Saturday, 12 March 2022

The secret key

March, and daffodils abound.  An interesting aside, the Cheshire Cycleway Rides held each summer are known as the Bob Clift memorial rides.  I knew Bob and rode with him in the eighties, but a little fact (maybe urban legend now) was that he would sometimes plant bulbs by the wayside.  So, each spring I think of him as I see the daffs and other flowers coming out, and wonder if they were set there by him.

Anyway, this morning dawned bright, dry and not nearly as windy as we have had of late, no sign of the March Winds of the rhyme.  One leader had to cancel as she tested positive for Covid, it is still out there, but we still had six leaders and seven riders booked on

As we gathered outside, a work colleague of mine was passing, I had a brief chat, and managed to coerce him to stay a moment and take our photo (my usual photographer Ken was not around today).

We set off in two groups, my second slower group sometimes catching a glimpse of the other group ahead.  A nice steady pace; at first I was riding at 9mph, but as the group seemed fine I increased to 10mph.  I have a small Cateye computer on my handlebar, which helps me to know how fast I am riding and to maintain a steady pace for the riders.  We even upped it to 11mph (before we hit the hill!).  

We arrived to the cafe (I had not had chance to call earlier in the week, and trying to call in the morning brought no answer) and initially sat outside in the sun.  However the wind is still a little chilly so we transferred ourselves to the little nooks they have created.

The POffee used to be the PO for Burwardsley, and is situated on a pretty corner heading up the hill from Tattenhall to the Candle Factory.  Through lockdown she has been designing and adding to the garden (there were times, we reminisced, that you were not allowed inside cafes, and at this time last year you were not allowed to stop even outside and sit down)

The secret key!
Refreshed, we headed back to the bikes but as we were unlocking, Mary managed to drop her key which lodged firmly in her chain wheel.  Our science tech lady
(from Chester Uni) was able to release the key, but it was touch and go for a moment!  We also came to the aid of two other ladies - we had passed them twice on our way up but one had walked up the gill as her chain had come off.  Karen jumped to the rescue and put it back in place in seconds.  

A fab descent back to Tattenhall, where we waved adieu to Mary who was heading home via Farndon; as we headed past New Russia Hall to cross the A41 and up the hill at Saighton.  By now we had a tailwind, which is always welcome!

25 miles for my group :-)


Saturday, 12 February 2022

Lessons learned!

No matter how long you have been doing something, there is always something else to learn!  Stay tuned to the end of this post for today's lessons.

Using the 'BookWhen' booking system allows myself and the leaders to know who is coming, plan groups and try to ensure people are with people they want to ride with and at the level (pace) they choose.  Today we had twelve riders (including leaders), so enough for two groups of six which is nice.

I was also able to let the cafe know how many were coming, so they were prepared.  Important when visiting some of our smaller venues.

Another bonus of booking in advance is that it limits mixing around at the start and you can focus on coffee and chat.

After our mandatory photo, my group set off first followed by our second 'slower' group.  We all went along the Greenway to start with as apparently the forecast was to be very wet and windy (although Sue pointed out this should be after 1pm).  We passed lots of people going each way, but two chaps decided to shout quite rudely to us (and even more aggressively to our second group) along the vein of 'get out of our way'.  The rest of their group (I heard the lady say 'we need to catch up to the other two) were OK, but it was one of our second group that called to them about how rude the first two were.  No club top I'm afraid so can't pin it to any cycling club in particular, as I would certainly be in touch with their club secretary.

My group turned off the Greenway where it was closed, just after the Dragon bridge over the A494, and headed toward the Blue Bridge at Shotton.  There is an interesting and useful (if not particularly pretty) network of bridges to cross the main road at the roundabout by Asda in Queensferry, which is great to avoid the roads and traffic.  This brought us to the bottom of the road up to Hawarden, and we made our way up, turning off left to skip around Mancot, avoiding the dead straight and slightly busier main road.

I will admit to a small mistake, where we turned right by the cemetery and not left - this I think may be a slightly steeper hill to bring us to the centre of the village (but probably not by much).

