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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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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

Saturday 7 October 2023

5th October 2023: Caerwys (mod)

A rainy morning in Hawarden resulted in eight hardy CER rider ready to tackle the Welsh Hills. Matt, Dave H, Steve T, Dave M, Alan , Electric Ray Andy B and Steve Hu all met in the bustling Pursuit cafe. If you have visited please do so the staff are really friendly and clearly want the new venture to be a success. Alan had a number of options, the consensus was Caerwys. The weather gods initially smiled on us as we plunged down Gladstone Hill towards Queensferry. At the blue bridge Dave M bade us farewell as he returned home via Saltney. 

Alan used his local skills to navigate use around Flint and Bagillt. Popping in a new section of cycleway he took us to the start of the climb up to Holywell past the aptly named Holy Well. However this time instead of tackling the busy road climb of Greenfield Rd, Alan took us up a cycleway to the left of the river. This is a super route and pops you out by Tesco in Holywell. 

By now it was raining with a passion and the long road slog to Whitford Road seemed longer than usual. In Whitford Al decided against a muddy (Clive preferred) lane and stayed on Whitford road. Soon we were passing over the A55 and rolling into Caerwys with 26 miles under our belts. 

The Corner Cafe excelled in providing excellent fare at keen prices. Andy B remarked he could safely scald his mouth on any item from his “Jumbo” breakfast, such was the freshness of the food. 

Armed with full stomachs and only slightly distracted by Steve Hu losing his flow yellow glow in the dark lock bag, which had made a bid for freedom. The rain continued to pound us as we rode through Babell and then rose up on Halkyn mountain. A brief shelter in a bus stop did nothing to abate the cold wind on the tops, however the solution was soon forthcoming as we swooped ever downward to Northop. 

From Northop it is only a short jaunt to Tinkersdale Car Park, however our intrepid band of five were thwarted by a road closure and two fire engines attending an incident. This led to another four “extra” miles being accumulated by Steve T & Dave H as they wove a weary way around Hawarden and back to their car. Our reporter on the ground Steve T advised it was a fire at the local pub, information the Daily Post did not have on their website some 60 mins later.

Photo by Alan O

A tough ride for this time of year with nearly 3000 ft of climbing and just over 40 miles. Thanks to Alan for planning the ride and most importantly the members who turned up on such a wet day

See route map and/or gpx file download

Steve Hu