Saturday 10 February 2024

Mudguards, Mechanical Mayhem, and Macaroni Cheese

 I am having some fun with my titles, and I hope this one intrigues you!

Our ride this month had no weather to speak of, just a grey day - but no wind, ice, frost, fog, rain, or anything else to put us off, and we gathered again in Hobsons Cafe in Hoole Community Centre.

I met a chap at the start, and he asked to take my photo (or the back of my top) to help promote both the cafe and our group.  He returned just as we were leaving (he said he had forgotten his keys) so that was perfect timing to take our photo.  He then admitted to me he takes lots of photos, and his twitter name is 'I Dream Of Pies' (I have heard of this, so it was very nice to meet him).

I can count 16 here, but we definitely had 17!

The plan was to head to Tarvin Sands, a cafe once known as the Elvis Cafe, but has been part of the fisheries there latterly.  We last visited in October 2019, and we were able to sit outside.  However, I had noted the shutters down when I drove past earlier in the week (although it was 4pm, so some cafes are shut then), and I had not been able to get through on phone or email in the week.  So I was a little suspicious, but knew there were some alternatives in Tarvin, so felt assured we would find somewhere.

Linda set off with her group, and we followed on, using a similar route.  We avoided the Greenway, as it remains flooded, and dropped down Mannings Lane to Mickle Trafford, and the A56 (unavoidable if we are to cross the Gowy).  I saw our group stopped up ahead, but they started again before we caught them; I then maintained a 'car gap' between us and them, so any cars could pass both groups safely.  However, when we turned off the main road, they had stopped again.  Linda reassured us she was OK, and we carried on.  

I chose Sugar Lane at Manley hill, as it always seems a little less steep, then pootled our way around to Ashton.  Here we had a quick decision to either loop to the bottom of Kelsall and around to Oscroft, or straight to the cafe.  The group chose the former, so we took Duck Lane (what a great name!) and crossed the main A54 at the bottom of Kelsall Hill and quickly tucked back off the main road on the other side.  

I thought I may need my phone to hand, so dug it out of my saddlebag - to note a recently missed call from Linda.  She told me they had been having a few mechanical problems and were at the old motor museum, but were fine and continuing.

We continued to return to the A54, and to cross it again - but alas! when we got to the Fisheries it was indeed firmly shut.  I tried to call Linda back but it went to answerphone.  No worries, we will head back to Tarvin.

Unfortunately, just as we turned into Barrow Lane, Laura succumbed to a puncture.  Undeterred, I was very proud as she set to straight away with fixing it.  As time was ticking I suggested I take the rest on to Tarvin, and would let Mary know where we ended up.  I carefully described the route, and we set off to cut back along Sandy Lane (very inappropriate name as it is very muddy, not sandy), and crossed back into Tarvin.  

There is a lovely little cafe just up from the centre of Tarvin - with 'little' being the operative word.  I did not hold out much hope that they could accommodate 17 of us, and the look of horror on the cafe managers face confirmed this.  I told her not to worry, as we still had a couple of options.

We then tried our luck at Cornichon, a quite nice looking restaurant claiming on the sandwich board outside, to do coffees and breakfasts.  But could they accommodate a sudden influx of 17 of us?  I could but ask.  After a couple of checking back with the manager, yes they could squeeze us in upstairs, but just for a drink and maybe small snacks (not meals) - this was most welcome, and we locked our bikes behind the cafe, and I called Linda and Mary to let them know.

I realise we had two types of riders with us - those who were glad they had, or had recently had, mudguards fitted, and those who realise this is something they need.  At the restaurant, there were those who had Mac and Cheese (Macaroni Cheese, please, this is what I have always called it!) and those who did not (Croque Monsieur was the other favourite).

Linda's group found Mary, and they all finally arrived at the cafe.  The issue had been Kath's new very sparkly mudguards (acquired recently from a visitor from America) but were metal and rattled a lot, needing some tightening up during the ride.  So there you have it, Mudguards, mechanical and Macaroni Cheese!

