Audlem Cycling Club Reliability Ride with fellow Nova Raiders


I’d heard great things about the Audlem Cycling Club reliability ride from several friends so could not miss this one. The route heads up out of Audlem, along Coole Lane to Nantwich, then up to Tarporley before heading through the Peckfortons to Malpas, then Whitchurch and back to Audlem via Ighfield.

I opted to drive up to Audlem as riding there and back would have added 30+ miles to the day and meant I’d be nudging 100 miles for the day. Don’t need to ride quite that far this early in the season!

On arrival there were Raiders everywhere! Obviously everyone else had heard the good things about the route too.

After a safety briefing that seemed to last an eternity we were off. We settled into a nice group of Raiders and I lead the group out most of the way to Tarporley. The first bit, along Coole Lane is dead flat and a really fast road so we were averaging over 20mph by the time we hit Nantwich.

Just before Tarporley we were tested with the first decent hill of the ride. Nothing too taxing after Gran Canaria, but great fun nonetheless.

We then skirted Beeston Castle, past the Ice Cream Factory (wanted to stop for coffee but it’s a Reliability ride and you’re not supposed to stop). Then it was into a beautiful and reasonably hilly section at the southern end of the Peckfortons. This really made the  ride for me and not only was it stunning countryside, but it was great fun to ride too.

Then up the hill into Malpas and onto a reverse section of our Giro d’Joules ride down into Whitchurch and down to Calverhall. As we arrived in Adderley, my legs were feeling great and Mark Sheridan and myself came off the front for a blast back into Audlem.

After the ride we all met up at the Priest House Cafe in Audlem for some food and a chat.

As I hoped, it was a fab day out and easily the best Reliability route I’ve seen so far.

Route: click here

Getting the winter miles in to Dearnford Lake and back via Newport.


I’d not been out all week with work getting in the way of cycling so decided Friday was high time for a ride out. Were to go? Hmm, tricky one that and so I opted for the usual 55 mile ride to Dearnford Lake.

The weather was pretty decent which really added to the ride. I was soon arriving at the cafe and stopped for a nice large latte and a lovely piece of Victoria Sponge cake (not had one of these for ages and it was really good).


The ride back to Newport was un-eventful and I opted to not stop and instead head straight home so I could get back to the office and get some more work in.

Route: click here

Team Torelli Cheshire Mini Sportive


Today was  the day of my first sportive of 2017. I’d been at the match in Altrincham yesterday so opted to stay over in Macclesfield so I was close by for the start of the sportive.

A short drive up from there to the starting point at Poynton Leisure Centre and I parked up and got ready for the ride ahead. You had to register in the Leisure Centre which was behind the school where I parked. Then a quick cup of coffee and I headed to the start line as it was getting close to 9am.


The route looked fab and a return to old cycling haunts of my 20’s, including the dreaded Alderley Edge hill I always used to hate.

We set off and my legs were as good as they were on Friday if not even better. Those hills of Gran Canaria the other week must be paying off! I un-intentinally lead a group out for the first 10 miles or so as I was doing my own thing and other riders gathered behind me.

I paused at the start of the dreaded hill to have a gel just in case. I need not have worried though as it was much easier than I was expecting and I was soon at the top, cycling past several other riders who had stopped to catch their breath after the climb. Really pleased with my fitness improvements here!


The route then wended it’s way down the far end of the hill and onward past the back of Jodrell Bank to Lach Dennis and the feed stop just before Middlewich (which incidentally is on my route from home to Altrincham FC!).

After the feed stop I settled down into a fast pace with the aim of getting back within 4 hours 8 minutes total time as I would get Gold status for the ride then. My legs were more than up for the job.

After wending our way past the side of Congleton, through the suburbs of Macclesfield we arrived back at the finish line with a time of about 3 hours 44 minutes. Well chuffed as that’s an easy Gold time.


