Saturday 13 December 2014

Icy December

Friday night was wet, very wet. I know because my husband and I went to Ikea to buy a wardrobe for my daughter, and the drive back was horrible.  So when I woke to a frosty white-over on Saturday morning I was a little wary of the road conditions.  But the sun was out and it was promising to be a lovely day, so I wrapped up and set out.

At the bottom of my driveway (and it is not a long driveway!) my phone rang - it was Kath from Kinnerton - her and Gill had hit ice on their way in and both come off.  They were OK, but a bit shaken, planning to visit A&E later.  I wished them well and set off - gingerly!

I made it to the cafe (it is 1/3 of a mile from my house, which was why I chose the location, I can always get there).  More ladies turned up - until we had 12.  Someone else had also fallen off on the way - but had made it, albeit with a sore and slowly swelling thumb (turned out to be broken).

I said we will wait until 10:30, let the sun start to warm up.  At 10:15 it rained a very fine misty rain - I thought that is just going to sit on top of the ice and make it even slippier (if there is such a word).  

I phoned the cafe, sorry Caroline we are not going to make it today.  I was also aware through the power of social media that a number of Chester Road club riders had also come off that morning on their various journeys, and two or three of the Tuesday evening riders (who had planned to go to Tilly's at Bunbury and then join us for mulled wine at The Dee Miller) had also slipped.

Hardy riders who made it as far as Kingsway,
also Rosie and Janet who were on the comfy chairs.
A good chance for a chat and a catch up!
People started to head home, it is a shame but for safety sometimes you have to make that call and cancel.  But (apart from January 2010) it is the only one cancelled (and Jan technically was not cancelled as no-one turned up!).

For the record, there was a bit of a cyclists convention in A&E that morning but no further injuries noted, and the roads and paths remained icy all day.  The Wrexham girls headed home along the Greenway and also came off - but were not hurt I believe.

Saturday 22 November 2014

West Cheshire Alps re-visited

Back in 2012 I led an extra ride in preparation for the Spring 50 the following week.  This year I had planned in four extra rides to meet up with other ladies groups; but for one reason and another we never managed any of them.  With the early Nov ride ending up very short, and with today's date already n the diary, I invited people to join me on a re-ride of the West Cheshire Alps route.  10 agreed to come!

We set off in lovely sunshine and blue skies - it was the sort of day that every few miles you have to say 'isn't it a lovely day?!' 

We paused at Huxley to let everyone catch up - there is a sneaky rise on the road that is barely perceptible, but just enough to make you feel tired.

As we waited Wrexham CTC (or Reivers, never sure which group as they are the same people!) came past, to waves and 'hellooo's'.

We carried on to Tarporley, where we had another little pause... 

 ...before continuing around Portal to Eaton, and through to Cotebrook.  

 I carried on past the turning just so we could have a photo by Oulton Mill Pond, or 'Mill Pond' as I think it is actually just called.  

No photos of the hills - lovely views as you climb up from the crossroads at Cotebrook, and into Utkinton and along the sandstone ridge - but hard to capture on a photo - you will just have to come along next time!

We made it to Raina's Greedy Pig in Kelsall after regrouping again at the top of Kelsall and then dropping all the way down into the village.

After Kelsall we follow a fabulous contour so you have lovely views across Chester and Merseyside, and into North Wales, before we split and a couple went home from Delamere.

This time we did not go off road through the forest, it had been quite wet previously so would've been very muddy.

After Delamere I added in a little lane near Norley I had not done, always worth putting a new one in!

We then drop off the Sandstone ridge, and around Dutton/ Acton we also drop off my map (GPS) so it becomes harder to navigate.  Must ask Santa for full mapping of UK.

The route climbs back up again to Kingsley and the lanes above Helsby - a hidden area of undulations and secret valleys, culminating in a fab descent to Manley Common.  Here again a few split, as the light was actually fading, leaving a select few to finish off the ride past Manley and back in Mickle Trafford.

Still a lovely 40 mile route.

