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Retired, work part-time or shifts, enjoy being out in the countryside? Then cycle the lanes and byways of Cheshire and surrounding areas with Chester Easy Riders: you won't get left behind.
Chester Easy Riders is an independent cycling club affiliated to Cycling UK. We cycle every Thursday throughout the year with moderate and brisk day rides of 40 to 80 miles.

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Monday 26 February 2024

22nd February 2024: Malpas (mod)

Circumstances require this write-up to be brief. Considering the weather forecast, there was a strong turnout at Walk Mill where we once again received a warm welcome. The Extremely Moderate Group consisted of Andy, George, Ray and me.

It was cooler than last week, and some rain appeared inevitable as we headed for Burton, Huxley and Tattenhall. I chose a bit of punishment by climbing up to Brown Knoll before turning east and then south west on the delightful little lane through Bickerton to Duckington. There were some dream homes nestling in the wooded escarpment. What had these residents done for a living to afford them? We dived off-piste through Edge Green, crossing the A41. The narrow lane surrounding  Edge Hall was exceptionally flooded as we began a westerly loop toward Kidnal. Fortunately, we all made it, including Ray’s electric heavyweight machine. We were now getting quite wet, so headed straight for The Little Deli, a long favourite of Dave and Liz. Seating was re-arranged for us in this warm and friendly nook, and the food was large of portion and very good value. I think George had doubled his weight by the time we left. Lunch topics were interesting but not very uplifting: the Parliamentary debacle of the day before, NHS dentistry and making preparations for death.  I decided to avoid discussing Everton’s prospects in the circumstances.  

We were a bit wet and cold as I viewed my soggy map to seek a slightly different but not too indirect return route. We headed downhill to Cuddington Heath before turning north for Tilston via Chorlton Lane and Horton Green.  I think we passed Nick’s home on the way. Lower Carden, Clutton,Tattenhall,  Hargrave and Greenlooms marked our chosen return path. Andy had headed west for Wales along the way. Full marks to all who made the effort. I see all three ride groups curbed their enthusiasm and finished up in Malpas for lunch. Unbelievable! I have seldom seen so much flooding, but our desire to be out in the country with good company, and needing to stay fit, once again made us glad to have ridden with Chester Easy Riders on a Thursday.  We covered about 38 miles. Roll on long, languid, sunny summer rides.  

DH    

Friday 23 February 2024

22nd February 2024 : Malpas (brisk)

A good number of riders were present at Walk Mill Cafe today which was surprising given the weather forecast was for very heavy rain. Clive and Steve T arrived just for coffee as they didn’t fancy a dousing.

Three rides were planned . Ray S was leading a group out to Whitchurch. Dave H had no set plan as he was running late but looked to be leading another group on one of his magical mystery tours. I had ridden to Whitchurch twice very recently and as nice as it is I fancied a change, so put forward a circular ride to Malpas of 45 miles. Nick was happy to join me as he wanted to get home reasonably early and the return route passed close to his house.

Leaving Walk Mill, we headed East but within 1/2 mile the rain started so waterproofs were donned as  Ray’s group passed us on their way to Whitchurch. Weaving around and through the many flooded sections of road we passed through Huxley and Tiverton to reach Tarporley. Crossing onto Eaton Road we exited the village and 2 miles on at Eaton we turned South towards Alpraham. This section of the the route had 2 road closures in place but neither delayed our progress.

Conversation was rather sparse as the rain and road conditions required a lot more of our attention although I did hear the bit where  Nick  admitted to looking for a new Gravel bike and is going to view one in Knutsford. Good luck getting that past the finance officer !!

The  A51 at Alpraham was very busy and it took a few minutes before we were able to cross into Bunbury Road and then pass through Bunbury to Spurstow. At  Peckforton , we met a  large section of standing water, and one very kind motorist  was unable to wait and ploughed straight through at speed and seemed totally oblivious to the soaking he had given Nick and I.