I retired to the room where everyone was and had some vegetable flan (their veggie option), a flapjack and some more coffee. Lots of people sat around and I got chatting to quite a few other cyclists, including 3 Wrekinsport members who had immediately recognised my Raiders kit.


A totally fabulous ride in a totally different area than normal and I managed an average of 17.7 mph over the 58 quite hilly miles, which I was absolutely delighted by.

Route: click here

Training for my first Sportive of the year – a faster ride out to Dearnford Lake


I’ve got my first Sportive of the season this Sunday – the Team Torelli Cheshire Mini Sportive. It’s a 60 mile route starting and finishing in Poynton and getting as far out as Lach Dennis near Northwich.

The plan today was a good leg loosening ride at a hopefully faster pace to Dearnford Lake and back via Newport, on my summer bike (as I’m using that for the Sportive).


I had a very fast ride out to the cafe, averaging over 18mph by the time I got to Stoke on Tern, which is usually a good indicator of how the rest of the ride will go. By the cafe I was still averaging 17.5 mph and there was very little wind, so I knew the rest of the ride should be fast too.

At the cafe stop I was eating my cake when two other Raiders walked in. They opted to sit outside (the first time this year as it’s quite a warm day) so I moved out to join them. A nice chat later and I set off on my way.


The ride back to Newport was everything I hoped for and I was absolutely thrashing it. I ended up back in Newport at 17.6 mph average and my legs were feeling good still.

The ride home was uneventful and I ended up the ride with a very respectable 17.7 mph average for the whole 55.2 mile ride which I was delighted by.

Route: click here


Club ride out to the Cheerbrook Farm Cafe near Nantwich


It’s my turn to lead the Sunday 10am club ride this week and I was trying to find somewhere different to go for a change.

I’d been past the Cheerbrook Farm Cafe just outside Nantwich quite a few times and it always looked good, so I wondered if I could stretch a ride from Newport to here and still get close to 50 miles in total.

A good while later and I had a decent route which kept off the main roads as much as possible and used some nice lanes I knew were good for cycling. I ended up revising the route a bit the night before the ride so as to cut the A51 completely out of the ride (it’s fine for cycling down but not exactly condusive to the more social and chatty nature of our Sunday morning rides).

The day dawned and it was a bit windy and initially with light drizzle which I think put some people off as only 5 of us set off on the ride. Not really much to report on the ride itself and we all arrived at the cafe around the time I was hoping for.

The cafe itself looks really nice and we had a lovely raised table by the window, looking out on a field on cows. I spotted a pikelet on the menu which looked lovely but they had run out, so substituted with brown toast. The coffee was spot on and very nice indeed but my food was a bit of a small portion and not as nice as I was hoping for. Never mind, you have to try new things every so often.

We all enjoyed the ride back and a few of us went off to the New Inn for a drink. The Booze Cruise had beaten us to the pub (first time this has happened).

Route: click here

Back from Gran Canaria, so it’s got to be a ride out to Dearnford Lake!


After getting back from a fab week in Gran Canaria cycling with friends last week, I had a couple of days off before deciding it was time to get back in the saddle and work my legs. My favourite 55 mile route to Dearnford Lake near Whitchurch was the obvious candidate.

Not really that much to report about the ride, other than it felt absolutely freezing (3 degrees) after the 26 degree sunshine of Gran Canaria. I was all kitted up too and it felt odd wearing so much kit after a week cycling in bin shorts and a short sleeved jersey last week.


At Dearnford they had my favourite triple decker latte ginger sprinkle cake on which was a bonus. On the ride home I had to stop near Calverhall to wait for a farmer who was rounding up some escaped cows.

Later I stopped in the New Inn in Newport for a reacquaintance with the Joules Blonde that I like.

Route: click here

Day 8: Gran Canaria – Coming home :(


No cycling today as it is time to come home and my flight is mid-afternoon.

After a lazy breakfast with the others, I went off to pack my bags to come home. I said goodbye to everyone and got on the coach for the drive to the airport.

