Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Tap at Eastham

Missing Links and Spare Links!

This pub is known to be a 'Bikers' pub, not for cyclists, but for our motorised cousins on two wheels.  There are three pubs listed at Eastham Ferry - The Eastham Ferry, The Montgomery and The Tap.  Having not been to any, I was guessing and relying on Trip Advisor.  Top Advice - don't even look at Trip Advisor!!

I always start with a weather report, today was jolly cold, but despite being a mere 1 degree, it was not icy.  We had hoped for Fridays blue skies and sunshine, but, Alas! just habitual grey skies and cold gloom, with intermittent dampness.

Spot Ian's pump in his front wheel, bottom right -
he was feeling a little deflated
before we even started!

We had two new faces to the group, which totaled 13 at the start.  

I also like to try to include local interest in our history timeline, and today we inspected the new Brook Lane Bridge.  This small road is a very busy link and was closed for a few weeks before Christmas, closing again on the 3rd Jan.  Last week they took the old bridge away, and I was able to commute past on the Greenway on Monday morning and see the lack of bridge.  These small things make me happy!

New Bridge (brand new, still has labels on!)

Very big crane

Anyway, clearly very impressed by this, we about-turned and headed the other way towards the canal; which reflected the gloom of the sky, only remedied by the lovely smooth surface we enjoyed - until it ran out past the Countess Country Park.  After much bumping and lumping, accompanied by the sounds of gunshots from Dale Camp, we reached the A41 where we left the canal and followed a usual route to Hosta Cafe.

After a pleasant refreshment time, where we met Ted from Two Mills (we invited him to sit with us as he was not riding with them today and consequently alone) and waved goodbye to Ian (date with a puppy) and Simon (selling his last Raleigh Chopper), we set of to the foothills of The Wirral.  Now we are 11.

We followed through the gated track near Dunkirk and The Missing Link, a route through Oaks Farm.  The farm yard was quite clean, but this is when Richard first felt the ominous soggy flat tyre moment.  He pumped it up but alas! it was not to be, so we left him with Gill (at their request) to sort themselves out, to save everyone getting cold.  (unfortunately a text message later informed me that 'one broken pump after nozzle snapped off and so used the two spare [tubes] and decided to head home').  Now we are 9.

We continued towards Eastham, bumping into Bob's brother (questioning what we were doing on the Wirral!) before going separate ways.  After a few back roads in Bromborough (sorry to the football lads I did not stop for, I guess we could've sat and waited for the field to empty?), we crossed the A41 and headed down to Eastham through Eastham woods and country park.

The Tap is not a pub as we know them.  They serve beer, yes.  But the food is more like a cafe at the back, a separate enterprise specialising in bacon butties and burgers.  And no-where to sit (despite phoning ahead to book a table(s) for 11.  But they allowed us and helped us to move tables and stools around, and were able to accommodate us.  We turned down the suggestion of sitting outside!  After lunch the tandem left us, now we are 7.

Not much view today from the Ferry

After a quick photo on the old harbour, we set off up the hill to Eastham Village; but when we got there we had no Dave!  Tony went back whilst I phoned him - his chain had broken as soon as we set off but he had not realised in time to shout to us.  We sent the men back to fix it while us ladies waited at the junction.  Good job we have a bike mechanic in our midst (although I am told it was a team effort with Tony's link extractor, Bob's spare link and Rod's 'expertise'!)

We continued towards Ellesmere Port (Great Sutton) and just before following route 70 (Cheshire Cycleway) down Mill Lane, we bade farewell to three more, worrying about light and energy levels.  Now we are 4, looking for a cafe.

M.S.C. Victory (1974)
I had planned to go to the Boat Museum, but forgot / didn't know it was closed until the 1st April.  As the Galley would not let us in (fully booked, apparently), we pondered where to go - and were treated to two of the four Manchester Ship Canal Tugs making their way up the canal.

M.S.C Viking

We headed to Cafe Rouge in Cheshire Oaks, not too hard to negotiate to and I know they do an afternoon tea and cakes offer, which we all enjoyed.  Sarah now headed directly home, and Bob, Dave and myself trundled the last few lanes through Stoak and Picton to Hoole and Home.

32 miles.  

Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Farmers Arms at Ravensmoor

Originally billed as a ride to Nantwich by Gill and Richard; but due to ongoing knee problems they were unable to lead, so I offered to take the group out.  Plotting the route to include the new cafe at Farndon seemed to put it quite far to get all the way to Nantwich, so I settled for the pub at the crossroads at Ravensmoor, a few miles south.

The weekend was promising to be sunny, and it certainly was.  This brought 16 riders out, with new faces too.  Chester was quite busy, more than usual for a Sunday morning, due to holidays and sunshine, always a great combination in this country!

