Sunday 17 September 2023

International Fancy Women's Bike Ride

Over the years I have engaged with other events that are happening, such as the Billie Rides, Sports Relief, local rhino hunt....well, it is all documented through our history.

Ten years ago, the first Fancy Women Bike Ride was held in Izmir, Turkey to draw attention to World Car Free Day.  This event was created by Sema Gur as a Facebook event, and reached many women by word of mouth; 300 women participated to that first bicycle tour. Women, dressed in their most beautiful clothes, decorating their bikes with flowers and ribbons, gathered in the city centre and after a 3 km bike ride at a slow pace, they made a press statement and requested “the smell of perfume in cities instead of the smell of exhaust”.  (Our Story - Süslü Kadınlar Bisiklet Turu (

Chester Cycling Campaign planned an event a few years ago, but were unable to hold it on the official date, so they called it a glamorous women ride.  This year the Campaign approached me, to ask if I would be the lead for a Fancy Women's ride (FWBR) for Chester.  By the time I had come back from holiday and met with Simon, it was the closing date for the event, so we got registered and started to make plans!

I met with volunteers from the Campaign in August, to ride the proposed route and think about sections and how we would do it.  It was a very useful afternoon, and helped us to tweak the route.

However, a few weeks later we heard that half of the city centre was closed for a battle of Britain Parade, so we had to rethink either route or timings.  

As the Fancy World is linked via an international Whatsapp group, it was really interesting to see posts from around the world, non more so than on Sunday morning, when reports came through from New Zealand, Malaysia and India.


Edmonton, Canada

Freiburg, Germany

Kochi, India

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico


We assembled in front of our new market square, and checked off names of those who had booked in.  We had 26 riders in the end, with a couple of fancy men who agreed to ride at the back.  Our youngest rider was age 7, with her Barbie and horse taped to her handlebars (She was riding behind me as we came through Hoole, and was excited to tell me we were near her school, or the school her friend goes to).

Setting off up Northgate Street

Crossing the inner ring road

Heading along the Greenway

Reassembling after leaving the Greenway

We had frequent stops for photos and to re-group, including our Roman Amphitheatre.  Despite having no sun, the day was warm and dry, and we certainly brightened up the streets as we covered our five mile route.

Heading along Faulkner Street,
bells a-ringing!

Along the back on Crawfords Walk

Stop to regroup and photos
on the Canal Path

We ended down at the Groves, just before half past three, perfect timing for a last photo and ice creams, courtesy of the Bike Bike Revival.

We spilt into smaller groups
to come through town; and
singled out for Grosvenor
Bridge, now we actually have a
cycle lane here (thanks
to the Campaign!)

A pause at the house called 'Nowhere',
for some local history.  The tales
were told a bit further along the ride in Edgar Park

Edgar Park

Finally we arrived at the Groves by the river Dee

An orderly queue for ice creams, with big thanks to Snugbury's 
for looking after us!

Saturday 9 September 2023

History and Heritage

September rolls around again, and this time we had an unseasonably hot spell, which had already lasted about a week.  12 ladies arrived at the cafe, and after a chat, sign ins and a coffee, photos outside and we set off in two equal groups.

As I have said in previous years, September is a 'back to school' month, and I always think it is like a mini new year, so we plan an easier ride out to encourage newbies.  This year I thought we could head to Ellesmere Port and the Boat Museum, as we can follow the canal all the way.

I was aware that we have had some new resurfacing along the towpath in the past eighteen months, but some path was still very rough.  I took my group through  the Zoo, and we joined the canal at 'Pretty Bridge'.  It was just lovely, although the hedges are a little overgrown.  At Stoak, I highlighted that I knew it was going to be a little more rough under wheel, but we agreed to press on.  In all about a mile is quite broken up and potholey, but as you get nearer to Ellesmere Port the path became a much better surface.

I also explained that as we get nearer to Ellesmere Port, you will see evidence of the industrial past.  I suggested we think of it as Heritage and History, as you pass factories and old iron bridges.  We spotted our first heron in a field near Stoak, and someone else noted on one a fabulous old rusty structure.

The canal is also full of Pennywort, in big floating clumps.  During lockdown I recall this invasive weed filled the canal for several miles, although I had never seen it before.  you can read more about this and the problems it causes here.

We also noted some notable autumnal colouring to the trees, even with crispy brown leaves all over the path.

Before too long we crossed under the motorways and main roads in Ellesmere port, and came out at the boat museum.  This is where the Shropshire Union Canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey, and was a 'transhipment dock'.  The cafe is free to use (you do not need to pay entry) and today was a lovely calm place, with a gentle breeze, just perfect.

In order to avoid hills in the heat, we returned along the canal path as far as Croughton, and a short climb to Wervin gave us the flat route then back to Kingsway.  A grand 14 miles!!