On arrival, as directed, we went around to the back of the cafe and parked up.  However, the first ones that went in came back out saying there was no room, and only one table of six.  The manager came out to welcome us, and invited us to the one table, reassuring us that a few were leaving and there will be another table soon.

Photo thanks to Collette, who took more pictures than me today!

As we settled I kept an eye our for group 2, who called me to say the cafe was full (the other manager had said there was no space) - I went out and directed them to the back and gave further reassurance that there was space - anyway, we all got seated in the end and the owners were very pleasant, accommodating and quick with the food, which was very tasty.  Who knew Breakfast Pizza was a thing!!!

All fed and watered, my group set off first - by now it is raining, windy and unpleasant.  I told the group the first part of the return journey (as there is a sneaky left turn, easy to miss) and we set off (having to send a volunteer to press the crossing button, so many cars coming through!).

Lovely descent past Tinkersdale car park, although you could feel the wind, and as we started to climb thorugh Tinkersdale (wonderful bendy road which slowly climbs to the roundabout with the A55) one rider passed me - I called out to watch for the left turn, but it was windy, and my voice may have been lost.

We all dutifully turned, and as I could not see our rider on the lane, I called her and left a message.  Further up I asked a walker if they had seen a cyclist, which they hadn't.  We continued up to the top, I called again and (long story short) we kept missing each other.  (said rider did get home safe, but her phone battery had been low)

My group dropped down the Warren, plans of a slightly longer route ditched as the weather was really not very nice, and we actually picked up the A5104 Saltney Straight - which now has a very nice cycle path all the way in, and it felt quite safe to plough home that way.  We started to drop people as we headed to the river; and caught the slower group as we left the canal at Hoole Lane.

And the lessons?

1) make sure phone batteries are charged - but also put a reminder on the booking form for people to have a charged phone before riding (or bring a charger)

2) to put a note on the booking for bookees to watch for a confirmation email, and let me know if not received

3) make sure everyone has heard the instructions given (about route to come, or potential risks!)

Anyway, all home safe, and not too wet, 21 miles.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

New Year Natterings

 It no longer feels like the new Year, although we are only two weeks in.

Bookings went well, with one further faster request and two slow, the rest being regular.  In order to balance it out I had planned three groups; but this morning dawned very frosty indeed.

It is a hard choice for me to cancel, as I am very much of the opinion 'oh it will be fine', but maybe it is my age, or recent years' experiences, but I played it safe and sent a late email this morning to cancel, but with the offer to meet at the Cafe.

A few tough cookies did ride/ bring their bikes along, and a few just walked / drove to Kingsway, where we certainly enjoyed tea and coffee and good catch up.

In the end seven set off to go to Farndon, and from the pictures I can see they made it in six pieces (five solo bikes and a tandem!).

Thanks to Jill for sharing her smiling selfies!

And Mary found them too!!  Brilliant!

Saturday, 11 December 2021

Merry Christmas

 In the never ending range of ever changing restrictions, we managed a meet up before Christmas and the end of 2021.  It has been another incomplete year, and the last few weeks have limited cycling further due to extremely strong winds and just 'orrible weather!  Today started dry at least, but after a few miles turned damp, and remained damp and cold.

But we have a fun almost sparkly start up photo!

That is next years Christmas card sorted!!

We avoided the Greenway as it was reported to be flooded, so dropped down Mannings Lane, skirted Mickle Trafford, Guilden Sutton, Cotton Edmunds, Christleton and Waverton, to drop down to Walk Mill.

The Tarvin Community Quiz was available again, a small tradition started in 2015.  We completed the first two pages (with some gaps) - I thought they seemed a bit easy until I realised the title of the first round was a Children's literary round!

It did not stop raining, so it was straight back to Chester to try and warm up back at our respective homes, no staying out to party this year!

Saturday, 13 November 2021

Tandem Tales

 Aah November, month of autumn colours and today even a little bit of sunshine.  Using the BookWhen booking system, we had 12 riders booked on with 7 leaders ready to take them out.  Unfortunately two cancelled last minute but things do happen, what can you do?!

