Monday 26 December 2011

Boxing Day Bash 2011

I will admit it is quite hard to drag yourself out of bed on Boxing Day, especially at 8am in order to catch the best of the day and be back early enough!  But that is indeed what a few ladies (and Tim and Dave mostly of Wednesday evening rides fame) did!

We have not managed the Boxing Day bash for a few years, due to snow and ice.  So, it was lovely to revive the tradition.  Four of us set off from Hoole down the Greenway, picking up Jo on the way.  We use a very straightforward route direct to the Railway Bridge where it croses the Dee, where we stopped for a photo and to soak up some of the warm but watery sun.

Boxing Day at Shotton Railway Bridge

Waves up the river

We then head back up the riverside path to Chester.  We had sun, but it was also very windy. however, we were fortunate to not be plagued by too much of a headwind, although we had a wonderful tailwind on the final approach into Chester - also causing huge waves along the river!

Blue Moon Cafe

Our ways parted by the Old Dee Bridge, but the ladies took the opportunity for a final coffee stop at the Blue Moon Cafe, before heading home to get the families up and moving!

18 miles.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Pilgrimage and puncture!

A sea of yellow!
 Despite some tremendous winds and rain and hail for most of the week, Saturday morning again dawned with blue skies and sunshine.  It was not warm, .9 degrees Jo informed us as we gathered at the cafe.

8 of us rallyed round and set off up the Greenway - but we only got as far as the bridge when Lesley informed us that her tyre was flat.  "I don't know what to do" - so we all took a job and helped her change her tube in no time (with a running commentry!).

looking more like a wrestling match than fixing a puncture!
After that we were in the sunshine and into the lanes round Guilden Sutton to cross the A51.  Straightforward route to Walk Mill, where we were welcomed as always by Caroline, serving scones, cakes and toast.  After further purchases of flour and bread (Linda brought her saddlebag especially so that she could get a loaf!), we headed back towards Waverton.
Walk Mill

A little parting of the ways meant that 5 of us left Waverton, and crossed the A41 to go to Saighton and in Huntington, much to the annoyance of a bus driver, who told us we should not be two abreast.  (I have news for him and have been in touch with the council!).

A sunny 16 miles.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Slippy Leaves and Sloppy Mud!

Leaving the cafe

Aaah, the challenge of finding a title for each blog entry!

November already!  After a night of torrential rain, the morning of the November ladies ride dawned with blue skies and sunshine.  Leaves are dwindling as autumn tumbles into winter, the days shorten and the sun sinks lower in the sky.

However, the ladies turn outs are not dwindling, which is great news.  I was expecting two newcomers, but only one turned up, and with twelve more sets of wheels and a hasty photo (nearly forgot!), we set off up Mannings lane to cross the lights with the A41 and into the lanes.

What wonderful weather, no wind and warm sun.  As we passed the zoo I regailed anyone who was listening with the fact that a week ago on my way to work I was watching a couple of Orang Utans, catching the early morning sun.  Not a claim many can make on their daily commute.  (I saw Santa's reindeer last week!).  Part of the route is my evening return from work, so it was nice to see it in the daylight for a change (trying to memorise where the potholes are!).

After a couple of small climbs, we negotiated the gated track from Mollington to Dunkirk; then around to Capenhurst past the Pinfold.  A few more lanes saw us on the main A540 into Chester, a necessary evil in order to reach Eureka Cafe.  We were fortunate that we had a lull in the traffic, as the other main roads appeared to be quite busy, early Christmas shoppers no doubt.

We were welcomed as ever and planted ourselves outside to catch the November sun, still quite warm if you were not in the shade.

Mud, glorious mud!

Our return route took us back down the A540, to Woodbank, where we turned right back into the lanes, and over the relatively new Lodge Lane crossing.  At this point we turned right, to pick up the track to take us to the Greenway near Sealand.  And this was where we encoutered the extemely sloppy looking mud.  All negotiated it gracefully, and we were able to continue through.

