Thursday, 6 July 2017

Further Stronger Faster

Since the ladies inception in 2008, we have evolved as a group, and I hope we welcome all types of rider for leisure rides, including people who are or are becoming more competitive.  The faster further riders still come back, and there are of course the links to other events held by Chester & North Wales CTC.  Through the Facebook community, members also meet together to join rides such as sportives and cyclettas, even if not organised by Cycling UK.

I have also seen a growth in ladies cycling and events generally - not down to me, although I do think Cycling UK were ahead of the bunch with the Five Miles to Fabulous which springboarded the Fab ladies.  We held our first evening event in the Bike Factory (aimed at women) in 2010, and after a couple of these the Bike Factory organised their own, as did other bike shops around the country.  

Trek were the first bike company I am aware held women's evenings, Chris from Trek came in 2014 to talk about women's anatomy, and specifically saddles and shorts (we disagree on bib shorts!).  Rapha started to hold an annual Women's 100, to encourage the international women's cycling community.

The latest addition to the women's cycling sphere is Specialized, with their 'Further, Stronger, Faster' series.  Held at their concept stores, I was asked in March to have a stand to advise or talk about routes and route planning; the format of the evening was small interactive stands on a variety of topics including nutrition, clothing etc - anything relevant to cycling.  The events continued through the summer, and I was asked to help at the July one - Carl's words were 'would you like to be a guinea pig for the bike fit' (I prefer the term 'model'!).

A good turn out again, met with fizz (or coke/orange/water) and a few nibbles.  Familiar faces and new; and a chance to meet other women who are making their mark in Chester.

Laura is the new 'Specialized' ambassador (I did apply but was not successful - which is fine as I am kinda busy really!).  Laura lives in Staffordshire, and so covers the Stafford, Birmingham and Chester stores.  Expect to hear more from Laura as she is organising local rides for women.

Amanda started with the Fab ladies in June 2012, and completed Breeze training a while ago.  She is re-launching midweek rides - looking to a Friday, and I think she is aiming for the first Friday in the month.

Mark talked a group through a bike fit.

I had a fit before I bought my latest bike in 2014; and so could relate to the fit process.  He started with measuring my feet using a heat sensitive pad, showing your instep and foot arch, and indicating which insole will support your foot more.

There was also a saddle measure, after sitting on a memory foam pad it clearly shows where your 'sit' bones are, and so what size saddle is best.  Glad to see the measure went wider than my derriere; and also that my hardy Brookes Saddle is the correct size for me (good job after 20 years!).

It is an expensive experience, at £220, but lasts about 1 1/2 to 2 hours and  includes a month check up to see how it is working.  You bring your bike and after measuring will adjust your bike or suggest changes that can be made.  It is well worth it to be honest, because it can make such a difference to your comfort and also performance.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Just like old times

With a potential shortage of leaders again, and weather which was a bit wobbly, we had a small turn out for a slightly longer ride to Cotebrook, to the pancake cafe; new to us, but a long standing cyclists favourite.  It was a bit like 'the olden days', when we had just one group setting off from the cafe together; and all was well until we got to the end of the Greenway, and one lady asked to stop to pump up her tyre.

So, as is usual as someone attends to a mechanical, we all stood round chatting - until a plea for help as she could not remove the pump from her valve.  Try as we might, screwing it this way and that, pulling and pushing, but all to no avail.  Fixed firmly.  The only hope to try to break off the small screw bit within the valve, as it seemed to be bent and causing the problem.  We even asked the help of a passing cyclist (a man!) who with a bit of extra brute force pulled it off.

We then - after the photo I forgot to take at the cafe - relocated to Meadow Lea Cafe to be out of the way, and she proceeded to change her tube, as the valve was not going let the air stay in, and it was already deflating.

So it was we had a very late start, but that is OK, it still was not raining and we had time.

Using a combination of the routes Linda and Alex had plotted, but mindful of time, we set off up the A51 (using the pavement, just to be a little safer) and with a small detour on the old road at Stamford Bridge, carried on all the way to Tarvin.  

