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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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Sunday 30 October 2022

27th October 2022: Ellesmere (brisk)

A  promise of a bright warm day contributed to a good turnout at Cleopatras. The brisk group John W, Ray, Ivan and myself, headed off to an old favourite, the Red Lion at Ellesmere, on a route devised by Ivan. We left Holt at a steady pace and headed out towards Ridleywood then followed Francis Lane into the Industrial Estate and left it via Redwither Lane, cutting through Caia Park, Marchwiel, and Sontley before arriving in Ruabon. The Ruabon to Chirk road was traffic free thanks in part to the road closure at Newbridge. This is where a landslide took a large portion of the road away in last years winter storms and consequently closed it to all traffic.

We  had made excellent progress towards our lunch stop but our luck  changed as soon as we left Chirk. At Black Park road we crossed over the A483 and came to the roundabout at Halton where we went straight over onto Colt Lane. (Don’t be tempted, find a detour!) This lane is narrow and steep with a very degraded surface that tests both nerves and bike handling skills. The lane started innocently enough but then as we descended became steep, muddy, and dark. Just staying upright felt like an achievement. Fortunately the T junction at the bottom of the lane provided some respite .

Crossing over the River Ceiriog we commenced the climb out of the valley on a steep incline which was in no better condition than the previous lane  and was much darker due to the dense tree canopy. This punishing climb was 15% and our pace was barely at walking speed - our Strava  time for  this 2km section was 3kmh! 1/2 way up, in near blackout conditions, Ivan  came to a halt with a rear wheel puncture. The change of tube took longer than usual to due to the conditions and once completed we  then had to walk the rest of the climb. The sunshine and a real tarmac road surface  at the top were bliss.

Back on tarmac we made good progress cruising through St Martins and into Ellesmere along Elson Road where  I made a brief stop in order to photograph some fine tree art. The staff at the Red Lion were as welcoming and accommodating as ever allowing us to store our bikes in the rear beer garden. We all ordered food from the pensioners menu which arrived promptly and the main topic of conversation was inevitably all about the  trials and tribulations of the morning.


Photos by KP

We departed Ellesmere in the warm sunshine and started our return along the main road to Welshampton before joining quieter lanes that lead us through Penley, Cloy to Overton Bridge. At some point along here I picked up a rear puncture but we attended to this reasonably quickly - what a difference warm and dry conditions make. Our route then meandered along quiet lanes past the “Boat Inn” at Erbistock through Eyton and onto Cross Lanes. Here the pace dramatically increased and was led out by the usual culprits, Ivan and John; although I did put my nose in front a couple times to try and help but frustratingly my legs gave up just short of Holt. Outside Cleopatras the group split -  Ivan and Ray making their way back home via Pulford and John  accompanying me into Rossett before heading back to Chester.

Ivan’s route totaled 83 km with John, Ivan and Ray completing closer to 120km.

See route map and/or gpx file download 

KP

Thursday 27 October 2022

27th October 2022: Erbistock (mod)

This week’s ride venue was Cleopatra’s, on a day that looked to be potentially awful, from a weather perspective that is, however not a drop fell on our group all day or at least not from the sky that is- Lol. More about that later.

Firstly, there were 14 of us in total, by my head count, which included Dave & Liz P (on the tandem), Jim, who was doing a prescription ride to the chemist? And 4 or 5 fast boys. For the second week in a row, yours truly, got to lead the moderate group of 8 (2 on the tandem) My promise of an interesting meander to the Boat Inn at Erbistock, clearly appealed to the majority, although some probably lived to regret that decision for several reasons that I will endeavour to expand on later- Lol. Notably missing this week was Steve Hu (the wimp from last week- Lol) Turns out, bless him, that he really wasn’t well last week and still isn’t. Unbeknown to him, he was coming down with a bug that has made him very weak/ tired (including his wife, I later found out- their symptoms sound like the Noro virus to me, which is doing the rounds apparently).

Time for the off for what I intended to be a very interesting and scenic route (hopefully confirmed by the group) although I didn’t expect quite so many mucky lanes- seriously- Lol. We head out of Holt via the main road in order to allow us to quickly head south on the B5130 (the first bit is no longer potholed and narly- this would be the 1st of 3 lovely stretches of resurfaced lane, which didn’t go amiss by some).

