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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Saturday 30 September 2023

28th September 2023: Comberbach (mod)

Despite some riders being away, there was a reasonable turnout at Delamere. It was great to see Steve Haywood, and on his bike as well. Steve's recovery is going to take more time and treatment, but it's a welcome start. Evidence of what is possible after a long physical setback was provided by Matt, actually on two wheels not three! Peter had a struggle making it from home, but his effort just to meet us for a coffee was appreciated. Dave Matthews was not feeling great after a Covid jab, but had also cycled out for coffee. John Wilkie, Ken and Ivan were out from the fast lads group, and Ray Stigter was joining the moderate riders. The moderate group for the day constituted the two Rays, Alan, Steve Hughes, Andy Barber, Matt and myself. I had a scenic, circular route to Comberbach in mind. On our way out we passed filming going on in the forest. Did anyone find out what they were actually producing? We cycled through a film set once in Bunbury, and that did actually finish up on our television screens.  We wound our way to Acton Bridge via Norley Hall and Ainsworth. After crossing the River Weaver it was all quiet, little lanes to picturesque Higher Whitley. Shortly after I suffered my first puncture in a long time. Many thanks to the guys for really getting stuck in to help. Some aspects of the teamwork were more reminiscent of Frank Spencer than Christian Horner, but I was genuinely grateful to Alan, Andy and Big 'bull at a gate' Ray. The riding north west of Arley was flat, quiet and easy, but the troops were getting hungry, so we turned,  south via Hollins Lane, Pole Lane and Gibb Hill. We arrived at The Spinner and Bergamot at one o'clock, fifteen minutes early, but the service was prompt as well as friendly. Andy and myself ordered  a little late, as my tyre needed reseating over the valve following my puncture. The food was spot-on.

Photos by Alan O

The choice after lunch was whether to cycle a few more miles exploring the lanes around Budworth, or to just head straight back. Many had more cycling to do after returning to Delamere, and with a possibility of late afternoon rain, it was a unanimous decision to return directly. I was a bit slow on the return for the usual reasons: age, weight and not cycling enough, so I encouraged the group to press on without me. It's always a slog up from the Weaver to Delamere station, but overall it was a very enjoyable day. It was good to discuss dogs with Ray Stigter, talk cars and driving with Steve, float Special Ride possibilities with Andy and insult Ever Ready Ray at every opportunity. Thanks to Alan for the photographs. About 34 miles covered.


Thursday 21 September 2023

21st September 2023 : Overton (mod)

Dave H had emailed us all to say that a Chirk ride was definitely  “on" for Thursday and thus hoping for a crowd to turn up and ride in glorious sunshine (which we did for all but 15 mins). The reality was just five souls, one of which was Dave M who was only out for coffee today. As I had emailed Dave a potential ride, we Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse   (Steve Hu, Alan, Dave H and myself) set off northwards out of Chirk. Just as we set to go the Pike Tandem Duo arrive, but they decided to do their own thing.

I’d put this route together in 10 mins the day beforehand. It featured an unconventional routing to Overton. With 32 miles to lunch and then only 12 or so after lunch, the plan was to ride the hills out before lunch and minimise the very small lanes after lunch.

So we set off bound for Newbridge where the road has been well shut since January 2021. As we roll down towards Dee river bridge, the road now looks like a deep countryside lane with leaves and mud over the once clean surface. Out the other side there is a steep climb up into Cefn Mawr. Out via Acrefair, Delph Road is a pleasant ride up into Pen-y-cae. We saunter through Rhosllanerchrugog, and turning right into Johnson Street, we are surprised by magnificent view across to the Sandstone Trail countryside.

We now take the aptly named Corkscrew Lane off the Wrexham Road to Sontley. Here, we are briefly held up by farm workers shepherding a huge number of sheep by Land Rover down the back lanes. Riding over the inevitable debris, we are on our way to Marchwiel. Up via the King’s Mill estate, we shimmy into the other corkscrew lane, aka Redwither Lane, which winds round the back of the Wrexham Industrail estate arriving via the golf course at the entrance to the industrial estate. 

