Midnight Mersey Meandering (DIY, Audax. 200km)

I joined a local-ish cycling club just before lockdown, it’s 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 ride ‘club’ audax 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 the club audax riders too! The route was planned by John Gallagher and would start in Crewe (Stoke on Trent) over to Runcorn along the Mersey into Liverpool before taking the tunnel to the Wirral. 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 ???) and we set off on the short ride to the start and the rest of the group (Ronan Yeo, Brendan 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 road diversions to nowhere and blocked roads.

At this point I started to realised that wearing my winter kits probably was not the best idea as I was overheating, as I was starting to get a 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 town center. I may even go back in the daylight to have a better look. We passed by the Batman film set and on 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.

Again, the public way from the tunnel long the Mersey was excellent although the wind was our emery 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 entertaining but quickly became annoying.

Finally, the second stop 24hr garage stop, this seemed to take forever to arrive and we had learned 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.  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.

Going slow, dehydrated

Plodding at my own pace to the end

Lovely welcome by Cath, John’s wife, with a cup of tea in hand