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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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Friday 28 June 2024

27th June 2024: Burwardsley (mod+)

Maggies was the venue for today's meeting and at least a dozen turned up. It soon became apparent that nobody had a route bar me, as there was no SHa or DH today, due to holiday packing or something like that for the latter. However, it sounds like we may get SHa back this summer. This meant the minority of easy riders were left looking at each other for a while. However, I did see George with an OS map in hand (obviously been to the school of DH cycling leadership- Lol).  Elec Ray arrived, somewhat late, perhaps he saved the day- Lol.

Unusually, the majority of the meet were Mod+ enthusiasts. However, there were a few fast boys, also without a leader it seemed. Anyway, what I thought was likely to be a lone ride for me,  became a group of 8 - what!- Lol. I guess I shouldn’t have mentioned that my route was specifically aimed at negating the very strong SW winds, which inevitably meant small hills. This led to everybody jumping on my train-  Lol. So that’s how my group of 8 formed, although I would quickly realise there was a maveric undertone within the peloton - more about that later- Lol, Lol.

Once upon a time in a land, not so far away,  there were 8: Steve H, Steve T, Allan, Ray (non Elec) Shane, Clive and Nick. We headed north up to Aldford with a lovely tailwind start, but as usual with me, I throw in a few little back lanes so we can all admire the scenery and sites in some cases. After slipping around the back of Churton, we then head onto the back of Aldford for our first unusual site, which was the Gnome garden, belonging to a house that also has some of the finest gable end decoration I have ever seen. In fact most of the village have similar decoration, as most of you probably know, although this particular house  seems to have more detail. Most of you are probably well aware that Aldford village is the jewel in the crown of the Duke of Westminster's village estates and hence, the immaculate up keep of these houses. (Never seen the likes in any other village, not to this standard- see photo)


We head out of Aldford, over the Dee bridge, turning right to Bruera and Platt’s Lane beyond. This allows us to get across the A41 via the pavement and keep the tailwind of course, which continues as we turn left toward Tattenhall, although we are by-passing the village via Old Ma’s (alas no more, but the sign is still up)

It was not long before we were passing the ice cream farm, which prompted me to deliberate on a route change, as I realise the tailwind is slightly more westerly than originally thought. Thus we turn left toward Beeston, which not only provides more tailwind, but eventually sets us up for a right turn on to Peckforton Lane, after swinging around the back of Beeston. Our right turn, at the stunning white and red cottage on the corner, is where I consider is the start of the southern end of the Sandstone ridge and the start of a gradual uphill tap- Lol. 

The ridge line doesn’t really end until after Carden Park, somewhere near Tilston in fact, as that’s where one reaches the flat land again. However, the ridge line was now providing surprisingly good cover from the now diagonal headwind, that we were barely experiencing. What we were now experiencing was the steady uphill tap, which led Clive to remark about the burn in his legs, as we bear round another corner and up toward the Bickerton Poacher. 

As I was saying to Nick, later on at lunch, unfortunately the short stretch of the Nantwich / Wrexham road is the only way to traverse the local area of Bulkley (not without at least a 7 mile diversion via Bunbury that is). No sooner are we passing  Copper Mine lane, we head up again on a nasty little drag, which is where the ‘Maverick 5’ decide to show their cards and form their own group, by not turning left to Bickerton with the rest of us, which was now just 3 loyal group members intent on finishing the full ride- Lol.

Clearly the previous few miles of gentle uphill riding had got to the legs of our maverick 5, to the degree that they felt they couldn’t endure the real climbing to come and decided on a short cut over Harthill. Although to be fair, I don’t think we can blame Shane for his part in the desertion. As the newest member of the club, he was probably just following the group. No doubt he was informed, by their ring leader,  that this was how CER ride. I can imagine the conversation; “don’t fret Shane, we often split into groups if the cycling gets a bit tough and take the short cut to our lunch destination. This has the added advantage of us getting our orders in first”- Lol, Lol, Lol.