Saturday 8 November 2014

What Rain...?

aaah - did the forecast say rain...oh yes, and wind....heavy rain was that...aah right.

So, clearly undeterred, 22 ladies amassed at Kingsway, with five stalwart leaders ready for anything.  I took the group photo inside for a change - and just in case.... and the 'talky' bit (or safety talk as some may call it).

Gill and Gill set off with eight riders for the further faster, aiming to get back for 11 - but we were late leaving (again), although there was a general 'ah well it's November and the weather does look glum' sort of feeling, and Gill 1 was not sure if they would make it in time.

Today's destination by the way was not just a cafe; Vicky one of our ladies was holding a coffee morning in Waverton, and with a promise of cake and a chance to support her fundraising for an Operation Raleigh venture next year,  we agreed to support her.  But, unlike a cafe, the hall was only booked until 12, so if you are not there you would miss out.

Linda left second with the slow and steady group, while I tried to phone Vicky and tell her there were 25 cyclists heading her way.

I led the final 10, with Mary helping from behind.  We set off in the damp gloom along the cyclepath beside the A41 towards Sainsburys, where we re-grouped by the lights.  "We are taking the first left" I instructed as we waited for the lights to change, and then set off single file. 

By now the rain was starting and we took the first left, and followed the street down to the end, with another left.  But we were missing two - Mary from the back and another.  We waited.  It rained.  Someone turned back to retrace to the main road, but no sign of the missing two.  I came back - it is quite wet now and not really conducive to standing around.  

Finally I phoned Mary, and they had missed the first turning, but were not far away - we arranged to meet by the High School.  

A damp ride through Caldy Valley Nature Park

By now time was really ticking along, it was wet and although it was not far we decided to head straight out to Saighton, hang a left and tootle directly to Waverton.  7 miles!

Anyway, the welcome was warm, the cakes splendid, books to browse (I had to remind Sharon she was on her bike and therefore do not buy too many books!). Extra chairs and tables were set out for us and we had a room to ourselves.  

However, the two Gill's also realised that they would not get back to Waverton in time, so they instead stayed in Tattenhall and visited Alison's Tearooms.  This is the first time we have been to differing establishments, and with so many cafe's to choose from it is good people know where they are, and can alter route or plans and drop in to a nearby cafe.

Gills' group at Alison's

Outside at Alison's

When we came out of the institute hall, the sun was out, and we gathered for a photo before heading back.  Linda's slow and steady group did more miles than us!

Group in Waverton hall - Sharon (far right)
....don't buy too many books!

What rain.......?

Back at Kingsway - in full sunshine!

Saturday 11 October 2014

A little bit Lumpy and a little bit wet

Probably the least planning I have done for a ladies ride - I was late asking for leaders, and so late posting on facebook or emailing out that ladies were starting to ask if there was a ride, and then last minute decisions on where to go - to be informed my first choice is not open on Saturdays!  So, with a quick look at records (where have we not been for a while?), a speedy plot on my mapping system, quick event creation and email out we were ready to go!

19 ladies arrived at the cafe, milled around, and mostly signed in to the 'regular' steady normal paced ride, one taker for slow and one for fast!  Somehow it all settled out, and three groups of differing sizes set off into the Cheshire countryside.
Crossing the Gowy at Stapleford

The field in the background is
a large crop of Rape - in OCT!

The destination was Lockgate Cafe, which for years was referred to as 'cockroach cafe' - for no reason other than it was a slightly grimy if not functional 'caff'.  It has had a few re-incarnations over the last few years, when we last visited in 2011 it was called 'Flavours' (which never suited it!) but they did do the decking, and now it is a very pleasant little cafe - with plenty of space.

Lockgate cafe sits between the canal and the railway just over the hill from Beeston.  My group took a slightly deviated route via Duddon and Tarporley, stopping in the town to show off the CTC Winged Wheel, with an explanation about it.  But this route did make it a little bit lumpy! 
Winged Wheel

It is a good job that there is plenty of space in the cafe, as the Wrexham group were there again!  This is the third time this year, and becoming a bit of a habit!  I also met a few from the Ellesmere Port racing club, who I used to ride with (when I was 17) - so they felt old!