It wasn’t long before we were at Cross Lanes, followed by Cock Bank, where we would turn off into, let’s say, “adventurous lanes”. These lanes were later stated as being worthy of a ‘Clive ride’ (what did they mean Clive? - Lol). Not only that, Steve T, after our our lunch stop, even threatened to have words with me if we came across anymore mucky lanes on the return leg.  I guess this was because I promised a lovely dry clean 20 miles back, which I believe it was - Lol. The mucky lanes were a consequence of my scenic detour through Erddig Park. Unfortunately, EP was unusually busy with cars, there must have been an event on, as I have never known it like that. So it wasn’t quite the peaceful scenic meander, as we had to stop a few times.  I did feel a little sorry for the tandem, as it’s not so easy to keep stopping & starting, even with an electric motor.

Once we were through EP we turn left and head towards the Boat Inn by way of Sontley Lane, which was a rather slippery muddy affair. It was shortly after this that we had to make a U turn, as I missed our left turn down to Park Eynton. “Oh no, we haven’t got to go back through that lane have we” was somebody’s cry. Fortunately, I had only over shot our turning by 100 meters or so, “no was my cry”- Lol. We had a half mile on the A539, before we head right up hill into Chapel Lane. This is a lovely steady uphill bit (nice views heading the other way - Lol) leading to a nice descent into Erbistock Vale & a final short steep descent into the Boat Inn, which lies, just 50 feet above the river Dee (somewhat idyllic spot, right next to St Hilary church).







After briefly admiring the river view and considering sitting outside, we find our reserved table inside, which didn’t seem warranted at first. However, by the time we left the place was virtually full. Once the prices on the menu had been digested- Lol, everybody set about their choice for lunch. The Korean roasted cauliflower was the most popular dish. Both Andy and I were quite taken by this. I also got the impression everybody else were just as satisfied with their choices. That said I think DH made a mental note to not come back- Lol. I believe I heard him mutter something about needing a mortgage to eat there. And he wasn’t the only one- Lol. I was so taken by the setting and food that I can only remember a brief conversation about my choice and the ensuing story I told of how I discovered a Korean vegetarian restaurant in the back streets of London, some 35 years earlier.

Lunch done and the temp getting even warmer, we set off to the comment of “we haven’t got to climb up that hill have we?” “There is only one way in and out”, was my response- Lol- Lol. No sooner said and we were at the Cross Keys pub, on the bridge of the river Dee. We turn right up a slightly longer and the only real climb of the ride. After a regroup at the top we turn left onto another lovely stretch of resurfaced lane that allowed us to detour Overton.  It wasn’t long before we were swinging downhill into Threapwood, after crossing Wych Brook, another favourite little stretch of mine and I think our 3rd river crossing, which is often a feature of my rides- Lol. The wet, muddy lanes before lunch were now becoming a distant memory as we settle into the promised dry lanes.

With Threapwood behind us and Tilston not far away, I canvassed everybody for a cafe stop at the Lost Barn, which seemed a popular choice, despite only being 3 miles from Holt. By this time DH had found his top gear and was now leading the charge. He was clearly feeling the need for a good coffee, even jumping the road works traffic lights at Tilston- Lol. We all decide to stop at the red! light- Lol and then chase after him, which was only a few hundred metres to the cafe. After a bit of shuffling of bikes, akin to musical chairs, we all finally settle on an outside table with the sun beating down on us all. 


What a lovely finish to our ride, as this was effectively the point where some of us departed for home. Both Steve Ha & I leave the others at the top of Wetreins Lane (only 300 meters up from the cafe) and set off for Tattenhall and in Steve’s case, Kelsall beyond. I got home with 52 miles on the clock and a surprising 570 metres of assent (I thought it was a flat ride- Lol). The likes of Steve Ha, Allan and Andy must have got a Grand Fondo in at least, as they all rode in further than I did - well done guys.

So, from what looked to be foolish to set off cycling at 9am, a great day out was born, if a bit mucky and slippery in places, made much better by the company- Lol- Lol- Lol. Thoroughly enjoyed the route, with some great scenery & even architecture (added an extra picture just for DH-Lol).


The route is even better in a clockwise direction, as the up & down bits work better with the views, in my opinion. Great to see you all as usual and look forward to the next ride.

NT

Photos by NT

See route map and/or gpx file download 

Friday 21 October 2022

20th October 2022 : Great Budworth (brisk)

What to write about today's ride from Rose Farm to the Westage Ice Cream Farm in Great Budworth? Well, there were three of us, Ivan with John W and myself, and it rained nearly all the time.

