Saturday 10 February 2024

Mudguards, Mechanical Mayhem, and Macaroni Cheese

 I am having some fun with my titles, and I hope this one intrigues you!

Our ride this month had no weather to speak of, just a grey day - but no wind, ice, frost, fog, rain, or anything else to put us off, and we gathered again in Hobsons Cafe in Hoole Community Centre.

I met a chap at the start, and he asked to take my photo (or the back of my top) to help promote both the cafe and our group.  He returned just as we were leaving (he said he had forgotten his keys) so that was perfect timing to take our photo.  He then admitted to me he takes lots of photos, and his twitter name is 'I Dream Of Pies' (I have heard of this, so it was very nice to meet him).

I can count 16 here, but we definitely had 17!

The plan was to head to Tarvin Sands, a cafe once known as the Elvis Cafe, but has been part of the fisheries there latterly.  We last visited in October 2019, and we were able to sit outside.  However, I had noted the shutters down when I drove past earlier in the week (although it was 4pm, so some cafes are shut then), and I had not been able to get through on phone or email in the week.  So I was a little suspicious, but knew there were some alternatives in Tarvin, so felt assured we would find somewhere.

Linda set off with her group, and we followed on, using a similar route.  We avoided the Greenway, as it remains flooded, and dropped down Mannings Lane to Mickle Trafford, and the A56 (unavoidable if we are to cross the Gowy).  I saw our group stopped up ahead, but they started again before we caught them; I then maintained a 'car gap' between us and them, so any cars could pass both groups safely.  However, when we turned off the main road, they had stopped again.  Linda reassured us she was OK, and we carried on.  

I chose Sugar Lane at Manley hill, as it always seems a little less steep, then pootled our way around to Ashton.  Here we had a quick decision to either loop to the bottom of Kelsall and around to Oscroft, or straight to the cafe.  The group chose the former, so we took Duck Lane (what a great name!) and crossed the main A54 at the bottom of Kelsall Hill and quickly tucked back off the main road on the other side.  

I thought I may need my phone to hand, so dug it out of my saddlebag - to note a recently missed call from Linda.  She told me they had been having a few mechanical problems and were at the old motor museum, but were fine and continuing.

We continued to return to the A54, and to cross it again - but alas! when we got to the Fisheries it was indeed firmly shut.  I tried to call Linda back but it went to answerphone.  No worries, we will head back to Tarvin.

Unfortunately, just as we turned into Barrow Lane, Laura succumbed to a puncture.  Undeterred, I was very proud as she set to straight away with fixing it.  As time was ticking I suggested I take the rest on to Tarvin, and would let Mary know where we ended up.  I carefully described the route, and we set off to cut back along Sandy Lane (very inappropriate name as it is very muddy, not sandy), and crossed back into Tarvin.  

There is a lovely little cafe just up from the centre of Tarvin - with 'little' being the operative word.  I did not hold out much hope that they could accommodate 17 of us, and the look of horror on the cafe managers face confirmed this.  I told her not to worry, as we still had a couple of options.

We then tried our luck at Cornichon, a quite nice looking restaurant claiming on the sandwich board outside, to do coffees and breakfasts.  But could they accommodate a sudden influx of 17 of us?  I could but ask.  After a couple of checking back with the manager, yes they could squeeze us in upstairs, but just for a drink and maybe small snacks (not meals) - this was most welcome, and we locked our bikes behind the cafe, and I called Linda and Mary to let them know.

I realise we had two types of riders with us - those who were glad they had, or had recently had, mudguards fitted, and those who realise this is something they need.  At the restaurant, there were those who had Mac and Cheese (Macaroni Cheese, please, this is what I have always called it!) and those who did not (Croque Monsieur was the other favourite).

Linda's group found Mary, and they all finally arrived at the cafe.  The issue had been Kath's new very sparkly mudguards (acquired recently from a visitor from America) but were metal and rattled a lot, needing some tightening up during the ride.  So there you have it, Mudguards, mechanical and Macaroni Cheese!