Heading back a few set off first, as they needed to be back, and I offered a quick scoot along the path on the A51 and back to Guilden Sutton, and Linda and Sonia went back via Waverton.  So we split and made our ways back. 

We had to naviagate some serious hedge cuttings, all across the shared cycle path - so I took a quick photo with the plan to report it on the CWAC 'report it' website.  (I did that on Sunday morning, and I will let you know how I get on)

I managed about 22 miles, and my route can be found on Komoot -

Apologies for the lack of photos, it was quite a grey day, with very familiar lanes, and the last one I took (when the sun came out and we had blue skies) had too much camera shake!

Saturday 13 January 2024

New Year Plans

 At the end of each year I have a look back at the years of records I have, where we have been and when, and I formulate a plan of rides for the coming year - with some new destinations if possible, and I remember to include them.  Everything is on a multi tabbed spreadsheet!

As the January ride approached I realised I was going to be away (delivering a freezer to my daughter in London, and including a trip to Harry Potter World), but I knew the ladies would again be in safe hands.

An ideal thing to do when leading a group is to actually ride the route in advance, noting any hazards or risks, or issues with the route.  I seldom have the opportunity to do this, relying instead on my own knowledge but also that of the ladies, who will let me/ us know if there are problems (road closures, for example).

This month the plan was to revisit Yvonne's cafe in Connah's Quay; we have been a few times and it is earthy but does the job.  But a member highlighted via Facebook that this cafe shuts at 12.  I was sure the group could make it before then (it is January, we are not doing long and intricate routes this time of year, too cold!); but as I am having a phased return to work I was able to make the time to ride out in advance.  This was prompted by a message from Gill, inviting me out for a ride.  So that is what we did!

It was a beautiful day, and we arranged to meet at Saltney Ferry. It was not really too cold, either, for early January.  

We basically rode up the river, so not much to tell, and round to Yvonne's.  I had located another cafe very nearby (just in case), which I knew we had visited about 5 years ago on a Sunday ride.  A bit of detective work the preceding Sunday (on Chester CTC Sunday Ride) had clarified the cafe, so Gill and I visited it.

There is a tiny but very friendly and helpful cafe, and also a heritage exhibition.  There was not much in the way of cakes, but I did have a marvellous bacon buttie (with the last sausage too, shame to leave it!)

We then had the chance to 'reckky' another cafe in the vicinity - Olive Tree Tea
Rooms, in 'Andy's Garden centre', at the end of Sealand Road.  Put that one down for 2025!!!

As I was not around for the Saturday ride, I have photos here from Collette, and some comments from the Facebook chat.  Enjoy!

Gill - As always a lovely outing with Fab Ladies

Great to see some new faces and hope to see you all out again soon ðŸš´ðŸ»‍♀️

Jane Really enjoyed today's cycle, thank you for making us very welcome xx


Collette - Jane  hope to see you on another ride soon 

Jane - Collette  definitely will be coming again x

Helen - Lovely ride, & great to see such a good turnout.

Amanda - Really good ride and great cafe thanks everyone x

Joanne - Lovely to see a few Chester Road Runners there! ðŸ‘‹ looks like you had a great time! Xx

Jean - Lovely ride, thank you leaders ðŸ¥°

Mary🚲 - Thanks everyone for making it a busy, noisy ride today.

Kath - Wow heck of a group !

Helen - Kath  Numbers seem to be picking up again after the pandemic, happily. ðŸ™‚ (Pre-2020 I think the record was about 35-ish.) We split into groups of about 8-10 to ride, which means we’re not such a big obstacle to overtake, and also means groups can take different routes to our cafe stop, with some going a bit further than others.

Kath - Helen  when is the next one ?


Sue - Kath feb, we are monthly.

Collette - Kath  the planned rides are listed down the left hand side of the blog that Sue writes

Consilia - Really enjoyed my first group cycle. Thanks for the fun!👍





...and we all want to know about Mary's new 'Bike Balancing' trick she is showing off here!!

Thanks to the leaders for organising, and Collette for the photos!