Starting out towards Little Budworth, there was misty rain and then it started to rain all the way on this figure-of-eight route. Why are the two Budworth's 15 miles apart? – Wiki has info on both if you are interested.

So like Jeremy C, I'll not write much about this ride – did I mention the rain? – I'll tell you all about the magnificent ride the Seven Fast Boys rode on a gloriously sunny Tuesday this week. Setting off from Whitchurch, we enjoyed a 60 miler that went clockwise via Market Drayton to end up in Shawbury for lunch in the Bakery. Lots of Salopian long dry lanes, passing by Ellerdine Heath, to Shawbury where we had a Special Ride in October 2015. You can view the ride here.

Back to today's ride, Winsford and Wharton aren't particularly pretty in the sunshine, so today's visit wasn't a visual disappointment. Out in the country now via Davenham and Lach Dennis, we zoom through Lower Peover to arrive at the big new roundabout on the outskirts of Knutsford. Using the Tan Tabley Transfer, we head west to the warm embrace of the Ice Cream Farm. 

We sit inside and enjoy a hot meal and drink whilst setting the world to rights as per usual – although at the moment I don't think it is possible to do so given the mess we are in. Back on our bikes it's now 1300 and, given that it's still raining, we split for home eschewing the rest of the route back to Rose Farm. So it's the direct route back via Little Leigh and a dripping Delamere Forest.

We are back in Chester shortly after 1500 with 65 wet miles ridden. For me it was instructive as I was still trialling my new steed and it performed well I am pleased to say.

So thanks to Ivan and John for leading the 16 mph average speed charge and for finding all the big hills on the way home.

See route map and/or gpx file download 

CA

Thursday 20 October 2022

20th October 2022: Barrowmore (mod)

A somewhat strange day for our meeting at Rose Farm for several reasons, not least of which was the very dull & foggy outlook from our start venue. At least a dozen of us turned up at the start, with Andy arriving later, looking slightly bedraggled, which meant he had to leave his cuppa half full- Lol. I think there were 4 fast lads, who did their usual thing. Our new E-man, Ray was also there, along with most of the usual Mod suspects and of course DM, who did his own thing as well. Notably missing was DH, as he is such a stalwart of the club, that it is very obvious when he is not there, not unlike Steve T to be fair, who was busy on the phone, trying to find out if our illustrious leader was on his way or not. The irony was that Steve T wasn’t riding with the Mod’s anyway, as he had to get back to sort his car out-Lol.

So, with the back bone of the club either not riding or with no route, it fell on me to lead the Mod’s, which I didn’t mind at all. I think Steve Ha simply fancied following for a change, as we were in his patch and he wouldn’t have to think about it. However, I did warn the group that it would be a bit hillier than usual, which later hit home, once the heavy breathing started-Lol. Fortunately I had a local  route that would keep us within a 10 mile radius, hence, a hilly prospect, on my favourite Sandstone Ridge. This would allow us to short cut back to Rose Farm, if the forecasted rain prevailed. My destination was the lovely Blue Bell café (BB) with an alternative option of Walk Mill, because I had not booked the BB. The BB wouldn’t be a problem for my usual small group, but now I had inherited the main Mod group, a back up plan was needed, although Steve Ha did have a pub up his sleeve- Lol.  

It wasn’t long after our group of 7 set off, when we lost our first rider, as Steve Hu wimped! out. He steamed up the first rise through Utkinton, with me giving chase and he clearly burnt himself out, as eye witness accounts saw him turn for home with his tongue hanging out, apparently! He didn’t even say goodbye can you believe- Lol- Lol. I found out just a mile or so down the road at the junction of Willington Hall, when we regrouped. Allan informed me that Steve had struggled a little riding over to Rose Farm in the first place, so it wasn’t a surprise that he bailed after a few miles with us and to be fair to him, he slipped to the back, after his first effort up the hill hence, I didn’t realise he had left the group until the next junction (perhaps a bit of long covid or the likes). Allan pointed out that we should have all noticed that Steve was out of sorts, as he wasn’t his usual chatter box self- Lol.

Now the group was 5 + one slightly guilty cyclist, who should have probably escorted his bestest, life long buddy, home, instead of leaving him to find his own way, in drizzly weather, feeling weak, drained and struggling to turn a pedal- Lol - Lol- Lol. To be fair to Allan, he did later confirm that Steve had made it home, just as we were about to leave the BB. Whether or not this redeeming feature will save his friendship, I’m not sure, but at least he tried- Lol. Steve actually completed 53 miles in total, which was more than we would do and not bad for somebody who was struggling- Lol.

