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!!!