Another short section of main road at Gallantry Bank led us into Bickerton where we admired the new bench at Bickerton Church, it has been carved out of the remains of a large recently felled tree. The rain had been persistent and heavy since leaving Walk Mill and we were both feeling the wet and cold as water had seeped through our waterproofs.

Talking through our options, we decided to cut short the ride, forego lunch, and head for home. The direct route took us up Goldford Lane and into Tilston where we parted company and headed for home.

The posted route today was 45miles. Nick managed around 40 miles with myself covering 50 miles. 

One bright spot today-the rain stopped as I arrived home so at least the bike cleaning was completed in dry. Thanks to Nick for his company and riding in truly awful conditions.

See route map and/or gpx file download 

KP

22nd February 2024: Malpas (mod +)

On a day following a Met Office Yellow warning for rain, it was encouraging to see such a good turnout of CER members, both riding and in civvies. So many that we could accommodate three different rides a brisk, a mod + and a mod group. The mod+ group consisted of Ray S, Alan and Steve Hu. Mindful of the forecast we felt up to a forty miler would be best in the conditions. Ray had a route from Tattenhall to Whitchurch where Alan suggested we dine at the same venue as Ken's ride last week. 

We set off from Walk Mill in comparative dry and windless weather back along Guy Lane and left onto Martins Lane. At Hargrave we stopped to load Ray’s route onto the computers and the weather decided to change  for the worse and set the scene for the next 10 miles. A local stopped us and advised us of certain road closures due to flooding, by this time we had traversed two long lengths of flooded road the second being deep enough to submerge our bottom brackets! A quick blast through Newton in Tattenhall brought us into Tanner Town. 

Photos by AO

From Tattenhall the route took us through the now soaking wet lanes of Clutton and Tilston. Just before Horton Green our route turned right to Whitchurch a further 12 to 14 miles further on, however a sign viewed through rain speckled glasses advised the warm pubs and cafes of Malpas were only three miles away. A quick quorum was convened and a new destination was agreed, the Fire Station cafe in Dave Heaths favourite town Malpas. 

As we climbed steadily up to the town Ray remembered the Lion pub in the centre. On arriving we were welcomed by the staff who suggested we sat close to the log fire. By now our gloves and pants were soaked so this generous offer was much appreciated. The menu at the Lion is excellent and testament to the food on offer it was a full ten minutes before consensus of sandwiches with extra chips was agreed upon and ordered. 

After a very leisurely lunch waterproofs were donned again in readiness for the return leg. Ray had a route that avoided flooded / dirty lanes. Taking Chester road we headed back towards Ebnal and then broke left to Hampton Heath. We made excellent progress on Long Lane until it crossed Salters Lane and became Harthill Ln. The short climb up here is normally a breeze on a summer's day, but today it seemed a lot harder. Once through Harthill, Bolesworth road is a rollercoaster of a ride all the way back to Tanner Town. 

In order to stick with the tradition of CER, Ray added on a small diversion through Bruera & Saighton bringing us nicely into Waverton where Alan returned to Walk Mill, I peeled off for Golden Sutton and Iron legs Ray headed for Chester. 

Thank you to Ray for leading the route. A reasonable 14.5mph average speed on a very wet and flooded roads 33 mile route. 

Steve Hu

Monday 19 February 2024

15th February 2024 : Whitchurch ( mod+)

Having been not sure until this morning whether I'd be riding at all, I ended up getting to Alison's so early that I'd finished my beans on toast by the time any other riders arrived. 

It was worth the wait though, as a bumper crowd were taking advantage of a positively balmy (for February) 13°C day. Most of them opted for a mod ride, leaving just John M, Ken, Alan and myself (Matt) fancying a slightly brisker ride. This reduced to three when John decided his skipping chain was going to be too much impediment and opted to ride home again.

Comparing available routes - all with a southerly bias to give us a tailwind leg back - we decided that John's was the best option. However, technical gremlins intervened and it proved impossible to send the route to me. Thus it was that the three of us set of on my 70km clockwise route, heading north initially, then east through Huxley. It was at this point that I realised my rear derailleur battery had run out. Fortunately, I always carry a fully-charged spare so we were not detained for long. We continued east in unexpectedly sunny weather through Eaton, Tarporley and Wettenhall, comparing notes on bicycle technology and gadgets, before heading south into the wind towards Nantwich. 