We continued to meander around the Sandstone Ridge, which to 1 or 2 of our little group, seemed to always be on an upward trend- Lol. They obviously forgot the lengthy downhill of ‘New Pale Road’ and ‘Old Lane’- Lol. Of course, not much of an issue for Ray on his E-bike, which caused Allan to wish he hadn’t chased him on the longest upward drag, between Kingsley and Newton. That particular drag is at least a mile+ and a bit of a leg teaser- Lol. George was now making apologies, as he was starting to suffer on the slopes, which was as much a surprise to me as it was to him. After I had promised him that the hills were over, for about the 4th time- Lol, we were now coming off the ridge via Old Lane., which was a bit different. A somewhat leafy, gravelly descent, that needed respect, but perfectly rideable in the dry (yes, it still wasn’t raining, but only just). After a few lovely flat miles, there was just one more little hill to lead us into the BB, although George assured me there were 2 more climbs -Lol. 

We struck it lucky on arrival at BB, even though full up, as the outside tables were free, as expected. They are under cover and as it was mild- “Perfeck”, in the words of Pa Larkin- Lol. As we sat down the rain really got going. Somebody remarked that it had in fact been raining for at least a couple of miles before we got to BB, which I had barely noticed- Lol. As usual, we got a very warm welcome and soft cushions quickly provided, which made everybody far too comfortable. Conversation seemed to bounce back and forth between the now heavier rain and the demise of Liz Truss- Lol. Everybody was well pleased with their lunch and some were suggesting cake, although I think this had more to do with delaying our inevitable remounting of the bikes as opposed to needing more food- Lol. 

We got going, after a few discussions about what was the shortest ‘cop out’ back to Rose Farm, due to the rain. However, it didn’t really need me to point it out, as Steve Ha was well aware that the shortest route was probably only 7 miles max, via Oscroft & Willington. Steve decided he would lead Ray and George back, while Allan, Andy & I were continuing my planned route, as we all live to the West of the county.

We all set off as a group, but a puncture for Allan provided a natural split in the group, just as we crossed over the A51. I suddenly realised that there were 2 missing, which was Andy and Allan. I decided to go back, which left Steve and his splinter group to head off back to Rose Farm. I only had to go 100 mtrs in order to find Allan getting stuck into his puncture. My trusty needle nose pliers managed to pull out the offending microscopic thorn. It was at this point I suddenly realised we had not taken a group ride photo hence, the pic attached is only of Andy and Allan.

Photo by CER

As we set off again, the rain had not eased off at all, but wasn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things. We rode into Oscroft, where Andy suddenly decided to head off toward Willington. This left me and Allan wondering why he had gone that way, as staying with us was the more direct way to Mold. He did say, originally, that he intended to go back to Rose Farm, so maybe he did? It wasn’t long before we were passing Walk Mill and I was taking my leave of Allan, leaving him to push on towards Flint. 7 miles later, I am home and the rain was just starting to abate- Lol. 

I had a mere 45 miles on the clock. I imagine Allan had at least 70 miles on his clock (well done mate). As I was stripping off my wet gear, l realised that my rain jacket had not come out, in earnest, since last winter- Lol.  All things considered, we had a good day & a few laughs, most of them at somebody else’s expense - Lol- Lol. Cheers guys- good fun, just a shame Steve had to bail on the ride (hopefully feeling strong by next week- tart! - Lol)

NT

See route map and/or gpx file download

Saturday 15 October 2022

13th October 2022: Overton (mod)

Well, there were more mods in the Gallery Cafe this morning than at a Paul Weller reunion event. It was particularly encouraging to see that our new member Ray was out for a second ride, well done Ray.

Alan had a number of options and the consensus was a revisiting the Two Doves Cafe in Overton.

The mod group consisted of Alan, George, Dave P and Liz on the tandem, Dave H, Steve Hu, Ray and Andy B.

Following a slight “is it left or right?” navigation error by Steve Hu we were on our way up Tinkersdale climb and towards the A55 footbridge. As Dave P approached he was greeted by 5 strapping chaps all prepared to lift the tandem over the five-bar gate. However, Dave had other ideas. He raised the tandem onto its back wheel and demonstrated a tremendous pirouette style.

