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Chirk Airfield, Bangor-on-Dee, Wem, Loggerheads, Nantwich Sun 26 May 2013

June 30, 2013

“Along the lines of Donington / We took Chirk Airfield as our site”

“Most of Wem was steering clear of him / “I’ve got no time for this twelfth consecutive Rose Bowl”

A Shropshire Lad

“Carphone Warehouse and Matalan
And a pulled up at Bangor-on-Dee”

Upon Westminster Bridge

“We made our way from Loggerheads to Hope”

Fix it so she dreams of me

“I get feedback in my bedroom in Nantwich
Stamp my foot down on the angst switch”

Look Dad, no Tunes

It’s another hot day and for our ride to the day’s first destination, we have to slather on a fair bit of the old Factor 24.

ImageGetting to Chirk Airfield is harder than anticipated – it’s hosting an enormous car boot sale, and the traffic is horrendous.   The concept of courtesy to cyclists is quite alien to many of the local bargain-hunters, and abuse is hurled at us as we try to make our way towards the airfield sign.

Deciding not to stick around to see if ‘The Raging Ostler’ has made it into someone’s car boot, we head out of town via some very poorly kept country roads.  They’re not fit for mules, let alone ageing road bikes, and I take some photos with a view to complaining to the Highways Agency later.

At Wem (we’ve been to some places with odd names, but seriously?  Wem?) we have lunch Imagein the smokers’ shelter at the Fox, where we’re accosted by malevolent-looking dogs.  Heady after the carbohydrate rich lunch with which we’ve stuffed our sun-burned faces, we decide to increase the day’s mileage by adding Loggerheads to our itinerary.     Speeding through the next few villages, my attempt to secure an audacious points victory is thwarted when a proper cyclist offers to chase me down and take Nick along in his slipstream.  We’re not used to such concepts, and feel like pros for a while, or at least until we get lost around Market Drayton (Nick having unwisely left the navigating to me).

At Loggerheads, we take photos and stop off at a soulless pub by a roundabout.  In the well-kept but strangely gloomy beer garden, a middle-aged couple glumly flick the cap of their sun cream bottle for their dogs to chase, while their unruly teenage sons kick their football at the other customers.

Things pick up on the way out of town, as the sun sets and we encounter a series of contenders for ‘Best Kept Village of the Year’.  Undisputed winner is Norton-in-Hale (Dennis Nordern inhales), which looks like the kind of place where old maids cycle to church on a Sunday morning.   Close runner up is Audlem, where they’re having a summer jazz festival.

ImageIt’s tempting to stick around, but I spot a pair of professional-looking cyclists  I’m sure I recognise from Montgomery.  Convinced they’re rival Biscuit-tourers, hell-bent on reaching Nantwich before us, I’m  possessed of the sudden urge to chase them down.   I head off, and manage to pass them on the hill out of town.  In hindsight, I recollect that one of them was female, and they were probably just out for a leisurely evening ride, but at the time I’m convinced I’m Chris Froome.

We’re expecting Nantwich to be another perfectly normal market town, but it turns out to be Cheshire’s answer to Ibiza.  Over dinner, we notice that the White Horse pub opposite our restaurant is hosting a large outdoors party, with a P.A. system blaring out tunes – good ones too.  Not only that, but a series of young, attractive people seem to be entering.  And then a large white Mercedes with a ‘M CITY 1’ licence plate (we both can tell it really should spell ‘TWAT ONE’) pulls out and lets out someone who can only be a scion of the Manchester City ownership.

Naturally, we feel the need to investigate further, and on entry discover that the place is indeed a hotbed of youthful hedonism.   In the beer garden, they’ve set up a big inflatable, and young men with bungee-ropes tied round their waists are trying to sprint down to the other end to grab drinks before being flung back.

Our default mode in such situations is Statler and Waldorf-style cynicism, muttering into our beer about the dreadfulness of young people.  But then we realise it’s all totally brilliant and get into the swing of things.  The DJ is playing a blinder – Led Zeppelin, the Strokes, the Smiths, Supergrass – and we get chatting to some of the youngsters, who urge us to stick around for the burning of the witch later.

Although they assure us that things aren’t always this good in Nantwich, by the end of the evening Nick has vowed to move here and stay for the rest of his life.

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