So!  The loyal remainder of Clive, Allan and yours truly turn left down to Bickerton and then up over my favourite hilly lane (Goldford Lane), which Allan agreed was now his favourite lane as well, once down the other side. We now turn right for another upward haul on Old Coach Road toward Brown Knowl. After a very quick short descent we turn right into a lovely little farm lane that gets us back on course for what I call the easy way around Harthill (still up - Lol and called Bolsworth Hill road)

Not far from our lunch destination, I again deliberate on a left or right turn, deciding on the hillier way to the Poffee cafe. This would be our last climb and the steepest, with an extra kicker in the tail, off Harthill (Ridding Bank). No sooner done and we’re  cruising down toward the Poffee, only a half mile away.

Surprise, surprise, we find the Maveric 5 comfortably seated, waiting on their deserts, well maybe not quite their deserts - Lol, Lol. We greet the rest of the group, who were all providing a different excuse for not completing the ride, but we knew the truth- Lol. Somebody tried to make out that they had missed the turn because they were ahead of the ride leader, who I might say, was feeling the hill in question, after being on the front for the whole ride. Not that it bothered the loyal few, as we still experienced the FULL glory of the FULL route- Lol, Lol.

Lunch, not surprisingly had plenty of conversation and banter, too much for me to remember, although there was one enlightening moment when Steve H demonstrated a new sign language that had us all bewildered as he shook his middle finger in the air (somewhat like the posh folk with a cup of tea). He was apparently trying to order a fish finger sandwich. I’m not sure who was more confused, us or the waitress- Lol.



Photos by Neil T

Mind you, that was not the most enlightening moment of our lunch. I dared to comment on SH’s attempt at sign language, being a northern dialect, when I got a defensive barrage (stronger than the England Euro team) from,  no less than, the maverick 5 - Lol. Who knew ST was such a staunch defender of the North, after suggesting that I should have my lights punched out - Lol.

Lunch over and still with a straight nose, we set off for a relatively short final leg back to Holt, although only a few were going all the way back. We head down in to Tattenhall, via a little unknown lane to most, eventually turning left up the small hill to cross the A41 via Holywell lane and up to Carden Park, which provides excellent cover against the headwind. At the back entrance to CP (Stretton Mill lane) I depart the remainder, as we had already lost Clive & Ray in Tattenhall.

Steve H (aka- maverick 5 leader- Lol, Allan and Nick, I think) head down Stretton lane and I head through the golf course and home via Coddington and Aldersey.

I got home with 74k on the clock and 575 mtrs of assent. Hopefully the rest all made it home safely.

A lovely day out with some great company and even better  banter. The route worked out really well for the wind conditions and one to save. Worth doing a second time, for the maverick 5 of course, so they can enjoy the FULL majesty of the route- Lol, Lol, Lol,Lol.

See route map and/or gpx file download

Till next time, Neil (alias - Lady Whistledown- for those in the knowđŸ€ȘđŸ€Ł)


27th June 2024: Malpas (mod)

A goodly number of members congregated in the sunshine outside Maggie’s enjoying their refreshments served by the friendly and efficient staff.

With his usual thoroughness Neil had a comprehensive route for the Mods+ meticulously planned to avoid, as far as humanly possible, cycling into the prevailing WNW wind forecast for the day.  In contrast, I had no plan.  In our usual courteous and civilised manner we sub-divided into our groupings and we were off.

Andy had kindly offered to keep me company and just as we were leaving electric Ray appeared.  He had gone to Alison’s in the mistaken belief that it was today’s starting point.  I did overhear some dark mutterings of duff information provided by Trevor but I couldn’t possibly comment!

I had grabbed an OS map on my way out of the house as Dave H had thoughtfully let me know that he wouldn’t be riding today.  A cursory glance at the map and I vaguely suggested a loop south and then east stopping for lunch when we were hungry.  Crossing the river we headed south.  Through Shocklach and Worthenbury to Bangor on Dee and thence to Overton.  Turning east and then north, with Andy helpfully leading the way, we cycle through Tallarn Green and Threapwood as he safely navigated us to Malpas.  Here we decided to have lunch at the little cafĂ© Dave H and I rediscovered a few months ago.  Lunch topics ranged from a detailed description of Ray’s recent dental work, not for the faint hearted, to the UK housing market.