All back together again we proceeded along Old Hope only stopping to introduce the legendary Dave Heath to Mrs Steve Hu.

 The group swooped down Lower Mountain road crossing Kinnerton road and bowling into Golly. I have always thought what a nice place to live. We then started to experience the first of a number of muddy lanes of the day. Soon we were approaching Rossett and crossing the railway line.

The climb up Chester Road towards Marford sorted out the strong riders. In fact, not content with achieving a KOM, Andy B vaulted the fence by the side of the road only to go scrumping for apples. A team event resulted in a healthy haul of apples all carefully stored in Dave P’s panniers, as if his panniers were not heavy enough already.

Some lovely lanes ensued until we approached Holt road. Similar quiet scenic lanes herald the route towards Bangor on Dee. A quick photo opportunity allowed the curating of the ride to be handed over from Electronic Alan to Paper Garmin Dave H for the last 2 miles to Overton.

Photo: SHu

The sight of the “breakfast” on the menu at the 2 Doves must have been appealing as 7 out of 8 opted for this choice.

Fuelled by bangers and beans we re-traced our route back to Bangor on Dee where the baton was handed back to Alan who became ride leader again. The route along Creamery Road is a lovely series of roads knitted together. So much so ride leader Alan Andy B and George decided they would carry on to Talwrn. Fortunately wing man Steve (Goose) H was reading the map and the team successfully made their way to Holt.

 As we approached Cleopatra’s, Dave H experienced a serious case of wheel wobble as the pull of fresh coffee was strong. However, digging deep Dave moved to the front as we progressed to Lavister. Prior to Lavister, Dave & Liz diverted off to Rossett for a coffee and the remaining group carried on to Pulford.

The pull of caffeine was so strong for Dave H and at one point he was a good five minutes ahead of the group, with Andy B leading the charge to chase him down. The nice flat lanes of Pulford and Dodleston fell away to reveal the climb up to Penymydd.

Reduced by a further two riders as Dave H and Andy B succumbed to caffeine, George, Alan and Steve watched Ray demonstrate the superior performance of his E bike, despatching us easily on the climb. However, always a gent, he waited for us at the top. The group now meandered past Rough Piece Wood before plunging down Tinkersdale to complete the ride.

A fantastic 46 miles in brilliant October sunshine with great company. Thanks for planning the route Al.

Shu

 See route map and/or gpx file download

Friday 14 October 2022

13th October 2022 : Sandbach (brisk)

Today’s club ride from Hawarden was not favourable for some of the brisk riders who were out on their bikes today due to upcoming cycle events and preferred not to ride Welsh hills today and 4000 metres again on Saturday plus 200k distance So, an alternative ride was proposed and John W, Nick and I met up at the ICF for a 60+ flat ride to my hometown of Sandbach.

Weather forecast for today was a good dry day and leaving Tattenhall it was chilly but promising. Departing from Bunbury the conditions changed, and we were riding in thick mist/fog conditions until arriving at Bradfield Green on the outskirts of Crewe. Our journey from here to Sandbach was the usual roads via Warmingham and Elworth and into Sandbach along Middlewhich Rd. 

Thursday was a very busy day in the town once upon a time holding one of the biggest town markets in the north, but now it consists of just a few stalls spread out along the high street that we passed by our lunch stop at The George – another hot Wetherspoons.

Our lunch finished were back out into the sunshine and heading along Crewe Rd towards Wheelock. The roads are pleasantly dry and reasonably clean and the rural lanes we took from Wheelock to Maw Green were excellent. I had no mudguards on my bike as on leaving home before reaching the end of my road I had a flat, so returned home and switched bikes rather than tube changing. My back was still clean as evidence of good riding conditions, and long may this last but I don’t expect too many of these days until next spring.

Through Crewe and riding the cycle way to Nantwich and heading to Acton turning by the Church and on to Burland and Long Lane into Banbury. We continue to Tattenhall where Nick leaves us and John and I ride out via Gatesheath crossing the A41 to Bruera and Saighton and Waverton.

We’ve ridden an enjoyable 67/75 miles from home with good humour and no incidents. The foggy conditions is a reminder to make sure we now ride with lights as you just never know what greets us on our rides. Mudguard’s may also be of use!!!

