Saturday, 11 September 2021

Back to School

 I always think September is one of the points in the year that marks 'new beginnings', such as back to school.  A legacy from our own long school holidays and, in time, for our children too.  New bag, uniform that is a bit too big, shoes that are not scuffed yet and certainly a new pencil case stuffed with new pens and pencils.

Without the pencil case, this September felt even more like a new beginning, as we seem to be moving further away from the lock-downs and restrictions of the past eighteen months.  Covid has not gone away, but group numbers are not restricted and face masks are not mandatory (although I am still wearing mine inside to move around)

Kingsway Cafe has also had a revamp, a bright sunshiney
yellow and new clock on the wall. 

So, no online booking this month to see how we get on; leaders had their own sign in sheet and pen so we each signed people in as they arrived.  No specific groups as it is one easy route - out along the Greenway as we have since 2013 (gosh, that long!).

Four new faces joined us this month, and were subjected to the usual start up photo and my talky bit.  

Kingsway Cafe also has a new flag!

Lovely warm weather, for the time of year, and a nice spin out along the Greenway:

I wanted to drop by to see 'Charlie's Orchard'.  Charlie was a member of the Wirral cycling group, but he had helped me for a couple of years with the Bob Clift Cycleway Rides- literally my right hand man, checking people out and in, and then writing all the certificates.  He sadly and suddenly died in 2019, and as a club we have planed an orchard out near the greenway, as it splits to go Neston/ Connah's Quay.

Found it (eventually!)

We contined around the industrial park, and over the marsh boardwalk, to the gates at the other end.

However, this year for a change we headed right, up a slight hill, to Burton Manor college and cafe ('Burtons at The Manor').  We sat outside, although a fine misty rain threatened so 2/3 of us relocated inside (I believe it stopped, as four hardy stalwarts stayed outside - you can tell who from the photos!)

Then, we headed straight back (with a pause under the trees nearer to Chester to allow a heavy shower to pass), losing a few to their own routes home along the way.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Summer Ice creams

One of the effects of a pandemic, is that when you finally do get out, back in a group, you want to stay out, maybe go a little further; but also having not been out sometimes a bit of fitness is lost.  

We are not quite out of Pandemic times, as there is one more unlocking date to go in the Government 'roadmap' (although there may be a delay).  I write this now, for some context when reading back in the future!

So, we had our usual three groups, and the promise of sunny skies.  The morning was quite cloudy but warm (bit of a chill wind mind) but as the day progressed it became better and better.  I know, as I was out in it for what ended up a longer ride than intended.  Partly due to lots of hills, a slower rider than me, two stops and as mentioned increasingly lovely weather.

Helen and Sue led the slower group away first, we are having staggered meet times but there was a bit of overlap as some have not been out since March 2020!

And - Kingsway cafe was open, so maybe next month we can gather for drinks.  We will have to see.

The group amended their cafe destination, as it was planned to be a little further than usual and they instead headed as far as Delamere and the new visitor centre cafe.

Linda and Collette's group, which I joined, were next to leave at 9:45, heading out
to follow the Cheshire Cycleway.  With a few variations.  It ended up being a combination of Linda's planned route and deviations I had in my head, usually involving a track or two.

Alex and Cheryl set off in the faster group, and passed us in Delamere.

A favourite track of mine near Mouldsworth

Delamere Forest

We enjoyed not only a snack and drink at The Ice Cream Farm (Great Budworth) but also an ice cream, it was such a lovely day!  And we had one of the roaming chickens settle in under our table.

Returning back we did not follow the Cheshire Cycleway; instead turning left towards Antrobus, Frandley and Bartington which brought us back again to Action Bridge - from here we followed the River Weaver Path to cross it then under Dutton Viaduct - more of my favourite places.  I love to share these locations with my group (who are very tolerant of my whims) but it does lead to a great route.

Sluice gate

Duddon Locks

Duddon Viaduct

From here we continued up towards Delamere and - to be honest I am writing this in September - I have a photo of  Stonehouse Farm B&B who also do coffees and
cakes; I recall I rather fancied a scone and Collette very kindly stayed out with me.  After this, returning via Manley I also stopped at a farm I have seen advertising burgers, sausages etc and as we were heading home was able to get some - it was only then I realised it was nearly 5pm.  So much for a morning ride lol.

As I say, we have not been out much and it was such a glorious day!

Saturday, 8 May 2021


 Unfortunately May was cancelled due to torrential rain and high winds.

Got to love the British Weather.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

The Tour of West Cheshire - stage 1

So, restrictions have been lifted slightly, allowing up to fifteen people to exercise together (but you cannot sit together for any refreshments).  Cafes are shut, but many are offering take away, so that is a bonus.  But the rules differ between countries, and as we are bordering Wales some of our ladies do live the other side of the border, so are not allowed to ride with groups of more than two households.

Back to the booking system!