Rosie and Ken were back, so I had my photographer again and we grouped up for a quick(ish) talky bit before groups set off - felt very much back to normal.

I was so busy checking off who had come (so we did not leave without anyone) that I did not end up signing anyone in - so I joined with Sue and Mary, and we set off with eight.

As we set off up the Greenway, I started chatting to Emma.  New this year to the ladies, I asked how her month has been.  She started by telling me she had been (down south) to see her family; the conversation went on to early cycling days (in the eighties) as we realised we are the same age, but also both went to the CTC Birthday Rides in our teens; we then also shared lots of tandem stories.  She rode as a child from the age of 8 on the back of her dad's tandem, I had had a tandem for my daughter at a similar age, we both knew someone from Portsmouth CTC who now lives local to us here...well, we spent the best part of five miles sharing our memories of tandem riding!  (hence the blog title).  Just to add, our own 'team tandem' were unable to join us today.  Unfortunately Emma prefers to be a Stoker (riding on the back) but we are on the look out for a Pilot (to ride the front) for one of our ladies who relies on someone to bring her out.

We enjoyed a mild day, with lots of lovely autumn colours and even some sunshine, before we re-grouped and queued out of the door at Old Ma's.  

Lots of pumpkins still around

Linda and Jane's group,
perfectly positioned under the
new wall art at Manor Farm

This is my group - but I was at the end
of the queue so last to get my coffee!

Hayley and Sharon's social group

the rest of our group
- also at the tail end of the queue!

As usual the groups mingled and changed a little for the return journey, and I brought out the last four and we headed away, to return another day.

One of my favourite views, at the top of Saighton Hill

17 riders, 20 miles

All fab ladies photos can be seen on my Flickr Group

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Autumn leaves

 Just as the leaves are starting to turn, but before it gets too cold, October offers the change in the season.  After two very warm days today was not as warm, but dry and remained so with little or no wind,

A small number of riders met at Kingsway, I am guessing people are trying to catch up on holidays and family visits since March 2020.  The roads are also a little quieter than usual, possibly due to fuel 'shortages' caused by social media/ the media and unnecessary panic buying of fuel a couple of weeks ago.

Selfie start up photo

So, three riders and four leaders met at Kingsway cafe, like the old days when we first started.  A small group is nice though, and we were all able to ride together and sit together at the cafe.

We headed to the river, and along the golden tree lined groves.  The rowing clubs were enjoying their early morning session as we passed by, and the riverside cafe was already filling up

We met one lady at Grosvenor Bridge - she had set off but had a mechanical issue so had headed home to swap bikes.  

At the time of its construction (1832), the bridge was the longest single-span stone arch bridge in the world, a title that it retained for 30 years; it is a grade one listed building.  

I heard the story that the Duke of Westminster and another Earl from somewhere nearby met on the Old Dee Bridge, and as neither would back away our Duke decided to build his own bridge.  But this information is not in Wikipedia, so must just be a fanciful legend!

We followed the river to Saltney Ferry, crossing here and picking up the cycle path alongside the A5104, joining the road briefly before Bretton.  Skirting through Broughton, we climbed The Warren, and crossed again, meandering around the small forested roads of the Hawarden Estate (I think)

Jemoleys is a small cafe in Pen Y Ffordd, opened in 2013, and we have frequented it on ladies rides and Chester rides.  Service was unusually slow, they had been caught out by the rush and had run out of plates.  Ironic really, as they are a pottery painting studio when not being an open cafe!

Seasonal Post Box 

We eventually left the cafe (good job there were not 20 of us) and took some back lanes to cross Lower Mountain Road and my favourite descent around he back of Kinnerton (about two miles of gentle downhill).  Then nearer Chester we skirted around Boundary Lane to come in at Saltney, and a very sedate route through Curzon Park.

We returned the way we left, along the river, just after a bore must've come in as the river was very high, no weir, and still flowing fast in.

Route from river to canal