Saturday 8 December 2012

Annual Walk Mill Wander

I was quite late sending my monthly email out this month, but it is also a very busy time of the year, so a turn out of a dozen ladies on what was actually quite a sunny and not-too-cold morning, for the last official ladies ride of 2012, was pretty good.
look at that blue sky!
We assembled inside the cafe, which is far more sociable I think this time of year.  Although I was so early Tina had not yet got the coffee on!  It was all festive and fairy lights - a bit like my bike after Kath brought me two sets from the £1 shop.  It will bring a bit more cheer to the informal Wednesday evening circuit, headed by the guys who lead the Summer evening rides.  That is another story (and maybe another blog!).

We set off towards Mickle Trafford, but not on the Greenway in case of patches of ice, and then round to Guilden Sutton, A51 and skirting Christleton to pass through Waverton.

arriving at Walk Mill - I always think it has such big skies here.

Walk Mill is our usual Christmas/early Dec venue, as it is not too far out, and often people are so busy they cannot afford the time for themselves this time of year.

We settled down to our coffees, teas and cakes; chat and social bit, before heading back out to the bikes.

I have previously taken a pic of the ladies by the door of the mill, as they usually have a festive wreath on the door.  but with no wreath, and similar pictures in past years, this time I tried something different.  It took a bit of doing, trying to entice the ladies onto the bridge to pose in front of the water wheel, and to coerce Caroline out too (baby due Dec 24th!).  See if you can spot her!

(I can barely see her and I know where to look!)

We headed back to Chester via the canal - because it was such a nice day and it is so lovely along the canal!
The nice new tarmac drive leading to Walk Mill,
with Beeston and Peckforton  in the distance.
12 riders, and 14 miles.  lots of smiles!  Click here for the route out.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Chester CTC Christmas Lunch

Chester Fabulous Ladies are part of the wider Chester CTC, and so are encouraged to come out on the regular Sunday rides throughout the year.  There is the odd one that I arrange/ lead; and for the past few years I have taken charge of the Christmas Lunch ride, held on the first Sunday in December.  It is usually a bit early for pubs to have really got into the swing, but most are usually decorated, and all we ask for is Turkey and crackers (and a vegetarian option!).

This year I booked The Rising Sun in Tarporley, and we met at Christleton Pond at the usual 10am.  The Sunday before I had ridden out with the deposit, and had to pass through four floods, due to heavy rain at the end of November.  The weather in the previous week had been so changeable, with Saturday being a bit frosty and clear; Sunday had rained but although there was no frost there was ice along many of the lanes.

Dave took Bob and Kinnerton Kath on a slightly longer and a bit faster ride, calling to Rose Farm for elevenses; the rest of us took a leisurely pace to the 50p shop, and Christine's tea shop.

It was trying to rain as we left the 50p shop, and we headed to Huxley and Tiverton, before doubling back to Tarporley, arriving in perfect time as the door was opening!

A pleasant lunch, and they looked after us well!

People did various things heading home - although everyone set off with me to Utkinton, and dropped down Wood Lane to Duddon, where we crossed the A41 before heading to Walk Mill for afternoonsies.  Several people split here, and seven of us partook of coffees and cakes, before lighting up and returning to Chester (arriving home before dark at about 4ish).

27 Miles ( about 31 FF)

Saturday 10 November 2012

30th New Cafe for November

I am a very sad person, and keep meticulous records on an ever expanding excel sheet about who came on which ride, which cafes we have been to - and when, and sometimes how many miles each person has ridden (seriously must stop some of this!)

'Flat Chat' group headed by Welna
So I can categorically state that today marks the 30th different cafe we have visited on Saturday morning ladies rides.  This does not include the cafes we have found in Shropshire and Derbyshire on ladies weekends, or ones further afield when we have been on other cycling events.  I am quite impressed, anyway!

'Further Faster' led by Sue this month

The November weather in the week preceding this Saturdays ride was descending into winter rapidly, gloomy - wet - cold.  So it was with joy on Friday night when I sneaked a peek at the BBC weather forecast, to see sunshine; and then with delight when the day did indeed dawn with blue skies and bright sunshine!

 This month I asked people to arrive between 9:30 and 9:45, to allow for signing in and also to meet inside as it gets colder (and therefore maybe buy a tea  or coffee, as the cafe is so good letting us congregate once a month!).  But I had quite a bit of paperwork - sign in sheets, Christmas list, club top and get well card - so still late leaving!