However, crossing over to enter the village, we were stopped by a lady and gentleman  and a road block.  One lady thought excitedly that the women's tour was coming through, but it was the Tarvin Carnival.  After a polite exchange, the chap re-directed us around a couple of side roads to set us on our way - which was rather fun as there were a few small groups lining the road - and who responded to our cheery wave!

A short climb from Oscroft brought us to Willington Corner, chance for another photo. Unfortunatley, by the time we got to Tarvin the lady with the dodgy tyre had ducked out and called hubby to pick her up, rather than try to soldier on.  So now just 8 of us.

After a short climb near Willington Hall, past the last remnants of a rhododendron bush, we gathered once more, before some lush downhills to Cotebrook.

We parked up round the back, and we were welcomed in to the cafe.  Service was slow but personal, and the food great - some had pancakes (as per the brief) - mine was stacked with bacon and maple syrup!

Natalie shared her photo on facebook - and it is making me hungry all over again!

Eventually, bills all paid, we headed back, heading first to Eaton then through to Tarporley - we are certainly on a downhill run now - all the way back!  (hence no pics!)

As we came in sight of Beeston and the Peckforton range, it was looking decidedly grey and misty, I was worried the weather was coming to meet us, so we headed for Huxley, at which point a few of the faster girls sped off, and the remaining ones continued the downhill theme, crossing the closed Golden Nook Bridge and passing the Waverton Institute, start and finish for tomorrow's Bob Clift Cheshire Cycleway Rides, currently being organised by yours truly.

Sunday, 12 February 2017


The year is already moving towards Spring, although it remains jolly cold.  Again, Chester had a yellow warning for snow leading up the Saturday ladies ride, and although there was some on the distant hills, we had nothing - and with not even ice around, it is just a case of wrap up warm and head for the cafe!

23 ladies assembled, no new faces this month, an so after the photo we could go.

any ideas on an alternative to a long line up for the photos...?
I used the same route I had plotted in 2012, via Saighton, Waverton, Tarvin and Barrow.  But first, we have to get out of Chester.

We weaved through Hoole, using secret cut through's and snickets, to join the Canal at the end of Hoole Lane. 

 and then through Caldy Valley.
nifty removal of the bin makes the picture a bit better!

As mentioned, we headed to Saighton, and turned right.  Passing a bunch of runners, we had the debate should they be running facing the oncoming traffic, or with their backs to it as these were?

Nice steady ride after crossing the A41 through Waverton, past the Crocky Trail and Walk Mill, to cross the river Gowy.  Turning left then brings us to cross the A51, and into Tarvin.  This is an old village, with a few little gems of buildings still around.  There is a town trail, if you are interested, which tells you more about the history

"These black and white timber buildings date from the 16th century and are two of the oldest in Tarvin. They survived the fire of 30th April 1752, which destroyed most of the village buildings. Church House is of timber frame construction with wattle and daub infill and was once thatched. Inside are stone fireplaces with carved coats of arms. The building is thought to have been the vicarage until 1790."

After Tarvin, we crossed the A54 and followed the even quieter lanes around Hollowmoor Heath, and what I call 'the back' of Barrow.

I love the deep sandstone cuttings we have scattered around our lanes, sometimes topped with seasonal flowers such as bluebells or foxgloves.

Here is one not photobombed by Louise.

(Here is Louise!)

Louise was wondering how much further we had, as she was in need of a 'gate stop' to put it politely.  At this point I decided that, if we saw a suitable location, I would like to try to take a photo of a snowdrop (for the blog) and we could combine these activities (although not in the same shot!)

A little further down the lane, I found a suitable small clump of snowdrops (and Louise found a suitable gate).

A final climb up and over Dunham on the Hill, to meet the others at Cafe Fresh.

The other groups were already settled in the cafe, which has the most marvellous wallpaper!

wonderful woodlands!

Further Faster Ladies

Tropical suprise!

Kitchen table?!

The rest of the faster ladies

The groups and ladies all left, and as I was alone, I headed back the way I had come to family in Waverton, just because I could!

