Setting off at 9pm in the evening from Eccleshall I headed north for Sandbach. I have never been this way before so it was interesting to recognise different landmarks (roads and junctions) along the way. I came across a war memorial (near Hill Chorlton) with amazing stone carvings of a soldier and a sailor.
The roads during this section are mostly good with a mixture of Lanes, B-roads and A-roads. This made progression easy as the pace was quick and the road surface was smooth. Arriving at Sandbach petrol station (26miles) I discovered that they were closed for renovation so I pushed on for Dean Row.
When I arrived at Dean Row petrol station, it was closed due to the till system not working but the chap behind the glass was happy to fill my water bottles. I took ten minutes before heading for Knutsford (I cycled pass a couple of 24hr petrol station on the way) where I took 5 minutes to watch the planes fly overhead, every 3 minutes. Note to self, don’t move to Knutsford! Getting to Knutsford was mostly flat and I was expecting some hills as indicated in the route description. There were two notable climbs when they came but they were over quickly. I crossed a bridge (Acton Bridge, 66miles) that reminded me of the bridges in Holland which I crossed when I traced the WW2 operation, Operation Market Garden.
Arriving at Helsby was a positive note as this indicated that I was well over halfway (75mile). The chap behind the glass looked at me and asked: “are you doing one of those mad rides?” I replied, If you mean an audax, where we collect receipts as we travel around the route, then yes! He took an interest in my journey and its route before serving me my sandwich and drink. Sitting on the boundary wall eating my breakfast, the chap from behind the glass came over and sat with me, telling me his life story. It was time to push on, so I thank the chap for his company and wished him well.
My next target was Market Drayton but I had already cycled in the area between Helsby and Market Drayton a few times. However, I did not recognise many of the roads until I reach the turning for the Ice-Cream Farm. This section is flat and fast, but to be honest, my legs were getting tired so I reduce my effort a little. Market Drayton arrived without incident, but the B-road which takes you into Market Drayton was unpleasant due to the traffic. However, I understand why this road was chosen over the lanes which run parallel. I quick stop at the petrol station in Market Drayton to have a warm bacon sandwich was a good choice as I was starting to lag.
The road out of Market Drayton was equally as busy of the road coming into Market Drayton but it is the most direct route to Cheswardine. Recognising the church (St Swithin) at Cheswardine I knew that the car was about one hour away, so I went a little quicker but I am now back on the roads with lots of little hills the kind which kills your speed or climbs which are a little too steep to power up.
This is a great ride because there are ample opportunities to stop for supplies both day and night. The landscapes which you travel through offer wide vistas, mainly due to the plains of Cheshire. I would imagine that some of the roads are very busy during the working day. They were busy when I passed through before rush hour. It may be worth considering little detours to the route if you are cycling during the working day.
Organisor: Mike Wigley
Audax List: Audax Ride List