Terraced streets of Hoole
Welna headed north on the Greenway with the Flat Chat group, and I headed south with the Faster Further.  By the time we had wendled through Hoole, Boughton and out time was a-ticking!  Nice blast out to Saighton (although the road does a sneaky tilt just as you approach the junction).  We waited a few moments for all to catch up,then headed to Waverton,cross the A41, and on past the crocky trail (with a brief stop as I had forgotten where I was going!).  At one point when we re-grouped, I suggested that we did a 'breadcrumb trail' - if you know that there is someone behind you, but they are not in sight, one person waits at the junction where the group turned off.  This can continue and means that the group is not stopping each time there is a turn, if everyone is not up.  

On through quiet country lanes to cross the A51 near Tarvin, and then to Oscroft.  By the time we reached little Barrow, I was down to half my group, hoping that my breadcrumb trail would work!  Near Manley we turned left, and headed up to Dunham Hill, then down to the A56.  A group of us were there, and the cafe was only 1/2 mile - but by the time Jo and I reached Cafe Fresh, there was no-one else in sight!

Faster end enjoying a range of goodies!
Fortunately the breadcrumb trail was successful and everyone arrived at the cafe, stowed our bikes in the back yard (kindly opened up by the owner, Phil), and were soon queuing up for refreshments.

The return journey if taken directly was quite short.  The Ellesmere Port and North Wales contingencies set off that way, and the rest of us headed towards Chester on the A56, turning on the B road to go through Barrow and pick up footpath on the A51, swing in to Guilden Sutton and then the Greenway.  All in the most glorious sunshine with golden trees still adorning the roadside.

17 riders, 20 miles (25 FF miles).

Saturday 20 October 2012

A hill too far...?

Another October early start saw several ladies descend on Corwen, in two batches, for the 100 and 60k Audaxes, The Brenig Bach (100k) and the Bala Mini Bash.

First climb of the day outside Corwen
The 100k was due to start at 8:30am - that means the clock starts then and that is when you set off.  I warned our little group to take it steady on the first hill out of Corwen,as it is quite big but will only be the start!  As we climbed, a very broad rainbow was forming to our right, the direction we were generally intending to head.  It got brighter as we turned at Cynwyd, and with the bright morning sunshine and brilliant autumn colours, it prompted many photo opportunities.  We dropped from Cynwyd to the River Dee, to cross on one of the many old stone bridges, common along this stretch of the valley (I know, as once upon a time in my youth I was cycling back from Bala, and decided to cross the Dee at each you do!)

Jackie and Claire in Cynwyd

Crossing the River Dee

We then turned left,and followed the valley up stream, along a marvelous little lane that I think the 60k-ers would be returning along later.  There was one very muddy bit, where we gained a gentleman named Gron, who stayed with us for the duration (I think he was having difficulty reading the route map without his glasses), so we let him tag along!  A little further on and we had a moment with a few cars trying to pass each other (and getting seriously in our way!) - I had a very surreal moment when one car was reversing and the same speed as the car in front of us was going forward, with Gwenda hot on his bumper.

Anyway,we left them to sort themselves out and turned right and continued along the valley to Llandderfel, and after re-assembling, we turned right onto the B-road and next left for our first real climb of the day, just a small one to get us going! Up and over saw us join the A494 for a few miles - where we could actually wind up the gears and steam along at a nice average of 20mph, or so it felt - a wonderful down hill and slightly twisty foresty stretch, before turning off again at Llanfor.

This was again an undulatory road, with views to the misty Snowdonia mountains over to our left.  It culminated in a lovely downhill swoop, which was a bit steeper at the bottom,and where Claire took a brief tumble, landing ungraciously on her bottom, with her bike upside down against the bank.  Luckily no damage to Claire or her bike, and after picking her up,dusting her down, and removing the grass from her brake hood, we were able to carry on.

This part of the route actually follows the Snowdonia National Park boundary, and we trundled along the B4501, before turning off and up again on a small lane.  By this time (or maybe earlier, it is hard to remember already!) we were joined by a chap and his daughter from Norley.  They had actually set off to do the 60k, which I thought they were joking about, but no, they really were quite lost.  So they followed us too.

We are all walking now!