In the meantime, Chester Triathlon Club have set up a series of challenge rides, from April to September.  Calling it the Tour of West Cheshire (ToWC), and using Strava to measure peoples achievements, it is also a fund raiser for Bren Bikes.  Helen had seen it advertised and suggested we could sign up, so a few have done that and we have a 'Fab Ladies' club group entry.  Top three fastest riders qualify, so no pressure on the rest of us for speed, and we can just enjoy the routes.

That was the plan, and two groups did set off to do it.  The sticking part for some, after maybe limited riding in the last few months, was the the route went up Boothsdale, also known as Little Switzerland and sometimes referred to as The German Wall.  Interestingly - did you know The "German Wall" is a retaining wall on the side of the road through Willington Wood. An inscription records that it was built by German POWs in 1946-47.  So Sue offered a shorter flatter alternative to Manley Mere instead.

I staged the start, so that one group left before the next turned up; 15 minutes seemed to work for this.  Kingsway cafe is closed at the moment, and the corner outside the cafe was in shade - I had heard my husband scraping the ice from the car as he left for work, so it was a cold day - but blue skies and sunshine.  To this end I relocated myself (first arrived) to the opposite corner, where there is a much larger pavement and no through foot traffic like there is past the cafe.  And a lovely view of the still blooming daffodils.

Group 1, leaving at 9:30

Sue waiting for her small group 3; no 'start up' photo of group 2.

It was very pleasurable to be back in the lanes, in the sun, with company.  The first ride of the year and appreciated by all.

We picked up the ToWC route in Oscroft, but needed a breather before the main hill, as it is a bit of a pull up to the junction.

So, after a woman in a yellow car drove past shaking her head (as you can see it was such a busy road, so hard for her to pass), we set off up the short but steep in parts road.  But such a lovely deep valley to your right as you climb.  

At the top (everyone waited for me, as we always do in our groups) there was a
field with Alpaca in, quietly grazing the lush Cheshire grass, a nice backdrop to our little group, catching our breath.  

The second group also had a little stop here.

We then had a great descent through to the top of Kelsall - only I had taken off my gloves for the ascent, and it was mighty cold dropping down after that!  At the Farmers Arms in Kelsall we paused and then carried on - but this was where I made my mistake - I turned too soon and so we were inadvertently off route for a couple of lanes. Not a problem for today's ride, but to get my 'points' I will have to ride the route - and the hill - again!  (Darn it!)

But, all roads at least led to the cafe, a new establishment for us, and a chance to stand about distanced from each other and partake in refreshments.

Behind the cafe/ bike workshop grounds lies a field.  Into this field trotted a horse, followed expectantly and exuberantly by 21 very young cows.  They were excited, they were curious, and as soon as the horse wandered to another part of the field, they were hot on his hooves!  

Why the long face?

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Review of January's past

So, the country is now in a full lockdown again, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  If you are reading this in 2021, then you may think 'duh, obvious', but I hope in years to come people will look back and say 'oh yes, I remember that!'

So, this limits us again; a further limit is imposed by the weather, snowy over the border in Wales and just icy here.  Freezing fog in fact.  The following photos (shared via facebook) look more like a weather forecast than a usual ladies ride.

Some people are enjoying snowy walks and activities...

...But too icy for two wheels.

Chester had freezing fog, very icy underfoot...

Manley mere was frozen (so no swimming alternative!)

...but the sun did come out.

Review of the first 7 January's:

10th Jan 2009 - three of us set out in a hard frost; ice on puddles but it was dry and crisp.  Cafe was in Broughton, at the Costa in the retail park.  A very busy place, so we have not returned.

9th Jan 2010 - we had had snow a few days earlier, and although some had
melted on the roads there was some thick ice I encountered.  Needless to say no-one turned up; I had a nice coffee and bacon buttie at the cafe I think and had a go down the greenway.  I forget how I got this photo! 

9th Jan 2011 - snow the day before, but you never can tell; a good turn out, our best January turn out so far with 12 riders.  We went to Tarvin Sands when it was still the Elvis cafe.

14 riders on the 14th Jan 2012, another blue sky sunshiney day where we headed to Tarporley Chocolate shop, and filled it!

12th Jan 2013 and I note we are now restricting groups to the eight plus up to two leaders; we have also instigated the Further Faster group - which I led!  I do not recall the route, but it involved Borras Head and down to Bellis's in Holt.

Not icy or snowy, but night blue skies and sunny either - but a new record of 23 ladies out.

11th Jan 2014, and we sent four groups with a total of nearly 30 riders; no wonder we did not fit in the cafe (although this was also as we met the Wrexham Reivers who had not booked) Some of us had to return to Kingsway cafe as our end point.  Back to having blue skies though!

!0th Jan 2015, very windy indeed.  12 riders after cancelling the Dec ride.  We went to the Eureka cafe, specifically chosen that morning so the wind would blow us back home (which it did!)

A massive group of 37 riders on 9th Jan 2016, four groups on a damp but dry day (if that makes sense!) to Chocks away - a suitably large venue for us all.

2020, the last few times we could ride together before the coronavirus pandemic set in.  We had four groups, and we met up at the Hayrack Cafe in Thornton Le Moors.