Midnight Mersey Meandering (DIY, Audax. 200km)

This is a great ride which takes in the Cheshire countryside, Liverpool City, the Mersey tunnel and the Wirral. An excellent ride at night as you can race through the tunnel, like Super Mario!

I joined a local-ish cycling club just before lockdown (groups of 6), it is not my thing after dealing with club politics for many years, but I thought it was time to find some like-minded Audaxers. This is my first audax ‘club’ ride and it was overnight, so just my sort of thing.

Although I have had a long hard week and was feeling tired, I was excited and looking forward to the ride and meeting fellow audax riders too! The route was planned by John Gallagher and started in Crewe (Stoke on Trent), heading over to Runcorn along the Mersey into Liverpool before taking the tunnel and around the Wirral coastline to Chester and on to Crewe. 

I arrived at John’s house to an offer of a warm cuppa, I already loved this ride! Introductions were made (Claire Dwyer) and we set off on the short ride to the start and the rest of the group (Ronan Yeo, Brandon Edgeley, Caroline Wrench). I blinked and we were in Middlewich and 10miles down, another chat and we were in Knutsford and 20miles down. Before I knew it, we were in Runcorn (40miles) getting lost in all the blocked roads and road diversions to nowhere. A quick stop at Speke 24hr petrol station for a cuppa which fuelled us on our way.

At this point, I started to realised that wearing my winter kit probably was not the best idea as I was overheating, which resulted in the expected headache.  The only clothing, I could take off was my £20 non-breathable and impenetrable plastic coat, so I opted to unzip it! I was happily surprised by the public way alongside the Mersey and into the city centre. I may even go back in the daylight to have a better look. We passed by the Batman film set showcasing the magnificent architecture of St George’s Hall, Central Library and the Liverpool Museum & Planetarium on our way to the tunnel under the Mersey. The descent into the tunnel was fast and I was able to hold my speed for most of the climb out onto the Wirral.

Super Mario through the Mersey Tunnel

Again, the public way from the tunnel and long the Mersey toward Wallasey was excellent although the wind was our enemy now, so I took shelter behind the break wall for a few miles. To be honest, it was so dark that there was not much to see, but I would imagine that in the daylight there is a lot to see. When we rounded the headland, we had to contend with the sand under the wheel which was initially entertaining but quickly became annoying.

Finally, the second stop at Gayton Shell 24hr garage, this leg seemed to take forever, and we had learned from our first garage stop that we needed to order all the drinks at the same time as this speeded up the process and reduced our waiting time. I was still cooking, and in my mind, I resembled a roast pig slowly turning over an open fire.  From here it was a short leg, and we were back on the Wirral Way just before Net’s Café heading for Chester. The flat tarmac cycle path/ walkway reminded me of the Fens, except there was an estuary rather than a stream or small river. 

Passing through Chester was much like Liverpool, apocalyptically deserted even though it was 6am. I was going slow now, dehydrated, and I resigned myself to plodding at my own pace through the Cheshire countryside to Crewe and the end. Arriving back at the car I was greeted with a lovely welcome by Catherine, John’s wife, with a cup of tea in hand. What a finish!