Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Buck at Bangor-On-Dee

A snowy and ice forecast, expected to be worse than Saturday, which was mighty cold.  I woke to a light dusting of snow, quite unusual for Chester, but closer inspection showed puddles that were not frozen, and no sign of ice.

With half a mind to cancel on arrival, but 'lets-see-who-turns-up' attitude, the main road into town was fine, and by 10am 5 of us had gathered under the Town Hall clock.  Same number as last ride (consistent if nothing else!).  Quick selfie, then away.

The plan was originally to head to Erbistock, all carefully planned, pre-ridden and pubs checked out by John, leading his first Chester ride.  It should not be too far, but we agreed to head out, and see what the lanes were like.

Handbridge, just off the main route through, was a little slushy underwheel; but as we headed to Eccleston the road was much clearer.  We were soon able to see the extent of the seasonal flooding of the Dee, and agreed to head to Holt and Cleopatra's, and make further decisions there (with a hot drink in hand!)

At the junction off main road to back lanes
Welsh side of the Dee.  This is the Dee.
We agreed to head instead to Bangor, after our refreshments, and set off to cross the Wrexham road.  We were faced with extensive wateryness, the river was very nearly to the road.  We guided John through the small lanes to Bowling bank, every corner an excitement of will it be flood water and imapssable?  One road was noted to be closed; we continued and could see where the water had been, but apart from a few long puddles, totally passable through to Sutton Green, and on to Pickhill.  From here it is a downhill swoop and main road dash to Bangor.

The 'Buck at Bangor' is a longstanding favourite of cycling clubs I have been a part of; there used to be 1,000 teapots of all shapes and sizes hanging from the rafters.  It has had a total refurbishment now, is very smart, staff were very friendly and food was very nice.  Toilets were freezing!

We headed back up the hills out of Bangor, a good way to warm up, and after Worthenbury decided against calling back to Cleopatra's, but Stu had the idea of afternoon coffee at The White Horse at Churton.  Kate left us at this point - we were nearly home, but four of us settled on the sofa's, with coffee, crumble and custard (or a pint), and trying to solve the riddle on the wall.

The nice thing about a small group is it is much cosier, easy to sit together and have one conversation.  Ideal in some ways for this gloomy time of year.

Home the usual route via Bruera and Saighton.

30 miles, many thanks to John for leading so comprehensively!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Nags Head at Willaston

Originally billed as the Anchor at Irby, the five riders who showed for Dave's ride agreed to the suggestion that it may be a bit far, given the incessant rain,and the fact we were already pretty wet on arrival at the town Hall.  

Although Stu had seen the weather forecast:

Stu: it has forecast showers this afternoon
Sue: so it is going to get better, then?

Quick photo, and we dropped down to the river, following the river path out to Shotton.  There were a few birds to spot, but apart from a couple of oncoming cyclists it was very quiet and deserted.

We continued to the industrial estate, experiencing the strong wind on our side which had been blowing us out along the river.  We were passed by a couple of guys I recognised as our Wrexham chums, who we then met up with at Nets.  

I like the reflections
in the wet tarmac!

All the radiators were soon covered (although not warm enough to really dry anything), and we enjoyed our coffee stop, sharing photos of fancy dress cycling over Christmas and discussing snowy Wrexham passes experiences.

Time to move on, and as Dave had now cancelled The Anchor, we headed through Burton and Ness to cross the Chester High Road, and towards Willaston, skirting around to take in the windmill and arriving at The Nags Head after 4 miles.

Willaston Windmill - is this
one of the 'Two Mills'?

We parked up, were welcomed in, and given a table especially by a very warm radiator, which was again soon covered in gloves, caps and neck warmers.

Lunch was exceptionally nice, but as we departed (despite the high reading in the 'puddleometer' noted by Bob) our bikes were now parked in a small lake which had grown whilst we were in the pub.

The photo does not do justice
do the depth of this puddle-
Stu had to get his feet wet!