Wrexham - we will have to stop meeting like this!

Cream tea and friends

inside the cafe

The other half

Heading back, we divided up again, with Linda taking some on the 10 mile route, and I led what I thought was about 13, but turned out to be 15.

We headed up to Beeston, round, and down the other side.  Passing the Ice Cream Farm we crossed the A41 and climbed up Saighton to my favourite view - which looked rather grey and ominous.  Too late, it started to rain at Huntington.  I was very tempted to settle down at the Rake & Pikel, but we just donned waterproofs (those that had some!) and blasted back to the cafe.

A rather grey view!

Distances something between 25 - 30 miles - hard to gauge now with three groups doing different distances and different people in different groups.

I believe poor Mary had a puncture on the way back, and even the shorter route people got caught in the quite heavy rain - at least we were all heading home!

Saturday 13 September 2014

Swans and Sheep across the Marshes

September is a time of new starts - new terms, new places to live for students, new lives in some cases (can you tell I am taking my eldest to Uni in a few weeks?!)  It heralds the turning point away from summer and towards chillier autumn days.

In 2013, The Burton Marsh cycle route to Nets Cafe at Denhall fisheries was newly open, offering the ladies yet another new cafe to add to our growing list.  It was also an opportunity to encourage people out who may not have ridden before, as it is flat and mostly off road.  It felt like an appropriate ride to repeat in 2014.

20 of us met at Kingsway Cafe; another nice thing (for me) is that we do not need as many leaders, and in theory everyone can ride at their own pace.

Or so I thought.

Climbing up onto railway embankment
at the start of the Marsh route
I set off at the front at a fairly fast 14-15 mph (I did say it was flat!), expecting people to just relax and follow on in their own time.  However, the outcome seemed to be that everyone pushed themselves (OK, maybe not everyone) to 'keep up'.  I realised that it can actually take a bit of confidence to ride at a pace that is comfortable for you, and not feel concerned or harassed as other rides seem to disappear into the distance (all the more noticeable on a straight railway line - you can see people for ages, getting smaller as the gap widens!)  Maybe we still need to split into smaller pace-matched groups after all?

Passing sandstone bluff (Burton Point)
Out past Saughall we were caught up and passed by another group - they came up behind a little quietly and surprised some of the ladies at the back - but we all passed single file and safely - turned out to be a few from the Bike Factory including Dave Quinn (the owner). I have known Dave for more years than either of us care to remember (29 years) so we chatted for a little while (as his group became distant spots)before he left us.

Crossing the Boardwalk
After about 8 miles we branch off to the right and into Deeside Industrial Park, and the new solar panels at the Toyota factory.  I had not seen them before, but was assured by my cycling companion at the time that they had been there 'ages'.  It was not until we reached the MOD firing range that I recalled the last time I had been out this way - in January this year four of us met up (through the power of Facebook!) and had an extra pedal out in lovely sunshine if not a bit windy; until the weather turned black and nasty and we were pelted with hailstones and gale force winds on our way back!

We watched a flock of swans take off and fly over the marshes, and a huge flock of 
penned in sheep.

Nets cafe were ready as ever and served us well with tea cakes, scones and bacon butties; as we sat outside in the gradually improving weather.  People drifted off home as suited them, until the final band of us headed back to Chester.

Heading back

Saturday 9 August 2014

Bears on the Plain

Actually I think the Cheshire Plain is much more Nantwich way,very flat over there.  This ride was just to prove we have hills in Cheshire too.  Another new cafe - although 1 year old and I have been here a couple of times - but new for the ladies ride.  It is also a little further but as it is August and still technically summer I thought it would be worth the extra miles and hills!

It was.

Holidays meant that although the weather was going to be nice, numbers were still manageable - a cosy 17 of us, split into two groups this month.  

