Saturday, 12 September 2015

Sunshine, rabbits and bacon

For the last two years we have used the September ride as a gentle introductory ride, out to Nets cafe using the Greenway and Burton March route.  It is a flat 11 miles and mostly off road.

Managed to forget my camera, don't know why everyone cheered!  But these days your phone doubles up well, and the ride is such a straightforward one it does not lend itself to many pics.  I was riding with a couple of new ladies - one has taken about a year to 'pluck up the courage' and join us.  I did reassure her that quite a lot of people do take a long time from first contact to first ride; and there is nothing I can say to change that - although without fail once they do come out, they love it!

This year we had twenty riders, with our largest age gap to date of 75 years between our Octegenarian and a lady who brought her daughter age 7!  The youngest ever fab lady rider managed 11 miles altogether, great as her furthest before that was 6 miles!  When she is a bit older hopefully she can join us more regularly; but I think you need to be able to comfortably cover about twenty miles to come on the rides.

We arranged to meet up at the turn off; and I arrived with 12 waiting (this was good as my sums calculated 7 behind, plus me!)  I assured them we were all fine - there had been one puncture early on and the two new ladies were a bit slower but steady.  As I waited I could hear a donkey in the woods.  as you do!

We had had heavy rain in the morning but it had cleared by the time we met.  One or two light showers was the worst we had, which is why the Greenway looks so wet.  The sun did come out as the morning progressed.  No photo at the cafe - by now I was in 'morning-after-need-cooked-breakfast-and-a-coffee' mode, and the only spare seat was with another ladies group - Carol and a couple of Breeze ladies.

I headed back at the end of the group, rounding up the two newbies as it started to get a bit complicated by the industrial estate.  One mentioned she would never have thought to carry on through the estate coming out, even though it is well signposted.  Hopefully it is the first of many new cafes she will visit with us!

View across the Marsh bulrushes
to the Flint Bridge at Connah's Quay

View back to blue skies at the sandstone
outcrop at Burton Point

Sunday, 26 July 2015


For a couple of years, Rapha, a cycle clothes company, have been promoting women's rides, encouraging rides and challenges (there is one between Christmas and New Year, to complete 500k.  That is all very well if you live in Australia and maybe do not work!).  This year we decided to play our part, and Alex volunteered to plan a route.

Well, she probably planned several routes.  The first one looked OK, and I don't think many people paid attention to the route posted on facebook, until it was nearer to the ride date.  I know I didn't, but when I did I thought 'Hmm, don't remember that road [coming in near Aldford]?  But I do know of a track there...'.  No problem, Alex planned to ride it the Tuesday before, and consequently replanned the final route.

The next hiccup was that although we knew Race for Life would be on the same morning, this did not interfere with the route, as it was the other side of Chester.  But, there was also a triathlon (Deva Diva's, or similar) which I became aware of following a conversation with my mum (who lives in Handbridge, and quite likes watching the bikes swish down her road).  After much discussion on facebook Alex reversed the route and posted it back up.

Road closed at Guilden Sutton, but we could get through

Wet now at Aldford, turning in by Duke's gates.

new insides at Cleopatra's

new friendly staff

The full group at Cleopatra's.  Christine left us at this point.

Sunday morning - meeting at The Dee Miller.  The weather forecast was not just wet, but threatened to be 'Biblical' apparently.  But it was dry as we gathered, and set off in two groups.  Some inadvertent group swapping before the start caused me to panic (as a group of 10 but actually 14 set off - stopped and re-jigged to be 10); and group 2 set off shortly after.

The bus stop makes a great cycle shed!

We managed 5 miles in the dry via Mickle Trafford and Guilden Sutton (road closed!), before drizzley spots started!  Coats on and undeterred we continued through to Waverton and Saighton, down the hill into Farndon and up into Holt; and a new cafe.  Hildegard has now left, and the new cafe (Cleopatra's) had to be sampled.  Very nice!

After coffee stop, it was back to Farndon, and right through the lanes to Tilston, then Shocklach.  We passed a short stretch of lane that was swooping with swallows - not sure why there but it must've been their lunch time!  We continued to Sarn Bridge, and right after the bridge over the Wych brook and up.  There are some lovely lanes, and my second group actually caught up with group one at one stage.  A short bit of main road then a few more lanes brought us into Ellesmere, where we headed straight to the boathouse.

The Boat House was busy and full, but we squeezed in on selected tables and queued and waited for our respective refreshments.

Leaving damp Ellesmere
When we worked out which blue line we needed to follow out, we were soon on our way again.  Following a route the other side of the river Dee, we headed back to Holt and Cleopatra's again - this time for coffee and cake.

By now numbers were beginning to dwindled as people headed back their respective ways; but a core of us continued to Rossett, and Eccleston.  Back along the river Dee, finally two of us made it back to the Dee Miller - where we celebrated with a little half to toast a lovely day (despite the rain!)

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Tractors and Tranquility

No cafe open for us again this morning, they are short of volunteers and my daughter (#2) was working.  My eldest was also working - but as I am organising the ladies, groups, signing in I get a phone call - forgotten her pass to get in to Chester Racecourse, can I help?   Argh no!

I left her to it - after contemplating taking my group home then across Chester to the racecourse, all the wrong way to Bunbury!  She got in.  Phew!

