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?!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

September easy intro ride

Me being bossy as usual!

We met - we drank coffee - we left.  It is hard to change the format!  And September, for the third year, saw us grouping to head off along the Greenway to Net's Cafe.  As easy off road and take-it-at-your-own-pace (whatev
er that is).

I think Mr Rosie nearly got us all in....not sure if someone has fallen off to far left?

It was an uneventful ride out - pleasant, easy, sociable.  All you need really.  I was at the front, then I dropped back to count people - then caught up again!

It is always a conundrum - do I count the tandem
as one or two?!

We re-grouped at the cafe, sitting outside which is always a bonus.  

You get a nice view of the Welsh Hills (Halkyns)
from Nets cafe, across Dee Marshes.

We then grouped to leave - to check who is coming back with who.  I brought up the rear, as Welna was going to lead back via the river.

However, we had a little altercation.  As we were riding along a small bit of dead endroad, alongside footpath (where the route comes from under the main road) a couple of chaps were caught up with us.  I did not think it was a problem, they had not asked to pass or anything.  One gentleman (I use the term loosley, I'm afraid) I could see was going to leave the footpath just in front of me - despite having passed me, he did not look back to see where I was - closer than he thought.  I said 'whoa, you may be better looking before you come out mate ' (or similar harmless and certainly not gruff words).  His response was very rude, I'm sorry I forget his exact words right now.  I said 'is everything alright?' but I just received another terse response.  Not only riding quite dangerously, but there is no call to be so rude.

It got us to thinking - the majority of other cyclists - including men - are usually polite and friendly, they certainly smile as they pass.  They may offer help if you are stopped.  I am lucky we do not get many lewd comments either, despite being a ladies only club.  I do not obviously know his personal circumstances, or maybe he just did not like being held up by women?  I think if you are going to face any antagonism, it will be on the Greenway/ off road routes - but not very often at all.   Cycling is generally a very friendly activity.  Just a shame some have to spoil it.

At this point Sinead was encountering difficulties in the back tyre department.  Despite pumping up a few times, there came a point where she admitted defeat and decided the time had come to change her tube.  By now we were at the back, with Cheryl.  I offered to stay with Sinead, Cheryl went on to tell the group who had headed to the river, that we would not be following on.

We stopped, we fixed, we smiled at passing cyclists.  We then headed directly straight back to Chester, with no deviations, in case deflation occurred again!  It didn't, thankfully!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Scarecrows and cake

After having to cancel July's ride (not the #womens 100) we decided to have a slightly longer ride to Great Budworth, the ride originally planned for July, and not to be done out of a new cafe for the ladies!

Maybe because we missed a ride, or maybe the promise of more miles, or just nice weather; but we had our second largest turn out for this year of 31 riders, 8 out for the very first time!
too many to fit in the photo!

Jane gallantly took a large group (we were still a little short of riders, but I knew the further faster riders were more experienced, so would be OK to manage and split the group into bitesize chunks as necessary) and set off after the photo.  We saw them as we neared the cafe, as they had left before we got there!

Sonia and I split the rest into two groups, with my group setting off up Mannings Lane first, followed by Sonia's.  They soon caught us, as we had a puncture after a couple of miles, just in Mickle Trafford.  

At least we had sun for our unscheduled stop!
We sent them on ahead, as there was no point everyone waiting - but our group did wait (we will always wait to help group members out).  It then got  a little complicated as kind offers of help were accepted - a chap with a dog promised he 'only lived up the road' and would return with a track pump; but was not back by the time another guy came from his garage to offer one.  I then had to hunt the first gentleman down, as I did not want him to turn up armed with his inflation device, with us nowhere to be seen!

Finally inflated and back on the road, the route was an easy one as we were just following the Cheshire Cycleway.  This is a route I always used to head out on in my youth when I was first riding the lanes (in the mid eighties - big hair and all!).  It is not without it's hills, but we re-grouped from time to time; but by the time we got through Delamere Forest it was nearer 12 - and we were only halfway!

I love our deep sandstone cuttings

A few ladies chose to stop off in Delamere, but the rest of us were happy to continue with the route, which was now mostly downhill (off the sandstone ridge and towards the River Weaver).  Of course, whizzing happily downhill can mean I may (and did) miss the little blue cycleway sign, and we landed on the A49, but not where I was expecting!  (on closer inspection on the return, the sign is badly placed to be fair!)