Suitably replenished I showed my fellow travellers a possible return route.  All agreed.  This was immediately scuppered as I took the wrong road out of Malpas.  Andy made several attempts to politely point out the error of my ways but I ploughed on regardless.  I thought I knew the road.  I was on the road I had in mind, it was just not the right road.  I eventually had to admit defeat and again take the OS map out of my back pocket.  The loop to the east now became a loop to the north.  We visited Bickerton, climbed Hart Hill and bumbled (as Brian Mac used to say) into Tattenhall.  Turning south and crossing the A41 we turned right at Chowley, through Coddington to Churton to pick up the B5130 back to Holt. 

40 miles covered at an average speed on 11.6 mph.  A good ride.  I must thank Andy and Ray for their patience and unfailing good humour on this mystery tour.  The modern day Easy Rider is nothing if not flexible and adaptable.         

GW


Monday 24 June 2024

20th June 2024: Aston (mod)

It was a pleasure to see Steve Haywood at Rose Farm and witness the real progress he is now making on his journey back to fitness. We look forward to his company on the lanes before too long. Dave Matthews was very busy organising the imminent Bob Clift fifty-mile ride, so was only accompanying us for a short distance. Our bunch of take it very easy riders consisted of Mold Andy, Dave Pipe, Big Ray, Trevor and myself. We headed out via Cotebrook in the direction of Nantwich but diverted east to Aston juxta Mondrum just to explore unknown little lanes for the hell of it. The village name means ‘Aston near the forest’ and it is mentioned in the Domesday Book. There was one massive farm complex but also a sprinkling of lovely properties down quiet lanes including Aston Hall, and Poole Old Hall as we returned west. We joined the A51 briefly at Henhull Bridge, but were soon back on little lanes at the back of Dorfold Hall estate. Dave had kindly rung The Bhurty to secure our lunch booking.  At Wrenbury large roadworks on the lane to Aston slowed our good progress. We enjoyed a warm reception from the family and their friends who have taken over the Bhurtpore and integrated the ‘18 The Park’ operation from up the road. I didn’t quite catch the start of the lunchtime conversation, but I gather that Trevor must be going on a cruise, because Ray was gleefully telling him that he would return a lot heavier with a big fat face. This was odd because Ray is always trying to convince us that taking a cruise is a wonderful experience, that does you the world of good. We have noticed, mind, that Ray normally returns from a cruise with a big fat head, although that is probably because he started out with one. Dave was in his element being invited to try three different types of beer before settling on one that was acceptable to his veteran boozer’s palate. It felt like going back in time to be in the garden of the Bhurtpore with Dave ordering a curry. Back in 2008 he may well have followed up with a traditional pudding swilled down with another pint.

Our intended direct return was soon extended by missing the roadworks, and working out a delightful diversion to Pinsley Green, Marbury, and Gaunton’s Bank before meeting our normal route to Chorley and on to Bunbury. It was a lovely day, but we were unaccustomed to the heat. Dave and I were going fine but were fancying cake and coffee to restore our energy with climbing to Utkinton ahead. I had drunk too much wine, and had too little sleep the night before, and Dave was feeling it in his legs as he approaches his ninety eighth birthday.  Trevor was easily persuaded, as he could view the stop as acclimatising to eating when you don’t have to in preparation for his cruise. It didn’t seem natural to be filling our faces late afternoon without Andy shovelling it down on the other side of the table. Andy had headed for home earlier, but no doubt would have cycled the extra miles for coffee and a thick,moist cherry and almond slice at Tilly’s, if we had made the decision to stop earlier. Ray didn’t have much choice, as he had no idea how to get back without our presence.   

We arrived back via Tiverton. In my sun-frazzled mind I had entertained Steve Tan bringing the Berlingo down from Rose Farm to pick me up. It would have saved him more waiting time, and give me a better chance to view live the England versus Denmark game kicking off at 5p.m. It seemed like cheating: avoiding the last climbs, but this choice was dashed anyway by my realising that I hadn’t given the car keys to Steve! It was a fast, but not reckless, drive to Runcorn. I needn’t have bothered, because England were as underwhelming as a Costa egg sandwich.  A lovely day on the bike in relaxing company, with about forty miles covered (considerably more for Trevor and Andy).

