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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 29 December 2023

28th December 2023: Tilston (mod)

The venue on yet another windy Thursday was changed last minute from a shut Walk Mill to Meadow Lea. Fortunately, it appeared that everyone who intended to be out had got the message. Despite the high winds, likelihood of mid-morning heavy rain, and it still being the Christmas holiday period, several members had made the effort. Steve Tan turned up in his attractive six-cylinder BMW Z3 roadster and kindly bought me a coffee. Following his recent floor routine on ice near Venetian Marina, he was recovering, but far from ride ready. Dave Matthews has been a consistent venue attender through recent weeks of ice, flood and storms, but wouldn’t be out for the day.  Matt was riding having recently returned from cycling challenges abroad. Also riding were Clive, Big Ray, Alan and myself. It was also great to see Roy being able to make it.

There wasn’t a properly thought-out route available, but I fancied that Malpas via Tattenhall would work, with the familiarity of a large section of the ride being the same as I had covered with George last week. George wouldn’t be bored by the repetition as he was away in Skipton. We headed for Hargreave via Waverton and Greenlooms. Dave Matthews accompanied us before pealing off for home as planned. We were suffering heavy rain and fierce winds, when Roy was unfortunate to suffer a puncture. He insisted that we carry on without him and that he would catch us up later or phone his wife to drive out and pick him up. He already had his wheel out, and as it was a front wheel, and we were not in the Welsh mountains, I could see that having four people standing around getting wetter and colder was not strictly necessary.  Nevertheless, I for one think we should have stayed. Roy has gone the extra mile to help in poor weather in the past. I apologised to him later, and  I won’t leave anyone again, unless going for help, or to return with the Berlingo. Come to think of it, like Roy, I insisted on people carrying on when my wheel rim exploded some weeks ago, but I was able to spend three hours reading The Times and eating biscuits in a couple’s sunny conservatory. Not quite the same! 

My newish OS map had almost dissolved in the rain, so I was grateful for Clive’s knowledge of the lanes meaning that I didn’t have to fiddle about checking the way forward to Tattenhall. Last week Brown Knowl and Duckington had been my route to Tilston, and on to Malpas via a circuitous route through Threapwood. I felt that even heading straight to Malpas from Tilston on this route would involve climbing and be slower. However, just like last week the direct route to the A41 was closed, presumably flooded, so Clive led us to Milton Green, Handley, Coddington and Barton in a reverse copy of the return route with George last week. This alternative cannot be recommended in normal circumstances, because the A41 stretch does feel authentically dangerous on a bicycle. Still, it is an attractive and quiet little link otherwise. 

Malpas was no longer first choice for lunch. I know that Alan was feeling the wet and cold like myself. Ray was still trying to convert me to the attractions of cruises. I must admit that this aroused images of a hot Caribbean holiday for a few minutes, which diverted my attention from my wet discomfort. Mind you Ray probably had cold Denmark in mind, with Wakefield’s own pub singer Jane McDonald as the wailing, on board entertainment! Thankfully, the rain eventually stopped for the day. The Lost Barn’s coffee aromas were enticing, but the place was amazingly busy, so we finished up at The Carden Arms. Our gloves were temporarily warmed, but not dried, on the hearth of the open fire. Calls were made to check up on Roy. He had fixed his puncture, rode to his van at Mickle Trafford and driven home. I look forward to him having much better days with us in future. The staff at the Carden Arms  were great and the food fine.  I got a little mixed up over where Matt had conducted his recent cycle tour, being at the opposite end of the table. It is amazing how he has pushed on his progress from serious injury. You will have to ask him yourself about the details of his solo winter adventure. Clive had to take off smartly for a haircut in Chester.

Photo by Alan O

We returned on a quick and direct route, which was mainly wind assisted. Alan and Matt departed at Farndon, and Ray and myself rode on to Churton, Waverton and Christleton. We took the Vicars Cross route with Ray operating the pedestrian lights, whilst I was directing a car heading toward me that was in the wrong turning lane. The right turn lanes here are unusually juxtaposed, and need amending. I wonder if Jim has a council number that works? We were soon passing Ivan’s house. Thankfully, he was not falling out of a tree wrestling with Christmas lights this year. Ray and I were glad to get back to Meadow Lea. I just had time to race back to get Harry the dog out before it got dark. Coffee and cake had to wait!  Many thanks to my comrades on the day for making the effort to make a go of it when once again the weather was not enticing, and Station Lane flooded by the time we returned.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Tuesday 26 December 2023

21st December 2023: Malpas (mod)

As I pulled up the slip road to join the M56, I was intent on avoiding being on the inside of any spray spouting juggernaut. The forecast ferocious crosswind was full-on, and the rain torrential on the high level bridge. The windage forces on a curtain-sided artic trailer in these conditions could result in it overturning. What was I doing driving in this “do not go out unless you really have to” weather?  I was driving to Tattenhall to go cycling with friends!  This choice felt like a gross misjudgement as powerful wind gusts hit the Berlingo, but I had committed by email to turning up, so stage one was surviving the journey to Alison’s. I felt a little more relaxed weaving slowly through Christleton village, as it was more sheltered and bone dry.  

I arrived early at Alison’s, leaving my bike in the back of the car, as it was probable that if anyone had turned up at all they would not be riding. Riding on your own is an added risk, if say, a tree lands on your head on a little back lane, and you can’t reach your phone. I don’t think Lynne would be able to find me in rural backwater twenty miles from home. At least, she would probably want to complete her Christmas shop at M&S Food first. Clive, Ken and Ivan were already ensconced at an inside table. Clive had driven Ivan over and had hoped to collect Steve Haywood to meet the club riders. Ivan was recovering well with his new knee, but Steve’s back operation was recent, so he had to decline. George then turned up and joined us, shortly followed by Dave Matthews in civvies. 

After a very pleasant and sociable forty minutes came the moment of truth: who was able and willing to have a ride? George and I decided to give it a go. We climbed up to Bosworth Castle, and then down and up to Broxton Old Hall. At Duckington we headed south west to Tilston and Shocklach. We agreed, that with the high winds and it being nearly the shortest day of the year, we would embroider a few miles around Threapwood and Oldcastle Heath, rather than stretch to Overton. George had coped well without the use of his inside chainwheel, but it was a reminder that it was possible for things to go wrong, and we would have to battle some headwinds later. We called in at my favourite garage, Birchdown Autos in Peacock Farmyard to wish Steve a happy Christmas, before heading for the Old Fire Station in Malpas. The café, was full, but on the suggestion of a nice young woman working there, we finished up at The Little Deli in Church Street. It had been ages since I had been, but I remember it as a favourite tea stop for Dave and Liz. The staff were friendly, and we were well pleased with lunch. On leaving I checked George’s front changer, but apart from a bit of adjustment of his stop screws, it didn’t seem worth getting into further by the roadside, as we had no hard climbs ahead. 

On our way back we intended to miss the Chowley route into Tattenhall, as in the morning the road passing “The Righi” had been closed. We returned via Tilston, Barton, Coddington, passing Aldersley Green Golf Club (where my dentist tells me, that we could probably get lunch). This route into Handley was a first for both of us. It is an attractive little village, mentioned in the Domesday Book with some thatched houses and a very old church. We braved a short stretch of A41 to Milton Green before crossing into Frog Lane, passing Russia Hall and over yet another stretch of  the disused railway line that we often cross in this area.  The old route runs from the main line west of Hargrave down into Whitchurch. We reached Alison’s just as the staff were locking up. They cheerfully declined my offer to pay for coffees that I had forgotten to pay for in the morning. I will pay the amount owed as a tip next time! George was excellent company as ever. Storm Pia had punched its weight and had provided the occasional “whooah!” moment, but the ride had never felt seriously dangerous. For the best part we had been well sheltered by the hedged narrow lanes, and it had been mild and dry. Thirty something enjoyable miles. 