Soooo, 22 or so of us met up, signed in and grouped into smaller riding parties, setting off after the mandatory photo.  Some new faces which is always nice!
small climb near Utkinton, love the sandstone
cuttings we have in Cheshire

a particularly flowery gateway

My group followed me out through Waverton to cross the A51 at Duddon, and then out towards Tarporley, with a little hill.  We timed it well at Tarporley, as the village carnival was on later but did not hold us up - nice to have the flags out, and we passed the fete field before turning right down a lane I am not sure if I have been down before but it was really lovely, small and quiet.

Unfortunately it did bring us out on the A51 again (unavoidable), so after a quick reassurance that it was only to the next right, we set off in smaller groups single file before regrouping on the next small lane.

This takes a delightful drop down to the Bunbury locks, where a picture of tranquility included a canal boat, onlookers and probably ducks - we were on a downhill with following uphill so no chance to soak up the peace or take a photo.  Sometimes the essence of what you are passing, the emotions and ambiance, can be experienced.  This adds to the day - anticipation in Tarporley, then the quiet and slow pace of the canalside.

I digress.

new friends
We landed in Bunbury, although couldn't remember which way to go for the cafe!  We found it, and settled in with group #1 (Alex with faster further).  

Tilly's at Bunbury

On leaving, we again set off in two groups; I had planned to go out and cross the A49 but found myself at The Yew Tree; no matter we headed right towards Peckforton which afforded us lovely views of Beeston as we followed the lane.


I was looking out for our Elephant & Castle, but missed it.  Next time!

We stopped briefly for a pic at Beeston Gates, as it always looks good!

You pass your camera to someone else, and they manage to chop top of the castle gates off.
Super run back, downhill from Beeston, down to the very humpty back bridge by the Shady Oak, where a chain jumped off - so we waited at the end of the lane for Rosie and Sharon to catch up.  We will always wait!

view as you drop down by Beeston -
looking acress to Tarporley

waiting to re-group -
Peckforton hills in the background

catching up

Rick posing with tractor!
 We often come across tractors in the lanes.  We had stopped in the morning for one - they do not have a choice about using country lanes, but would also find it hard to pass a group of cyclists.  This tractor photo was purely for photo chance, and to help explain the blog title!!!!!

Final run into Chester along the canal - Swans by now have re-located from Christleton Pond and lurk along the canal - it is fine if adults and babies are on the same side but if they are either side of the towpath, feathers may fly!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Longer ride to a new cafe to us, that is.  Fire Station at Malpas, no chocolates (not to be confused with Tarporley Fire Station and chocolate shop!).

Usual gathering at Kingsway, although the cafe is shut through Saturdays this summer due to no staff, my daughter was able to open up for us.

We sent the faster group off first with Alex, and the slower group with Linda.  This led too many for one group, so Gill led the second half but keeping us in sight so as not to get lost.

looks like a grey day...

...but some shadows here!

Out along the Canal,and Caldy Valley nature park, along to Saighton (new road layout still not finished by Rake and Pikel)


Past the Carden Arms at Tilston.
New Years Day meet up location.

we took a fairly direct route to Maplas, after Tilston there are sandstone cut lanes, Overton Scar and the circular contour following climb up to Malpas.  We were quite warm by this point, as the weather was warm and dry if not very sunny.


On arrival at the cafe - called Oakwood - we met the faster group who had taken the outside table, so we took over inside.  Four tables later, we were waited on and had a variety of lunches (that bit further and it is really lunchtime by now).

Our return journeys offered a selection of directly back, direct with variation via Holt to North Wales; or a scenic direct back with me.

One lady left early to get back,only to suffer a puncture and be rescued by the 'direct-to-Chester' group, who helped her out.

I had a little plan to drop to No Mans Heath (on the A41), where we crossed to Larkton, but immediately left along a smashing little lane.  This brought usto cross the A41 (again) to go through Edge - I love the name,and the hall and tiny hamlet are so cute, really old thatched cottages and almost a secret location.  Then we crossed the A41 (but sssshhhh! I was hoping no-one would notice!)  and came up the back of Bolesworth castle, along another deep sandstone cutting.

This then brought us to Tattenhall, and straight back through the usual lanes.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

May the rain stay away!

Ooooh the forecast on Thursday for Saturday was rain rain all day.  By Friday (which was very, very wet) the forecast appeared to be sunny all day, but the morning to start with did not promise much other than rain!  Still, working on the premise 'Rain before 7, fine before 11'and the fact that hey, what's a bit of rain? 28 ladies dutifully gathered at Kingsway cafe (there was even a bit of sun!).

Never mind the black clouds - this is the ladies ride - we don't have rain!
And a brightly coloured crew we were too!  Three groups; slow and steady, Regular and Faster Further set off on pre-plotted routes  thanks to the magic of modern technology, Map my Ride and Facebook!

Welna and Lind led the regular group, which I joined, and we had a lovely (and even sunny in parts) ride through Hoole, along the canal to Vicars Cross, Boughton crossing by the Cherry Orchard to Stocks Lane, and Huntington to the Rake and Pikel where we took the Saighton road.

At Saighton we dropped down the hill - with one of my favourite views off to the right - Dukes Tower and Welsh hills, with added Rape field to include some colour.

At the ice cream farm a few ladies could not resist having an ice cream (even though quite a cold day!).

After coffee, snacks, and a few ice creams, we set off in our respective groups again,dropping people as we go (as they near their homes and can head back).  Past the two bridges, to Hargrave and Crocky Trail, Waverton and Christleton.  Pearl lane over the bridge and along the A41 (cycle path)

20 miles.  And no rain!