By the time we got to the greenway, people were able to drop off home so that I was left with two ladies back near Kingsway shops.

14 ladies, 18 miles.

(more photos to follow!)

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Big night at the Bike factory with Chris Boardman

Indeed! a few ladies joined many other Chester cyclists and CTC members for a big night of stuff.

Mike Cross, from our Chester & North Wales CTC presented a certificate of merit, marking the longstanding relationship and support from Dave and the bike factory over the past 70 or so years, with previous managers and incarnations of the shop.  (Originally Masons I understand, I remember it as Davies Bros in Cuppin Street - in fact I briefly worked there for a summer season!).

Then Chris told us a few tales from his cycling achievments, which was enjoyable and entertaining, and his colleague told us about his new bike range.

Then it was networking and chatting and photos and signing, I did manage to pull together all the CTC ladies I could muster - if you look really carefully you will see Chris in among us!

Then a few of us retired to the Spital Vaults behing the shop - and who should come in after 10 mins but the entire Bike factory entourage and Chris (again!).  Sprung!

(photos will follow!)

Sunday 23 October 2011

Six ride to Bala...

...but only from Corwen!

It seemed like a good idea at first, and a few weeks ago it was turning into a Grand Day Out as six of us tried to communicate with email and facebook to co-ordinate cars and lifts to Corwen.  But with a 9am start, this meant getting up around 6am and congregating at my house for a 7:40 set off!  At least it was light by then!

Six fabulous ladies at the start

 The first quest was to find the cafe and parking, and the second was to navigate to the loos!  The cafe and craft shops are housed in the old workhouse in Corwen - which I never knew existed.  We had a quick cuppa before venturing out of Corwen and up the first hill of the day.  It was a nippy start, with promise of no rain, and even some sunshine. 

The route was simple - follow the river up to it's source at Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid); go around the lake, then back along the valley.  Simples.  What can go wrong?

Vicky and Krissy deep in conversation
- and not a route sheet between them!

The first thing that happened (after Vicky and Krissy sailed off into the distance) was another lady we befriended had a small exploding incident with her rear mech (the two wheel coggy thing by the back wheel that changes gear).  Once she had retrieved the parts form the road, we realised it was totally unridable (Sarah - "what do we do when a bike cannot be ridden?", "Hmmm, good question!").  We contacted the organiser, and negotiated a pick up.  Then carried on!

Photos on-the-go!

Random pointing with Bala below

Quick photo stop
After a photo stop or two later and small mistake with the route (50 yds) we arrived at the control at Llanuwchllyn, and after debating prescription cycling glasses we charged to Bala along the main road (mercifully quiet).
Sarah passing Lake Bala (and me!)

Cafe and Control in Bala, then continue to the B road after Bala, and side lanes to follow the valley.  Now on much quieter lanes, narrow and full of pheasants who leaped out at me (usually in front) with much clacking and flapping, sometimes just running along the road in a bit of a quandary before appearing to remember that they have wings!  Not to mention the added sudden appearance of a landrover - not a lot of space to pass, especially as I had just been taking photos, and we were gliding downhill!

Then Raina had a puncture - courtesy of local farmers/ landowners not clearing up very well after mashing the hedges.  We helped by taking photos of each other, pumping up tubes, admiring the least she unglued the tyre from the rim (thanks to a certain cycle shop!). 
We were soon on our way to rendezvous with Vicky and Krissy (sat in Corwen for past few hours...).  Super route, fabulous scenery, great company, good day out all round.

First sighting of Bala Lake

Bridge over River Dee near Llandderfel


[it has to be said, after all that, we managed to lose Nosheen between the cafe and car park when heading home.  This is the car park across the road.  I still do not know how she does it!]

37 miles, 42 Pheasants, 1 puncture, -1rear mech.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Misty rain and falling acorns...