Friday 15 December 2023

14th December 2023: Christmas lunch ride to Gresford (mod)

There are numerous traditions associated with Christmas. Christmas trees, mince pies, turkey and Santa, of course, to name but a few. To these, CER members can add the Pant-yr-Ochain at Gresford which seems to have become the venue of choice for our annual Christmas lunch ride. We've always been pleased with the food and service there so Dave H booked it again this year but this time he booked the meal for mid-day so that we wouldn't be cycling home in the dark. This meant that there were only 2 possible starting points for a ride out which would get us there in time and since we had ridden from Alison's last year we started from Maggie's in Holt this year. 

The weather forecast was good which resulted in a good turnout for the rides. After the brisk group had departed there were 11 of us left for the moderate ride. I left heading south towards the main road followed by Alan, Andy B, Dave H, David M, Jim, Mike, Neil, Ray, Shane and Steve Hu. Its only 5 miles from Maggie's to the Pant-yr-Ochain so I'd had to devise a route to get there at the right time and not an hour early. In the end I came up with a route including 2 large circles which would get us there at about the right time. So on reaching the main road we turned left then immediately right where we were confronted with a view of the fields completely covered by water. It looked more like the Lake District than the Cheshire countryside. Steve insisted on us stopping for a photo and risked life and limb by standing in the middle of the road to get one.

Photos by Steve Hu

After the photo shoot we turned right into Francis Lane and followed it until we reached the new dual-carriageway which carries traffic to the industrial estate. We wanted the road straight across but had to follow the cycle path down to the roundabout and back up the other side. A circular tour of Clays Golf Centre brought us to another roundabout which we crossed to get to Borras Hall Lane. At the top of this lane we turned right and right again, heading towards Commonwood, and in the direction of Holt. Before we completed the circle we turned left up towards Rossett, left through Hoseley and left again into Hoseley Lane. Before completing the second circle we turned right again. Some carried on here while some of us waited for a few of the others to catch up and and it was nice to see Peter. He had ridden out to wish us a Happy Christmas but had missed us at Holt. We carried on along Vicarage Lane towards Gresford and turned into the Old Wrexham Road for the final mile to the Pant-yr-Ochain, arriving with only 12 miles done and with 10 minutes to spare.

As we enjoyed our lunch we were reminded of why we keep going back to the Pant-yr-Ochain. Great food, great service and great company.

No messing about on the way back. We took the short route back retracing our route along Old Wrexham Road, Vicarage Lane then down through Commonwood back to Holt. At 17 miles its the shortest CER ride that I've ever done But then today was more about the lunch than the ride and we certainly enjoyed that.

Many thanks to Dave H for organising the lunch and for all the work he does for the club throughout the year. Happy Christmas to him and all our readers. 

See route map and/or gpx file download


14th December 2023 : Christmas Lunch ride to Gresford (brisk)

So popular is the CER Christmas celebration that Maggie’s at 10 am was bursting at the seams with virtually the full CER membership in attendance. The Christmas lunch is once again being hosted by the Pant-y-Ochain in Gresford, our venue of choice for a number of years and a real favourite with us all.The weather today was overcast and warm, a total contrast to last years event which was held on a very cold and icy day. 

Trevor led the mods on a loop heading south while I took the brisk group on a loop in the opposite direction to the north. I had five for company Ray S, Nick, John M, Clive plus Richard -who was out only for the ride as his planned golfing jolly had been cancelled. Ivan, one of the main pillars of the brisk group, is recovering well from his knee surgery but unfortunately not yet fit enough to attend. We will look forward to seeing him out on the bike in the new year.

The short route today is along roads that we are all very familiar with, visiting the villages of Dodleston, Kinnerton and Llay. I had posted the route earlier in the week but this was not the route we took. I decided that some extra resistance training (hills) to help sharpen our appetite’s would be beneficial and this detour was made easier by Clive’s request to visit Alf Jones’s bike shop. 

After leaving Holt, we headed out to Rossett and turned off  into Gamford Lane to join Wrexham Road at Lavister. After a few hundred metres we turned off onto  the muddy road that goes through Dodleston to Lower and then into Higher Kinnerton. At the junction of Sandy Lane, we began the detour going up Sandy Lane to Shordley where we  turned left gently descending the very wet roads to Llay at the junction with the Crown Inn. Skirting around Llay we crossed over the dual carriageway and up the very steep short climb to Gresford's 15th century Church -its  bells are classified as one of Wales Seven Wonders. (The bells are  also included in a rhyme dating back to the 18th century. See here for more information.)

We turned into Pant Lane which brought us to Alf Jones shop where Clive completed his purchase and Nick received help from the workshop to free off the seized bolts in his brake callipers. Great service from our local bike shop. Following which we continued to the ‘Pant’ with only 18 miles ridden.

The ‘Pant’ with Dave H’s help were very well organised and quickly had our group of 19 seated, fed, and watered. Plenty of noisy banter, accompanied by good food, provided a great atmosphere. A perfect way to start the Christmas celebrations.

After lunch we set off down Marford Hill where soon I turned off for home and John, Ray and Clive motor towards Chester homeward bound for a 35 + mile round trip

Dave, thanks for steering the the club so brilliantly through 2023 your hard work is really appreciated by  all members.

Happy Christmas everybody, and I'm looking forward to burning off the Christmas calories!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Friday 8 December 2023

7th December 2023: Mickle Trafford (mod)

Despite a rather discouraging forecast, several CER members arrived at the re-arranged venue, some earlier than others, it has to be said.

Our plan was relatively straightforward - shortish morning ride and back hopefully before the rain.

4 moderates set off, Ray B, Dave H, George and myself, a bit later than planned, following the lanes up through Burton village, across the A540 Parkgate road and straight on to Willaston. Onto a rather grotty Wirral Way, but only for a short distance to the missing link and Capenhurst. The weather was breezy but not as bad as we had expected, and dryish for the most part.

We continued across the A5117, down the gated track alongside the railway and across the A41 to Backford. The lane down to the canal was a disgrace as usual - let's hope some of the £1,262,000 in extra funding that CWAC have received  from the cancelled HS2 finds its way onto some of our lanes !!

We were aiming for a lunch stop at Meadow Lea, and after a slight diversion to view the Mickle Trafford Alps, we settled down in the warmth. Naturally, a few minutes later it started to rain steadily, not good for those going back along the Greenway to Ness, but ok for Dave and myself as we only had about half a mile to do up to chateau Jim!

After a pleasant lunch, the rain was still coming down persistently, so George and Ray set off while Dave polished off a tribal size mince pie.

All in all, I was glad that we’d made the effort, and managed about 30 ish miles

Jim Dale 

7th December 2023: Ness (mod +)

On a day when torrential rain was forecast from 2pm onwards the turnout at Ness Gardens was most encouraging. Steve Hu, Alan and George had ridden over from Deeside. Ray S had ridden in from Chester and Clive & Every Ready Ray had driven in. Clive had a “tooth hurty” appointment with the dentist so was on four wheels today. Dave H was expected, however as the clock ticked past 10:20 it became clear we were secretary less.  On going to the car park, it became clear where our errant secretary was, as he and Jim were just arriving having ridden in from Guilden Sutton. 