Shepherding by bike and Land Rover

Time was moving on, so I made an executive decision to cut out 4 miles, hence we rode passed Kelloggs's huge factory (but strangely no cereal-like smell today). El Presidente (Dave M) knows this plant well I believe and then we pass the ginormous blue and white warehouse of the internet business of New World Sports. We are now on the well-worn road to Bangor-on-Dee. After a short sprint along the Wrexham Road, we pass by Bangor taking the little Millbrook Lane. Steve and I wait for some time in vain for Alan and Dave. We surmise they must have gone into Bangor, so knowing that they know the way to Overton, we push on getting to the Two Dove cafe for 1300. 

As ever, the cafe doesn't disappoint, as we four order up off the menu or the specials board. We chat about the potential demise of Chirk as a winter start point, the fuel efficiency of the Yaris Hybrid ( I’d been driving one in Italy for a week and only managed 70 mpg), and the political farce that is the petroleum-powered car and domestic heating boiler cut-off dates.

Up until this point, I hadn’t employed my trade mark "grass up the middle of lanes” routing. This all changed as we turned off the Ellemere road down the deep and dark Red Hall Lane to Rhewl and Pentre-coed. We now cross the Ellemere to St Martins B road where Dave decides he will go straight back to Chirk. So we three dive down more agricultural lanes to Hindford. 

The sky was looking dark and it did rain making these lanes quite muddy with the occasional wheel bath. I hadn’t been down a couple of these before as we circle back to Chirk round the back of the Henle golf club and down to Chicken Run roundabout aka on the A5 roundabout. With a final flourish we take the canal path back into Chirk arriving at about 1515. If we hadn’t sheltered for 5 mins in the downpour, then we would have just seen Dave driving back home.

Chirk was dry! So annoyingly the 10-15 mins of rain was only concentrated on the darkest and now muddiest of lanes at the end of the ride. Were we down-hearted? - No, we weren’t!

We all enjoyed this slightly unconventional route on 95% dry sunny day, only actually riding about 41 of the 44ml route  Once again - where were you all? 


PS: Steve Hu found out via the Daily Post that the police had been carrying out drug raids and arrests in most of the areas that we rode around today!

Friday 15 September 2023

14th September 2023: Tattenhall circular (mod)

Well, where do I start? Everything about the day was a tad strange, not least of which was the unexpected great weather. It should have rained but it didn’t and the wind didn’t blow either. However, what a group of misfits we had today & there were only 7 in total, ranging from the most burdened soles to the most shameless cheats on the planet- Lol Lol. More about that later.

Alison’s was the venue this week and rumour has it that most of the club were either on holiday or a bit under the weather. With no fast boys or Mod+ individuals, it left a single easy rider group of 7. Both Steve T and I had ideas on a route. However, DH needed to get back home to look after the broken elephant or was it a shaggy dog, the many conversations of the day are now a little confusing. There was definitely an elephant in there somewhere- Lol. Anyway, after a brief discussion about the pros and cons of each route and the expected rain at 2pm, my proposal for a shorter than usual, small hills ride, back to Alison's for lunch, seemed more appropriate and it really suited DH. The rest of us could then wing a few more miles after lunch, so everybody is happy. And of course, I had promised a lovely quiet scenic meander, with a few new lanes that I reckoned none of the group had ridden before. This was later confirmed, even DH had not ridden one or two of them.

So it was that DH, Steve T, Ebike Ray, George, Dave P, Andy and I set off on my all time favourite, small hill, local route. A favourite because of the general quality of the lanes, lack of cars and country scenary, not to mention a few small bumps- Lol. We set off left out of Alison’s and up the hill, over the A41, toward Carden Park and Tilston beyond. We were soon passing Old Castle Heath and heading up a slight incline when it became apparent that most of the group were wondering where I was leading them as we had turned left and right numerous times- Lol.

Just as we turned right, for the nth time into The Wychough (strange name for a lane) and a routine regroup, I informed the group that the promised hill, was just 2 miles away, where upon George piped up, thinking he had already climbed the hill- Lol. I assured him the hill (not a climb- Lol) was within his capable years - Lol. 5 minutes later after a quick plunge into Lower Wych, we were soon on Wigland Hall Lane and after a bit of puffing and blowing, ST claimed the KOM honours, as he crested the 1k bump in the terrain, with yours truly close on his tail (drafting- Lol). Ray was first up, but he doesn’t count of course, with his electric advantage - Lol, although that didn’t stop him commenting about his legs, which made ST &  I chuckle.

