Saturday, 11 October 2014

A little bit Lumpy and a little bit wet

Probably the least planning I have done for a ladies ride - I was late asking for leaders, and so late posting on facebook or emailing out that ladies were starting to ask if there was a ride, and then last minute decisions on where to go - to be informed my first choice is not open on Saturdays!  So, with a quick look at records (where have we not been for a while?), a speedy plot on my mapping system, quick event creation and email out we were ready to go!

19 ladies arrived at the cafe, milled around, and mostly signed in to the 'regular' steady normal paced ride, one taker for slow and one for fast!  Somehow it all settled out, and three groups of differing sizes set off into the Cheshire countryside.
Crossing the Gowy at Stapleford

The field in the background is
a large crop of Rape - in OCT!

The destination was Lockgate Cafe, which for years was referred to as 'cockroach cafe' - for no reason other than it was a slightly grimy if not functional 'caff'.  It has had a few re-incarnations over the last few years, when we last visited in 2011 it was called 'Flavours' (which never suited it!) but they did do the decking, and now it is a very pleasant little cafe - with plenty of space.

Lockgate cafe sits between the canal and the railway just over the hill from Beeston.  My group took a slightly deviated route via Duddon and Tarporley, stopping in the town to show off the CTC Winged Wheel, with an explanation about it.  But this route did make it a little bit lumpy! 
Winged Wheel

It is a good job that there is plenty of space in the cafe, as the Wrexham group were there again!  This is the third time this year, and becoming a bit of a habit!  I also met a few from the Ellesmere Port racing club, who I used to ride with (when I was 17) - so they felt old!

Wrexham - we will have to stop meeting like this!

Cream tea and friends

inside the cafe

The other half

Heading back, we divided up again, with Linda taking some on the 10 mile route, and I led what I thought was about 13, but turned out to be 15.

We headed up to Beeston, round, and down the other side.  Passing the Ice Cream Farm we crossed the A41 and climbed up Saighton to my favourite view - which looked rather grey and ominous.  Too late, it started to rain at Huntington.  I was very tempted to settle down at the Rake & Pikel, but we just donned waterproofs (those that had some!) and blasted back to the cafe.

A rather grey view!

Distances something between 25 - 30 miles - hard to gauge now with three groups doing different distances and different people in different groups.

I believe poor Mary had a puncture on the way back, and even the shorter route people got caught in the quite heavy rain - at least we were all heading home!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Swans and Sheep across the Marshes

September is a time of new starts - new terms, new places to live for students, new lives in some cases (can you tell I am taking my eldest to Uni in a few weeks?!)  It heralds the turning point away from summer and towards chillier autumn days.

In 2013, The Burton Marsh cycle route to Nets Cafe at Denhall fisheries was newly open, offering the ladies yet another new cafe to add to our growing list.  It was also an opportunity to encourage people out who may not have ridden before, as it is flat and mostly off road.  It felt like an appropriate ride to repeat in 2014.

20 of us met at Kingsway Cafe; another nice thing (for me) is that we do not need as many leaders, and in theory everyone can ride at their own pace.

Or so I thought.

Climbing up onto railway embankment
at the start of the Marsh route
I set off at the front at a fairly fast 14-15 mph (I did say it was flat!), expecting people to just relax and follow on in their own time.  However, the outcome seemed to be that everyone pushed themselves (OK, maybe not everyone) to 'keep up'.  I realised that it can actually take a bit of confidence to ride at a pace that is comfortable for you, and not feel concerned or harassed as other rides seem to disappear into the distance (all the more noticeable on a straight railway line - you can see people for ages, getting smaller as the gap widens!)  Maybe we still need to split into smaller pace-matched groups after all?

Passing sandstone bluff (Burton Point)
Out past Saughall we were caught up and passed by another group - they came up behind a little quietly and surprised some of the ladies at the back - but we all passed single file and safely - turned out to be a few from the Bike Factory including Dave Quinn (the owner). I have known Dave for more years than either of us care to remember (29 years) so we chatted for a little while (as his group became distant spots)before he left us.

Crossing the Boardwalk
After about 8 miles we branch off to the right and into Deeside Industrial Park, and the new solar panels at the Toyota factory.  I had not seen them before, but was assured by my cycling companion at the time that they had been there 'ages'.  It was not until we reached the MOD firing range that I recalled the last time I had been out this way - in January this year four of us met up (through the power of Facebook!) and had an extra pedal out in lovely sunshine if not a bit windy; until the weather turned black and nasty and we were pelted with hailstones and gale force winds on our way back!

We watched a flock of swans take off and fly over the marshes, and a huge flock of 
penned in sheep.

Nets cafe were ready as ever and served us well with tea cakes, scones and bacon butties; as we sat outside in the gradually improving weather.  People drifted off home as suited them, until the final band of us headed back to Chester.

Heading back

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Bears on the Plain

Actually I think the Cheshire Plain is much more Nantwich way,very flat over there.  This ride was just to prove we have hills in Cheshire too.  Another new cafe - although 1 year old and I have been here a couple of times - but new for the ladies ride.  It is also a little further but as it is August and still technically summer I thought it would be worth the extra miles and hills!

It was.

Holidays meant that although the weather was going to be nice, numbers were still manageable - a cosy 17 of us, split into two groups this month.  