With two groups available Ray S, Alan and Steve Hu set off following Ray’s ten year old route of the Wirral. The tail wind on leaving Ness was like a turbo charge, however its force would be less welcome on the return leg!

Ray’s route took us west of Neston and along the pretty front at Parkgate. At this point Ray regaled us on a previous memorable CER Christmas do at the boat house. On this particular day the wind and rain plus an unusually high tide led to the road being flooded and all manner of rodents making a bid for freedom from the rapidly flooding marsh. 

The long drag upto Gayton certainly warmed us up, whilst the air temperature remained a stubborn four degrees C. This section between Gayton and Heswall is certainly a millionaires' row with beautiful houses set in large grounds on both sides. Unfortunately the manner of the car drivers was less genteel as all the big SUV’s seemed to be in a rush to get “somewhere”. 

A quick dodge through Acre Lane saw us on the busy Brimstage Road. Brimstage is often a lunch stop when CER visit the Wirral, however today we were on an “out and back” route with a late lunch at the end. This plan was to try and stay inside the weather window for rain and wind. We nearly succeeded………….

Alan wanted to include the old Lever Bros railway line which runs from the centre of Port Sunlight Village to the cycleway by Riverbank Road and the Mersey. From here we had a quick spin through Eastham village before heading across the Wirral again via Childer Thornton. This route consists of some quiet lanes only occasionally crossing the busy arterial roads that feed the Wirral. 

A brief stop just outside of Burton allowed Alan to show us Hampstons Well. This well dates from 1602 and was originally called Patricks Well, It’s current name stems from a local family who lived in Burton since the sixteenth century. It is displayed that “All able bodied men of Burton were required to help keep the well clean under pain of a fine of six pence” 

Photos by Steve Hu

From here it was a gravity assisted plunge to Netts Cafe for lunch. During finer days it is quite normal to see as many a 15 to 20 cyclists all enjoying the hospitality, today there were just three. 

Ray was returning to Chester via the Greenway so he accompanied Alan & Steve  back to the Millennium Bridge, leaving Alan and Steve to retire to their warm cars. Ray's 48 miles and Alan and Steve’s 38 were a pleasant break in what feels like a week of rain and icy roads. 

Steve Hu.

Friday 1 December 2023

30th November 2023: Wrenbury (mod)

It was a freezing day at Rose Farm. Clive had ridden up and Dave Matthews had driven; neither would be riding with us today.  For the third successive week there would be just three of us in the truly moderate group. Reliable Ray had turned up from Far Wirral on his one-horse open sleigh, Steve Tan was going to have to rein himself in, as myself and icy conditions would ensure a modest overall pace.   

We went a familiar route to Wettenhall, with a clear blue sky and quiet lanes making us feel glad we had taken the risk to ride. Steve had a popping-out problem with his rear mudguard, which it took a couple of stops to finally sort out. Ray was out of sight, up the road trying to stay in the weak warmth of the winter sun whilst waiting. At Venetian Marina I warned that the steeply cambered curves ahead could be particularly hazardous if icy. Unfortunately, Steve tried to steer himself out of the camber, and his bike duly slid from under him. Fortunately, Ray, in the middle of the road, only gave the slightest of touches with his left pedal to Steve’s helmeted head six inches above the tarmac.  We could have had a Dave Heath - Steve Forster incident, with the extra weight of Ray’s electric tank ensuring another visit to A&E. Anyway, Steve’s a tough tyke, and escaped with a sore hip. Not long after, we turned down a little-used lane to Henhull Bridge on the Shropshire Union Canal, rode a few yards on the main road, and rang 18 The Park to ensure that we could be accommodated. Raven’s Lane at the back of Dorfold Hall was pretty as ever, but a precarious choice in the conditions. It was a relief to get back on the main drag to Ravensmoor and on to Wrenbury. We arrived for lunch on time and were soon warm and well-fed. Ray was trying to persuade me, not for the first time, that I would enjoy a cruise. My response was that if I ever requested such a holiday, that I should be taken out of the care home and shot!

Photo by CER

A no-frills return route was required, as a puncture would leave us very cold and too close to dusk for comfort. Despite the low wind speed, it was a cool ride into the breeze. Nevertheless, the sun was still scintillating as we headed for Bunbury via Chorley Bank and Brindley. We made good progress to Beeston Castle, where the predictable mini glacier awaited us on the sunless north side. The road down to the canal and railway wasn’t to be trusted regarding its slipperiness. I think Steve has completed a Cresta Run in the past but was still glad to put this slope behind him without further mishap. From here on, there was the usual climbing back to Tarporley, and then Utkinton.  Steve’s fitness and light weight, and Ray’s electric assistance meant that they were ahead of me at Rose Farm. Steve was shivering badly when I arrived, and was keen to get in the Berlingo, and have the prospect of some heat.  It was the sort of winter’s day where you had to remain vigilant for ice, but overall, it was a very enjoyable ride in brilliant sunshine and good company. Mileage was eighteen out, and the same on the return route. I could have done with another extra top layer to keep warm. Steve needed a Santa costume and a pair of Dave Matthews heated cycling shoes. Ray didn’t require anything extra, because where there is no sense there’s no feeling.                 

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday 27 November 2023

23rd November 2023 : Holt (brisk)

As others have reported, quite few riders gathered at the Pursuit Cafe in Hawarden and, after a convivial discussion, rides were chosen from the various offerings.


Richard and I had elected to ride to Hawarden to test our legs and conditions. I had a niggling calf strain and Richard hadn’t been on his bike for weeks.  The ride out to Hawarden against the strong westerly wind convinced us that maybe a day in the Welsh hills was not for us. So thinking the mod+ ride to Caerwys was a bit brave in the windy conditions, we settled on a loop that would bring us back to Chester along some pretty but low level lanes, as far as possible, avoiding a headwind. 


After waving to Dave M who had just arrived, we headed south and uphill to Bilberry woods then we crossed the bridge over the North Wales Expressway. From here we had a mainly downhill ride along lower mountain road in the direction of Llay. We avoided the steep climb to Gresford by sneaking  off road along Springfield Lane, parallel to the A483. Emerging near the start of Marford Hill we were soon turning down Hoselely Lane and then being turbo assisted by the wind along Borras to what was, until recently, “Cleopatras”.  We arrived to find a new establishment has emerged from the ashes in the form of ”Satriale’s” which we were told had opened for business a couple of days earlier.  

Re-born Cleopatra's 

Our plan had been to stop for refreshments at “Alisons” in Tattenhall but instead took the opportunity to give the new place a whirl.  It's had a complete refresh decoratively and the staff tried very hard to make us welcome. As we were leaving we met Dave M (photo) who it turned out had earlier parked his car at Holt and ridden a circular route in the opposite direction to ours!


Richard and I rode a further 20 miles back to Chester or so on along familiar lanes taking in the likes of  Tattenhall, Weitreins Lane, Cardon and Waverton experiencing a strengthening head wind and cloudier skies. Our total mileage out and back from Chester was 47 miles. We succeeded in our objective to avoid the worst of the wind although felt a bit guilty that didn’t join our braver comrades for their hilly Welsh sortie. However having now read the report of that ride I think we may have made the right decision! 


Friday 24 November 2023

23rd November 2023: Mickle Trafford ('Lone Ranger' - mod)

There I was patiently waiting for the rest of CER to arrive at Rose Farm, when I began to suspect that everybody had been frightened off today, owing to the strong winds and forecasts of 65kph gusts. However, after a brief message to Steve Hu, I discovered that everybody was at the Pursuit cafe (Hawarden). 

