We ride with Port Sunlight Wheelers
We head to Wirral to bask in the warmth of mirthful Merseysiders
eans on toast and a spare please, Anne.” We’ve just returned to the ‘spiritual’ home of the Port Sunlight Wheelers, the infamous Eureka cafe, ‘the Mills’ as it’s known locally. Anne had wished us all off for a good ride and now she is welcoming us back, topping up energy levels lost through the winding North Wales route that Club Captain Craig Tabiner had devised for the day. “That was a good leg loosener today for the main ride tomorrow, but from today’s route there are many different combinations we can take, even head off for an epic to Betws y Coed or Bala.”
One thing you quickly pick up on riding with the Sunlight is the continual chatter throughout the group. Even while slightly breathless on the first climb of the ride out of Hawarden it doesn’t stop. “Hey Terry, are those matching socks you’ve got on today for a change?” “You’d think so but they are actually two left feet”.
Typical Scouse humour is thrown around for the entire ride with no one left out and no one offended. “The Sunlight to me,” says Craig, laughing at me laughing at the jokes, “is going out on your bike and having a good time, but also coming back and knowing you’ve done a decent ride.” And a decent ride it is, heading up the Kinnerton Steps through to the Ffrith Valley and onto the Sunspot climb.
I catch up with Terry Hughes, a member since 2001 and he of the matching left socks. “The humour is a big part of it, but there’s a wealth of experience in the Sunlight too, and if you look around at this group we’ve got a real mix, from younger ones straight through. Take Tony D’arcy, for instance, Lord Darcy we call him. He’s 72 and only joined a few years ago. His ambition was to ride from Greasby to the Mills, probably 10 miles, but within two years he’d done the End to End. That probably tells you a bit about the Sunlight.”
Although initially coy, Terry eventually tells me his own journey from beginner to national champion. “I joined when I was 45 years old after a lifetime of rugby and squash. I thought I was fit but that was a big mistake. For my 50th birthday I did the End to End, then a few years later Wilko (Andy Wilkinson) persuaded me to join his team for the 12-Hour Champs. He really encouraged me and in the end I became a national champion at the age of 53!”
Apart from a slight change in the 80s, the jerseys have mostly been the distinctive