A quick final beer and pasta in the airport and I was on the plane and on my way home.

Sad to be going home but at the same time happy to see the family again. Mixed emotions!

What an absolutely fabulous week in great company, with tons of laughs along the way and some amazing cycling. Memories that will last a lifetime!

Day 7: Gran Canaria – A lazy day on the beach and then a short ride to return my rental bike


We were supposed to be riding up to the highest point on the island at Pico de las Nieves today but I was up too late enjoying myself in the bar last night and could not get up in time for the early start we had planned.

I opted to have a lazy day on the beach chilling out instead. I walked down the front past the, now familiar, bars and restaurants, past the lighthouse and onto the beach.


After bagging myself a sun longer and parasol for the day (€5 for the day) I set about totally chilling out. A handy beach bar was nearby to keep me hydrated with beer throughout the day.

After what seemed like no time at all, but was in fact several hours, I had to make my way back to the hotel as my bike had to be back with Free Motion by 6pm.

A short 1 mile ride had be back at Free Motion, where I reluctantly handed back my fab 2017 Specialized Roubaix. Then headed back to the hotel to meet up with the others for dinner and some drinks.

What a totally and utterly relaxing day – I’ve not been this chilled out in ages!

Route: click here

Day 6: Gran Canaria -A recovery ride to Playa De Mogan for lunch


Today we all agreed to go out in Nova Raiders kit so we could post our Raiders Abroad photo on the club Facebook page.

The plan for the day was a leisurely ride along the coast to Puerto De Mogan for lunch and then back to Meloneras for beer at K1 bar and perhaps a Champagne Sangria at Maximillians.


The coast ride we were well used to by now and was lumpy but with fabulous views out over the Atlantic Ocean. Once at Puerto De Mogan we made our way to the beach to find a safe place to leave our bikes and somewhere to have dinner.


After a relaxing meal in the sun we got back on our bikes and headed back to Meloneras along the coast road.  We went straight to K1 bar for some cake (and a beer!).


Suitably fortified, we headed the short distance to Maximillians for Champagne Sangria and more beer.

Well chilled out by now, it was a short ride back to the hotel with the sun going down over the ocean.


Route: click here

Day 5: Gran Canaria – Serenity climb and back via Soria – yesterday’s route in reverse


First things first, I retuned to Free Motion to swap my Cannondale for a 2017 Specialized Roubaix with an 11-32 cassette on for the steeper hills. Shame as I absolutely loved the Cannondale and would loved to have kept it.

Back at the hotel, the others were waiting to set off so off we went. the plan was a reverse of yesterday’s route, so we could do the Serenity climb in all it’s glory.

Initially I did not like the Roubaix as the geometry felt all wrong after the aggressive Cannondale but it grew on me and at the end of the ride I absolutely loved it and especially the very comfortable ride the suspension gave me.


We stopped for a Snickers ice cream in Puerto de Mogan and then headed inland and upwards. In Mogan we again stopped at the excellent Bar Bodega for pizza and carbs for the hills ahead.

Suitably fortified we headed off for the big climb up the mountain ahead.


The pictures here won’t do it justice as it was just amazing. You have to go there and do it for yourself to see. It has everything. A gentle start, then steepening into an Alpine landscape with fir trees everywhere, then out into the open and hairpin bends as the road snakes it’s way up the side of the mountain.



Towards the top I could heat this strange cacophony of bells and wondered what the heck it was. As I got closer I saw lots of sheep heading down the mountain to the road and assumed the bells were the farmer’s way of calling the sheep. Oh no, each sheep had a bell round their collar and they all had slightly different tones, making an absolutely fabulous sound all together.


On the way back down to the coast we stopped off for a quick beer at this roadside cafe. One of the nicest beers of the holiday as it was served in ice cold glasses and after the climbing earlier was very much welcome.

Back at the hotel we all did the usual… you know what by now ;).

Route: click here