Saturday, 8 October 2016

A classy coffee stop

October and the trees are starting to turn golden. Another new cafe for us, this time booked in advance with no problems (we could not get in last year).

Gladstones Library, in Hawarden, is part of the Hawarden Castle estate, and is home to his vast library " to bring together readers who had no books and books who had no readers".  Gladstone was four times Prime Minister and four times Chancellor of the Exchequer, but before my time.

It also has a very nice tea room/ restaurant. 

We had a good turn out of 26 riders, and three groups - enough leaders that I could take a back seat (not literally) - but I had been out the night before and felt a little delicate, which a bacon buttie and black coffee soon fixed.

Linda led us in the moderate/ slower group around the river and Handbridge College, out to Kinnerton and up the hill from the Royal Oak.  We continued to climb up to the Warren and then dropped down to Tinkersdale, before heading up the final incline to Hawarden.

We were allocated Gladstones Room, which wasn't actually big enough, but was book lined and consisted of saggy comfy leather sofa's; coffees on our knee but a very relaxed affair.

After coffee, Rick offered to let me have a go on his tandem, with Clare still attached to the back seat.  Clare has been coming out with us since I recognised her at the Spring 50 in 2014, and Rick is her 'pilot', as she has vision problems and needs someone to help her in the pointing-the-bike-in-the-right-direction kind of way.  More volunteers are needed, and as I had at least ridden tandem before with my daughter I said I would have a go.

Hence we could be seen riding back and forth in front of the library as we were assembling to leave and return home!

Of course, after all the climbing into Hawarden, we now had lovely descents to get back to Chester, which we did along the river and canal.  We lost a rider (who had gone ahead) near Telfords, so the main group went one way and I headed up the steps at the Canal Basin and through town (although I did not catch our wayward cyclist, I did see an array of rubber ducks); We managed to re-group back at Kingsway - where we also found the lost cyclist!

Ducks - of course!

Is this my boat?!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Scarecrows and cake

After having to cancel July's ride (not the #womens 100) we decided to have a slightly longer ride to Great Budworth, the ride originally planned for July, and not to be done out of a new cafe for the ladies!

Maybe because we missed a ride, or maybe the promise of more miles, or just nice weather; but we had our second largest turn out for this year of 31 riders, 8 out for the very first time!
too many to fit in the photo!

Jane gallantly took a large group (we were still a little short of riders, but I knew the further faster riders were more experienced, so would be OK to manage and split the group into bitesize chunks as necessary) and set off after the photo.  We saw them as we neared the cafe, as they had left before we got there!

Sonia and I split the rest into two groups, with my group setting off up Mannings Lane first, followed by Sonia's.  They soon caught us, as we had a puncture after a couple of miles, just in Mickle Trafford.  

At least we had sun for our unscheduled stop!
We sent them on ahead, as there was no point everyone waiting - but our group did wait (we will always wait to help group members out).  It then got  a little complicated as kind offers of help were accepted - a chap with a dog promised he 'only lived up the road' and would return with a track pump; but was not back by the time another guy came from his garage to offer one.  I then had to hunt the first gentleman down, as I did not want him to turn up armed with his inflation device, with us nowhere to be seen!

Finally inflated and back on the road, the route was an easy one as we were just following the Cheshire Cycleway.  This is a route I always used to head out on in my youth when I was first riding the lanes (in the mid eighties - big hair and all!).  It is not without it's hills, but we re-grouped from time to time; but by the time we got through Delamere Forest it was nearer 12 - and we were only halfway!

I love our deep sandstone cuttings

A few ladies chose to stop off in Delamere, but the rest of us were happy to continue with the route, which was now mostly downhill (off the sandstone ridge and towards the River Weaver).  Of course, whizzing happily downhill can mean I may (and did) miss the little blue cycleway sign, and we landed on the A49, but not where I was expecting!  (on closer inspection on the return, the sign is badly placed to be fair!)

An unscheduled diversion!

Not to be undeterred (and not retracing back up the hill!) I employed my trusty smartphone with it's map, and planned an alternative through Weaverham, staying off the main road, but re-joining close to where we should've come out.

With no further impromptu diversions, we continued over the Weaver at Acton Bridge and up into the salt lands.  We had views across Combermere and could see the salt works in the distance.  A closed road was no obstacle, as we followed the pedestrian route around the barriers, arriving not too late after Sonia's group.