See route map and/or gpx file download

ID

Sunday 9 October 2022

6th October 2022: Bunbury (mod ride 2)

Delamere station cafe was the venue for today’s ride, which saw approximately 9 of us in total + a newcomer. We all arrived in different states of dampness, for those who rode that is, due to the unexpected shower. I didn’t catch the name of the newcomer, but I believe he joined Steve Ha’s group.

We split into 3 groups, fast and 2 moderate groups. This was primarily because Steve Ha’s route was directly east, which would mean too many miles for me, having ridden in from the west and I also didn’t fancy the expected tough headwinds they would encounter on the way back. More about that later. I therefore decided I would follow an all time favourite of mine, south westerly via the Whitegate Way (WW) which would provide a nice tail wind coming back- Lol. This appealed to Steve Hu & Allan, which meant I wasn’t doing a ‘Billy no Mates’ ride; oh to have friends- Lol.

We set off heading for Bickerton Poacher / Tilly’s cafe (decision to be made on route) by which time the light showers had stopped. In fact, I think we set off in sunshine- Lol (opposite to the forecasts). As expected the WW was perfectly rideable, despite yesterday’s heavy rains, in fact it was dry, bar the odd little patch & even then it wasn’t sloppy puddles & mud. Allan hadn’t ridden this route before, but Steve had, which provided him plenty of opportunity to regale about the last time we rode a similar route, although it was more of a character assassination of my leadership- Lol.

All I did was put him on the wrong road back to Delamere cafe, the last time he rode this route with me, you’d think I made him walk back, the way he was carrying on- Lol.

To be fair to me- Lol. Ray, who was on that ride, said he knew where he was going when I left them. So I thought no more of it, as they set off down the wrong road- Lol.

I got 2 miles down the road on that day and suddenly realised what I had done, but it was too late to go back- Oops!

Anyway, back to today & a faint shower again as we were about to turn off the WW, after 5 miles-ish. This provided the opportunity to enlighten Allan as to the Station House cafe, which used to be the old railway Station of course. The only cafe I have ever been to where the toilets are 150mtrs down the road- Lol. This cafe is a charity run affair, so I am told, which means you need to check whether its open in winter, if planning to stop there. This also provided Steve the excuse to stop in order to don his waterproof. No sooner had he done so when the drizzle stopped- Lol.

Now on the main drag, heading for Little Budworth, we pick up our pace a little and before we knew it we were passing Oulton Park race track, although there was none of the usual track noise. I can’t remember riding past without hearing the gorgeous howl of some kind of race or track day. I used to visit that track in my young RAF days, now I ride past it almost every other week - Lol.

Onward and upward we are now heading towards Bunbury via Tilstone Fearnell, along another favourite stretch of lanes (because of their fab condition & open vista’s across the Cheshire plains). Unfortunately, the open lanes meant I was copping the full force of the headwind, not that Steve knew (I swear I could smell burnt rubber from his tyre rubbing on my rear tyre, he was that close. And gloating about it-Lol)

We stop for the obligatory team photo at my favourite lock (enclosed, along with few other pics on route) After a couple of little hills and up to the Dysart Arms, we flick down past the church into another favourite little lane, which drops us into the back of Bunbury, after passing the mere, which on a good day you can spot large gold fish.

Suddenly, to Allan’s surprise, we are at Tilly’s. Steve was already salivating over the prospect of ‘Eggs Royal’, which is the best in Cheshire in my opinion (all because of a dash of vinegar in the Hollandaise sauce apparently - Lol). “Sorry but the breakfast menu finished at 12!” (now 12:15) was the response to our request. This lead Steve & I to plead for understanding, Steve, with his best ‘pussy cat’ face & quivering bottom lip-Lol. “We have ridden 20 miles + for this particular special & our friend would also like to try it”. Our plea had the desired effect, after checking with the powers that be, however, Allan suddenly changed his mind, once he realised there was smoked salmon involved (I mean, who doesn’t know that eggs royal has smoked salmon in it, except maybe DH- Lol). After a pleading apology, we get our order & in double quick time as well. Not surprisingly conversation revolved around the current cost of living crisis, in particular, where is the cheapest car juice & how to service heating/ water systems- Lol. Once we had decided that cake would be too much, we set off again, in sunshine! 

I decide to head for Peckforton, because somebody told me last week that the road past the castle had been resurfaced and I wanted to confirm that. Plus it would be a good opportunity for another team photo. This is a lane that I normally avoid in winter, due to its condition. However, the report was correct. They have not only patched it, but resurfaced large sections of said lane, although not the section between the Bickerton Poacher and Peckforton Hall Lane, as I found out 2 days later, when I rode it.