The headwind was stronger than any of us expected and we were glad to get a little respite as we turned towards Whitchurch. I used to ride this route very often BC (Before Covid) and was sure this section was "mostly downhill", but as Ken pointed out several times, there were quite a few ups to negotiate. The roads were also an awful lot muddier than I remember and it was definitely one of those "I'm glad I didn't bother cleaning my bike yesterday" rides. The technical theme of discussions continued as Ken explained that the slightly longer version of SKS's race blades made all the difference when it came to keeping mud and crud off your bottom bracket and pretty much everywhere else. So apparently, those extra couple of inches have served him well, phnarr, phnarr!

Just before cresting the last hill before Whitchurch, Ken and I realised that Alan had disappeared off the back, and set off to find him. Apparently he'd shouted that he'd punctured about 5 minutes earlier and neither of us heard. Whilst Alan replaced his tube, yet more technical discussion and tips were exchanged on some of the pitfalls of tubeless tyres and how to live with them. Ken shared his insights from working in the motor trade decades ago at the time that car tyres began the switch to tubeless.

Finally, we made it to Whitchurch a bit later than perhaps expected and chose on sight a cafe in the town centre - conveniently opposite some metal fences perfect for locking bikes to - for our "lunch" stop. The cafe - Benjamin's - turned out to be very welcoming to cyclists and is definitely somewhere I'd stop again.




We set off again with a much appreciated tailwind, through Malpas and Tilston, all feeling that we'd done maybe a bit more work than we'd ideally have liked. Along the way, we were treated to a display by a huge flock of fieldfares (at least I think that's what Alan - our resident twitcher - said they were). The rain made an appearance at this point, but it was light and much later than advertised. We also encountered a river flowing down the road where drains had overflowed.
Fortunately, the water was clear and easily negotiated. At Tilston, Ken headed home via Holt, whilst Alan and I continued north through Clutton back to Tattenhall. Near Chowley we were treated to another flooded road, this time with murky water - Alan led the way and managed not to disappear into any submerged potholes, so we escaped with just damp feet.


At Tattenhall, I waved goodbye to Alan and continued home to Chester through Waverton. I'd clocked up just over 100km and enjoyed a good ride with great company in suprisingly good weather - almost spring-like.

Postscript - during lunch I got a text notifying me that my new sofa was being delivered on Friday, while my wife was still away, and Ken very kindly offered to help me shift my old furniture out of the way. I simply wouldn't have been able to do this without Ken's help - at least not without doing myself an injury! Things like this remind me what a great bunch of people we have in CER and how lucky I am to be a member of this fantastic club! I definitely owe Ken a couple of beers next time we're on a ride with a pub stop!

See route map and/or gpx file download

MT

Photos  MT

Friday 16 February 2024

15th February 2024: Whitchurch (mod)

I had cycled down to Alison's with a couple of ideas for rides either to the Bhurtpore at Aston or the Black Bear at Whitchurch. I was convinced that Dave H would go for the former but he surprised me by suggesting the Black Bear. So Whitchurch it was.

There were ten members out for what would be a partially wet ride. Six of us formed the moderate group and I led out Andy B, Dave H, David M, George and Ray. We headed into the wind towards Whitchurch via Chowley Oak, Carden and Tilston and after passing through Threapwood and Tallarn Green we had to negotiate a couple of roadworks. After clearing these we crossed a couple of 'A' roads and passed through the village of Hamner. We were delighted to see that the Hanmer Arms was now open again. This has often been a favourite eating place for us and I'm sure it won't be long before we visit it again. It was too early for us to call there today so we carried on, climbing out of the village and heading for the Ellesmere – Whitchurch road. It's a busy and fast road but wide enough for vehicles to give us a wide berth.