Well! I was flabbergasted, as I couldn’t believe that all 10 had got the venue wrong, it beggars belief- Lol Lol.

Not deterred and still trying to come to terms with how anybody could make such a stupid mistake, I got ready for my Lone Ranger ride. Now resigned to the prospect of a Billy No Mates lunch, I set off on the Mod+ route I originally planned- Lol. My route was very particular, as I had carefully plotted a way around the Westerly winds, as best I could, which meant a hilly start along the Sandstone Ridge, via Quarry Bank & Tirley Lane for starters. As expected, the Sandstone Ridge provided great protection from the wind, which was even better, climbing through and around Helsby. I then head south, slightly downhill to Mouldsworth.

My first leg into the wind was also downhill until I took one of my favourite lanes (Nortons Lane). This lane turned out to be even better than expected, as I was tracking at 45 degrees to the wind with a decent hedgerow for protection, all the way up, until a house got in my way- Lol.

A huge wooden house, on a wide load trailer was basically jammed, in the Lane, trying to turn up an even narrower lane, with half a dozen frustrated motorist on either side. Luckily for me, I could manhandle my bike past the obstacles- Lol. For all I know, they could still be there, as the situation looked impossible.

No sooner past and at the top of the lane, deciding to not go left, south toward the Bluebell at Barrowmead. I opt to experience the full extent of the wind by going straight on at the crossroads and onto the main road to Mickle Trafford. I had changed my mind deciding to stop at Meadow Lea cafe. Wow! That wind was tough- Lol.

I was glad to get sat down at Meadow Lea and promptly tucked into a prawn jacket potato and a lovely conversation with my mates- Lol. Underway again, I was looking forward to the canal road from Waverton, which I knew would be a fast cross tailwind to Huxley and even better to Brassey Green, as the wind was more of a north westerly by now.

After 6 lovely fast miles I turn right down to the Shady Oak, on the canal side (I noticed as I passed, it is now just ‘Shady’, since the new occupants took over). I decided to head up and around Beeston, in order to take Peckforton Road, which gets great wind protection from a north westerly wind and I was disappointed, despite it being slightly uphill all the way to Bulkely. I had a relatively easy ride across to Harthill and an even easier ride over the top and downhill into Tattenhall.

I got home by 2 pm after 50 miles total. The company and banter today was particularly good, although I did find it hard hearing my fellow cyclists in the wind. At times I wondered if anybody was behind me. Come to think of it, nobody came through to take a turn on the front - surely I wasn’t really on my own  -Lol Lol Lol Lol.



Thursday 23 November 2023

23rd November 2023: Caerwys (mod)

There were three groups in the Pursuit cafe at Hawarden on this a windy but surprisingly dry Thursday in Nov. Dave H, Jim and Trevor had ridden in from Mickle Trafford. Briskers, Ken, Richard & John M were looking at a route back to Chester with Ken wanting to maybe divert through Llay. Lastly and the subjects of this blog were the daft group of mod plus riders who fancied the hills: Shane, Steve T, Alan and Steve Hu. What did Brian Wade say? “We go to Wales for the hills” , well we certainly cycled them today all 3800ft of them. 

This was a hybrid route of Steve Hu out and Alan’s return. The group set off through Hawarden then climbing towards Drury and Buckley. It was at this point the wind started to make its presence felt. A quick plunge through Alltami and we were on the quiet lanes through Soughton. As we left Soughton the quality of the roads deteriorated. A local farmer was digging out a ditch which prior to seeing him we had been riding up what felt like a stream. At the junction of Green Lane and Cefn Eurgain Lane, Steve Hu made a leadership decision to tackle the Col du Green lane in favour of its clean tarmac. This was met with a mix of incredulity and resignation from Alan and Steve T. Shane was blissfully unaware of the calf burning section to come. 

The downhill into Wen y Gaer was memorable as Steve T commented “how often do you have to pedal just to go downhill” such was the wind! As we crested the hill at Moel Y Crio we knew we would have been better ditching the bikes and flying a kite. 

Using Alan’s local knowledge we navigated tractors cutting hedges and were soon safely ensconced at On The Corner Cafe at Caerwys. The service was as usual excellent, marred only by Steve Hu & Shane trying to send the table mats back thinking they were menus, as Neil would say LOL. 

Speaking of Neil Tanner, Neil had promised a route for today, the trouble was his route went from Meadow Lea, where he patiently sat wondering where the CER contingent were. Neil has form for going to the wrong venue, so we shouldn’t be surprised. It was agreed a laminated list of 2024 dates and starting venues zip tied to his handlebars may help. 

Alan's return route was as always well planned and with a tailwind over in a short time. A pernicious thorn in Shanes front tyre and Steve T’s rear mudguard making a bid for freedom were the distractions from an otherwise wind assisted ride. Alan peeled off at Northop leaving the three musketeers to roll into Hawarden. Thanks to Alan for the route a very challenging 43 miles with plenty of climbing thrown in. 

Photo by Steve Hu

See route map and/or gpx file download

Steve Hu  

Friday 17 November 2023

16th November 2023 : Wrenbury (briskish)

A low turnout at Delamere of 5 riders meant that John M, Alan, Steve Hu, Electric Ray and I would ride as one group. Dave M also came to the cafe but only for a coffee and a chat before heading home to lavish some TLC on one of his fleet of vehicles.

Prior to arriving at Delamere, I had given some thought to a route given that the storms of Babet and Ciaran had played havoc making the road conditions more hazardous than usual. The route of 42 miles was nothing exciting but one ridden many times from Delamere to Wrenbury.

On leaving the cafe, we faced roadside construction on Fishpool Road. The Highway Authority have turned this  road into a one way system while  the repairs take place. This meant our options were 3 miles of busy A roads or sneaking through and cycling against the traffic while keeping within the safety of the barrier. Needless to say we did the latter.

Once free of the road works we went down the lanes that pass Oulton Park race circuit and continued through Wettenhall towards Nantwich. We were expecting  standing water and a trail of storm debris but were pleasantly surprised to find the roads dry and clear. The only issues we had were a close pass by an aggressive driver and a few GPS hiccups with my phone but we arrived in Nantwich unscathed. The quiet cycle path through Nantwich that runs alongside the River Weaver, kept us away from most of the traffic enabling us to join Marsh Lane as our exit route out to Ravensmoor.

At Ravensmoor we had an option to extend the route by another 10 miles but time was against us so we kept to plan A and made our way straight to Wrenbury and lunch. “No 18 The Park Cafe” was  very busy  as usual but fortunately we had pre-booked the table and we were quickly served. Since my last visit, in the summer, I noticed a marked increase in the menu prices with most items up by about £1.50; a sign of the times .

Once lunch was over and John had sorted an issue on his radar/rear light unit, apparently it wasn’t talking to his GPS unit, we departed. Our way home involved crossing the Llangollen Canal going through Chorley, Faddiley, Bunbury, Tilston and Eaton. The highlight for me on this route is the  view at Tilston where the road dips down to the canal.

Yours for £4.5 million

We had a short stop for a photo shoot near to Faddiley outside some impressive gates which led to Ash Hall. This beautiful property with stunning grounds is on sale for around £4.5 million! Shortly after joining our outbound route at Cotebrook I left the others as they continued on to Delamere while I turned off up Heaths Lane to Kelsall to my  car. 

