Wednesday 18 December 2013

Last windy ride of the year

It's December, nearly Christmas, so it must be time to make our annual pilgrimage to Walk Mill near Waverton.

16 riders turned up on what seemed a cold but increasingly sunny morning.  The temperature appeared to rise as the sun came out, but by the time we left the cafe the wind was starting to build up.

We sent Linda off with the further faster group, and I led the other group up the Greenway to Mickle Trafford.  

As we reached the end of the Greenway, who should shoot along the road but Linda and her ladies!

Lit up by the sun - look! shadows!

Crossing the A51 was interesting, due to huge volumes of traffic it took us a while to all get across.  But eventually we did, and could continue into the headwind and round to Christleton.  

Relaxing in the cafe, with odd trips to the map on the wall to show people how to get home.  If I wait long enough, there are only a few to take back to the cafe - before it rains!

Leaving Walk Mill

Tinselly bikes - you have to look closely!

16 riders in two groups, with 16 miles and 22 miles respectively.

Have a very merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday 11 November 2013

Never mind the Bollards!

November ladies ride, shortly after bonfire night and before remembrance Sunday.  The morning dawned bright and sunny, with blue sky and very little cloud.  Quite cold but not yet frosty.

Twenty cyclists gathered (eventually - Alex succumbed to a drawing pin, experienced by Linda last month). We were quite delayed leaving,partly waiting for Alex, then an ominous bulge in a front tyre which meant we had to send Lisa back to her car to sort it out and re-pump; then words were had with a member of the residents committee re: parking and 'cycling on footpaths' - but eventually we were able to set off.

My second group nearly caught up with Linda and Jo's first group at the Old Dee Bridge; they then headed to Eccleston whilst we nipped through Catholic High school and Dukes Drive to Westminster park and out on Lache Lane to Kinnerton.

We passed within 50 yards of the cafe - but don't tell anyone!
Approaching Kinnerton
Autumn lanes

At Kinnerton I had a 10 mile route to the cafe planned, but a slower member had held us back a little (they did go straight to the cafe with Gill) so I dropped a couple of miles and we tiddled round the lovely lanes from Kinnerton Green to Burton Green.  With the sun still shining we headed left towards Burton - and passed Linda and her group going the other way! smiles and waves all round (too quick to get my camera out!)

We got to the cafe before the other group, and were able to get served and sat before they came in.

We gathered for a quick photo before we set back off - nearly all of us for the photo that is!

leaving Chester Lakes

On the direct return via Lache Lane - still in blue skies and with the warm sun shining - I noted an incredibly large and unusual looking cloud
 lurking to our right - very pretty but also very suspicious.  Partly because of that and partly as I had quite a large group and did not want to try to negotiate town (Christmas shopping in full swing!) I led the group on a slightly circuitous route from the college round Handbridge and Queens Park, to cross on the suspension bridge (which we walked across!).  On arrival via Boughton to the Canal near Harkers - the towpath was awash - there had clearly been a recent downpour here.  I pointed out to the ladies that this was the reason we had wandered around south Chester!

wet canalside!

crossing to Dukes Drive

through the trees

20 riders, two groups, both cycled 17 miles out, and returned to complete 25 miles for the morning!

(I did not explain the title...shortly before the photo of us crossing the road Jane managed to fall sideways - I maybe did not shout clearly enough that we were stopping - or it may be one of those clipless pedal moments.  Shortly after the second photo above, as all the ladies tried to pass through a gateway with a lone bollard another lady also tippled off.  Blame it on the bollard!  All were OK.)

1 minute after I got home and put my bike away the most incredible hail shower (and thunder) fell - you can see the hailstones on my driveway here!!!

Saturday 12 October 2013

Autumn hills and tracks

Time to dig out the winter jackets and gloves - until you hit the first hill!  

 21 ladies congregated at the cafe for the October ladies ride.   I was welcoming all as usual, answering the multitude of questions and catching up with people, as I realised I was surrounded by riders but no leaders yet!  I do not get chance to hear or answer my phone, so was not aware that Linda had punctured on her way in - met by Joanne and helped by a few passing chaps (they do love to help out a damsel or two in distress, and there is no harm in accepting help if it means a speedy tube change!).  We compared routes, selected a group and dragged the women out of the cafe.

I sent Linda off with the further faster group first; shortly followed by Joanne who led out on the greenway.  We then headed up Mannings Lane to cross by the lights - and then down to Mickle Trafford.  We followed the Cheshire Cycleway to Manley, before sidling off to the left and up a sneaky hill.  There then followed a small discussion and advice about using gears on hills - when you are very used to gears and your bike it is easy to forget how confusing it can be - and how hard it makes it if you select the wrong one going up a hill.

Continuing to Manley common and down Dark Ark Lane - what a great name! - and under the railway before climbing - all a bit up and down really.  I was getting blamed as I said the hill from Manley was the last one - well, maybe one little fib is needed now and then to keep us going!

We ended a little strung out on the last hill, so I was trying to direct the ones at the front to the next turn off (trying to remember where it was) and then trying to be at the back also to make sure everyone was OK and still standing!  We re-grouped at the junction,before heading into Delamere Forest along Forest Farm road which takes you directly to the cafe at Linmere.