17 miles for our group to the cafe, Faster group had been up to Willington and Kelsall; Linda had brought the steady group round Wervin and Picton.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

I don't care what the weatherman say...

...just open your curtains and dress accordingly!

January,and I am becoming a little apprehensive after the last couple of years when we have had a turn out of 30+.  It is great to see, but getting served at the cafe can take quite some time!  And this month, a few leaders were struck down in the day or two before the ride, although fortunately we were not left short.

We were able to split into three groups - Sonia and I had the regular normal steady paced group, and we sent the fasties with Jane and Alex, and Gill, Mary and Sharon looked after the few slower steadier members - two of our newbies for the ride!

So, gloomy start to the day but no ice and no rain.  By the time we reached the canal it was blue skies and sunshine!  We needed to call to Evans as Sonia had a Christmas Present of a pair of gloves that had already developed a hole, so we waited while she swapped them, then we carried on to the river.

We picked up Dukes Drive, I was a little apprehensive as we have had a bit of rain recently, but it is quieter than the Eccleston road which can be a bit fast despite being a country lane.  The track was not as bad as I feared, and although it was muddy often the roads are no better!

We did a little loop round to Dodleston, and then back up the Wrexham Road to the garden centre.  That is when the fun really started!  Our other new lady realised she could not get her foot off her pedal (a screw had come out, leaving the cleat loose and so the shoe could not pivot out).  She decided to take her shoe off, to much jollity, and padded through with her bike to the cafe.

(and although I take many, many photos, I am not that mean!)

Coming back out again, she rode through as it was easier, and re-assembled herself on the bike.  And off we set.  All was well until we got to Eccleston, where we stopped to regroup.  I had wanted to try to push myself a tiny bit, after Christmas and all that, and it is a gentle slope up to the village so I just pushed it - but the ladies were not far behind so I thought oomph I am unfit, all this effort and they are still hard on my heels.  

To be met at the top with groans of how fast I was going!  (there is hope for me yet!)

Anyway - the purpose was to regroup, but Sue fell the wrong way - the side she was clipped in to.  So couldn't get her foot out.  We have all been there.  No harm done, and at least her foot came off pedal!

Final approach in along the river, such a nice way through.


I called to the bike shop after the ride, as Andy had promised to redo my handlebar tape.  Whilst chatting the guys (the shop was so empty) I relayed our tale, and said they must look after our lady if she comes in.

Later, on facebook, when  asked if she had sorted her pedal out, Sue said "Went straight to bike shop and the guy there said "are you Sue one shoe". Haha , who did he hear that from I wonder?"

I did laugh!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

It's amazing what a bike ride can do

...or, the best hangover cure!

Not for the first time this year (I am ashamed to say) I turned up to the ladies ride a little worse for wear.  A few months ago, a quiet works night out had ended with cocktails in The Church and left me needing black coffee and a bacon buttie at Kingsway to recover.  The December ride followed my works night out, which I had joined late as my choir had a concert the same night.  Undeterred I was dancing in Revolution till gone 2am. But enough about Chester and it's nightlife!

It is a good job Mr Rosie was on the ball to remind  me to take a start up photo!
However, it accounts for lack of pictures for the morning, but I knew I had leaders and we were having a short ride to Walk Mill, as has become the tradition, to allow busy people to crack on with Christmas preparations and stuff.  So I dragged myself along, and joined the gentle shorter direct ride with Linda and Gill (back after an 18 month absence due to the ice fall in Dec 2014).

I had to pop home as I had forgotten my waterbottle (essential) and something else (I forget now!), so re-joined them in Guilden Sutton - a surprise to some who did not know I had left them!

Gathering at Walk Mill we filled the cafe to the rafters, and enjoyed a selection of beverages and victuals, but I only stared to pick up after chatting to Caroline, cafe manager and friend of the ladies.  So much so that I could manage a few photos and even a rendition of Jingle Bell Rock with Linda (also in our choir) as we rode up the lane away from the cafe!