Heading back a few set off first, as they needed to be back, and I offered a quick scoot along the path on the A51 and back to Guilden Sutton, and Linda and Sonia went back via Waverton.  So we split and made our ways back. 

We had to naviagate some serious hedge cuttings, all across the shared cycle path - so I took a quick photo with the plan to report it on the CWAC 'report it' website.  (I did that on Sunday morning, and I will let you know how I get on)

I managed about 22 miles, and my route can be found on Komoot -

Apologies for the lack of photos, it was quite a grey day, with very familiar lanes, and the last one I took (when the sun came out and we had blue skies) had too much camera shake!

Saturday 13 January 2024

New Year Plans

 At the end of each year I have a look back at the years of records I have, where we have been and when, and I formulate a plan of rides for the coming year - with some new destinations if possible, and I remember to include them.  Everything is on a multi tabbed spreadsheet!

As the January ride approached I realised I was going to be away (delivering a freezer to my daughter in London, and including a trip to Harry Potter World), but I knew the ladies would again be in safe hands.

An ideal thing to do when leading a group is to actually ride the route in advance, noting any hazards or risks, or issues with the route.  I seldom have the opportunity to do this, relying instead on my own knowledge but also that of the ladies, who will let me/ us know if there are problems (road closures, for example).

This month the plan was to revisit Yvonne's cafe in Connah's Quay; we have been a few times and it is earthy but does the job.  But a member highlighted via Facebook that this cafe shuts at 12.  I was sure the group could make it before then (it is January, we are not doing long and intricate routes this time of year, too cold!); but as I am having a phased return to work I was able to make the time to ride out in advance.  This was prompted by a message from Gill, inviting me out for a ride.  So that is what we did!

It was a beautiful day, and we arranged to meet at Saltney Ferry. It was not really too cold, either, for early January.  

We basically rode up the river, so not much to tell, and round to Yvonne's.  I had located another cafe very nearby (just in case), which I knew we had visited about 5 years ago on a Sunday ride.  A bit of detective work the preceding Sunday (on Chester CTC Sunday Ride) had clarified the cafe, so Gill and I visited it.

There is a tiny but very friendly and helpful cafe, and also a heritage exhibition.  There was not much in the way of cakes, but I did have a marvellous bacon buttie (with the last sausage too, shame to leave it!)

We then had the chance to 'reckky' another cafe in the vicinity - Olive Tree Tea
Rooms, in 'Andy's Garden centre', at the end of Sealand Road.  Put that one down for 2025!!!

As I was not around for the Saturday ride, I have photos here from Collette, and some comments from the Facebook chat.  Enjoy!

Gill - As always a lovely outing with Fab Ladies

Great to see some new faces and hope to see you all out again soon ðŸš´ðŸ»‍♀️

Jane Really enjoyed today's cycle, thank you for making us very welcome xx


Collette - Jane  hope to see you on another ride soon 

Jane - Collette  definitely will be coming again x

Helen - Lovely ride, & great to see such a good turnout.

Amanda - Really good ride and great cafe thanks everyone x

Joanne - Lovely to see a few Chester Road Runners there! ðŸ‘‹ looks like you had a great time! Xx

Jean - Lovely ride, thank you leaders ðŸ¥°

Mary🚲 - Thanks everyone for making it a busy, noisy ride today.

Kath - Wow heck of a group !

Helen - Kath  Numbers seem to be picking up again after the pandemic, happily. ðŸ™‚ (Pre-2020 I think the record was about 35-ish.) We split into groups of about 8-10 to ride, which means we’re not such a big obstacle to overtake, and also means groups can take different routes to our cafe stop, with some going a bit further than others.

Kath - Helen  when is the next one ?


Sue - Kath feb, we are monthly.

Collette - Kath  the planned rides are listed down the left hand side of the blog that Sue writes

Consilia - Really enjoyed my first group cycle. Thanks for the fun!👍





...and we all want to know about Mary's new 'Bike Balancing' trick she is showing off here!!

Thanks to the leaders for organising, and Collette for the photos!