We were in fact slowly circumventing DH’s favourite Malpas, although not many knew it - Lol. Hope he  appreciated my efforts - Lol. It was about this time that ST mentioned that my table booking for 1 pm was a little ambitious, which led us to both push on without the others, but not before a few more miles around some very quiet lanes. Once through Bradley Lane, we cross the A41 at what is effectively No Man’s Land, but we now had a few miles of yet more favourite lanes. I deviate from my route, slightly and take Grotsworth Lane, as I was aware of a very wet muddy flood on the adjacent lane, only because I got caught in it the day before - Lol. This lane dropped us into the back entrance of Cholmondley Castle; queue, team photo from ST.

Cholmondley Castle - Photo by Steve T

It was at this point that the sneaky tactics of a certain older gent, who shall remain nameless, raised their head - Lol. George! Suggested we should try and make our lunch table on time and encouraged me to push on, the last 8 miles. Little did we know that this was simply a ploy to cheat the route, as I had explained the route now comprised Bickerton Hill,  Brown Knowl and Harthill, before descending into Tattenhall. George’s response was that he knew the way to Alison’s

So it was that I pushed on, unbeknown to me that both ST & Andy had set off, a few seconds later, in pursuit. Before I left I reminded George to ride over Bickerton Hill (my name for my all time favourite small hill) meant a left turn at the Holy Trinity Church, with it’s slightly moody gothic revival architecture. However, George’s carefully hatched plan to mutiny the ride and drag the reputation of all into the toilet had succeeded, as they got to the cafe before we did, despite  both ST & I busting a gut to get there, only to find them already enjoying their coffee. No doubt, the more honourable readers of this blog, can imagine how devastated both ST & I were, after such deceit. ST was inconsolable at the complete lack of shame shown by the rest of the group - Lol Lol Lol.

After a quick look at the menu, ST suddenly realised Andy was missing. Of course, the mutineers, hadn’t noticed, claiming that they thought he had ridden on with us (of course they would - Lol). 10 minutes later, in came Andy. It turns out he had set off, just after ST did, but neither of us knew. I had put my head down and max chat. However, when I looked back after a mile or so, I saw ST 100 mtrs behind. I sat up & waited, but there was no sign of Andy, so we cracked on together, not realising Andy was chasing us. He then missed us turning left at the church, in order to climb Bickerton Hill (Goldford Lane - Lol) He then added a couple of extra miles to the route in trying to catch and find us, unlike the rest of the mutineers, who simply rode straight on over Harthill, thus cutting out said hill and a couple of warm miles. There just isn’t any honour in cycling anymore - Lol Lol.

Once the shameless excuses were over, the lunch conversation continued in a rather frenzied fashion as Andy arrived 10 mins in and DH was into his customary phone call (the usual life baggage getting in the way of his day off - Lol). This did not go amiss with both Ray and George, who possibly coined the phrase ‘life baggage’ or was that me - Lol. Not sure I have seen such frenzied frivolity at a CER lunch before -Lol Lol. It was then no surprise to hear the group renege on my proposed follow on ride, offering to wing a few more miles, being as the rain had not arrived. 

No doubt, readers, you can guess who lead that revolt, yes, good old George - Lol.

So it was, that DH headed home to baby sit the elephant and the rest jumped into their cars except Andy of course, who had his customary trek home to Mold. I had a mile to get home, not before DH tried to frighten the life out of me with his Postman Pat car horn- Lol.

A most enjoyable day with a good bit of banter. However, only 34 miles on my Garmin and even less for the mutineers of course (roughly 29 miles- Lol).

See route map and/or gpx file download

Till next time gents, Neil.

Friday 8 September 2023

7th September 2023: New Brighton (mod)

When I write up a ride report I usually start at the beginning but today I'm starting at the end. After we had turned into the car park at Ness Gardens at the end of the ride Alan, who had been leading the ride, asked if someone could write it up. He was off on his holidays on Sunday and needed to pack, so wouldn't have time. George hadn't a clue where he'd been and Ray was busy putting his bike on the back of his car. Clive offered to do it but pointed out that he was off on his holidays on Monday. I was going away too, but not until Wednesday. I wasn't sure of all the places we had ridden but, with the benefit of the route recorded on my Garmin, I offered to do it. So here I am, map in front of me and I'll try to do my best.