We followed the main road to the outskirts of Whitchurch and crossed the A41 roundabout with ease before turning towards the town centre. The church soon came into view which was a good beacon for us as the Black Bear was right across the road from it. Despite being quite busy we were given a warm welcome and after parking our bikes at the back were soon sitting down to a hot meal, fish & chips being the choice for four of us.

The return should have been easy with the wind now behind us but as we got back onto our bikes the promised rain was starting and it would be with us for most of the way. We left Whitchurch passing the old hospital before turning up past through the golf club. Not the easiest of climbs, especially straight after lunch, so we stopped at the top for a rest and took the opportunity for a photo. While the roads on the way out had been pretty good we were now on some very muddy roads as we headed through Wirswall, Marbury and Bickley and by the time we we arrived at the back of Cholmondley Castle there were six bikes in need of a good wash.

Photo by TC

David left us just before we reached Bickerton and Andy left soon afterwards to make their own way home. The rain had eased off by this time as I led the rest of the group over Harthill and back down into Tattenhall. It was certainly a ride of two halves with dry conditions in the morning and rain and mud in the afternoon. Despite the weather a pleasant 36 miles riden in very mild weather for the middle of February.

See route map and/or gpx file download

TC

 

Friday 9 February 2024

8th February 2024: No ride

 The rain was pouring down and the temperature was 2 degrees, with the threat of snow when I drove down to Meadow Lea. Arriving there I could see no bikes and the cafe was full of silver surfers quaffing their morning coffees with not a cyclist to see. I was joined a few minutes later by Dave H and then, out of the rain, by Ken in full wet weather kit. Whilst he was dry, his hands were frozen as the wind chill had brought the temperature below zero as he rode in from Rosset. He had planned to ride if anyone else turned up , but would ride home as there were no takers.

So, no ride today, but, hopefully, better conditions next Thursday when we gather at Alison's

ST


Friday 2 February 2024

1st February 2024: West Kirby (mod)

There was a decent turnout at Ness, and it was enjoyable to have a bit of banter with our friends in the aspirational group. Please note that this banter was of the air fried 2024 variety with absolutely no hints of Micky Flanaganism. So, the leisure group consisted of Andy and Mike from Wales, Trevor who had ridden from Guilden Sutton, myself “from the edge of Frodsham”, and Ray from round the corner. Never having led on The Wirral, I chose a route that avoided too much urban confusion, and was largely along quiet lanes through the middle of the peninsula. Our destination was to be a café I thought I could rely on in West Kirby.  

In order to stretch the miles out a little we headed south west to Burton before hitting the A540 near Badgers Rake House and then heading for the Oaks Farm track and the nice backwater lane with attractive houses beyond. At the Willaston-Hooton road we turned right, and then first left and on to Raby. Without a Garmin, I just had to check properly at the Raby mini junctions before carrying on up to Thornton Hough, Brimstage and Storeton. It is invaluable in these moments to have the know-how of Mike Gilbert (British orienteering champion 1905-1908 ) and Trevor’s Caravan Club field-seeking navigation skills. I would also like to commend the help from Ray’s local knowledge, and Andy’s vast audaxing experience, but I can’t: these two were as much use as the proverbial chocolate fireguard. 

We were crossing our fingers on approaching the M53 underpass just before Storeton, because last time it was impassable with floodwater, but we were alright; the drains must have been cleared. From Storeton we headed west to Barnston, then to Pensby, Irby, Irby Hill and round Royden Park. It was at this stage that I recognised The Farmers Arms at Frankby, where I was privileged to be handed the baton as club secretary by Bryan Wade a few years back. 

We finally approached West Kirby via well-heeled Caldy, passing the former Moby Dick a popular meeting place for the young in the swinging sixties. I led the troops to the café I thought I could rely on, but it had been demolished! Ray had suggested the café on the front, but we guessed it would be too busy in such a popular location. We headed back down Banks Road where I had spotted an attractive corner café with some tables available a few minutes before. The food at Cibo Italiano was very good, and the service was friendly, but it was a bit busy for just two people running the whole operation. We left for our return ride a little later than desirable. 