Unlike the morning the  roads our return route was littered with storm debris and standing water consequently some serious bike cleaning would be needed once we arrived home.

Todays ride was 42 miles with no rain or wind only the cold to hinder our progress. Thanks to all for their company and help today.

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday 13 November 2023

9th November 2023: Malpas

Carolyne at Walk Mill was every bit as hospitable on the day, as she had sounded on the phone. We were soon comfortably sat with our coffees served efficiently by the friendly staff. There was a good turnout, mostly of those who wanted to cover a decent mileage at a brisk pace.  George, Big Ray and myself opted for a more modest course on a day that was likely to be quite wet.  So it was, that we set out on a more exploratory route, with the idea of a fast, direct route back if the weather turned unpleasant. I’m not really sure of myself in this area without having to stop and check my map occasionally, so I was glad of my friends’ patience, and George’s familiarity with these lanes. We headed east to begin with before turning south for Burton, Hoofield and Huxley. George and I wondered if the 50p. shop was still operating. According to my phone, both the 50p.shop, and The Little Coffee Shop (Wed.-Sunday) were still open. After Huxley we were soon climbing up to Beeston Castle, and working our way across to Bolesworth Castle, and then climbing again to Broxton Old Hall. We then used the small, very quiet lanes around the listed Grade II Edge Hall, which is over three hundred years old. Ray was trying to cast us as Dad’s Army or Last of the Summer Wine characters, but despite the physical difference the only comparison that really caught the imagination was Ray as Private Pike! We criss-crossed the A41 to reach Hampton Heath on little used lanes. If we had taken the more obvious course to Malpas from Brown Knoll, we may have arrived dry for lunch, as it was, we didn’t.  Still, it in the DNA of Chester Easy Riders, to explore, Harry-like at times, and it seems preferable to steaming down a busy, wet main road on someone’s back wheel.

The food was very good at The Old Fire Station, and Ray was his usual effervescent company, but it was raining when we unlocked our bikes. Our route back was as direct as possible, and after climbing up the Roman Road to Kidnal  Hill it was fast to Tilston, but the streaming roads needed concentration. It was consoling to think that we didn’t have the flooded, hilly lanes, say from Loppington to Chirk to overcome, and we would have a relatively short drive home. We reached Tattenhall via Carden, Clutton and Chowley, and then pressed on to Hargrave and Greenlooms, before turning to Walk Mill. The journey back had only taken seventy-five minutes, despite Ray’s troublesome mudguard stay, which he must have fixed with chewing gum in the week. We still had time for coffee and cake; George very kindly treated me. Ray had wanted to get back to catch crabs at Moreton- on- Sea. Before we left, the Likely Lads of Steve Hughes and Alan popped in to say, “Hello”.  They appeared happy with their ride despite the rain and diversions. Walk Mill had worked out fine. Trebles all round then!


Thursday 9 November 2023

9th November 2023 : Sandbach (brisk)

Today’s ride is the first brisk ride from our winter starting venue at Walk Mill on the outskirts of Waverton. About ten of us turned out, with brisk riders being in the majority. Walk Mill was very pleasant with plenty of space for us all in the large conservatory area - so a useful alternative to Chirk for those winter months.

Ken and Dave M were just out for coffee, so that left Steve Hu, Alan, Shane, Ray and myself to join Ivan on his last ride of the year. The weather prediction was mixed with some certainty of a rain shower at some time during the ride. I’d not bothered to wash my bike following a somewhat muddy ride on Tuesday with Nick; it was the correct decision! 

Ivan’s ride was to "The George" in Sandbach, a reliable Wetherspoon’s establishment in the centre of the town. So we set off down familiar lanes to Bunbury and out to Nantwich. Everthing was going well with a brisk pace and everyone keeping together as we should do. We dodge around Shavington and Basford - lanes that Ivan knows very well after living around this general area for many years.

In Weston the first road closure of the day manifests itself, so on the fly Ivan steers us on a bit of a loop and back on track via Engelsea Brook Lane. The White Lion inn appears in Barthomley looking very sorry for itself - it had been a popular lunch venue for us for many years, mainly because of it’s large plates of in-house cooked meat pies. 

At the junction with Radway Green Road it is very clear that we can’t go the planned direction via Radway Green into the outskirts of Alsager due to probable repair work on the railway level crossing. Ivan’s railway experience tells him we won’t be let through, so turning right, Ivan assures us all that if we head down and take the first left then left again, we shall enter Alsager from the south.

Whereas this is certainly true, negotiating the massive and exceptionally busy roundabout under the M6 Junction was not planned at all! We enjoy a mile plus uphill drag along the busy A500 dual carriageway towards Stoke. I’ve driven this route many times and it's a lorry-infested racetrack! We turn left and off the A500 into a peaceful road eventually falling into the back of Alsager.

We are soon back on track but menacing black clouds herald a steady and persistent period of light rain.  We hurry on through Hassall Green and Malkins Bank and  at last into the warm dry arms of the very busy George pub after 37 miles. The diversion along the A500 had cost us about 30 mins, which would have probably meant we would have missed the pre-lunch celestial bike-washing activity!

The pub was heaving with punters but we secure the last two tables and order up off the extensive menu. Pizza and curries were the order of the day. Time to go into the rain again so some of us wander over to the cobbled market square for a photo courtesy of Alan. Ivan was assisting Shane with his front mudguard mis-function and they missed the photo shoot. You can read all about Sandbach here.

They regularly wash the streets in Sandbach!
The rain persists for about an hour or so and then on-and-off all the way back to Walk Mill. The route is very familiar and “Wettenhall" describes us perfectly. Thankfully no further road closures bothered us but there were quite a few closure signs noticed today.

Shane peals off after Duddon as we all end up at Walk Mill again. Alan and Steve head for their car as Ray, Ivan and myself head back to Chester. The only significant event was Ivan’s slow rear-wheel puncture outside of Waverton itself which, after some re-inflation, he thankfully managed to nurse through the few miles home.

Ivan’s advertised route was 53 miles; with a diversion at Weston, and the loop up the A500 pushing it up to 60 miles all round. So quite respectable for mid-November. So thanks to Ivan for the route, Alan for the photos, and all for their company today. I managed just under 80 wet miles so you can guess what today’s job is!

See route map and/or gpx file download


Monday 6 November 2023

2nd November 2023: Nowhere (mod, minus)

Some of you may be wandering if any riders turned up last Thursday, in the light of the dire and stormy forecast. Well,…… I turned up on time after an early morning bike change due to a slow puncture.  It had been tempting not to bother,  because Steve Tan was otherwise engaged, and it was possible that nobody would turn up at Tattenhall.  Anyway, I sat inside at Alison’s with my maps, and started to think that a short circular ride to Malpas may be more prudent than my original plan for lunch at Whitchurch.  My bike was in the back of the Berlingo, and it would stay there if my only choice was a lone ride in dodgy conditions. It then came to my attention that Dave Matthews was sitting in the outside covered area, and he had cycled over from Oscroft on his exotic red vintage steed.  His bicycle is truly desirable, with frame tubes made in Settala, near Milan from Columbus Super-Duper steel and icing sugar from M&S Food. Dave came inside and we talked old git stuff about  car maintenance, bike chain compatibility and the spacing of my freewheel.  Dave, understandably, was intending to ride back home. I was envious that he had made the effort to ride, and a bit miffed with myself in deciding that a solo ride was just not worth it in the circumstances.  There was one bright outcome, I was driving home through Christleton, and decided to call in on one of the best characters I had ever worked with (Clive knows who I’m talking about). I hadn’t seen him for six years, and it was a pleasure to find him in great spirits at the age of ninety!