...surely signifies the return of autumn; after a week or so of high summer temperatures and wonderful sunshine, the October ladies ride saw the return of Autumn with full avengence!  It was wet at the start of the day, but as ever undeterred by that (rain before seven etc) 10 ladies braved the chilly air to rendezvous at the cafe in Kingsway.  Among them were two new faces, one of which is our new local CTC/forestry Commission project-managing cycle-promoting representative (Louise).  Welcome!

After commissioning Jane to be 'tail end charlie' with her distinctive pink top; and then a quick phone call to the cafe ("Hi 10 ladies for coffee in about an hour, and we would like to sit on the table with the fire"..."oh I don't know if the gas pipe is connected?"..."well you have one hour to do that - lol"!!), we set off up the greenway.

I notice that the fox is missing now (near the horse) what a shame.  We turned off at Guilden Sutton, and round Belle Vue Lane to the junction of Pipers Lane, where Jo noted that Louise's tyre looked soft.  I got my new pump out, and after several false starts finally got the valve the right way around and managed to pump a bit of life into her back tyre.

(Note - it is ALWAYS your back tyre that gets the puncture, or is in need of attention!!!)

Riding through Christleton

We crossed the A51, with a few kind drivers, and through Christleton, where I got carried away and continued to Waverton.  However, with a sneaky ride-round-the-block we were able to retrace to the Plough crossroads, and no-one noticed!  (well, only a couple!)

Back on track now, and the misty rain was really becoming a nuisance, and Raina had to stop and take off her optimistic sunglasses.  The hills of Barrow looked absolutely gray with misty rain, and very little views to enjoy in general.

Sandstone cuttings near Barrow
 Crossing back over the A51, we were near to the Stamford Bridge lights where we turned left to climb into Barrow.  Then is was a straightforward bob round the back lanes to Manley.  I do love the deep sandstone cuttings that you come across in this area!

When we got to the cafe the fire was lit! yay - they had a bit of a battle but managed it for us - thanks Crazy Chameleon!!!!!  Cakes, toast and in some cases soup or welsh rarebit all round!  I do need to speak to the cafe about doing a free coffee/ tea top up for cyclists (like the ice cream farm offer)!

Cakes @ the Crazy Chameleon Cafe

all 10 of us!
It was quite a wrench to tear ourselves away from the warm fire and ambience in the cafe, but places to go, people to see!  A straightforward 6 mile tootle back to the A56 and through Mickle Trafford to join the Greenway again, and back to the cafe.

Passing the horse on the Greenway - heading home!

19 miles.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Audax UK - the long distance cycling organisation

Ranging up to the 1400 Paris - Brest - Paris and the 1600 London - Edinburgh - London, audax rides can start as low as 50km - which was the plan for this months inaugral Momma audax rides.

The idea was born last September, and when I mentioned it to our esteemed local Audax rider and organiser he was so taken with the 'beginner' level ride, that he added a short one to his October rides in North Wales - and also added a 100km and 200km rides to the September Momma audax.

(Named Momma because - the start point cafe is known as 'old ma's'.  I think that is the connection!!)

getting ready to leave Manor Farm
 I met Raina and Jo at Waverton, and Janet joined us at the cafe.  We also had two Tuesday evening riders (from the Wirral), one of whom was also a lady - so I thought with a majority of women I could pop this ride on my blog.

The weather (usual point of conversation!) promised to be wet and getting wetter, but started off dry enough which was nice!  I had planned the route a year before, but could not remember it - and Dave had 'tweaked' it, so I was not sure my gps would be accurate enough.

sunny corner with a particularly good field to pop into!
 We headed out to Beeston, then past Tarporley to Eaton, where we were challenged to try and work out kilometers on the route sheet against out mileometer computers.  We had to find a clue - name of a house - and although very rural there were still quite a few houses round.  We decided the Chapel House must be right and carried on turning before Cotebrook to pick up some lovely quiet lanes, eventually crossing the A51.