The views along the remodelled seafront were as attractive as ever. Ray led us down the side road for accessing The Wirral Way. It was helpful that the guys were happy to use the Wirral Way to ensure a flat and direct return. They were willing to tolerate some bike cleaning when they got home. I am not so sure that they would have been so happy on a £6,000 bike, but at a rough estimate our five bikes together wouldn’t meet this evaluation. Like last week’s ride to Overton, after a full twenty something miles out we had a short, fast, largely wind-assisted return.                              

Photo by Mike G

On returning to Ness we arrived just as the aspirational group also arrived. This avoided any problems for Steve Tan and myself as we had shared a lift, but Steve had left his mobile at home. I remember a similar problem a few years ago when Steve had arrived at Jim Dale’s and waited ages in the garden in very cold weather for our return. Thursday is when Diane takes her returns to M&S in Chester, so there was no one to take him in!  Anyway, today we had enjoyed a mainly rural route in good weather and relaxed company. I particularly appreciated Mike and Andy making the effort as I know that they had already been on rides with their Welsh friends this week. About thirty-one miles covered today just from Ness and back, more miles for Mike, Trevor and Andy.     

DH 

1st February 2024: Egremont (mod+)

Well the first ride of February for CER was well attended. Often this starting point can be a low attendance or populated with riders who have ridden out and then ride home. Today we had enough for two groups, a mod and mod plus group. 

Alan had tweaked the classic Wirral route to take us to the Ferry Hotel at Egremont / Wallasey. This was a new venue to me and we were well catered for with food and drinks being served promptly. Today's group consisted of Alan Shane Steve T and Steve Hu. 

Following a delayed start at Ness gds where Steve T wrestled with his tethered bike which had been surreptitiously locked to Trevors. During this entanglement we were harangued by the mods for our striking athletic poise and looks. LOL

From Ness we skirted Neston and proceeded to cross the usually busy Chester High Rd. Maybe through good fortune or traffic light phasing but the roads were empty. The quiet lanes took us through Raby and then to the charming village of Thornton Hough. 

Next stop was Brimstage road, if we would have taken a right we would have found ourselves at a favoured lunch stop at the Brimstage tea rooms, however Alan's route continued to skirt Heswall via Irby road. 

By now it was clear we had navigation issues  as myself as back up pilot was on Version 1 of Alan's route and Alan was on Version 2. So I was cheerfully saying left and we would go right, a real winning solution. Despite the differences in the mapping we successfully crossed through Saughall Massey and onto the coast by Meols. The tide was so far out it was barely possible to see, however we found a lighthouse and stopped for our obligatory photo opportunity. 


Photos by Steve Hu

However our sea views were not to last as Alan had discovered the Birket Trail (part of the Wirral Circular Trail) a cracking cycle route that takes you north of Moreton and into Bidston. Taking our lives in our hands we braved the golfers on Bidston Golf course and followed a tortuous route out to Egremont. 

At Egremont we were treated to the spectacular views of the Liverpool waterfront and the new Everton stadium which is progressing well. 

Following lunch , we took the time honoured route around Seacombe docks and the ferry terminals, stopping only for a second group photograph. Soon we were heading into the lovely village of Port Sunlight hot of Lever Bros, a previous employer of both myself and Shane. The disused railway line provides a great alternative to the more urban nature of this leg. 

Eastham village and Rivacre road soon allowed us to whizz into Childer Thornton and Heath Lane. Alan had left the best till last putting in a cyclocross section of mud linking up a farm road which provides a good shortcut to the busy Chester High Road. A quick plunge into Burton on what were now tired legs brought us back to our start point whereby Steve T and Shane left to meet Dave at the car park. 

An added bonus was as Alan and I approached the entrance to the marsh we were joined by Andy B, Mike G and Trevor, all heading over estuary. 

Big thanks to Alan for leading a very chilled ride of appx 42 miles at a nice pace on a day with no wind/rain/ice/snow so quite unusual from our January rides :)

See route map and/or gpx file download

Steve Hu