Saturday 9 December 2023

December circuit

 The weather forecast (which I never look at) was not apparently great, and our sister group on the Wirral, the Bicycle Belles, had cancelled their ride for today (it is unusual for our rides to fall on the same day, I guess Christmas is fast approaching!)

I barely had chance to even look out of the window; after a disturbed night on Thursday I was obviously still tired - and awoke suddenly at 9:30.  My Husband murmured 'what time are you supposed to be there?', and I said NOW!!!  To be fair to me though, I was walking in the door of the community centre twenty minutes later, having got up, dressed, and got my bike out!

Service was quite slow this morning, but I did not have a coffee as I did not want to delay us any more (although some were only just getting their drinks).  The general consensus was also to try to get back before 12, when the weather was due to change, therefore not going to our planned coffee stop.  (I had tried to call Trafford Hall, YHA a few days earlier but had not got through or had a reply to my message).

Me sporting my new Cycling Christmas jersey!

So we disembarked from the cafe and mustered for a quick photo, before setting off along the very sunny streets.  It was an odd feeling, heading out the opposite way on roads we usually head out on, and passing Kingsway Cafe on the way too.

Not many photos as it was really quite an ordinary ride - we bobbed along the zoo path, Rick noted a trunk reaching up (which we presume is attached to an elephant), and we carried on to Rake Hall where we headed back via Stoak and Picton. 

It started to pick on to rain, and I stopped as I was not sure if anyone wanted to 'cape up' (put waterproofs on), but everyone was prepared.  The rain shortly stopped - but our second rainbow of the year was noted over our left shoulder - and it was spectacular!  The photo does not do it justice.

I was trying to capture the full arc, but my camera does not go widescreen enough, and I was running down the road - all the time worried that the rainbow would fade!

Note the reflection of the rainbow in the puddle!

Aah, so eventually they dragged me away with my camera and we climbed back up Mannings Lane (the Greenway is currently very flooded), and we were back before the weather turned nasty!

Thursday 30 November 2023

Glue guns and Glitter balls

What is she up to now, I hear you ask (from the post title)?!  Well, let me tell you.

Last week, I saw a post from a friend on Facebook that there were some spare trees, at the local Methodist church.  It is that time of year when Christmas is approaching, although we are still only in November (just).  I asked on the Ladies facebook group if anyone fancied doing this, and I was met with several very inspired ideas, and an element of keen engagement and willingness.

I thought we had a few weeks, but it turned out it had to be decorated by Thursday tea time, which left us a couple of days to collect and create some decorations.

On Monday I called to Bren Cycles to raid their scrap bin; unfortunately the scrap had recently been emptied, and all I got was a chain and a couple of small cogs.  I contacted The Bike Factory, and was assured they had some chains and cogs, and they offered to put them through the industrial cleaner.  I called in the next day and was given a large bag full of goodies, and spent the evening and next morning de-greasing and cleaning chains and cogs, although some were exceptionally clean!

Wednesday afternoon came, and I had cleared my dining room table of the usual accumulation of items, only to replace with all sorts of crafting goodies.  I had scoured the shops in town for glitter and glue, and of course my bike components (with hubby setting about removing links from chains and creating smaller loops for us in the kitchen).

The team:

Sophie - reindeer expert

Gill - was only passing but ended up laminating baubles

Mary - with her glue gun and
penchant for all things glittery

Collette - what's next?

Helen - crocheted wheels specialist

Through the afternoon various helpers arrived, some for the whole afternoon, some dropping in to lend support to cutting, laminating, gluing and glittering as needed.  Sophie was well away with creating reindeer, and having supplied paints and googly eyes she made a marvellous job.  I attacked some short strands of chain (already painted silver by Mary) with a glue gun, and liberally dusted them with glitter, creating icicles.

I then turned my hand to the cogs, which we had sprayed at the start of the afternoon green or gold, and threaded red ribbon around, to make rather dashing wreaths.  Finally I used some other slightly longer lengths to make candy canes, painting them red, and wrapping a stripey ribbon around their length.

Helen was the latest to arrive, after work, and crocheted two wheels, with a black tyre.