On arrival we took over all the cycle stands, then took over half the cafe!

There was much trying on of cycle tops, as the ladies decided which size they would be better choosing in the next top order.  I knew there was a reason to have our names on the tops, as several were passed between each other!

 Time to leave - back on forest farm road so we left as one group, intending to follow the same route but with the second group leaving a respectable gap to allow cars to pass if necessary.  

The road to Kelsall contours through little spurs of forest, and with glorious views across Ashton and fields with sheep to rather black and grisly looking Welsh hills.  At Kelsall we all caught up, before heading down the hill.  This is the last I saw of Joanne's group, as we turned left near the bottom, but it is a hard turn to see and Joanne and her ladies sailed past enjoying the hill too much!  Following a vote when they reached the A54, they retraced the short distance to the missing turn and followed on.  By now, however there was quite a large gap and despite waiting at Tarvin, we did not see them.

Apparently, they found a fab roadside cake stall,so had to stop and check that out!

I led my group right towards Tarvin, then we turned left alongside the new houses to follow Broomheath lane and across the A51.

As we were heading to Waverton, Mary dropped back as she had a fly in her eye.  It was only when she rejoined us at Walk Mill that she explained she was missing a lens from her glasses - which was where the fly headed!

I had a lunch date so sent the final three on to Kingsway, others had split earlier.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Views of New Zealand

Not actually an evening just for ladies; but one led by a special lady.

The Face book event blurb read...."In early 2011 Emma cycled the length of New Zealand, starting in Cape Reinga at the top of north island, to Bluff at the bottom of south island. This was a completely solo unsupported expedition, on a fully loaded touring bike. Emma carried everything for the whole duration of the trip completely on her own. The total mileage was nearly 1800 miles over 28 days, incorporating unbelievable climbs, fantastic scenery, tears, sunburn and many other trials and tribulations each and everyday.  Emma has a fascinating story to tell which should make for a very interesting and entertaining evening."

What an interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes awesome tale, told with such enthusiasm!  Emma started in the north island, which looked fabulously tropical; suffered serious sandfly bites, had all sorts of weather, superb scenery, busy towns, lots of amazingly friendly people.  She was on the national radio - several times.  Emma showed us video clips, and shared her travelling friend, Kevin the Kiwi, with us.

Emma can probably add more information...I'm afraid I did not take notes!

The bike factory did us proud again with wine, drinks,cakes, nibbles.  The fodder was supplemented by Ruth, with her 'fuelled by cake' book promo; and examples from the pages were passed around.

Copies of this book are available from Ruth, all monies going to charity.  They are usually available on the ladies rides!

Saturday 14 September 2013

A very informal affair

It came to my attention recently that following the opening of a new cycle route (actually I am sure it is a shared route!) across Burton Marshes, a new cafe had promptly opened up.

This had to be investigated!

The ride to Net's cafe is entirely off road (apart from the industrial estate but that is quiet at the weekend); so rather than splitting into groups I decided to have a couple of leaders at the front and two at the back to make sure no-one was left behind.

25 ladies met among the usual hubbub in Kingsway cafe - which feels like home now!!!  As we were leaving a few cyclists were arriving - I said it was OK, we were leaving- to which he said 'why is it when we arrive all the ladies leave!!!'.  They were from Southport, had come to Chester by train and were going to cycle back. One of them knows Juliette, the lady who set up and leads the Southport Bicycle Belles.  Small (cycling) world!  Anyway,one of them very kindly took our start up group photo (whilst the other chaps took photos of us with their cameras too!!!)
Setting off across Lime Tree Fields

Crossing blue bridge over
main road near Sealand

Off we went, although the car that stopped to let us across the zebra crossing had a bit of a shock!  The weather was dry but a little grey, and as we crossed the railway we had a flypast from the red arrows.  I was not quick enough with my camera, so I have used the image I found for last time we saw them on a ladies ride.  They were on their way to Southport Air Show.

When we got to the turn off we waited to re-group before the slightly more complicated 'zone 3'.  As we waited I was told there had been a puncture; but the lady in question I knew would be able to fix it; and also knew that my back stop ladies would be coming through.

As the waiting group grew, I thought it may be wise to send half on ahead so that orders could be got in and to avoid too long a queue at the counter.  Seconds later it rained - sorry girls!!!

Puncture fixed - and mucky hands to proove it!

Crossing the Boardwalk

Approaching Burton Point

Finally all came through, and we could then continue to the cafe, negotiating the roads and junctions.  The route is very well signposted now, and soon enough we were on the short boardwalk by Burton point, a wonderful sandstone bluff.

Net's cafe is just along from the gates, and has lots of outdoor seating; which was fortunate as it was by now gloriously sunny and warm.  Then it is just down to the serious business of refreshments and conversation - something all the ladies excel at!!!!
Net's cafe

Heading home was the usual 'ten little indians' - or in this case 30 little Indians (4 ladies met us at the cafe and I found another one on the greenway heading home - so technically 30 ladies were out!) as people split off to head home- or for some reason in several cases to go and get their hair cut!  Ah where is the Cycletta village when you need it!!!!

24 miles, 25 riders (+5!)