Brompton - easy to park
We set off through town, along the canal (with an emergency stop off to allow 'Brompton Chris' to collect his packed lunch which he had left at home) and Caldy Valley to Huntington, and then the usual route to Farndon via Saighton (picking up Sara).  The new cafe at Farndon struggled to serve the drinks in order, leaving a few of us quite late, which meant a longer stop than we possibly wanted.

Waiting for Chris - much to the dismay of his better half peeping at us from behind the curtains - what will the neighbours think!?!

Passing through Aldford

With 20 miles to go to lunch, I tried to keep the pace steady at about 12 mph, but even with a headwind one lady was struggling - she had enjoyed a 60 mile ride on Friday and was still tired (and a little sore) from that.  A few others had left us at coffee also, so that left 11 of us wending our way between Tilston, Hampton, Cholmondeley and Wrenbury, arriving finally at The Farmers Arms.

It was very busy inside, but we mostly wanted to sit outside and enjoy the sun (I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the sun!) so we sat by the back door with a little sheltered corner. (It had been windy all day, and in the cafe - inside the cafe - at Farndon my butter and crumbs from my croissant kept blowing all over Chris!)

Soon enough we dragged ourselves away, and set off towards Bunbury - arriving about half and hour later - we agreed it was too soon for afternoonsies so continued to see if the new cafe was open at the 50p shop.  It was and it wasn't - open now as the little coffee shop, it shuts at 3:30 on a Sunday.  Onward and upward.

I had been distressed to see that the pile of horseshoes at the corner along from the 50p shop have been removed when we passed on Wednesday - and sure enough they still were not there today.  Such a shame, they were a brilliant secret talking point, and landmark.

Heading now for Walk Mill (or Okells) Sara instead had a puncture - we stopped in a sandy gateway, whilst people helped with the fixing (about 6 of the fellas gathered around), tried out the Brompton, sat around, or generally chatted.  The first tube seemed to go straight down again, so a third was applied - but we think the first had maybe a misaligned valve which leaked straight out again.  It often takes a bit of detection to identify the cause of a flat, and to be sure it was that reason and not another.  We decided the original cause had been a pothole - leading to a 'snake bite' or pinch puncture.

All fixed we continued towards Walk Mill, arriving at 4:45 so just in time - five of us descended through the wheat fields to enjoy coffee and cake, a very pleasant end to the day!

51 miles, 16 riders, 1 puncture.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Miners Arms at Maeshafen

The day (for me) started at 7:00 when I found myself at Chester Racecourse in a growing sea of pink, as I had volunteered to be lead bike for the Race for Life 5k.  With an early start, it meant I could still make it to the Town Hall for our 10am start, and Ian's ride to North Wales.

We set off in an unusual angle by the side of the Dublin Packet (a sign of Chester's old shipping history) and the Roman Strongroom (a sign of older Roman history!) and then out of Chester (avoiding pink clad ladies and girls leaving the racecourse still)

What a glorious sunny day!

There are a few hills to be had, leading to North Wales.  My excuses piled up as I was jet lagged, had been up early that morning, not ridden much in the last few weeks, it was hot, I set off late after the last pause to take a photo (that is the usual one)

But The Miners Arms is not that far, and I made it to lunch where we gratefully sat outside in the most wonderful weather.

And such lovely leafy lanes to head back.  We had a marvellous downhill - Ian warned us that the turn right was not at the bottom, so don't carry on.

Liz carried on.

We grouped under a tree, until Pete (her husband) agreed to go and find her.  A few more miles in the bag for her!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Ponderosa Cafe on the Horseshoe Pass

Dave writes - 

"Six turned up for the ride to the Ponderosa café on the Horseshoe pass.  We headed out along the river to Saltney Ferry, crossed the river to Bretton, through Kinnerton to Honeys café in Hope for morning coffee.

Ian departed here to do a quick recce for his ride on the 17th and we continued on past the Ffrwd pub heading for The Steps, but Tony decided to head for home as he had been over the steps with 69 cyclists on Saturday morning.

On the route to Llandegla, we continued to Minera before heading over Worlds End. The road surface on the way down towards the Ford is full of pot holes slowing the descent.  We then took a right turn passing Pen y Clawdd farm to the Horseshoe pass where we decided we would go up the old pass to the café for lunch. 

Once refuelled we headed off down taking a right turn along a gated road towards Pant [I love that little lane - S] where we joined the main road before turning off to pass Llandegla mountain biking centre.  On to the junction with B5430 turning left through Four Crosses on to Rhydtalog turning right on the minor road across to Llanfynydd for afternoon tea. When I was asked what the route back would be, it was no surprise to some when I replied, 'we would be going over hope mountain'!

50 miles cycled with over 4400 feet of climbing."

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Cheshire Cycleway Rides (Bob Clift Memorial)

Back in October, I appeared to leave the committee meeting with a small blue folder, containing 'everything I need to know about organising the Bob Clift Memorial Cheshire Cycle Way Rides'.  Apparently.

