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!

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