We ride with Port Sun­light Wheel­ers

We head to Wir­ral to bask in the warmth of mirth­ful Merseysiders

Cycling Weekly - - Contents -

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

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