Top Tip #3 (I don't know, I made the number up!) - always leave your bike lock locked. That way you will not lock your bike safely at the cafe and then realise you do not have the right key with which to unlock it. This means (if you notice in time) that you will have to phone a friend, be picked up, negotiate all the traffic lights across Chester, go home, get the RIGHT keys, and get back in time to not be left behind. This was not me, by the way.
There was a little chap sat in the cafe last month, who soon became swamped by the ladies. This month he had moved in a table, but was still in the midst. A few of us sat with him, and had a little chat as we finished our coffees. John was full of questions (how far was the furthest we / I had ridden, what was our favourite ride - that is a hard question!). He told us about being in Africa in the war, and despite being 100 in two years time, he has never been to the Lake District. I am sure we will see him next month!
So, most of us (except the latecomers and forgetful key owners) lined up for a picture by our now keen and regular photographer Ken. Then I sent Alex and Jane off with the faster group, and Linda and Catherine set off with the regular pace. I picked up the slower group, the latecomers and key owners.
We had a lovely gentle pootle around Picton Gorse before heading back to the A56 to cross the Gowy and return to the lanes around Barrow. It was a gently sunny morning, almost warm.
The thing I like about the slower group is meeting other people. We stopped by a dozen very small cows, in the front of their farm, and the farmer came out. I was chatting with her and she was telling me about her cows, they had all passed their TB test this week, a big concern for farmers (if they do not pass, they are taken away there and then).
The final approach to the Bluebell cafe (in Barrowmore Estate) is through some of my favourite deep sandstone cuttings. A very Cheshire ride, with sandstone and cows!
We were first to arrive at the cafe, with a pleasant 8 miles under our belt. It is run by volunteers, some of which I think live at Barrowmore. There is iMap which is autism specific, and sheltered housing I think. So service can be a little slow, confused and 25 women (24 plus Rick!) doesn't help the situation! But amazing cake and very nice food was received by all.
Some more pics at the cafe...
|'Race you to the cakes...' [photo by Mary]
The return journey took a little negotiation and organising - as some people were heading straight home, or a few were heading back to North Wales. I waited until I knew everyone could get back or knew what they were doing. Linda was going to continue round, covering out little 8 miles out for her return journey; but Alex was heading to North Wales with the rest and Jane needed to carry on and get more miles in!
So I shepherded the last few and the rest of my group; a direct route down the hill to the A51 at Stamford Bridge and back along the Greenway.
Distances varied between my 12 miles; or 20 for the regular group, and 22-25 for the faster group - up to 57 for those who rode out from North Wales!