Back to the story; After stopping for another team pick at both Peckforton and Beeston castle entrances, I lead the guys down hill to my absolute favourite little stretch, over the hump back bridge at the Shady Oak pub (the lane there is in stunning condition & fast, just love thrashing down there and getting a glimpse of the canal. This leads us in to Brassy Green and up to Tarporley, which we by pass and head toward Eaton, skirting the back of McDonald Portal golf club. It must have been at least half a mile+ beyond the golf club when I realised what amazing powers of observation Steve has, when he commented “ isn’t there a golf club around here”- Lol)

It was also around this time that Allan queried where I was going to leave them, as he was thinking about which way he should head home.  I pointed out that he had already missed his best, direct opportunity, at which point he decided he would head back to Delamere cafe. That way Steve couldn’t get lost again, the poor lad. I therefore decided to go a little further and drop them both at the now infamous Cotebrooke junction- Lol. This would allow me to correct the easy mistake I made last time, which of course set Steve off again, once we got there- Lol.

After pointing out that the little conservatory cafe had gone at Cotebrooke junction, I leave the guys, but not before a last tirade from Steve- Lol) I head straight over and up the hill for my 10 miles home, directly into wind, although not as bad as expected- Lol.

I got home, with 53 miles on the clock. As for Steve he got back to Delamere with 35 miles completed, which was 5 miles less than intended. This was because we didn’t stop at the Bickerton Poacher, choosing the shorter route of Tilly’s. Allan had the biggest ride of us all, having ridden in from Timbuktu or somewhere like that, which meant he must have managed a Grand Fondo at least (nice one)

Thanks to my companions, which made the ride a cracker to be fair, with only a light shower and a few winds.



Photos by CER

NT


Thursday 6 October 2022

6th October 2022: Lach Dennis (mod ride 1)

As we each arrived at Delamere Station Café, the common opening words were “it didn’t forecast rain”. A thin mist had intensified as we each made our way to the café. Still, there were many members attending including Ray, a new rider who brings our complement of electric bike riders up to three. Clive, Ken, Neil, Alan, Steve Hu, David M, George, Andy B, Steve T, Trevor and myself were the other riders present, and they formed three rides: two mods and a brisk, with David M doing his own thing.

I had in mind a familiar route, but with new destinations for lunch and a café stop. The rain had stopped when we set out along the painfully rutted road to Hatchmere, before turning right to Norley, then Onston Lane to Acton Bridge. Passing through Little Leigh we arrived in Comberbach and skirted Great Budworth to the north before entering Pickmere and then Wincham.  We lost Andy at the traffic lights crossing the A556, but he caught up as we passed through Plumley. One option for lunch was Plumley Garden Centre Café, but we decided to pass on, and entering Swan Green we pulled into The Crown’s car park. This had looked a good option on the web, though when I’d called the night before all I got was an answerphone. Now it became clear why – a notice on the door said “closed until 12th Oct at 4pm” – a remarkably precise time.  

I had foreseen this possibility and had two alternatives: either ride back the ¾ mile to Plumley’s Garden Centre or continue to the Cheshire Grill in Lach Dennis. Reversing part of a route is never welcome, so we decided to travel another 3 miles to Lach Dennis, and I think CER’s first ever visit to this pub. The car park was welcomingly busy compared to The Crown and we trooped in.  It looked rather smart for a CER venue and it took a while for us to be welcomed, which raised some doubts. However, our orders were taken efficiently and soon our food and drinks arrived. The main courses from the lunch menu were all priced at £8.95, and we sampled variously fish and steak sandwiches, and sausages and mash.  For some reason the lunchtime conversation was largely about the Welsh language and its Celtic cousins, which gave George, long-time resident of the Principality, an opportunity to demonstrate his total ignorance of the tongue. As we left everyone seemed very pleased with the quality and quantity of food, so we may well visit again.

At the Cheshire Grill

The route onward was pretty familiar, taking the road to Davenham, and then Moulton, before decending the rough track to cross the Weaver Navigation and on to Whitegate.  Taking Cinder Hill out of Whitegate is one of my least favourite climbs, but this was soon over as we headed towards Oulton Park and then Cotebrook. Here we said goodbye to Trevor and headed north to meet the A54.  Now it was time for a slight diversion and we followed the A54 westwards until we reached Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre. We were there to sample their Urchin’s Kitchen café, not so much for the food as to see the equestrian facilities. Incidentally it’s called the Urchin’s Kitchen after a geological formation in nearby Primrose Hill Woods. Steve T and George had been walking in this area some years ago, but the equestrian centre has since grown massively.  From the café you can look down on the indoor arena and the outdoor show jumping arena, there are also miles of cross-country routes including jumps. Events are scheduled for most days, and the café gives you a free view of what’s going on.