We ended back at The Dee Miller, where they again provided us with mulled wine (which is basically fruit, I concluded, as I helped myself to a second glass!) and mince pies.  I was not sure if there was a Tarvin Quiz this year (there was) so a few of the ladies furnished us with some quiz sheets, with cunning clues - I'm sorry I remained a bit vague for the day, so do not know who brought them!

A jolly end to another successful year for the ladies.  Here is to 2017!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Awesome Autumn

I heard on the radio the other morning that we have had the driest start of autumn since 1951.  This has meant the leaves have stayed on the trees longer, allowing them to change to the wonderful colours we have all enjoyed for the past 4-6 weeks.  Then a few days ago we had lots and lots of rain; yesterday a touch of frost and ice and lovely clear blue skies, followed by torrential rain at 3am this morning.  It was still decidedly damp as we assembled at Kingsway Cafe, leading to contemplations between the planned ride to Cotebrook or a shorter one to Okells garden Centre.

Catherine persuaded us to stick to plan A, and Sonia pointed out that the weather forecast said it was going to stop at 10am.  So we gathered under the shelter of the front of the cafe for a photo, before sending Alex and her faster group off.  

It stopped raining.  Ace!

We made our way out through the lanes, and up over Utkinton to drop down to the A49 and Cotebrook.  We pulled some tables together, and the cafe were really helpful and friendly saying chairs are moveable and they made us feel very welcome.  A variety of refreshments were brought to us, and we started to wonder where the faster group were?

Alex and her small group arrived in time, having had a small incident near Waverton (a woman, part of the hunt gathering, had caused one lady to stop suddenly and there ensued a tumble; once all had dusted themselves down, they discovered  a puncture which took a couple of attempts to fix.  All were OK though and apart from some bruising and scuffs to clothing, were able to complete the ride).

Our route back seemed to bring together all the best views and colours still available, and by now I had been able to charge my camera a little in the cafe.  So now I can share some colours and photos with you!

When we got back, and re-joined our faster group, a few of us retired to the Dee Miller - I wanted to book us in for next month Christmas victuals and we finished the ride with a little drink.  Very nice

26 miles (+ further faster)

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A classy coffee stop

October and the trees are starting to turn golden. Another new cafe for us, this time booked in advance with no problems (we could not get in last year).

Gladstones Library, in Hawarden, is part of the Hawarden Castle estate, and is home to his vast library " to bring together readers who had no books and books who had no readers".  Gladstone was four times Prime Minister and four times Chancellor of the Exchequer, but before my time.

It also has a very nice tea room/ restaurant. 

We had a good turn out of 26 riders, and three groups - enough leaders that I could take a back seat (not literally) - but I had been out the night before and felt a little delicate, which a bacon buttie and black coffee soon fixed.

Linda led us in the moderate/ slower group around the river and Handbridge College, out to Kinnerton and up the hill from the Royal Oak.  We continued to climb up to the Warren and then dropped down to Tinkersdale, before heading up the final incline to Hawarden.

We were allocated Gladstones Room, which wasn't actually big enough, but was book lined and consisted of saggy comfy leather sofa's; coffees on our knee but a very relaxed affair.

After coffee, Rick offered to let me have a go on his tandem, with Clare still attached to the back seat.  Clare has been coming out with us since I recognised her at the Spring 50 in 2014, and Rick is her 'pilot', as she has vision problems and needs someone to help her in the pointing-the-bike-in-the-right-direction kind of way.  More volunteers are needed, and as I had at least ridden tandem before with my daughter I said I would have a go.

Hence we could be seen riding back and forth in front of the library as we were assembling to leave and return home!

Of course, after all the climbing into Hawarden, we now had lovely descents to get back to Chester, which we did along the river and canal.  We lost a rider (who had gone ahead) near Telfords, so the main group went one way and I headed up the steps at the Canal Basin and through town (although I did not catch our wayward cyclist, I did see an array of rubber ducks); We managed to re-group back at Kingsway - where we also found the lost cyclist!

Ducks - of course!

Is this my boat?!