Passing Combermere

Great Budworth is a very pretty Cheshire village; and as we climbed up into the centre, we noted scarecrows lining the roads - lying on hedges, peeping over other hedges - I did not get them all, but here are a few!

The ice cream farm has been the first stop off for the 100 mile riders on the Bob Clift Cheshire Cycleway rides, in June each year.  I took over organising it this year, so it was nice to meet Rachel and the gang, and say thanks for looking after our riders again this year.

Always a warm welcome at the Ice Cream Farm in Great Budworth - and much quieter than some
other local ice cream farms!
The return route was back the way we came (or nearly for us!) following cycleway signs.  It was hard to find an alternative route, as we have to cross the Weaver, and there are a surprisingly limited number of points to cross without adding lots of miles.

It was a long climb back up to Norley, before we had lovely descents in Delamere.  

45 miles, back by tea time!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

#Women's 100's

No ladies ride in July as I had no leaders due to holidays.

But, to repeat last years Rapha #Women's 100k, we had scheduled an event for the end of the month - which turned into two rides!

Alex planned a route for the 17th July, which was the date picked by Rapha (at late notice for our rides list which is published in Jan); but we could not swap the date as there was already a Sunday ride planned, and the audax rides from Corwen.

Sharon says "Thanks Alex Peacock for a fabulous rapha 100k ride today and for everyone's company. I am now officially broken, more hill training needed. I did also provide comedy moment of day by falling head first into Llangollen canal!! Managed to save the bike though"

Jane says "an amazing route from Alex over World's End, Panorama, Fron aqueduct, Ellesmere and beyond. Champagne moment has to go to Sharon who felt the need to cool down in the canal at Chirk Great day, fabulous company xx"

Race for Life #volunteerarmy

A few months ago I was tweeting whilst on a Sunday ride - I do that sometimes.  This time I had a reply - would I like to be 'lead bike' at Race for Life in Chester?  I had no idea what that meant, but was proud to be asked, so I said yes.  All I had to do was turn up at Chester Racecourse at 7:30am on the 17th July.

So, despite being a little jet lagged after my Cuba holiday, I dragged myself up and out of bed, and across town to get to the Racecourse early in the day - but at the wrong side.  I needed to be by the Grosvenor Bridge.  So I circumnavigated the Racecourse on the cycle path, and across the track to the small collection of tents, one of which was a volunteer tent.

Here I collected my T'shirt, tabbard, radio and wrist band, and stood around with the other marshall volunteers.  There is some incredible organisation that goes into this, Heart radio was set up at the start / finish, and were soon pumping out boppy tunes to get the ladies in the mood.  Brio, our local leisure organisation, were there to lead a warm up - but I did not see that, as after we had had our briefing, and I had got some pink flowers for my bike, and had a photo with Brio teddy bear - I had to head to the main entrance to be ready for the first runners.

I waited, and it seemed a while before the first runners were spotted - two young girls with distinctive long pink socks.  My role was to ride in front - but a little way ahead.  as long as I can see the runners, they can see me (which I was relieved about as I had visions of hundreds of runners hot on my wheels and passing me as I climbed Canal Street!)

As I came to each marshall, I recognised them and them me, I rang my bell and let them know the runners were just coming.  It was also useful to ding at tourists who were starting to fill the streets to take photo's of Chester's classic landmarks - watch out the runners are coming (well, one at least!)

By the Town Hall the two girls had been passed by a lady in a yellow T-shirt, who also passed me as I stopped for a quick photo.  I resumed my lead position, and we headed through town, to the amphitheatre and then out towards the park on the wrong side of the road - very strange feeling for me!

Pink arrows led the way, so there was no way for me or any runners to get lost, and the route returned to Vicars lane - now two ways of runners!

We dropped down to the river, and along to the finish at the racecourse, where I could cheer the first runners through.

Same time and place next year...?!

A much less harassed Laura at the end!

Family of runners - 2nd, 3rd and 6th (I think)

Saturday, 11 June 2016

June Jaunt to Jemoleys

We had planned to go to the Woodworks Cafe, near Mold, but when I plotted a route it was 17-18 miles, so too far.  This is a shame, because if we do not go to this new cafe our overall cafe count since 2008 will only be 49 by the end of this year, not the projected 50.

