CTC Ride to Utkinton Garden Centre

It was a bit of a quiet ride this on with only 3 of us doing it. It got even quieter when the rear light with nine lives bounced off the back of the saddle bag and I stopped to retrieve it. Cliff was leading the run that was marked down as going into Wales but the forecast was bad so a run to Utkinton was decided on instead.

Nothing much to report on the way out, Cliff is setting a higher pace than normal as he’s trying to give me a bit of a challenging ride. There is a stop for rain gear when a shower blows over. The Discovery Channel windshell comes out the back pocket, it can cope with a shower as the raindrops bead off. It can’t cope with torrential rain, more of which later.

At Tarporley we bump into some of the guys I’ve met on the Steve Cummings Training ride at Delamere Cafe. We rode with them as far as the garden centre where we stopped for lunch. They are gearing up for Sunday Lunches and I settle for a barm with pork on it, tea and a piece of cake to round it off. I wasn’t feeling fast today as I had rode out to Eureka for my breakfast.

Cliff has a route sorted for the return to the Eureka, it’s just as well he told me it as it all went a bit pear shaped later on. I’ve got to mention Wilington Hall again, today it looks like they’ve got the Ferrari Owners club in the grounds. Cliff had pedaled off ahead and missed it. Next up is Clotton and Corkscrew Lane and just past the cottage with the pond on the bend things go wrong.

There is a tractor following us and then the light with nine lives bounces off, I pull in and let the tractor and following car past then double back to find the light. It is usually in bits in the road but is nowhere to be seen this time. Just as well as the tractor would have surely flattened it. Anyway it is in the grass undamaged again, so I set off at a great rate of knots to catch Cliff and Janet.

Bits of this ride are on the Steve Cummings training ride so when the next junction comes up I have no hesitation about taking it. About a mile down the road I realise Cliff and Janet have gone straight on and are heading to Eaton again. Nothing for it but to go The Ice Cream farm for a cup of tea and a scone (jam no butter). Weather is still good so it’s time to top up the bottle and head back to Chester.

The routes on the map and I call in at the Bike Factory to see what they have in stock, coming out empty handed it’s time to head down to the River Dee and see if the others turn up. I have another stop at the Bandstand to listen to the group that were playing there. Had it been another time I’d have probably stayed longer.

Bandstand at Chester.jpg

After this it was a ride around the racecourse and onto the River Dee Cyclepath. Here it started to rain. I could see that it was wet up ahead but it turned out to be a right downpour. This wasn’t fun, no mudguards mean’t there was enough water coming off the wheels to give me a good soaking.
The windshell was just that, the rain was no longer beading and bouncing off, it was just going straight through the nylon. This went on for a few miles then it stopped with a sharp transition to a dry path.

Back up past Sealand and then it was time to chance the A5117. Because of heavy traffic and the conditions it wasn’t too bad. Moving up to the lights I’m going faster than the traffic and at worst level with it. Peeled off up Woodbank and to the Eureka.

Ray and others from the Chester Road club are there so i join them and Roy and Joan join us too. This is when I have great difficulty in opening a Munchman Oat Bar. My finger tips are too soft with all that rain and I have to resort to piercing the plastic wrapper with a fork.

Talking about Munchman Oat Bars I’m always buying these from the Eureka. They are locally made and there is always one in the saddlebag in case of emergencies. I allways take one or two on an Audax as they go to some pretty remote places and you do need to be eating regulary on an Audax. Now I’ve had someone do a Google keyword search for them in the US and they have ended up at this site.

It was looking pretty grim looking out from the Eureka and I held off leaving untill I thought I had to do something. A couple of miles down the road and I was in sunshine.  Back up Resthill mucking around with 12-27 gearing just seeing what was what and pressing the stop button at the junction.

69 miles, what seemed like an inch of rain, but largely bright, another good day and a fitting end to a fantastic week.

Link to Google map of ride

If you play around the Google map in hybrid mode you can see where I cycled along The groves and around the Roodee. Also my detour to the Ice Cream Farm.

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