I've managed to mention all five riders already but we were also joined by Steve T, only out for coffee. The cafe itself at Ness Gardens was closed but they were serving on a takeaway basis from the doorway. Apparently during the heat wave we have been having recently the cafe had been getting very hot and several people had fainted as a result. Fortunately it was warm enough to sit outside and the rain that had been around early in the morning had mostly disappeared.

The weather forecast was good. Not much in the way of wind, maybe a little rain early on but starting off warm and getting warmer throughout the day. Temperatures in the high twenties were expected by late afternoon. The unusual feature of the weather, however (and one which the forecasters missed) was the sandstorm! I had ridden through a short shower on my way out and had seen small spots appearing on my bike as the droplets dried out. It happened again shortly after we started our ride and one of the other riders said that he had seen an orange glow in the sky looking towards Chester. Occasionally a desert storm far away in the Sahara Desert will whip sand high up into the atmosphere where it is blown by the wind and eventually falls onto clouds below. It will then fall with the rain and that is what we were experiencing today. We have ridden in many weather conditions over the years but I think this was the first 'sandstorm' we had ridden in. 

Enough of the weather. What about the ride? We turned left out of Ness Garden then right towards Raby, managing to cross the busy A540 without too much trouble. At Raby we turned right and headed towards Willaston but by-passed the centre of the village by turning left into Mill Lane. Another left took us towards Hooton and then we turn up Eastham Rake where we crossed the equally busy A41, this time with the help of traffic lights. We were heading for Eastham Country Park but, as Alan admitted, by a longer route than he had planned as he had missed a turning earlier on. Here we expected to follow the Wirral Circular Trail, albeit for the first time (for me at least) in an anticlockwise direction. However just before Bromborough we turned inland and found ourselves cycling along the route of a disused railway which none of us (apart from Alan) had been on before. Eventually this brought us out in front of the Unilever factory and then into Port Sunlight, the village originally built by William Lever to house the workers in his soap factory.

After cycling through Port Sunlight (another first for most of us) we regained the Wirral Circular Trail and followed it through the Cammell Laird Industrial area passing Birkenhead Priory, tucked away among the modern industrial units. From here we dropped down the aptly named Monks Ferry Lane to the spot where the first Mersey ferry service was started by the monks in the 12th century. We were now following the banks of the Mersey, pausing briefly for a photo and to admire the 3400 passenger Celebrity cruise ship (other cruise ships are available) visiting Liverpool. Then a final dash along New Brighton's brilliant promenade to our lunch destination.

Photos by Alan O

Our first choice of lunch venue when we visit New Brighton is the Seaside Cafe and it was warm enough today to sit outside. The 'Fishy Special' was the most popular choice with three of us tucking into fish, chips and peas with bread and butter and a drink. I can't remember the last time they put the price up so great value for less than £9.

After lunch we set off on our return journey, ignoring the promenade this time as we were soon turning inland towards Bidston. Alan took us onto a network of paths, some getting overgrown, that got us under the M53 motorway and out to Bidston Station. I'm not sure I would have ventured in there on my own – I doubt I would ever have found my way out again – but Alan knew his way through. After a short distance by road he disappeared up another path and we skirted round Bidston Village. Then he found us yet another off-road path that we hadn't ridden on before. This one was sandwiched between the railway and the M53 followed the River Fender eventually emerging into the Woodchurch Estate. Not a place to linger too long, we hurried through and crossed over Woodchurch Road.

This took us into Landican Lane. An unsurfaced route to be avoided when it's wet but on a dry day such as today a useful short cut to get us up to Storeton. Now we were back onto quiet lanes that took us down to Brimstage. A short dash along the busy main road through the village and we turned off again to cycle through Thornton Hough and a return to the small village of Raby. From here we followed our outbound route through Neston to arrive back at Ness Gardens having completed 38 miles. Alan's hopes of getting an ice cream before setting off home were dashed by the fact that as early as 3pm the cafe was already closing down. Anyway thanks to him for leading the ride and for managing to find good off-road routes that we have never been on before. It amazes me that after 13 years riding with Chester Easy Riders it is still possible to find them.  

See route map and/or gpx file download