Still, a new venue had to be decided upon, at quite short notice, and Jemoleys caught my eye on the map.  This month, Jane T was cafe monitor, which means she phoned ahead, 'booked' and then phoned again to let them know numbers.  This is really helpful role!

23 riders amassed at the start - we have had lots of hot weather today, but showers/ heavy rain was forecast.  It was not bright sunshine, but when riding it was very humid.

This weekend marks the Queen's 90th (official) birthday celebrations, and our eighth year as the fab ladies.  I had the idea on Tuesday that we could dress in red, white and blue(RW&B) (as around us suddenly street parties and events were being arranged).  However, I only have pink and purple cycling tops!  Sonia had a great idea of plaiting RW&B ribbons through her helmet, and I had sudden inspiration in the morning for items I could wear.  Classy!

We assembled for the photo, and then set off our varied ways.

I took my regular group down Hoole Lane, over the river and out to Eccleston, then further to Rossett and Burton.  We missed the plastic cow Cheryl had told me about - there for another day!  We had a few frequent stops to allow me to take clothes off, check my map on my phone, and generally have a wee chat.  Not having my usual cycle top meant my camera was not to hand, so less photos (but still enough)

I chose the lane that goes through Golly, a delightful lane that has a sequence of dips and climbs, a little challenging in the humid weather.  This leads us to a carving in an old tree stump, which no matter how often I stop, people have still never seen - we think it may be Bob Marley, as the guitar playing sculpture is left handed.

We were soon at the top of Kinnerton, and took Lower Mountain Roa dand then Platts Lane into Pen-Y-Ffordd, and the cafe.  I noted a 'Funathon' was taking place from 12 noon today, not sure what that is but Lisa explained they took a bus to Buckley Baths for a swim, then came back for a cycle then a run.  Rather them than me in this heat!

Jemoleys coped marvelously well with all of us, serving an array of sandwiches, cakes and drinks as we took up residence in the garden.  We harked back to 2013 when we first came, on a very hot July day.

All too soon it was time to leave and go our separate ways, with 12 coming back with me to Chester.  At the first junction a lady in a yellow tabbard was urging us to turn right - no, sorry, we are not on the racing event!  The same conversation happened a few times - for a couple we were turning that way, so we just smiled and waved - then the last chap tried to steer us into Bramley Lane - I know it is a lovely lane, but not the direction we were going!

Six of us finally made it to the cafe, and three joined me for a little refreshment outside, a nice chance for a chat with different faces.  Then, as we left I noticed the biggest black cloud - and made it home bike put away with 5 minutes to spare before the deluge!

23 riders, 27 regular miles, a few more faster (one person managed a 75 mile day!!)

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Memory Lane

There are many unusual names to the lanes we spend our time riding around, and you do wonder what the meanings may be.  Chapel Lane, Mill lane and Station Lane are probably quite clear; Platts Lane means a wet meadow which was one we used....but I am ahead of myself!  There should be a few more 'memory lane's' around, as sometimes our rides take you to places you have not been for a long time.  Today was Cath's first ride with us, and as we approached the Candle Factory, she relayed how, as a youngster growing up in Tattenhall she remembered the lady who set up the Candle Workshops, and how they used to help her make candles in her kitchen.  That was in the 1970's, and I remember the workshop from the 80's.

First off, coffee and chat in the cafe.....

After quite a few wet days this year, last weekend was particularly hot and humid, but today was sunny and bright, but quite chilly especially out of the sun.  after signing in and the mandatory group photo, Alex led her faster group off and Welna led her regular riders, leaving me with a small group happy to bimble along.

My group followed a fairly straightforward route out to pass the Ice Cream Farm, we had a short pause here to take off garments as it was such a lovely day.

Between Christleton and Waverton

Platts Lane, as mentioned!
We had the final climb up through Burwardsley, to the candle factory, with fabulous views back over to Liverpool and North Wales.  Photos speak for themselves...

We were later than most to arrive, and had to take our bikes through the workshops and cafe as the gate was padlocked.  But we were able to sit outside in the glorious sun (as long as you were in the sun, as I say it was still a bit chilly!)

Waving goodbye to all as we head off left and down Barracks Lane

We set off down, down and down again, passing Burwardsley church and retracing where I went left instead of right!  More down, really letting rip, and some competitive jostling on the final slopes!