 In Bunbury we had to make a small purchase to obtain a receipt as evidence of passing through - but everyone locally had decided to do their weeky shop, and the queue snaked down the shop! A welcome bite of butties before we headed off again, crossing the A49 this time and heading to Peckforton.

Cup of tea at Carden Arms
 It was lovely following the sandstone ridge - and strange for me as only a week earlier I was walking it with my friend. (Snadstone Trail, that is).  We had abit of main road - just unavoidable in that area - but over quite quickly and we climbed over a little hill, before a wonderful long and gentle descent to cross the A41 and head into Tilston.

It was still dry - and had even been a bit sunny - by the time we reached the Carden Arms in Tilston.  I enjoyed a well earned pint and two ladies shared a pot of tea.

Checkpoint Charlie - or control point Dave!
 a few black clouds threatened to dampen us, and a very short shower ensued - but we were mostly stopped under a tree so managed to stay dry.  Straight back to Tattenhall but now into a headwind meant that a stop before heading home was certainly on the cards!

34 miles (=50km).

Thursday 15 September 2011

September berries

I am sorry to report I was not going to be available for the ride this September - the first one I have missed since August 2008 (I think it was). 

I believe that 10 ladies headed out to Hawarden Farm shop, and had a lovely time!. 

I asked Welna, Moira and Jo-Anne to lead the ride in my absence - and I know Welna has written a little something on her blog!

Not sure how far they all went, I will try to find out more and post some pics here too!

On her blog, Welna mentions recent foraging with the abundance of berries this September.  I was enjoying a warm sunny ride home from work today, when I was also distracted by the sight of blackberries dangling at head height.  So out came the buttie box, and it was half filled with blackberries by the time I got home!  My husband informs me that they go well with elderberries in wine making; so that is the plan!

Saturday 13 August 2011

Clockwise round Beeston

Fabulous Flowers!
You can tell it is August by the clouds of impending doom!  I love our summers!

Eight of us mustered by the cafe, Terry was again coerced into taking our photo - well actually, he was lurking by the door as I think he quite likes to take our pics!

I could hear magical music coming from someones bag as we were about to leave - then realised it was my own phone (I think someone has tinkered with the ring tone as I did not recognise it). we were ready to leave, and I could not work out my voicemail, so left it (but put the phone in one of my back pockets in case it rang again.)

We headed out via Llittleton and Christleton, past the Crocky Trail and out via the 50p shop, to pass through Huxley and finally to Tiverton, where we dropped down the hill to the Lockgate Cafe, near Beeston.  A very friendly welcome was swiftly followed by bacon butties, drinks and cakes.  This was even more quickly followed by the arrival of some of the North End (Racing club from Birkenhead) - one of which was the boyfriend of one of the ladies.  what can I say!  they were very co-ordinated as usual, but we are too cool to be bothered by that!

Overlooking canal and lock
 We finally dragged ourselves away from the decked area and up the hill towards Beeston Castle, where we turned right (avoiding the sandstone trail ramblers!) to enjoy the views towards Tarporley and dropped round Beeston hill.  Ah! my apologies if the title to this post is misleading - we didn't actually go around  Beeston!  Never mind, we can do that another time!

We headed directly back past the ice cream farm, and Martins Lane to pick up the canal in Waverton. 

Beeston Castle
 Despite the clouds it did not rain, and we accomplished a not insignificant 28 miles by the time we got back to the cafe!

Apologies to Nicola, who was trying to ring me as we left.  Not only had she had a dash to local bike shop on discovering a puncture that morning, but she also took a wrong turn coming out to meet us!  Never mind, see you next month!

8 riders for the eighth month!

Saturday 9 July 2011

Kelsall Hills

Very often my blog entry will start with a weather resume, and this month is no different. So often I have looked out of the window on a Sunday morning (my usual day for riding) and thought ‘Hmmm, wet, doesn’t look good’ – but the days I have been out (despite early prognosis) have been no where near as bad as I thought. So, even though days in the previous week had been plagued with heavy summer rain showers, Saturday was forecast to be dry and sunny – and that was exactly what we had.
11 of us grouped and left promptly at 10am – I am sorry if anyone came after we had gone, but I had planned a slightly longer route, so we needed to make a start.