An unscheduled diversion!

Not to be undeterred (and not retracing back up the hill!) I employed my trusty smartphone with it's map, and planned an alternative through Weaverham, staying off the main road, but re-joining close to where we should've come out.

With no further impromptu diversions, we continued over the Weaver at Acton Bridge and up into the salt lands.  We had views across Combermere and could see the salt works in the distance.  A closed road was no obstacle, as we followed the pedestrian route around the barriers, arriving not too late after Sonia's group.

Passing Combermere

Great Budworth is a very pretty Cheshire village; and as we climbed up into the centre, we noted scarecrows lining the roads - lying on hedges, peeping over other hedges - I did not get them all, but here are a few!

The ice cream farm has been the first stop off for the 100 mile riders on the Bob Clift Cheshire Cycleway rides, in June each year.  I took over organising it this year, so it was nice to meet Rachel and the gang, and say thanks for looking after our riders again this year.

Always a warm welcome at the Ice Cream Farm in Great Budworth - and much quieter than some
other local ice cream farms!
The return route was back the way we came (or nearly for us!) following cycleway signs.  It was hard to find an alternative route, as we have to cross the Weaver, and there are a surprisingly limited number of points to cross without adding lots of miles.

It was a long climb back up to Norley, before we had lovely descents in Delamere.  

45 miles, back by tea time!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

#Women's 100's

No ladies ride in July as I had no leaders due to holidays.

But, to repeat last years Rapha #Women's 100k, we had scheduled an event for the end of the month - which turned into two rides!

Alex planned a route for the 17th July, which was the date picked by Rapha (at late notice for our rides list which is published in Jan); but we could not swap the date as there was already a Sunday ride planned, and the audax rides from Corwen.

Sharon says "Thanks Alex Peacock for a fabulous rapha 100k ride today and for everyone's company. I am now officially broken, more hill training needed. I did also provide comedy moment of day by falling head first into Llangollen canal!! Managed to save the bike though"

Jane says "an amazing route from Alex over World's End, Panorama, Fron aqueduct, Ellesmere and beyond. Champagne moment has to go to Sharon who felt the need to cool down in the canal at Chirk Great day, fabulous company xx"

Race for Life #volunteerarmy

A few months ago I was tweeting whilst on a Sunday ride - I do that sometimes.  This time I had a reply - would I like to be 'lead bike' at Race for Life in Chester?  I had no idea what that meant, but was proud to be asked, so I said yes.  All I had to do was turn up at Chester Racecourse at 7:30am on the 17th July.

So, despite being a little jet lagged after my Cuba holiday, I dragged myself up and out of bed, and across town to get to the Racecourse early in the day - but at the wrong side.  I needed to be by the Grosvenor Bridge.  So I circumnavigated the Racecourse on the cycle path, and across the track to the small collection of tents, one of which was a volunteer tent.

Here I collected my T'shirt, tabbard, radio and wrist band, and stood around with the other marshall volunteers.  There is some incredible organisation that goes into this, Heart radio was set up at the start / finish, and were soon pumping out boppy tunes to get the ladies in the mood.  Brio, our local leisure organisation, were there to lead a warm up - but I did not see that, as after we had had our briefing, and I had got some pink flowers for my bike, and had a photo with Brio teddy bear - I had to head to the main entrance to be ready for the first runners.

I waited, and it seemed a while before the first runners were spotted - two young girls with distinctive long pink socks.  My role was to ride in front - but a little way ahead.  as long as I can see the runners, they can see me (which I was relieved about as I had visions of hundreds of runners hot on my wheels and passing me as I climbed Canal Street!)

As I came to each marshall, I recognised them and them me, I rang my bell and let them know the runners were just coming.  It was also useful to ding at tourists who were starting to fill the streets to take photo's of Chester's classic landmarks - watch out the runners are coming (well, one at least!)

By the Town Hall the two girls had been passed by a lady in a yellow T-shirt, who also passed me as I stopped for a quick photo.  I resumed my lead position, and we headed through town, to the amphitheatre and then out towards the park on the wrong side of the road - very strange feeling for me!

Pink arrows led the way, so there was no way for me or any runners to get lost, and the route returned to Vicars lane - now two ways of runners!

We dropped down to the river, and along to the finish at the racecourse, where I could cheer the first runners through.

Same time and place next year...?!

A much less harassed Laura at the end!

Family of runners - 2nd, 3rd and 6th (I think)