Thursday 26 October 2023

26th October 2023: Bangor on Dee (mod)

Last time I led a ride from Meadow Lea no less than 18 members turned up. Today there was the same number there and the place was buzzing. I had thought of leading a ride and had started to plan one before leaving but the outward route was coming out in excess of 26 miles. Thinking that would be a bit much, I abandoned the idea and hoped that someone else would have a route. They didn't. I could see Dave studying his map but eventually he gave up and came over to ask me if I had any ideas. It occurred to me that there were possibilities for shortening the route so I volunteered and as a result here I am writing up the report. To be fair Dave did say that he would help to write it up but after his eventful day (you'll have to read on now) I said I would do it all.

Eight riders (Andy B, Andy W, Dave H, David M, George, Jim, Ray and myself) set off towards Guilden Sutton although we knew that Andy W would be leaving us early. In the village we turned right and as we cycled along School Lane Ken passed us on his way home and soon disappeared in the distance. We carried on across the A41 and over into Hoole Lane crossing over the railway and then the canal before reaching the traffic lights at Boughton. As the lights turned green Ken turned up from the left. He had obviously taken the 'scenic route' but he joined us for a short time as we turned down Dee Lane and headed for the river.

As we cycled along the river it was noticeably swollen following the previous week's Storm Babet although the path at the edge was now visible. It hadn't been when I passed there on Tuesday. We crossed the river by the Old Dee Bridge, built in the 14th century to replace the old Roman bridge and still carrying traffic today. We turned left to pass the college at which point Ken cycled off into the distance and Andy W left us too. Seven of us continued at a more leisurely pace passing through Eccleston and turning left onto the Rossett road. This can be quite a busy and fast road so I avoided some of it by turning down the Straight Mile, rejoining it in Pulford. I had intended to turn right when we reached Lavister but a local dog walker told is that the road was flooded. After a bit of quick thinking we took the next left instead. George thought it might be closed but it turned out not to be. We turned right onto the country lanes to take us up to Hoseley Lane, having avoided the long drag up Gresford Hill.

We were now back on my original route and at Borras Head we went straight on and down to the new roundabout near Wrexham Industrial Estate. We crossed this and found our way onto the little lane that skirts round the edge of the estate. At the far side we got onto another new and busy road but quickly found the old road which would take us up to the traffic lights at Cross Lanes.

Lunch was beckoning and from the lights its not far down the A525 to the Royal Oak at Bangor-on-Dee but as we arrived there were only five of us. Jim and Dave were missing. Apparently they had got stuck when the lights changed to red but they knew where we were going and they knew the way. We quickly got sat down, ordered our drinks and got chatting and it wasn't until our drinks arrived that we realised that Jim and Dave still hadn't turned up. Bangor-on-Dee isn't the best place to get a phone signal and it took some time before Andy managed to get hold of Dave. Just as he did so Jim arrived on his own and the story came out. As Dave had braked whilst coming down the hill he had suffered rim failure. His bike wasn't going anywhere and as a consequence neither was Dave. So we had to leave Dave to try to find some way of getting back to Chester while we got on with our lunch. While we ate Andy explained the mechanism of rim failure (something most of us weren't aware of) and before we finished we got the news that Dave had befriended a builder working at a nearby house who had offered to take him and his bike back to Meadow Lea. He just had to wait a few hours until the job was finished!

Photo by Andy B

So just six of us now setting off for the ride back. This was along familiar lanes through Worthenbury and Shocklach to Farndon. We lost David here. As I turned towards Farndon he preferred to carry on up the B road, a stretch of road that I don't like. From Farndon it was up to Aldford and then Bruera. As we approached the hill up to Saighton I heard a van come up behind us. I waved it past but instead of passing it pulled alongside me I heard a familiar voice urging me to pedal harder. It was Dave with his new-found builder friend. It didn't seem right that he would now be getting back before us but it was good to know that he was OK.

It was a short run from Saighton to Waverton and just a few miles more to cross the A51 and head back to Meadow Lea. An eventful ride but everyone home in one piece having done 42 miles, either by bike or bike/van.

See route map and/or gpx file download


26th October 2023: Malpas (mod+)

Well as I descended in the pouring rain through Hawarden I reflected on how many hardy CER riders would believe the forecast that today would improve and venture out. Oh yee of little faith, Meadow Lea usually results in a good turnout, but today was spectacular, unlike the weather. The CER group had taken over five tables and all ordered drinks by the time Alan Andy B and I had arrived. The large group easily allowed two groups to be formed and Steve T proposed a Mod + ride. The group consisted of John M, Ray S, Matt, new member Shane, Alan, Steve’s T & H and Richard. 

This was a Steve Ha ride that Steve T had copied as a backup ride, as such it had elements of a mystery tour starting with exiting the car park , “Is it left or right” questioned Steve. Once underway the route led us through Guilden Sutton and out onto the lanes via School Lane. Everyone had a  recent story of flooding to tell and we trusted Steve Ha’s route by proxy would avoid such bike washes. The route meandered through Littleton & Christleton, from here we took Guy Lane and whilst the roads were dry they all seemed to be going up hill. Spinning through Newton by Tattenhall we proceeded to Bolesworth Rd. 

Photo by Steve Hu

We stopped outside the Bolesworth estate for the customary group photo whilst Alan regaled us with the ownership of the Bolesworth Estate, who being non other than Barbour as in wax cotton jackets fame. History tells us that in 1856 Robert Barbour a Scottish businessman acquired the estate as a home whilst he was active with his textile business in Manchester. It is still a vibrant estate hosting a variety of concerts and a forthcoming Halloween special. 

If you can zoom into the photo you will witness the disparity on tyre cross section between Steve T’s waif like 25mm road tyres and Pirelli sponsored Ray S’s 40mm gravel tyres. I have the utmost admiration for Ray who hustled his gravel bike complete with said hoops for 47 miles at 14.5 mph average speed. At times we thought we were being followed by a tractor such was the rumble of Ray’s tyres. 

A quick jaunt over a few more hills dropped us into Malpas for our lunch. We have visited the Lion before, however today they must have been short staffed as we waited nearly 90 minutes to be served. Replete with pots of tea and soft drinks the delay led to an increase in my stomach juices as we patiently awaited our fare. As the selection of food arrived, heaped sandwiches, extra chips and even vegan Fish & Chips my taste buds were practically dancing in anticipation. 

Then my fishcake arrived, a lovely fishcake in a rich jus. A quick check revealed that was it! No salad vegetables or anything….zip. So 32 miles in, my lunch was a 2” fishcake. Such was the support from the CER group I was soon inundated with extra chips and even the offer of some mushy peas. So in summary the Lion is a lovely venue, just be cautious with the lite bites choices. 

Replete we left the pub in glorious sunshine that Steve T had pre ordered. The promise of “its all down hill from here” plus a tail wind saw us zip through Tilston and into Tattenhall. A quick zip though Waverton took us back towards Guilden Sutton. We were only stopped crossing Tarvin road. At this point we witnessed what must have been a Welsh Yaris driver pulling onto a 50mph road at 20mph (the new standard for Welsh roads) and deciding to hold up a bus. The cacophony of horns was entertaining. 

As we arrived at Meadow we stopped just to thank Steve T for leading such a dry and pleasant route. Thanks also to Steve Ha for the original route. Shane returned to ride virtually back to our lunch spot and the rest of use made our way home. 