We picked up one of the info points at the end of a gated road, and then had a serious double-arrow climb - at which point it dawned on me that the father-and-daughter team should really contact Dave the organiser, to let his know they were off route; in case they were waiting at a control for them.  So we left him at the top of a hill phoning, and his daughter came with us for a short way, through a flooded lane, to a sharp right turn off the road.  I continued, and the others followed through - another very steep climb through a farm and round, but then followed by the most amazing descent - a straight road, which I flew down (clocking a mean 38 mph!), and we congregated at the bottom cross roads to re-group.  Gwenda and Gron had gone ahead, and Tracey soon came down, followed by Claire and Jackie.  But no sign of the father and daughter.  We waited, as the route was straight ahead but the lane was marked as a dead end; eventually we decided they could look after themselves, and we carried on to join Gwenda and Gron in the Riverside Chocolate House.  As good as it sounds!

It was at this point that we had a choice to make.  We were half an hour outside the latest arrival time at that control, and it would be very hard to try and make that time up.  Or, we could bash back down the A5 to Corwen, not the most pleasant option, and we were only halfway through the day.  Or, the option we picked, to take the A543 up onto the Denbigh Moors, where after about 7 miles we would re-join the route and still make it to Llyn Brenig visitor centre for cakes!  We waved goodbye to Gwenda and Gron, doing our miles for us, and finished our beans on toast and hot chocolate.

Now, despite the road not looking all that steep, and with a tailwind and in bottom gear, it was still a very hard slog up the A-road.  Not many cars, but fast when they came.  The sky and views were clearing as we ascended, and I could make out a Red Kite hovering and swooping over the desolate landscape.

We re-joined the route near Llyn Aled, and carried on past the Sportsmans Arms (I have memories of my first ever Easter Tour over here when I was 16!) and to the B-road that would take us past Brenig.  Here we were joined by Darryl, one of our Chester & North Wales CTC Competition team members, and Stephen, Welna's husband.  We rode together for a while, catching up on the bit we missed, until they shot ahead as I misread my map (I was looking at it upside down!) - only to catch them a little further on as Stephen had a puncture.  We helped out, then carried on to the cafe.  Or rather, I passed the girls at the top, and they followed...Claire and Jackie took a few photos and by the time we got to the cafe Tracey was missing.  She did turn up,with Gwenda and Gron, she had missed the cafe altogether and carried on along the lake.

Llyn Brenig in the background

Homeward bound!
We finally left the cafe (with smashing cakes!), and re-climbed to the main road, where I had been told the last 20k were all downhill.  The first bit was, then we climbed  then an amazing downhill - I again flew past the girls - and this time clocked an eye watering 44mph - weeeeee!

We were being passed by lots of rally cars, and I understand that the Cambrian Rally was on this weekend - possibly explains the lady with the camera in Cerrig, not really for us!  This was where we hit the A5, and had 10 miles all the way to Corwen (still not all entirely downhill!).

A grand day out, not too tired,and 52 quality miles!  Now to plan a re-visit to do the 'missing link'!

Saturday 13 October 2012

Who moved the cafe?

Second Group - the Flat 'n' Chat easyriders!
It was with some trepidation that I set off on the second Saturday morning in October, as I already had 18 confirmed names, and there are usually a few extras who did not know till last minute, or did not pick up the email or were not able to reply.  So it did not surprise me when we ended up with 24 ladies; who conveniently spread themselves between the two groups we had planned.  The weather had promised to stay fine until lunchtime, so that should be OK.

I led the usual group, and Jo-Anne took on the further faster; route planning having already been plotted and uploaded to devices (or in Jane’s case her head, according to Jo-Anne, but denied by Jane!)

I don't usually have a bike shop in my pannier!
We had not got very far when one lady realised her seat was too high – after being borrowed by her husband as his bike had a puncture…but did not return the saddle to its correct altitude.  This was easily and swiftly corrected, and we set off again.  In Waverton, a few ladies realised that despite the sun it is actually quite nippy around the knuckles now – fortunately I had bought a pair of gloves in the Aldi sale and was not sure if I really needed them – so was able to sell them at the roadside - warm hands for one, lighter bag for me!!

I am loving the curtains!  First group settled in back room.

We kept a nice steady pace then out to Tattenhall, where I directed people down to the café, which I thought was ‘down there on the right’.  It wasn’t.  I found them just the other side of Tattenhall, looking at me expectantly.  But after asking a passing lady, she set us right and we found Alison’s Country Kitchen on the other side of the road, up a steep driveway.  Phew.