With a few 'baubles' which were created from photos of individual ladies on their bikes, printed in circles, cut out, laminated, and finally finished off with sequins, this concluded our six hours of creativity.

Thursday morning my husband and I fiddled with a few more bits, making larger stars, before packing everything up and heading to the church.

We wound red and white lights around the tree to start with (to emulate bike lights, front and back), and one strand of 'tinsel' - an inner tube sprayed gold by Sophie.

Then the icicles, stars, wreaths, baubles, wheels, and other decorations which define our riding - two cup cakes, a bottle of champagne and a beer tankard!  (in a Methodist Church!)

Delighted with our creation, we then took a few photos for posterity.  Well, what did you expect?!!!

The final tree, dressed to impress

Close up's...

And then some poses in my cycling top - just because!

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Change of meet up point

!! Just to let you know we are meeting at Hoole Community Centre, Westminster Road, for the November and December rides, as Kingsway will not be open. 

Saturday 14 October 2023

The changing seasons

 This autumn has been alternately unseasonable warm, or cold and wet.  The annual debate about whether to put the heating on yet or not will be discussed; but if you are a jumpers on sort of person, put another log on the fire person, or sod it put the heating on now, there is no getting away from the need for waterproofs when the forecast is for heavy showers.

I was sat on my own until half past, wondering if the forecast had finally put people off, with cafe staff asking me if anyone was coming.  Oh they of little faith! (in my ladies, that is; as it is a run by volunteers from the churches I do not doubt their ultimate faith!)  Eleven expectant ladies joined me, and we managed a quick chat in the sun and set off before the black cloud could deposit any of the damp stuff.

I had no 'official photographer' this morning!

As I had not set groups off individually, we ended all heading out along the Greenway, and we sorted ourselves into two groups at the end.  We were all heading generally the same way.  By co-ordinating my group of six to ride side by side, fairly close, along the A56, and with me at the rear giving 'Paddington' stares to vehicles that came up behind, we had safe passage until we were able to join the lanes after the railway bridge.  (I do not give a mean stare, even just a glance over the shoulder is enough usually to slow cars and for them to pass a little wider.  Don't ask me how that works, but it really does).

We enjoyed glorious sunshine all the way to the cafe, although the trees have not yet come into their full autumn glory.  One lady had recently returned from a trip to Scotland, and noted the trees there were already all shared of gold and red.  Next month I am sure we will see the difference.

On arrival at the cafe, there was another dubious large black cloud, so we quickly locked up and headed inside, where I secured three tables as others queued.  The second group arrived shortly after.  

Although only the 14th October, 
the cafe was fully decorated
with Halloween paraphernalia!

Delamere has a new large cafe, so booking was not needed.  It was not too busy today, but there were plenty of staff and I think more loos than I have ever seen even in motorway services!  Makes a change from lots of cafe's we visit who only have the one toilet.  New barriers to the car park too, it is a while since I have cycled that was so I was a little unsure.

Leaving all as one group we headed along the rough track that brings us to the bottom of the Yeld, by Kelsall Cycles.  We did not head up the Yeld (with an average gradient of 4.7%), but along the bottom and then followed the gradient around to Kelsall.  By the time we got to the t-junction in Kelsall it was raining, and Mary stopped to put her rain legs on (waterproof over trousers).  We dropped down the hill but Mary unfortunately missed the last turn off to the left, but had said she would make her own way back if she missed us.

We regrouped at the end of Common Lane, but by now an insanely black cloud was rudely throwing large amounts of rain at us (including a rumble of thunder!) - so after a quick photo (of course) we huddled under a slightly dryer large tree (as the trees still do have leaves, they still offer some shelter).  This was a wise move, and enabled Rowena to also put her rain legs on.  Just as the rain started to ease, the sun slipped out and caused a rainbow I was certain we would see (I had kept looking at signs of brightening of the sky, but to no avail until now).  

We were now able to pedal on down to Oscroft and Tarvin in the sunshine, where we picked up a terribly overgrown cycle path which takes us alongside the A51.  (Report any faults of potholes you find to the Council here).