Sunny ride out to the Lockgate Coffee House near Tarporley. Cut short by the pothole from hell near Child’s Ercall not far from home.

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I’d been stuck in the office all week mad busy with work and then Chairman-ing for the Nova Raiders in any spare moment I had, so had no time for a mid-week ride like I normally do. Today looked this decent weather for getting out on my bike so I put everything to one side for a moment and off I set.

The only problem being, it was not until Saturday morning that I had a chance to think about where to ride out to and I was totally undecided. Do I go up into Cheshire and if so, which way and to where or do I keep the ride in Shropshire and have a cafe stop in Ironbridge at a new vegan cafe my friend Nicole had mentioned to me? Decisions, decisions…

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In the end, I was still totally undecided and time was getting on so I opted to head out towards Dearnford Lake and then either stop there and extend into Cheshire or go via Wales, onwards to Malpas and into Cheshire that way.

As I was just getting my helmet on for the ride a friend, Jo Coombes was riding past and stopped for a chat. We were riding the same way as far as Eaton on Tern so set off, chatting as we went along. She then turned off to head home to Hinstock and I carried on my way. Nice to see you!

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As I rode on I remembered I’d been meaning to try the Lockgate Coffee Shop on the A49 near Tarporley for ages and had an idea for a route that involved very little riding on the actual A49 (always prefer quieter lanes to busy main roads). That’s that sorted then :).

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As I approached the Peckforton Hills, I opted to do the more scenic and slightly longer west side of them as it’s even nicer that way. I took the wrong lane by Beeston Castle by mistake so ended up on slightly more of the A49 than I’d planned, but not by much.

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The cafe stop turned out to be really lovely and I’ll definitely be back very soon. It looked not long renovated, had a handy place to park my bike, very friendly staff and some of the best cake I’ve had at a coffee shop. Perfect!

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The route from the cafe to Nantwich was basically the reverse of what I remembered of part of the Audlem Cycling Club Reliability Ride from last year, via Eaton and Wettenhall. Nice wide lanes and hardly any traffic. Just as I like it!

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At Nantwich, I headed past the lakes and onwards down Coole Lane to Audlem, where I fancied a change and took and A-road down to Market Drayton. I’d normally do the lanes to the west of this but a change of road every so often keeps everything fresh.

At Market Drayton, I popped into the Raiders Sponsor’s brewery tap to fill up with water and have a sneaky pint. Then it was an easy 12 miles home on quiet lanes … or so I thought.

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As I was coming down the hill from the old WW2 airfield into Childs Ercall a car had stopped to let me past. It was dark and their headlights were obscuring the view to the side of them, where I had to ride. I know this lane is full of potholes and was keeping it slow, but was not expecting the HUGE hidden pothole just to the side of their car!

Needless to say by the time I saw it there was no avoiding it and I had to basically just go for it and try and keep myself on the bike. My front wheel took one heck of a hit from it and it pulled the tyre off the rim and all the air (and sealant) escaped.

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Worried that the wheel might be damaged and it being dark and hard to check properly, even by torchlight I called home for a lift (it’s only just over 3 miles away).

A fab day out on the bike with lovely sunny weather. Just a shame about the pothole incident at the end. I’ve reported it so hopefully it will get repaired soon as I definitely don’t want anyone else falling foul of it.

Route: click here