The weather had not improved at all, if anything the rain was a little harder, and we headed for cake at the Hosta Cafe, another 4 miles.  We didn't want to overdo it!  They kindly let us park the bikes in a poly tunnel, within which the rain sounded 10 times worse, before darting into the cafe.  This time we had a large log burner to drape gloves and coats near to; before ordering cakes and coffees (or large hot chocolate with marshmallows for Simon!).

Aaahh - that's better!

It grew darker outside - I asked the waitress if they had tinted glass or was it just really dark - it was only 2:15!
oops - water on my lens - what a surprise!


We again had to leave, but now the rain was actually easing off, and my eyes were drawn to the strange phenomenon in the distance, where white wispy clouds were lying lower than the mountain range.  Heading via Woodbank, we stopped on the bridge over the main road, and marveled at the amazing view of late wintry sun seeping through the small gap in the clouds, and mist rising from the fields, growing whiter as we watched.  Then we had a rainbow behind us, bright against the dark sky.

Please excuse the power lines- I could not avoid them
and they will take quite a lot of photoshopping!

It was almost joyous to finish the ride now, as the rain had stopped, the sun had appeared,and we even had a rainbow!

Rainbow over to the left

27 miles from Town hall round to the Greenway (near Northgate Ponds).

Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year at The White Horse at Churton

New years day 2016, and the annual meet up to blow away seasonal cobwebs and start the new year.  The weather has been wet, to say the least, and new years eve was no exception.  However, for only the second time this winter, temperatures were forecast to drop to 1 degree which accounted for occasional lightly frozen puddles and the infrequent crunch under-wheel.

12 met at Christleton pond, it was advertised for any one from any group to meet but only Janet from Two Mills came.  I could see a stealthy heron on the far side of the pond, but we had much chatting and greeting and 'happy new year'ing to do!  A new face, and a returning face from two years ago (when the weather was so wet and cold!).

I had a plan to meet Shorts Dave at the Beeston signalling box, he was working there, with a 22 mile spin.  However, as we left a little later than anticipated and I was taking it slow (due to new faces and me having no energy!) we had to re-think, and instead headed straight to Tattenhall from Hargrave, then Chowley Oak and Coddington.  Snowdrops already appearing by the church.

We then had a long winding lane to Churton, after a brief altercation with a pheasant who just stayed stood in the middle of the road, (Pheasant, not peasant, just to be clear!) and stayed until two of us passed either side, then it ran one way and flew over our heads, shouting at us!

'Farmer' John, Tony, Dave and Mike, our president
No photos on route, a very ordinary ride and route, very grey day.  Photos of all in the pub, though...

Some of our Wrexham chums enjoying the
conservatory, and Mike again!

Glyn and Lowri - our esteemed secretary

...Lowri is also the best woman rider for 2015 (and
2014, 2013, 2012, possibly 2011!)

Mike makes his speech (quick and to the point) and gives awards for the past year to cyclists who have achieved great things.

Add caption

And an award for Harry, just for riding forever!
No, he has run the Watson's Wanderers (Tuesday
Cyclists) for about 25 years.

Harry 'The Bike' Watson is one of our oldest members.  Living just over the border his cycling exploits are of legend; staying out till 1am (midnight in the winter as a concession); he covered 500,000 miles many years back (he keeps a log book and measures each days ride when he gets home).

I have ridden with Harry since I was a teenager ('young Sue' he always called me; until a few years ago when he decided I was no longer young, and should call me 'middle age Sue'!), so know him quite well.  He will be seen at various locations (usually near a cafĂ© or somewhere he knows he can get a brew and a cake) wearing his distinctive tartan tam O'shanter, pedal pushers and knee high red or blue socks.
More Wrexham riders
Mixture - L-R Carol (fab lady), Audax Dave, Andy, Ray (nearly
joined us at the pond), John - all mostly Chester based - and
Birthday boy Dave from Mold group (maybe Wrexham)
Chester and a few friends

By the time I had mixed and mingled briefly, Chester riders were getting their coats on, so I was unable to get a pic of our two tables. Instead, I made them line up outside!

By now, no surprise, it had started raining again.  Straight back to Aldford, up the hill to Saighton, cross the A41 to Waverton and through to Christleton, to bade farewell to the riders left.

15 miles Christleton to Churton, and 8 back (total 23)