See route map and/or gpx file download

Steve Hu

Friday 20 October 2023

19th October 2023: Hawarden (mod +)

Yet again Cleo’s was shut, so Maggie’s was the venue for today & very nice it was too. Maggie’s appears to have new owners, as Mohammed seems to be running the show?

Back to the day. I had a plan that would hopefully avoid the mucky lanes that I have been encountering through out the county of late, with the intention of getting back to Holt by 2:30, due to expected rain, which we achieved- Lol. So, I offered Chocks Away Cafe as a destination for a Mod + ride.  Steve Hu, Alan & non Elec Ray jumped on board & no sooner said, we were off. Everybody got sorted quickly in fact. No doubt all thinking about the big rain threat, due by 3pm. Steve T was leading the other group south approximately 7 of them I think. Dave M was going his own way. He needed to get back, as he had a lot to do at home. He left us, after Holt bridge, as we turned left up toward Aldford, which as I write, is probably flooded now. At least he got 200 mtrs in with us- Lol.

We set off for an unintentional fast start, as I normally head into wind, when I start my routes, but today I thought heading north and jumping on the Greenway would be an advantage and it sure was. This caused a few calls to slow down (at least it was a change from the usual “how far are we from our lunch stop” - Lol). That said, we weren’t really working, as it was virtually downhill, with a tail wind all the way to Meadow Lea (tapping out tempo pace really, honest Gov- Lol) Ok yes, in record time (oops- Lol )

So it was,  that we were on the Greenway in a flash, although not before we had a pit stop for what appeared to be a WI meeting. Our resident chatter box (Steve Hu, for those who don’t know- Lol) was stripping off for his 1st costume change & an early lunch break as well. Not only that, I returned to see what the hold up was and Steve/Alan are in the middle of War & Peace (couldn’t help thinking it gets dark at 7pm- Lol). Eventually, we make good progress on the Greenway, mainly due to Alan then charging along like a steam train (think he was trying to make up for time lost- Lol). 

We arrive at Blacon and head off toward the customary ‘Saltney Ferry crossing’, over the river Dee. It was then that Steve took the oportunity to fill us in on a recent suicide attempt. Going by the police incident vehicles on the other side of the bridge, they were still dragging the river. Apparently somebody witnessed a person, foaming at the mouth and then leap into the river Dee and literally disappeared. Despite the somber nature of the bridge crossing. It reminded us all of where the wind was coming from and hence our swift progress to this point. We turn right again, after passing between the police vehicles (in the lay-by, which they have laid a tarmac surface on now, BTW) 

Again we are with the wind for the final stretch into the cafe at the BAE wing factory. We only took 1hr 15 to do 20 miles, so perhaps the pace was a bit racey- Lol. We got lucky, arriving at the cafe, just before the rush and what a rush. There must have been 2/3 dozen turning up for lunch. It was nice to see a disabled party taking advantage of the cafe, which has a lot to offer groups who perhaps don’t have the same opportunities the likes of me and you have. We were served very quickly, by the chef no less -Lol.

Conversation was varied to the point that I can’t remember most of it, although Ray & I got on to retirement, as we both realised we took it early, we were equally curious as to why. Steve mentioned the Red Arrow connection with the cafe, which I then expanded on, because BAE built the Hawk aircraft that the Red Arrows fly hence, the connection is big despite not actually building the aircraft at Broughton.

Anyway, history lesson over and we are off again, although not before I had to show Ray how to tell the difference between the mens toilet & any other gender- to be fair it is difficult to spot the big shape of a man on the door, any blind person could miss it- Lol. We also had to oblige Steve with his team photo, as he wanted an aeroplane in the background. Those who don’t know Steve well, he likes his aeroplanes, which makes me smile, as I spent 40 years working on them- Lol. He could have picked one with wings on though - Lol. 

Photo by Steve "best photo of the week" Hu

Off we trot again, heading for a nice climb up through Hawarden & beyond. However, no sooner on the only busy stretch of the route, I get a puncture (road to Sandycroft & the worst place to fix a puncture, with trucks thrashing by and no kerb or verge, due to the flooded ditch). Not that my best pal Steve Hu would know. He decided to abandon me and head home, in order to drop off his costume change from earlier. I didn’t need any help mind, but it was nice to get the moral support from the other team!! members - thanks Allan & Ray- Lol.  Tiny spec of glass was the culprit, which was particularly annoying, as I had my first puncture, this year, only last week (2 in a week, when is the 3rd -Lol?)

No sooner on our way, wondering where we might meet Steve, when he comes into view at the top of the climb into Hawarden (turns out he couldn’t make it any further - cream crackered, so he decided to call his wife out to come and pick up his leotard, which he had removed at Meadow Lea -  what a tart, apparently it was too heavy to carry any more-Lol). We fixed the puncture by the way Steve- Lol,Lol.

We quickly set about the assent up to Dobbs Hill, or at least Ray did - Lol. We were avoiding the usual off road short cut track to the bridge crossing over the A55. Once on top & on the other side of the bridge crossing we now set about one of my favourite descents toward Kinnerton. A positively invigorating stretch to be honest, with the intention of picking up a very nice lane that would lead us virtually to the bottom of Marford Hill.

However, not before a minor hiccup, when my ‘wing man’ failed to inform me that we should have turned left, but soon rectified, only for him to lead us into a big flood on Rosemary Lane. My original route would have avoided this flood, but the local! man (wing man Steve) advised that we should avoid Burton, in favour of said lane, due to floods- Lol - Lol- Lol (just don’t make wing men like they used to- Lol)

Hiccup up over and now almost in Rossett we cross the main Chester to Wrexham drag and head up Marford Hill, with cries of “are we heading to the top”, “no" says I, we are heading for Borras, around the back and past the bottom of Pistol Hill, which Steve pointed out and led me to enlighten the group to the occasion when I tested all 3 of the Whyte bike range (at that time and from Alfie Jones). I took each bike on a lap of Pistol Hill, via Marford Hill, which was a fairly tough few laps, hence, my winter bike is the yellow Whyte, you see me on, not that I bought it from AJ’s - wink wink.

I digress again. We are now climbing up toward Borras for our final run into Holt when the rain starts. This causes Alan & Steve to pull over for their rain jackets and another costume change. The ride was now becoming more akin to a Strictly Come Dancing event , with all the costume changes and all the while, I’m standing in the rain waiting for them. I wouldn’t normally mind, but we were only a mile from Cleo’s, where they were both park; I had another 10 miles to go in the rain- Lol. As much as I would like to leave this bit out. I have to admit that my wing man did offer to drive me home- bless him. ( didn’t that spoil the slant of my character assignation - Lol). 

Suffice it to say, I didn’t stop to say cheerio, once in Holt, although the rain had almost stopped. I thought I was running from the rain, as the sky was really dark, so I kicked on. As I ascended Wetreins Lane, I came across Fiona & Elwyn going the other way. I later discovered they had been on a little spin to the Lost Barn cafe. I got home, after no more rain with 54 miles on the clock.

A much better ride than originally expected, as the forecast did not really materialise. So all good, despite the efforts of the pantomime twins, who shall remain nameless- Lol- Lol. Great day out with plenty of laughs- thanks gents- till next time- Lol,Lol, Lol.

PS. Blog done in 2 days- for My Wing man’s benefit- Lol.