Super Alex

Alex led a faster group, they headed off around Beeston.  We nearly did too, as I became a  little confused just after the ice cream farm; but soon rectified it.

We headed pretty much straight out, along the cycle path on the A41 to cross the A51 at the lights, and then cross to Pearl Lane and over the main road.  Christleton, Waverton (some mad hat drivers out today - had to pass the cyclists even though their turning is coming up.  No close ones though).  After passing rocky Trail, Martins Lane to Hargrave, and then towards Tattenhall, turning off by the ice cream farm.  

First climb - not a hill but a bridge over A55

Through Christleton

horses near Waverton
(you will need to squint at this as it is a bit blurry!)

another climb - but not a hill, bridges
over railway and canal

As we skirted Tattenhall, we started to climb towards Burwardsley (signposted the Candle Factory); actually quite a gentle pleasant incline.

lovely views to Helsby Hill

We waited a little for one lady (recent hip replacement, so doing very well!), but still made it before the faster group (so I could get the last heart-shaped cherry bakewell!)

Don't you just love our Cheshire countryside!  

Climbing hills brings its own rewards in the form of fabulous views - the great thing about the teddy bear cafe (apart from very speedy service) is they have a marvellous decked balcony terrace area, with super views across to Chester and North Wales.

Another grand thing about climbing hills is the downhill afterwards!  And heading right out of the cafe gave us several fast drops past Harthill and into Tattenhall.

From here we headed to Bruera (crossing the A41 again, and meeting a  racing club going the other way) and Saighton - another little hill but with one of my favourite views across to North Wales with Eaton Tower nestled in the trees.

After a suitable drop back down to Huntington, I led the remaining ladies through Caldy Valley nature park, because it is nice!

Saturday 12 July 2014

Anti-Clockwise round Beeston

Having visited a cafe near Beeston Castle in Aug 2011 , this is part two!  In those 'early' days I was pleased to have 8 riders out.

There was some discourse between leaders on the Friday before the ride, as two of us had been on holiday and I was not sure if the tea van I had in mind was still open.  Nicky kindly rode out in the week preceeding and had let them know so that sealed it - they were obviously ready and waiting for us.....

I also had not been able to email out or even create an event on facebook before the ride, so would also be interested to see how many would remember.  I did post a reminder on facebook, and some did email me to ask if there was a ride.  23 riders (plus Jane found us on the lanes, and Nosheen found us at Beeston - no surprise there!)

You don't have to wear pink....but it helps!

Three groups again this month, with Kath leading the faster further, Nicky the slow and steady and I had regular with newbies.

Take care when crossing - everyone
is responsible for themselves

And don't duck out of my photos....

....or I will make you hold the gate lol!!!!
Beautiful July sunshine, very warm.  Lovely lanes as ever, although I note a lot of nettles wavering on the edges.  

Beeston is a very notable and iconic landmark to head for across the Cheshire lanes.  It affords fantastic views and is well worth a visit.  This time I headed out through Tattenhall, then doubled back round to approach from the usual easterly angle.  It always gives marvellous views of Beeston Castle as you get closer, until it disappears in the woods and you skirt around the base.  Bit of an uphill climb, but then you turn in and find the tea van.

Unfortunately, despite warning that there may be up to 30 of us, it took a rather dismal 45 minutes to get everyone's orders in and sorted.  Very nice coffee, and lovely picnic area (but you do need a nice day!).
The cafe/ tea van is on the Sandstone Trail.

Lots of outdoor picnic tables - apparently
will have parasols next week...

..and ample bike parking!

Everyone split a little, as time was ticking on.  The Rossett girls headed off with Jane towards

Clutton and Wales; a few headed to the Ice cream farm - just too temptingly near!  Nosheen and Shanti had the day so set off (who knows where!).  Kath seemed to retain her group, but I was down to four and Nicky also had four.
Returning via Huxley, Nicky carried on to the 50p shop where the toilet was a useful stop off.  

Slow 'n' steady - 25 miles (24.8 says Nicky!)
Regular ride - 27 miles
Faster Further -