Super Alex

Alex led a faster group, they headed off around Beeston.  We nearly did too, as I became a  little confused just after the ice cream farm; but soon rectified it.

We headed pretty much straight out, along the cycle path on the A41 to cross the A51 at the lights, and then cross to Pearl Lane and over the main road.  Christleton, Waverton (some mad hat drivers out today - had to pass the cyclists even though their turning is coming up.  No close ones though).  After passing rocky Trail, Martins Lane to Hargrave, and then towards Tattenhall, turning off by the ice cream farm.  

First climb - not a hill but a bridge over A55

Through Christleton

horses near Waverton
(you will need to squint at this as it is a bit blurry!)

another climb - but not a hill, bridges
over railway and canal

As we skirted Tattenhall, we started to climb towards Burwardsley (signposted the Candle Factory); actually quite a gentle pleasant incline.

lovely views to Helsby Hill

We waited a little for one lady (recent hip replacement, so doing very well!), but still made it before the faster group (so I could get the last heart-shaped cherry bakewell!)

Don't you just love our Cheshire countryside!  

Climbing hills brings its own rewards in the form of fabulous views - the great thing about the teddy bear cafe (apart from very speedy service) is they have a marvellous decked balcony terrace area, with super views across to Chester and North Wales.

Another grand thing about climbing hills is the downhill afterwards!  And heading right out of the cafe gave us several fast drops past Harthill and into Tattenhall.

From here we headed to Bruera (crossing the A41 again, and meeting a  racing club going the other way) and Saighton - another little hill but with one of my favourite views across to North Wales with Eaton Tower nestled in the trees.

After a suitable drop back down to Huntington, I led the remaining ladies through Caldy Valley nature park, because it is nice!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Anti-Clockwise round Beeston

Having visited a cafe near Beeston Castle in Aug 2011 , this is part two!  In those 'early' days I was pleased to have 8 riders out.

There was some discourse between leaders on the Friday before the ride, as two of us had been on holiday and I was not sure if the tea van I had in mind was still open.  Nicky kindly rode out in the week preceeding and had let them know so that sealed it - they were obviously ready and waiting for us.....

I also had not been able to email out or even create an event on facebook before the ride, so would also be interested to see how many would remember.  I did post a reminder on facebook, and some did email me to ask if there was a ride.  23 riders (plus Jane found us on the lanes, and Nosheen found us at Beeston - no surprise there!)

You don't have to wear pink....but it helps!

Three groups again this month, with Kath leading the faster further, Nicky the slow and steady and I had regular with newbies.

Take care when crossing - everyone
is responsible for themselves

And don't duck out of my photos....

....or I will make you hold the gate lol!!!!
Beautiful July sunshine, very warm.  Lovely lanes as ever, although I note a lot of nettles wavering on the edges.  

Beeston is a very notable and iconic landmark to head for across the Cheshire lanes.  It affords fantastic views and is well worth a visit.  This time I headed out through Tattenhall, then doubled back round to approach from the usual easterly angle.  It always gives marvellous views of Beeston Castle as you get closer, until it disappears in the woods and you skirt around the base.  Bit of an uphill climb, but then you turn in and find the tea van.

Unfortunately, despite warning that there may be up to 30 of us, it took a rather dismal 45 minutes to get everyone's orders in and sorted.  Very nice coffee, and lovely picnic area (but you do need a nice day!).
The cafe/ tea van is on the Sandstone Trail.

Lots of outdoor picnic tables - apparently
will have parasols next week...

..and ample bike parking!

Everyone split a little, as time was ticking on.  The Rossett girls headed off with Jane towards

Clutton and Wales; a few headed to the Ice cream farm - just too temptingly near!  Nosheen and Shanti had the day so set off (who knows where!).  Kath seemed to retain her group, but I was down to four and Nicky also had four.
Returning via Huxley, Nicky carried on to the 50p shop where the toilet was a useful stop off.  

Slow 'n' steady - 25 miles (24.8 says Nicky!)
Regular ride - 27 miles
Faster Further -

Monday, 23 June 2014

Published - again!

I was approached a wee while back by a publication, looking for ladies over 50 to be interviewed for an insurance magazine.  Not being old enough myself (!), I asked the ladies, and Collette volunteered.

Posted on facebook, 3rd May:

When I responded to a request,sent to the Fab Ladies Cycling Group, for a lady in her mid-fifties to answer some questions for a magazine article, I didn't envisage having to take part in a 'photo shoot' (their terminology not mine!) at 8.00am on a Saturday morning. And no it wasn't a Calendar Girls style session ! I took Mick with me as my PR Manager - haha, but he was more interested in the equipment - pardon mrs??? 

and today an email came from Collette:

Hi Sue

Here's the magazine article. The write up isn't exactly what I said but I suppose they can practise artistic licence as journalists 

There is a link to the Fab Ladies site so they kept that part of the bargain.

I am not sure where Collette goes following our rides to enjoy a glass of wine - but there is an idea!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Fabulous Fifty

This Sunday, to mark the end of Bike Week, the annual Liverpool to Chester rides take place.  In the last year or so they have also offered a 50 mile round Cheshire.  Some of our ladies took part...

Post ride smoothie following a
very hilly Chester Challenge ride

I do declare - that is our Janet from our sister group Wirral Bicycle Belles!!!!!

Facebook chat.....