The indoor and outdoor arenas from the cafe 

Leaving Kelsall Hill, Andy headed into Kelsall and then home, while the rest of us avoided the main road by taking Stoney Lane northwards.  We didn’t however avoid the traffic because this lane passes Delamere CoE Primary School and it was school closing time. Negotiating double parked 4x4s on narrow lanes took some time, but eventually we passed over Eddisbury Hill with views over the Cheshire Plain and a sun-struck Jodrell Bank, before joining Station Road and ending up back at our start. Our route covered 40 miles, though the gpx file shows more due to some random oscillations while we were lunching. We did have more rain and at times a blustery wind, but not so as to spoil a very good ride.

See routemap and/or gpx file download 

SHa (photos by SHa)


Saturday 1 October 2022

29th September 2022: Queen's Head (mod)

It was bright, dry but chilly, due to the north wind, when we gathered at The Castle Bistro in Chirk. The ‘mod’ riders were Steves Hu and T, Andy B, Alan and Dave H. Today’s destination was to be The Queens Head pub at Queens Head, a ride lead a year ago almost to the day by Steve Ha.

We set off along the usual route down Chirk Road towards the A5, but, at The Poacher, we turned right into Oaklands Road heading for Weston Rhyn and the southerly lane which runs past the Old Hill Fort and into Oswestry.  This was to avoid the rough lanes through Hindford which would probably also be muddy after the rain earlier in the week. A little way along the lane the farmer had been cutting the hawthorn hedge so we took the precaution of carrying the bikes a few hundred yards along the lane until we judged it safe to get back on.

We navigated successfully through the housing estates surrounding Oswestry and eventually found Middleton Road which led us out to Ashton Gates, where we crossed the A5. From there we passed through Maesbury and Knockin,  where one of the radio telescopes that make up the Jodrell Bank MERLIN (Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network) radio telescope array is located.

Photo Shu

We turned east as we passed through Kinnerly and crossed the A5 again before heading north for West Felton and Queens Head, where we arrived just before 1pm with 23 miles covered.

An excellent lunch of paninis, wraps or baked potatoes with drinks of tea or squash was consumed to fortify us for the return leg. We were all geared up to go when I saw that my rear tyre was flat. Had I picked up a thorn near the Hill Fort and it had taken all this time to go through the tyre? Whatever the case, the team set to and quickly found the thorn, removed it and replaced the tube. Unlike last week, inflation was almost instantaneous, thanks to Alan’s gas cylinder.


Picture A.O.

 Note Andy’s proactive stance as I wrestle the tyre back on the rim!

 Leaving the pub along the road alongside the Montgomery canal, the clouds that had threatened to bring rain before lunchtime had cleared and the day was now sunny and warm. Near Rednal we had our first brush with one of the huge tractor/trailer combinations which zoom around the Shropshire countryside. The straight road seems to encourage them to run at full throttle, regardless of who els is in the road.

Having crossed the canal, we were soon in Welsh Frankton where, once again, we diverted from our usual route to avoid the dreaded roads at Hindford. A route along little lanes through Perthy and New Marton would take us to St Martins. But before we got there, at a point where the lane was very narrow, muddy and steep, along came an enormous green tractor and trailer which filled the whole road. Steve Hu, Alan and I took refuge in a gateway along with a lady with Jack Russell terrier to let the tractor go by. It met Dave H and Andy a bit further down causing them to dismount and the hill was so steep and muddy that Dave had to walk his bike up it.

We were soon in St Martins and heading for the roundabout at the A5. Alan, Andy and I crossed first. Dave and Steve Hu decided to take the direct route along Chirk Road back to Chirk, whilst Alan, Andy and I stuck to Steve Ha’s original route back which went through Weston Rhyn and down to the Ceiriog valley before climbing up to café in Chirk.

In all 38 miles covered along a mixture of country lanes, suburban roads and crossing the A5 three times. Thanks to all to their company and support, especially with the puncture!

ST

See routemap and/or gpx file download