Greenway to Mickle Trafford, then through to the A51, where we followed the footpath. At Stamford Bridge we took a short back road, before joining the A51 for a short stint to the roundabout by Tarvin. It is rare for me to venture onto main roads, but sometimes you need to in order to pick up a different route. However, as a large and mostly pink group we were quite visible and I made sure everyone was comfortable with the plan before we set off.

Hence we were able to sneak into the back of Tarvin through a secret gate, and down to a track I had recently tried out – a short one past the grazing cows and affording a lovely view of Tarvin church. Through Oscroft and across the A54 to the back of Barrow, then round to Ashton. Elaine was keeping track of where we were as she has family in the village.



The one hill I had promised goes up a small lane out of Ashton, and is signposted as a dead end. I remember the first time I went along this lane with the club, it was in my early days of cycling and when I saw the dead end sign I thought there must be some mistake. However, it is not a dead end, and links up with another lane on the edge of Delamere Forest. Additionally, it is a very small quiet lane, with a fern filled valley halfway along.

We paused for a breather at the top (it was not a major climb, quite steady and not very long), before continuing over Brine’s Brow and along to the tea room at Eddisbury.

Unfortunately, two ladies who had dropped back on the final road missed the last turning (signposted ‘tea room’ – and they both admitted that they had seen the sign!); so when we noticed their absence, I headed out to find them. I guessed (hoped!) they had gone straight past, and went to Kelsall, where they were located safe and sound. We agreed that they would stay in Kelsall, as we were coming through that way and could pick them up later, and I re-joined the group (extra 2 miles for me!).

Eddisbury Fruit Farm tea room.

 Eddisbury Fruit Farm and tea room is situated at the bottom of the Yeld, a locally infamous long straight climb which is a 1:4 – it is a beast! We did not go up there! Instead we followed the contour road to Kelsall with its wonderful views across Cheshire to the North Wales Hills. That was where I got a puncture!

Sending some of the group ahead (to meet the other two who were already at Kelsall) I set to sorting my back wheel out. I recently bought a new tyre for my bike – and really should have put it on, as my tyre was badly ripped and torn. I had a moment of ‘oh dear what do I do now’ before we decided that gaffa tape was the way to go. I have a small roll in my saddlebag so I patched the inside of my tyre with that, changed the tube, and set off very gingerly! (it did hold and got me home!)

Essential items:
rubber gloves and gaffa tape!

We all finally rendezvoused in Kelsall, and set off down the hills towards Tarvin. After we crossed the A51, I noted that the two ladies were not with us. What had happened was that despite the route all being downhill one lady had stopped for a call of nature, and missed where we went. The two of them best guessed the way, and made their way home. Reassured by the rest of the ladies that had spoken to them while waiting for me to fix my puncture that they were happy to make their own way, we carried on through to Waverton and Christleton and back.

Notes to self:

1. Get myself a small address book for people’s numbers so that I can contact them if I lose them! (This is the first time in 4 years!)

2. Print out some ‘business’ cards with my number on, so that others can call me if there is a problem.

3. If I buy a new tyre – fit it to my bike!!!!!

30 miles
1 puncture
11 ladies
2 lost!

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Wednesday Evening Bike week ride

For the second year running, I ran a ladies only ride alongside the usual Wednesday evening rides, for bike week.
Due to an enormous downpour between 6 - 6:35, only 11 people mustered outside Chester Town Hall - not bad given the circumstances!

11 cyclists at the Town Hall!

