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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Friday 17 May 2024

16th May 2024 : Wallasey (Mod+)

A bumper crowd gathered at Ness Botanical Gardens on a morning warm and bright enough to warrant a liberal application of SPF50.  I'd elected to be lazy today and drive to the start, having picked up Clive on the way.  The en-route conversation was mainly around Clive's recent holiday in the Welsh micro-city of St David's, somewhere I often used to enjoy cycling when I lived in West Wales.

Prior to the meet up, I had dug out and shared on WhatsApp an old route that I used to cycle frequently around the year 5 BC [Before Covid]; a time when I was apparently more adventurous/cavalier/kamikaze than now - more on that later. Aside from modifying it to start/end at the Botanical Gardens and adding a stop at Stollies Cafe in Wallasey, I hadn't really studied it at all, assuming somebody else would come up with something much better.

Well nobody did and so it was that Clive, Alan, Steve Hu, Steve T and I (Matt) headed north on along Neston Road and up the hill on Mill Lane.  Considering he'd claimed earlier that he was only up for an "easy going" outing today, Clive was setting a cracking pace, pulling us along at 24km/h (that's 15mph for those amongst you still living in Ye Olden Days).  Despite the pace, conversation was rife and varied, although the only bit I can remember is Steve's encylopaedic knowledge of the mechanics of motorcycle tyres.

As we headed up Willaston Road, some concerns were voiced about whether we were going to tackle the "Killer Clatterbridge" roundabout.  Alan suggested a "short cut" along quieter roads and given the mood I went along with it, forgetting that Alan didn't have the route on his computer and was therefore unaware that we were supposed to be heading towards Brimstage rather than Bebington. It soon became clear that we were going completely the wrong way and we doubled back to find Clive - who'd sensibly stuck to the plan - waiting for us at the M53 roundabout.  More murmurs of discontent rumbled about the sheer idiocy of riding on the Brimstage Road, an argument slightly undermined by the number of solo cyclists heading the other way. A brief interlude along a quieter lane brought us to another A road (Barnston Lane) and prompted Steve Hu to give the ride the grand title of "A Tour of Roads Normally Avoided by Cyclists".

Somehow we survived the treacherous traffic and arrived at Thingwall [Old Norse: þing vollr = assembly field] whereupon Clive educated us on Viking politics and Henry I.  After passing through Irby and encountering a road sign declaring Greasby to be "one of the earliest settlements in Britain c.8500 BC" [Before Covid?], Steve Hu shared his thoughts on why a barren hill in Wirral would be first choice given a whole lush island to choose from, and thus be older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids. Given the old name "Gravesberie" I can't help thinking it wasn't a great choice.

Arriving into Hoylake, I realised my gears were only changing up and not down anymore, and we took a quick 'mechanical' stop while I figured out how to change the shifter battery whilst receiving advice on the benefits of old tech from Steve T. [Note to self: changing the battery requires a coin; remember to carry a coin next ride!]

After pausing on the seafront at Meols for a picture before the inevitable rain set in, we arrived at Stollies Cafe in Wallasey, fortunately bagging a table for 5 despite having not been able to reserve one over the 'phone. The popular choice of repast was the amply-proportioned Club Sandwich with chips. One end of the table discussed Steve Hu's "Ballast" role in an upcoming sailing event, whilst Alan and I, at the other end, considered the looming splurge of colours on the rain radar. A swift route replan ensued, aided by Alan's local knowledge.

In light drizzle, we set off again, along paths skirting Bidston Moss and, briefly, yet another scary A road, before climbing the B5151 through Prenton and down the still-terribly-surfaced-after-all-these-years Lever Causeway, to rejoin the original planned route through Storeton.  Sadly that didn't last long due to the type of road closure that repels even intrepid cyclists.  Another crossing of the dreaded M53 and Clatterbridge roundabouts was therefore in store for us.  Again, we somehow avoided not just murderous motorists but also the predicted deluge and returned through Thornton Hough and Raby, arriving back at Ness without getting a soaking.

A good day out in the end, though maybe more diligent route-planning homework is required for next time!


Photos MT and AO

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