The further faster group arrived shortly after us, they saw the sign so were not confused at all!  Plenty of room inside and out, although not particularly together, but that happens with a large group.  Can I just say, that the cafe did used to be where I directed people to - but they moved!

Still warm enough to sit outside in October!

I had planned to lead back via Bruera and Saighton, but there was a tremendously black cloud of impending doom and heavy rain in that direction, so I turned my handlebars back retracing some of our route out, with some variations.  As more were ready to leave at that time, Moira and I split the remaining ladies between us, and we negotiated the traffic jam that is Tattenhall High Street at Saturday lunchtime.


We had a pleasant and dry ride back, looking over at the dark clouds and rain – one lady’s husband came to pick her up as it was so wet in Connahs Quay – but it missed us, and I believe it missed the further faster ladies who did take the original planned return route.  Which just goes to show, you should stick to your plans, and the dark clouds are not always as bad as they seem.

24 riders, 22 miles (28FF), no punctures, no rain.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Sunny September

September is such a transitional month, and I think it can be very evocative: triggering memories of the end of summer and starting back to a new term, new year and sometimes a new school. The weather, although it had been glorious and sunny for the past week or so, is now turning a little chilly, evenings are imperceptibly drawing in, and the 10am start is not quite warmed up.

After the success of two rides in Aug, Welna and I planned another two routes. Following the lead of the Wirral Belles last month, I thought it was time we tried out the Hosta Cafe in Ledsham too. It is our 28th different cafe (and there are still about half a dozen on my list of places to go!)
Near the new M&S at Stanney Oaks
 This time, I led the faster further group. The numbers were a little imbalanced (13 in FF group, 10 with Welna) and possibly a bit high. Although we have had up to 16 on one ride, I think we need to follow the Belles lead again and try to restrict to about 8 in a group.
Crossing the A41

Anyway, we were a bit late leaving (fortunately for the few latecomers!) and I set off with the FF whilst Welna did a few explanations to give us a head start. We set off up Kingsway/ Mannings Lane and dropped down to Mickle Trafford,following the lanes round to Stanney Oaks and Backford.  We then swung across to Mollington and Saughall before crossing the main road on Lodge Lane and round to Woodbank.  It was then left at the little church into Ledsham, which looked as sunny and pretty as it had on GoogleStreetview earlier that morning!

Following cakes and coffee (among other items as usual) we waved off the North Wales and Ellesmere Port contingencies, before all setting off back together, direct through Capenhurst, Mollington and the Zoo.

Hosta cafe is hidden in Premier Plants

Passing Holy Trinity Church,Capenhurst

23 FF miles,17 Ladies miles.  23 riders!  (most ever!)

Today's route:
(should show via Strava)

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Two for one

After a discussion whilst away on Anglesey with Welna, I was persuaded to try a few rides with two options - a normal pace and distance with an option of a 'further faster' route ending at the same place.  August was the first month for this trial.

Welna with her group, giving instructions.
We met at the cafe, but this time two name sheets went round.  Welna and I delivered the 'talky bit' as I call it, reminding about safe riding in a group, communication etc, before waving the 'faster further' group on their way (led by Welna).

My group - 'normal' ride (not shorter or slower!!!!)
After a quick photo it was time for us to leave too, carefully picking an alternative way across town so as not to meet again and get muddled.

It actually worked quite well and neatly - with us both having about 8-9 riders,which is much more manageable and therefore safer.

Small lane from Broughton, note windsock to right of centre
We followed a fairly standard route down Lache Lane to Bretton, crossing behind the shopping estate and through the streets of Broughton (I know it well as I used to live there); finally crossing the main road to follow a super quiet little lane, quite a suprising find for some.  It lines up nicely with the runway, too.

A final spurt on the main road and we could see the 'further faster' group just ahead, so that worked well. 

We took up two tables sitting outside, and much tea coffee and cake was consumed.  Of Course!

Taking our positions outside the Farm Shop Cafe at Hawarden

Heading back all together now, we dropped down the lane opposite the cafe entrance, to the Sandycroft road, and right heading towards the huge hangers of the Airbus factory.  We lost a few by the Saltney Ferry bridge crossing, and both sides, and a few more as we came into Chester along the river.  All planned, I hasten to add!

17 ladies, 21 miles (24 FF)

Further Faster route, (Thanks to Jo-anne)