DH

Friday 21 June 2024

20th June 2024: Audlem Marina (mod+)

There was a good turnout of CER members at Rose Farm cafĂ©. It was especially good to see Steve Haywood, who had cycled from home to join us for coffee. He’s making slow but steady progress and hopes to join us again for coffee the next time that we’re on this side of Chester.

I’d planned a mod+ ride down to Audlem Marina (or Overwater Marina, Touring Park and Glamping, to give it its official but lengthy title). My companions for the day would be Steve Hu, Shane, Neil and (once he’d scoffed his scone, jam and cream breakfast), Alan.

Turning left out of the car park, we ran down the now smooth hill before turning right into Wood Lane, which, as Neil was soon to complain, is anything but smooth. Crossing the A51 at Clotton, we were soon whizzing down Corkscrew Lane, heading for Huxley and Brassey Green before dropping downhill to cross the Shropshire Union canal by the Shady pub. (Does anyone know why they dropped ‘Oak’ from the pub name?)

There then followed the long drag up past Beeston Castle and the pleasant lane through to Bunbury Heath, where we crossed the A49. Riding past Tilly’s Neil suggested that the business is up for sale, but Dave H and the mods stopped there on their way back today and no mention was made of this.

Pressing on, we crossed the A54 at Brindley and swept on through Larden Green and Chorley, heading for Wrenbury. On the way there, we came across ‘Road Closed’ signs but were allowed through by the bored-looking watchman provided that we got off an walked the bikes through. This turned out to be unnecessary as they were just patching potholes using a fancy machine which finished off the repair using chippings which would soon be worn away.

Passing through Wrenbury and Sound, we soon arrived at Audlem Marina and headed to the Bridge 80 CafĂ© for a spot of lunch. This was soon ordered and bacon and egg barms, scrambled eggs on toast and other delicious offerings arrived, including a full breakfast for Alan, who must have been starving, having not eaten for….two hours! The food was good and it was delightful to sit in the sunshine watching the barges pass by on the canal.

Lunch over, we headed north along Cool Lane, past the (not so) Secret Nuclear Bunker at Hack Green, heading for Nantwich. Skirting the town via the lakeside park and housing estate we emerged on the north side of the town and picked up Welshman’s Lane to cross the A51 and run past Rease Heath college. Crossing the Shropshire Union canal (again) at Venetian Marina we continued north to Cholmondeston, where Neil and Shane peeled off to head home. The three musketeers pressed on to Eaton and up the steep incline to the summit at Tarporly Road. Taking the little lane towards the A49 by-pass, we realised that we had not taken the traditional group photo, so, with apologies to Neil and Shane, we stopped for a selfie.

Photo by AO

Having nipped across the A49 to reach Utkinton Road, it was now a short stretch back to Rose Farm. Alan and I headed there for a well-deserved ice cream, but Steve Hu was on a promise in Denbigh, so he headed to Waverton, where he’d left his car.

44 miles covered at a typical mod+ pace of 14mph. Today, it really felt like summer had finally arrived…..on the longest day of the year. Thanks to Alan, Shane, Neil and Steve for their company and encouragement on a day when I was testing to see how my now permanent (?) AF might affect my cycling.

See route map and/or gpx file download

ST

Friday 14 June 2024

13th June 2024: No destination (mod)

Jim and I had been keeping an eye on today's weather forecast all week and it looked like Thursday afternoon was going to be wet, wet, wet! By Wednesday afternoon it didn't look any better so we decided that we would cycle up to the Gladstone Library at Hawarden for coffee and then cycle home by whichever route would get us back before the rain came. Dave H was in two minds as to whether to venture out or not but eventually decided to join us.

I don't usually describe our journey to the starting cafe – it's not part of the ride – but the reason for writing the following will soon become clear. The three of us set off towards Chester eventually reaching the River Dee at The Groves. From here we followed the river, round the Roodee racecourse and along to Ferry Lane bridge. We crossed the bridge turning right to go past the Airbus factory then left up Rake Lane. At the top we turned right for the climb up to Hawarden.

