Sunday 10 March 2013

Sneaky March in: it was very suddenly March and I had little time to plan or email out to everyone!  I did have a lot of replies to my monthly email, but it turned out to be quite a wet day (again - 2013 does not have a good track record so far!) and was colder than it has been; so 13 faces were a welcome sight!

We slowly filled up Kingsway cafe, signing sign-in sheets, sharing weather reports from where each rider had come from - although basically it was raining more everywhere else, and especially around Hawarden, where we were heading.

We exited  the cafe, and while Jane did the talky thing, I phoned ahead to the cafe. I had planned to visit Gladstones Library, and very nice cafe within a super sandstone building - but on calling they had a large group already booked in - so plan B: Gallery tea room across the road.

Crossing Hawarden Bridge
After a quick call there, and yes they could accommodate 15 cyclists, I set off with the further faster group - forgetting my start up photo again!  It is not easy when it is wet, people understandably not happy to stand around and pose.

We set off up the Greenway, which was a little quieter than usual, probably due to the rain.  All the way to the railway bridge,where we crossed and headed left.  We bumped into Sheila, who was heading to Connah's Quay - and we were able to quickly catch up on some ladies weekend details while the group re-convened - and also some discussion about booking on trains.

Onto the main road through Shotton, we turned right at a set of lights, into Shotton Lane.  I know the lane, but have not ridden it in years.  It climbs from the main road, through a housing estate and into countryside, within a couple of miles.  We passed a very nice leather dining chair, with a missing leg, sadly abandoned on the roadside - then two more.  Finally around the next corner was the fourth - just got to find the table now for a full dining set.  That is a sad thing about cycling, you do come across the fly tipping sometimes.
At the top of the hill, waiting to re-group.

At the very top, pretty much Ewloe, we skirted the roundabout for the first left, and round to nearly the dual carriageway again - where there is a little cut through I knew near Aston - which now has a few steps. A few of the ladies tried to go around (not easy descending steps wearing cleats in the rain!).  Then they found a subway - and took some persuading that OK, there may be a subway to cross the main road - but we are not going that way!

Instead we dropped down through the housing estate and over the bridge, before twisting round to Hawarden, for the final attack on the steep part of Hawarden Hill - and the cafe!

After slightly taking over the cafe for a while, the regular group were finished and made to depart; we were a bit behind because the cafe forgot a couple of our drinks.  A few people went straight home from the cafe, as they lived very near by.  The rest of us made a chilly descent down the main road, and then picked up the little lane (steep!) that skirts Hawarden woods and brings you to the top of the Warren.  We had a small mishap here - one lady who had been plagued by cramp in the morning and had been unable to clip back in - fell on her slow ascent, unfortunately causing the rear mech to become entangled in the wheel.  After some discussion and re-assurance, I pointed out on the map where we were, and left her in the capable hands of her friend, and three of us continued down the Warren and home.

Jane writes:
"We set off down the greenway then cut off towards  the VW garage to pick up the track down the river. We had only gone a short distance to the bend when we realised the path was closed at this point. This was very recent as one of the ladies cycled down here last Wednesday and it was open then. [the path was actually open, as discovered by Kinnerton Kath the following Tuesday] I quickly came up with plan B and we retraced our steps went down to Bumpers Lane past the football stadium and headed down to the river to cross the Saltney ferry footbridge. We then followed the road to Sandycroft and headed up the hill through Mancot to the cafe arriving just before the faster further group. 

When we left the cafe and headed out of Hawarden  on the route agreed with Sue I managed to miss the turn off left and ended up at the roundabout by the A55, luckily Gill who was on her first ride with the ladies but lives in this area was able to get me back on the right route!! We got back on the track to the Old Warren then made our way back to Chester. We were all soaked to the skin on the way back but my 5 ladies were still smiling and in good spirits not letting the weather get to them. We kept a steady 12mph pace throughout the ride and had completed 25 miles when we got back to Kingsway.
Helen kindly went as back person for me."

25 Miles, (26FF miles), 14 riders, meeting one at the cafe.
Thanks to Helen S for a couple of cafe pics and the bikes at the start.
Also thanks to Jane T forleading, and to Linda S and Helen S who were our backmarkers.