The return journey was via Radbroke Hall, Lower Peover and Plumley  to The Smoker, where we crossed the busy A556 Northwich By-Pass. The lanes through Higher Wincham, Pickmere, Great Budworth  and Comberbach were quieter, although the odd gust of wind from the SE made itself felt. At Little Leigh the lane by the school was packed as it was turning out time, but we were soon past and down the hill from Willow Green and over the Trent and Mersey Canal to the A49. 

The traffic here was very heavy and it was quite a while before there was a gap big enough that we could cross safely and take Acton Lane up the steep hill into Acton Bridge. This is a real sting in the tale, coming 42 miles into the ride. Surprisingly, there are no chevrons on the OS map at this point. Similarly, there are none at Norley Bank which is, admittedly, shorter and less steep, but unwelcome at this late stage of the ride.

The group dispersed at Hatchmere after a good day out in the Cheshire countryside and 47 miles travelled. Thanks to all for their company and support.

ST

See route map and/or gpx file download

Sunday, 6 March 2022

3rd March 2022: Loppington (mod)

 Carol had warned us that we were likely to be wet all day. Maybe her smiling delivery led us to believe that it could turn out a bit better than forecast. So it was, that five optimists, or masochists, or moderate riders with poor judgement, made the trek to Chirk.  The Unholy Trinity of the Steves, Alan and myself were soon enjoying the warmth and coffee inside Castle Bistro. Steve Haywood, as both reliable and enterprising as ever, had sussed out a 44ml. route to The Bull and Dog at Coton. I felt that this appeared a bit ambitious on a wet day, and had a not too resolved alternative plan to circle around to Ellesmere in order to have a short dash back if the weather became dire. I remember doing this with Keith once, on the day of a storm advancing from the south. The Fast Lads had been smart that day, cycling from Chester early to have breakfast at Chirk, and then chasing back north in front of the bad weather. Keith and myself knew we would get a bit wet before the end of our ride in the area, but leaving lunch until our return to Chirk, and not going too far, meant that we had made the best of things.  Anyway, as ever, we sorted things out, with Steve Haywood leading out on his original route to St.Martin's, and then by way of quiet lanes to the western edge of Ellesmere.


Steve Hughes was surprised by how soon we had arrived at Ellesmere, but a contrived loop to the Red Lion via Welshampton, Lyneal and Colemere would have added additional riding time, and a few scenic miles. We headed north, past The Mere and toward Hampton Wood, before reviewing our options. In the end, the call of excellent food and a straight forward route to the Dickin Arms at Loppington  became our preferred destination. Steve Hughes rang the pub to book a table.The fine rain had not bothered us for the first fifty minutes or so, but it became heavier, and we were pretty wet on reaching lunch.  After ordering food, I went out in the rain to pull some cable through on my rear brake, this, however, was not the easy solution I had hoped for, and my return journey was completed with virtually no brakes at all! Lesson learnt: don't leave your essential maintenance until the day before your ride, in case your  time disappears under unforeseen demands. Anyway, the food, service and value at The Dickin Arms was outstanding again.
 
Our route back was via Cockshutt, Lower Hordley, Welsh Frankton, Hindford and Henlle Hall. The route was scenic but direct. Alan commented that he hadn't seen the lanes so wet, as we surfed through a number of flooded sections. I nearly came off as I hit a well submerged, large hidden pothole. I had to use my feet for brakes at the A5 roundabout.
Photos by SHu

 We were certainy wet and muddy by the end, and had covered 34miles. The Filthy Five were excellent and helpful company throughout, and it easier to avoid losing someone in this ideal group size. It was heartening to have people drive down to Chirk , and “ make a go of things” despite the iffy forecast. I hope that, once we had showered and changed back home, we were all glad we'd made the effort.

DH   

See route map and/or gpx file download