There were more members at the library than we had expected (we hadn't expected any) but all had an eye on the afternoon's weather. As a result no-one was going to lead a moderate ride and therefore our ride out became the moderate ride. Hence the route description thus far. David M had driven to Holt and ridden up from there so joined us for part of the ride as we left Hawarden. We turned down the Wrexham road then up to the edge of Bilberry Wood before crossing the A55 via the footbridge. Lower Mountain Road took us south before dropping down to Lavister. Here we decided to turn left – a wise decision as it turned out – to return via Eccleston and in order to avoid Handbridge I navigated a route through the houses to cross the river by the Queens Park bridge.

Now it was simply a matter of retracing our route back to the start. No lunch out this week but just over 31 miles ridden. The rain started just as I cycled onto my drive.  

TC

Sunday 9 June 2024

6th June 2024 : Ruthin (Mod+)

An outstanding turnout for our latest special ride; just about filled the library carpark. After much deliberation of how many layers we’d need, most riders opted for the (slightly) less demanding mod ride, with just Clive and myself on the superior ‘plus’ ride. Not sure how my name got to be on the ride planners list though. All I did was ride it with the Hughes’s last year, so a big thanks to them.

After a nice flat wind-assisted run up to St Asaph, we started to climb up to Cefn, past the impressive and isolated St Mary's church, and down to the Elwy valley. Conscious of the fact I was riding with an avid history buff, I just had to point out the Neolithic caves in the cliff face.

Then the lane ramped up sharply, and found that surprisingly Clive didn’t disappear from sight. Luckily for me Clive had not been out riding for several weeks, so, was off ‘brisk’ for the day! The hills just kept coming after Henllan, but was still enjoyable on mostly well-surfaced lanes and stunning Welsh countryside.

Our main objective was to push on and beat the mods to the lunch stop. This we achieved as neither of us wanted to be behind Dave H ordering his 3 course luncheon!(lol). They arrived soon after, and thanks to Megs, shepherding at the rear, no one was missing! 

The return leg along the Clwyd valley was thankfully flatter, albeit into a cool headwind. A few more climbs took us up to Rhuallt and on to Cwm with cracking views to the west. Here we took a diversion and dropped down into the valley. Just had to show Clive the ‘bridge to nowhere ‘. Pont Dafydd is a four hundred year old bridge that is now land-locked due the river being diverted during the construction of the A55.


Sitting on the side of the Pond Dafydd

By Eirian Evans, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25541593

A challenging 3900ft of climbing over 43mls, and thanks to Clive for his always interesting and pleasant company.

See route map and/or gpx file download

AO

CA: Many thanks Alan for leading this ride and especially pointing out the churches, cliffs and for the interesting diversion to Pont Dafydd. 

Friday 7 June 2024

6th June 2024: Ruthin (mod)

 Alan, Megan & I have previously ridden this route, and, with pressure from Steve Tan to try it as a special ride, Megan changed the route to afford two options . A mod plus ride of forty miles with 3800 ft climbing and a moderate route of 38 miles with 2600 ft of climbing.

 It was with delight that a total of fourteen CER faithful tuned up including our planner and tail gunner Megan.

 After refreshments and cakes at Baileys Cafe, the group split into a Mod+  group led by Alan and a Mod group led by Steve Hu. The Mod group consisted of Megan & Steve Hu, Keith, Dave H, Fiona & Elwyn (newly married, congratulations) Trevor, Jim, Andy, Mike, Mike Gilbert & George.

The route out of Rhuddlan is by a cycleway which dives under the A55 and into St Asaph. Leaving the busy roads behind we struck off Glascoed Rd and started a long slow climb to Bont Newydd. Here the road plunges down negating all our climbing to a small bridge over the River Elwy. The road is attractively called Lon Jack Ffrwn but it might as well have been called “killer hill” as its a 0.4 mile hill with an average gradient of 14.5%

Those of you who study statistics will know averages are deceptive, If I sit with my feet in the freezer and my head in the oven (switched on, not gas DH) I’m averagely warm!  Such was Lon Jack F, very steep in parts with little respites. However, 100% of folk got up and all were pleased with their efforts. From here the road levels off and we descend into the small village of Henllan.

We now enjoyed the roads along the bottom of the valley which wound their way into Denbigh. Stopping only for a quick photo stop outside the rambling Denbigh Sanatorium where incidentally Fiona worked in the past.