19th October 2023: Street Dinas (mod)

The news and weather forecasts had been full of warnings about Storm Babet which would bring heavy rain and high winds, so the eleven CER riders gathered at Maggies in Holt (Cleopatra’s still having not re-opened and looking not likely to do so in the foreseeable future) were all contemplating shortish rides to avoid the worst of the weather. Neil was to lead a ‘mod+’ foursome and Dave M was, as usual, going to do his own thing, so that left Dave H, George, Ever Ready Ray, Andy B, Mike G and Steve T for a ride down to The Greyhound at Street Dinas. Clive had phone Steve T earlier and had said that he might join us if his planned sailing trip was cancelled due to the forecast bad weather.

It was warm and dry as we set off west of the River Dee, heading for Bangor-on-Dee. As we got down the appropriately named Lower Lane, we found several opportunities to splash through mud and wash our bike wheels as the road was flooded in several places. However, we reached Bangor without incident and went on to Overton. From there, we headed towards St. Martins until we reached Shellbrook Hill, where we followed Pant Lane heading for Dudleston.

It turned out the Pant Lane was suitably named, as the local farmer had been cutting the hedges and Andy picked up a rear puncture, which led to a delay while the offending thorn was removed and a new inner tube mounted. Taking care to go slowly past a lone horse and rider, we missed the turn to Dudleston, but quickly found and alternative route which took us back to the B5069.

Soon after we got back on to the road to St. Martins, Clive appeared having cycled from Waverton to join us. So, seven of us arrived at The Greyhound where we were given a warm welcome and shown to the table I’d booked the day before. Drinks and food were ordered and arrived quickly. A discussion about alternative starting points to Chirk for the rides during the winter led to one or two ideas but no firm conclusion.

Soon after leaving the pub, we were hit by a heavy shower as we approached Dudleston Heath. Fortunately, it didn’t last very long and we soon dried out as we headed north eastwards towards Holly Bush. We entered Worthenbury by the back way and then passed through Shocklach, heading for Farndon and Holt. For once, the traditional sprint from Shocklach to the A534 junction didn’t materialise, but DH did put on a short 18 mph spurt as we approached the junction. Extra energy due to his full-sized scampi and chips at lunch time?

We arrived back in Holt in warm sunshine with no sign of high winds or heavy rain. It seems that Storm Babet had not yet reached the north west of England, so our fears of the morning had not been realised, apart from the brief shower mentioned earlier. An enjoyable 35 mile jaunt to one of our favoured lunch stops.


See route map and/or gpx file download

Photo by Mike G

Friday 13 October 2023

12th October 2023: Audlem (mod)

There  was a great turnout at Rose Farm. New rider Shane joined the moderate group consisting of  George, Ray Baird, Mike Gilbert, Andy, Trevor and myself. I had checked out the Bhurtpore the night before, and I doubted that they would be staffed to deal with seven of us effectively. The alternative venue was the same as Steve Hughes and Alan had planned for their group: Cafe Bridge 80 at Overwater Marina near Audlem. We headed down to Cotebrook and alongside Oulton Park to Wettenhall, passing the track to where my wife's car electrics were being sorted by Matt's brother-in -law! It was ideal weather for cycling, and we made good progress toward Reaseheath College, where until recent years we could ride through the college grounds, past the grand old hall and the pretty lake. I was introduced to this route by the late, very popular Mike Morley. About four years ago the college management blocked access on the grounds of  “safeguarding”. 

Our route took us west of Nantwich by way of Acton and the delightful Ravens Lane. At Ravensmoor we continued directly south crossing the A530 and passing the moated Hall o'Coole. Steve Hughes' quicker group were finishing their lunch when we arrived, which was convenient timing. The food was very tasty, and the staff friendly and efficient. This attractive venue on the banks of the Shropshire Union Canal is becoming one of our favourite lunch stops. It was good to have George, Trevor and Mike back on board, and for us to get to know Shane, who fits in very well, and we hope he continues to enjoy riding with us.

Photo by Mike G

Our return route was via Back Coole Lane to Aston, then Wrenbury, and taking the familiar north-west loop to Brindley. I had to give Tilly's a miss, as I needed to get back to collect my wife from Chester and then pick up her car from the aforementioned outback of Wettenhall. I was surprised, however, that nobody else stopped, particularly Andy who so enjoys refuelling, whether on an Audax ride or not! There was a bit of climbing to do before reaching Utkinton, involving Tilstone Bank, and the haul up Sapling Lane and Heath Green out of Eaton. Back at Tilstone House, I had intended to head straight for Tarporley by the back lane at Tilstone Fearnall, after going down the main road for  a short distance. The trouble was that some of  the revolting troops, with Big Ray as the ringleader, had already crossed the A51when I arrived at the junction. To be fair, the alternative was safer, quiet and scenic, if longer with more climbing. 

Overall, it was a very enjoyable ride in good company as usual, at a pace which allowed us to relax, enjoy the scenery and be sociable as befits the Easy Rider's  culture. A slightly surprising nearly 47 miles covered.


Thursday 12 October 2023

12th October 2023 : Audlem Marina (brisk)

What a turnout at Rose Farm Utkington, a minimum of seventeen riders PLUS a new member. Shane joined us this week for a first club ride, welcome Shane. 

The sheer force of numbers suggested two groups ironically with the same lunch stop in mind. Ken was undertaking family duties so the remaining briskers decided to join the mod plus group and up the speed a tad. So in no particular order Ray S, Nick, Clive Alan and the two Steves T & Hu set off for Audlem Marina. I thought this route would work well today as it was a calm day, the return leg of this route can be difficult in our traditional westerlies wind. 

We left the cafe and navigated the bomb-shelled surface of the road before plunging down Utkinton Road. The sharp rise before and then leaving Tarporley never fails to warm up the legs. This being required today as some riders has seen temperatures as low as six degrees Celsius on the bike computers riding in. What a change from eighteen to twenty only two days ago. 

The road conditions were mixed as we proceeded through Eaton towards Wettenhall, the ploughing and general maintenance of the fields and hedges meant care had to be taken with thorns and mud. 

Before long we were wizzing through Nantwich and number of comments were being levelled at Steve Hu as ride leader questioning the use of banned substances and other speed related assistance. At Ravensmoor we create a lower loop as we will cross this road again on our north western return loop.The villages of Wrenbury and Aston whistled under our wheels as Clive, Ray and Nick took turns on the front keeping the pace up to mod +++ standard. 

Proof positive - a happy band.

The marina was, as always, welcoming and we were promptly served a variety of sandwiches and Staffordshire wraps. We had not long ordered our food when the mod group of CER arrived. So the cafe was well and truly full of cycling folk. 

Replete and ready to go we undertook a quick half mile reversal of our route back to Hollingreen Lane and the north western trajectory we would take back to Beeston and beyond. Passing Ravensmoor for the second time today we continued on towards Faddiley and home of the famous Tilley's cafe in Bunbury. From here the road is slightly undulating affording lovely views of Beeston Castle them climbs slightly to skirt the castle. 

Nick departed the group and this point and the remaining five plunged down to the Shropshire Union Canal past the newly renovated Shady (Oak) pub. After Huxley the road follows the canal back into Waverton and lastly to Guilden Sutton. 

At this point Steve T, Clive and Ray S continued home and Alan and Steve rejoiced in the 300 yds at 12 mph to awaiting cars. 

A very spirited ride for the mods and seemingly enjoyed by the fast lads. An average speed of 15.5 mph is non too shabby for this late in the year with 51 miles covered. 

Steve Hu

See route map and/or gpx file download for a circular route 

See route map and/or gpx file download  for the "as ridden" route