No pressure, venues were booked for next year and apart from galvanizing volunteers later in the year, I did not need to do much until next Spring.

Of course, the months do fly by.  I met with a previous organiser, and gathered lots of tips and - more importantly - word and excel documents which will make life easier.  I helped out with the Spring 50, which also gave me an opportunity to play with the excel sheet Janet uses for her entries, and how she managed on-line entries.  An email or four to 'Entry Central', and that was set to go.  I set up a facebook page too, to keep people posted with developments.

I asked for budding artists to design a poster, and certificates - and had a wonderful poster by Rick, and delightful hand drawn images for two certificates.  With help from my daughter we were able to put the words and Mike (our president's) signature on.

Through May and into June I had daily emails about who has entered, and a weekly statement.  People paid direct online, so life was easy and quite exciting as the numbers crept up to and then overtook previous year entry numbers.

John and a few others had been out for me and checked route and directions, and took some photos.  I advertised in local 'talkabout' publication, but can't afford a three page spread like the company from Bath who decided to hold a 'Cycle Chester' event the day before.  There are so many cycle events around these and in the summer months especially.  It was a good job I had advertised as the key holder for Waverton Village Hall did not have our event in the book!  After an apologetic phone call this was remedied and fortunately the hall was available.

In the week before Nicky and I drew up a shopping list for refreshments and snack bars, and I sent her off to Bookers.  After the closing date I had more wanting to enter, people who thought they had entered and lots of advice about the route, and people who had 'redone' the route.  I think the problem sits with Garmins and other gadgets and how they download a .gpx file.  Technology is great - but can be a hindrance!

My husband and daughter offered the assistance of taking the camper van and our gazebo to Hassell Green and a few days before the doggy benefited from an early evening walk so I could show my husband where to park.

I stuck to the tried and tested formula, using same venues and helpers, and on the day it all fell into place wonderfully.  There were small hiccups, the computer froze, Nicky kept me supplied with coffee's.  The 100 mile riders arrived, and set off.  The 50 mile riders arrived and set off.  One 100 mile rider returned after 50 miles, to meet his wife and went home (by choice).  A couple of minor mishaps and only two did not make it back.  The weather stopped being nice and came in wet in the afternoon, but overall everyone seemed to enjoy the day.

Some photos from the day - 

At the end of the day, the youngest rider is presented with the Jim Skelding Trophy, this year Ben (18) achieved this.

I then took it off him to get it engraved with his name and year.

Till next year!

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Curry Ride 2016

Nick writes:-

"(Growing old, is for old people)

The day started as per usual at The Piper for a pre ride drink, in brilliant sunshine. Sue came along to say “Hello”, in fancy dress dressed from the 1967 flower power era, Bob looked perfectly dressed for a hot sunny day wearing an Hawaiian shirt and straw hat, Norman looked very smart in a tartan waistcoat and a dickie bow to match. Kath wore a perfectly fitted skeleton outfit, Stu arrived dressed up as a Jamaican Rastafarian (a dead ringer for Bob Marley). Dave (shorts Dave) his outfit was great showing his proud Scottish heritage [not too much of it, fortunately - S], all dressed in red tartan wearing a kilt and if he lifts his kilt and shows 2 quarter pounders it proves he is a McDonald and not a Campbell and to finish the look a ginger wig and a tartan beret. The oddest bunch of cyclists assembled in the car park for the “Grand depart”. 

This year we were determined to keep the ride at a leisurely pace so we could all chat away and enjoy the ride. It wasn't many miles in before the first mechanical, I think something fell off Gill’s bike, Bob was furious! He was hoping for something more serious, like a puncture, so he could have had time for a Whisky out of one of our flasks, he had no need to worry because after a couple of miles the group began to split which provided the perfect opportunity to sample the drinks on offer, some of Scotland’s finest malts and Gill Stagg brought along homemade sloe gin. Gail and Steve are relative newcomers to this “Crazy Gang” and sampled the malts with great skill, Steve is in an AA meeting as I write this. 

The lovely ride rolled on in the beautiful Cheshire countryside in fantastic weather. We arrived at the Helsby Spice, a couple of beers, great food with lovely company. Carlsberg don't do curry rides, but if they did, they would have done this one, because we knew we were in for some rain but that happened while we were sat inside the Restaurant comfortably dry and warm [Oh, well done! - S]

Curry finished, all happy, we set off to our next destination, The Shrewsbury Arms, we sat outside around a big table and enjoyed a drink and jovial conversation. After the Shrewsbury we were then on the homeward stretch back to Chester.

After a successful curry ride, Gail getting beat up the hills, yet again, by Gill (thanks to Dave’s coaching) We all hope Stu recovers quickly and gets back on his bike sooner rather than later. Thanks all for a truly great day and fantastic company."

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