By this time it had actually stopped raining, and the big black cloud had headed northwards over Kelsall and beyond.  A few photos later and I led 4 ladies off for a 20 mile circuit up the Greenway to Mickle Trafford, Guilden Sutton, Stamford Bridge, a bit of A51 which was not too bad at 7:30 if not for the large lorries and accompanying spray!  Tarvin via a sneaky bridleway, Oscroft, Barrow (great and small) and finally back into Mickle Trafford, where I noticed that St Plegmunds well had been 'dressed' so we popped there to see that.  Sweet!

St Plegmunds Well - Well Dressing!

We were back in perfect time to meet the others at the Coach House for sandwiches and a beer!  and we were still dry - it was nice enough to sit out too!


Saturday 11 June 2011

Welcome to Hildegards new cafe in Holt!

If you follow my blog, you will know how I like to seek out new cafes, to add to my growing list of cake-selling establishments in about a 10 mile radius of Chester.  So, imagine my delight when I hear that a certain lady, known to cycling communities for many years, was opening a new cafe in Holt.  There was therefore no hesitation in picking the destination for June's ladies ride - Holt it was!!

18 sets of wheels gathered at Kingsway - the usual array of familiar faces and new.  18! that was an impressive line up navigating the lanes, I can tell you!  It is so many in fact, that the starting off photo had to be split into two, in order to show who we had!  It was traffic stopping, as we crossed Hoole Road! (safety in numbers - check out CTC campaign here).

I think I am getting little more confident leading a large group across town and negotiating junctions, traffic lights and all the obstacles that a city can throw at you (while staying together and not losing anyone).  we dropped down to the canal and along to come out along Boughton, before dropping to the river.  I had to stop to re-group - nothing to do with the half clad young men from the rowing club - honest!  We crossed the river by the Old Dee Bridge - it really is pretty along there.  I have lived in Chester all my life, and I think that sometimes you just don't see what it really looks like.  Cycling is the perfect opportunity to have that different perspective.

Leaving Eccleston

As we left Eccleston, coming under the Duke's Drive, a wonderful vista of the Welsh hills opens out - big black clouds and all!  There was a very large threatening cloud, but I was not sure if we would meet it, with the direction we were heading.  so far, so dry!

As we approached Pulford, a couple of ladies who needed to head back decided to turn off - we had a little ponder about where there may be a cafe, and I remembered Chester Lakes - so we sent them off that way.  The rest of us (now down to 15 as someone else had a date with a new allotment) continued to Rossett.  Lisa and Jo decided to forge ahead and see how fast they could go - promising to wait at the turn off. 

Cooks Bridge

We wended around Darland, and Hoseley, before returning to the main boring long straight B road to Holt.  By now that black cloud was actually quite close, and the rain trails could be clearly seen underneath it. 

Pedal as fast as you can away from that cloud!!

At the T junction about a mile or so out of Holt, I gathered all the ladies and pointed out the cloud, and requested (politely!) that they ride like stink - as fast as you can! - to get to the cafe before that gets here!!!  And we did - Just!

Hildegard was extremely accommodating, and gathered all the spare chairs she had in the establishment before settling us in the back room.  We just about fit!

choosing cakes in Hildegards cafe
After coffee, tea, carrot cake, scones, bacon and avocado baguettes etc all round, we returned to the bikes (now it had stopped raining and the sun was back out) to discover a flat tyre.  The offending wheel was dealt with, along with impromptu how-to-fix-a-puncture narrative.  We sent the Welsh girls off to the hills (to save them coming all the way back to Chester) and so now 13 of us left Holt.  It is sometimes quite mathematically challenging leading a ride!!!

changing tube with lots of help!

Crossing Holt-Farndon bridge

The weather tried a few times to rain on us, but apart from a few drops, we escaped any shower, and continued back, dropping a few here and there as we passed turnings to their village, or their street, leaving me with four of us near the cafe.  Flo was sent up the cycleway towards Mickle Trafford, and Jean and Vicky returned to their cars.

25 miles (or thereabouts!), 1 puncture, 7 Carrot cakes, no rain - Ha!!!