Photo by SHu


Taking Prion road we dropped into the tiny village of Llanrhaeadr. By now stomachs were a rumbling and the cry of “are we there yet” was heard more than once. A swift descent to Telpyn, stopping only to let cars trucks and tractors by, saw us arrive at Ruthin and Cafe R.

It was great to see Clive and Alan who had achieved their objective of doing more climbing and mileage yet arriving before us. A glitch on Alans computer announced that their average was 9.5 mph compared to our 10.5 mph implied either the computer was wrong or they had caught a bus!

Full of Quiche, Sandwiches Cakes and many other savoury dishes we set out on our return journey. Using the cycleway we quick passed Rhewl and LLanynys. from here the route turns east to follow the shoulder of the vale of Clwyd towards Llandyrnog. Crossing the main road at Bodfari we started the gentle, and not so gentle climbs up to Tremeirchion and lastly Rhuallt. By now the views over the valley rewarded our efforts and had it been clearer we could have seen Snowdon.

 At Cwm everyone was delighted to hear all the climbing was done and the plunge down into Rhuddlan was a lovely three mile blast.

 A great day out for a special ride, no rain, great company and a lovely route planned by Megan and Alan. Thanks to everyone for coming along and for Alan who led the Mod plus group. 


See route mapand/or gpx file download

Monday 3 June 2024

30th May 2024: Loppington (mod)

Steve Tan, Keith, the two Welsh boyos and I turned up at Chirk in the expectation of improving weather. It turned out that the Dickin Arms at Loppington was the luscious lunch destination for both rides. Once again, the slow group consisted of just two riders, in this case Keith and me, as George had a sore knee and Big Ray was missing. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had a short, circular ride with Keith southeast of Chirk with very wet weather known to be approaching from the south. At least on that occasion, we didn’t have far to go when the rain duly swept in, and we dried out over lunch back at Castle Bistro.

 Today was pleasant as we crossed the busy roundabout on the A5 and turned down the small, quiet lanes to Hindford and Welsh Frankton. We had expected some flooding, but despite some big dips there was very little water loitering from previous rainy days. Swooping down to Lower Frankton always feels both exhilarating and relaxing. The little cottages alongside the lush green lane look to be very desirable residences to retire to. But, where is the nearest Indian? The little bridge over the Llangollen Canal is incredibly steep, as witnessed by the gouging of car exhausts in the tarmac. After Keith’s recent adventures in America and northern Spain, he seems to enjoy being on his bike again at a steady Eddie pace which gives him some moderate preparation for next week’s Special Ride. At Lower Hordley we chose the little lane route to Cockshutt, passing Kenwick Lodge and crossing the A528 before reaching Loppington via English Frankton. We reach the pub seconds after Steve Hughes, Steve Tan and Alan. The food was “a cut above” as always, and it’s a pleasant change these days to be altogether for lunch. When I reached the till I found that Keith had paid for my lunch, which was very generous of him. We returned by way of Colemere, Spunhill and Lee. This may well have been the end of our journey as a large Audi SUV came barrelling down the narrow lane from Tetchill at an incredible pace, and we were in the firing line. The young driver seemed to be losing control, and we had no time to dismount. Despite what I presume was heavy braking, he shot past us with inches to spare, and then sped on. Having crossed the road at Welsh Frankton we followed our outbound route, before crossing the disused railway and turning right for New Marton and St.Martin’s.  Our return ride had been hilly, and although generally sheltered, we had been against the strong wind which had wafted us to lunch. Nevertheless, the sun was now hot, but we were without a Dave Pipe costume change pannier in which to stow outer layers. My sellotaped map was falling apart in the breeze when opened, and only fit for the bin when we finished. Not surprisingly, the waiting Steve Tan, basking in a chair outside the cafĂ©, had just beaten the Yorkshireman record for making a cup of coffee last,( to save putting your hand in your pocket again). It would be too late for me to do Harry the dog’s afternoon walk, so we persuaded Steve to join us for a final coffee before driving home. Many thanks to Keith for being such an agreeable companion. A very relaxed day, and a welcome return to Chirk. About thirty-seven miles covered.

  DH